Friday, October 31, 2008

An unabashed display of motherly love

The Brat had her senior pictures done a couple of weeks ago. Now, for those of you who have not yet experienced it, the Senior Year Photo Shoot can be something quick and easy, done by a parent, or it can be something straight out of Next Top Model. Heck, if you have a boy, you can probably skip the whole thing altogether, like Thomas chose to do. He's a pragmatist at best, and a cynic at worst, but hey, he does his thing.

Jill, on the other hand, went all in, and did the two hours in the studio, 45 minutes on location, with as many clothing changes (and, apparently, animals) as she wanted to do. Girlfriend worried over the wardrobe issue for days, laying out outfits on the living room floor the night before, matching up shoes, and searching for the perfect makeup palette. She arrived at the studio with a big bag of seven outfits, six pairs of shoes, a big ole makeup case, and a dog with a Denver Broncos leash. And God love her, the photographer didn't bat an eye.

In the end, she had 220 shots, in the studio, outside the studio, and at the park, by herself, with her Dog Boo, her horse Speck, and even with those cheesy 2009 numbers that she swore she wasn't going to be photographed with. Only one of those 220 shots involved wearing shoes. The result? These 30 or so shots, some of which she loves, some of which I love, some of which her little brother says look "pretty," and all of which her elder brother and father glanced at, then reached for the remote because football was on.

Waddya think?
Cutesy hippie chick look that she almost didn't wear, but we convinced her was her color:

Speck's normal "Got Coke?" look. He was so proud of his pretty white tail, all brushed out:

Bratty's favorite shot, of her and her boy:

It must be love (insert 101 Damnations song). Speck looks like he thinks he's in trouble:

The bottom line? I just think she's gorgeous. And no, those are not contacts. Her eyes really are that blue:

Boo Bear and his Mommy. In a rare photogenic, in control moment for the canine half. He's usually trying to eat someone:

I would've liked it better if the rug had been in the entire shot, and no floor, but her smile is so pretty, who cares?

"Hi, I'm Jill, and I'll be your guide. Remember my pretty smile when you tip me."

Speckie says "are we done yet? Where's my mint?":

The color version of the black and white one. This is why a girl gets a horse:

Speck's normal posture -- eating -- and his Mommy, chillin' :

Speckles the bareback show horse, and Jillie, the barefoot star:

The cheesy numbers shot that came out really well. And yes, she's still barefoot:

Those braces were 100% worth it. Beautiful!

Chillaxin' in da barn, homegirl style:

Yeah. They're blue, remember?

Jillie the Cowgirl:

Chillin' with the boy:

I love this one:

After Jill's boss arrived, Speck was still hoping for some food, cause that's how he rolls:

The hard part of this one was not the horse. It was Jill, trying to keep from falling off the fence:

Jillie hates this one. I absolutely love it:

Can you tell she's a little happy?

Enjoy the rest. You don't need my commentary to tell you that I think she's beautiful:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Stalking with the Stars (of Utter Chaos)

So, remember back in May, when I had my stalker? Yesterday was Stalker Day #2. I always have to wonder what these people think when they leave our house, because you know, we really are pretty odd.

Granted, it's not exactly normal around here, because everyone's been sick, but I am on the upside of it now, asthma aside, so I went ahead and had them come. Last time, I got one person, a very sweet girl named Lindsey, for the entire day. She was pretty quiet, but tagged along to the eye doctor with us, among other things, then watched the LOST season finale with us. We made it a party, of course, but never explained to the other people why this girl was watching me intently, and charting my every movement into her laptop.

She said that no one would believe the data, because at one point, I was watching Project Runway on the DVR, with my laptop on my lap, while talking on two phones at the same time. What can I say? It's Utter Chaos around here.

So yesterday, I started out with a sweet girl -- poor thing -- who was met at the door by me in my jammies, fresh out of bed less than three minutes before, looking like the Wild Man of Borneo (with cleavage). I'm talking hair totally askew, floodwater, bleach stained blue jammies, and a Faith Ministries T Shirt. It wasn't pretty, I'll say, but she still came in.

Good thing, cause she got to watch me do some cleaning for a while, and by the time I was done with my bedroom, she'd scored a brand new set of luggage -- a gift for 5 years of employment with the company, intended for Thomas when he went to school, but never opened, when I realized that the boy only travels with a laundry basket and a backpack -- and a vintage 60s brocade set that she just mentioned was pretty. It was a weird combination of puke green and blue that really did look nice, with a matching jacket, in mint condition and, after she tried it on, fit her like a glove.

My stalkers can score some goods, man.

So we hung out most of the day, because I am still kind of blah from the leftover of the cold/asthma/whatever the heck is going on with me, and just kind of cleaned, did laundry, watched TV, and started to list some patterns, but never really got around to it. Kind of boring, really.

But then, at 3 o'clock or so, I was chatting on the phone with my friend Ann, when someone knocked on the door. We'd already had one guy here, asking if we wanted lawn work done, so when I saw a guy's partial head through the window in the door, I prepared my "sorry, I have teenagers to do that" speech, and opened the door, telling Annie to hang on for a minute. I have, however, gotten so used to the canine version of Utter Chaos, that I forgot to get the dogs away. Well, actually, I figured I could deal with it through the screen, so I didn't need to restrain them -- and didn't particularly want to, because when a strange man is at your door, he kind of backs off and thinks twice when Cujo's around.

When I got the door open, I was met with a much cuter, shorter version of my college boyfriend (who was 6'8", so who isn't shorter, really). He was a cutie patootie, and way too cute to be raking leaves. I felt like an idiot when I asked him how I could help him, and he said he was here for the study. Oopsie! I forgot about the changing of the guard. Invited him in.

And Boo lunged and bit him, right on his coat. Dayum. He probably would've taken a piece out of him if I hadn't grabbed him back, totally mortified. So Mr Cutie is standing there, wondering if this stalker stuff is worth it at all. He finally came in, after a little convincing and, after being assured that the beast had been restrained in Seth's room, actually relaxed a little bit.

Poor guy. And it got worse. Within an hour we were on our way to see Jill's senior pictures. All 219 of them. No joke. They took 219 photos of my darling Bratty Girl. And, good sport that he was, he actually was interested for a while, giving a little -- all positive -- input. After a while, he quit faking it, pulled out "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," and got comfortable. What a trooper.

I think he probably had a hallelujah moment when Dan got home, and we sat down for dinner. Now, this guy didn't get any luggage, and God knows he didn't get any vintage boleros, but he did get a mighty fine pot roast. Heck, that in and of itself, skewed the results, because cooking for me is a rarity. I guess I should've pointed that out, but he was enjoying himself too much. Even helped with the dishes. I was seriously starting to bond with him.

Settled in watched Monday's episode of Dancing with the Stars on the DVR, then watched some Jeopardy while Dan went out to buy some new dog bowls (to replace the ones the Boo had chewed up) and get some movies. Boo, by now, was having a love fest with my stalker, bringing him toys so he'd play with him, and looking pathetic, like he knew that he'd been bad. Even jumped up on the couch next to him and went to sleep, using his backpack as a pillow. Oh yeah, they called it Puppy Love.

Till he went to leave. When he stood up and went to shake Jill's hand goodbye, he got a wee little growl, that went up exponentially the longer he stayed there. It's obvious that Jill will never get married while this dog breathes. Stalker just backed away slowly, and took his leave.

How many people thank their lucky stars that their stalker survives their bodyguard? Honestly. But hey, it's all in the name of money, cause I get paid $250 bucks for being stalked, and money is always good. And if I didn't have to pay bills with it, I'd be buying this fabulous , because it is probably the prettiest thing I've seen all week. From bopbbysgirl, on the bay.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Death by Chicken Nugget

If you've paid attention here, you'll realize that althought I love to cook, I hate to cook for my
family. I actually get out of doing it as much as possible, by working evenings and by going out to eat a lot. Not good for the waistline, but sometimes, it's sanity vs waistline, and the sanity part wins.

Fridays have been an exception lately, because Jill's been hanging out at work late. On Fridays, the staff usually go out on rides themselves, once the place is closed, and take the horses out to places that are literally off the beaten path. Today, The Brat had an appointment to have the bleeding ear of doom checked out. Dropped her off at work afterward, and she mentioned that she probably wouldn't be home for dinner, because she'd be going on the "fun ride."

Yippee. With the veggie girl gone, I can feel free to cook whatever the heck I want.

I decided to make a cheeseburger ring, because Seth loves it, it's quick, and Jill hates it, and she's not going to be home. Figured I'd throw some onion rings in the mix, too, so I turned on the oven and put them in, whilst I was concocting the cheeseburger ring.

I figured I was being efficient and all, till I smelled something burning, and saw flames in the oven.

I was perplexed, because the flames were coming out from under the bottom of the stove, and above the drawer underneath. Let me give you a hint: there should not be any fire coming out from where it was coming from, so I was a little concerned. Concerned because the flames, though not huge, were not going away. I looked in there, and it looked like a puddle of grease aflame, which started me worrying.

I went looking for the baking soda, and couldn't find it, so I settled for tossing cornstarch on it, hoping for the best. No dice -- I was still seeing flames coming up from underneath, and can't see just how MANY flames are under there that I can't see. I had visions f the gas line blowing the house up, so I found the fire extinguisher, pulled the pin and let 'er rip. This, of course, caused a rather sizeable mushroom cloud of cornstarch to fly up in the air, and set me straight out of the room, in a huge coughin fit. By the time I stopped coughing, I realized that I still didn't know if the fire was out, so I went back into the haze to see what was up. Still flames, so I gave it a blast again, which about required a full blown resuscitation, but at least got rid of the fire.

Now I was nervous, because what do you do with your stove, after you've blasted the insides with a fire extinguisher, and what the heck was causing it to begin with? Heck if I know, so I did what any intelligent woman would do. Called 911, and calmly told the operator that I did NOT have a true emergency, but I needed them to come and look at my stove, to make sure it was safe to use, now that I've tried to blow us up.

Mind you, we had a housefire several years ago, so I'm not really fond of open flames in our house. I hardly ever even light candles anymore, so yeah, I'm nervous. Standing on the back porch, talking to 911, when Dan pulls in and sees me there, phone in one hand, fire extinguisher in the other, and a cloud of white smoke coming out of the kitchen windows. All he could say was "What the hell have you done NOW?"

Thanks, dear, I love you too.

I explained to him what had happened, and he asks, a little sheepishly, if it was a chicken nugget. Why, says I, and he says "oh, I dropped one down in the bottom of the oven the other night, and couldn't get it out." I didn't think that was it, and went out front to wait for the firemen to get there. The phone, still in my hand, promptly started ringing. I answered it, still short of breath from the cloud of god knows what in the kitchen, and the remainder of the asthma symptoms I already had for the past week. It was Jill, who said that she's not going on the fun ride after all, is on her way home, and wants to know what's for dinner.

The irony doesn't escape me.

I stutter and stammer, and tell her I have no idea what is going on. She gets exasperated because she can't hear me (bad signal), and hangs up right as I hear the sirens. I was leaning against the front porch wall, trying to get my breath, when the fire truck pulled up. Two firemen get out, and I tell them that I think it's out, but want them to check on the oven. Their only question is whether or not I've put the dogs up, because they are barking now like they are going to eat someone.

See? I DO live in Utter Chaos.

I go into the kitchen, in which the oven door is thrown open, the cheeseburger ring is still on the counter, and the oven's interior is all white, but at least there's no fire. Dan has disappeared. The firemen inspect things, say it's fine, but take the bottom of the oven out, so that we can see what happened.

The pull out a charred chicken nugget.

They tell me to clean the oven out really well, that it should be fine to use, once it's clean, hand me the screwdriver back, and take off. I went out to the garage, where Dan's only question is what we're doing about dinner, of course. I go in the kitchen to figure things out, and the phone rings again. It's The Brat again, asking, yet again, what's for dinner. I tell her that I haven't sorted it out, because the firemen just left. "WHAT," she said, to which I said, "wait till you get home, and I'll explain it then." Jill's response: "There were firemen in our house?" "Yes, Jill." "Were they hot?" "Yes, Jill, you would've said that one of them was." "Did you take pictures?"

Oh. My. God.

Dan wanders in and says "well, the onion rings should be ok, right," and starts foraging around for these half baked onion rings that have been through the fire and back. I go to work cleaning up the mess, which, I might add, was no small feat. Dan sends Dan to get the fan, so we can air the place out a little bit. Jill wanders through, asking yet again what's for dinner. I told Dan that he had tried to kill me, since he didn't tell me about the mislaid poultry piece, and he assures me that he's really sorry and that no, he's really not in the market for a trophy wife.

I was just rinsing out the last of the rags, and the cheeseburger ring was safely in the oven, when Seth wandered in and asked why the heck it was so cloudy in the kitchen. I looked at him with that blank look that comes with post-traumatic-cooking disorder, and ask him what the heck he's talking about. "Didn't you see the firemen here?" "WHAT," he says. "Why do I always miss the good stuff?" I don't know, baby. I don't know. "What the heck happened," he asked, and when I told him that the oven had started on fire, his response?

"Was it that chicken nugget that Dad dropped?"

So now Seth is an accessory to attempted murder, his buddy, who is visiting for the weekend, enjoyed Seth firing the fire extinguisher his way, out in the alley, Dan has gone back to sanding Purdue Pete out in the garage, and Jill is still wandering around, wondering what's for dinner.

I give up. There are truly some days where I'm afraid to live my own life, here in Utter Chaos, but you take what you get, and you dive right in, lest you miss the good stuff. And speaking of good stuff, check out this cute vintage

50s novelty print skirt, of chickens and eggs, from Spitfire Vintage Clothing, on ebay. Spitfire Vintage. How appropriate. Alas, it will not answer that eternal question -- which came first? The chicken or the fire?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where the socks are

Laundry is an every day, every night thing around here. It's a job that's never done -- and when it is, then one of the kids comes down with their hamper, or Thomas shows up with everything that's been on his dorm room floor for two weeks.
I'm pretty used to it, and the kids will do their own laundry most of the time, but there's one thing that brings it all to a dead stop. Socks.

I did laundry today, and decided to wash our bedspread and sheets,then put them on the line in back to dry. It was a nice, warm, breezy day, so I figured they'd dry pretty quickly. This was also date night, where Dan and I go out to dinner without the kids, while they're at youth group. We got ready to head out, and I asked Dan if I should take the bedding in, because it was cloudy out. "Nope," says he, "we've got time."

Except in the middle of dinner, it started to rain. Had to run home and take it all in. In order to get it in the dryer, we had to take out a load of, of course, socks, because no one ever wants to match the socks up. Since we didn't have any bedding on the bed, I threw all the socks down and started matching them up. It's not an easy job around here, because I'm the only one who doesnt wear white socks, with the exception of two pairs of Denver Broncos socks.

Of course, with the weird sock fixation around here, I know that the footies with no ankle are all Thomas', the ones that are ankle high are Seth's, and Dan gets the over the calf socks. Jill has a few footies with logos on them, but mostly just steals my socks, which are of all different colors, with several pair of knit white amongs them - just to make them easy to find.

Of course, when I was done matching up this load of socks, I had a few leftovers, so I went to go get the sock basket, where the spares are kept. This is an oval woven basket that holds all the odd socks till I find their match. The only problem is that sometimes I don't find the match. Like, I think I have some socks in their that Seth wore when he was 8 or 9.

He'll be 14 next month. What can I say? I'm an optimist.

So when I was done matching up all the socks, I wondered just how many odd socks I had. After counting them up, I found that I had 21 footies, six colored socks (or socks of color, to be politically correct), 23 over the calf socks (including six men's church socks, most of which were likely worn only once, because they belonged to Seth, and he wears jeans to church - on a good day), and two Broncos socks. That makes 52 socks: one for every week of the year.

I figure at this rate, if we stay in this house till we retire, we won't need to buy socks for the rest of our lives. We should be set on footwear, even if it's Broncos socks and blue and white Hello Kitty anklets, because who looks at your socks anyway? And in reality, I'm usually barefoot anyway. If the kids ever move out, we'll probably even find a match or two, which would be even better.

Or if we decide that matching is mandatory, and we're in a bind, I could go to wearing panty hose, or some unmistakeable stockings like
these wonderful red, white and blue vintage ones from finefindings, on ebay. Maybe I should invite her over to my house, to find me some fine socks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Great Mashed Potato Controversy

We had meat loaf for dinner last night. If you have read much of my blog, you know that I hate cooking for my family, because of their vegetarian-carnivorous-eat-anything-in-your-path ways, but usually meat loaf is a good bet. Granted The Brat won't eat the meat part, but the mashed potatoes are a winner with everyone.

That is, till Thomas said he doesn't like my mashed potatoes.

This was maybe two years ago. The kid had been eating my mashed potatoes for seventeen years, and now he decides he doesn't like them? How very teenager of him. And to even TELL me, in the middle of dinner that he doesn't like them? That's even more teenager. "They're too.........starchy," says The Heir to the Throne. Gee, thanks, Bubba.

So, the quest for the perfect mashed potatoes began. From then on out, every time I've made mashed potatoes, I ask Thomas how they are. Occasionally, I get an enthusiastic answer, but more often, in perfect "eat anything in my path" manner, he just grunts "s'ok." Dan wondered what the big deal was, because he'll pretty much eat anything, anytime, and never saw the problem. Once he realized what the deal was, the real competition began, unbeknownst to me.

I went to work one night, and he had to feed them dinner. I don't even remember what the kids said he fed them, I just know that they called me at work, raving about his wonderful mashed potatoes. How in the world he did it, I'll never know, because he had never made them before this, that I knew of, and we'd bee married almost twenty years at this point, but I was totally humiliated by the wonderful reviews of those stinkin' mashed potatoes. They went one about them for what seemed like weeks, and I decided that I wasn't going to bother making them again.

That is, till we went to M.C.L. Cafeteria one night, and he confessed. Sitting right there, eating his beef Manhattan, he told me that those amazing mashed potatoes that the kids had raved about had come from M.C.L.

Good grief. He's a mashed potato imposter. Made me feel better, right off the bat. And the kids have never let him hear the end of it since. Now, whenever I make mashed potatoes and ask Thomas how they are, Seth pipes up with "compared to yours, or M.C.L.'s," and Dan slumps down in his chair, muttering something about how he "just wanted them to like the mashed potatoes." So yeah, although the mashed potatoes are generally a winner, somebody's gonna lose face, either way.

So if you want to just stick with mashed potatoes when you're dancing, instead of eating them, check out this cute
yoked shirtwaist dress pattern, from 1962 -- year of the Mashed Potato -- from my gal Jen, at It's comfort dressing at its finest.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pet Cemetery

We have two dogs, two cats, and a guinea pig, all living in our house. Jill has her horse at the park where she works, thank God, though when she bought him, we did let Dan think for about ten minutes that we were putting him in the backyard. It was pretty funny,and by the end of that ten minutes, Dan was so glad Speck wasn't coming here that he forgot to get upset that Jill was buying a horse.

Mama didn't raise no dumbie.

The number of animals in our house, though, pales in comparison to the number of animals buried in the backyard. I've often said that if someone decides one day in the year 2200 that they'd like to do an archaelogical dig in our yard, they're gonna think it's some kind of animal graveyard.

Jill's other guinea pig is out there, after being found in rigor mortis one morning. Actually, there are two guinea pigs out there -- I forgot about one. We got that one from an acquaintance who no longer wanted it. Imagine her embarressment when we discovered that OreA was actually an OreO. The shock must've killed the pig, cause it went belly up shortly afterward.

Jill used to do animal rescue, and adopted out over 100 cats over a period of two years or so. Some of them came to us sick, and at one point, she lost two litters of kittens, all of whom are lined up in the backyard. And our dear departed Chelsea, our first cat, who Dan gave to me shortly after we met, and who lived for 19 long years, is out there as well. And a sweet little runt kitten that Jill rescued, who had a horrible eye infection that resulted in him a)getting his eye removed and b) being named Wink. I carried him around in the bib of my overalls, and even took him to Putt Putt with us once. When he died of a post op infection, I thought we might have to bury both Jill AND me back there.

All in all, there's probably more than a dozen animals out there. Kinda creepy if you think about it, but it's the mark of an animal lover, I guess, and Jill is surely that. I think we're done with the burials back there, though, cause I don't want to put my dogs back there, and Speck is way too big. I'm sure that the neighbors will be happy about that.

So, I went looking for lions, and tigers, and bears -- because those are a few of the animals I'm sure will never cross my threshold, and I came across this vintage child's hankie, from Yesterday's Timeless Treasures, on ebay. Lions, and tigers, and bears........oh my!