Thursday, September 27, 2012

then came the Black Death

I have been away for a few days, and in the spirit of full honesty and disclosure, I am not fully "back" yet because I sense something horrible on my horizon   But I wanted to leave you with a couple thoughts, and this will be a taste of what is to come eminently here on the blog ...


I am outnumbered three to one by males in this house.

No matter their age, men are babies when sick.

I hate people who share germs with anyone this house.  They have no idea how greatly I suffer.  

Thank gawd for my immune system, it appears to be the only active one in this !@#$ing house!!!

How a minor ailment can sweep through my home, with such brutal life ebbing force, I will never know.  One moment they are all fine, the next they are dying.  Yet, most mysteriously of all, I am only barely inconvenienced by my own equally-poorly-timed illness.  I find that I am too busy keeping them from their own looming death to have time to sit in a dark room and moan that no one has ever suffered this much before.

And just when I get all sick of dealing with the dying swan routine and decide to get all hard assed on them and tell them to just suck it up, they will survive, the puking begins.

Not even my drama queens would fake that for sympathy and wimpiness.  Damn, they are actually sick ... and my days should be numbered.  I -- the number one vomit-slinger, brow-wiper, and cracker-bringer -- should never be able to evade this death bug.

That's all, for now.  I will be back soon.  I hope.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

20 Things I Want My Sons To Know

I have recently seen lots of pins on Pintercrack that sound like "10 things mothers of boys should know" or "15 things you should raise your son to understand" or something along those lines.  I have read some of them with a smile and nod, and some of them offended the spit right out of me.  Many of them focused so much on how to treat or get women that it implies that this is the sole life-goal men should have.  Others were so watery and transparent that I really felt they were almost demeaning.  The daughter ones are just as bad, but I can't speak with much authority on them since I don't/haven't raised girls.

But I decided to to my own boy list, one with some dignity and humor.  It got longer than I meant for it to, so we are now up to twenty.  Some of them, I admit, are taken from some of these lists I found pinned (like #4, totally true but makes me laugh to read it every time).  But the vast majority of them are mine.  

20 Things I Want My Sons To Know

1. Some chicks dig scars, some tattoos, all women appreciate a man in a well fitting suit and tie.

2. Spitting in publicly gross. Even in sports, don't do it unless you must.

3. Aim.

4. Dutch ovens are never funny. EVER.

Not this kind
5. Education is the one thing no one can ever take from you, no one can force on you, and can make all the difference in your world.

6. No woman is worth your dignity, except The One, and she'll never want you to compromise your dignity. 

7. Just because you're male and society tolerates certain things by virtue of being male doesn't mean you should be impulsive. Your first, and any number of times after, should only happen when you're ready and when it matters.

8. Wear protection, always. From riding your bike on forward, if protective devices are made for the activity in question use them.  Helmets can save your life, and "helmets" can prevent life from being created. Wear them.

9. Respect the work others do.

10. I will always think you're awesome but you'll have to prove it to the rest of the world.
Trust me, it looks stupid

11. Demeaning others is never funny.

12. Don't just dream, do. The only things beyond your reach are things you're not brave enough, devoted enough or strong enough to chase.

13. There is no such thing as "woman's work."  Men who think there is are either lonely or in relationships with weak women.

14. Never wear pants that require you to walk like a pregnant woman to keep them from falling down. You shouldn't wear women's pants either unless you plan to go full throttle and live as one.

15. Be courteous to everyone, not just pretty women or people you hope can help you.
Rock on, baby!

16. If you ever call a woman a word that starts with B and rhymes with "witch" just know that she should lose all respect for you.

17. Being a "mama's boy" as an adult is not a good thing.  I love you, I will always want to be part of your life and will be there for uou, but once you're married your wife becomes your immediate family along with any children you have. Dad and I become your extended family.  Be the independent man I have raised.

18. Reading is always awesome, keep doing it.

19. Say how you feel, I know sometimes it is hard or awkward, but always worth it.

20. Your imagination just might save the world someday, I believe it.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Parenting Advice 101

It isn't often that I give out parenting advice.  This isn't one of those blogs.  But it is often that I alert you to potential hazards and pitfalls you may encounter should you chose to do certain things.  Well, here is a doozy.

Do not teach your child to play "knuckles" on National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Why?  Well, a combination of karma, bad luck and the universe's sadistic sense of humor will combine and you will find yourself texting this to your husband:

So I spent National Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19th) with my left eye tender and debating the value of an eye patch.  Sure enough I had a shiner the next day.  Trust me, you feel like a total badass telling people that your black eye came from an adorable little nearly-18-month old.

The bright side of this story of course is that if you walk up to the Beans and say "knuckles" he will bump your knuckles  with his fist and make an exploding sound.

Its very cute, but it still makes me wince a bit.

Friday, September 21, 2012

won tons and paper owls

Have you ever heard of six degrees of separation?  Its this theory that any one person on earth could be six people away from any other person on earth in terms of an introduction.  Google it, cuz I am botching the explanation and it is merely a witty intro for a rant about won tons and paper owls.

What?  What could won tons and paper owls have in common you ask?

Well a couple of things, and we don't need six degrees of anything to see their similarities.

1. Folding.  They both involve folding.

2. I suck at doing them. Both.

This plan was flawed from the get go.  I mean when you consider me saying "I am going to make something new" you know already the odds for success are a tad low.  But I had no idea that won ton making was such a bleeding art form.  I know now.  I will always respect a well formed one, from this day forward.

To complicate things, my husband, Paul Bunyan himself, has decided we need to use cast iron.  I should hang my head in defeat now, but I won't.  We need new pans, and being the outdoorsy, woodsy, survivalist he is my husband thinks cast iron should be in our kitchen and not just our camping gear.  I can't say I disagree, exactly, but I can say that there are rules with cast iron and I do not know them all.

With these thoughts in mind, lets look at my inspiration.

Don't I always find beautiful inspiration?  I should get credit for that, at least.

Technically she calls them Spinach Pouches, and they looked delish when I saw them on Pintercrack.  I gather my ingredients and immediately notice that I want more seasoning because I am like that.  So I italic what I added.

  • 1 box (10 oz) Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • Large size wonton wrappers
  • oil for frying 
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • onion power, to taste

I thawed and drained my spinach, debated doubling the recipe because I had the supplies but opted not to.  Thank Gawd.  Mixed the spinach, cream cheese, and ricotta (obviously this was not a dairy free recipe and I had to be careful) together with the seasoning.  I added all four (salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder) because I really felt it needed it.  I tasted it and loved it, so I moved on.

I love spinach, but drained, thawed spinach looks really unappetizing. 

All of the ingredients mixed for the filling, and it is looking a little less icky. 

I am guessing the "large size" won ton wrappers she speaks of on that blog are not whatever I had.  I had itty bitty little wrappers that were tiny and numerous.  I wound up folding them like the package says, which made them look more like won tons than the "spinach pouches" I was emulating.  I had to experiment a bit with how much filling to use, she said a teaspoon but that was way too much in my wrappers.

She said to use a teaspoon ...

Is that the right amount?


There it is!  Less than a teaspoon worked.  

Once I figured out the right amount without exploding won tons I was able to really get going.

And make fifty thousand of them.  Well, it felt that way.

Some of the finished product.

Once they were all made I had to figure out what I was allowed to do with the cast iron pan.  Paul Bunyan took pity on me and helped because I have an adorable tendency to burn the piss out of my hands when frying things, even with pans I am familiar with.

Burns were kept to a minimum, and only some of the won tons were a bit dark in places as opposed to golden.  Our oil also hit the smoking point at one point so my eyes were burning like a mutha by the time we were done.  Because the filling had an Italiany taste to me I made some marinara to dip it in.

All in all they were pretty good.  Not as pretty, only some were burned and a couple had raw spots, but they weren't bad at all.  I figure since my husband wanted to take some for lunch today we could count them in the didn't-screw-that-one-up category!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the top five worst places ...

I love lists. I live by them. I have an app on my phone called Clear that I'd probably die without. I put stuff on my to do list like "shower " or "eat lunch" and I swear there are days I'd forget to do both were it not in my list of things to get done.

I also love top tens, fives, or whatever number lists too. It appeals to my listiness and my short attention span to give me the best (or worst) at a glance.

Well here is another for you, not conventional, but if you are a parent you will understand and may be able to add to it.
The Top Five Worst Places For Your Kid To Make the "Poop Face" 

1. In a family heirloom, at a quiet moment, surrounded by microphones.  Oh yes, every single person in my very large Catholic family on my mother's side has worn the same Christening gown, painstakingly and lovingly created by my great grandmother from her children on down.  It is so delicate, so beautiful, so terrifying.  So when Meatball's baptism was wrapping up and we were in the home stretch to getting that sucker off and back in the box with my aunt where I'd no longer have to worry about it being destroyed by myself or my progeny I was taking a sigh of relief thinking we were in the clear.  Oh, no, not so lucky.  Have you ever noticed that those adorable itty bitty newborns, with their itty bitty cute bodies that are ever so tiny can make flatulent noises that out-do Fat Bastard in Austin Powers?  Well now have your little munchkin firing off a five minute symphony while on an alter surrounded by microphones.  Lovely. The whole church was laughing, and I was dying, praying that those Huggies held up to the onslaught.  For the record they did.

Am I the only one a bit
horrified with these commercials?
2. The bathtub. Is it better because you can clean them up easily -- hey they are already in the tub! -- or worse because they are sans catching system and diaper free? How do you clean the tub if your kiddo has had a little more fiber than they aught?  Given that the floor of my tub is textured for reduced slipping risk, I find the prospect of the kid dropping a deuce in the tub quite horrific.

3. In their PJs, seconds from falling asleep.  Are my children the only ones who do this?  Oh man, I am so tired, I'd better take a poo first, cuz I can sleep so much better in a warm diaper.  So standing over them in their ten-seconds-til-they're-out-state while they wrap up that package you have to give yourself the talk.  No, it would be bad to leave them in that all night.  Yes, it will probably wake them up and you will have to start the night time routine, complete with fifty-six readings of Good Night Moon and Fox in Socks, all over again.  But it would be like a super-bad-mom-moment to leave them in that foul thing, even for a little while.  They will have a nasty rash, sigh, lets do this.  So I change them, and we start all over again.  I swear, they do it on purpose.

4. In line to have your picture taken with the Santa at the mall. My oldest was only three months old for his first mall Santa picture. As a first time mom I was so exited and had this adorable little outfit picked out for him with overalls and little boots and socks and everything. Quite the adorable, if not thoroughly complicated ensemble. So after two hours of waiting in line and only five people away from the fat man in red himself, when the Meatball's face turned purple with effort, I was not going anywhere. Sorry Saint Nick, I would loose my place and have to start all over if I went to the nearest changing table and disrobed the intricate series of buttons, flaps and straps, untied the little fake hiking boots that this cute little outfit contained and reassembled the kid after a thorough decontamination. So when it was our turn, eyes watering, I marched up to a retiree who generously had donated his time, apologized and set my little stink bomb down on his knee. Kudos to that Santa, he took a deep breath through his mouth, said the suit was machine washable and smiled for the camera. I display that picture every year, and laugh whenever I see it.
Ew, really now?!

5. When you are getting professional, non seasonal, pictures taken. Competition among brothers can be intense. The Beans hosed his father quite thoroughly in his newborn pictures -- because you just have to get a picture of that little bum -- but I think he instinctively knew number one wasn't enough. So when we went for his one year old shots he just had to up the ante. While posing like the adorable lil ham he is and working it like a professional model, he suddenly stopped mid-shoot and started grunting like a tennis player at Wimbledon. The photographer, who apparently does not have children, panicked and asked what was wrong with him. She must have realized that he was okay because we as parents wee laughing hysterically off to the side and asked of we could take a ten minute break.

I call it a tie between the two boys, simply because I don't want anyone to try to out do the other any more.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am woman hear me ... roar?

You can't see me here,
but I'm the one hiding behind Joe Pesci.
My husband recently went out of town for a couple of nights.  I learned something very important about myself during this time.

As it turns out, I am a total baby.  Like left the lights on all over the house and was convinced the boogie man was going to come hunt me down level of "baby."

For realz, man, I would have been embarrassed for anyone to have actually seen me then.  Now, in hindsight, its kind of funny.  In a totally pathetic way.

You see, I protected myself and the children from all those unspeakable horrors I was convinced were making those bumps in the night, with a baseball bat.

But not like a real one, because that would still have some serious dignity ala-Good Fellas.

No, I had a mini (18 inches long, I measured) commemorative bat.  It is pink.  I'm pretty sure it is hollow and not entirely sure it is even made of wood.

Yeah.  It strikes fear in your heart just thinking about it, doesn't it?

It was with me almost instantly once the sun went down and the kids were asleep -- oh, did I mention that level of pathetic?  I felt better when the kids were up.  Yes, because the eleven-year-old and the one-year-old made for some kick ass back up in case of a break-in.  You know you are pathetic when you want to keep the baby awake so that you aren't "alone."

Yeah, it was that ridiculous.

I'd hang my head in shame if I had more dignity.  Instead, I would like to project my weakness on others and shift blame.  I blame my dogs.  They barked at everything.  On the first night they stared at the front door growling in this really menacing way ... truth be told I have seen poodles more frightening than my dogs under normal circumstances.  I also have (under any other circumstances beyond the contents of this blog post) less than zero faith in their guard dog abilities.  Case in point, over a year ago a dude was in my backyard whilst on the run from the police.  True story.  My husband walked outside to do something and there was a guy in our garden.  He asked him, ever so politely, if he could please hide behind our bar on our porch because the "cops are looking for me."

Dogs never barked.  Not even once.  Dude in my freaking backyard, who by his own damn omission had just committed a crime (shoplifting and violating his parole, in case you were wondering) and the dogs slept on.

So when they started their Cujo routine I was convinced there was some scary stuff lurking outside my door.

Despite the fact I live in a home that is more than old enough to be settled and young enough to not creak with age, this house made all sorts of weird noises all night.

Freaked.  Me.  Out.

So it would seem, in all my I am an independent and proud woman glory that I am not as independent or glorious as I thought.  "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" -- whatevs peeps, I wanna sleep.

I developed a new appreciation for my husband in the wee, exhausting and stressful hours of the morning while I jolted awake and re-checked windows and doors.  It seems that while he may have some habits that annoy me at times, he makes me feel really quite safe.  It is a quality I have never appreciated fully before.

So sad as it may seem, I would like to morph this into a love note for my husband.

Dear Husband,

You already know that I consider you my soul mate, my Camelot, my life partner and my better-yet-smellier-half.  I hope you know the depths of my love and devotion, the vastness of my respect, and the enormity of my appreciation for all your fine qualities.  All that said, between your size and sheer kick ass confident know how and badassness, I just want you to know that I rest easier when you are near.  Literally and in a figurative poetic-ey way.  I did not sleep an easy wink while you were away.  So while you are all "oh sweetie, I missed you, lets get freaky!" I am like "zzzzzz" cuz my ass hasn't slept in days.  I will love and appreciate you with my conscious mind later, for now, guard on big boy.

Your Adoring (yet apparently completely chicken) Wife

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

it is SOOO easy ...

I take the words "it is so easy" when found on Pintercrack as a personal challenge.

It calls to me, saying:

Hey, yeah you! Moron, betchya can't do this!

Usually, it is right.  But this time?  I owned it.  Well, mostly.  If the end result tastes good we can't be too critical, right?

After the fiasco that I felt was my Hogwarts cake, I was craving simplicity.  I also had two boxes of unused cake mix and a mother-in-law in town.  So I just had to act all domestic-ish so that she doesn't panic that her baby boy is dying of starvation whilst in my clutches.

I had seen this on Pintercrack a few times, and really, with two ingredients ... pumpkin puree and cake mix ... how could anyone screw that up?

And so it began.

Here is the complex ingredient list.  I debated adding cinnamon or something, but I figured we'd just play it safe this one time and follow the ever so simple instructions as they were found in the pin.

The only deviation I made was that I happened to have a can (gawd knows why) of pumpkin puree, but I had the 29 oz size.  Recipe calls for 15 oz, but I also had two cake mixes and the recipe only called for one. I figured I could double it and be okay.

So I dumped my cake mixes into a big old bowl.

Then I added the pumpkin,  I started to mix it around with a spoon a bit just so it was slightly incorporated before I dug out my hand mixer that hadn't been used in ages.

I was panicking a bit here.  The mother in law was right there in the kitchen saying something smelled good.

I said a little prayer in which I may or may not have promised my next born (if I have one) and the secession of bad word usage forever.  I figure the Almighty is well aware I am no good on either of those promises, especially the former, anyway, but I was graced with kindness anyway ...

It suddenly looked right.

And it did smell nice.

So I busted out muffin cups and got busy loading them up and sticking them in my little counter top convection oven thingy.

I'd like to leave the story there.  But I am too honest a person, and simply cannot.  *Sigh*

The little oven do-dad was on broil.  The first six muffins went in and when the time was up I was puzzled why they seemed to be cooking nicely on top and not all the way through ... but I never checked the setting.

By the end of the first dozen I noticed my mistake and fixed it for the last dozen with no one noticing.

Since there are no eggs or "raw" ingredients in this, I wasn't too worried, and honestly I think the first dozen are almost better than the second.

I don't know that I would purposely do it, but the "fail that could have been" turned out okay.  My mother-in-law thinks I know what I am doing (obviously not a reader of my blog) and all was well and tastey.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Open Letter to Kristen Stewart

Dear Kristen Stewart,

I know that the fan-hitting has been really happening for you lately, and in pretty sure you don't want to hear from me too.  Oh well.  Since its likely you'll never read this anyway I am going to totally disregard that.

At any rate, this isn't about your "momentary indiscretion" which the rest of us are calling "your really fracken stupid behavior where you cheated on a totally hawt sparkly dude with questionable hygiene over a period of several months" because I think enough people have something to say about that.

No, I am just lending my voice to a sea of those wishing to verbally smack you with a dose of reality.  So, brace yourself, sweetheart, for what I am about to say.

Could you please pull your head out of your self centered, immature and ever-so-entitled ass? Please?

I get it, I really do, that it is hard to be hounded, as you have been, by freaks with cameras.  I get that you are "growing up" in the spotlight, that it is challenging, yadda yadda yadda.  But really now, haven't you figured this shit out yet?

I guess I should co-dedicate this letter to people like Jodie Foster (who I believe is otherwise frigging brilliant, by the way, but I think she was smoking some good stuffs when she wrote this crazy thing) who feel the need to defend you till they are blue in the face and pout right along side you about how hard this all is.  I mean, does anyone suffer more?

Wait ... uh, yeah, lots of people do.

I will admit that I giggle occasionally at some of the less than kind things that people say about you. I don't mean to be a spiteful bag of goods, it's just easy to do. Frankly, you were brilliant and inspirational in Speak.  Truely.  Your take in Joan Jett was bad ass enough, and I know you catch a lot of shit for the whole poorly-emotive take in the clumsy and ever so awkward Bella Swan. Being the awkward clueless and clumsy idiot I am, I could relate to Bella, your take on her, and at times, even you.  I'd so be the awkward girl who the paps would catch mid-blink in every photo, every time, with sound bites haunting me for years.  I will also admit that I goosebumped my way through Panic Room where you and Ms. Foster met and bonded over mariachis and basketball.

But here it is, in the simplest and least bitchy terms I can muster.  I have heard comments about how hard it is to do your growing and finding of yourself in the public eye.  How hard this is, to have all of your youthful asshole moments, paraded in front of all to see.  I can see how it would be hard to be under this microscope, how living with that level of scrutiny while still young and fairly life-stupid would be hard.  How challenging finding yourself might be amidst spotlights and flashbulbs.  But, please, forgive me for not falling to the ground in great gulping sobs over your suffering.

See, I had two pink lines at 18.  That means, for someone as young and apparently incapable of understanding how the real world works, that I was pregnant.  All those asshole moments, youthfull indiscretions, and "finding myself" type moments died while that second line appeared.  Poof, gone.  I had to grow up, like right now.

It was a choice, much like following your dreams and becoming an actress was.  I made a choice too.  By the time I was your age I had already been rocking the mommy-gig for nearly four years. I was about to graduate with my bachelors magna sum lade. I worked evenings/nights went to school at night or online and was busily busting my ass with the hopes of being successful as a young, single mother. I had no time for the asshole stuff, publicly or privately. I was too busy being responsible and shit. Growing up rapidly, with lots of judgement was a consequence of my life choices that I faced head on, and without bitching because ... well, no one cared.  It was also infinitely worth it -- much more so than a single penny you have ever earned.

You chose this path.  No, you could have never imagined where it would lead in all its horrid glory, but you chose it.  Suck it up, buttercup.  And start "growing," because you know what, this whole banging-another-dude thing, it isn't youthful indiscretion.  This isn't being "young" or "learning as you go."  No, cheating on a partner is shitty.  Its selfish, its deceitful, its pathetic, stupid, and you did it.  Own that.  Stop blaming anyone other than yourself for that.   Oops, sorry, I said this wouldn't be about that.

You recently said, "people expect it to be easy because there you are, out there, doing the thing you want and making lots of money out of it." No darlin', I expect it to be worth it. I expect you to complain less and be grateful more. I expect you to realize that saying "man, oh, man, it can be hard" like once, then move the eff on.  It is hard to do a lot of things in life.  But not all "hard" things yield your paycheck and opportunities.  "Hard" is working your ass off but not making ends meet no matter what you do.  "Hard" is watching a love one be sick and not being able to make them better, even if only to remove their pain for just a moment.  "Hard" is being born into a shitty situation and clawing your way out of it, day by agonizing day, and trying to find a better life.

"Hard" is not screwing a married man while in a committed, monogamous relationship.  And yes, I am trying very very "hard" to not get crude with my implications of the word "hard" in this particular context.  Damn, I went there again, didn't I?

There are elements of your chosen career and life that are difficult.  But personally, I still rank soldiers, police officers, and a whole lot of other people before you.

So please, dear Kristen and all of the people on her team bemoaning how hard this all is, please understand that life is a series of choices.  The choices we make often determines how hard the path we tread is.  Then again, karma sometimes misses its mark completely and can be a totally fickle biotch.  All you can do is act in a way that will make you proud at every moment and learn from your mistakes.

You can begin any time now.


Dr. Domestic Rocket Surgeon

P.S.  I was totally Team Edward all the way.  Dufaq where you thinking?!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

it is today!

As the last several days worth of posts suggest, my baby boy's birthday has been coming.  We, due to scheduling craziness, had to celebrate it in bits over the last few days, but it is officially today.

At 11:59 AM my baby, the one and only Meatball, will be eleven years old!

I wish I had written my child letters on every birthday, starting with one while I was pregnant.  I see people who do that and I think it is so beautiful, but I didn't do that with Meatball, and I feel guilty doing it for Beans now, so I really haven't.  Thinking back, if I had written a letter to my Meatball then, I think it would have sounded something like this ...

Dear Baby,
I know we haven't really met formally yet, I don't even know if you are a boy or a girl.  But really in the scheme of things, that is the least of our uncertainties.  What I do know is that I love you more than words can say.  I feel you kicking the absolute crap out of my ribs (I would so love a break from that by the way)  and I feel the pain and discomfort of that, but I also feel love.  Truly, because there is no one else in this world who could pummel the crud out of me without me pummeling right back.  

I can tell, baby of mine, that you are a fighter.  Which is awesome, as long as you aren't fighting me.  We will take on the world together, you and me.  I love you with all my heart and will fight for you and with you from this moment forward.


I think I didn't write a letter -- even if it had occurred to me -- because there was so much uncertainty.  I was 19, single, and still in school trying to obtain my bachelors. Overwhelmed and scared to death are phrases that would have fallen wildly short of the mark in describing how I felt.  But I had faith, me and this little wiggly rib-kicker, we were going to be okay.  Partly because I had awesome parents who were so supportive, but also because I just knew it.  We had to be.

Here I am eleven years later.  So much has changed, he's a lot taller, has an incredible step-dad and little brother, and is in the fifth grade.  I completed that bachelors and then some, and still have awesome parents.  If I were to write a letter to my little man now, it would sound more like this:

Dear Meatball,
Eleven years old!  Oh my goodness, where did the time go?!  I know it is a lifetime to you, but it was a blink to me.  A blink that I have been so honored to watch.  

You are truly an inspiration to me.  Not only because you are passionate, smart and kind, but because you (and your brother, we can't totally ignore him) are the most perfect things I have ever been a part of.  You are not perfect, in the traditional sense.  Your feet smell, you never put your dirty clothes in the hamper, and your handwriting makes angels want to cry ... but you are perfect in so many other ways.  

The way you see the world, and want to change it for the better at such a young age, well that is nothing short of amazing.

How you are constantly searching for answers and more knowledge is incredible.  Your passion for learning and growth is something most adults can only envy.

Your enormous, kind heart.  Leaves me speechless more times than not.

The fantastic sense of humor you have that enables you to laugh at yourself, no small feat I assure you, and find joy in every day.

It is this, and so much more that makes me love you and respect you.  I always knew I'd be proud of you, right from the first time I saw you and you were all goopy and looking like a smooshed up George W. Bush. Despite the description I just gave, you were truly the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  You have grown more beautiful, more handsome, and more inspiring every day.

Thank you for the honor of being part of your journey.  Thank you for being so awesome.  And thank you for the retirement plan I am certain that brilliant brain of yours will be for me.  Just kidding with that last bit, sort of.

I love you Bubby,

So to my little Meatball in all his stinky footed, Lego loving glory -- 
Happy Eleventh Birthday, baby boy!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

smoooth as Buddah

Okay so I have a word limit here peeps, so pay close attention because I am not repeating myself: Doing the blog linky Ketchup With Us with Old Dog New Tits and According to Mags, prompt is about childhood crush in, 57 words.  That was 44 words.  Okay starting count in three ... two ... one ...

(to the tune of The Sign)

I, I had a huge crush
You could hardly blame me cuz he was so hot
How could you not love blond hair and blue eyes?
Yeah, he had a weird name
But those sexy Swedes us-u-ally do
Ooooo, is this clue enough? 

Ulf "Buddah" Ekberg was my childhood swoon. Hell, he's still pretty hawt.

So go link up and share who you were passionately in love with once-upon-a-time!

P.S. Sorry, the song is stuck in my head now too, and no I don't like it.

Scavenger Hunt -Potter Style

Okay I am nearly Harry Potter-ed out now, and I love the books.  So to my readers who aren't as devoted of fans (what's wrong with you? Just kidding, sorta) sorry.  Things have been a bit tedious here lately between the cake and the Hogwarts acceptance letter and those goshdamn owls.

Good news, this should be it for a while.  And it should be short.  I am only sharing because my kiddo loves scavenger hunts and puzzles and this process has gotten easier with time for me because I figured out a less obnoxious way of doing it.

In short, simple steps, because my brain is fried ...

Step One: What do you want the message to be?

This year I wanted it to be a sentence telling him where we were going out for dinner and present opening. I also, because he is older, wanted to give him as little help as possible.

The theme of my delivery, obviously, was Harry Potter and Meatball's supposed acceptance letter to Hogwarts.  So I typed up a letter in Dumbledore's handwriting font that explained he had to find his school supplies as listed in the letter.  Each supply would then have a clue.  Once he had them all he had to put them together and figure out the order.  This year I did not number them, in prior years I had.

The letter had 18 supplies, so I had 18 words to work with.  End result of the hunt would yield the sentence

"Tonight we are going to Streets of New York 
for Pizza and Presents to celebrate your eleventh birthday!" 

Step Two: Make your cards.

In Word I made a table, 2 x 18.  Sorry for the crappy pictures, I am full of them lately.

Once I had a table of the sentence in order, I made an exact copy of the table but put the Hogwarts supplies in the cells.  I made sure they were out of order, with the things I knew he'd find first being words like "to" and "for" so he wouldn't be able to figure it out.

Step Three: Pretty up the cards.  

I made my margins narrow and my cells 3.6 x 3.  Then I changed to the Dumbledore font and made sure my spacing worked.  I printed them on the same card stock as the Acceptance Letter and used the table lines to cut them out.  I have a paper cutter, so it was pretty fast, but scissors will work too.

One side had the supplies from the letter ...

... and the other side had a single word from 
the sentence telling him we'd be going to his favorite place to eat.

Step Four: Hide 'em!

This is the fun part.  I wanted him to be able to find them pretty independently, so I tried to find things similar to the actual supplies.  So all eight of the books on the list were in books -- the actual Harry Potter books One through Seven and the Tales of Beedle the Bard made eight.  The cauldron was in a pot in the kitchen, winter cloak was in a coat pocket, wand was with pencils (I made Meatball roll his eyes here because I had to say something about how writing and drawing are a magic of their own), etc.

Step Five: Sit back and enjoy. 

Meatball loves doing scavenger hunts.  To be honest we love watching him, not only because its fun to see him loving it but it also provides plenty of opportunities to mess with him too.

So that is all there is too it. Now I am taking a bit of a break from posting about my dear friend Harry.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hogwarts Acceptance Letter

Being the teasey little hooker I am I left you hanging with this image on the tremendous finale of my cake saga.

While I can't bake or assemble cakes with a whole lot of freaking finesse, apparently, I can do other things.  I am a good painter and I am a geek when it comes to typography and text art.

For realz, I am working on getting an Etsy shop up so I can claim to be a productive member of society at times.  *nods earnestly*

Anyhoo, being that Meatball is turning eleven, is a total geek, and appreciates many of the same things that I appreciate I had this little mental convo with me the other day ...

Self One: Duuuuude, when Harry Potter turned 11 he got buried in Hogwarts acceptance letters via owl.

Self Two: Oooo, you are right, as always!

Self One: Aw, you're so sweet.

Self Two: So you think we should make one for the Meatball?

Self One: He'd love that! How hard could it be?

Self Two: Bitch, please, didn't you promise to never say that phrase again?  Remember the freaking cake?!

Yes, I speak to myself like that.  Its scary in this head, but sometimes very affirming.

Anyway, other than needing to promise Self Two that there would be no live owls or any feathers involved at all -- Self Two has a near OCD panic disorder type response to birds -- I got inspired.

Inspiration requires research.  Witnessing the mad skills of others can be freaking depressing, or just awesome.  When I searched Pintercrack and google for homemade Hogwarts letters I cam across total pieces of junk and then I saw this at *link removed per owner's request* ...

*Picture also removed per the owner's request*

And it took my geeky breath away.  Seriously, I was like needing a hit from my inhaler after seeing it.  There are options on Etsy where you can purchase, as there should be for something so purdy, but I wanted to try to make one of my own.   I lowered my standards and expectations a bit from some of the ones I found online, but gawked frequently at the images on the blog.  I also continued searching for other works of art, inspiration, and fonts.

I realized that the movie's acceptance letter (which is what I was trying to use for visual inspiration for font, etc) actually is not the same as the book's.  Like at all!  I had to put the movie on to see for myself ...

It looks a bit like Dumbledore's handwriting from the book and there are all sorts of extra words and stuff in there.  Being a hardcore book fan, I had to stick with the text from the book.  For the record, there is no reason to type all of it out.  Lots of places online have that text already there for you.  Yes, I typed it all out before I realized this.

But I do like the movie's envelope interpretation and that is how I have pictured it in my head all these years, so I wanted to mimic that.

After I typed it all I played with the fonts.  No one online told me what fonts they used, and I will give you a run down because it drove me bonkers trying to find the right ones.  They are not perfect, but I was happy enough with the result.  Fonts I used included:

Baskersville Old Face
Aqualine Two
Blackladder ITC
Californian FB
Old English Text MT
Pea Thinksilver
Footlight MT Light

I used combos of small caps and italics to mix it up a bit too.  If you have specific questions feel free to ask.  All of the fonts were either on my computer already or downloaded for free, so google if you don't have one but want it.  You can snatch Dumbledore's handwriting font (Aqualine Two) here for free, and ermigawd I think I will be using that like everywhere now.

To sign the letter I saved a picture of Minerva McGonagall's signature found on the internet and inserted it into my Word document.  I made it really really light, then went over it in green fine point Sharpie.

End result, I can forge Professor McGonagall's siggy pretty well that way!

This is the header for the letter that I created:

And this is the footer that is on both the letter and the supply list.

Here is a slightly crummy picture of Meatball reading it once he got it.  I cut the paper to about 5.5 inches so it would fit in the envelope I made.

Because the use of scavenger hunts is a bit of a family tradition here, I included a letter from Dumbledore that explained the rules to the hunt.  I will include that in another post since this is quite long as is.

I wanted to make my own envelope because I think sticking in a standard one would have been a crime.  I used the one found here on HP101 Book Collecting as a template.  I also followed his suggestions on the You Tube video to make my folds nice and my glue not be everywhere.

Folding with a table's edge

Keep a piece of paper under the section to keep from sealing your envelope entirely.

To address it I wound up typing it up in word and surrounding it with one of the call outs that looks like a scroll.  I did this because I could not get my text on the envelope paper straight.  Once I printed it I added some shading by hand to make it look a little less computery.

When I tried to cover up the info that would tell you my child's name or where we lived I wound up only having one line left visible.  So, I made a mock one without the special shading, to show you how I piecemeal-ed the fonts together.  I just took a picture on my computer screen, so its not too pretty, but you get the idea ...

At Hello Paper Moon I found an awesome school crest I used at the top of my letter and an absolutely brilliant idea to close the envelope up.  The idea of me getting anything to its melting point seems highly foolish, so when I saw that I could make something that looked a bit like a wax seal but was not requiring me pouring hot wax anywhere, I was all over it.  She used an image of the seal, printed it on an address label and cut it out.  (Side Note: I totally say the phrase "cut it out" with Dave Coulier's voice)

Bam, sealed envelope with minimal danger and a whole lot of ease!

By the time I was done typing, font selecting, cutting, folding, and gluing I was feeling psyched but pretty worn out.  Its a lot of work, all things considered.  But I needed to have a cool delivery ... cue the evil owls from the Hogwarts cake post.

If you recall, when you went to Bakingdom's site she had this gorgeous set up with the cake and there were these paper owls.  The links are on her site too, and I thought "hey, that will be perfect!  I can print a Hedwig for him!"

What I did not take into consideration is that I apparently suck rocks at folding things into cutesy animal shapes.  If I could have nailed that bastard together, I would have.  Ultimately, it took nearly as long as the freakin' letter did, but the end result was cute.

I used fishing line and hemp to tie it all together and hang it from the ceiling.  I discovered that the reason people drink when they fish is because fishing line is an absolute pain in the ass to work with and I wanted a beer when I was done with it too.

The picture doesn't do it justice, it was cute and worth swearing at paper owls all afternoon.

End result, Hedwig delivered the letter, and Meatball was over the moon.  So much so that he excitedly told me he can't wait for next year's letter/Year Two Supply List and scavenger hunt.

Wait, what?!

*Original post edited per the request of the owner of linked images and artwork.  Sorry if things seem disjointed as a result*