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Archive for June, 2012

If I Had a Head Like That…

June 25, 2012 6 comments

My first grade teacher told my parents I would end up with an ulcer if I didn’t lighten up.  She was wrong.  I don’t have an ulcer.  I made it through childhood and most of adolescence with no health issues.  About the time I started applying to colleges and prepping for “real life,” the headache hit me.  I, who had never experienced anything worse than the occasional brain freeze, fell victim to the mother of all headaches.  It lasted more than a month with not one second of relief.  I saw doctor after doctor, eliminated all  manner of ailments, from a sinus problem to a brain tumor.  The diagnosis?  Tension headache.

That gem of a headache opened the floodgate.  Since then, I’ve been highly susceptible to tension headaches and migraines.  Sometimes I’m quite sure that I’m having a stroke, because random parts of my body go numb right before the pain hits.  I’ve spent far too much of my life whimpering in a dark room, wishing I could suspend my head in mid-air, because even touching a pillow hurts.  All you headache sufferers out there know what I’m talking about, and surely know it all too well.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at managing my stress levels, and more responsible about giving my body what it needs.  Lots of water, plenty of rest, regular exercise…you know.  All that boring stuff.  It helps.  I don’t get headaches nearly as often as I used to.  Maybe because I’m treating myself better, or maybe just because I’m in a calmer stage of life.  Or possibly I have unwittingly done something that pleases the Headache Gods.  Still, I do sometimes get headaches and they always take me by surprise.  You might think I would kind of expect them by now, but no…ever the optimist, I seem to believe, on some level, that every headache is the last one.

Anyway, I am right at this moment suffering.  Last night, shortly before bed, I got hit with a monster out of the clear blue.  I don’t like taking medicine, so I just went to bed with the hopes that I’d sleep it off.  No dice.  I still have the little bastard.  And I still haven’t taken any meds.  This is something I can’t explain about myself.  True, over the counter meds often don’t work on my headaches.  My monumental dislike of doctors prevents me from getting any real meds.  And so I suffer, choosing to stare at a computer screen, which everyone knows is awesome when your head hurts and your vision is blurred.  I am drinking lots and lots of coffee, since caffeine usually helps a little.  Also because I like to drink lots of coffee.

However, the sleep didn’t help, the coffee didn’t help, and, oddly enough, staring at the computer screen didn’t help.  I’m going to have to take something and just hope it works.  That pisses me off.  It feels like the headache won.  I know that’s absurd, but it is what it is.  I’ve learned to live around my damage.  So I’m going to go find some Excedrin, drink a big old bottle of water and maybe eat a little breakfast.  I will surrender this battle, but not the war.

Yellow is Not a Flavor

June 24, 2012 4 comments

I have a pet peeve.  I know this will come as a shock to most of you, because I’m usually so laid back and easy to get along with.  Ha.  Literally couldn’t type that with a straight face.  Okay, anyway, down to business.  I enjoy baking and decorating cakes.  It’s my hobby, not my career, but I’m still a cake girl.  I take cake seriously and personally.  Also, as in most other things I do, cake is going to happen my way.

He could have this…

Enter Hubs.  He isn’t a big fan of cake.  His favorite dessert is cheesecake, which, ironically, is the one baked good that I cannot master, despite years of trying.  My last cheesecake was delicious and creamy, but it turned brown in the oven.  WTH.  Anyway, the moral of the story is that he doesn’t often want cake.  He’s the most interesting cake eater in the world.  He doesn’t always eat cake, but when he does, he prefers yellow cake.

or he could have this…

Tell me please, what in the name of all that’s holy is yellow cake supposed to be?  There’s vanilla cake, there’s butter cake, there’s lemon cake, banana cake and pineapple cake.  All of those cakes taste like something.  Yellow cake tastes like its name.  Yellow.  There is no discernible flavor.  This is also an issue with white cake, but I’m going to let white cake slide, because the whole point of it is that it’s white.  It’s for those occasions when the color of your cake is more important that the flavor or the moistness that the egg yolks will give it.  Yellow cake has no excuse.  There are a million cakes that are yellow that also have flavors.  If you want a yellow cake, why not choose a flavor to go along with it?

he could even have this.

Now, what I have learned about yellow cake is this.  When most people say “yellow,” they don’t mean it.  They mean vanilla.  I make a mean french vanilla cake and if someone asks me to make a yellow cake, that’s what they get.  I don’t ask, I just do it.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I usually make a comment, depending on how well I know the person, ranging from “You mean vanilla?” to “Yellow is not a freaking flavor.  What flavor do you want?”  However, when Hubs says yellow, he does mean it.  He means he wants a plain old boxed yellow cake with a can of chocolate frosting and woe betide me if I add so much as one drop of vanilla extract to the party.  It hurts me to make this.  I can make cakes that are far more delightful and way prettier than a 9×13 left in the pan with a can of chocolate-flavored preservatives dumped on top.  He’s my husband.  I love him!  I want to give him good things, not a hot cake mess.

But he wants this.

Okay, I realize that I’m dissing the very cake that most of us grew up on and that many of us make today, if the cakes that my neighbor shares with us are any indication.  If yellow-in-the-pan-canned-frosting cake is your bag, then there’s nothing wrong with that.  It is not mine.  If I’m going to make a cake, I want to make it special.  Also, I’m a huge cake snob.  I recognize that.  But I don’t have so very many special skills that I can ignore them and not use them.  I can make cake and frosting.  I want to do that.  I want to give my husband a delicious, moist, rich piece of artwork.  Rejected.  He just wants a regular cake.  My brain doesn’t understand “regular” cake.

Thank goodness my daughter learned to make brownies.

 

The Casual Wave

June 23, 2012 2 comments

As you may have gathered from my many references to sweet tea and biscuits, I live in the South.  There are many wonderful and warm things about southern hospitality, but there’s one that I just can’t quite seem to manage.  The casual wave.

This is not a skill you think about teaching your children.  After all, when was the last time you met a two-year-old who couldn’t wave bye-bye?  Everyone knows how to wave.  But, you see, this is not a regular wave.  This is the casual wave.  This is what we do around here.  If you don’t wave at people, you’re just being downright rude.  You don’t have to know them.  As a matter of fact, if you do know them, you’re kind of expected to stop where ever you are, be it in the aisle at Walmart, in the door of the doctor’s office, or driving down the middle of the road, and have a conversation.  If you don’t know them, then the casual wave is in order.  It’s our friendly southern way of saying hello, how’s it going to all and sundry.  Oh, never fear, we’re not all that nice.  We’re waving to your front, but probably blessing your heart to your back.

 

So, anyway, this is how it’s done.

 

 

 

 

 

Not like this.  This is kind of how I do it.  With less bacon.

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I need to take this moment to thank my parents for filling me up full of Yankee genetics that cause me to become a complete dork when I try to wave.  Not saying that Yankees are dorky wavers.  Just me.  I am a dorky waver.

It took me years to master the timing.  I’m not exactly what you would call hyperaware of my surroundings.  Or aware at all.  It took a lot of practice to notice that there was a person around, then to get my hand in the air fast enough to acknowledge them.  Once I managed to get my hand in the air, I never really figured out what to do with it.  Too limp and you’re waving a dead arm.  Too firm and you look like you’re doing an offensive and outdated Native American impression.  Should I point, like Isaac from the Love Boat?  Am I supposed to salute or something?  No, no, don’t put THAT finger up!!

Sigh.  It’s exhausting.  This is way more effort than I wanted to put into a casual and insincere greeting to a stranger walking down my street.  I’ve given up on the casual wave and I’ve adopted the nod.  It’s subtle and it doesn’t require me to flail or question my basic abilities.  If I’m feeling really friendly, you might get an eyebrow raise with the nod.  You might get the eyebrow raise without the nod, actually, because I raise my eyebrows a lot to hide the fact that that wrinkle is actually ALWAYS on my forehead.

I have a vague suspicion that there’s something kind of off-putting about the nod.  It just doesn’t feel as friendly as the wave.  But look, I have to live within my limitations.  My hands have a mind of their own, and, now that I think about it, I often have something in my hands when I would normally wave.  I can just see it now, I’d fling my cell phone, my drink, my kid right out the car window in my frenzy to wave.  So for the safety of my children, electronics and sanity, I think I’ll just stick with the nod.

My Bra is Inside Out and My Knives are Dull

June 18, 2012 7 comments

There are unspoken rules of adult-dom.  There are things that you’re not “supposed” to do.  I know this.  I do some of them, anyway.

image via realsimple.com

Knives in the dishwasher.

You’re not supposed to put knives in the dishwasher.  I do it.  I do it because, in real life, I’m not about to run a sink of dishwater to wash a couple of knives.  I’m just not going to do it.  I know, I know…knives can get dulled knocking around in the dishwasher.  The dry cycle can leave unsightly spots.  It’s just not good for them.  Whatever.  I have nice knives, but they’re not high-dollar chef quality, and therefore I am willing to take the risk.  Like every other mom who has ever walked the planet, I have limited time, therefore I have to pick my battles.  Everydamnthing that will fit goes into the dishwasher.

Not my bras. via earth911.com

Bras in the dryer.

I don’t care for laundry related chores.  I do not buy clothes that require special care.  My dry clean only wardrobe is extremely limited.  The clothes that require ironing are few, and are pushed to the back of the closet, anyway.  There are about five items that I won’t put in the dryer and underwear does not make the cut.  I know, I know.  I can extend the life and quality of my unmentionables by eschewing the dryer.  I don’t care.  Look, my laundry room is not really a room.  We literally built walls around my washer and dryer just so I don’t have to look at them all the time.  I don’t have room to have bras hanging all hither and yon.  Fortunately, my lack of blessings in that department don’t require my intimates to be particularly supportive or heavy-duty, so they can afford to take a bit of abuse and neglect.

Not my skillet, either. webstaurantstore.com

Washing my Iron Skillet

My cast iron skillet is the stuff of a Southern girl’s dreams.  My mom found it for me at a flea market when we got married.  I promptly washed it, seasoned it and have treasured it ever since.  If you’re wrinkling your nose at used cookware, then you don’t understand about iron skillets.  They’re useless when they’re new.  They need to be old and well seasoned to be any good.  Here’s the thing about them, though.  You’re not supposed to actually wash them with soap and water.  If they’re good, they’re pretty much non-stick and you should be able to just wipe them out and you’re good to go.  Soap and water kills the surface that’s been developing for about fifty years.  That’s all fine and good until you, say, cook a giant batch of sausage gravy in it.  Or Hubs sears some steaks at roughly 9,000 degrees.  Sometimes soap and water is not optional.  So I do it, looking over my shoulder for Alton Brown the whole time.  In my defense, I never, ever soak it and I won’t touch it with an abrasive scrubber.  Hey, it’s better than getting Montreal Steak Seasoning in your sausage gravy.

There is no chance that I’ll be doing this.

Warm up and cool down.

Unless I’m in an exercise class or doing a DVD that requires it, I don’t warm up before exercises.  Let’s face it.  It’s boring and none of us have enough time for this nonsense.  Pulled muscles be damned, I’m jumping right in.  So far, so good…I find that my exercise related injuries are far more likely to be related to overestimating my skills than any amount of warm up.  Cool down is also something I tend to skip, but for slightly different reasons.  My workouts typically start to go downhill halfway through, so the entire second half is a gradual cool down, anyway.  Exercise for an extra five minutes at the end to “slow down”?  Unnecessary.

I find that a lot of my rule breaking is closely related to laziness saving time, but I’m okay with that.  We all have to pick our battles and if I’m willing to put my bra on the front lines, well then, so be it.  I don’t always bend the rules.  I keep my dairy products in the fridge and I always cook my pork well-done, no matter what anyone says.  I also cook my beef well-done, but that’s another story.  If nothing else, at least I know my knives still do their jobs.

All Puffed Up

June 18, 2012 4 comments

It has been eight days since I wrote.  Gasp!  I apologize for my absence, my only excuse is the sixty-five something hours I worked last week.  That darn job keeps getting in the way of the things I really want to do.  Anyway, so I haven’t written as much as usual and my first post back is going to be kind of obnoxious, I’m sorry to say.  There’s about to be a lot of bragging about my kid, but I’m going to (try) to do it in the context of how he impacts my expectations as a Mom. 

In this particular post, I’m talking about my son.  I can’t do that without first taking a moment to talk about my daughter, my first-born, my mini-me.  That last quality is a lot of the reason that she’s not featured in this particular post.  She may look like a female version of her father, but every other single thing about her is all mine.  It’s handy when I need to read her mind and I’m finding that to be a priceless skill as we are plunged into adolescence.  Anyway, she is tremendously intelligent, vastly skilled in art and writing and freakin’ hysterical about 99% of the time, when she’s not in a teenage pout.  She is also very tentatively self-confident and generally shies away from the spotlight, preferring to fly under the radar.  Therefore, she does well in everything she does, but she keeps it on the down low.  That’s the part I understand.  She doesn’t enjoy awards and accolades, so she works to keep things just short of standing out.  I don’t particularly like that, since I believe she deserves all the awards on earth, but I get it and I let her work her way slowly out of her comfort zone.

Now, on the other hand, the boy does not have this issue.  He is also super-smart and he’s perfectly fine with everyone knowing it.  I don’t mean he’s an obnoxious brat about it, because we have lots of talks about how insufferable the “I’m smarter than you” kids are.  I just mean that by no stretch of the imagination is he hiding his light under a barrel.  He’s privately quite sure that he’s smarter than anyone, with the possible exception of Stephen Hawking.  Most of my parental cheerleading for him has more to do with keeping him grounded in reality than building him up.  While we try to keep his ego under control, it has given him the great gift of confidence.  He will walk into any situation without hesitation.  New things don’t scare him.  Heck, even public speaking doesn’t give him butterflies.  He blows me away because I cannot understand him.  I’m proud of him, for sure, but he’s an alien being to me.

With all that said, I need to talk about the expectations that I have for him.  Obviously, first and foremost, I want him to be happy and successful in all that he does.  On a more specific level, I expect good grades, high test scores and everything he does to be done to the best of his ability.  I’m not saying that I’m not proud when he delivers, because I am.  I’ve just recently begun to realize that I’m not nearly as proud as I should be.  My son took two SOLs at school this year, math and english.  He missed only one question on the english and that completely blew me away, because at semester break, he was actually failing the class.  (Let me take a moment to point out that math whizzes sometimes struggle with the ambiguity of general essay writing.  Their brains want there to be a right or wrong answer, no in between.  Also, I think his teacher was out to get him.  For real.)    So the english score blew me away and I was all puffed up about it, so proud of my boy for overcoming his challenges.  Regarding math, he got a perfect score.  Yes, yes, it’s awesome, but I expected nothing less.  This is a child who can’t wait to get to middle school so he can take Algebra.  The day he took the test he told me he got them all right.  He’s a math guy and fourth grade math is well below his abilities, so of course he got them all right.  Duh. 

Well.  Guess what I found out.  The state changed the SOLs this year.  51% of the kids in the state who took this test failed it.  So not only is my kid in the minority who successfully passed, but he got a PERFECT score.  Well, well.  This is a pretty damn big deal.  (It would be nice if the school recognized his very huge achievement, but I guess we don’t want anyone to feel bad for not doing as well, so we’ll just ignore it…blah, don’t even get me started.)  Now, around that same time, he was invited to apply for Governor’s School this summer.  If you’re not familiar with Governor’s School, it’s a regional enrichment program for kids who qualify.  I’m not sure what you have to do to qualify or who nominates whom, but it’s a pretty sweet deal.  We applied and received our letter that he was enrolled in a week of web page design classes.  Sweet, right?  Again, I’m proud.  When I dropped him off for his first day of class this morning, I discovered something rather shocking.  Over sixty kids in our county applied and my kid was one of twelve who was selected for class.  What the….  again, a pretty damn big deal.

So here’s my dilemma, as this kid’s mother.  I feel that I’m cheating him by not realizing how extremely, ridiculously, super proud I should be.  Of course, I am proud, and I tell him so.  But I also need him to continue to work to his abilities.  He sets the bar so high for himself that I don’t feel like I can cut him any slack, because he is happy with nothing less than the best.  How do I continue to push him, and still make him understand how amazing he is?  How do I make watch him achieve honor after honor without coming to expect it?  Is it even okay to expect it?  Does that make it less special?  I don’t know, I’m just learning it as I go.  All I know is that our county chose a representative who recently stuck Gobstobbers in his nose just for shits and giggles.  I am so proud.

The Poor Grammar Epidemic, or Stop Making Us Look Stupid

June 9, 2012 11 comments

I have accepted the their/there/they’re confusion.  I’ve endured the effect/affect question.  I’ve suffered through two/too/to and more its/it’s issues than anyone should ever be exposed to.  Now I draw the line.  The straw has broken the damn camel’s back.  The lose/loose debate has reared its ugly head and, friends, this aggression shall not stand.

I don’t know how these things start, but I suspect that a couple dummies somewhere started using words wrong and making all their friends believe that they were right.  Suddenly, otherwise intelligent English-speaking people all over the world have started talking about loosing their car keys or loosing weight.  For Christ’s sake, this incoherent nonsense needs to end now.  These words are not interchangeable.  Definitions are not debatable.  Knowing how to speak your own language properly is not freaking optional.

via calguns.net

As defined by Dictionary.com, which by the way, is free, available to everyone and even has an app for your smartphone:

LOSE
verb
1.to come to be without (something in one’s possession or care), through accident, theft, etc., so that there is little or no prospect of recovery: I’m sure I’ve merely misplaced my hat, not lost it.
2.to fail inadvertently to retain (something) in such a way that it cannot be immediately recovered: I just lost a dime under this sofa.
3.to suffer the deprivation of: to lose one’s job; to lose one’s life.
4.to be bereaved of by death: to lose a sister.
5.to fail to keep, preserve, or maintain: to lose one’s balance; to lose one’s figure.
 
 
LOOSE
adjective
1.free or released from fastening or attachment: a loose end.
2.free from anything that binds or restrains; unfettered: loose cats prowling around in alleyways at night.
3.uncombined, as a chemical element.
4.not bound together: to wear one’s hair loose.
5.not put up in a package or other container: loose mushrooms.
 
Now that we have (hopefully) cleared that up, I have a few more things to say on the subject.  There are certainly some complex grammatical issues that people wrestle with.  Like, for example, not ending a sentence with a preposition.  I don’t need everyone in the world to be an English professor or a professional writer.  However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we be able to properly use words.  If you can’t manage to send a text or a tweet without effing up the English language, then perhaps you need a refresher course.  Or just talk out loud, since one can’t generally hear these kinds of atrocities.  I swear to God,  you’re making the rest of us just look stupid.  Do other countries have this problem?  Is there a French blogger out there somewhere bitching about people misusing “la” and “le”?  Or is there actually a culture out there somewhere who learns things as children and retains that information and cares enough to use it properly?
 
I’ll tell you what I think. (You didn’t think I’d be shy about it, did you?)  I think we’re just lazy.  Spellcheck will never catch your misused “there.”  Grammar check is a nice idea, but it gets it wrong often enough to be deemed unreliable.  Stop counting on your spellcheck and your autocorrect to fix it for you, because it won’t.  As a matter of fact, if you’re relying on autocorrect, you probably just deserve what you get, since my phone has recently decided that the word “somewhere” should be “Zimbabwe”.  Every time.  But I’m digressing again.  All I’m saying is that we should try a little harder.  We should care more.  If you don’t have enough pride in your language, then at least have the decency to try to avoid giving people like me a grammar-induced stroke.   Now repeat after me.
 
You cannot loose keys.  Irregardless is not a word.  Ain’t is to be used ironically, if at all.  However and how ever are two different things.  Just because words sound the same, does not mean you can use them interchangeably.  If you’re not sure of the meaning, look it up.  If you’re still not sure, use a different word.  The rules of language are not negotiable.  Use it properly go somewhere else and butcher their language.
 
That is all.
 
note:  I am certain that I’ll have a typo or a grammatical error in here, because that’s how life is.  When you find it, please be aware that it’s a MISTAKE, not something that I did on purpose.  Except for the sentence fragments.  I always do those on purpose.  I’m probably giving someone a grammatical stroke, but they can bitch about it on their blog.

5 Things I Never Have

June 9, 2012 2 comments

Sometimes I think I live with thieves, or possibly Borrowers.   No matter how hard I try, there are things that constantly vanish from my home.  I’m a planner and a stocker and I like to have lots of things on hand when we need them.  If there are fewer than two extra bottles of shampoo or tubes of toothpaste in the closet, I get a little panicky.  I like to have extras of things and I like to know what I have in the house.  It causes me no small amount of distress to acknowledge my utter inability to keep a decent stock of certain items.

via ragetrolling.com

Milk

In the dark recesses of my memory, in the pre-child years, I remember weeks when I didn’t even buy milk.  If I did buy it, it was by the quart.  What on earth would anyone need with a whole gallon of milk, anyway?  I remember seeing women in the store with two or three gallons of milk in the cart and, I admit, I stared.  Probably with my mouth hanging open.  Well, then I had a son.  Boys have some unnatural dependence on milk.  Maybe some girls do, but not my girl.  All I know is that every woman I know with one or more sons has considered buying a cow on more than one occasion.  I have seen my ten-year-old son drink a gallon of milk in two days.  TWO DAYS.  How can I possibly keep up with him at that pace?  There’s a limit to how many gallons of milk I can put in my fridge, and anyway, on those weeks that I’ve tried to buy two gallons and cut him off at the pass, he suddenly doesn’t want to drink milk until the day after it has expired.  And Heaven forbid I ask him to ration the milk until grocery day, I may as well ask him to stop breathing for all the shock and horror that follows. Yes, I want my child to drink milk.  I would rather he drink a hundred gallons of milk instead of soda.  I just don’t want to keep making emergency milk runs to the store.  I need to understand how it’s possible for any one small human to consume this much milk, or if there’s something more sinister going on.  Like cats with straws and the ability to open the refrigerator

Straws

Speaking of cats with straws, my cats love straws.  I mean, they LOVE straws.  The only straws I can have in my house are the flattened, chewed up ones that the cats have swiped and buried under the doormat.  My children might enjoy drinking through a straw, but we’ll never know, because any unattended straw will vanish in nanoseconds.  Capri Sun, juice boxes, nothing is safe.  If there’s a straw in the house, they will have it.  Macaroni Cat knows how to open doors and cabinets and his love of straws far outweighs his respect for his humans’ property.  And so I may have a few stray straws on a high shelf somewhere, but they’re not for human use.  I have to reward the cats somehow after they’ve suffered the indignity of Advantage application.

Toilet Paper

How, how, how is it possible to go through toilet paper so fast?  I buy, without fail, the jumbo package of double roll toilet paper.  Every single time I buy toilet paper, I feel like I’m stocking up for the end of days.  But, all too soon, we’re down to our last lonely four-pack.  What is going on with the toilet paper in my house?  I suspect there’s a secret toilet paper origami artist at work.  Maybe a member of my family secretly eats toilet paper.  Or maybe we just eat too much fiber.  In any case, I feel like I’m going to have to start a toilet paper rationing program.  More than three squares require prior approval.  Or maybe pay toilets are the answer.

Cold Water Bottles

I drink a lot of water.  I encourage my family to also drink a lot of water.  As a result, I have a large quantity of Filtrete reusable water bottles as well as a supplementary case of water.  Yet, somehow, I never have a cold bottle of water when I’m thirsty.  It seems, despite the fact that my children incessantly ask for soda and chocolate milk, that they’re drinking roughly one hundred million bottles of water every day, leaving their poor mother to dehydrate.  More accurately, they’re drinking one sip each out of one hundred million bottles, then leaving mostly full bottles scattered hither and yon.

Coffee

Hubs and I like coffee.  I mean, we like coffee like crackheads like their next fix.  It stands to reason that we would go through a fair amount of coffee.  In addition to our morning coffee, we often like evening coffee, extra weekend coffee and the occasional homemade pitcher of Frappuccino.  Even accounting for all that coffee brewing, I am still dumbfounded by how quickly we run out of coffee.  I’ve recently explored the idea of a Dunkin Donuts coffee subscription (this is a real thing!), but I’m kind of embarrassed by how much we will need.  Until I get enough courage to commit, I’m going to be on the lookout for sneaky neighbors, squirrels or ghostly apparitions who might be dipping into my stash.

Okay, okay, so I know there really aren’t little beings sneaking around my house taking this stuff (probably).  It’s just incredibly frustrating that I constantly have to stop at the store for these things.  Except straws, of course, I don’t even bother anymore.  I just can’t win this battle, though I will never stop fighting.  One day, as God is my witness, I shall have milk and I shall have coffee and I will mix them and drink them until I need to find the extra toilet paper.  Trust.