Monday, October 31, 2011

So. I'm an artist now.

A few days ago I posted a photo my daughter found on the internet (with help from her father) of a vampire pumpkin.  She LOVES this pumpkin.  LOVES IT.  So she printed out the photo and hung it on her bedroom door, where it thoroughly creeped me out every night.  You can read that story here if you're so inclined.

Or you can just look at the original "inspiration" photo below:

By the talented Adrienne Trafford, a woman I have never met but who seems quite lovely.

Without further ado, here is MY version of this fantastic pumpkin.

Errrr.  Maybe I shouldn't have put it side by side with the original.
It looks a lot better if you don't look at Adrienne's masterpiece.
Look, I told you I wasn't a painter, OK?  You can stop laughing now.

Besides, the Princess isn't as discerning in her art appreciation as you all are.  She's thrilled with it, so I call it a success.

Halloween Madness. No seriously. It is MADNESS.

I like Halloween.  I like it almost as much as I like Christmas.  And I really like Christmas.  But that's another post.

Because this is October.  As you may be aware, October is the month of Halloween (not Christmas. I'm talking to you, retailers everywhere). And because October is the month of Halloween, I've got Halloween on the brain.

I like to dress my kids up:

That's the Princess, age 7 months.

Age 19 months

Age 2.  A pirate with attitude.

Age 3.  Snow White.

Age 4.  Pinkalicious!

The Princess, 4 years, and the Monster, 6 weeks.

Costume 1: Vampire

Costume 2: Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp, people!

I like carving pumpkins:

OK. Truth? I do not like carving pumpkins. I like looking at pumpkins carved by my husband and child.

Yes, my husband is the Official Carver of Gourds and Melons in this household for good reason.

I LOVE trick or treating:

 And yes.  I like dressing up.  I work in an office where people are awesome:

Theme: Zombie Prom.  There were balloons and dance music.  And a strobe light.
I brought a fog machine.  It set off the smoke alarm and several hundred people had to evacuate the building.
And everybody was all, "Those zombie prom girls on the first floor know how to PAR-TAY!"

Another year, another zombie.  Mother-daughter zombies!
  This was for my brother's zombie-themed birthday party (his birthday is October 26).
The Princess was 3 and she was a zombie ballerina.

I even like Halloween cakes:

It's a brain.  It's a cake.  It's a brain cake, and I made it for the aforementioned Zombie Birthday Party.

OK.  I don't always dress like a zombie.  I've been Dorothy, Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton's the Corpse Bride, a fairy, and a host of other things.  But for some reason I can only find photos of the zombie costumes right now.  That's OK.  Zombies are awesome.  There are more zombies to come.  Just wait.

So.  You can imagine that one other thing I like is decorating my house for Halloween.  But see, the thing is, I have kids.  Young ones.  And they get all...scared.  So we've done some cutesy pumpkin crap for the last few years so the Princess wouldn't be terrified of her own front door or whatever.  Kids, right?

But this year she's 5, practically a teenager, and we think it's time to introduce her to the truth about Halloween.  It's scary.  In the most awesome way.  I think she's ready; she's fully aware of zombie and vampire mythology.  Whereas past years have been all about the princess, the costumes she's been considering this year have been decidedly on the side of horror.  (She settled on a witch, by the way, and kind of a cutesy sparkly witch, but a witch nonetheless, which I count as progress.  It's not a princess.)

Also?  We have a new house.  And the front of our new house has a gorgeous roomy porch with bushes and trees and flower beds and lots of space for...creativity.  Space for lots more fun than some stupid grinning pumpkins, right?

Today the Princess spent the day with her grandparents, and tHe O.G. and I found ourselves at the local Spirit Halloween store.  Looking.  And imagining all the various ways we could turn the front of our new house into something that would terrify and repel children, leaving us with a bowl full of candy to consume at our leisure delight the neighborhood children with the true spine-tingling spirit of Halloween.

We came home with some stuff.  A lot of stuff, maybe.  We might have come home with like 3 big bags full of creepy, demented, twisted stuff, OK?

And the crowning glory of this stuff?  Brace yourselves...

...No seriously, brace yourselves.  If you have a weak constitution you might want to turn back now...


That feeling you're feeling right now?  It's called jealousy.  Or nausea.  One of those.

But probably jealousy.

This post now linked up at the following parties:

(Howleriffic Halloween @ By Word of Mouth Blogging)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some advice.

You know what's weird?  Sometimes when I'm at work I forget to pee.  I mean, literally, I'll sit there all day and never use the facilities.  I get all involved in what I'm doing, and the restrooms are like, aaaaaaall the way down the hall, and it's just a pain, and I'll just do it when I get home.

Yes, the fact that this is even anatomically possible no doubt means I do not drink enough fluids.  That's a subject for a different post.

The point here is what am I thinking?

I'm at work.  Do you know what that means?  It means I can go to the restroom alone.  I can sit down and get comfortable and chances are very, very good that nobody will immediately have an URGENT CRISIS that can only be solved BY ME RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT the second my butt hits the porcelain.

So, working moms?  Just get up and go to the ladies' room.

That's my advice to you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My child is seriously twisted. I don't know where she gets it. Also she thinks I'm more talented than I am.

The Princess somehow came across a photo online of a painted pumpkin (I blame her father. Because...well, he's the one who showed it to her).  Normally he's in charge of pumpkins in this household, as Official Carver of Gourds and Melons.  But painting?  Apparently painting is my thing.  I'm not sure how painting became my thing, because...I'm not a painter.  But the Official Carver of Gourds and Melons has informed me that, as his title suggests, he carves; he does not paint.  So by default...painting is my thing.

So she wants a painted pumpkin, and I'm supposed to help.  Does she want a cute little kid kind of cartoony pumpkin?  A pumpkin with a goofy smile and triangle eyes, a pumpkin her less-than-uber-talented mother might have a shot at accurately recreating?  A pumpkin that...won't give anybody nightmares?  No.  No she does not.

She wants this:

Not only is it kind of creepy and disturbing for a FIVE-YEAR-OLD to have chosen,
but, um...there is no way I'm that talented.  That thing is 12 kinds of awesome.
She was so enamored of this pumpkin that she made her daddy print this photo out and it is currently taped to her bedroom door.  So every night when I go to bed, I tiptoe down the silent hallway to check on my little sleeping Princess...and find myself faced with this haunting visage, floating somewhere around chest-level in the dark, observing me with her wide, knowing eyes and her bloody smirk.  It's...well, it's unnerving.

And this from the woman who purchased a Zombie Baby eating its own foot and lovingly named it Gnarles.  But hey.  Gnarles lives outside, ok?  And I'm an adult.  I'm allowed to be demented.  My baby girl?  Well, it's inevitable that she, too, will be demented.  I just thought it would take a few more years to get there.

RemembeRED: Turning Heads

This year Mom took me shopping at Masquerade Madness, the dusty little costume shop downtown bursting with glorious wigs and unexpected treasures, a whole wall of movie makeup and an old man behind the counter who can turn you into anything, anything at all.  I picked my way past the rustling ball gowns that have hung there longer than I’ve been alive, the twenty different varieties of vampire fangs, the vials of black-red gelatinous blood and the Marilyn Monroe wigs on faceless wire busts.  I made my way to the back, to a long white dress.  A glossy black wig, so unlike my own newly-permed cloud of hair.  Gold jewelry, lots of it, all snakes and winding things.  And makeup.  So much makeup.

Early in the morning I wrap my hair up tight, cover it with the cap like the old man showed me.  I adjust the heavy black wig, admire the way my skin glows fair beneath it.  Such a change.  I apply makeup slowly, carefully, following instructions I’ve clipped from Seventeen.  Smoky Egyptian eyes.  Red lipstick.  If I keep my mouth shut you can’t even tell Cleopatra wears braces, the bands orange and black for October.  I am transformed.

I walk to school.  This is always the worst part, on Halloween, the solitary walk to school, head down.  It’ll be better when I get there.  When I'm surrounded by monsters and fairies and the flirty, almost-slutty nurses who are sure to appear now that we’re teenagers, but we'll all be in this together, all of us pretending, playing, all of us transformed.

I hold on to the memory of myself in the mirror as I left the house.  I tell myself I am stunning.  Conspicuous.  So unlike the invisible girl I am.  I’ll turn heads.  I am brave.  I am beautiful.  I am transformed.

By the time I arrive my feet are already protesting their strappy gold sandals.  I smooth my wig, feel the lipstick, waxy on cold lips, lift my head high, and step onto the middle school campus.  Into the den of lions.  I’m thirteen and this is the fall of my eighth-grade year.  I’m going to make an impression, one that will carry me into high school, one that will change everything.

I survey my audience.

I turn heads. Yes I do.  I make an impression.  Because I?

I am the only one in costume.


This was my first contribution to the Write on Edge memoir-writing meme RemembeRED.  Here is the prompt:

Reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time.  Word limit is 400.
Head over to Write on Edge today to read the work of other writers responding to the same prompt!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Humiliation and volunteerism. Also Girl Scouts don't eat cookies.

So.  Girl Scouts.  Right?  Yeah.  We're Girl Scouts now.

I was in charge of snack yesterday.  I brought bananas and a box of Halloween sugar cookies.  Because it's the last meeting before Halloween, I wanted to be festive.  But you know what?  I kind of got the impression some of the other moms were...less than pleased about the cookies?  Maybe I was being paranoid.  But some of them were like, loudly, "You can bring that cookie home and have it after dinner."

Good grief, people.  I brought bananas.  They all happily ate their bananas.  Your kid can't have one single cookie at 4:00 in the afternoon at a Girl Scout meeting?  I mean, I'm kind of all about healthy snacks.  The Princess basically eats nothing between meals but fruit and veggies, period.  So I'm ok with a random cookie every now and then at a somewhat special occasion like a Girl Scout meeting.

Does anybody else find it somewhat ironic that cookies are not welcome at a Girl Scout meeting?

Oh, also?  This happened:

So.  Basically everybody at Girl Scouts is healthier and better-looking than me.  Got it.

Also?  Richer.  OK, we recently moved, and it was kind of an insanely expensive experience fraught with unexpected costs.  Then we had to buy 8 new tires because both cars decided to become death traps in the same month.  Whatever.  These months happen, right?  Well, we joined Girl Scouts in the middle of this, and while I'm told Girl Scouts will never cost us a penny ever again, ever, because cookie sales (cookies, people!) are so very lucrative that the Girl Scout experience is self-supporting...there is a little bit of a start-up cost.  Registration fee, dues, uniform...all told close to $80.  Fine.  I get that, things cost money, and I'm fine with it, and we can afford it. this month.

The Girl Scout leader acted basically cool about it.  I said I'd pay next month, she didn't give me any grief.  But you know, I can pretty much read minds, and I just know she's judging me.  My inner monologue is something like this:  She thinks I'm lying, she thinks I'm going to keep showing up here with my freeloading kid and our evil unhealthy cookies and soak up the activities and take the patches and never pay a penny.  I'm like the Wimpy of the Girl Scouts.  And why are these women so pretty?!  That one did not give birth to that child.  No way.  They're all staring at me, they know I haven't paid the dues, and I don't own anything made by Nike, and I never stretch or drink enough water.

I will gladly pay you Tuesday for character-building enrichment activities today.
OK.  So at the end of the meeting they announce that we'll be having a "Founder's Day" celebration next month, with cake and snacks, a whole party.  Moms are asked to email the leader and let her know if we can bring fruit or pretzels.  Meanwhile I'm spending the whole meeting trying to avoid said leader so we don't have to address the money issue yet again because she never remembers that I said November 1, I can pay on November 1!

So I sort of sneak out the back door at the end of the meeting, avoiding eye contact.  That night I get an email from the leader:
Hey! I forgot to ask you today. Do you have the money for dues, registration, and the tunic? Just let me know what you can do. Thanks!

AAAARRRGH!! The horror.  I mean, do you see the judgement in those lines?

My response:

Sorry! I meant to talk to you too. [this is a lie
Ok here's the deal. We just moved to town in August. It turned out to be a very expensive move... lots of unforeseen costs that we're still trying to recover from. I fully intended to pay all of this on October 2nd, then Princess was sick [so we missed that meeting]... and now by this point in the month we're broke again! Ugh. I swear this is not our usual situation. It's just a weird transition period we're in from moving. 
So. Payday is the first of the month and I will absolutely pay everything we owe at the next meeting, November 2. Alternatively I'd be happy to give you a check tomorrow postdated for November 1. I'm so so sorry that I can't do better than that right now. It's embarrassing, honestly. Lol. I PROMISE I don't usually do stuff like this. Thank you so much for letting Princess still be part of the group. Once we get past this weirdness we'll be model scouts!

Also- I'm a cake decorator, so I wanted to see if you needed a cake donated for founders day? I could do some kind of girl scout themed sheet cake if you want. Otherwise just put me down for pretzels or fruit, whichever you still need. 
Thank you for everything! Princess is a little shy at first but she's loving Daisies and I know she'll open up soon.

Sigh.  Ramble much?

And can we just examine that second-to-last paragraph?  "I'm a cake decorator, so I wanted to see if you needed a cake donated"???  "I could do some kind of girl scout themed..."  WHAT??

People, yes, I have been known to decorate cakes.  Wedding cakes, even.  But I have formally announced to the world that I am taking a break because between my kids and my job and my house and my writing I just cannot handle it.  They became a chore, they became a source of absolute frustration and misery for me.  I do not decorate cakes.  I hate cakes.  

So yeah.  "I can decorate a cake for you, for free!  Totally!  You in no way asked me to do this and I would've been fine just buying a bag of pretzels at the grocery store but let me speak up and volunteer to cover the humiliation of putting my daughter's Girl Scout membership on layaway, OK?  Let's just forget that whole money thing and HEY, I'LL MAKE A DESIGNER CUSTOM GIRL SCOUT CAKE FOR YOU!"

So yeah.  We're Girl Scouts now.  Kind of.

In which I inspire greatness.

I'm feeling giddy today because I woke up to THIS.

See, you guys?  I am totally INSPIRATIONAL.  And you thought I was just some nut writing about my kids and antidepressants and zombies.

Thank you, Shannon!  You made me giggle too and I'm so glad we "met" last night.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Did you know? I'm a writer.

I'll be participating in my third National Novel Writing Month this November.  NaNoWriMo, if you weren't aware, is a challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (the month of November).  I started in 2009 and successfully completed 50,000 words.  Let me tell you something:  That's a lot of words.  A LOT of words.  Many try.  Few succeed.

Check it.
In 2010 I gave birth in September and attempted Nano in November with a 6-week-old in the house.  It was a spectacular failure.  But I was ok with that.

So now I'm trying again, 2011, ready to go.  My baby is a year old now and reliably goes to bed at 8 and sleeps all night (holla!).  So I should be able to get some writing in each evening and get my gears turning again.

Because I want to be a writer.

I want to be a writer?  How sad.  I used to say "I am a writer."  But writers write.  Right?  Writers write, and I don't write anything these days.  Well, let me qualify that.  I write for a living.  Technically.  I am a writer.  But I write marketing copy, admission letters, college catalog copy.  I write other people's words.

And I write this blog.  And I love writing this blog, and part of the reason I started blogging was to find my voice again.  And I plan to keep writing this blog as long as you keep reading it, and maybe even if you don't.  But at the end of the day, the writer I want to be is a fiction writer.  A novelist.  And I haven't been actively writing fiction since...November 2009.

So I'm here to say that I am a writer, and I am going to write. I'm going to write marketing copy and admission letters and academic catalog copy, and I'm going to write this blog, and I'm going to write 50,000 words of fiction in 30 days.

 I'm pretty sure placement of this badge constitutes a legally binding contract.

Some of that may cross over.  Well, I won't make you guys read any admission letters.  Probably.  But you might have to read some of my NaNoWriMo fiction posing as blog posts.  Deal with it.  It's good stuff.  You'll like it, ok?

Oh, also?  I'm cheating.  The rules of NaNoWriMo state that you must write an entire novel, a new novel, in 30 days.  I'm not doing that.  Because that's not what I want, what I need, from this experience.  And I don't work for NaNo, NaNo works for me.  Yeah.

So I'll be starting my word count at 0 and doing 50,000 new words.  But they'll be part of a larger work in progress, because I'll be continuing the novel I began two years ago.  OK, the novel I began at age 16, the novel that has grown up with me, that's been written and rewritten and burned and resurrected a dozen times in a dozen different iterations over nearly half my lifetime.  Because that's the novel that's in me, and someday it'll be finished, and someday it'll be great.

Here's a synopsis of that novel:

In 1979 Dr. Vivian Bell, two-year-old daughter Julia in tow, led a motley band of idealists from a California university to a patch of rural farmland and built a commune--a self-proclaimed “Utopia” seeking to create a life of equality and harmony. Rebelling against both the competitiveness and materialism of the culture at large and the free-love individualism of the hippies before them, the founders of Orchard Valley Homestead set out to create something better for themselves and their children. Decades later the community lives on, forgotten by the world, its members doggedly clinging to ideals they’ve failed to live up to time and time again. It was here that Julia grew up, both inextricably bound to her mother’s creation and unbearably resentful of it. 
How We Go On is the story of mothers and their daughters in a world defined at once by isolation and by community. Vivian will grow larger than life in this world; Julia will be destroyed by it. And in her last moments Julia will throw her own daughter, 13-year-old Shelby, the only lifeline she has—a life somewhere else, with a man Julia once cared for, a man who left their childhood home without her. Shelby steps out alone, still numb with the loss and betrayal of her mother, towards an unknown future in a culture both deceptively familiar and terrifyingly foreign, only to be confronted by her own past: her newly appointed guardian, an uncle she’s never known, holds secrets about her, her mother, her long-forgotten father—and the community they all once belonged to, the only family Shelby has ever known.

I hope you guys will all stick with me through November, and cheer me on, jeer me, kick my butt, mock my failures, etc.  I need you to hold me accountable.  OK?  OK.  Thanks.

Friday, October 14, 2011

UPDATED: Text Message Tuesday: Brought to you by BlendTec

UPDATE: My multiple Twitter requests for a sample blender to use and review have been repeatedly ignored by the folks at @BlendTec.  If you value blender-related blog posts, reviews, sonnets, and recipes, and I know you do, send @BlendTec a tweet letting them know how much you would enjoy reading about their product and probably buying two or three for yourself if only they would cooperate by providing a sample to @NearNormalcy.  It's just good business, BlendTec.


Ashley is my friend.  You know her by now.  She's also my reading buddy.  We bought Kindles together last year and have enjoyed buying and reading all the same books together, often embarrassingly cheesy or trashy or otherwise not-worthy-of-our-very-literary-selves books, and we keep each other's shameful secrets.  And it's better than before, when we had to buy these paperbacks and read them in shame.  The beauty of the Kindle is that you can read anywhere and nobody knows what garbage you're reading!  You can pretend to be reading Tolstoy at all times and nobody is the wiser.

Then Ashley allowed her children to destroy her Kindle.  Yes, it was a sad day.  So she's been reading on her iPhone, which is lame, and she knows it, because she's not reading much at all anymore, choosing instead to spend her time taking and editing incredibly beautiful and artistic photos of people's children (including mine) and sewing adorable clothing for her daughters and herself.  And sometimes for my daughter.  She's Martha Stewart.  And yes, I'm reaping the benefits of all her new found talents, and I'm so proud of her accomplishments and I think she's fabulous.  But I miss my reading buddy! 

Because I used to be part of a fun conspiracy to consume massive amounts of trashy literature in secret; now I'm just a 30-year-old woman reading Twilight.

But guess what?  Kindles are suddenly CHEAP.  Have you heard?  I heard the other day. I mean, now she can stop being all productive and talented and go back to spending hours at a time on her couch reading books too embarrassing to admit to in public!  Just like me! 

So I texted her with the AMAZING news.

Alyssa says
Ashley. YOU can now have a brand new kindle for only $79!!!
Ashley says
Alyssa says
no, i think you mean :-)
save your pennies. charge somebody exactly $79 for a photo shoot, and get kindled!
Ashley says
I've discovered a kitchen appliance that I CANT LIVE WITHOUT. And unfortunately that's where my next 379 will be going. Including photo shoot money.
Alyssa says
what?? what kitchen appliance??
you're choosing KITCHEN APPLIANCES over A KINDLE TO READ THE NEW [series too embarrassing to publish online] BOOK WITH ME.
Ashley says
There's a new [series too embarrassing to publish online] book?
Alyssa says
yes. yes there is.
Ashley says
You weren't there at Costco with me today. It's. Amazing. It does everything.
Alyssa says
WHAT does?
Ashley says
It's like the superman of blenders.
Alyssa says
blenders? a BLENDER? really.
Ashley says
I can't remember what it's called!! I was too busy eating hot soup made right in the blender from raw ingredients! And lemonade! And soft serve ice cream made in minutes! And almond milk!!
Alyssa says
all of that? you were eating all of that AT costco?
Ashley says
Made from one appliance. This super blender
Blender is not really an adequate word because it's so much more than a blender.
Alyssa says
you don't need that. soup comes in a can. ice cream and almond milk and lemonade. all sold in stores.
Ashley says
You can buy wheat berries, grind them to flour, pour in water and yeast, it will knead the dough for you, and bam, you have homemade bread
Alyssa says
that sounds disgusting.
Ashley says
Fine. I will not offer you any of my homemade bread.
Alyssa says
good. i'll be eating buttered popcorn and reading on my kindle.
Ashley says
You can make your own butter for goodness sakes.
Ooh! I'll make the butter for you!
Alyssa says
Ashley says
I can read on my phone still dude.
Alyssa says
you make me sad.
Ashley says
Not uh. YOU make ME sad.
Alyssa (after flexing her Google muscles) says
the blendtec total blender? is this what you're leaving me for?
Ashley says
I don't know. Maybe.
If you had been there, you'd understand.
Alyssa says
would i?
it's a $79 KINDLE. and you're talking to me about blenders and making your own butter. i'm not sure i understand anything anymore. 
Ashley says
I probably wouldn't actually use it to make my own butter. Besides, my husband is NEVER going to let me spend money on a kindle after already breaking one. There's no way. It's just the principle of the thing.
Alyssa says
if you buy that super blender, you are REQUIRED to make your own butter. do you hear me? REQUIRED.
Ashley says
I'll make you ice cream, in like less than 3 minutes, and you'll be a believer.

She bought the blender, you guys.  I went with her to Costco to see with my own eyes.  BlendTec Mark up in his fancy kiosk with his headset microphone just like Billy Mays whizzed up a blender full'o'hot soup right before my eyes and yes, it was delicious.  And hot.  And soup.  

And yes, I'm kind of jealous and want my own BlendTec.  OK?  I said it.  It's RED.  It's the same blender they use at Jamba Juice.  I really want a smoothie.  Razzmatazz, please.

If Ashley can make me a Razzmatazz I may forgive her for spending all her money on a blender and passing on the $79 Kindle.  MAYBE.

By the way, I think this is the blender.  If you're going to buy one, just do me a favor and do it by clicking this link, ok?  That way I get a cut.  And if enough of you buy them, maybe I can buy my own.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

UPDATED: Hi, my name is Alyssa, and I have a serious problem

I have a confession.

I'm an addict.

A Pinterest addict.

I spend hours on this site, you guys.  Like, every day.  OK that sounds worse than it is.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is that bad.  I don't know!!  I can't stop!  QUIT LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

If you have no idea what I'm talking about right now I'm sorry, but whatever you do, don't click this link, ok?  Just don't.  Stay away.  I'm saving you from yourself here.  Don't even look at it.

I mean it.  Just don't.

But I'm sure many of you know exactly what I'm talking about because you, too, have a problem.  You can deny it but you know it's true.  I've seen you on there, repinning my pins.  You have no business judging me.

So here's my story.

I have over a thousand pins across 23 boards.  I pin things I think are funny, things I think are pretty, things I think are stupid or cute or smart or weird.  I pin things I want to make that I will never, ever make, not in a million years.  I pin things I know I could never make but I want to pretend I might someday spontaneously develop the skills to make.  I pin decor as if I'm Martha Stewart and can afford to spend money on things like curtains and area rugs and a chandelier for over my freaking bathtub.  I pin clothes from stores I will never set foot inside, hairstyles I will never master, games I will never play with my children, free printables I will never print, life-changing products I will never purchase, recipes for food I will never cook, and DIY projects I will never Do Myself.  I pin photos I will never recreate, inspirational sayings I will never remember or read again, helpful tips I will forget instantly, and cakes I will never decorate.

I pin these things because I need to. I pin these things because I live in a fantasy world and I am happy there.

In my fantasy world I'm supremely organized, I'm crafty, my house is spotless and impeccably decorated, my children are well-rounded young individuals who never watch TV and spend hours each day creating small glitter-covered masterpieces in their pristine playroom and dutifully completing their adorable chore charts each day with smiles on their cherubic little faces because they love cleaning their rooms and they make their beds perfectly.  Yeah, even the baby.

In my real world I can't find two socks that match ever, my personal filing system is a large cardboard box in the spare room closet, I have a thousand dollars worth of largely unused crafting supplies packed away in boxes in my garage like they're some kind of family heirlooms, I own a very nice sewing machine that I have never managed to thread correctly or make a single stitch with, and my kids spent most of today eating obscene amounts of goldfish crackers and watching Looney Tunes while I dyed my hair and read a young adult paranormal romance novel.  And pinned things on Pinterest.

Is there a program for this?  If so, I will pin it to a new board titled "Reality Check" and promptly forget about it.  Send me a link.


I started a new NearNormalcy Pinterest account, specifically so all you readers can follow my boards but I don't have to tell you my real name or let you see all the lame stuff I've pinned in the past that has nothing to do with you. So this account is full of boards I've curated JUST FOR YOU.  Because I love you.  You are so welcome.  The boards are based on some of the categories described above.  Check it out.  Follow me.

Check back often, because let me tell you, this girl can set Pinterest on FIRE.

You're welcome.

A Princess Tidbit

When the Princess was about 3 years old, she was really into pretending SHE was the Mommy and I was the child.  So one day we're in the car, and this happens:

"Mommy. Pretend I was the mommy, and you were the kid?"



Sometimes I just love my life.

Monday, October 10, 2011


These are my page views yesterday:

What exactly happened yesterday at 3 p.m.??  Should I be concerned?    

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Let Me Tell You What To Buy

Full Disclosure:

I'm now an Amazon Associate!  Wooo!  Basically what that means is this:
  • I get to make lists of awesome stuff on Amazon and post links to them on my blog.
  • If you click on those links...well, nothing happens except you get to look at some cool stuff on Amazon.
  • If you BUY something after clicking on those links, I will be rewarded for my hard work with an incredibly tiny percentage of what you spend on awesome stuff!  So buy something expensive, ok?
  • Nobody's paying me to say good things about Amazon or put their stuff in front of your face.  I'm just doing that because I love you.

I know you love Amazon.  How do I know this?  Because you live in the 21st century, you have a computer, and you are a person.  Also because I love Amazon, and I'm assuming you're just like me.  Ergo, you love Amazon.

I love Amazon because I love to shop.  What I do not love is shopping with my children.  And I always have my children when I shop.  Don't you?  Yes, you do.  If you are a mother (and you are, remember, you're just like me), this is the way life works.  With Amazon, I can buy anything I want, seriously, they have everything, and I can buy it without having to get my children fed, cleaned, clothed, napped, strapped into a car, strapped into a cart, through a store, through a check stand, and back into the car.  I can do it in my pajamas while my children watch Sesame Street.  And a few days later the things I purchased will be delivered to my doorstep.

Because you're just like me, and because I know how you value my opinion, I've taken it upon myself to create a Near Normalcy shop, tentatively titled "Let Me Tell You What To Buy."  For short, we'll just call it "Stuff You Need."  Because really.  Let me tell you what to buy.  This is stuff you need.  You're welcome.

Here's a smattering of the Stuff You Need.  (Click images to see more info.)

Stuff You Just NEED

Of course you need these boots.  Do you SEE these boots?

The Hunger Games.  I don't care that you're not 12.  You need to read these books.

Stuff Your Kitchen Needs

Ashley has one. So you need one. (Remember, you are just like me.)

Stuff Your Baby Needs

Babies like to hit stuff.

Babies like mail. A LOT. So get them their own. They'll still try to tear up yours, but it's worth a shot.

Onesies. Just, like, a million of them, ok?

Stuff Your Big Kid Needs

Dr. Seuss's Beginner Collection.
Buy them together, buy them apart, just buy them, and read them.  A lot.

Whimsical rain boots are a MUST.

You can access the entire store by clicking the handy "Stuff You Need" tab up top.  Again, you're welcome.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The Princess is sick.  Maybe.  I'm really not sure at this point.

See, my kids, they both have a problem  If you know what I mean.  It's been a lifelong battle for both of them.  Mostly we handle it quite nicely through their diet, but every once in awhile, things come to a screeching halt.

That's what happened this weekend.  We tried water, we tried fiber and fruit and more water.  Finally I got fed up and resorted to something I haven't done since she was a baby: the glycerin suppository.

Never.  Again.

First of all, if you can get past the image of my administering what basically amounts to a miniature enema to my five-year-old...and please, do your best to get past that ASAP...then you have to live through 4 hours of miserable, noisy, guilt-inducing agony.  Because apparently, when those things go to work, it hurts.

Have I mentioned my daughter is somewhat...dramatic?  When she was 4, she caught sight of some kind of awful marshmallow chocolate sugar cereal at the grocery store (actually, it looked AMAZING and DELICIOUS but that's not the point).  I told her no, she needed to choose Raisin Bran or Frosted Mini Wheats (meanest mom ever).  Her response was to throw her head back and declare for the entire store to hear, in the most theatrical fashion possible: "All my dreams have been shattered!"  An old lady also shopping for cereal got such a kick out of it that she's probably still laughing somewhere.

So you can imagine, if being denied marshmallow cereal shatters all her dreams, what actual nonfictional physical pain does to her.

I spent half my Saturday on the bathroom floor with my writhing child listening to her audition for some new reality show about suicidal kindergartners ("Toddlers & Torment"? "Small Fries & Self-Murder"? "Ankle Biters & Anguish"?).  She was literally wishing for death.  Where does she get these ideas?  I honestly do not know.  I almost never sit in front of my children and wish I was dead.  But the Princess was moaning and screaming like a professional wailer, "I wish I could just die right now!  I don't want to live anymore!  Why can't I just DIE?"

And you guys?  The suppository?  It didn't work.  Hours of pain and pleas for poo.

Eventually the day ended and she went to bed.  That night she wet the bed, which she hasn't done in years.  Again, no poo.  Just a wet bed.  So I moved her to the floor.  She woke up several times with a sore tummy and spent a good portion of the night on the toilet, to no avail.

So the next day I went to the store and bought Pedialax Chewables.  I mean, something had to be done, right??  The bottle said for ages 2-5, give 1-3 tablets.  OK, she's 5.  And the suppository already failed so I can only assume we're dealing with some kind of serious, industrial-strength constipation here.  So I gave her 2.  Two Pedialax Chewable tablets.  Not 3!  The bottle said I could do 3.  I only gave her 2, ok?

Nothing.  We happened to be at a friend's house Sunday afternoon and she played all day.  I interrupted her every half hour or so.  "Do you need to go?"  "No, Mom."  "Are you feeling ok?"  "I'm fine, Mom."  (Fidgeting, making side-eyes towards the friend's playroom, wondering if anybody can hear this conversation.)

Honestly.  I'm so embarrassing.

At 5 p.m. we went to church.  Of course, she's fine all day playing, but as soon as it's time to sit still and be quiet the writhing begins.  The moaning.  The squinched up drama queen face.  Oooooh, the pain.  The agony!

So we move to the back row, pay several visits to the ladies' room.  At this point I imagine the Pedialax is making its presence known and it's only a matter of time.  But nothing.  Nothing yet.  And it's time to go home.

We have about a 30-minute drive.  Hmmmm.

Five minutes into the drive she's literally screaming in the backseat.  I'm starting to panic.  Grandma's house! My mom's house is on our way home.  We'll stop there.  We screech into the driveway and run inside.  I let her in, tell her "Bathroom! Now!" and return to the car for the baby, who at this point is very confused and annoyed at all this excitement that has nothing to do with him.

Eventually, friends, she did her business.  At Grandma's house.  I know, you're very relieved.  We all were.  We piled back into the car and headed for home.  She fell asleep in the car, exhausted like she's just given birth.  Which she kind of has.  In a way.  And then?  She wakes up.  Because she's puking.  All over my car.

So.  Get home, put her in the shower, send her straight to bed where she passes out instantly.  Clean the car.  Eat dinner.  Put the baby to bed.  Monday morning, call in sick, call the school, call the Monster's babysitter.  We're staying home.  

Did I poison her?  Did Pedialax make her throw up?  No idea.  I'm fairly certain the vomiting was more a result of the pain and the strain and all the general upheaval her little body was going through.  That makes sense, right?  And it only happened once.

Guess what?  Monday she's basically fine.  Hungry, maybe a little tired and sore, but mostly ok.  Great!  We'll all go back about our lives on Tuesday.

Except Monday night, she feels kind of warm to me.  And this morning, she's even warmer.  So I take her temperature.  100.7.  Not exactly ER material, but too high for school.  And now she's actually acting sick.  Like, sitting still for extended periods of time.

So what on earth is going on??  What started out as pretty routine constipation problems end in vomiting and fever?

Should I be calling the doctor instead of blogging?


When her fever went up even higher this morning (Wednesday), we called the doctor.  She has a throat infection and possibly an ear infection.  My healthy, robust baby girl has NEVER had an ear infection!  But we've got our antibiotics and she's cleared to go back to school.