Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thoughts from a Two Year Old

Sometimes you need to empty the entire shampoo bottle.

Sometimes you lock yourself in the bathroom and squeeze out all the toothpaste.
Sometimes you should help Mommy clean the dishes...
With half a bottle of dish soap.
Sometimes there is just too much $13.00 face wash in that container.
Sometimes you need that much ranch dressing on your plate.

Sometimes your socks just have to be red.

Sometimes you are supposed to nap...
But you aren't tired,
So you climb onto the top of the dresser ...
and try to fly!
Sometimes that hurts your tummy.

Sometimes you say AMEN! at the end of a book.

Sometimes you should eat more
than just red Popsicles and tiny oranges...
Things like candy and chocolate and Ketchup.

Sometimes tiny oranges are your best friend.
They like to be cuddled, you know.

Sometimes you should smile when the tall people look mad...
Then they won't look mad anymore.

Sometimes, the cowboy boots.
Okay, all of the time, the cowboy boots.

Sometimes Teddy likes to go flying..
all the way up on the ceiling fan.

Sometimes you need your blanket.
Sometimes you let your dog lay on your blanket...
But not the cat. NO. Not the cat.
Sometimes that makes you cry.

Sometimes you like firetrucks.

Sometimes band aids are fun to put all over your body.

Sometimes you see trains everywhere.

Sometimes you like Percy and James, But you always like Thomas.

Sometimes you need Daddy.
Sometimes you need Mommy.
Sometimes you need Dora.

Sometimes you don't need a tissue...
Especially if you are wearing long sleeves.

Sometimes you have to say please and thanks.

Sometimes you just have to giggle and dance.

Sometimes you want to taste the chair.

Sometimes people say things to you...
They say,
"You are cute!"
"You are smart!"
"You are funny!"

You should always reply,
"No I'm NOT!
 I'M TWO!!!!"

That was my week. I need to go to the store to replace some items. My bottles may all be empty, but my heart is full.

Peace, Love and Living with (and loving) a Two Year Old,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chapter 3: Life ain't always peaches and roses.

This is Chapter 3 of my Memoir.
Read Chapter 1 here...
Read Chapter 2 here...

Most little girls fill their days wearing puffy pink princess dresses, twirling and having tea parties with their stuffed animals. I spent most of my childhood days dressed in sensible, androgynous chore clothing that hid dirt stains. I was often found riding on the seat of a heavily used pick up truck while my parents did horse chores or playing in the haybarn with my sister. As much as I loved animals and farm life, I secretly longed for a fancy world of pretty pink frills, sparkly shoes and tea time. Even at three years of age, I had developed a small sense of misplacement. I was a pink girly girl living in a gritty, manure spattered world.

A rancher's viability is a selfless one full of hard work, long days and dedication. Existence on a farm is not for the delicate or the faint of heart. Ranching is full of God's grandeur, the error of man, nature's fury and harsh realities. Farm life is both glorious and grueling. Even as a very young child, I was not sheltered from any of these things.

Autumn in southeast Iowa was beautiful. The red, gold and orange leaves that adorned the hilly thickets of maples, oak and elm trees were Mother Nature at her finest. The corn fields grew golden corn so high that it looked like it could dance with the silver clouds. The Des Moines River flowed wide and strong, carving out a path through the beautiful fertile valley of Van Buren County. Like a finishing touch on the picturesque painting, my families' magnificent 40 horse herd dotted the pastures and harvested cornfields of Lick Creek Farm.

Fall turned to winter, snow angels were made, and family Christmas' were all about the cherubic yellow pigtailed sisters. Jessi and I were showered with home-made Raggedy Ann dolls, lace trimmed flannel nightgowns and Little Golden books. I was extra thrilled to receive a pretty pink coat. It was so light colored and girly.. and it was PINK! Life was good. Every day, we donned our heavy coats, warm boots and gloves to accompany our parents as they fed square bales of hay to their horses. The herd would see the red Ford truck and gallop towards us through the snow, with their ears pricked forward as foggy breath escaped their pink nostrils, in ready anticipation of their food.

Then winter changed to spring. Delicate foliage sprouted from the ground, the Redbud trees were a vision of rosy pink perfection and Morel mushrooms were hunted with keen vision. Excitement was building for our next trip west. Daily horse chores kept my folks' eyes constantly on the herd. One spring day in 1978, during a normal pasture feeding complete with a head count, my Mom only counted 39. Dad captained the second count, which was still one short. They counted again, but this time they checked off each horse's name. Mercury, the pretty steel grey horse, was nowhere to be found.

There was always a hushed panic that set in when one horse was missing. Horses are herd animals and prefer companions. When two horses weren't present for "role call", they were often found together, hidden from sight by a cluster of trees.  However, one horse absent often beckoned a far more grim discovery. My parents were tense as they drove around the farm, searching for Mercury. My sister and I were stoically sandwiched between them on the bench seat as we bounced through the rugged field full of broken corn stalks and rough terrain.  Few words were uttered. We all searched desperately with baited breath. We scanned the tree line along the edge of the pasture. We squinted into the thickets. We traveled the fences, checking for breaks in the wire. We drove by the pond, hoping to find the horse drinking water.

We then crested a hill, where we spotted a lifeless grey form. It was the body of poor Mercury. Sharp words sliced like daggers through the cool air and tears were shed. We were all overwhelmed with frustration and sadness, but with livestock, there is inevitable death. Still, the horse was not old and had shown no previous signs of illness. It seemed odd. Something wasn't "normal" about the passing of this sweet grey horse.

Upon the head count the following day, we came up short two more horses. My sister and I, aged three and four, sat silent and wide eyed as my Dad caught sight of something at the edge of the field and quickly maneuvered the truck around.  Upon doing this, he accidentally ran over Nikki, the family dog. She was severely injured but alive. Tension was at an all time high when we found two other horses dead. Our worst fears were confirmed. Something was amiss. Cowboy, a black Quarter Horse, and Euchre, a kind-eyed sorrel with a flaxen mane and tail, were both gone, and our family dog, the one who often rode on the seat while I curled up on the floorboards, needed immediate medical attention.

We called a local veterinarian for Nikki and the horses. Because the local veterinarians could not determine the cause of the horse deaths, my dad hauled a horse corpse to Aimes, Iowa for an autopsy. Caused by a unique weather pattern that year, the corn stalks in many fields produced mold spores; specific mold spores that, if eaten, were lethal to horses. The horse tested positive to having ingested these toxic mold spores. The veterinarians informed my parents that whichever horses were affected would show brain deterioration immediately. They instructed my family to remove all the livestock from pastures and to place them into a dry lot. Anything that consumed the poison would die within 10 days.

As my Dad always said, "Ranching is not always peaches and roses."

We watched the herd closely and waited. It was agonizing. Within that time, seven more horses perished. This included an adorable pony named Butterscotch and a sweet young sorrel named Rusty. With ten horses (one fourth of the entire herd) dead, it was a great emotional and financial loss for my family. We all still remember that time with a heavy heart.

Fortunately, Nikki, our spunky Australian Shepard, survived with a crushed pelvis. Her life was forever changed with special diets because of troublesome bowel movements, but she still lived to be 13 and enjoyed many rides on the truck seat.

Throughout this stressful period of my childhood, one memory rings so clear that I can still feel it nagging at my conscience. Sometime between traveling to the veterinarian and dragging deceased horses to the timber, I accidentally left a half-eaten chocolate bar in the pocket of my new light pink puffer coat. My mom washed that coat with the chocolate in the pocket, and it ruined the jacket. The guilt I felt was crushing. I was traumatized. I cried hot, salty tears and apologized profusely for my error. I didn't eat chocolate again until I was 30 years old. Yet somehow, I'm fairly certain that my intense reaction had very little to do with the death a pale pink coat.

to be continued.....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parenting with Optimistic Self Delusion

There was never a less terrifying moment in my life than the one when I packed my firstborn in a car seat and left the hospital.

They let me... just LEAVE... with an infant?!?!

I felt really unqualified to take charge of that tiny baby.
Probably because I was unqualified.

I compared my pregnancy and most of my baby's infancy to that of a farm animal, because that is my comfort zone.

I thought that raising a child would be like training a dog. (Note: My dogs are highly untrained)

I made the nurse show me how to change a diaper because I had NO FRIGGIN' CLUE.

Almost six years, another kid, 7,654 popsicles, countless articles and at least the first three chapters of multiple parenting books later, I am probably still unqualified to be a parent; but I have learned some no-fail child rearing methods. These are little helpful tricks that I discovered through my own adventures in parenting. They are possibly the kind of "little helpful tricks" that will keep you out of therapy but may later land your kid there. I don't yet know! We'll have to wait and see! Wheeeeeee!

 Johi's Parenting Tricks. Because Trickery Itself is a Valuable Trick.

1. Never underestimate The Art of Distraction.

When (not if) your child is throwing a tantrum in Target because they want that big red truck with the flashing lights and the blaring siren, you have some options:
  1. Give into the tantrum and buy your kid the toy, thus paving the way to raising a spoiled brat that uses you like a damp bath mat until the end of time.
  2. Leave the screaming, awful child in the aisle, clench your butt cheeks and bolt.
  3. Sharply tell them No! and wait until they run out of energy for the wailing to subside while you try to ignore the judging glares from those around you.
  4. Show them how you can juggle clementine oranges while singing and slowly pushing the cart away from the tantrum triggering toy! No one can look away...Tada!
I choose number 4 every time. Okay, so I can't juggle, but that will distract them even more! Redirect their attention to something else fun and exciting and you will exit the store with your mental faculties in tact.

*I am not responsible for the consequences of your juggling.

2. Bribery is a harsh term, I like to call it Positive Reinforcement!

Much like giving a good dog a biscuit, there is nothing wrong with giving a well-behaved child a treat. Not that I am comparing your kid to a dog. I would never do that... *cough*
What I am trying to say is the one time I stopped Black Dog from mowing me over in the doorway, I did so with bacon.


I do "make deals" with my kiddos.

I makes deals with them at mealtime, "Eat four more bites and you can have an extra story at bedtime."

I strike bargains with them in the car, "If you can use your 6 inch voices until the clock says 5, I will play the Alphabet frog song for you." (while I hack out my eardrums with an icepick)

I offer positive reinforcement to them when we are in the grocery store. I tell them that if they listen to me, are calm and act appropriately that they can have a ___________ when we get home. Usually ____________ is a popsicle or a "tiny orange". Sometimes it is to skip quiet time. Sometimes it is a viewing of "Max and Ruby".

And then, listen up mom and dad because this is the tough part, you follow through with your part of the deal. If Junior displayed naughty behavior, Junior gets no reward. PERIOD. I share a quality with kids and dogs. We are predators- we can smell weakness. If we sense that you feel like a victim, we will victimize you.

I don’t allow people to be victims, because if they’re victims, they’re not in control of their own destiny. – Jillian Michaels <<< one smart lady.

Now, who wants a biscuit?

3. Sibling Rivalry can be nasty. Don't pit them against each other. Instead, empower them to work as a team.

Unfortunately, that could mean that they gang up on you, but look how well they are getting along! So what if they put a toad in your Prada bag? They are totally enjoying each other's company. As a bonus, when they get older they are going to commiserate about all the ways you tried to screw them up and it will bring them even closer.

Remind them how lucky they are to have a sibling. Not everyone gets to be a brother or sister! There are so many lonely kids that wish for a sibling of their own! They write letters every year to Santa, asking for a baby brother or sister. Then Santa never delivers said sibling, thus filling the poor child's heart with an eternity of sadness, rage and disappointment. Then the lonely child becomes one of those bitter store clerks that won't even say "Season's Greetings!" to you while you are buying happiness for everyone on your Christmas list. Geez, Santa can really be a dick sometimes.

4. Ponies!!!!!

Not everyone can have a pony and that is understandable. Sad, but understandable.

The point here is that, unless your child is deathly allergic, introduce them to animals. It is good for a child to learn how to act appropriately around animals. Monitor them at all times to ensure that they are being respectful, quiet, attentive, gentle and kind. When they have mastered this, they are totally ready for the library, school and dining out in restaurants.

(P.S. If I see your child trying to rip the legs off a baby goat while you stand by and obliviously prattle on about how much your little Betty LOVES animals, I will side with the goat. EVERY TIME. Every damned time.)

5. Certain types of black mail may be illegal, but pictures of your kid in the tub or learning to use the potty are for you to use at your discretion during their teenage years. It's called Incriminating Evidence, and it's your parenting right.

My kids are 2 and 5, but I like to plan ahead. I'm collecting as much photographic documentation as possible. It's my plan B in case the rest of this garbage that I am telling you doesn't work out for my children.

Always be prepared with a camera, snacks, earplugs, a change of clothes and a Plan B.

6. When reprimanding, Never Name Call.

While it is fine to tell Little Johnny that he is kind, he is smart, and he is important; it is not okay to call him an asshole (to his face- save that shit for girl's night out, when you all talk about how you secretly think there might be something wrong with your kid because he keeps tying up Barbies , or getting into the duct tape).

When your precious treasure is behaving badly, tell them that they are not acting like the nice child that you know they truly are before you take away all their toys and their TV "rights" then send them to solitary confinement (i.e. TimeOut). Do not call them names, tell them they are stupid or mock them. You're an adult, save that crap for reality TV (when your kids are in bed).

7. Read to you kids and read in front of your kids.

Books offer entertainment, education and escape. Reading to your kids is a great way for non-kid people to bond with their offspring. In addition to reading to them, allowing them to see you doing something quiet and cerebral, such as reading a book (or my blog) is setting a good example. It will make up for all those times you laughed at farts and pretended like you were falling down. Plus, if you are reading something funny and are laughing out loud, they are going to be curious and more inclined to motivate themselves to read. Win, win.

In addition to taking this time for yourself (because you NEED to take care of yourself), it is OKAY to let your kids play on their own, without your involvement. Trust me. My kids are masters of this, and they are very happy and independent. I use that time to shower, to unload the dishwasher, to write, or to do important things like look at facebook. Sometimes I even plan dinner. It's a good thing.

8. Fresh air and sunshine fixes almost any problem; for both parents and children alike.

This is a staple for us. This is also why I loathe winter.

Help me! I am trapped in a glass case of emotions! Oh wait, no. We've all just been inside WAY TOO FREAKING LONG.

9. Realize that you need to listen to the important things that your children are saying. How do you know what is important? EVERYTHING they say is important.

This can be exceedingly painful when they are babbling about Transformers or My Pet Shop or Blue Squirrels that eat soup and live on the moon for what feels like an eternity, but it is your job to make your kids feel like they matter. It is your duty to make them feel like their opinion counts. It is your responsibility to empower them in life. It all starts with listening to them~ even when you want to stick your head in the bathtub to stop the noise.

You made it through that awkward health class in high school. You listened to the endless droning from a friend who wouldn't stop talking about her uterus. You survived that economics professor with the monotonous voice. You have even tormented yourself with the Top 40 hits of the early nineties. (Ace of Base? Billy Ray Cyrus? kill me now) You've got this one. You can withstand it! You will persevere! You will be victorious!

Your kids are counting on you.

10. Consistency, Consequences, and Tender Loving Care.

It's your job to love, guide and teach your little ones EVERYTHING. It never stops.

You teach them courtesy, respect and manners.

You teach them kindness, empathy and tolerance.

You teach them everything from learning to use the toilet to learning to become a functioning member of society.

This involves a lot of repeating yourself. So so much repetition. A LOT OF REPETITION. And then the follow up! Ugh!
Are you exhausted yet? I am.

Dude, it's your job to model yourself through your actions. It's your job to show them how great life can be with the a respectful, can do attitude. It's your job to allow them to fail and to help them pick themselves up. It's your job to love them, and to tell them that you love them EVERY DAY. It's your job to be the person that you want them to be. It's a big job, but it is yours.

Good luck with that. No pressure.

Now go hug your baby, tell them you love them, give them everything you have while attempting to remain true to yourself and mix up a cocktail. You're gonna need it!

Peace, Love and Dirty Diapers,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and it isn't "Mom".

At 11 o'clock every night of my high school years, I adjusted the tin-foil-wrapped rabbit ears of the tiny black and white TV in my bedroom and tuned into Cheers. I loved the show. I enjoyed the cast. I was heartbroken when Diane left. Then I adored Rebecca so much that I forgot all about Diane. I was amused by Cliff Clavin's dorky trivia and Norm's succinct one liners. I delighted in everything about sassy Carla and sex-a-holic Sam. I wanted to hug Coach and Woody for being so clueless and sweet. Frasier and Lillith rounded out the band of misfits with their highbrow sensibilities, long winded rhetoric, and the fact that they took their baby to a bar. Most of all, I was enamored with the idea of a place where everyone could bring together their neuroses, dysfunction, humor and varying social statuses, yet still be loved and accepted.
Cheers (1982) Poster

Some may think that a high school girl loving a television program about a bar was inappropriate. Maybe so.

I think it was simply foreshadowing.

The idea of everyone knowing your name is not only charming, it is downright neighborly. I'm from a tiny community of about 600 people. In my hometown, everyone not only knew your name, but they also knew the names of your entire family, your dog, your horse and your prize-winning steer. It's because of this upbringing that I have an inclination to make my relationships with the outside world cozy and personal. Some may say "invasive" or "meddlesome". I say "Let's have a group hug and braid each other's hair!"

The city in which I currently reside is marginally larger than my hometown. For instance, we have stoplights here. We also have a University. We are all fancy with our Whole Foods and Macy's. We even have my trifecta of happiness: Super Target, DSW and sushi. Yet possibly my favorite thing about my current city is the local live Jazz bar that I discovered. Not only does this bar have wonderful Jazz music, which my grandmother always had playing at her house, it has really great drinks. When I say "drinks", I mean martinis. The ambiance is swanky. The lighting is low. The crowd is generally educated and interesting. The staff is attentive and efficient. Unlike so many other places in a college town, this is a club that you can visit without fear of sticking to the floor or being a victim of accidental vomit on your shoes because "Oh Em Gee! I mixed too many jello shooters with my Rum and Diet Cokes that I drank after that pitcher of Keystone Light! Who wants to see my boobs?"

So there's that.

While I tend to stay home in the summer and BBQ in the backyard, I frequent this jazz club a few times a month in the winter. I get the winter blahs, known to some as S.A.D. and to others as heinous bitch, please go somewhere where I can't see you. Since I only medicate with reality TV, booze, shoes, and Girls' Nights Out, I often combine the booze, shoes and GNO into the same evening. I usually do the reality TV thing in my PJ's... with ice cream... and Smelly Cat on my lap. As wonderful as it is to be all scrungy in my scurvy flannel pj's, with a skanky cat on my lap, stuck inside the same toy-strewn room where I just spent the previous 12 hours, I really look forward to my nights OUT of the house. Sometimes just having a reason to dress up.... or brush your hair... or shower... is all a girl needs to get through the long, harsh, desolate winter.

*Don't tell anyone that we often get 50+ degrees in our sunny winter Colorado months.

I like chatting, uninterrupted, with friends. I like music and martinis. I like not appearing like I just fell out of the back of a trash truck. I like a change of scenery. I really like getting a break from having to serve 17 meals that no one eats while picking up an endless supply of dirty socks on the carpet and answering to Mom Mom Mom! MOM! every 3.2 seconds. I suppose I'm selfish like that.

Last Saturday, in a post birthday celebration, I took advantage of the free babysitting service known as Brock and left the house with some girlfriends. I always look forward to an opportunity to create a stylish outfit, wear some sexy heels and fix my sad, sad hair. After three solid days of eating cake, jellybeans, cookies and any other form of sugar I could shove into my cramhole, I was having some wardrobe malfunctions. It was less of a problem with my wardrobe and more of a problem with my waist, or the blobby form that used to be my waist. It was bad. There was not enough Spanx in my entire city to fix that area. I looked like a potato wedged into my pants. In an effort to appreciate my aging female form, I told myself I was a sweet potato with cinnamon and brown sugar. Hotsy Totsy!

Even with my extra birthday lard, the fact that I had a cold thus could not breath through my nose, and the giant dose of DayQuil that I swallowed- which gave me the brain activity of Paula Abdul- I soldiered forth into the night. As long as I rammed my squishy lady bits into a booth, didn't say much and laughed a lot (allowing me to slyly breath through my mouth), no one would notice that I was a medicated moronic mindless muffintop!

When we arrived at the joint, I started to see people that I knew. They also saw me. There were many hellos and friendly exchanges. My favorite drink was whisked to my table and introductions commenced. Then there were more greetings and more introductions and before I know it the band was playing me a birthday song and black-sheathed waitresses were delivering flaming desserts while people were joining us at our table. That is when I inadvertently realized that somehow in the middle of my life, between minx, marriage, motherhood, martyrdom and middle-age mouthy blonde, I had inadvertently achieved Cheers status. I'm not sure how this happened and I don't know whether to be ashamed or proud, but I should probably memorize some trivia and a few one liners.

Hello, my name is Johi, and when there are no leaves on the trees, I am a regular bar patron.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

In the kitchen with the Corn Fed Girl: Gluten Free Venison Stroganoff

I'll bet all you Gluten-Free eaters are wondering what to make for Sunday dinner tomorrow night.

Well, grab your venison stew meat, pour a glass of vino and follow me for an adventure with:

Gluten-free Venison Stroganoff

2 lbs stew meat- venison, beef, buffalo, moose- whatever (thawed)
2 medium onions- chopped
2-3 garlic cloves- minced
8 oz mushrooms- sliced
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
2-4 T Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose GF flour
1/2 cup of red wine
1/2 cup of beef broth
12 oz gluten-free Cream of Mushroom soup (I used Pacific brand- it comes in a box)
bag o' rice pasta- I used penne because that is what was in my pantry
sour cream (optional)

In a large stock pot, bring water to boil for pasta. Cook according to the directions.

In a large skillet, heat the butter in the olive oil (this keeps the butter from burning). Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until onions are soft. Remove from skillet (place in a bowl). Sprinkle stew meat with salt and pepper, and lightly coat in flour. Place meat in hot (med- med/high heat) skillet (add a bit more oil/butter if you need to) and sear. Meat should be brown on the outside and a bit pink in the center. Remove from skillet (place in bowl with onion mixture). Add wine and beef broth to skillet and stir with a whisk. Make sure to scrape all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan- this is your extra oomph of flavor. Cook wine/broth for about 2 minutes, until reduced a bit. Add meat/onion mixture back to the skillet and stir. Season with a bit more salt and pepper. Add cream of mushroom soup and stir until mixed and hot. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix with pasta and serve with a dollop of sour cream. Don't forget to chew.

As is most food, this is delicious with red wine.

The key to cooking with lean meat (i.e. wild game) is DO NOT OVERCOOK IT. Sear the outside to seal in the juices and enjoy it with a pink center.

*Thanks to my Dad for providing us with the venison. Iowa venison is the best. It is corn fed and delicious. Now go watch Bambi and tell me what a bad person I am for eating wild game.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

Peace, Love and Good Eats,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thirty-Eight is Great!

Tomorrow is my birthday. I'm turning 38.


I thought that I turned 38 last year, but when I did the math two weeks ago, I discovered that I was actually 37, and consequently had been 37 for an entire year. However, I spent that entire 37th year of my life thinking I was 38 so I guess I get to be 38 twice.


I really don't know either.

I like pickles.

My cognitive ability is clearly going, as is my intelligence. This is not a casual observation. Ever the geek, I did some research. Eleven years ago, I returned home from a long day of mind numbing retail and my spouse-of-the-time-that-I-ignore motioned me to the computer where he had a free online IQ test waiting for me. I'm sure it was a trap. I'm certain that I was supposed to score lower than him so that he could "own" me. Much to his dismay, I not only outscored him, I scored well with a 'Highly Intelligent' rating. Take that! HAHA!

Because I am old and God doesn't love me anymore, I woke up at 4 am the other morning. Since I was awake, I made coffee and took advantage of the quiet house. I like quiet. I like quiet so much that it almost makes the fact that I was awake at 4 am okay. Almost, but not quite. I sipped my delicious Colombian Nectar of the Gods and read an article about a blonde teenage girl that scored an IQ 161. Naturally, I wondered what my 37/38 year old IQ was and searched for an online test to pat me on the head, give me a gold star and compliment my blonde smarts. I found a test. I read the questions. I figured all the math problems in my head. I felt fairly confident. Then I got the results. I scored 18 points lower than I did the first time. 18 POINTS?!?!?! That means that I have lost an average of 1.6363toinfinity points of intelligence per year.

As always, I take full responsibility for myself.

I blame motherhood.

This frightens me, folks. What is going to happen to my brain in another 11 years? I fear I'm going to be wearing a drool cup around my neck, "reading books" upside down and talking to my cat's imaginary friend.

On that note, I have prepared a list of 38 things that I do better now than I did 11 years ago. I call it:

  1. I'm married to a guy that doesn't feel the need to compete with me. Probably because he knows he'll lose.
  2. I have two great kids. Even if they do pick their noses and jump on each other's heads and like to communicate in "potty talk", they rock.
  3. My laugh lines are deeper than my frown lines.
  4. I may not remember how to do trigonometry, but I can remember that we are out of Popsicles and that I need to buy the red ones, because Thing 2 only likes the red ones.
  5. My fingernails look way better now, probably because I am too tired to clean the house, but my fingernails are super pretty.
  6. I no longer flip off bad drivers (the last person I flipped off was really old and I felt like an enormous gaping asshole.)
  7. I can cook. Like I can really cook. However, I rarely COOK, because Thing 2 only eats red Popsicles, "tiny oranges" and ketchup.
  8. I am way closer to claiming that I actually like children, now that I have my own.
  9. I have ponies! So what if one is blind and the other one is foundered? I have ponies!
  10. I am at least .636363636 points closer to knowing how to garden.
  11. I have more shoes now. Shoooooooeeeeessss.
  12. I kept all my old friends (that were worth keeping) and even have a bunch of new, awesome ones. Most of them like shoooooooeeeeeees. And booze.
  13. I illustrated a children's book.
  14. I am soon to be a published author.
  15. Wine.
  16. My self-worth is higher.
  17. I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.
  18. I own a house.
  19. Unicorns.
  20. I finally taught myself how to type.
  21. I'm a better decorator now.
  22. People tell me that they love me, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  23. Kids build rockets in my living room.
  24. I am worthy.
  25. The voices in my head are nicer than they used to be.
  26. I never end sentences in a preposition.
  27. People call me "Mom", but never "Mother".
  28. I read more.
  29. My vehicle is paid off (so what if it was the same one that I was driving 11 years ago?)
  30. I'm more comfortable being uncomfortable.
  31. I've seen more of 'Merica.
  32. I can make a killer house out of Lincoln Logs.
  33. I get to count to three and watch people run.
  34. Instagram. Facebook. Blogger. >>>An oversharer's happiness trifecta.
  35. I finally figured out all the secrets of the universe.
  36. I can use the phrase 'vagina wagon' in a sentence.
  37. I know what it feels like to really love someone. Like really love them. It's the good stuff.
  38. I made it to 38. Twice. How many people can say that?
I seriously appreciate all the support and encouragement that I have received in the past few years. You all rock. This year, I would like cash for my birthday. Thank you.

I am posting five more links to incredible posts from blogs that are fellow authors in our soon to be published book of essays. Enjoy!

Welcome to Manitopia by the hysterical Insane in the Mom-Brain.

Fifty Things I Want to Teach my Daughter   from the incredible Cloudy with a Chance of Wine.

You Want a Real Mommy War? from the fabulous  Dose of Reality.

20 Things I Learned in College from the talented Funny Is Family.

The Weirdest Friendship Ever from the hilarious You're My Favorite Today.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Keep the flowers, I'll take the cash

Hey everybody! Tomorrow is Valentine's Day!
This will serve your ONLY friendly reminder, fellas.
Some women go batshit cray-cray if you get her the wrong stuff on the VDay.
And if you FORGET VDay, you can forget about getting any for a very long time.
A very, Very, VERY long time.
If you have one of those women, let me just say, "SUCKA!"
I meant to say, "I'm so sorry."
And also, "HAHAHAHAHA!"
Brock and I were sitting with a group of friends the other night. The guys were sharing the name of the place they get their VD flowers. They were boasting about the discount prices. They spoke of the chocolate. It was very cute. That is when I looked at Brock and said, "Forget the flowers, just give me the cash."
Everyone laughed.
Only Brock knew that I was serious.
We are celebrating this year just like we did last year-in our pj's, watching a movie, eating bacon.
We're pretty romantic like that.
You ARE a winner!
No, not YOU. Her.
image from the graphics fairy


Speaking of VD, I have some news! It's pretty exciting!
1. I'll be in Estes Park this Saturday at MacDonald's Book Shop, signing the book that I illustrated, B. Thomas the Bear's Rocky Mountain Chocolate Adventure.
Please stop by and say hello between the hours of 11:00 and 12:30, and 2:00 to 4:00.
152 East Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, Colorado
B. Sometime soon, very soon, yours truly is going to be a PUBLISHED AUTHOR.
WHAT? I know!! It's true! I AM awesome!
I was invited to join a fabulous group of 30+ funny muthas in an anthology. An original essay of mine will be featured in the book and it will be available for purchase fairly soon. Save your pennies, mah people! You will NEED this book in your life! I've been perusing these ladies' blogs, and let me tell you, I've been glued to my computer for the past three days, reading and laughing my flabby white arse off. Thank the good lawd that my children love staring at the TV... er... I mean... solving the Rubix cube, teaching themselves to read and putting together 10,000 piece puzzles!
Here are a few samples of the type of writing you will see in the anthology:
RachRiot is a... well... she's a riot. I laughed out loud at this post, where she talks about vacationing with a friend in Vermont. Go. Read. Laugh. Then file her words like "lacto-amnesia" and "eatomaniac" into your verbal arsenal.
Momiacal is real, awesome and hilarious. In this post, she tells a horrific and hysterical story about having to take her children with her for her annual exam with the cave doctor. I don't know about you, but it is a personal nightmare of mine to have my children witness vaginal spelunking.
Underachiever's Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess is a hoot. I snorted coffee through my nose when I read this post about a yoga class she attended. The next time you are in downward facing dog, all you will be able to think is "fat raccoon stuck in a trash can".
Enjoy these new blogs! I will be featuring more fellow authors every week.
Happy Valentine's Day to each and every one of you.
Even you, with the horrendous halitosis; you need love too.
Peace, Love and Bacon,

Monday, February 11, 2013

It's a bird! It's a plane! No... it's just some twit in a cape.

It's no secret that I love fashion. I derive a perverse amount of joy from scoring a killer sale. I express my personality de jour through my clothing. I have been known to be fearless and experimental with my style. My friends often ask me to help them shop, a task which I master with my Ninja skills and catlike reflexes. While I do consider myself a seasoned and successful shopper, I admit to an occasional flaw in judgment regarding trends. For instance, there was that time I decided to bob my hair. I was not only accused of being my best friend's and my OLDER sister's mother, I was referred to as "Soccer Mom" for at least two months. Listen, no one gets it right EVERY time. I'll bet even Sienna Miller has burned photographic evidence of bad style choices. I'm sure even Stacey and Clinton have a few questionable items tarnishing their mostly perfect closets.

This passion for fashion and my intelligent choice of an art degree led me to a 10 year career in retail. Not only was I paid to help people shop, I was also able to score my own wardrobe at vendor prices. Hello cowboy boots! Come to momma. This relationship with insider pricing is only one of the many reasons that I hate to pay full price for clothing.  Combined with my knowledge of wholesale is the fact that I was raised by a couple of thrifty farmers. Everyone knows that farmers love a good bargain. My mom once haggled with a zoned-out high school sales clerk at a mall Payless about the price of a $15 pair of snowboots on the sale rack. The poor girl wouldn't accept the $5 bill my mom was waving around in an attempt to persuade her, so she walked out, certain she was leaving the young lass to regret her decision to not close the sale. I'm pretty sure that the clerk, who had no power to change any prices and could not have given less of a shit about her job, was relieved to see us go. Then there is my father. My dad was a used car salesman before becoming a horse trader of sorts. Do I really need to elaborate here? It's in my blood to haggle, to hunt and to stalk down the best price. It's in my veins to dicker with people until they feel super uncomfortable, thus making them submit to my whims. It is also ingrained in me to comment on the size and quality of the corn in the fields.

Combine the fact that I chose to pursue a job in a small family owned retail store with my teeny tiny shopping obsession, and suddenly I couldn't afford extra things like fancy dinners... or vacations... or a house. I was required to wear what we sold and I gladly spent my money adorning myself with fantastic expensive boots, hats and outerwear. I always carried a designer purse and wore authentic jewelry. Much like Carrie from Sex in the City, I wisely invested most of my hard earned money into the contents of my closet, specifically my footwear. 401K? Forget about it! I have 18 cowboy hats, 37 pair of boots and 15 broomstick skirts!

Seriously, I'm a moron.

To supplement my meager sales clerk income, I occasionally sold for a custom hat vendor. I donned tight jeans, curled my waist length blonde locks and traveled to trade shows where I sold $800 dollar beaver felt fedoras and other fine lids of the cowboy variety to wealthy people, mostly men. I'm sure that my success with this had everything to do with my excellent sales skills and nothing to do with my second skin jeans. While at these trade shows, I would often use my breaks to check out other vendor's booths. I remember being at a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Show when I saw it. It appeared to me like a vision made of clouds and fairy wings. It beckoned me like a glowing white light. Hanging in a booth at that fortuitous trade show was a creamy dreamy Bolivian Baby Alpaca Cape with a built in scarf, crocheted edges and self covered buttons. It was love at first sight. I had to have it.

As I walked towards this beautiful alpaca cape, I fantasized about wearing it to expensive dinners at fine restaurants. I would float into the room in my flowing white cape, then I would drink wine from an actual bottle and eat filet mignon wrapped in bacon. Never mind the fact that I only had enough money for hotdogs, Raman noodles and bananas. I had visions of wearing the elegant cape in my rich boyfriend's convertible as we drove through Napa wine country to a picnic in a grassy meadow. We would dine on french cheese, crusty bread, figs and Pure Romance. Never mind that my boyfriend of the moment couldn't afford to fix a faulty breaker and was running his refrigerator with a giant orange extension cord. Oh the places I would go in this soft ivory Bolivian Baby Alpaca Cape! The things I would see! My life was sure to be filled with adventure and beauty with this winter white wrap around my shoulders! We were clearly meant to be together!

When I put my hand on the price tag, my heart sank. It was $250.  The beautiful shawl would cost an entire three days wages. I sadly walked away, the practical farmer in me knowing that it was far too much money.

Then the next day the impulsive, irresponsible diva in me pitched the frugal farmer in me right off the haystack. I always know when I making a bad purchase because I break into a full body sweat. Let's just say that as I counted out the two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, I could have wrung out my bra and filled up a thermos. Never mind because I owned the cape and we would be together forever.

Until this year, the one year in the last ten and the next 30 that capes are actually in style, I had worn the South American Llama Cape exactly twice. In hindsight, much like that John Schneider vinyl album, it was maybe not my best purchase.

About four months after committing three days wages to The Cape, I went to the Denver Merchandise Mart as a buyer for the clothing store where I worked. On the last day of the market I passed a booth. In this booth hung an exact replica of my hard earned shawl. I began to perspire in that sudden familiar way as I walked toward The Duplicate Cape to look at the wholesale price. I grasped the tag as the moisture poured from my body. I intuitively knew that looking at the price was going to be the emotional equivalent of that time that my favorite dog killed my favorite cat. I tentatively turned over that tag and saw the number 50. It was fifty dollars. 50. FIVE ZERO. I paid five times that! I knew that most retail mark up was double the wholesale cost. I realized this margin was the money with which merchants payed for their storefronts, electricity, taxes, employees and themselves. I did not have a problem with capitalism. What I did have a problem with was someone making such an OBSCENE profit off my cheapskate, wily, farmer arse. What I had an even bigger problem with was being played the fool over a piece of felted llama fur.

My biggest problem of all is with clowns, drunk fraternity boys and muddy shoes on my freshly mopped floors, but that is totally off the subject.

Years after this episode, I moved into a shitty house with Brock. I say shitty, because it was overrun with shit, specifically cat shit, mouse shit and dog shit. Why I didn't RUN the other way is beyond me. Enough alcohol and a couple of diamonds can make everything look glittery, I suppose. I hung my overpriced swath of alpaca in a closet with a pang of self abhorrence and commenced with scrubbing the bathtub, cleaning the litter box and pointing my cat at the mice. My cat had taken to killing at least one mouse per day and Brock's useless feline simply watched as they ran over his whiskers. When a momma mouse birthed a litter of disgusting pink baby mice in our kitchen drawer, we knew it was time to move.  We were officially infested. 

While packing, my hand rested on my beautiful white, hardly worn, ridiculously expensive and not at all practical Cape of Shame. I pulled it from the closet with that familiar pang of disgust with myself and a fresh sweat threatened my pores. That was when I saw it. There was a tiny brown mouse turd nestled into the shoulder. I gasped in horror and went on searching, only to discover a hole the size of a toddler's fist had been chewed through the back of the shawl. It was truly the manure flavored icing on my crow filled cupcake. The fact that I had paid that amount of money for anything made from the hair of an Andean camel was apparently not enough of a disgrace. The Cape, my beautiful ridiculous cape, was now ruined by a giant hole on the back made with the filthy mouth of a disgusting plague ridden rodent. Much to my chagrin, in all those years of art school I never once learned to loom, crochet, knit or felt, rendering me useless to repair my Cape of Shame, Saliva and Shit. On the bright side, my long locks cover the gnawed spot, which serves as a nagging reminder to never again bob my hair.

So, who wants to come over and try on my extensive collection of cowboy hats?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Faulty Body Parts and Other Pretty Things

Hey guys. I'm told that it is Friday. You could have fooled me. Every day this week felt like a Monday. Seriously, I took my children to restaurants for belated dinners twice this week, once was even after a one hour ride in the vehicle. I think this earns me some sort of a diploma, or a first class ticket to a mental institution.
On the bright side, I bought cookies and my sister was here for a lovely, albeit brief, visit. On the dark side, she forced me into some Satanic two hour workout and now I can hardly use my right arm. In fact, I'm typing this with my left foot.
I have pretty big plans for the day. First I need to vacuum and do laundry. Maybe later I will make a meal that will inspire Thing 2 to eat something other than tiny oranges and popsicles. I also plan on watching some of the shows are stacked up on my DVR. Clearly, I am quite busy, so instead of writing today, I am sharing some photos that I recently shot.
I hope you all love Instagram as much as I do. * evil laugh*
Have a wonderful weekend. Stay warm!
Peace, Love and Unicorns,

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Where good advice goes bad

Have you ever noticed that childhood advice is often debunked when we get older?

For instance, we spent our earliest years learning that sharing is an important part of society. As wee ones, we are repeatedly told to share. Share with your brother. Share with your friends. Share with the class. And the worst: Share your toys. Seriously? I didn't want some grimy fingered brat touching my Barbies! They probably would have ripped off her arm, cut her hair and  messed up her color coded wardrobe that I lovingly organized into a divided boot box, complete with an accessory compartment. What?

How many of you, as adults, share your tools, your jewels or your toys? While I will admit to occasionally sharing a party dress or a cute clutch, I have limits. (I'm also an unusually giving person; I am depending on that quality to get my snarky ass into heaven.)  Yet if I possessed truly awesome adult toys*, I wouldn't be lending to anyone. Hands off my boat, my pink tractor and my motorcycle!

*What did you think I meant when I said "adult toys"?

There's a rhyme that you learn as a child to deflect taunting from your peers:
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

*Unless those words are moist or panty or any combination of those two in a sentence.

Everyone has heard this phrase, and it conditions us to go through life armed with thick skin created to ignore mean people. What if someone was yelling "Hey! HEY YOU!!! HEY YOU IDIOT!!!!" You would remember that "... words will never hurt me!" and continue indignantly walking straight ahead with your head held high. Say the wretched name caller searched desperately but couldn't find a rock to chuck at your skull? They may have been attempting to get your attention before you stubbornly marched out in front of that garbage truck. Then BLAMMO! and suddenly it was a bad day to remember a nursery rhyme. A very bad day, indeed.

Yet when you mature, the adage is:
"The pen is mightier than the sword."

Since I have been told my entire life that words will never hurt, I can only assume that this "pen" is a reference to ink drawn caricatures and portraits*

*I'm here to warn you, I can stipple, scumble and cross-hatch the shit out of a drawing of your face. And your mother's face.

Not only is this advice inconsistent, it is confusing. It is also wrong. Clearly Taylor Swift taking fencing lessons is the mightiest and potentially the most hurtful of all. "We are never, ever getting back together, because I just decapitated your cheating head with my sword, and then I wrote a song about it. And the people LOVE me."  Also, I don't think that one should underestimate martial arts training or a concealed carry permit... or Chuck Norris.

On an entirely unrelated note, my birthday is quickly approaching and I would like a new fountain pen filled with black India ink, some paper and a brand new shiny sword, just in case.

Peace, Love and Bullshit,

P.S. I gave Chuck Norris permission to play with your toys while you were at work. Hope you don't mind.