Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I promise not to resort to uploading Ladybug videos and passing them off as posts...

Q: Why use a whole shopping cart at the grocery store when all you're buying is milk?

A: Because actually carrying your purse around the store is too much of a hassle and you might need some extra room for the stuff you tell your husband you found "on sale". (really, honey, no store has that much stuff on sale all the time)


And here's a video for Meghan... she was asking me about some new moves for the dance club scene downtown.



video

That's about $770 worth of dance lessons this year.

Friday, March 27, 2009

my first Meme

The Flickr Mosaic Meme (a.k.a. "Me" in Photos)


The questions for
the survey are as follows:
(work across the board from the top like you're reading)

1. What is your first name? Stephanie
2. What is your favorite food? guacamole
3. What high school did you go to? River Ridge High School
4. What is your favorite color? green
5. Who is your celebrity crush? at first I wanted to put Ralph Macchio, but then I remembered that I didn't speak to my mother for days after she "accidentally" taped over my VHS tape of Stand By Me. River Pheonix was my top heart throb for a few years.
6. Favorite drink? Martinis. they make me feel swanky.
7. Dream vacation? Barcelona
8. Favorite dessert? new favorite is chocolate covered strawberries. it's fruit and therefore it's good for you.
9. What you want to be when you grow up? important. i was really happy with the photos that turned up.
10. What do you love most in life? Ladybug
11. One Word to describe you. pregnant
12. Where do you live? Florida


To create the mosaic, you input your answers into flicker and choose one of the photos from the first page of results. Then you copy and paste the url for each one into this incredibly easy to use form and hit the create button. http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/mosaic.php

voila!

If only I could make a loaded baked potato right now with such ease and speed...



Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm only edgy on the inside.

I got my hair cut Monday as a favor for a friend recruiting hair models for a class being taught at her salon. I have been "growing my hair out" for a friggin year, people, so what was I thinking when I said yes?

Well the instructor is a stylist at the salon owned by What Not To Wear's hairstyle "guru". No, not the owner himself, but before I knew it I was sitting in a chair with a hundred-dollar tee shirt-clad hipster running her fingers through my hair looking at me all thoughtful-like, sighing a lot and trying to figure out "what to do with all this hair"..... blah.

Some star-struck intern at the back of the huddle pipes up with a question about hair that I don't understand involving "deep vees" and "symmetry" and then it happened.

instructor: "I'd reserve those techniques for someone more..."
class: ..........
instructor: "we'd try that with a client who likes more..."
me: (WTF)
class: ........(uncomfortable smiles/ downcast eyes under Bettie Page bangs)
instructor: "those are great for the edgier types"
me: (oh, no she di-int)

So, I'm not "edgy". My pants don't have holes in them and my tattoos come from the quarter machines at Birthday World. And when I look in the mirror at myself I may very well see a girl once described as a nice, safe scoop of vanilla ice cream. But all the things I know and all the all the risks I've taken in my life have chewed me up and spit me out over and over again. I have scars on the scars of my heart and regrets filed away someplace. Just like every scoop of rocky-road walking around out there.

The difference is that I don't have to cut my hair in a five-minutes-and-fading fad hairdo to show the world that I have depth. Or "edge".

I got my plain jane haircut and I look the same, but whispier. And my jeans aren't ripped or bleach stained. But inside, I'm a patchwork of colors and textures made up of the moments I zigged instead of zagged and jumped instead of stayed still. And god-dammit, every time I'm offered I take the red pill.

I just prefer to look like I would opt for the blue.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

poo post (everybody has one)

Since I could barely walk last night after doing a day's work around the house, I decided that today I would really take it easy and maybe start a new book or sew or something. (I threw sew in there because it momentarily touched my mind as something relaxing... it's not easy enough for me to consider leisurely- so I'm striking it from my to-do's right now. Strike.)

I had to break down and take a tylenol last night that Jed had to practically force-feed me. I think I said "no, thanks" through clenched teeth a few times before I decided that the pain I was feeling in my lower back justified the treatment.

Anyway.... today is lazy day. My big plans were to unload the dishwasher and make the bed. And that was all. When I fluffed up the cozy Ikea comforter hubby and I sleep under, I noticed a small thing in the bed near the foot Jed's side.

Oh, THERE'S my hair-tie, I thought. Because I usually lose them sometime during the thralls of my lingerie-laden dreams during the night. Don't ask, they get pretty weird when I'm pregnant.

So I made a grab for the "hair-tie" and to my surprise it was....well.....it was poop. A tiny nugget, hard and dry. *Gag. I know. AND I TOUCHED IT!

After scrubbing my hands and arms and brushing my fingernails surgeon style, I called husband at work to tell him that I touched poop and to toss a few ideas at him about where it came from.

I started off with the obvious: I'm pretty sure it was the dog. It was at the foot of the bed.
Husband: Are you serious? Which side?
Me: Your side. About where your calves sleep.
Him: Maybe it was me.
Me: No, it was too small to be yours.
Him: Oh, then it was definitely Boone's.
Me: Yuh.

the culprit:


So now that I have touched the bed poop, my fingers are convinced that they are contaminated. Even after the scrub down. Or scrub up. I keep reaching for stuff and automatically using my left hand, which is the doofus hand that always drops stuff.

My day has turned from leisurely and breezy to wash sheets and de-poop the bed. Super. And I'll probably starve today since I have to depend on wonky hand to feed my face. Unless I get a smoothie...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Invisible Stitching and the Pedal of Death

I got a sewing machine for Christmas and it's not just any sewing machine, it's my Grandma's sewing machine. Being ninety-five and unable to see pretty much anything, she decided it was time to pass it down. And since my mom is not the sewing type (she's more the reading, crossword puzzles, i buy my clothes and i like it that way type) it skipped on down the line to yours truly.

I have been asking for said machine for a few years now. I'm a mom now and I consider myself somewhat crafty. I have a hot glue gun and I'm pretty sure that's what makes it official.

So I looked up a few cute projects to bide my waiting-for-baby time and I'm raring to go with this new/gently used/loved sewing machine. It's been placed on the dining room table and prepared to go for a few weeks now. I even placed the sewing box my mom gave me and scattered a few notions around to see what it would look like when I actually started sewing stuff.

I can't lie. It didn't look natural. Even after I did a test-run on a piece of random scrap fabric AND put out the measuring tape AND bought new sewing* scissors.

Project one is to make a book pocket for the Ladybug's books to be displayed and easy to get to while she hangs out in her IKEA bunky-type bed. The site I found it on even said a person with minimal sewing skills can pull it off. Minimal. That describes most of my skill-sets to a tee.

So I plan the project. Buy the fabric (1.99- what a steal), find the dowells (3.00 for both), and then hunt for the curtain brackets I need to fix it to the wall. That is another post for another day. I may have to find some on the interwebs.

I have the stuff. I have the machine. I even have it loaded and plugged in. I try my best to think it out and pin it properly and then I sit down and give it a go. It's a 42 inch straight line. I can so do this, I'm thinking.

And then I put my foot gently down onto the contraption I am now referring to as THE PEDAL OF DEATH.

Keep in mind that I have already zig-zagged up a piece of fabric and I know what the pedal is capable of. The reality of this book-hanging-pocket-evil rests in the balance of my two hands and the heft of my right bare-foot. That changes things drastically. My foot depresses POD, fabric is sucked into the machine and suddenly my face feels like it looks like I'm having a root canal.

You decide what that looks like. I'm sure you're not far off.

Well if I redefined "minimal sewing skills" then I might as well go ahead and call Merriam-Webster and give them my new thoughts on the word straight. Eh-hem. It was my first try. It works. I put the dowell through the little tunnel of fabric I made and it fit and it doesn't look that wonky. I assumed the first shot at it would be the side I put closest to the wall, anyway.

Side two. At this point, I'm a seasoned professional. I pin the new side and stick it in the machine. I didn't sew my fingers to the fabric last time, so I really have nothing left to worry about, right?

Same scenario. Initiate POD, commence root-canal facial, hold breath until all 42 inches have been sucked into and then spit out of machine. The difference this time was not fatal. Well. Physically to my person. To my book-pocket-hanger-of-contempt, fatal would be the right word.
Had I re-threaded the needle (i need to do that?), the stitches would have been...well...stitches and my project would have been ninety-percent complete.

Right now it's leaning on the not-gonna-complete side of the spectrum, but I'll let you know if I can find another use for my three foot long dowells and wonky stitched fabric.

It actually might work as a flag of surrender.

The Middle

Can I take a message?

Those were the first words I said to my father after nine years and the last ones I said to him that I'm sure he heard.

I sat hard on the flowery bedspread of my college dorm room trying hard to sound like anyone else besides the ten year old person he forgot to pick up that day too many years ago. My telephone was pink and somewhere on the other end of the line was the unmistakable voice of my dad. Gentle and unchanged after all this time.

Can I take a message? The words were athletes running at a painted paper banner. He told me to tell myself that my dad had called. There was no call back number.

For countless days after the call, I stood in the florescent light of my bathroom and practiced what I would say to him when he called back. The plan was to act surprised, of course and I feigned cautious elation in the mirror until I was sure my first semester as a theater major had paid off. He didn't call back and I ended up changing my major to English and blaming it on the derelict stagecraft professor. If you're wearing a tool belt to work, you aren't a professor.

On one of my few visits back home to see my mom, I took a detour and got lost in an area close to the old trailer park where I vaguely remember spending time before my dad bought the farm. I'm not being morbid. He actually bought a farm when I was seven or so and kept chickens named Mathilda and a calico cat named Dog who came a runnin' when whistled for.

The dilapidated marshy mess I found in place of the trailer park was a forlorn version of what I had remembered. The swimming hole had dried up to nothing more than a muck-covered duck pond with weeds and the few shoe-boxy mobile homes abandoned there sunk sadly into their graves. Keillor's Woebegone Lake.

I didn't see my father until a year or so later. After taking a rather cliche walk to the intensive care unit, the nurse pulled a papery blue curtain around his bed for privacy purposes and then left me alone to wonder what private things I would dare say with only a feeble curtain keeping my secrets from the poor guy next door. Maybe it was from his secrets she was protecting me. Like a mother hen.

What was it I had waited for? Oh. Yeah, the damnation.

For the twenty or so standing ovations in which he was standing elsewhere while I bowed on my high-school stage waiting for that storybook moment I'd find his face in the crowd and he'd be holding flowers and the Beatles' In My Life would suddenly play through the auditorium speakers. Or for the time Kelly Furzelbacher said I poked her with a tack and her mom wouldn't let me play with her for a whole year. (I can remember drinking grape kool-aid from an ALF mug that day, but for the life of me can't recall any moment in which I actually poked Kelly with a tack.) And for not teaching me how to drive or not interrogating my only boyfriend in high school (who certainly warranted interrogation at the least).

What were you doing then, Dad?

Where were you while I snuck out of my bedroom window to meet girlfriends in the cul-de-sac at midnight to drive around the neighborhood talking about boys and sex and mean girls? Or when I got my wisdom teeth pulled and fainted from the pain pill the dentist prescribed when I was sixteen? How about all the breaths I had taken between the day in the car-port and now? Huh? Where were you? What were you doing? Wake up and tell me, damn-you.

There's a lot of noise associated with a hospital. Pristine white orthopedic sneakers squeaking on sterile tiles and low voices discussing the status of each patient before shift-change. The corner of my dad's curtained cubicle was crammed with the electronic cadence of the blooping machines composing a symphony somewhere between his life and death. His yellow skin shocked me and the tubes running from underneath his blankets to the few bags and pans under the bed nauseated me, but I stepped close to him and saw that his hands were what I remembered.

Suddenly I was caught off guard by an abyss of guilt for that one phone call. My raw deal list was long, but forgotten. And I started by saying, I'm sorry, Daddy. And I was sorry.

For pretending not to be me that day. And for damning him to the tunes of my Sinead O'Connor and REM cds on the drive from my apartment to the hospital. And for telling a kid at camp that my dad was dead the summer before seventh grade- something I have never admitted to doing. Re-reading that feels like being slapped.

I was sorry. I am sorry. Sorry is what I am, not you.

My daughter has a saying for when she forgets a thought she is trying to convey. Five year-olds are so particular when choosing their words. She says, The paper got lost in my head. I'm sure the papers with regrets and angst for those ten years are scrawled with Sharpie ink and in there somewhere. I haven't forgotten them or torn them up or burned them into ashes. I just couldn't find them when I stood by his bed that day listening to his breath being sucked in and pushed out making every moment new again, however sad and painful it was.

And I was punched in the face with the fact that it wasn't the "look what you missed out on" and "piss on you for leaving me" that I had been waiting all this time to say. Or his tears I was hoping would come. It was ten gorgeous childhood years of questions about him I was hoping to have answered and a deluge of tears I wanted to feel on my own face for the times I should have cried, but didn't.

His eyes didn't open that day. Or for weeks after. I commuted two hours there and two hours back on days I didn't have class or days I couldn't think of something to do more important than waiting for him to un-coma. Soon I stopped going to the hospital and started listening for the phone instead. His brothers and sisters flew back to their respective southern states. I got a D in Government and Economics that semester and I began bracing myself for the call that would inevitably come. When it did, it wasn't at all what I was ready for.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Television...


"It's the menace that everyone loves to hate but can't seem to live without."
~Paddy Chayevsky


It's always best for the ladybug when i cinch up my fat-lady pants and spend the day coming up with new and exciting ways to keep her entertained without giving in to the endless pleading requests for the boob-tube.

Of course, on days like today, I think it's best for ME if I stay put on the couch and just keep yelling into the bedroom, "are you jumping on the bed, you'd better not be jumping on the bed, if you're jumping on the bed you can't watch tv, are you jumping on the bed, I'm coming in there".

ps-Coming in there just means moving around and making "getting up" noises on the couch until I hear the not-jumping-on-the-bed-anymore noises.

Today television means I get to complete a thought. Hear the refrigerator running. Eat a piece of chocolate without having to share it. Write an email without someone reading over my shoulder asking me what perforated means. Read a few chapters of a book. Use the bathroom without an audience. And, perhaps, if just for a few minutes- I can close my eyes and get back a few of those z's my husband's pancake of a pillow robbed me of last night. ( Somehow or another we swapped pillows and neither of us got a good night's rest.)

So. Judge not lest ye be judged. Today, the television is not an imagination-snatching, brain-sucking foe of mine. It is just the right amount of distraction I needed to get this blog you're enjoying (or not) written.

"Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover."
~Homer Simpson

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dear Library,

First of all, let me allow you a moment to thank me for returning twelve books on time. I know I still owe you twenty bucks from the last go round, but there's no need to send the coke-bottle glasses clerk after my pinkies. You'll get your money.

I'd like to apologize for the grease stain on the cover of Once Upon an Ordinary School Day. (Let me mention that I despise this book. Nobody should have to say the word ordinary that many times in ten minutes. It's maddening.)

The butter was an accident. It was almost a bigger accident for me since I didn't see the lady in the red Camry slam on her breaks right in front of your building until it was almost too late.

All of the books were stacked neatly on the passenger seat and ready for deposit in the curbside book-eating receptacle underneath my buttery, toasty breakfast when Ms. Camry decided to break-check me.

Anyhoo, all the books ended up on the floor, but the annoying Ordinary School Day book saved my buttery toast from getting bespangled with bits of mulch and straw wrappers from the floorboard of my car.

So. Sorry about the boring, buttered book. And listen: before you sick Ms. Coke-bottle glasses on me, just keep in mind the time I "returned" our own copy of Angelina Ballerina's Birthday Party. I'm sure there were others that sneaked under my radar and into the library book pile over the years, so let's just call it even.

Sincerely,
me

ps- The reference section is starting to smell like bums and cornflakes again, so you might want to change the plug-in pretty soon. Just so you know, people besides bums still like to look stuff up. Thx.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Part Damn One

There's a subject that has been glued at the back of my tongue like a sick lump of sinus slop for years. I've either been trying my best to swallow it down and forget about it, or have been saving it to spit out and inspect. This forum seems as good as any, so pardon me while I get out my stick and poke at it.

When I was ten, my dad left me. Literally. I sat on the aluminum folding lawn chair in the empty car port waiting for him to come and get me and he just didn't. Nor the next week. I don't know if I waited for him again or not. Maybe that nugget of memory hasn't worked it's way up my throat just yet. Perhaps it won't.

What I do vividly remember is saying and meaning the words, "damn-it". And at ten, being surprised at how easily they fell off my tongue. Damn-him for forgetting. Then damn him for not calling. Then damn him for not coming and not coming and not coming.

I damned the heart-wielding bear on the "miss you" card that arrived later that year. And damned the photo of my aunt and dad sitting at the beach together (in blue jeans and boots?) that was precariously tucked inside. I damned every corner of that folded piece of paper and every guilt-laden word scratched onto it's innards.

And then I put it in a box so I could keep damning it until I had someone's face to damn it to personally. I waited for the chance for quite a lot of years.

I cursed plenty of people from age ten until twenty. Boyfriends got smacked with damn in their faces and my mother was privately damned plenty during the year I turned eighteen. Professors were damned during college and I even damned myself after damning the University and calling it quits just shy of my bachelor's degree. (That last one was a retrospective damn, of course.)

The fact is, my life went on after that day in the car port and it went on pretty fine, I'd say. I got through those father-daughter occasions like learning to drive a car and being grounded for staying out past curfew because my mom was so forgiving when I silently damned her. I still can't see how we both survived my sixteenth birthday. Ugh, and prom.

When the phone rang just after my twentieth birthday and my aunt's flowery voice told me my dad was in a hospital two hours away and wasn't expected to "make it" all I could think of was damn. Two damn hours away. I expected he had been in Kentucky or serving in the peace corps somewhere in Botswana all this time.

I damned him when I put my key in the ignition of my red Mitsubishi. I damned Sarah McLaughlin for being on the radio while I pulled out of my apartment complex parking lot. For leaving me on the folding aluminum chair and for making my mother go crazy alone with me during my teen years, I damned my father over and over. And I cried holding that steering wheel all the way to Tampa, where my usually absent sense of direction automatically guided me into the parking lot of the Veteran's Hospital and up to the ICU where the rest of his family sat around with wet blue eyes and running noses.

And after his brothers and sisters and cousins lined up to administer the pity hugs to the long abandoned daughter, and my tongue dripped an unfounded "damn" for each of them, I was escorted by the damned nurse to the side of his god-damned bed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

my guests, it's all for the best

You've probably seen me. Pulling out of the parking lot in my station-wagon. I looked good. Or maybe not. Was my hair pulled up in a sloppy ponytail or did I have just the right look on my face that you thought maybe I was someone famous running errands that are even too banal for an assistant?

Perhaps I had just rolled down my windows and opened up the sunroof and you could hear some poppy-girl anthem charging out of me like a teenager skipping class and proud of it. Maybe it wasn't that. Maybe you noticed my lipgloss or the only pair of shades I haven't lost or sat on.

No? You can't remember if I looked happy and tired at the same time or if I even had the radio on at all? Oh. You were trying to get my attention? To let me know I had left a full half-caff venti latte on the roof of my car...

Well. You obviously don't know me very well. Because I meant to do that.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Supremecakes

Not too long ago, I received a box of Bisquick pancake mix as a gift. With a spatula. And although it was just garnish for a handsome new electric griddle, my house hasn't been the same since.

Sure there were pancakes here and there on "special" mornings like Christmas and random official holidays when the three of us were all home from work or school and felt like the day deserved a ceremonious kickoff. And those times are best because there's no mad-rush for the door and no minute-devouring sock hunts to blame for the pop-tart in the car breakfasts. Pancakes on holidays were where it was. Slow. And syrupy.

But after the box of Bisquick entered our lives, Saturday mornings started feeling a lot like holidays. At first, the "recipe" on the back threw me off. What? I don't just put water in the box and shake until the lumps are gone? Fresh eggs? And yes, there was even a deluxe version of the recipe for those folks celebrating a promotion or hitting the Wednesday night Power Ball number.

"Hold up, ye Goddess of Griddle Cakes. I'm not ready for this," I said standing be-jammied and wonky-haired in the kitchen while the box stared back at me. But it happened. I believe husband had to pry the box from my hands and take the wheel I was so floored (really, a recipe?). He shooed me from the kitchen and was even bold enough to go for the supreme cakes with a bit of vanilla extract in the batter. He measured. He mixed. He made the sacrificial test pancake while the dogs sat at the ready.

Shortcake set the table. I microwaved some ready-bacon (maybe the best invention since the push-up bra) and poured the pulp-free oj and then we waited. Giddy and panting along with the dogs, we all watched as the stack of carb-laden breakfast cakes grew and then made its way to the table. And they were supreme cakes. Thanks to fearless husband. And we devoured them sopped in syrup and butter. And said the five words that changed Saturdays into Supremecake-days,

"Now that wasn't so hard."

And so we eat pancakes. And we don't have to wonder what's for breakfast on Saturdays. Or stand frozen in front of the pantry staring at the inferior Frosted Miniwheats box or the oatmeal packets only fit for insipid Mondays and.... **gasp**...Tuesdays.

There are occasional Saturdays husband and I opt for fried egg sandwiches when the little miss is away with Grandma or her Dad. Those days are good, too. Subdued, safe, savory. We just really really love Supremecake Saturdays. More often than not, it's not just the deliciousness they stand for that we love, but the closeness in the kitchen we crave. Bumping butts and reaching across one another into drawers. Singing made-up songs about pancakes as the clank of dishes and clink of flatware fills the spaces in between sizzling batter and microwave bloops and beeps.

I suppose it's not what you can see going into the recipe, but what gets added to the mix that isn't on the back of the box that makes all the difference.

Thanks, Jens.
Thanks, MJ.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A long post about a spoon.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of a nesting frenzy, I reorganized the utensil drawer. I decided it was a necessity after being refused entry into said drawer during an attempt to retrieve the can opener for a soup-n-sandwich lunch.

Out came the stuffs. The every day type things were in a jumble near the front for obvious reasons and the weird once-in-a-while to what's-this-thing-for items were tangled together in the back.

Clutching one another like survivors of a culinary apocalypse were a cheese grater (it comes grated in the bag these days, folks), a garlic press, a corkscrew (see you in a few months, old pal), and an implement designed for the sole purpose of opening jars. The jar opener might actually be handy if I didn't have a husband for that sort of thing.

All lined up on the kitchen counter was my arsenal of equipment. The order of it made sense to me, but I was one of those girls who used to rotate stuffed animals in the bed as a kid so everyone got a chance to sleep next to me. Yeah. I know. I was pretty popular.

Anyway, some were plastic, some were stainless, but all of them were monochromatic. And quite ugly. I can see why people have drawers for this kind of thing. Black, silver, the one audaciously red corkscrew, and then I saw it. The one beautiful thing in that mangled mess of industrial, hard-edged appliances... the "kool-aid" spoon.

I don't know if everyone has one. I imagine it's not really a staple in the drawers of a swingin' bachelor pad or hoity-toity mansion. But growing up, it was one of the only items in the drawer used on a daily basis at my house. What with the comings and goings of neighborhood kids, lemonade sipping friends, and iced-tea addicted moms there was not a summer day (especially) that the kool-aid spoon didn't see the bottom of the sink basin and the bottom of a pitcher at least one time in an afternoon. This exact spoon stirred sweetness into all of the summers I can remember and here I had been just tossing it in the drawer with the rest of the culinary conscripts.

Among the spatulas and cold and hard icecream scoop, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the kool-aid spoon. Like the stuffed animal near the end of the rotation, I wanted to give it a place where it could shine and be proud of it's significance in our lives. Her significance, I should say. She is yellowish-white with seventies flowers on her handle and beautiful slender slots in her bowl. There's no way kool-aid spoon is a male.

So I gave her a place in the tin of important cooking stuffs directly next to the stove where she can breathe fresh air and bathe in the sunlight of the summers and winters alike. No more will I shut her in the dark with the cold steel and furrowed foam drawer liner that's always squished up in the back. She will be easily accessed and enjoyed by all who lay eyes or hand on her.

And her name will be Crystal. Miss Crystal Light, the blushing beauty of the kitchen utensils and the only one bold enough to wear pink all year around.

Never to be tossed in a garage sale or thrift store donation box, but instead to be inherited by my children and their children's children to stir the powdered refreshments of the future and make memories for generations to come.

(cue epic end-sounding music)