It’s My Birthday . . . So I’m Phoning It In

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Yep, that’s right.  It’s bad enough that I actually have to go to work on my birthday (the horror!), but I’m definitely not also going to try to craft a real post at the same time.  I mean, what do you people want from me?  Jeesh!

So, instead, I thought we’d just take a little walk down memory lane and revisit the post I created for my birthday last year.  If you are new around here, check it out as it is all about my past birthdays and the disasters that have resulted therein.  If you have previously read it, feel free to give yourself a refresher.  Especially since the hubs and I are going to Atlantic City this weekend just as we did last year, so it’s pretty much just last year’s birthday, redux.

Ghosts of Birthdays Past

And speaking of previous posts . . . also head on over to the lovely and talented Peg-O-Leg’s blog to check out one of my earliest posts, which is being featured there today on her “THIS one should have been Freshly Pressed” series.  While I’m not sure it is even up to the quality of most of her other submissions, I am nothing if not a shameless blog whore, so when I sent her my post and told her that today was my birthday, what choice did she have but to humor me and throw me a pity mention on her much too good for me blog?  She’s all class, that Peg.  So, check it out if you are feeling similarly charitable, and also make sure you read some of her stuff, as it is brilliant and thoughtful and wonderful.  Thanks, Peg!

I even earned this nifty badge!  Much better than those silly Freshly Pressed ones.  Pfft.  Who needs them anyway??  (If you are reading Oh Great and Powerful WP gods . . . I still do.  Love you!!).

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The Last Straw . . . to My Heart!

Ok, off to work grumble grumble.  Happy Birthday to me?

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Happy Blogivbirthersary Day!!

Last weekend, I had the great pleasure and honor to meet up with a few lovely lady bloggers for a delicious and festive brunch.

On Saturday, I made my way over to my neighboring state of Delaware on a rainy and dreary morning.  Rachel, of Rachel’s Table, had graciously invited both me and the wonderful and effervescent Jules, of Go Jules Go, to her home for some drinks and delightful vittles.  Also in attendance was Julie, another friend of Rachel’s, who is an artist and gummy bear aficionado.  And it just so happened to be cause for celebration for us all, as that day was Rachel’s one year blogiversary, Jules’ two year blogiversary was upcoming on Tuesday, and my birthday was on Wednesday of this week.  So obviously, we would be having some drinks to toast all of these significant life events!

I was on booze duty, of course, so I provided the champagne that we planned to drink with our brunch.  Rachel was prepared with some special champagne glasses for each of us to use as our very own.  Personalized, of course.

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This was Jules’ glass . . . professing her love for all thinks cute and chipmunky.

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And this was mine . . . complete with chipmunk wine charm borrowed from Jules (she was very specific that she was only lending us her charms).

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And because Rachel had never seen me before, she wasn’t exactly sure how to depict my face on the glass.  Hence the question mark over top of my head.  Above that it says, “Why am I not drinking right now . . . and where is my face?”  Excellent questions, both.

Once drinks were firmly in hand, it was time to get our grub on.  Rachel whipped up an absolutely delicious breakfast feast, made from only the freshest and localest of ingredients.

Ham & White Cheddar Frittata and Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata

Ham & White Cheddar Frittata and Spinach & Goat Cheese Frittata

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Local Amish Bacon

And then of course there were these fabulous chocolate croissants from Trader Joe’s.

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So F-ing Amazing

One other special guest was also in attendance at this brunch . . . the infamous and adorable, Uncle Jesse!  Jules’ faithful companion came with her to Rachel’s house and entertained us with his head tilting ways.

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How cute is that face?

And although, classically, canines are referred to as man’s best friend, this canine companion was a mommy’s dog if I had ever seen one.

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Once brunch was over and we had all stuffed ourselves with all the delectable, hearty goodness on Rachel’s Table, it was time for some fun.  So we all played with mustaches.

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Then we took a tour of Rachel’s Alice in Wonderland home.

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I kept waiting for a plate of cookies to appear with the words “Eat Me” printed on them . . . but I feel that would have been a much different kind of party.

Sadly, the day had to come to an end as all of us had to return to our regular lives and leave our bloggy friends behind.  But the day was full of good food, flowing champagne, and lovely and engaging conversation.   I was happy to have driven the almost 2 hours each way to get to spend time with these lovely ladies.

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Rachel & Jules

Thank you, girls, for letting me crash your wonderful soirée!!  I had such a great time.  Can’t wait to make this happen again sometime soon.  How do you feel about an outing in Baltimore?  😉

(Check out Rachel’s take on our bloggy brunch . . . with Frittata recipes!!  Yum.)

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And in case you missed it . . . yes, I did indeed say that my birthday is this Wednesday.  I will be thirty-mumble-something-mumble.  And while I am way too humble to ever ask for anyone to shower me with cash and prizes . . . I’m just going to say that unfortunately, this year I have to work on my birthday, and not only that, but I am also scheduled to go to court and deal with all the crazies that inhabit that asylum.  So . . . I’m just saying.  There’s got to be something that could perk me up after all of that insanity.  I’m pretty sure you know what you have to do . . .

Year of the Snake

When I was a kid, I loved all things pig.  And in this instance, I’m not referring to my absolute love of delicious pork (Mmmm, bacon).  I’m talking about pig, the animal.  It was my animal.  Everyone has one, especially as a kid.  My one goal in life was to eventually own a pot-bellied pig as a pet, as that was all the rage at the time.  I thought pigs were adorable and I was completely enamored with anything having to do with cute little piggies.

So, pretty much every birthday or holiday, someone in my family or one of my friends would get me something with a pig on it.   Calendars, stuffed animals, magnets, shirts, etc.  Once, my Aunt even bought me a truly bizarre faux flower in a little wooden flower-pot, with a pig face where the flower should have been.  Yeah, she was a bit kooky.

I grew out of my porcine phase when I was a teenager, but it didn’t stop people from continuously gifting me with pig items, long after I asked them to stop.  In fact, the above mentioned pig-flower was received when I was about 20.  My Aunt refused to get the message.

In college, I found that I had a preference for less classically adorable creatures . . . like snakes and rats.  I bought a small snake in college and named him Incognito, because we weren’t allowed to have pets in the dorm.  We called him Cog for short.  I loved that little guy.  I used to let him crawl all over me and get himself tangled up in my hair.  I have pictures that make me look like some sort of Medusa apprentice.  He was rad.

© Tobyotter WANA Commons

© Tobyotter WANA Commons

Then came the day when my roommate decided that she would adopt a rat from the science lab, since they were giving them away post-experiment conclusion.  I was cool with that, never really thinking about the irony of having both predator and prey in the same room.  Cog was small, though, and still only ate itty bitty baby mice, so I never really thought of it as an issue.  And in fact, Lexi (the rat) was a big ole thing, and probably could have clawed the life out of my little guy.  Not that we let them play together or anything, so there were no worries.

Eventually, the roommate moved out, and I inherited Lexi.  Thus becoming the owner of both a snake and a rat.  My parents were so proud.  Actually, when I brought my pets home, they grew to love them as well.  They were cool little critters.  (The animals, not my parents).

Unfortunately, Lexi did not have a long life expectancy and passed away after only a year or so, and we were forced to find another home for Cog, after multiple escape attempts, ala Steve McQueen, and when he finally become somewhat bad-tempered and a bit too . . . bitey.  It was just too much and we had to find a more appropriate home for him.  It was painful to say goodbye to him, but not quite as painful as the multiple puncture wounds I had in my hand.

Once I was older and married (to a man who fears snakes), we adopted a traditional pet of the canine variety.  We then had kids, who proceeded to win 2 goldfish at the State Fair.  No more crazy pets for us.  And no pot-bellied pig.

But now I find myself devoid of an animal.  I mean, I have pets, but that’s not the same thing.  They’re just pets.  I feel like I need an animal.  Or am I too old for that?  I don’t think so.  I seem to believe that everyone has a spirit animal that is the representation of themselves, or at least something that makes them ooh and ahh and feel warm and happy when they see it.  And I don’t need to be a 12-year-old girl to have that.

Now I just have to figure out what my animal should be.  Hmm . . . what to choose, what to choose.  Maybe a monkey?  Well, while I do appreciate a good cartoon monkey or stuffed representation, the real thing is just a bit too . . . smelly.  Dolphins?  A bit too fishy and drippy (I know it’s a mammal, hush).  A bear?  Nah, too shits in the woods-y.  Wow, this is tough.

Wait, I’ve got it!  My son just recently gave me a belated Valentine’s present (belated . . . not just for birthdays anymore) of an adorable stuffed penguin.  It is really quite cute, and he told me that he got it for me so that I can have something to snuggle with when I go to sleep at night.  He is really the most thoughtful and precious thing.

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So, I think it’s something I could get behind.  Real penguins are indeed adorable, right?  I mean, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in the colder climes in which they habitate, but I saw March of the Penguins!  Ok, fine . . . I didn’t actually see that movie, but I saw a commercial for it at least.  So, I know what a penguin looks like!  They are sweet and adorable.  So, I think this could be my new thing.  Why not?  Everybody needs a thing.

Plus, I totally embody penguin-like qualities.  I’m cold, I like to swim, I love to eat seafood, I . . . wear a lot of black.  Yep, I am very penguiny.  I’m just not very fond of cold weather.  Then again, not all penguins live in Antarctica.  And it’s been pretty freezing around here recently, so I’m apparently right in my element.

So, it’s settled . . . the penguin it is.  Plus, if I ever did decide that I wanted to adopt my special animal friend, I’m sure the hubs would appreciate a little tuxedo wearing bird moving in with us more than a slithery bitey snake.  You’re welcome, hubs.  It’s all about the love.

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So, what’s your spirit animal?

I’m Going to Disney World!

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No, I didn’t just win the Super Bowl.  What do I look like . . . Joe Flacco?  I mean, yeah, maybe a little around the eyes.  But, that’s not what this is about!  Focus, people.  Back to the issue at hand . . .

This isn’t a post in the traditional sense.  What it is, is more of a cry for help.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Disney World at the end of March.  This will be our first trip as a family, the first time for our boys.  We already have the flights booked and the hotel reserved.  But other than that, we are still in the planning stage . . . including how we are going to tell the boys we are going.

I’ve been on YouTube.  I’ve seen the multitude of ways in which parents have surprised their children with news of their upcoming journey to the happiest place on earth.  In fact, just last week, a Facebook friend posted her own video of her and her husband telling her own boys they were going to Disney, that morning in fact.  That seems to be the most common trend in reveals.  The “we’re going to Disney . . . right now!” surprise.  We’re pretty sure we don’t want to wait until the day of to tell them.  We want them to have the chance to look forward to it and have some of that lovely anticipation, which I think is part of the joy of a great vacation.  But now we just have to figure out how to tell them.

Additionally, it has been many years since either the hubs or I have been to the magic kingdom.  I have a general idea of the things to do down there, but since the last time I visited, there are 2 new parks, I believe.  Quite a lot to see and do in just a short amount of time.  I’ve ordered the “planning video” from Disney, and looked online briefly for all the different activities there are to do, but to be honest, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing.

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See, I’m a planner.  I like to know what I’m getting into.  And while I don’t need each and every moment of my vacation planned to the second, I at least like to have a general idea of what we are doing on what days, with some room for change if necessary.  My hubs is actually the opposite.  His father used to be a drill sargeant about vacations, and would yell and scream if everyone in the family wasn’t where they were supposed to be at the exact time he dictated.  My hubs’ reaction to this is to now hate all things planned and scheduled.  He is a very “go with the flow” vacationer.  I try to respect that as much as possible, but still need some kind of structure.  So it is very give and take with how we plan these things.

Being a first timer (be gentle, please), I need your help.  I know many of you have taken your kids to Disney, so I would like some real world advice.  First . . . how did you tell your kids?  Was it prior to or the morning of?  Did you give gifts, make posters, do a scavenger hunt?  Any tips or advice would be very helpful.

Next . . . what are some suggestions of things that we must see and do while we are there?  Obviously, we are going to try to hit each of the major parks, probably one on each day, unless something else is happening.  Any suggestions on must sees or things we could skip this first visit?

And finally . . . any other tips and tricks that might be useful?  Such as:  did you get the food plan?  Was that a good idea?  Did you rent strollers?  My kids are 7 and 4, but I’ve been advised that a stroller is key, even at these ages.  Did you do any of the character meals?  Which ones and was it worth it?  And . . . anything else you might be able to share to help me make this a great vacation for my kids, but also make my life a bit easier with planning and execution of this massive endeavor.  Tips people.  I needs ’em.  I wants ’em.  I gots to have ’em.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as always.  I love all y’all.  Thanks for being my peeps!

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VD Strikes Back

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Earlier this week, I got sick.  It was just a cold, but I felt bad enough to have to take a day off of work.  While I was home feeling crappy, I received my first valentine’s gift . . .  from my 4 year old son.  He had gone to the library with our au pair and done a craft project while he was there.  When he came home, he told me that he had made a special gift for me.  And then he gave me this:

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When I untied the ribbon wrapped around the rolled up dark pink felt, I saw this:

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When I unfurled it, I found a very long pink felt ribbon with a hand on each end.  There was one grey hand stapled to one end of the long ribbon, and one pink hand stapled to the other end.  When I asked my son if those were his hands, he said, “No, mommy!  The pink one is a piggy hand, and the grey one is an elephant hand!”  I just want to squeeze him SO HARD.

On VD morning, very very very early in the morning, I dragged my sorry tired ass out of bed, went into the bathroom, and there on my bathroom sink, I found my first official VD present.  Flowers and a card from the hubs:

Yes, it does in fact say, "Me, You and a little fondue...."

Yes, it does in fact say, “Me, You and a little fondue….”

So, while a sweet gesture bright and early in the morning (did I mention it was really early?  Yeah.), it also had the unintended (maybe) bonus of planting an earworm in my brain of the song Boyfriend, which would linger there the entire freaking day.  Well played, hubs.  Well played, indeed.

When I got home from work, I whipped up a special dinner for my kids, to reflect the special day and my love for them:

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Pepperoni & Canadian Bacon hearts.

When I saw my boys, they were both so excited to give me the presents they got for me, that they ran up to me and thrust them upon me.  Each had a small heart-shaped vase with flowers and a card.  If only I had 4 hands, I would have been able to grab everything they were throwing at me.

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And then the hubs and I exchanged our presents.  He had already given me the flowers earlier in the morning, but when I got home, there was this HUGE box waiting for me with this on the side:

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The boys were very excited about this huge box sitting in our living room, and could not wait for me to open it.  So I did . . . and what I found was this:

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Catching up on a little blogging.

Yes, that is indeed a 4 and 1/2 foot tall stuffed bear.  The chair he is sitting in is actually one of those oversized chofa (chair/sofa) chairs.  So, yeah.  BIG bear.  The boys loved that bear.  In fact, I think it was more of a present for them then me, as they jumped on and laid all over that thing all night.

This was this morning . . . bear as rug/pillow.

This was this morning . . . bear as rug/pillow.

Now, as for the hubs and my presents for him . . . this was a tough one.  Most Valentine’s Days, he showers me with presents, including flowers, chocolates and numerous gifts.  And my little gifts to him pale in comparison.  But not this year.  This year, I had a plan.  A plan I devised with a little help from my friend Peg.  She talked on her blog about an underwear bouquet she made for her hubs one year.  So, as a take on that, I decided to gift my hubs with a beautiful and creative bouquet of my own.

Sock bouquet

Sock bouquet

Take that humongous stuffed bear taking up half of my living room floor right now!!  That’s right.  That’s how you do the VD in our house.

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So, how was VD in your abode?  Did your sweetie shower you with gifts?  Or did you just have a nice low-key evening?  Do tell . . .

The Big Time

Well, it’s finally happened.  I’ve finally made it.  I’ve been recognized by the A-listers.

You work hard for years.  Trying to produce quality stuff.  Just hoping you will eventually be recognized for your talents.  That you will produce something that is so well written and hysterical, you will get the attention of someone truly noteworthy.

And now . . . after all my struggles, my perseverance, my hard work . . . jackpot!

Now, I’m sharing this with you all, because I feel you can appreciate how momentous this moment is for me.  But I’m going to trust that you will keep this on the down low.  Because this recognition came in a super subtle sneaky way, and frankly, I’m not sure I should be talking about it quite yet.

If you can believe it, I found my big break in my spam folder!  Crazy, right?

justin beiber    
 
I am regular reader, how are you everybody?
 
This piece of writing posted at this site is in fact good.
 
 
When Viruses Attack
 

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As you can tell, he’s obviously trying to recognize my “good” writing (Squee!!) while also staying under the radar, so that the paparazzi don’t start swarming my blog.  That’s obviously why he switched 2 of the letters in his name, so that any internet searching wouldn’t bring them right here and overwhelm me. He’s so considerate.

And how friendly is this guy?  Not only does he take the time to write to me to tell me how good he thinks my writing is, but to also ask about all my other readers and inquire as to how they might be doing today.  What a sweetie.

Yep, I’ve hit the big time now.  Nothing but fame and fortune for me from here on out.  But don’t worry, I won’t get a swelled head and forget all you little people I stepped on that helped me along the way.  I’m sure I will remember some, if not a few of your names.  Probably.

And I just want to say that all those things that I may have allegedly said in the past about him, I totally take back.  I might have been a doubter in the past, but now that he’s gonna be my ticket to huge success . . . I’m a belieber.

Enter the Quiet

© karylmc/WANA Commons

© karylmc/WANA Commons

There is something very specific and unique about the sound of a house without power.  Absolute dead silence.  A complete and total void of noise.  A quiet so deep that it is like a presence.  A presence hovering and intruding on your peaceful slumber.  Rousing you with deep silent fingers, feeling the wrongness creeping over your body and awakening your senses.  Bringing you to consciousness with the realization that something is off.  It is quiet.  Too quiet.

The normal hum of electronics that is never noticed, but always there . . . gone.  The fan which runs each night as white noise, helping you sleep . . . silenced.  All of the ambient noises that constantly hover around you at night as you sleep . . . now absent.

As your faculties come to you, you become cognizant of another reality.  The darkness.  A deep darkness that envelopes you in the wee hours of the morning.  Void of the usual glow of soft green and orange numbers from clocks and DVRs, from hall nightlights whose soft light usually drifts like smoke under your closed door.

You learn later that a car crashed into a pole, thus taking out the electricity of an entire neighborhood.  My neighborhood.  Because of a possibly drunk, careless or sleepy driver, the street on which I live was blanketed in complete darkness and silence.  A darkness that also awakened my oldest son, who rushed to his parents room to snuggle in, deathly frightened of that total all-encompassing darkness.  Seeking a safe haven in the silence and blackness of the now still night.  Three people in a bed usually reserved for only two, worried and wondering as to when the power would be restored.  Trying to return to the safety of his dreams in order to wait out the quiet, unrelenting night.

Morning light alleviates some of the strangeness of the night, and the sound of a generator breaks the former quiet.  You wake from fitful dreams to find that you still cannot see numbers glowing on your clock, so have no idea what time it is.  While the day has dawned bright, it is also extremely cold.  The lack of power in the house all night, and therefore lack of heat, has caused a chill to permeate your entire home.  And while you are still snug under your covers, your thoughtful husband adds an extra layer of blankets, warning you that it is extremely chilly outside of the safety of the bed.  You set the alarm on your iPhone for much later than you would normally rise, realizing that without power, you will be unable to complete your normal chores while your husband and kids are at church.  Without a functioning washer and dryer, shower or coffee pot, you might as well get an extra hour of sleep since last night’s drama has sapped you of a restful sleep.

Once you finally drag yourself out of the warmth of your bed, you go into the bathroom and realize you will have to be creative if you wish to brush your teeth and wash your face, as there is no water in your faucet.  You go down to the kitchen and grab a jug of water you had recently bought, not expecting to use it for this purpose, but thankful you have it on hand.

You await the projected reactivation of your power, which is currently being reported as occurring at 10:30.  Another check updates that projection to 1:00.  You sit bundled in hooded sweatshirt, socks and a blanket to try to stay warm as you check email on your phone.  Anxiously awaiting your husband’s return home, hopefully providing you with some much needed hot coffee.

And then . . . you hear it.  A click, then a buzz.  A hum permeates the room.  The sound of the refrigerator running.  The DVR turning back on.  Power restored.

Things back to normal.  Everything working as it should.  Like waking from a bad dream that begins to dissipate as soon as you awake.  As if it never actually happened.  Reality restored.  The darkness and silence left behind.

© C.Cal.Shoot/WANA Commons

© C.Cal.Shoot/WANA Commons

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