Quick Change Artist

Life at this moment in pictures.

Swim team and Cub Scouts and Baseball. Oh. My.

There’s only 12 more days until school let’s out but as I look around my kitchen table you’d never know life is about to “slow down.”

For every activity, there’s a uniform.

And my kids are ready to roll in a moment’s notice. Because of mom, a semi-reliable washing machine and kitchen table chairs to keep things separate and organized.

What about you? Are you ready to dress the part for whatever life throws you today?

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What’s for Dinner, HEB?

Things have gotten seriously out of control around here vis a vis meal times. It’s been a “I’m blessed and have a had a lot of freelance work come my way” kinda week. Which usually comes along with the game “Let’s get creative with what food we already have in the house.”

My family does NOT like this game.

In their defense, there’s not a lot you can do with a bottle of ketchup, a bottle of syrup and a jar of mayo.

So I may have cried just a little (in joy) when I got my HEB package today…filled with some of their newest Primo Picks (unique, one-of-a-kind finds that they offer their customers).

As I unpacked each item and gently put it aside, Ed asked me, tentatively (because I’ve been a little jumpy lately….too much caffeine, not enough sleep), what was wrong.

“Nothing is wrong, Ed. Everything is very, very right! Look at this stuff!”

And he said…”Let me get this straight – you are crying…over pasta?

“It’s not pasta, it’s nourishment!” I yelled.

And it isn’t just pasta. It’s the makings of an Italian dinner fit for a King – and every item is extremely affordable. It’s why I love shopping at HEB.

Then Ed saw the Sweet Potato Chips, grabbed them quickly and did some kind of a combo walk/run movement to his home office.

Is HEB psychic? Wine for $2.98 a bottle that is called Cul-De-Sac? It’s like they KNOW me. I love to save money AND have been known to drink wine in a cul-de-sac!

(Ed pointed out to me and I think it’s worth mentioning – you don’t actually have to drink something in the place the beverage is named after…which I knew – of course, but for me it was kind of a cool coincindence.)

“Ed,” I screamed from my “office” downstairs at the kitchen table to his “office” upstairs in the spare room. “This wine is really GOOD!”

“Jennifer, it’s 9:00 A.M. What the hell?!”

“I’m doing RESEARCH, Ed.”

“Fine, just leave the truffle research to me, then.”

We can’t wait to cook dinner together so that our kids can benefit from the research, too. But we kinda already agree that HEB rocks.

Disclaimer: I was given several items to try out from HEB but was not compensated in any other way nor was I asked to write a post. I feel it safe to say that HEB encourages drinking responsibly. And also – it’s 5:00 p.m. somewhere, Ed.

 

 

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There’s 30 More Days of the School Year Left

When the alarm buzzed this morning the first thing that came to my mind was “Thank God it’s Chicken Nugget Day.”

Well that and “I’m going to kill that damn dove.”

Admittedly, I’m not at my best this time of the year.

I’ve never been a morning person and it’s always been a struggle to rally the troops for school in the early A.M. But with just a few weeks until summer, I’ve lost my steam. And so have the kids.

Friends say – pack their lunches and get their clothes ready the night before….but there doesn’t seem to be any time then either. After scout meetings, end-of-year gatherings, soccer and swim team practices and  baseball double-headers that get us home after 10:00 p.m. – we all kinda just drop where we stop when we get home.

Then we wipe the drool from our faces the next morning and go at it again. It’s the same drill every spring. And it ain’t pretty.

And this year Annie doesn’t seem to own a pair of pants, skirt or shorts that are “comfortable” – making it difficult to get her up to the public school dress code that is quite clear about it’s requirements for garments worn below the waist.

But today is Chicken nugget day at school so I don’t have to worry about packing lunches with food I didn’t have time to get at the grocery store the day before. That’s a good thing and I’m hanging on to it like a lifeline.

But then there’s that damn dove.

You all know how I hate doves. They infest my neighborhood every year by the millions, make poo that gets all over my vehicles and coo…

All.

Day.

Long.

Which can be torture for a writer with writer’s block.

This particular dove has found his home right outside my bedroom window and has made it his rooster-like mission in life to get me out of bed each morning. (More about that later.)

As a work-at-home mom summer is different then the school year (for the better) because I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and get two kids out the door. Of course, once we all do get up and there’s work to be done, it’s a little hard to have kids complaining of boredom…but that’s another story.

So right now I’m chanting, (along with my kids), summer….summer….summer.

And looking forward to pizza day on Friday.

 

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Just Like Stevie Nicks

Like the white winged dove…Sings a song…
Sounds like she’s singing…
Whoo… whoo… whoo… Fleetwood Mac

I’m a bad mom.

This post SHOULD be all about my sweet, 6-year-old daughter’s first piano recital where she played Annie’s Song by John Denver with her little feet dangling off the bench because she couldn’t reach the floor.

Look. How. Cute. She. Is.

When she played her selection on stage, I cried with pride and then I clapped and cheered wildly and hugged the guts out of her because I was so stinkn’ proud of her.

And she was proud too.

And it was a great night.

But that’s not what this post is about.

The theme of Annie’s piano recital was rock and roll and every student played a piece from a different decade. Each student also dressed according to the decade of their selection (thus Annie’s flower power dress). Part of the evening’s festivities included a parent costume contest (parents were asked to dress up in their best rock and roll outfits).

And I won for my Stevie Nicks costume. Which would have been great.

If I had been wearing a costume.

As they called my name, I told my son to hush when he pulled at my sleeve and said, “Mom, but those are your REAL clothes!”

I accepted my 2 inch, plastic trophy from Oriental Trading Company with pride. Because I am THAT competative. And I held on to it tightly for the rest of the night, like the dad in A Christmas Story carassing his leg lamp.

It was my MAJOR AWARD.

Even though I didn’t earn it because I didn’t look a thing like Stevie Nicks.

I’ll show you.

Stevie Nicks

Me (later that night - photo taken by Annie!)

I mean, right? Nothing like her. Now had I tried, I could have totally brought Stevie Nicks on. Some white high heeled boots and Ba-bam.

Or Annie’s Hannah Montana wig, black gloves and a red shawl. Pow.

 

 

But I won none-the-less.

Which I think made the mom who intentionally dressed up as a rocker chick and came in second place a little upset.

But I take these moments of glory as they come. I mean, sometimes I try my best at something and it doesn’t work out, other times I wear regular clothes to my daughter’s piano recital and end up winning first place in the costume contest as the lead singer in Fleetwood Mac.

Life in the suburbs of Houston is weird like that.

P.S. Stevie Nicks is awesome and I’m a huge fan. And also, I haven’t been able to stop singing Landslide since the recital.

 

 

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The Graduate

A friend of mine has a 5th grader who is getting ready to graduate next month from elementary school and posted on facebook a question to friends….

What do I get her?

I love Karen’s daughter because she is so like me, covering all her bases and planting the seed early enough by telling her mom recently…”I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to get for graduation!” In other words, start shopping mom because it’s gift giving time!

Seriously – we could be related.

Karen’s dilemma is that some of her daughter’s friends are getting iPads and some are getting flowers (and probably everything in between). So what does she do?

I feel her pain. I have a daughter “graduating” from kindergarten this year. I’m serious – they took cap and gown pictures today at school. Which is weird because she JUST “graduated” from pre-school last year (yup, cap and gown pictures then too). Now I’m all for a celebration. And if you know me…I’m BIG into presents. But what’s too much? When do we celebrate so much that the celebration begins to lose the meaning and we begin handing over expensive gifts because we’ve simply ended a school year?

When I was young I got a $40 suitcase and a set of bath towels for HIGH SCHOOL graduation. Of course, times were simpler then. And it was before the invention of personal computers and cell phones…so things were cheaper then, too.

But unlike kindergarten graduation (I’m sorry Annie Bananie – but no big gift this year!) I do think leaving elementary school is a big deal, a milestone that deserves to be recognized. I do remember one of the most special things I got when I was young was a piece of jewelry from my mom. It wasn’t too expensive, just something meaningful. She gave me a gold initial ring once and on another occasion, gave me a gold ring with my birthstone. I love the rings at James Avery and I think those dangle rings that were popular when I was in high school are back in style. What about one with a class of ’12 charm?

But the most significant thing that’s about to happen to my friend, (I’m sorry but it’s going to get emotional here), is that she’s going to start to see her daughter less once she gets into middle school. Friends, more classes, after-school activities….life’s going to change for them for sure (I’m getting misty eyed just typing this because I have a son who will be in fifth grade next year.)

A great present for her would be something they could do together during the summer that is special. What is that for them? I don’t know. A fancy dinner and going to see a play? A day of pampering at the spa? A week of camping in the mountains? Maybe it’s even simpler than that. Maybe it’s a once a week date to go to the bookstore together or a nightly walk.

But I’ve heard it a million times from parents who have kids older then mine – once middle school starts, high school is just around the corner – and then in a blink of an eye – BA-BAM….college. Life start to move REAL fast. So my advice, Karen…slow it down for awhile this summer. What ever gift you decide to give her in May, don’t forget to give EACH OTHER the gift of your time.

Hugs.

 

 

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Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam….

Remember Monty Python and the Spam song? I can’t say the word without humming the tune. And you can’t be a blogger without getting spam comments daily.

I always delete them. But sadly, many are some of the nicest, albeit computer generated, comments I’ll ever hope to hear. I give you some of my favorites:

1. I love your blog. You are a genius. I will follow you forever. (I’ve often thought of myself having genius-like qualities. Except when I leave things on the hood of my car and drive off, lock myself out of the house, go to one room in search of something and forget what that something is when I get there, show up at the wrong time OR date for a birthday party, constantly run 15 minutes late….)

2. Thank you for your intriguing and brilliant thoughts. You are the best blogger I have found. (Really? Better then the Pioneer Woman? Better then Dooce? Better then The Bloggess? Liar, liar pants on fire BUT – hey – thanks!)

3. You make me think a lot about things I don’t think about. I will continue to follow your blog with great enthusiasm. (I like to provoke thoughts about important topics like Christmas lights, fresh breath and blue cotton candy – so thanks! And I really like enthusiast followers. But I also like lazy followers. Just know that if you follow me, I love you. I’m just accepting like that.)

4. Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for. You make blogging look easy. (To answer the non-real person that asked this: two and half years. I also make pouring a bowel of cereal, writing checks and coming up with different ideas to get out of housework look easy too. Mamas got talents!)

But some spam comments don’t make me smile. Like this one:

He-he I see that you doing good buddy, well written content. It would be good for you if you could invest in some ads you know, then you’re blog would be blooming after that. (Was that a compliment? No. Buddies don’t make buddies invest in ads. But thanks anyway blooming spammer! And it’s your not you’re.)

Or this:

Great to meet you blogger discovered your blog via yahoo but it was hard to find and I see you could have more visitors because there are not so many comments yet….(This comment hurts my head because it’s both insulting and a run on sentence.)

But this morning I got one that made me smile. Not because of the message. But because of the sender.

Hello. What’s new? What’s up?….from Vicodin. (It makes me feel kinda good that Vicodin is just wondering how I am. Nothing to sell. No fake nice comments or knife jabbing comments disguised as compliments. But how did Vicodin find me and when did we get into such a personal relationship? I mean, it’s been two years since my rotator cuff surgery and even longer then that since I had my gallbladder removed. I want to reply back: I’m good, thanks. Glad I haven’t had any major pains or surgeries requiring the need for a prescription for you – but it’s always fun watching you on the hit TV show House!)

Side not: The comment from Vicodin was made on my post entitled: Note to Self: Avoid Melt-Downs By Taking Care of Myself! Priceless – right?!

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The Big Year

Did I ever tell you about the time when I was so busy and overwhelmed with life that even though I had tons of things to share and say, I couldn’t find enough hours in the day to say them … at least on my blog?

Yeah – that would be now. And it’s not even that I’m working a TON…although I have three articles I’m on deadline for right now so writing them takes priority today because – well – I get a paycheck from them and my family loves indoor plumbing and electricity. Divas. Damn it all.

But I will pause for a moment to tell you that a really good movie, The Big Year, comes out today and you should make plans to see it.

And now I can hear you, literally, laughing and saying – “She’s so busy but she can still get herself to the movie theatre, huh?!”

Uh – yes. I love the movies. Plus they have popcorn there. I can’t believe we are even having this discussion.

So The Big Year was NOT what I was expecting but I loved it anyway.

I expected pee in my pants laughs the entire time from these three (Owen Wilson, Steve Martin and Jack Black)…all comic geniuses in their own way. While the movie did have some laughs, it was much more introspective and deep.

These three birders are all trying for “The Big Year” which is to see the most species of birds in one year and earn bragging rights among their peers. While each character tries to earn the title, they are also dealing with their own real-life problems that need their attention. Steve – his job, Jack – the relationship with his dad, and Owen – the relationship with his wife. Each of the characters are pretty unbalanced and the movie takes you through their journey to achieve peace with these relationships WHILE following their DREAMS (see why I loved this film?!) Can you have both? Sometimes.

And well – sometimes not.

And I could SO relate. Even though I was watching Owen self-destruct and yelling “stop it and go hug your wife” I know that when you are in the middle of obsessing about something, whether it’s positive (like a hobby such as bird watching) or negative – you can’t see the forest for the trees and the obvious is, well – not so obvious.

And even when it is obvious – it’s hard to put something you’re passionate about on the shelf – even though you know you should.

And sometimes even when you KNOW you should and it’s clear as day…you choose not to. And that choice has consequences. As you will see in this film when you go see it.

So go see it.

I loved this line in the movie, “741 – That my friend, was a very big year.”

Even though it wasn’t enough to win – when you take into consideration everything else he had – he really kinda did, you know?

So I’m going to remind myself THAT when I find myself losing sight of the big picture. It might even become a mantra for me. Seriously. I’m going to start walking around saying “741, 741″ and people might think I’m nuts but maybe it will remind me that  - you know – I have achieved A LOT even if I’m not even close to what I where I want to be. And then when my five-year-old daughter gives me a drawing of me and her picking flowers together – then…well… I’ve got that, too.

And THAT, the little drawing…that relationship…that love – well that makes me a winner even when I fall short.

And THAT’s what I got from The Big Year. Pretty Big, right?

What YOU are doing matters, friends. So follow your dreams but give yourself a break, too. And don’t forget to hug your wife, or your daughter or your mother or someone in the grocery store. Ok?

 

I was invited to the press screening of this film but wasn’t compensated for this post. All thought and opinions are my own. 

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Bad Blogger!

It’s been since February 2nd since my last post. I’m a bad, bad blogger! And I’m going to a conference about social media next week. Geez.

But I’ve been swamped with work (which is a great thing!)and have hardly come up for air. I’ve had 12 interviews and 11 articles to write in the last week alone. My house looks like a bomb went off in it because BEFORE I got all of these great assignments I decided it would be a really great idea to completely redo all of our bedrooms. My living room is covered with “stuff” that needs to be either given away, thrown away or sold. But I haven’t a second to deal with any of it. I feel like I’m on the show, “horders”. Yikes!

BTW – I love hummus. I just thought you should know.

I’ve been watching my blog address get closer and closer to the bottom of my “last visited websites” list and I decided that today I would do something about it.

So there.

Actually – I’m kind of thrilled. I went through some of my past posts and saw comments….ahhhh…comments. Good or bad – you know I love ‘em. And guess what? Some of them were from people I don’t even know. I’m so excited that I could pee in my pants. There are actually some people reading my blog who aren’t being guilted into doing so on a daily basis!

This is also a reminder about how accessible what I write is. I mean, most of my posts are just comical observations about life in general or information about things I think are cool. And the only person I usually make fun of is….me.

But occasionally I have stepped out of my box of safety. I’ve posted some thoughts that perhaps others don’t share. For example…there are those out there that think -get this – that the “Smart Mop” is actually “smart”. If it is – I’m certainly missing out. Mine is in the garage conversing with the Texas tree roaches and the sawdust. Such a waste. Sorry Smart Mop lovers.

I also have posted feelings about things that while may not play a big part in my life, are very important to others. Imagine the awkwardness I felt when I walked into the workroom at my son’s school to volunteer and the PTO was meeting. The day before I had posted about my level of frustration with school fundraisers. Two of the moms said “Love your blog” when I passed by….yet the head of fundraising – an unbelievably, wonderfully nice gal who dedicates countless hours of her free time to helping our elementary school primarily through – well you guessed it – fundraising, didn’t say anything. Maybe she doesn’t read my blog. Either way… Em..bar..ASS…ing! (Can you see that I felt like the big ass?!) I’m sorry Head of Fundraising!

Another post contained TMI….but stop scrolling through the archives…it wasn’t in the dirty sense! I literally gave out too much detailed information about an event that I went to and I was “busted” by my sister and mother about missing their event for another. I had actually gotten the time wrong in the blog and didn’t lie to them – but alas, the damage was done. Even though I was happy that they too, read my blog. I had made them mad. Sorry mom and sister.

So – that’s all I’ve got for today. Just a random list of things about blogging. It kinda of describes where my head is right now.

Did I mention that I like hummus?

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