Sunday, October 31, 2010

Poop and tattoos

Last week, I became expert at taking kids in and out of mini-vans.

Okay, not in. In doesn't work so well for me since I was evidently not born with the ability to buckle babies into perfectly-installed car seats. So I had been placing babies in their car seats and staring at them until their mother arrives to do the real work.

Out, though... oh man, I'm good at out. I can definitely unbuckle and remove a child.

So when Ellyn pulled into the parking spot at the mall on Wednesday, she got out of her side and got the stroller out while I unbuckled Seth from his car seat. After I got him out and delivered to her, I headed over to Evany's side of the van and expertly (read: "I had just learned how to do it that day") turned her carseat around with the fancy levers and unbuckled her as well. She gave me her signature huge-mouthed smile and giggle as I whisked her out of her seat and rested her on my hip. She cooed excitedly and grabbed my hair as I walked to the stroller behind the car, and then she giggled again when I made eye contact with her to remove her death-gripped hands from my shirt so I could place her in the stroller.

When I placed my hand under Evany to sit her down, I felt something... not good. Moist. And squishy. And not good.

When I finally got her into the stroller, it was as I had expected. I had poop all over my left hand and up my arm.

Poop. All over my hand. And arm.

And then I looked down at my side, where I had been holding Evany, and was thrilled to find even more poop covering the entire left side of my shirt.

Now this is what I call vacation.

It took us a little while to get the wipes out, so I stood there for a good minute or two with poop all over my hand, and while I would have expected my brain to have been all "therespooponmyhandgetitoffgetitoffgetitoff!" I was totally fine. Relaxed even! What's a little poop? Poop can't hurt you, right?

Six days with four kids is evidently what stood between me and the end to my squeamishness about poop.

Anyway, we got ourselves and the child (and the stroller, and the carseat) cleaned up, and headed into the mall smelling of, well, not roses. Mara had to get her nose piercing fixed at the tattoo place there (the gemstone had fallen out of the stud), so in we headed. Ellyn held Seth by the hand, I pushed Evany in her stoller, and Mara pushed her baby, Nora in her stroller.

And oh yeah, I smelled like poop. We were quite a sight. And smell.

I looked around the dimly-lit parlor at a guy sitting backwards in a chair as another guy stood behind him with a buzzing needle to his back. Another walked past me with saran wrap covering a fresh tattoo on his leg. Mara headed back to get her super-cool nose stud fixed and Ellyn and Seth eyed the various jewelry displayed in the case at the front counter.

And I? Tried to act natural (read: "stood awkwardly in the center of the room"). I held my best "I so belong here" pose whilst holding onto a stroller and smelling like poop. Though to be honest, I think even without the babies and the poop smell, I wouldn't have belonged there.

Nora began to fuss in her stroller, so I leaned over between Evany's stroller and a pillar to comfort her, when all of the sudden I realized that the pillar I was beginning to lean against was made of Styrofoam. And Styrofoam? Doesn't hold a human's weight very well.

With a very loud crash, the pillar came tumbling down in multiple pieces, and evidently it had been holding a big display of hats at the very top as well. The hats and pieces of pillar scattered everywhere, leaving me flat on my butt in the middle of the ruined display and the two babies' strollers.

Cue screeching record sound effect.

The entire place went silent and all eyes were on me. I looked up slowly at all the tattooed guys who were staring at me, then around at the destruction I had caused. Nora and Evany were now completely quiet and also staring at me.

And there is nothing worse than the cold, judging eyes of a baby. But who could blame them? I was a catastrophe.

I don't think I'll be going to any more tattoo places any time soon. Or trying to care for any babies.

Clearly, these are two worlds in which I do not belong.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's fall on the blog again!

Happy Fall!

The kit I used was Frolic Through Fall by Creations by Rachael! I love that kit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

You can't punch the wind

My brother taught Jack a trick a while back. He turns to his wife, says "it's windy in here!" takes a deep breath, and then blows all over her face.

I am not the biggest fan of this little game.

So today, at Disney World, when Jack said "it's really windy out here" without as much as one leaf blowing on the trees around us, I knew what he had in mind.

"Don't you dare," I warned.

"But Cletus," he argued, taking a deep breath "it's just so windy out here!"

"If you blow on me, I'm going to punch you," I replied.

Jacked cocked his head to the side and stared at me quizzically.

"You can't punch the wind, Mandy," he replied.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Today she looks like this.

(Which means today I can finally show you these!)

Today she is smiling.

And posing for pictures.

Today she put this dress on.

And these shoes.

Oh man, the shoes.

Today begins what will be the closest and most difficult relationship of her life.

Today she'll put this ring on his finger.

And he'll tell her she's beautiful.

Because she is.

Today she'll start learning how to be his wife.

And he'll start learning how to be her husband.

Which means that today...

...he's the luckiest guy in the world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In which some people pee and I die inside

As you may know from my recent tweets and blog entries, I've been hanging out at Starbucks a lot lately. It has been awesome. I'm getting work done, relaxing, and I even learned a little something about free or cheap drip coffee and hot tea refills when you have your Starbucks card registered. Life is good at Starbucks.

Except that this particular Starbucks is in kind of a touristy part of town, I guess, so the bathrooms are locked and you have to ask for a key from the barista so they can make sure only the customers use it. Which is a little awkward when you have to pee, but, you know, it is what it is.

Anyway, there's a sign on the door that explains the situation.

Exhibit A:

Obtain! A key! from the barista! AT THE REGISTER!

And yet? People had an obscenely hard time with these simple instructions.

Sometimes it was non-customers who came in off the street and were disappointed to find that they would have to pay $4 to empty their bladders (and then fill them up again!). They were generally okay since they would briefly complain and then decide to pee or get off the pot (HA!).

Another kid stood at the door and tried to open it, and then screamed out to the people he was with that "SOMEBODY ELSE IS IN THERE!" and proceeded to knock on the door to the empty bathroom for the next 2 minutes, which proves 1) He is an idiot and 2a) He either didn't understand that Starbucks' bathrooms were always one-person bathrooms or 2b) he's really rude and didn't care that whoever was "in there" probably wouldn't have cared for someone banging on the door like a maniac.

And of course, there's the two guys who did pretty much what the above kid did, and then when they finally figured out that they had to obtain a key from the barista (read: when I yelled "you have to get a key" four times at them), they came back to the door and unlocked it as they talked loudly.

"Dude," one said to the other. "You can't take the key in with you, or you're going to get locked in."

"Oh yeah," the second said. "You'd better keep this outside with you."

This idea was one of the stupidest I've ever heard. If the whole "locking their customers in while they pee" thing were true, there would probably already be a really unhappy customer locked in there. Since, you know, there's no way to get out if the key is in there with you.

Seriously, the logic of that is so screwed up. But anyway, that's what they did. One of them held on to the key while the other went in. And of course, the one on the outside kept unlocking and opening the door while the other was peeing. But it wasn't until the second one went in that it got really ridiculous.

I was sitting around the corner from the bathroom, so I heard him put the key into the lock and turn it. Then he came running around the corner, laughing like an idiot and saying "I locked him in! I locked him in!" to me. I just stared at him, shocked that anybody could actually be that stupid, and then looked back at my computer.

A few seconds later, his friend came out of the bathroom (because hey! Guess what! It's not locked on the inside. It's locked on the outside.) The key-holding idiot looked all dejected and said "awwww man! I thought I locked you in!"

And America's future died just a little bit more.

In which Ellyn said...

"Wow, those are some really big mugs."

Monday, October 18, 2010

One classy night

It's Day 3 in Florida. I haven't accidentally hospitalized any of Ellyn's children yet and we're having quite a good time. We have already watched Dr. Horrible twice. And if I had to guess, I would say that we haven't seen our last round of that one. If you haven't seen it yet, run, don't walk to whatever you stream Netflix from and watch it immediately.

Ellyn's kids are "resting" which is a fancy way of saying "they're staying in their room so she can get things done and relax." Brilliant! Resting time! Who knew? I mean, they're certainly not resting; they're playing. Actually, a minute ago they were singing hymns, which was kind of hilarious to me since they're all tiny and such. But anyway. Rest time. I approve.

Ellyn and I went out the night before last after she got off work to a little pub nearby, and we were enjoying a glass of wine when some guys who were with her group of work friends came over with three gallon-sized bags of beef jerky. One of them was labeled "regular," the other "hot" and the third "XXX spicy." Evidently it was homemade jerky, which was supposed to be good, and they wanted us to try it. They were pretty insistent, so we took a few pieces to try. It was then that we realized just how cool we were.

Wine and jerky. Claaaasssssyyyy.

Anyway, at one point during the evening, one of Ellyn's friends came outside to where we were sitting and told us that Joey Fatone was inside. We "casually" walked inside to confirm or deny this claim, glasses of wine in hand (we left the jerky there... what were we thinking? We could have looked doubly classy!), and as we walked through the pub, we saw that he was, in fact, visiting with some people at the bar. Which means that I have officially seen a RENT cast-member in real life, though I don't really think he should count (nobody is Mark Cohen except Anthony Rapp and Neil Patrick Harris, sorry).

We continued to walk past as if we were going to the bathroom and when we got to the back of the room, Ellyn casually glanced over to the former N'Sync member as she lifted her glass to her lips. So smooth, this one. As she tipped her glass up to take a coy little drink, she accidentally spilled her wine all down the front of her shirt.

Like I said, smooth.

We burst into laughter and since there was really no way of regaining the illusion of suaveness, we headed back outside.

A little later, I had to go to the bathroom, so I went back inside and burst into laughter as soon as I walked through the door. After washing my hands, I practically ran back out to Ellyn and told her she absolutely had to come to the bathroom with me.

I think I may have scared her a little, until she saw this:

Joey Fatone's alleged signature. On the chalkboard above the urinal in the bathroom.

Yep. This was one classy night.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Florida, Starbucks, and phone conversations from the beyond

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Florida, enjoying a tasty Pumpkin Spice Frappucino. That's right. This is vacation.

Also, I kind of got myself stuck here because I'm several blocks away from Ellyn's restaurant (she's working tonight so I've been wandering), but it got dark and I'm not sure I want to walk back there by myself in the dark. It's a good thing I like it here, because I might actually live here now.

If I did live at Starbucks, though? I'd have so much blog material. Seriously. The guy who came in with a new sweater on and asked the barista (assuming it was somebody he knew) no less than three times "Do you think I pull this off?" so that she would compliment him. "No really, am I pulling this off?" Ha!

Another guy and barista who were rating the best guitar players of all time and a third guy who kept jumping in with clearly no knowledge of music whatsoever. It was hilarious. They're all "you know, Prince isn't such a bad musician" and the third guy's like "he changed his name to a symbol!"

The girl in the shorts and the red tights. Red! Tights!

And of course, who could forget the guy who introduced himself to me and said "I know this sounds totally cliche... but do you come here often?"


But still, vacation.

Especially because I just watched this happen:

Fantastical, no?

Earlier, I enjoyed a meal with Ellyn and her 18 children, who are ridiculously cute, by the way. I'm definitely putting Evany in my pocket and taking her home with me. There's just no way around that. I must have her.

After we got home from lunch, my Grandpa Kent called me. I answered the phone and started chatting with him, and when I asked what he was doing, his answer surprised me.

"Oh, I'm just sitting here and talking to your grandma," he replied.

"You're... talking to Grandma?" I asked, confused.

"Yep," he said, "Just sitting here talking to your grandma."

I figured he must be sitting around, maybe drinking, and talking to the urn that holds Grandma's ashes. The conversation moved to something else so I let the matter drop. To each his own, I guess, and I'm certainly not going to tell my grandfather how to cope with the loss of his wife.

"Well," he said a few minutes later "I'm going to let you talk to your grandma now."

"Let me... talk... to Grandma?" I stuttered back.

My mind started trying to organize a tactful way to tell him that I can't actually talk to her, that she's in heaven. Before I had a chance, I heard the phone rustle and there was silence on the other end of the phone.

"Grandpa? Hello?" I asked.

More silence. Had he put the phone up to the urn? Did he want me to talk to it? Exactly how much had he been drinking tonight? I listened intently as the phone moved some more, unsure of what to do next, when I heard a small voice on the other end of the line.

"Hello?" an elderly woman's voice said. Startled, I replied cautiously.

"Um, hello..." I said, trying to figure out who I was talking to. It did sound a little like Grandma Barbara, and I was stumped. I was pretty sure she died, and that you couldn't talk to people after that happened. Almost positive, actually. "Wait, who is this?"

"I miss you!" the small voice said.

"I, uh, miss you too!" I replied, hoping to identify the voice soon. "What are you doing?"


"Hello?" I said, as I heard a little more rustling of the phone.

"Oh, you know, I'm just staring at the ceiling these days," the voice said, and then began to giggle. Upon hearing the laugh, a little lightbulb turned on above my head and I got it.

I was talking to my Great Grandma. Grandma Barbara's mom. Who is still very much alive. Which means my Grandpa Kent isn't crazy after all.

Not so great at the communication, maybe, but not crazy at least.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Tonight was date night. Jack and I enjoyed a nice meal and a little game of Pictionary at Macaroni Grill (ps, I love crayons and tables you can draw on at restaurants. I am six.)

As is normally the case, we wanted to stop and get coffee on our way home from dinner, so we headed over to our favorite coffee shop in town. Jack turned on the radio to catch the end of the Ranger's game and I tweeted my epic drawing from the night's Pictionary game to see if anybody knew what it was (since Jack absolutely did not during the game and blamed my drawing abilities).

"It's going to be nice this weekend when I can watch the Cowboys game without you getting upset," he said as I thumbed through my Facebook notifications on my phone.

"Oh yeah! I don't have to be there when you get all pissy when they lose," I mumbled.

We lapsed into silence as Jack listened to his game and I played with my phone, when all of the sudden I snapped my head up and looked at Jack, wide-eyed.

"PISSY!?" I asked, loudly, as Jack stared back quizzically. "Did you just call me pissy?"

Jack stared at me blankly as I stared back, waiting for an answer.

"No," he responded slowly. "You just called me pissy."

All of the sudden, I remembered how it had just happened and we both burst into fits of uncontrollable laughter. When I finally caught my breath several minutes later, I looked at him again.

"Are you still going to love me when I'm crazy?" I asked, wiping the tears of laughter from my cheeks.

"Oh sweetie," he cooed, "I do love you. But you're already crazy."

I smiled at him and he smiled back.

"CRAZY!?" he loudly exclaimed a moment later. "DID YOU JUST CALL ME CRAZY?"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The birds and the bees and the trains

I'm going to see my buddy Ellyn next week in Florida, and because I'm an expert at overstaying my welcome, I'll get a really detailed glimpse into their day-to-day lives while they do school and church and all that jazz.

I joked with Ellyn that I wanted to homeschool her kids something while I was there, and that I could do a lesson on evolution since I was pretty sure they weren't getting it in their current lesson plan.

For some reason, she declined.

"Okay," I said "I'll just teach them where babies come from, I guess."

"They'd probably eat it up," Ellyn tweeted back. "They've had a lot of questions after seeing a certain MythBusters last week."

Awesome. Groundwork.

I was telling my friend Colleen this at work today, and she told me a story about when she was raising her own kids. She had gone to a seminar on talking to your kids about sex, and they suggested that to prevent one big scary "THE TALK" moment, you introduce your kids early and often to concepts while they're young, such as the differences between boys and girls.

The next day, Colleen was playing with her three year old son and decided to try this out.

"Are you a boy or a girl?" she asked him.

He paused and thought for a moment.

"I'm a train! Toot toot!" he responded.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hope you have a bullet-proof vest

GET IT? BULLETS! Holy cow, I am so clever.
  • I miss blogging, but there are quite a few really great things keeping me from blogging. Like blogging, for example. I know. Ironic.

  • Glee is weak this season. Modern Family, however, is not.
  • BikeMS registration opened yesterday. I am so excited and so nervous to be leading a team of about 150 people this year. I'm concerned about sponsorships (Ps, I will shamelessly advertise for your company if you're willing to sponsor us). And coordinating 150 riders. And countless volunteers. And training for my own ride. And not being able to clip out of my pedals in front of my team. But good news! I get to worry about that for the next 7 months! Ulcer, here I come!
  • (Ulcer or not, I'm still really excited about doing this again):
    Ahhh, spandex bike shorts. You and I are going to get to know each other again soon, aren't we?

  • I am not a web designer. By any means. My blog design business is a glorified digital scrapbooking business and a neglected one at that (I'm sorry, clients! I haven't forgotten about you, I promise! It's the BikeMS registration week. It sucked up every spare moment I had, including time I usually spend sleeping.) Anyway, I have been modifying a horribly complicated (for me) template for my BikeMS team's website and now? I'm really glad I work in broadcasting. I am much too dumb for web design. But as Jack said: "At least you're pretty!" He also said "Well, I didn't marry you for your brain." (True. He married me for my spandex bike shorts. Chicka chicka padded butt. HOT.)
  • My Ahhh Scrap store opened yesterday. I can hardly believe it. A real digital scrapbooking store. I'm thrilled. I have not had a lot of time to wrap my mind around that one. It's just sort of there for now. But I am excited.
  • My friend Eric brought a GIANT RICE KRISPIE TREAT to work today. I mean, for serious. He found it at a gas station, of all places. I could have wrapped it around my entire head. I didn't though, since I didn't want my coworkers eating things off my head.

    I couldn't stop staring at it. And I really wanted somebody to pick it up and take a big bite out of it, as if they were a giant. Or, I guess, a teeny tiny person, since the ratio was actually the other way around. (The thoughts in my head are attacking me.)

  • Speaking of treats. Pumpkin spice latte? YES YES YES OH GOSH YES I'LL HAVE WHAT SHE'S HAVING I LOVE FALL. My mom bought me one this morning on the way to work. Which means I like her best now, obviously. (See also: my love can be purchased.)

  • Last Friday, Jack and I woke up together at 10 a.m. with our windows open. And it smelled like Fall. And the dog got on the bed and rolled around and cuddled all excited-like and we took a super-blurry picture of the three of us with my cell phone and then I made pancakes and coffee and we spent the day holding hands and walking around our favorite outdoor shopping center in the 70-degree cloudless weather with our happy little dog on a string.

    I mean, honestly, you should be dry heaving by now; we are so disgusting and adorable.

    And now this blurry picture is my phone's background and even though it may very well be the worst photo I have ever taken, it is now one of my favorites.

     Because happiness is blurry sometimes, I guess.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Texas Gecko Massacre

I don't think it's a secret by now that geckos and I don't get along. I'm... how do you say it... a big fat wimp. And geckos? Are fast and terrifying. But believe me when I say that I did not do this one on purpose. Actually, I didn't do it at all.

A few days ago, I tweeted that a giant gecko had run into my house. And I know, I exaggerate sometimes. No really, I know you're shocked, but not everything I write is totally serious and accurate.

But THIS WAS A DRAGON. For serious. It breathed fire at me and flew around the room, knocking stuff off the shelves and roaring.

You're never going to trust me again, are you?

Anyway, Jack caught it. And honestly? He was even grossed out. It was nasty.

Exhibit A:

Seriously. The thing is ridiculous. Also? I'm pretty sure he was the same one that I had to have my dad come over and catch one night last year when Jack wasn't home.

Notice the same spots and line across the face in line with the eyes? Totally the same gecko, right?

Which means he has been taunting me for years. Or, well, for at least a year.

But I think he's done taunting me now.

My parents came over the other day. They visited for a while, and then we decided to go to dinner. They had already eaten, so they left through the front door and we went through the back. They took our dog with them (our dog likes their dog), so when I got home, I started walking out the front door to go pick her up from their house, when suddenly I saw something very jarring.

"AHHHHHHHHH!" I yelled, as I backed up.

"What?" Jack asked, surprised.

"AAHHHHHHHHH!" I repeated, pointing at the door. "AHHH! AH AH AH AHHHHH!"

I'm sure that really helped him determine what was wrong. But when he walked over and saw this:

...I think he figured it out.

You are horrified at this photograph. I KNOW. I AM TOO.

When my parents swung the door closed, the gecko on its way inside.

It got cut in half.

Its front-half was inside.

Its back-half was outside.

There was definitely blood.

And for once in my life, I think being afraid of a gecko was totally rational.

Friday, October 1, 2010

What's a guest blog post without the f-word?

I have a twitter buddy named Abigail. She and her husband Joel are super awesome, in the same 20-something-married-with-no-kids-and-thinking-that's-awesome situation we are. And except for the part where she lives in Chicago and knows what to do during an aircraft emergency, we're pretty much the same person.

So I was thrilled when she asked me to guest post on her blog while she was away in India saving the world this week. The subject? Dreams.

I wanted to be respectful of her blog and do my very best to write a deep, meaningful post. So of course I wrote a story involving the f-word.

That's just how I roll.



The Effing Great Wall of China
Originally a guest post on SkyWaitress's Blog

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to spend a month in China with my dad. He was doing business there and I tagged along, staying in nice hotels, eating super-weird food, and doing a lot of bargain shopping with people who were so shocked to see a tall white girl there that they wanted to take pictures with me.

On the weekends, we would hang out with his 20-something year old co-worker and friend, Darlana, and we would explore. Wuhan, then Beijing, then Shanghai, then it was off to Europe to tour around there. What an experience.

While we were in Beijing, we had to visit the Great Wall of China, obviously. We took a long tour that day, and they showed us the main sights in China and finally drove us up a mountain to the entrance of the Great Wall.

The weather was pretty terrible. Evidently all the pictures you see of the Great Wall winding beautifully over green hills on postcards? Aren’t realistic. Because that only happens a few days out of the year. The rest of the time, it’s foggy. Like, can’t-see-your-friends-walking-20-feet-in-front-of-you foggy. Clearly (ha!), our view of the beautiful winding wall was out of the question.

We had already had a long day and we were tired. Darlana was lamenting the weather, and how crowded it was there, and how hot it was (115°F! YIKES!), and was generally in a poor mood.

“Yeah,” I agreed, “the weather sucks, but I mean, we are actually walking on the Great Wall of China, after all.”

A light bulb went off in her brain, and she snapped her head back around and looked at me.

“We are!” she replied, excitedly. “We’re on the f***ing Great Wall of China!”

We started laughing, and from then on her demeanor completely changed.

Our feet still hurt, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

Our view sucked more than it could have, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

The places where the people had urinated and defecated were terrible, yes, but we were on the f***ing Great Wall of China!

And YES. That happens. Some people use the Great Wall as their personal toilet.

My point is, it was all a matter of attitude. By stepping back and realizing where we were, what this all meant, and changing our attitudes, we actually experienced it. We might have missed it had we focused on what was wrong with the situation.

If Abigail and Joel were to simply focus on the poor living conditions or the apparent hopelessness of a third-world country right now, they will not experience the good things. The help they can provide. The love. The mission.

When you find yourself living out one of your dreams, are you focusing on the things that are happening, or the things that aren’t?

During your wedding, something you meticulously planned will go wrong (for example, you will lose your wedding license right before the wedding. True story.). Don’t focus on that part. Focus on the part where he beams as you walk down the aisle.

When you buy your first house, there will be things to fix. Don’t focus on that part (well, unless it’s an unsound investment!). Focus on the part where you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment after having scraped all that horrible wallpaper off your bathroom wall while singing off key at the top of your lungs with the love of your life.

And when you are learning to live with your spouse, there will be flaws and fights. Don’t focus on that part. Focus on the part where he wrestles you to the floor and tickles you until you scream while the dog runs around and around the two of you, so excited that you’re playing.

We’re right on top of our f***ing Great Wall of China right now and not taking one second for granted. What’s your Great Wall?

Chances are, you’re already living the dream. It’s just a matter of finding the happy.