Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fancy schmancy anniversary plans. Try not to be jealous.

Twenty-two years ago tonight, I was here:

Twenty-two years later, ie TONIGHT, I was here:

It's a summertime rite of passage, as far as I'm concerned.

Our kids had never been to the drive in. Although they were curious about how we would actually hear the movie (whatever happened to the speakers on the posts? Does anyone know? Now it's played via a radio station and people around us were pulling boom boxes and portable radios out to hook up .... we weren't that savvy, so we just turned Blaine's truck radio up REALLY LOUDLY and prayed the battery wouldn't be dead at the end of the movie ....) they wound up enjoying the evening.

It was an awesome night for it ... great temps, light winds, plenty of snacks from home, and a movie we all enjoyed. Please take note of the poor couple in front of us, attempting a romantic evening out by going to the drive in, in a convertible. It's very Danny-and-Sandy, don't you think? I'm sure it was extra-special-romantic, sitting ten feet from my kids, listening to them laugh hysterically at the Capuchin monkeys, complain that they couldn't hear and why didn't we bring a boom box like everyone else, rummage through the snack bag over and over and over, laugh some more, and then argue about who was taking up the most room in the truck bed. Although, if that couple truly wanted a romantic evening out, shouldn't they have picked a movie that didn't involve Ben Stiller and museum statues coming to life?

Honestly, I can't think of anyplace else I would rather have been.

Happy Anniversary, honey. Here's to another 22 years of buttered popcorn and overpriced soda.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hey, it's just like Dear Abby! Only not really .....

...because instead of offering advice, it seems I'm always coming to you, ASKING for advice. This time, though, I'm asking for a friend. (I know, that's what people always say when they're trying to pretend its not them ... but honest, this time it really IS for a friend!) She wrote after reading everyone's comments earlier this week and has a situation she thought someone might have a suggestion for. So let me throw it out there on her behalf, and if you have any ideas, please leave a comment. Thanks!

PS. I promise, this isn't turning into some lame parenting advice blog. I've got too many other, important things to talk about, like my love for Sonic, and our summer roly-poly infestation that has begun, and the bizarre-o tattoos I saw at the water park today.....

"Hey Kristie!
I was reading the update on your blog & found it interesting & informative. I too sometimes have trouble w/ kids misbehaving w/ plans already made & it being a big, huge hassle to cancel the plans. I do the best that I can to correct the child & punish them in the right way. Now I have a question for you that maybe you can ask your blog readers & not mention that its from me! Not sure if anyone from here knows you & reads your blog too! What do you do when a certain child is ALWAYS at your house & never asks your child over? The mom always says that we need to have your child over yet never does! When we talk of getting the kids together, she always offer to bring her child over, never asking my child to come over. Its my child's best friend. Help? I don't want to end the friendship yet I don't want to go all summer w/that child here & my child never there. That child is always polite and nice to have around. Its just the fairness of it all. How do you handle situations like this? Thanks!"

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's a ....

two-headed, eight-legged, rabid, vicious monster, taking up residence in our kitchen!!

Oh, wait. It's just Brew and Barley, hanging out with each other like they do every day.

And to think I worried about them not liking one another, Barley being jealous, or Brew not fitting in.

It should be duly noted that for every minute they spend lounging together, they spend four or five playing. Wrestling, jumping, snatching toys from one another, chasing, tail-wagging kind of playing . USUALLY early in the morning, either in my bedroom or on my bed, with ME STILL LYING IN IT, TRYING TO SLEEP.

Stinking dogs.

PS. I love them both dearly, in case you can't tell.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some new strategies, some not

I want to say thanks to all of you who chimed in on the "summer fun time vs. annoying, ungrateful kids" topic. The vast majority of the comments were well-intentioned and respectful, and for that I am very thankful. I appreciate anyone who takes the attitude .... "Here's my experience; here's my opinion. This works for *our* family. It might not work for *yours*, but it's a suggestion I am willing to make WITHOUT assuming you are the dumbest person on the planet for even contemplating for one single solitary second that it might not be the best suggestion ever made in the history of the universe for *your* family, because all families are different, and all kids are different, and what works as gospel for us might not for you and that's ok, too, because the bottom line is we're all just trying to make our way without insulting one another or debating this for a single second." Or something like that. I might be paraphrasing. I was simply glad no-one got snotty or judgmental.

The vast majority of suggestions were that we should scale back our activities, in order that the kids might appreciate them more. I think that point is perfectly valid. However, let me be the first to assure you that it's not a non-stop, 25-hr a day circus around here. I'm as big a proponent of "down time" as the next mom. We go to the library once a week so they always have something to read, and we do "schoolwork" every day during the week, a time when the kids are sitting quietly at a table by themselves, working in workbooks or doing creative writing. My kids rarely play the Wii, we don't have any other gaming system, and they aren't obsessed with computers or videos. They do, however, have a tendency to turn into little couch potatoes in front of the tv if I don't monitor their time, which is probably another reason I like to get out of the house a lot --- they're perfectly content to watch 37 episodes of iCarly without moving, or the Three Ninjas Knuckle Up movie five times in a row (I speak from personal experience this weekend, and for the record, that might be the dumbest movie ever made ....Seriously? I'm supposed to believe a little eight-year old boy can take out seven grown men, all the while wearing an Indian headdress and shouting "hyah!!" ??? When I expressed disbelief to Kellen, he informed me, "Not a boy, Mom, but a highly skilled trained NINJA!" And the sad part is, he was dead serious. )

I think (and again, this is just me speaking for my three) that they are a little too old for "quiet time in their rooms", but they do **play** in their rooms (or on the staircase!) and I do encourage independent projects. In case you don't believe me, the words. "I don't care if you're bored, find something to do or I'll give you chores" came out of my mouth just today. :)

As luck would have it, when they were younger and I was more uptight about "safety", they actually had much more freedom to go outside and play. In Georgia, there were four other families with young children on our street, and it wasn't uncommon for all the kids to be outside from morning until evening, playing with one another, up and down the street.

Here, we live in an old neighborhood. There are no parks or trails or fields or creeks or playgrounds within walking distance. The playground at the elementary school is fenced and locked. There are none within biking distance (at least not any that I feel safe letting them go to alone.) There are ZERO children on our street, and only a few on the streets around us. The houses are small, on small lots, with small yards. So I find it slightly ironic (and frustrating) that now, when my kids are old enough -- in my opinion -- to have a bit more freedom to explore the neighborhood and play with friends, they no longer have the opportunity. And I do send them "outside to play" quite often, but it's never long before they are complaining they are bored and could we invite friends over??? There's something a little bit sad about watching your son try and scrimmage himself in soccer in the back yard ..... And then there you go, it's a scheduled play-date, the very thing I should cut back on.

I'm not telling you these things because I'm defensive about my parenting (ok, maybe I am, just a little) but rather to help clear up the (what I believe is a) misconception I somehow gave that we have activities planned every morning and every night, from sun up until sun down.

However, I do acknowledge that more down time, and encouraging them to make more of their own fun, wouldn't be a bad idea, and that is one of the things we're going to work on.

I love the idea of saving a fun activity for the end of the week and letting the kids earn it; so we've designated Fridays for that. We're also going to let each kid take turns picking the Friday activity from a pre-approved list. When we sat down with them and asked them to suggest activities, they ranged from "lunch with dad" or "more family movie nights" to "more time at the local water park", "Six Flags", and "can we go back to Great Wolf Lodge?" .... clearly, they ran the gamut.

We also sat the kids down and told them I would NOT cancel plans or un-invite friends if one of them misbehaves. I agree with everyone who said that is unfair to too many people. If, however, one of them misbehaves in the morning, the offender will have to sit out at least a portion of that day's activities. If it happens during the activity, they will also sit out. If it happens on the way home, or on a day we're staying home, or in the evening, we instituted a "chore jar" --- strips of paper with household chores above and beyond their normal chores. Really gross stuff that I don't like to do either, like cleaning baseboards and toilets and vacuuming out the van. I bought a small notebook to keep track if a child is told they must "pull a chore strip" during the day (because yes, I am the kind of parent who would forget ....) and they must pull the strip and do the chore the minute they get home. We're going on three days and no strips yet, although Brayden and Kendrie both came very close today and only got out of it by apologizing (UN-prompted) to one another for their actions.

I also started writing down a list of what we did (or didn't do) each day, and who got to invite a friend/have a sleepover/attend a play date/etc. I hope this will help me when the inevitable "It's not fair!" debate begins about how one child always is the preferred one. Of course, whichever child *that* is depends on who feels slighted and who is doing the arguing. According to all three of the kids, I ALWAYS favor "the other two" ... and best as I can tell, that's mathematically impossible. I just need to help them understand it, and also help them understand "Because I said so" is indeed a complete sentence.

I also need to work on my knee-jerk parenting style when it comes to arguing. A private e-mail I received from a friend brought up a good point .... even though arguing is annoying and drives me batty, it is one way that kids learn to work out disagreements and solve problems. So I'll be trying harder to balance a healthy amount of "letting them work it out without butting in" with "hush stop arguing for pete's sake because I said so that's why!"

So in a nutshell:

1. Fewer activities over all, although no-one is going to confuse us with homebodies, even with a calmer schedule, because *I* like to get out socially, too.

2. More "delayed" activities, IF they are earned, and letting the kids take a more active part in planning them.

3. Clearer punishment for kids who argue, fuss, fight, moan, complain, or in any way make life miserable for the rest of us.

4. More chocolate for me.

(Well, come on. That's just a given, isn't it?)

Thanks again for chiming in. I'd love to hear who else got some great ideas from the comments section, and how they're working out for you.

It takes a virtual village ...... (and a lot of chocolate.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SPT Challenge May 26

Self-Portrait Challenges for the month of May from Lelly of Lelly's Musings:

"tuesday, may 5 something old
tuesday, may 12 something new
tuesday, may 19 something borrowed
tuesday, may 26 something blue

take it literally, take it figuratively, but by all means, make a commitment to complete all four challenges for the month of may!"

And so, without further ado, here is my final SPT Challenge for this month, "Something Blue":

Me and Kellen, who is looking handsome, and way too grown-up, in his new BLUE blazer, on 5th grade graduation day last Friday.

Now my middle child is headed to middle school.

And my heart is breaking with the knowledge that before too long, he will be driving and growing muscles and becoming interested in girls and (most-likely-although-I-really-hope-not-because-its-so-extremely-pathetic-looking) trying desperately to grow some scraggly-ass mustache which will be nothing more than peach fuzz but I suppose its a rite of passage for boys, is it not?

And then he will go away to college. Where he will be exposed to people and situations that I will not be around to supervise and all I will be able to do is sit back and pray we've taught him well. And a whole new world will open up to him ... one where he will be old enough to gamble, buy lottery tickets, buy cigarettes, buy porn, (gasp!) vote, and register for the draft (sob!)

And probably after that he will live in an apartment or house with a bunch of other stinky, sweaty guys, who drive beat up cars and wear their hair too long and don't mow the lawn enough. And they will listen to loud music and drink cheap beer and probably ogle tramps young women who wear their shirts too tight. And at some point along the way, there will be a conniving little wench who will break my baby's heart and I will have to hate her for it.

And then at some point after that, he will meet a wonderful girl and get married and I will truly be replaced. At least until they have children of their own, at which point I will become the wise old grandma who is (hopefully!) available for babysitting.

Oh my goodness.

I've gone from having an elementary school graduate to being a grandmother, all in this one post.

Excuse me while I go weep for a while.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Memoriam

US Army, 1960-1963

I miss you, Dad

Happy, and respectful, Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A question for all you child-rearing experts

Which, you know, basically means "any parent that reads this."

Or, it doesn't even have to be a parent. Anyone who has an opinion about kids should feel free to weigh in. A teacher, a counselor, a babysitter. Or even anyone who raises, say, hamsters. Because you never know. Maybe someone with hamsters has the same problem and has found a better way to handle it.

This is actually a problem we run into year-round, but I know from experience that will only get worse now that summer is officially here.

In a nutshell, I like to stay busy with my kids. And since we have so much more free time in the summer, I have a tendency to plan way more stuff. Water parks, museums, local swimming pools, movies, bowling, playdates .... you name it, we typically have *something* planned every day. Not necessarily something that costs money, I'm all about parks and riding bikes and those kinds of activities as well.

I always have these high expectations, and visions of how these things will pan out. In my vision, my children are laughing, happy, grateful little munchkins who are always on their best behavior and smile and say thank you and frequently help little old ladies cross the street.

In reality ........... well ............ you know how it goes.

Seems inevitably *someone* is tired or crabby or frustrated. And nothing ruins the mood faster than a whiny, ungrateful little brat.

I'm totally not above canceling plans mid-stream if I don't like the way the kids are behaving. Case in point: last Sunday, the kids wanted icees after church. Half way to 7-11 they were arguing and sniping with one another in the car, so I made it a point to drive right past 7-11 without stopping, then go on home, telling them exactly why they weren't getting a treat that day. Usually there is outraged protest, then complaining that it was so-and-so's fault, then wheedling and pleading, then grudging acceptance.

But sadly, the lesson never seems to stick, and before too much longer, I'm canceling plans again.

Quite frankly, it really pisses me off.

My dilemma, however, is how to handle these situations during the summer, when more often than not, other people are involved as well.

If I've let the kids each invite a friend to the movies, and one kid is being argumentative right off, do I call all three friends and cancel the entire day? Then five kids are being punished for the behavior of one.

Now that we live near family, I've considered dropping the offender off at Grandma's and going about our day with the kids who behaved ... but I hate for Grandma's house to be equated with "punishment", and truth be told, Grandma Betty has a life of her own and I'm not sure it would be feasible to assume she can provide last minute baby-sitting for whichever kid is acting ugly.

And then do I have to UN-invite the friend? Or do I honor the invitation we've extended, and take the friend without my child?

What if I've already rsvp'd for a birthday party, or had another mom invite my child out to do something, and THEN my kid acts up? Do I mess up someone else's plans by canceling?

If our family has planned to go to the lake for the weekend, and I've already bought all the groceries and told our hosts we will be there, I don't want to cancel. And I certainly can't leave one kid behind.

What if I've paid in advance for an event, or pre-purchased tickets, and they are acting so bad I don't want to go? Do I make the child pay me back? And then *I'm* mad because everyone's plans were ruined?

What if we're meeting another family for an activity? What if *I* instigated the event? Do I then call the other mom and say, "Sorry, I know this whole afternoon was my idea, but my kids are being brats and we're not coming" ??

I think that's exactly what I *should* do, but in truth, I have a hard time doing it. Not because I'm embarrassed to admit my kids are mis-behaving (anyone who KNOWS my kids knows it happens) but because I feel GUILT when other people are involved.

And I think my kids know it.

So they mis-behave, and I get angry, and they apologize, and we go on about our day. And normally, we have a very good time doing whatever it is we have planned to do.

But there's no incentive to stop them from arguing and whining and complaining again the next time.

Does anyone else experience this at all?

How do you punish one without punishing them all?

And what about when other families or kids are included?

Honestly, I think my kids GET so much, that sometimes they forget to be grateful for it, and forget to appreciate it. Threatening to take away a swim date isn't that big a deal, because we go swimming several times a week.

How do people manage this?

(No, really, that's not a rhetorical question ... I really would like to know.)

Probably part of the problem is me, overscheduling my children. Maybe if they sat at home more often, they'd appreciate getting to do the fun things. But I feel like I sat at home so long with Kendrie, when she was too sick to get out and do much. Now, I don't want to miss a single opportunity for fun.

But really, it's not much fun when they're fussing and fighting before we're even out the door. Sometimes I feel like I'm begging them to act nice, so *I* can have the pleasure of taking *them* to do something fun.

Anyone else? Anyone????

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Pet Scan

Kellen: "Mom, have you seen my pet scan?"

Me: "What?"

Kellen: "Have you seen my pet scan?"

Me: "What are you talking about?"

Kellen: "Have you seen my pet scan? We watched it at school the other day. It was really good."

Me: "You watched your PET SCAN at school? You've never even had a pet scan."


Clearly, my brain doesn't work quite like other people's.

PS. The team mom e-mailed to let us know we would, in fact, NOT be taking a break between seasons, and practice would take place as normal next week. I e-mailed HER back to let her know, in fact, that we would NOT be there.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We're on a break

Wednesday night was Kellen's final soccer game of the year.

And thus ended our first foray into the world of competitive soccer, which began almost one year ago.

A year filled with summer camps, tryouts, practices, fall soccer, indoor winter soccer, spring soccer, tournaments, and even our first out-of-state competition. And most painfully, a year of practices every Tuesday and Thursday night, rain or shine. (Oh, the curse blessing of having a team parent with keys to their church's gym --- even a good hard rain doesn't cancel practice!)

Which means last night was our first Thursday night in almost eleven months with No. Soccer. Practice. And I had big plans for our family. I was going to cook dinner, and then take the kids bike riding around the lake. We were going to bond, and relax, and laugh, just like those happy families in those stupid magazines that always make me feel so inferior.

Instead, my after-school PTO meeting ran long, then I had to run to Home Depot to buy yet another gallon of paint, (Caribbean Sunshine Yellow by Behr, thank you God, I can feel my mood lightening every time I walk in the room) because I am apparently genetically incapable of guesstimating how much paint it will take to finish painting my living room. So then it was really too late for me to cook dinner so I stopped on the way home and bought a pizza. And when I got home Kendrie was in a foul mood, and Brayden was in the middle of watching "Look Who's Talking Too" (and the heck with all the cute talking babies, there is actually a lot of cursing in that movie, but of course nothing my kids haven't heard from me already, which is probably why they will grow up to be social delinquents, because cursing talking babies make us laugh ....) and couldn't be bothered with a bike ride.

And Kellen, bless his heart, already had his pajama bottoms on and was playing with his army men on the staircase. Don't ask me why he stages battles on the staircase when he has an entire bedroom to play in, he just does. I think for him, "chill" was the operative word for the evening and after playing soccer approximately 1500 hours the past year ..... he ... didn't .... want ... to ... do ... ANYTHING last night.

Except chase the ice cream truck down the street in his pajama bottoms, with the rest of us running after.

So although my evening didn't go quite as planned, Kellen was happy, I now have enough paint to finish the living room, and I got the world's best fudgesicle.

On second thought, it might have been a perfect evening after all.

PS. At the game Wednesday night, some of the other parents were talking about whether we would start practice for next season next week, or take a small break before tryouts, which take place in June. They all unanimously agreed they would like to continue practicing so the boys don't lose too much of their skill over the summer.

Seriously? Are you kidding me?

We LOVED this team, and consider it a great experience. But we are taking a few weeks off. To play army men and eat fudgesicles.

Kellen will try out again in June, then come July, we will be one of THOSE FAMILIES who tries to juggle simultaneous sports, when he attempts to play his first season of football at the same time as his second year of competitive soccer.

Yeah. Good luck with that.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You can't teach an old dog (that would be ME) new tricks

I signed up a few weeks ago to take an online course -- Introduction to Photoshop CS4. I bought the Photoshop software several months ago, but shockingly, what I discovered (much to my extreme dismay) was that simply *possessing* the software doesn't magically impart the knowledge of how to *utilize* the software into your brain. Neither does installing the software, or playing with the software. Hmmmm. Who knew?

So a friend (Hi, Katie!) suggested an online course from a company (company?) she had used previously, and I signed up, thinking it would be a snap. I had already used previous versions of Photoshop, and was actually pretty comfortable with them --- I just needed someone to tell me how the new and improved bells and whistles work. I mean, I don't mean to be smug about it, but with the exception of the new features, I could probably TEACH the class, right? How hard could it be?


Could I have been more wrong???

Week One, people, and I've already had to ask for message board help twice --- IN WEEK ONE!!!

The other students are all "Hi, good to be back!" and "Hey, thanks for the quick refresher!" and "The homework this week was so fun and easy!!!" OK, you have to imagine the tone of voice and snippy little hand gestures I am seriously using to make fun of these people who I am clearly jealous of ..... Because, um, hello!? They all seem to know what the heck they are doing already, and I suspect a few of them are totally sucking up to the teacher {not really, but I'm being a poor sport about this} and I couldn't be more pathetic if I tattoo'd the word "NEWBIE" across my forehead.

As part of my homework, I was supposed to post a screenshot image, which I had no idea how to do. I was supposed to have this cool title bar above my images, which were not there. And tonight, while desperately trying to get my homework uploaded to share before the deadline, I realized that ............. I do not know how to upload my images so that more than one image at a time shows on a subdirectory on my website. So instead of sending one link, showing my five assignments ...... I had to send five separate links, thereby clearly labeling me The Biggest Doofus To Ever Take This Class In The History Of Doofus --es.

And not only is it the teacher who will immediately recognize my doofus-ness, but all students in the class have access to each other's homework images --- which basically means everyone in the class knows already --- remember, it's WEEK FREAKING ONE --- that I am clearly the class idiot.

Do they actually *make* virtual dunce hats??? Because I have a freakishly big head and will need one in XXL.


Blaine is home from work today and after the kids left for school we went upstairs to do the last bit of work in Kellen's room. He helped me re-hang the shelving, put the clothes up, put the furniture back in place, and clean up the painting supplies.

He was clearing Kellen's desk, which I used as a work station while painting. I heard him mumbling under his breath, then he asked aloud, "Just how many Diet Dr. Peppers did you drink while you were up here?" as he surveyed the empty cans.

I paused.

"Blaine, what is next Saturday?" I asked.

"Our anniversary" he replied.

"How many years?"


moment of silence to let the gravity of the matter sink in .....

"And if you want to make it to 24, you'll get off my back about the Diet Dr. Pepper", I said ominously.

I think he got the hint, as he cleared the rest of the desk in silence.

Ahhhhhhhhh, marital bliss.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SPT Challenge May 19

**Updated to add** Ginger, what happened was our original last day of school was May 22. We didn't have enough (any?) snow days built into our calendar, so to make up two snow days we took last winter, the kids were going to have to come back to school the Tuesday and Wednesday after Memorial Day. I know other schools often go after Memorial Day, but we typically don't. The school board voted that as long as our kids had gone the required number of hours *this year* that is required nationally --- and they have --- they wouldn't require them to make up the snow days. This decision was made last Thursday. Needless to say, it's thrown a bit of a monkey wrench in the end-of-school-year-festitivies-and-trips-and-off-campus-celebrations that everyone had planned, not to mention the working parents who are now scrambling for childcare. But, it goes without saying, the kids are thrilled.

Lellys' self-portrait challenge for today is "Something Borrowed" ......




(thinking some more)


Yep. I got nothing.

My problem is the same as everyone else's this time of year --- the end-of-school-year madness that has descended and is squeezing every breath of life out of every second of the day. Parties, field trips, track meets, piano recitals, last minute fundraisers, end of year concerts, about a bazillion make-up soccer games due to the three weeks of rain that just ended, meetings, semester tests, a last-day of school that got bumped up by half a week (why, oh, why ... did the school board not understand that I had things to DO those days ????) assemblies, awards ceremonies, .......

Blah. Boring. Blah.

And its all fun stuff ..... so its not like I mean to complain. Just that I'm not quite sure how in between the bazillion and one FUN things we have to do we're supposed to get anything ELSE done. Like grocery shopping. Or bathing. Or updating this stupid blog.

Oh, for the days when my kids were babies and *I* was the boss of their schedules.

/end lament.

On a happier note, Kellen's bedroom is painted. As soon as we get the shelves back up and the clothes hung up on the wire racks again (because after all, he IS living in a closet) then I'll post some pictures.

In the meantime, I guess if I could borrow anything, it would be time.

Or a clone of myself.

Or a mind, because I have freakin' lost mine.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Happy Tears

Kellen and I went shopping tonight. We arrived at JC Penney at 4:30 pm. We walked straight to the boys department, and I picked up a pair of navy slacks in a size 12 and a 14. We went into the dressing room and tried them both on. The 14 (slim) fit perfectly. He said he liked them. Done with the pants.

We went to the under-garment section and I told him to pick some underwear, and some socks. I told him to trade the socks he grabbed for mediums .... he did. Done with the undergarments.

We walked over to sports shirts, I picked two off the rack to match his new blue pants and asked if he liked them. He said he did. Done with the shirts.

We walked to the shoe department. He picked one pair of dress shoes, and one pair of sandals for swimming. I asked the employee for both in a size 7. He brought them. Kellen tried them on. Declared both pair fit perfectly, and he liked them. Done with the shoes.

They didn't have a casual navy blazer at Penneys, so we walked next door to Dillards. They had an entire rack of navy blazers with the world's ugliest crest on the chest. When I asked the salesperson if they had any others without a design, she said they had one. It was a size 14. Kellen tried it on. It fit perfectly, and he said it felt comfortable, and he liked it. Done with the blazer.

We were back out to the car by 5:15.

I almost wept with happiness. And wondered why my shopping experiences with my daughters NEVER go this smoothly.

Painting Lessons, Day Two

Um ..... I got nothing.

I didn't even paint today. Instead, I went to my kids morning assembly awards thingy, then drove to Sonic (shocker ... not) then came home and cleaned the downstairs because I was hosting a PTO luncheon, and then the nice ladies stayed all afternoon to discuss next year's calendar, but it wasn't even boring like it sounds, it was actually pretty fun but maybe that's just because I don't have many friends here and I'm desperate for female companionship, and now Kellen and I are fixing to go shopping at the mall for "nice" clothes because of the upcoming "formal" dinner nights on the cruise and the poor boy has nothing nicer than khaki pants in his closet and I can't have all those cruise people pointing their fingers at him and tsk-tsking in sympathy because his parents are too cheap and clueless to buy anything nicer than khaki pants, and I figure then since we're out, after the khaki pants extravaganza, we'll probably grab dinner somewhere .....

Hmmm. I'm starting to think *this* might be why it takes me a month to actually finish any painting project I start.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Painting Lessons Day One

1. If you are resigned to painting a room in the upstairs part of your house, make sure you have all your supplies before starting. Otherwise you will find yourself running back downstairs to grab a towel, then back upstairs. Then back downstairs for the little paint-can-opener-thing. Then back upstairs. Then back downstairs for the headphones to your ipod because you don't expect me to do this without music, do you? Then back upstairs. Then back downstairs for a Diet Dr. Pepper because all this running up and down the stairs has made you thirsty.

2. Before you begin any painting project, make sure the brushes you purchased for your *last* painting project are still good. If the bristles are so stiff that its like painting with a brick, you will need to buy a new brush, and should probably do that ahead of time.

3. When you go to Home Depot for a new brush, wearing sweat pants with a hole in the knee, a ratty t-shirt, and no makeup, try not to make eye contact with anyone lest they recognize you. Mumble a lot about primer and painters tape and caulk and if you're lucky, maybe people will assume you are actually a professional painter and your crappy clothes are your work uniform.

4. When you go to Home Depot for a new brush, make sure you buy the right kind.

5. When you go back to Home Depot for a new brush, return home promptly. Do NOT run any additional errands, or stop for breakfast, or call friends -- otherwise you will return home and realize it is already mid-morning and you haven't accomplished a damn thing. And then you will begin to seriously wonder about the possibility of adult-onset A.D. --- oooh, look, something shiny!

6. You know that fabulous, brand-new bedroom furniture you bought your children a few months ago? Made of real wood, and weighing approximately three thousand pounds? You really should have painted the walls *BEFORE* you had the furniture placed in the room, and attached to the walls, you moron.

7. Never buy a two-story house.

8. Open your wallet, let the moths fly out, and call a damn professional.

The saga begins

Do you know what I think the only thing in the whole wide world that might be more fun than painting is? Painting the bedrooms UPSTAIRS in a house. Because I love nothing more than hauling the paint and buckets and pans and rollers and drop cloths and all the other painting crap paraphernalia up a steep flight of stairs to my son's bedroom.

While we're at it, whose dumb-ass idea was it to build a house with stairs at a 90 degree angle to the bedrooms?

And whose dumb-assier idea was it to BUY the house???

Oh. That would be me.

If you'll excuse me, now that I've caught my breath, I'm off to haul a ladder up a flight of stairs.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

SPT Challenge May 12

Self-Portrait Challenges for the month of May, as per Lelly of Lelly's Musings are as follows:

May 5 -- Something Old

May 12 -- Something New

May 19 -- Something Borrowed

May 26 -- Something Blue

So, in keeping with her theme, here is my "Something New":

I know, right? Are we crazy? Did we not learn our lesson the last time?

No, it appears we did not.

This time around, however, it's for our personal residence, and not the rental property. After living here for a year and half, and complaining every single solitary day (hey, at least I'm consistent!) that the green paint color on the walls, combined with the total and complete LACK of natural light in the house makes me feel like I'm living in a cave --- a dark cave, with moss-covered walls -- well, it's time to put up or shut up. Wish us luck. Our marriage has survived the military, infertility, and cancer. I don't know, however, if we'll survive another painting project.

Ironically, when the PTO moms were here last week for the dessert party, one of them complimented the "nice, green color" in our living room.

"Thanks," I said, "I like it too, but its just too dark. We're getting ready to paint it yellow."

"Really?" she asked, "My living room is yellow, and I'm fixing to paint it green."

I laughed and said maybe we should just trade houses instead. It would probably be less work than painting.

No, really. I'm serious.

That makes no sense to me whatsoever

Kellen has been asking me for a week to buy him a new notebook for math. Not just any notebook, but one with a green cover. Because apparently that is what the math teacher requires. Never mind that I have a stack of unused notebooks here at the house he could use, in all colors of the rainbow (except green, duly noted) and even one with cute little puppies on it. NO -- it must be green.

I kept forgetting to go and buy the dang notebook. Yesterday after school he pointed out to me that he had used his very last sheet of paper, and I promised --SWORE-- that I would go to the store last night and buy him a green notebook to take to school so he doesn't have to fill out an "expectation form" in math today.

At 4:30 am, I woke up, and remembered I had forgotten to buy the notebook, again.

At 4:33 am, I remembered that Brayden needed a box of vanilla wafers, a can of white icing, and 22 paper plates for art class.

At 4:40 am, I gave a tired sigh for how pathetic and forgetful I am as a mother, and dragged my sorry butt out of bed.

Did you know it's not very crowded AT ALL at Wal-Mart at 5 am on a weekday morning?

And that shopping at Wal-Mart, when its not very crowded, and you practically have the whole store to yourself, is actually not such a terrible ordeal. You can browse aisle after aisle, without dodging other carts or other shoppers --- although you do have to dodge the employees and their ginormous carts and dollies, because apparently 5 am is when they restock all the merchandise.

The notebook, wafers, icing, and paper plates (and, ahem, browsing) cost me $137.00

The "other" essential, important, life-altering items that I bought were placed in the new laundry basket I picked up ... and I left it in the van when I got back home. When I drove the kids to school this morning, Kendrie asked me to drop them off in the outside car lane. Normally when I drive them to school, I drop them in the inside car lane and the principal opens the car door for them.

I asked, "Why do you want me to go in the outside lane?"

Her reply: "Because of that basket with all that junk in it! I don't want the principal to see what a mess our van is!"

Hmmmmm. This from a child who never puts her shoes in her room at night, refuses to throw anything away, and is clearly allergic to placing her clothes in a dirty laundry basket. And for the record, the laundry basket was the ONLY thing in my van that was out of order.

So it makes no sense to me whatsoever that Kendrie would care.

But since she does, I think the trick might be for me to invite the principal over to our home for a social visit. Maybe THEN she would be motivated to pick up her damn stuffed animals.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"For the Love of God -- PULL!!!!"

Thursday was the 4th and 5th grade Track and Field Day at our school. The kids are loaded up on buses and driven out to the High School practice track and football field, to run and jump and race and throw. It's pretty much the highlight of Kellen's entire year.

The only dark cloud on the day was the fact he didn't get to participate in the 800 meter run. You might remember last year (or you might not, you know, what with you having slept, and having LIVES OF YOUR OWN and all ...) that Kellen came in second place in the 800, losing to a kid with one shoe. He and this little boy, who is a classmate of his, talked smack all year about the re-match, all in good fun. At least I *think* it was in good fun .... Anyway, Kellen and three of his friends also wanted to run in the 4x100 meter relay, and the two events were back to back, so Kellen had to choose. He chose the relay with his friends, and even though he was a little disappointed not to compete in the 800, he and I stood on the sidelines and cheered for the boy who beat him last year. (Who came in second this year, WITH both shoes, I think he was a little disappointed, to be honest.)

But all told, Track Meet Day is Kellen's favorite.

He loves the hurdles:

He loved running the relay:

And loved it even more when his team won:

But this boy:

Loves long jump:

Most of all:

It cracks me up that he's able to get those long, gangly legs all going in the same direction, but he loves it.

I, however, woke up Friday morning and couldn't figure out why my upper arms were so sore. Putting my hair in a ponytail was difficult, and I had to stop and rest half-way through brushing my teeth. It was the oddest thing .... and then I remembered ....

Parents vs. Kids tug-of-war.

I pulled once for the 4th grade parents, even though I don't have a kid in 4th grade, because there weren't enough 4th grade parents there and no WAY were we letting the kids win. (even though it was really close and they obviously have some freakishly muscular kids in the 4th grade because I was almost pulled completely over .....)

Then I pulled once as a sub for Kellen's 5th grade teacher, and then I pulled again for the 5th grade parents.

The funny part of this story .. well, funny to *me*, anyway ... was my sister. The kids' classes are pitted against each other, and then there's a "pull-off" for the losers bracket, and a "pull-off" for the winners bracket and its all very exciting. Very Exciting. Like, Olympic-worthy excitingness. Some of the parents just stand around taking pictures, and the teachers are pulling, and whichever classes aren't pulling at that time are screaming encouragement to the classes that are.

So a few of us .... um .... more "helpful" parents try to "coach" the kids while they are pulling. Mainly we yell something along the lines of "1-2-3-pull!" in an attempt to get the class pulling cohesively. But because so many kids are yelling at the same time, we helpful parents have to scream at the top of our lungsyell really loud, and maybe sometimes get right up next to the kids, making pseudo-pulling motions with our arms, in an attempt to really help.

Only I'm not sure we're helping so much as traumatizing the children.

So when it was time for the parents to pull against the winning class (Kellen's) there was no-one standing there to yell and encourage *us*. So my sister was yelling "1-2-3-pull! 1-2-3 pull!" and then it deteriorated into "For the Love of God, PULL!!!!!!!!" because --again -- no WAY were we letting those kids beat us, and my sister was hysterical, and I was laughing so hard I could barely pull anyway.

Then a bunch of kids jumped onto the rope at the other end, then a bunch of kids jumped onto the rope at the parents end, and then we had about a hundred people pulling on the rope, and I was still laughing at my sister yelling "For the love of God -- PULL!!!!"

Hmmmm. Maybe that was one of those "you had to be there" things, because I don't think it translated as well into the written word. But trust me --- it was freakin' hilarious.

PS. The parents won.

PPS. Kendrie's poor 3rd grade track meet has been cancelled TWICE due to rain. This morning she was in tears when she went to school, worried that they will run out of possible days to reschedule and she won't get to prove her own long-jump-superiority ....... Dear Lord, please just let the sun shine one day between now and the end of school, for those poor, pitiful 3rd graders. Thank you, amen.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Perfect Mother's Day

Nothing says, "I love you, son" quite like getting up early on a weekend, to watch your son's soccer team play in the cold and rain.

Especially when they lose.

And one of the parents on the other team almost gets in a fist-fight with your son's coach, which was about the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen, and that's including those poor people who have to stand on the street corner in Statue of Liberty costumes during tax season, waving you into their quick tax return businesses, and that's some total ridiculousness.

But anyway, near-fist-fight and loss aside, it was a great way to spend a Mother's Day.

Except that it was Saturday, and not today, so really ............. um .................

never mind.

Friday, May 08, 2009


Welcome to the first (official) Not Quite edition of "WWBC?" --- or, more affectionately known as, "What Would Barley Chew?" Or, "What Would Brew Chew?" --- the terms are basically synonymous, because as much as these two dogs adore one another and play, play, play all day long, they've also taught each other the bad habit of chewing anything that's not nailed down. Or, as we learned this week, even chewing a few things that ARE nailed down.

Evidence for the week of May 4th:

Scrubber brush for outdoor grill. I can only assume there were some meat drippings or fat particles or *something* on this brush because why else would one of them ingest four inches of wood? I seriously doubt dogs care that much about their fiber intake.

Noteworthy because: The brush was safely placed on top of grill, out of reach. How they got it? Who knows.

American Express card. Duly noted that this is a promotional American Express card, delivered in the junk mail. Not sure if the dogs are trying to make a statement about my spending habits, or just liked it because it was shiny.

Noteworthy because: I open all the mail, and don't recall ever seeing this arrive. Beginning to suspect dogs are going outside, opening mailbox with their little paws, and taking items for themselves.

Various pens and pencils located God only knows around the house. Pens and pencils left ANYWHERE in the house are automatically fair game. Primary culprit: Barley. I can only assume she is stealing pens in an attempt to write her own ransom note, hoping to find a new family, preferably one that can afford a *real* American Express card.

Noteworthy because: Despite losing at least a dozen writing instruments, the human people in this house are still surprised every time it happens.

Shoe. Again. This is like, the fifth pair. Yet do my children think it might be wise to actually put their shoes AWAY when they take them off their feet? No, they do not. So prepare to see lots more shoe photos in future editions of "WWBC?" And prepare also to see the Escoe kids going around town barefoot because if they can't be bothered to put their shoes away at night, then I can't be bothered to buy more.

Noteworthy because: it's not noteworthy at all. They're shoes. They smell like leather and feet -- of course dogs love them.

Scarf. A gift to Brayden, and the one chewed item she is most annoyed about. Especially considering it was hanging from a hook in her locker, exactly where it should be, and apparently the dogs grabbed hold and dragged it out before chewing a hole in it.

Noteworthy because: It's such a fluffy, poofy scarf that I suspect she can still wear it and the hole won't even be noticeable. Also noteworthy because if these dogs are smart enough to grab a scarf, hanging from a hook, then they're smart enough to grab a dishtowel hanging from the refrigerator door, and bring me a Diet Dr. Pepper, right? Let the training begin!

Water jug. First, we took a plastic bowl outside to fill with drinking water for them, and they dragged it out into the yard and chewed it up (photo unavailable). So we bought a stainless steel water bowl, which they also dragged into the yard and dumped out all the water. Worried that they would go the entire day without water if that behavior continued, I bought this one-gallon water jug that you fill, and place upside down in its own bowl, and the water-pressure keeps the bowl full. Or some other scientific-y explanation like that. I filled it, placed it outside, and when I returned half an hour later, this is what I found.

Noteworthy because: I paid $15.99 for this water jug and bowl. They tore it up in less than half an hour. According to my calculations, that provided entertainment to our dogs at the impressive rate of $32.00 per hour, or $768.00 per day. I think next time I'll just by another nyla-bone for ten bucks and be done with it.

And thus ends this week's edition of "WWBC?" Tune in next time to see what other various and sundry household items the dogs have claimed for themselves and chewed into pieces .... we can only hope they chew up the vet bill from the exploratory surgery I have no doubt is in their future.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

You're on notice, Facebook

Because I've been blogging since November of 2003 (I know! You'd think I'd be all talked out by now but nope, I just keep babbling on and on and on and never shut up ...) and already spewing forth my opinions and feelings all over the internet, ready or not, here I come, I never felt the need to jump on the Myspace bandwagon. I technically *have* a Myspace page, but I never visit it or update it or do anything with it. In fact, it might even be deleted now, for all I know. And to be honest, whenever I would visit anyone else's Myspace page, it often looked like a graphics program had thrown up on my computer screen .... so yeah, I pretty much avoided Myspace all together.

I wasn't too enthusiastic about Facebook initially, either, because I assumed it was another version of Myspace. In fact, I can't even remember the impetus that made me sign up for Facebook, but at some point I caved because everyone else I knew was doing it, and so I did it .... and what do you know? I really liked it. I enjoyed connecting with old friends, and having old friends connect with me. Most of all, I appreciated the quick, convenient method of staying connected via status updates.

Unfortunately, just like shoulder pads, the Dorothy Hamill haircut, and the premature cancellation of "Freaks and Geeks", all good things must come to an end. And the Facebook status update page, which I LOVED for staying connected, was ... well... updated.

And it sucks.

First, I lost the page that had the quick, one-line updates for my "friends". It took me an hour to figure out that I had to open my own page, then hit the "home" tab to find the status updates. And it took another hour of me googling all over the internet to figure out that I could set up some kind of core group, and see only their status updates now. So I did that. And it works .... meh.

Because I don't just see their status updates, I also see every comment that every one of *their* friends (most of whom are people I do not know) makes on those updates. And if one of those people updates two or three times in one day, I see ALL of those. And I seriously wonder, who the hell has time to sit around and continually update their Facebook status all day? Then I learned that basically, that's the same thing as Twittering, and so apparently TONS of people have time because isn't Twitter the newest, hottest, most-happening rage of this century? And I put my foot down there and refuse to Twitter because for pete's sake, I can barely keep up with my laundry as it is and do I really need another thing to do on the computer??? Yet everyone else was basically Twittering on Facebook.

But you know what? It was ok.

Then I quickly discovered that not only do I get every status update that every person cares to send, but I also get a notification of every web link or you tube link or personal video or photo or sets of photos that a person puts on their page.

And you know what? It was still ok.

Because these people are my FRIENDS. And shouldn't I be remotely interested in seeing pictures of their families? And their friends? And their pets? Or any other thing they care to share via Facebook? Of course I should. They are my FRIENDS, and I CARE.

But do you want to know what I do NOT care about? What I, in fact, couldn't care LESS about???

Every single stupid fucking quiz and application, and the results of those stupid fucking quizzes and applications, that every single person on the planet has time to take. And then their friends comments about those stupid fucking quizzes and applications.

Saturday, I started keeping track. It's been four days, and I've had to "hide" the following quizzes so they quit showing up:

1. So-and-so sent someone a drink!
2. So-and-so sent someone flowers!
3. So-and-so sent someone a muppet gift! (wtf?)
4. What was so-and-so's profession in a past life? (here's a hint: I don't care)
5. Which Little House character is so-and-so? (still not caring)
6. So-and-so got their fortune told! (are you sensing the not-really-caring pattern here?)
7. Which Hollywood actress is so-and-so?
8. So-and-so took the Sunday School song trivia quiz!
9. So-and-so took the 80's movie quiz!
10. Which kind of mom is so-and-so?
11. What Bible verse fits you best?
12. Are you a true Cincinnatian?
13. So-and-so took the Prayer-in-School poll!
14. What classic photographic emulsion are you?
15. Where in the US should you live?
16. What fruit of the spirit are you?
17. So-and-so took a personality test!
18. How many kids will you have?!
19. What is your old lady name?

and best of all ....

20. So-and-so sent someone Snoopy's Friendly Flowers!!!!!

Are you kidding me?!?!?!?

I DO NOT CARE, AND IT IS NOT OK !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's the thing --- taking those tests and quizzes can be fun. I've taken a few, and every now and then, a few minutes of mindless entertainment ... sure, knock yourself out. (Although the "friends" I have who are taking them all day long confuse me, because honestly, you would think people would have something better to do with their time than sit around taking Facebook quizzes all day I don't know maybe work in a soup kitchen or read to the blind or walk dogs at the local animal shelter or ANYTHING for God's sake that is more productive than these stupid fucking tests ......)

But I digress.

My point, Facebook, is that I have no problems with your tests, and other people's choice to take them. I *DO* have a problem with the fact I have to "hide" every single test to keep it from showing up on my status update page again. And that for every test I "hide", five different tests show up.

So to the dear people in charge at Facebook --- If people want to time-suck their life away finding out what their porn star name is, or which My Little Pony gift would make them the happiest, or which Facts of Life character they are, or which fucking SMURF they most resemble ........ fine. More power to them. But for the love of all that is holy, bring back the old status update page so I don't have to look at it, ok?

Until then, Facebook, you're on notice.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

SPT Challenge May 5

According to Lelly, May is the month of weddings. I always thought *June* was the month of weddings, but our anniversary is in May, so clearly Lelly is right, and May is the month of weddings. Or, in the case of Blaine and me, May is the month of "Oh my Holy Hell, you're actually graduating from college this year and will be moving away soon with the Air Force and quite frankly, I'm way too lazy to put the effort into maintaining a long distance relationship but I like you too much to break up so what do you say we just get married? Ok? Yeah, me too."

Ahhhhh, young love.

So, in keeping with the theme, the Self-Portrait Challenges from Lelly for the month of May are:

May 5: Something old

May 12: Something new

May 19: Something borrowed

May 26: Something blue

I had what I thought was a great post idea for "something old" and was all set to take a photo today .... when my inherently spazoid nature took over and a brand new sort of "old" became apparent.

I went to the mall today in a desperate, pathetic attempt to buy a new outfit for a fundraiser banquet Blaine and I are attending Thursday night. The desperation and pathetic-ness came from my panic at discovering .... um .... I'm fat. I'm 40 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school, my high school reunion is this summer, but even more pressing than that is the banquet tomorrow night that I am attending with friends from high school, and OMFG what sort of diuretic can I take that will make me lose 40 pounds in the next 24 hours????

Although I don't feel the need to throw numbers or weight or sizes out here, because seriously, it will serve no purpose but to make me feel even SHITTIER about myself, I *can* tell you that I am at that awkward cusp .... almost too big to shop in "regular" stores, but not always big enough to shop in "plus size" stores. I'll find a cute outfit at Ann Taylor or Chico's, and think, "Oh, if only they had it one size larger ...." Then I find a cute outfit at Lane Bryant and think, "Oh, if only they had it one size smaller ..."

But this isn't a post about my weight because I already called my sister this week, ready to slit my freaking wrists in the dressing room of Kohls, and really, do we need to keep re-hashing the thing?

This challenge is supposed to be about something OLD, not something neurotic and annoying, like my obsession with my weight.

I officially proclaimed today "Official Find my Fat Ass an Outfit Day" and arrived at the mall, ready to try on every single outfit in every single store until I found something that made me look NOT like Bea Arthur, thank you very much, God rest her soul.

I walked, and walked, and walked. Although our local mall isn't huge, it is big enough that by the end of the day, I was tired, and ready to go. Bag in hand, I was feeling triumphant. (Score! Pirate-y sort of fluffy blouse camoflauges muffin top! And bought my first pair of Spanx!) I headed to my car, which was of course parked at the other end of the mall.

When I extended my hand to open the door to step into the parking lot, I reached to the top of my head to pull my sunglasses down. The thing you've got to understand is that I wear sunglasses pretty much every day. Every single day. Rain, shine, snow, it doesn't matter. I have light-colored eyes and simply cannot take the glare --- can't even sit facing a window in a restaurant. So I ALWAYS have my sunglasses either on my face, or on top of my head, and I've been that way since high school.

It was at that moment I felt my bare head, and I realized I must have left them in the dressing room.


I am ROUGH on sunglasses, (on, off, on, off, use as headband, on, off, etc.) and used to go through a pair every month or so. I always bought cheap glasses from the dollar store or Wal-Mart, but it seemed like they were always bent, or sat on my face crooked (what? one ear isn't higher than the other?) and finally, I decided to act like a grown up and pay for a REAL pair of quality sunglasses, hoping if they were expensive enough, I would take better care of them.

It actually worked.

I've had this pair for about a year and a half -- which is like, 172 in dog sunglass years. My sunglasses --- are OLD. And now they were lost.

Grumbling, I turned around and walked back the length of the mall to the store where I bought the pirate shirt. I could have driven, I suppose, but it was raining and I would have gotten wet and then had even more to bitch about, so I just walked it. Then, after retrieving my OLD sunglasses, walked back the length of the mall to my car.

However, this time, exhausted by my ardous trek, I stopped at the food court and bought a Diet Dr. Pepper, and, what was quite possibly the world's yummiest garlic-herb-parmesan pretzel.

No, I have no idea why I am chubby and have so much trouble shopping for clothes, do you?

Happy to be reunited with my OLD sunglasses.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Why Julia Child doesn't have to worry about me stealing her job. Wait. Is she still alive?

Updated to add: (I keep updating a lot lately. Clearly I need to put more thought into my posts and not be quite so trigger-happy on the "publish" button.) An e-mail from someone asking how I adjusted the recipe to change it from an 8x8 pan to a 13x9 pan was the lightbulb moment I needed regarding the problem with this dessert. I doubled everything but the rhubarb!! See? Seriously, Julia Child, rest easy.


I hosted our end-of-the-school-year PTO thank-you party at my house yesterday afternoon. The idea of the party came from the PTO president, as a way to show appreciation for all the moms and dads who worked so hard at the elementary school this year on various committees and fundraisers.

The idea to make it a dessert buffet? All mine, baby.

I figured this was a great chance for me to try Smitten Kitchen's Big Rhubarb Crumb Cake recipe, since heaven knows I've been yammering on about how great it was all week. I was a little worried when I had such trouble finding rhubarb, and then a little annoyed to see the plant, which you purchase by the pound, consisted primarily of leaves.

And yes, I understand the concept of paying for produce items you'll never use .... the peel of a banana, the stems of the grapes, etc .... but when I realized that even by weight, I was throwing away over half of what I paid for ... well, I starting thinking I might try the recipe with fresh blueberries next time.

Anyway! Complaining about Extreme Produce Challenges aside, I was excited to make the cake and share it with my friends. I took pictures throughout the process to share here on the blog .....

But during the process, I noticed that my rhubarb filling didn't look quite like Smitten Kitchen's. I assumed it was because I underestimated the weight (more specifically, underestimated the weight of the leaves!) and less fruit meant my filling was runny. Which in turn, meant I didn't have enough to completely cover the bottom layer of cake. Which in turn, meant the middle of my cake was a little soggy and didn't bake up quite as fluffy as the parts around the edges of the pan.

Had I been sitting in the living room, with a spoon, and the pan on my lap (not that I would know anything about THAT -- ahem) it would have been smooshy and melty and perfect. But since I wanted to slice it and serve it on plates, it made a difference. Only the outside of the cake was serve-worthy. And still didn't have as much rhubarb as it needed.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with the recipe -- the dessert tasted fine -- just a learning curve for me for next time, no biggie.

This morning I was writing down my receipts from last week in my checkbook and I noticed the receipt from when I bought the rhubarb. Although, closer inspection revealed that apparently, I didn't buy rhubarb --- even though it looked just like the red celery that Deb used and I bought it from a bin clearly marked "rhubarb".

According to the produce receipt, I bought swiss chard.

Which is a beet.

A beet that looks strikingly like rhubarb, as best I can tell.

Which means, in a nutshell, I served my friends pieces of runny beet cake.

Something tells me I won't be asked to host again next year.

Kristie: "Blaine, would you please cut up the rhubarb for me?"
Blaine: "What the hell is rhubarb?"
Kristie: "I don't know, but I've been told it looks a lot like swiss chard."

Ok, seriously. Can anyone who knows the difference tell me which one this is?

Well, at least I didn't mess up the cupcakes.

The beet rhubarb cake, fresh out of the oven. You can see I didn't have enough beets fruit in the middle and my second layer of cake came up through the crumbly goodness.

Banana pudding. Gag.

Death by Chocolate. Yum!

The beet rhubarb cake, cut into pieces. I can tell just by looking that I needed a lot more of whatEVER it was I put in the middle.

The table. The empty spot in the middle was for my friend's brownies that she was bringing. Please also note the bowl of fruit on the back of the table, which I set out simply to be polite, and which some freaks moms actually ate instead of dessert.

Proof that I am a real cook.