Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I got a Liebster Award!! What does that even mean?!

This week's blog is going to be a little different. Yesterday, I received a lovely surprise. My darling blogger pal, The Ginger BlogMan nominated me for the Liebster Award! 

Isn't it wonderful?!?!?

I got an award! I can't believe it! I am so happy! Wait... what is a Liebster Award? I had to google it and here is what I found: 
The Liebster Award's origins are a bit of a mystery. Bloggers nominate other bloggers that have 200 or less followers. It's basically a "Hey, that's a sweet little blog you've got there. Here's an award!" You can't just accept the award. You have to play by the (ever changing) rules and pay it forward. Then you can put the award on your blog for all to see. Pretty sweet, no?
So here are the rules:
  1. The nominee must list 11 fun facts about him or herself.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
  3. Create 11 questions for your new nominees.
  4. Nominate 11 new bloggers and send them a link to your post.
It's like a chain letter but without all the hexes if you don't play along. 

So let's begin.

11 Super Interesting Facts about Yours Truly:

  1. I do not like chatting on the phone. I can't focus on the conversation with my monkey kids running around and making noise. There is a 95% chance I won't answer your call. It's not you, it's me.
  2. I am a sensitive gal. I have lots of feelings. I cry at sentimental car commercials. I'm a hot mess around the holidays. I have never seen "The Notebook" because if normal people bawl their eyes out when watching this movie, I'd be on placed on suicide watch.
  3. I wish I had a British accent. I think I could pull it off. Hell, if Madonna can do it, why can't I?
  4. A good back rub or hair brushing is the fastest way to my heart. I'm convinced that I was a big, fluffy Persian cat in a previous life.
  5. I have freakishly large hands and long fingers for a girl. My hands are bigger than the 6'3 Hub's hands. I'm only 5'6.
  6. I have a superhuman sense of smell.
  7. I can always find Waldo. 
  8. I once wiped a baby squirrel's butt.
  9. I don't like to eat meat off the bone. Biology classes ruined it for me.
  10. Cockroaches are the most terrifying thing ever. If I see one, I will run away.
  11. Oh hell, she's getting all sensitive here... I love blogging. When I graduated from college with a BA in Creative Writing, I believed I would be the next bestselling fiction author. After years of none of that happening, I finally discovered the incredible joy of telling my true life stories. I love writing them down. I love sharing them with you. I get a real kick when you take the time to comment on my blog. I am grateful for every page view, every share, every like, every retweet. The blog community is enormous and ever growing, but getting this award makes me feel like I am really part of it now. It's like moving up from eating lunch in the high school bathroom stall to getting a seat at a table in the cafeteria. 

My 11 questions to answer from The Ginger BlogMan:

  1. What is your preferred method of birth control? A long day of running after my kids seems to do the trick. (You dirty little monkey!)
  2.  If you could have any super power what would it be and why? I would want the ability to clone or replicate myself. My clones would do all the laborious household tasks while I sat in a lounge chair and drank margaritas. 
  3. What is your favourite music album of all time? "Under the Table and Dreaming" by Dave Matthews Band. 
  4. Do redheads have souls? Yes... I'm *almost* sure of it. 
  5. If you were on death-row (I'm sorry about this) what would you order as your last meal? They don't offer custom ordered last meals in the States due to extravagant requests, but if that were still an option, I would order lobster bisque, biscuits smothered in sausage gravy, hot Irish Soda bread with tons of butter, a case of the Sam Adams Autumn brew collection, a plate of sushi, and a mint Kondike ice cream bar... because whatever I did to get on death row was probably for a Kondike Bar. 
  6. PC or Mac? Mac, baby! 
  7. Who is the most influential person in your life and why? I have many influential people in my life but I'd have to say at this point, it's a "what," not a "who." Right now, there's a pair of pre-baby jeans in my closet influencing me to avoid everything on my death-row last meal list. 
  8. What is your favorite cartoon as an adult? Phineas and Ferb. Because of them, I now know the tip of a shoelace is called an "aglet." 
  9. Do you have any regrets? I regret all those years of trying to be "normal" and fit in with the crowd. I also regret that third cup of coffee this morning. I swear my eyes are vibrating.
  10.  Would you like to own a monkey butler (assuming no animal rights were violated, leave me be PETA)? Why do you think I had kids? They usually don't shed and they're housebroken. Finally. 
  11. How do you feel right now? Like Sally Field winning an Oscar.

You like me! You really like me!

My Super Awesome Questions for the Next Nominees:

  1. Why did you start a blog?
  2. How would you describe yourself in a personal ad in the paper?
  3. Do you have an unusual talent?
  4. What was your best Halloween costume ever?
  5. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  6. What is your astrological sign? Is it true what they say?
  7. What scares the hell out of you?
  8. What was your worst injury as a child?
  9. What is your favorite smell?
  10. What is your least favorite movie genre?
  11. Why is a raven like a writing desk?

And The Liebster Award Goes To: (In alphabetical order)**

  1. Dipso Facto Scapegoat Ink
  2. Do I Have To?
  3. Father In Training
  4. Goodrow Gang
  5. Hand Make My Life http://www/
  6. Herding Cats
  7. Karen's Blog
  8. Life, Darling
  9. Our Journey
  10. Princess and the Pi
  11. The Poopy Scoop
**This was the hard part of the rules. The award is supposed to go to blogger with less than 200 followers but, on many of these, the followers were not shown or I just couldn't find your count. So I guessed. Like I said before, the rules are ever changing. It used to be 5 people and 5 questions. Now it is up to 11. Next year, I'm sure it'll be more. Basically, I nominated your blog because I really enjoy your stories and I wanted to share this lovely award with you. Yay us!!! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Be Happy, Dammit!

I'm a big fan of expressing one's feelings, no matter if they are happy, sad, mad, or scared. I think it is healthy to let it out. People need to belly laugh and sob. Nothing gets the blood flowing like a good horror movie induced scream. I believe that a tantrum can decompress a person. (See: Mommy Tantrums) However, if you are in a funk for too long, you start to become a real grump. You complain a lot. You cry a lot. You yell a lot. You lean to the negative. People generally don't like to be around cranky people. They'll pat you on the back and say, "Cheer up, buttercup," but, eventually they'll find ways to avoid you in the office break room or ignore your phone calls. People will stop trying to console you. People will start complaining about your constant complaining. Nobody likes a sad sack.

So, what is a gloomy Gus to do? For those suffering from the case of the blues (not to be confused with real depression... consult a professional, please) and are ready to switch things up a little, I have found that making yourself be happy can help lift your spirits. I have prepared a list of time honored ways to make you happy whenever you are sad. Of course, by now you know that I'm not going to tell you to smell the roses or pet a cat. Don't get me wrong, those are fine examples if you're into that kind of stuff. I prefer the sillier side of life and rely on laughter to get me through the rough times.

Smile Like an Ass

When was the last time you smiled? Give it a go. Does your face hurt a little? When you stop smiling, does your mouth immediately sink back into a frown? If you answered yes, then you need to make yourself smile. Simply smile. Put a huge grin on your face and leave it there. Then relax your furrowed brow and show some teeth. Keep your face in that position. Who cares if the people around you think you've gone mad? Give them the biggest Cheshire Cat grin possible. This works three fold: One, you're smiling. Two, you're working out your face muscles and it won't feel so unnatural the next time you smile. Three, if you are around someone who is causing your bad mood, your creepy smile might make them slowly back away from you. Triple win in my book.

Look how happy he is!
Photo credit:

Embrace Your Inner Morgan Freeman (or Mike Rowe)

The Hub and I can fill a whole day with laughter by pretending we are narrating someone or something's life. Watch your family pet. Narrate their every move. Narrate what they might be dreaming about while they sleep. Ever wonder what they are thinking when they seem to be staring into your soul? Speak for them. Use a funny voice. Use a normal voice. Think through your pet. It gets really funny when they are grooming themselves. This can also work with your kids, the next door neighbor, that lady walking down the street in spandex, the lobsters in the grocery store tanks, or the ants scurrying out of a kicked-over hill. The world is your personal Discovery Channel show.

I quoted them verbatim. 

Make Fun of Something

You know what makes me happy? Making fun of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The guy was so unbelievably huge. He had long sharp teeth. He could crush you with his foot. The T-rex was a very scary animal. Unfortunately, the T-rex couldn't give high fives. He could not play patty cake. He could not flip pancakes. He could not tie his own shoes. He couldn't open his own beer. The list goes on and on. Oh, don't worry about hurting his feelings. He's dead.

Photo credit:

Dance Your Cares Away

Break out your favorite tunes and dance. Now is the time to finally learn how to do The Worm. Hone your booty gyrating skills. Go out to the parking lot and do your best Tawny Kitaen cartwheel on your car. Let the music move you and vogue. Don't be a wallflower. Warning: If you choose to dance in front of your kids, they will most definitely call you out on your busted moves. Don't let them harsh your happy. Their generation's most popular move is called "The Dougie." Whatever. We had "The Carlton." 

I am such a bad dancer. I can't even do "The Carlton." No lie.
Photo credit:

Be Stupid Excited About Everything

This started out as a way to trick my kids into doing their chores. I would raise the pitch of my voice, jump up and down, and say, "Yay! It's time to set the table!" "I'm so excited! Who wants to dust?!" "I know a super awesome game! Let's sort the laundry!" Just by making the request sound like the most exciting activity ever, the kids' faces light up and they do whatever they had to do with gusto. It was so effective, I decided to try it with other mundane aspects of life. "Hurray! It's leftover night!" "I'm so excited that it's Monday!" "I just paid all my bills! Yay for me!!" Just by making it seem great, you can trick yourself into thinking it is great. If you do it enough, it becomes second nature. You'll notice that it's easy to get excited about the little things because, as you all know, it's the little things that count.

When In Doubt, "Fart" It Out

Who doesn't giggle at the sound of flatulence? The Hub has the amazing ability to emulate any fart noise. Whenever I'm in a foul mood, he'll try to make me laugh by making fart noises using his hands or mouth. If the kids are cranky, he'll blow raspberries on their bellies. He'll wait until I bend over to pick something up and I'll hear a 'toot' sound come from behind me. The sound of 'breaking wind' is a silly way to break the tension. My sister, Aunt D, has requested a recording of his musical stylings so she can get an instant laugh whenever she needs one. Her next birthday present? Check.

Photo Credit:

Laugh At Yourself

Did you just trip over your own feet in public? Discover too late that you tucked your skirt into your underpants? Spill your hot coffee in your lap while stuck in traffic? Before you get mad or embarrassed, step back and try to imagine what you looked like to someone else. Chances are whatever just happened to you was freaking hilarious to anyone lucky enough to witness it. Why let them have all the fun? Laugh at yourself. It was funny. I bet you've spent hours on YouTube laughing at videos of other people and/or animals falling down. You watch comedies to laugh at how someone else deals with embarrassing situations. Everyone does funny things. Enjoy the fact that you just made someone laugh (and thankful they didn't do what you just did). During my wedding ceremony, I tripped on the long skirt of my strapless wedding dress and almost exposed myself to the entire wedding party. My sister, Aunt J, literally guffawed at what she just witnessed. Yeah, it was embarrassing but her laugh at that moment is one of my favorite memories from that day. Sometimes making someone else laugh will get your giggles going too. 

Photo Credit:

I'm sure it seems like I have the mentality of a 9 year old boy when I tell you to make funny faces and fart noises to get happy. Sure, I'll be the first to admit that I am a goof ball, but really, all I did was give you real life applications to the age old advice on achieving happiness. People tell you to "put on a happy face" (smile like an ass), or "exercise will improve your mood" (dance), "laughter is the best medicine" (Fart noises, making fun of T-rexes, laughing at yourself), and "fake it until you make it" (be excited about everything). See what I did there?

I read somewhere that "finding your inner child" and remembering what made you happy when you were young will bring joy to your life when you're stuck in the serious adult world. How do you find that inner child? You go outside and do cartwheels in the front yard. You make silly faces. You laugh at "inappropriate" things. You get excited about the little things. You act like a clown in front of others. Kids know how to be happy. Basically, we have to manifest our own happiness. Yes, adult life is hard. There are times when absolutely everything is going wrong and it seems you can't catch a break. There will be times when you won't be in a good place in your life no matter how hard you try to correct the situation. But, if you let it consume you and bring you down, it makes the whole situation that much worse. Your spirit needs some joy and even if you laugh just a little bit, you might catch a glimpse of the good that's still around you. I tell my kids that it is good to feel angry and sad but don't let it be who you are all the time. Lately, I've had to listen to my own advice and try to refill my cup of joy. The best part is that by making myself happy, I've made my loved ones feel happy as well. My problems are still here and I still have to deal with them. But, I know when I look back, the memories of laughing until it hurts will overshadow the memories of sadness. Isn't that what it's all about? 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Can't Have Nice Things, Part II

Malcolm Reynolds did it again. Last night, we left the pups alone for two hours and we came home to mass destruction. Okay. I'm exaggerating. I only lost one thing. I lost a very important thing. I lost an irreplaceable thing. Malcolm Reynolds ate my My Drunk Kitchen apron. I'm devastated.

It just hurts to look at it.

For the few people on this earth who are not yet familiar with My Drunk Kitchen, it is an internet cooking show staring the most adorable Hannah Hart. She gets sauced and cooks something. She swears like a sailor. She is hilarious. It is, in my opinion, the best internet cooking show of all time. Here is my favorite episode:

Go ahead. Watch it. I'll wait. Just be sure to come back. 

So, here's what happened. The Hub, kids, and I went over to the in-law's house for dinner before they shipped off on another out of town adventure. (Sounds familiar? It is. See here: I Can't Have Nice Things.) Apparently, the dogs get very upset when people take vacations without them. We were having a pizza dinner and The Hub volunteered to pick up our order. On the way to the pizza place, he stopped by our house again to check on the dogs. Upon entering the kitchen, he found all of my aprons on the floor. Bailey Grace, my squat, sausage of a pit bull, recently figured out how to pull herself up on tables, chairs, and window sills. Our theory is that Bailey pulled herself up on the kitchen table to look out the window. In the process, she knocked all my aprons off the hook on the wall behind her. Once they hit the floor, Malcolm jumped at the opportunity to chew on some fabric. I've decided that's his thing. Socks, shirts, underwear, towels, and now aprons... He's a cotton/poly blend guy.

The Hub did not want to tell me that I lost an apron. He knows how much I like them and that I enjoy showing off my little collection. I started an apron collection after I bought a "retro cherries" one for my costume for a charity arm wrestling match in 2011. I loved it so much, I wanted a few more...

Cute, no? 
I have one for Halloween:

The Witch is in the Kitch

Then there's my The Princess Bride apron featuring Inigo Montoya and his famous line:

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.
Best book and movie of all time. 

And up until last night, I was the proud owner of a MDK "Pretentious-Ass Recipe" apron. I was really upset that my furry children ruined another something of mine. I firmly scolded both beasts for their naughty behavior. I pouted for a while on the couch. When I thought I was over it, I checked the Harto & Co. on-line store to see if I could replace the apron but to my dismay, they don't sell this apron anymore. The sadness is back. I'm crushed, people. Crushed.

I know Malcolm is very sorry about it. He walks around with his ears back and his head down. He won't look me in the eyes. He follows me around the house and tried to spoon me while I slept last night. When I was talking pictures of the apron this morning, Malcolm left the room and sat in the corner. He refused to look at the camera for this photo op. 

Cute, no?

Here comes the bizarre part. I completely see the positive in this situation. I know... it's a gift and a curse. Having these damn dogs in my house makes it impossible to be materialistic. I can't have nice things around them, therefore, I don't bother buying nice things anymore. My sewing skills have improved exponentially over the last few months and as long as I have all the pieces, I can usually salvage the item. You can't even tell where I stitched the tongue back on my Converse All-Stars. (Bailey went through a shoe chewing phase for a few weeks this summer.) The dogs have forced me to become the organized neat freak I am today. If I don't pick it up now, consider it devoured and shat out in the backyard later. Today I have to monitor Malcolm's bowl movements to make sure the apron does not get stuck in his digestive tract. If that does not keep a girl grounded and humble, I don't know what does. I live a simple life. No clutter. No major consumerism. 

Malcolm has pre-existing issues that took a while to come out after we rescued him. We're working through them one by one. I didn't realize he was this extreme of a nut case until after I promised to be his mother for the rest of his years. I made a promise to him. I can't back out now. He is a very kind dog and I have to remind myself that he's not being a total jerk on purpose. His previous owner did not give him enough attention during his vulnerable and impressionable puppy/adolescent years, and now he's a compulsive eater and has a fabric fetish. Not bad for only taking Psychology 101, right? 

I love him. I don't like him very much right now, but I love him. What can I say? I like aprons and emotionally damaged pets. It's my thing.

** UPDATE!!! A friend of mine found the Pretentious-Ass Recipe apron.
Apparently, I was not on the right page or website or whatnot-whatevers.
Thank you, Alex! Good feeling back!!! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mommy Tantrums

I've been in a bad mood lately.

No. Strike that. 

I've been in a really bad mood lately. I've been cranky for over a month now. Not all day, every day... more like, more often than not. I have a bad temper. My immediate family has seen my temper. The Hub's immediate family has seen my temper a couple of times over the last 14 years. Very few people know just how angry I can get. I can go from calm to Oh-Hells-No in 3.5 seconds. I have spent the majority of my adult life trying to keep my anger in check and avoid outbursts. If I have an outburst, it's been long overdue and I couldn't keep it in any longer. I try very hard to be kind and calm. I try very hard to stay away from drama or get into heated debates (and this is an election year... you guys are making it difficult to stay out of heated debates. Really folks, just stop talking about it until November.) I have to work at not reacting every time I get angry. I take deep breaths. I'll lock myself in the bathroom and yell at the wall. (Don't worry, the wall can take it.) The Hub will sit with me for hours and listen to me rant. He's a very good listener. He can talk me down off the ledge better than anyone else. My temper is my proverbial cross. I hope you've never seen this side of me and I hope you never will.**

"...don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

Recently, I've noticed that it doesn't take much to make me mad. It's in the air. It seems like everyone has something bothering them. I bet you are ticked about something. If you're not, then think about the people in your life. Chances are, they're pissed off about something. I bet you they're not mad about petty things, either. I bet you it's big stuff like financial problems, health problems, job problems, and/or relationship problems, just to name a few. Big things that take up so much of our patience. Big things that don't go away with deep breaths and counting our blessings. With all this angry energy floating around, it's hard to maintain a calm and cool attitude all the time. The big stuff in my life right now is depleting my patience reserve. I find that I'm getting upset over little things. Stupid things. Trivial things like...

The House

I cleaned the hell out of my house this past month. I was tired of Malcolm Reynolds (the Hub's dog) eating stuff off the floor. I was tired of searching for important documents or someone's left shoe all the time. The playroom was so messy that I couldn't see the carpet. I reached my breaking point and cleaned/organized everything. I challenge anyone to find anything out of place here. Even the junk drawer in the kitchen is organized. The Hub and I have lived in our current place for over five years and this is the neatest it has ever been. There is not a stack of mail or a basket of laundry sitting around. Every closet looks like Martha Stewart beat it into submission. The girls' toys are all neatly stored in bins and on shelves. I worked my disorganized butt off and now my house is a well-oiled machine. Beds are made each morning. Toys are put away each night. Laundry is put away as soon as I fold it. I have successfully removed all clutter and material chaos from my living space. It is so freaking zen in here. The Hub hasn't asked me where anything is in three weeks. It's amazing. All I do now is spot clean and straighten up. I should be so relaxed and calm. I am. Just don't leave a cup in the sink if the dishwasher is empty. Seriously. Just don't. 

Steven King's Misery
Put the cup in the cockadoodie dishwasher. 

Dinner Time:
Meal time is not always fun and enjoyable (as explained here). I spend a great deal of time planning the weekly menu, clipping coupons, surviving the grocery store trip (as described here), finding new recipes that everyone will like, and finally, preparing the meals. After all that, I plate the food and call my darling children to the table. My little cherubs, who have (not so gently) reminded me repeatedly for the last hour that they are starving and how cruel it was of me to forbid a snack before dinner, take one look at the nutritious yet delicious meal set before them and say, "I'm not hungry anymore."

But you said you were hungry!!!

Yoga Time:

I thought it was a good idea to find ways to relax and de-stress. I take the dogs for long walks. I'll jump around with the kids when we feel a bit edgy or cranky with each other. I'll focus on my breathing and zone out for a bit when things get crazy. I really enjoy yoga. I'm no yogi by any means. I have to watch a video to know what I'm doing, but it's one of the few workouts that I actually enjoy from start to finish. A few Saturdays ago, I woke up before the sun came up and pulled out my yoga mat. Even with the dogs sniffing my face and trying to lay down on my mat, I felt focused and energized and relaxed. When my video was over, I made a cup of coffee and let the dogs out in the backyard. I stood on the porch and enjoyed my good energy. I took time to notice the sunlight shining through the leaves of the tulip poplar tree. I heard the birds chirp as they looked for their breakfast. I felt the cool morning breeze on my skin and I was truly happy to be alive and in that moment. My coffee had never tasted better. It was good. Life was good. 

Then the kids woke up and had an epic fight over which cartoon they were going to watch.

Good feeling gone.

I know things will get better. I also know it could be worse, but I don't like to think that way. I am grateful for the good in my life. But, damn it, I think it is okay to have a tantrum every once in a while. I'll serve my time in "time out." I'll sit there and think about how I need to be careful with others and not eat their faces off. I know that it's my responsibility to control my temper and even if I truly believe they deserve a good kick in the teeth, it is not loving to take my anger out on anyone else. I know I need a break. I know I could use a vacation. It's been 8 years since the Hub and I took a vacation. I NEED a vacation. But for now, I'll settle for a cold beer and a long nap.

** If I have unleashed on you in the last month or so, I truly apologize. It was not right of me to verbally tear your face off. But, let's be honest, you probably deserved it.