I Do NOT Have a Problem

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If you were to visit my home and walk into my dining room, the first thing that would be apparent to you is that we do not use that room to dine.  There is no dining room table, no chairs, no side hutch.  Pretty much a whole lot of nothing in the middle of that room.  Not that the room is completely empty.  There are two folding tables set up against two walls of the room, in an L shaped formation. These tables are mostly used to hold a bunch of crap that we don’t want piling up in other parts of our house.  Until we invite guests over, and then the piles of crap are relocated to another hidden room so people don’t think we are animals living in a pigsty.  Shhhh, don’t tell.

Along the opposite wall of this room is a very old liquor cabinet and small wine rack.  The liquor cabinet travelled with us when we moved from our previous home, and originated who knows where, as it was purchased cheap from Goodwill in an effort to fill an empty bachelor’s new home about 14 years ago.  The wine rack was purchased a few years after, and also travelled with us from our former residence.  Those few pieces of furniture are the extent of items in that room . . . unless you count the copious amounts of liquor taking up valuable real estate on the floor.

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I have previously had concerns that if someone happened to visit our home and see not only a stuffed to bursting liquor cabinet, but also a full wine rack and approximately 27 bottles of booze on the floor, that they might think that they are in a home full of alcoholics.  It would not be an unreasonable assessment, based on the present visual evidence being presented to them, but it would indeed be inaccurate.  You see, if we really were alcoholics, do you think all of those bottles would actually survive long enough to accrue and take over all of that space?  Any alcoholic worth their salt would have binged on those things long ago, leaving them with perhaps a half empty bottle of vanilla in their pantry, if they are doing it right.* 

However, that does not negate the fact that having all of this liquor littering our floor is still a bit embarrassing and messy.  So, with that in mind, I decided to organize and maybe purge some of our booze bottles, many of which had not been seen or touched in numerous years.  So, I pulled every bottle out of the liquor cabinet, every bottle off of the wine rack, and grabbed all of those bottles from the floor, and commenced to peruse and organize.  Honestly, the visual of all of that liquor spread over the dining room was quite impressive . . .

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You are probably wondering to yourself, how on earth does one actually obtain that much liquor?  Either that or you are wondering where I live so you can come by for a cocktail.  I get that a lot.  But, as to the root problem at hand, there are various events and situations that have culminated to create this stunning display.  The first is the fact that the hubs travels quite a bit, many times to foreign countries.  So, what’s a better gift to bring home than a local wine or a bottle of booze from duty-free, right?  Apparently.  An additional cause stems from the many times I’ve sent my hubs to the liquor store to get some beer for people who are coming over, either just to swim in the pool, or for a more formal invited gathering.  Inevitably, he would not only bring home the requisite beer, but a few bottles of booze that happened to catch his eye that he thought might be interesting to try.  This is why we have an entire bottle (but for a taste) of Maple Bacon Liquor, and no less than 15 different varieties of flavored vodkas, including Loopy and Cake.

The third cause would be me.  No, I am not putting all of this on the hubs.  Most of it, yes, but I have some complicity in this debacle as well.  You see, I like to make new and interesting cocktails.  Any time people visit, I like to impress and dazzle them with a new found delicious concoction.  Sometimes, these recipes call for liquor that I either do not own, or that I do, but I end up buying another bottle of anyway because I don’t know that I own it, and am stopping at the liquor store on the way home and have no way to check before purchasing.  (This little fact is why I have two almost full bottles each of Triple Sec, Kahlua and Cruzan light rum . . . oops).

So, the organization project was necessary, as you can see.  I was able to get rid of a few old bottles and some mixes that had expired around the end of the Bush administration.  That would be the first Bush, by the way.  Plus, I could take stock of what I actually had, so that the next time I get an itch to make something new and exciting, I hopefully will remember what liquors I actually own.  Well, conceivably anyway. 

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Especially since I am now taking an online bartending class, and will need to practice making all sorts of classic drinks.  This means I will most likely have to supplement my already stocked bar with some basics that I am currently missing, like Scotch and Gin.  So, I guess that means another trek to the liquor store and more bottles that I have to find room for.

Now that I think of it, I might have a little bit of a problem after all.

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* This is a joke made all in good fun.  I am not in any way trying to belittle anyone’s efforts at sobriety, as I have many friends who are currently either battling or maintaining their defenses against the evil beast of alcoholism raging at their door.  I hope that anyone who needs help, can find the support that they seek.

Things to See, People to Do . . .

The last week or so has been . . . let’s go with “interesting” . . . in my world.  (Interesting sounds so much better than horrifying, devastating or heartbreaking, yes?).  There have been some major incidents that have had me wanting to crawl into bed and not come out.  I haven’t felt that way for quite a while, so the return of that feeling was not welcome.  But, I rallied and moved past it and am trying to get the hell on with my life.

So, on that note, I want to share some of the fun things that I have seen and heard in the most recent past, to combat that feeling of woe is me, everything is going to hell in a handbasket.  Play along with me, will you?

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This poor little bird was actually in the frozen food aisle of Costco.  I watched him for a while.  He was obsessed with that bag of french fries behind the glass, and kept flying at it and pecking on the glass to try to get it.  It was a little sad, actually.  And yes, this is what passes for entertainment in my world.

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Are these some sort of fashion leggings?  Dear god, what is happening to this world?

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Sadly, my favoritest iPhone case broke this past week.  LIttle pieces have been breaking off here and there for a while now, but this time the entire side was ripped off, leaving the case less than functional, as my phone kept falling out of the side.  I had to find another case, and just happened to have this on hand.  Apropos, no?

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Apparently, there was a butterfly convention in my back yard.  There were about 20 of them flying around this bush.  It’s like it’s some kind of butterfly bush or something.  Oh, wait . . .

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This was a deformed carrot that I found in my lunch pack.  There was no way I was putting this thing in my mouth!

And I will end with a story of something that one of my friends said last week.  We had a cookout last weekend, at which I served Key Lime Pie martinis.  They were a big hit, especially with my one friend.  After dinner, I served dessert, and when I informed everyone that there was pie if anyone was interested, this same friend raised her martini glass and proclaimed:

Misty . . . I’ve been eating your pie all night!

Well, if that was the case, you would think I would have felt a lot more satisfied at the end of the night, wouldn’t you?  Huh.

Prepping for the Big K

My youngest son is about to start Kindergarten.  He is very excited to start “big boy school.”  However, the thing that 5 is most excited about, is the opportunity to ride the bus.  He is beyond psyched for the day that big yellow behemoth swallows him up and spews him out upon the school grounds.

My oldest son, 8, has been attending this same school for a few years now, considering himself somewhat of an expert in all things related to bus riding.  He has made many attempts at helpfulness, trying to explain what 5 may have to expect.  When he told 5 the rules for the bus, the response was, “well, if anyone gives me any trouble, they’ll just get paybacks.”  He then explained to the hubs and I that it meant he would just punch them.  Obviously, we then spent a large amount of time reviewing the rules, adding “do not punch anyone” as rule number 1!! 

Despite this newfound violent streak, 5 has been completely zen and composed about the entire Kindergarten process.  I thought he would be more apprehensive, but so far he is calm and collected.  Then again, he did go to pre-school at the same building last year, and will already know some of the kids from his pre-school class.  G.I. Joe had that shit right . . . knowing is half the battle!

In a further attempt to give my youngest as much advance information as possible, I signed him up for a class at our library called, “Kindergarten, Here We Come,” which included a chance to ride a real live school bus!  I figured he would love it, since he was so excited to ride the bus to school.  So, the night in question, I told him I had a surprise for him.  That we were going to go do something special.

Once we arrived at the library, and he discovered the special surprise, he wasn’t very excited.  He figured “surprise” meant going for ice cream or to Chuck E Cheese.  And while every parent knows that ice cream is a brilliant idea right before bedtime, you would never find me in a Chuck E Cheese, unless my family was being held for ransom and the only place to get money was in their swirling air pit of death.  And even then . . . I mean, I love them and all, but a person has her limits.

His lack of enthusiasm continued when the class started and he realized that he was going to be sitting through an actual Kindergarten class.  The look of disdain and disappointment he threw back at me was epic.  And hysterical.  Apparently, he was less than enthused about mom’s “surprise.” 

Eventually, the very long and boring classroom activities ended (during which my son vacillated between chewing on laminated paper crayons, and looking at me like, “really, Mom . . . really?”), and the kids finally got to go outside to get on the school bus.  Wheeeee!!

Although, they didn’t actually get to go anywhere.  Instead, they just all piled on, sat in the seats, and the bus driver explained all the rules to them.  I was happy 5 didn’t tell her his theories on how he would handle any issues that might arise. 

All told, though, the bus “ride” was a bit anti-climactic.  But now, he’s been on a school bus, knows all the rules, and experienced a close facsimile of an actual school day.  Pretty sure that is as prepared as he’s gonna get. 

Between that and the paybacks, I’m sure G.I. Joe would be very proud.

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Our Milkshake Brings All the Freaks to the Yard

I have lived and worked in and around Baltimore my entire life.  Except for a brief stint in the farmlands of Pennsylvania for college, where I missed city life horribly, I have never lived anywhere else.  It is my home.  And I love it.

And while my undying love for my home city is true, that has never seemed to be the case for outsiders looking in.  The city has always had the reputation of being a lesser city somehow.  It’s neighbor to the south, Washington DC is more of a real city, while B-more has long suffered an also ran status.  Paling in size and popularity to other Northeastern cities . . . New York, Boston, Philadelphia . . . Baltimore has always quietly existed, content in its own skin.  Not looking for fame or recognition from any of its Northern brethren.

But lately, it seems, our little town has experienced a surge in popularity.  Three years ago, we became the home to the Baltimore Grand Prix.  A car race that is televised and occurs on Labor Day weekend, closing half the streets of downtown for famous racecar drivers to zoom around.  Although, definitely not popular with many of the workers attempting to enter and then leave the city, since a large part of the area of ingress and egress is completely closed off many days before the race.  However, it is a boon for Baltimore, as it brings in much money from tourism, so commuters be damned.

Also, it was reported recently that this summer there has been a spike in visits and funds spent in this city, as the hospitality industry in my fair town is apparently seeing a spike as well.

This could have something to do with the multiple very popular conventions that were scheduled this summer in the downtown convention center.  I have previously mentioned the Brony convention, which was a first for the city this year, and brought a ton of Bronies to the downtown area, surely boosting sales to many local hotels and restaurants.

And of course we have Otakon.  That convention has shown up in our city for many years, and brings with it oh so many fans of all things Asian culture and video games, who have the tendency to dress in costumes ranging from Pokemon & Sonic to the most garishly crazy video game demons imaginable, and everything in between.  It is one of the wackiest and most anticipated weekends of the year (at least for those who appreciate ridiculousness personified walking out in public).

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Just a little sampling of all the craziness I was able to capture on my way into and out of the city.

So, after the Bronies and the Otakons, you would think I’d be prepared for anything, right?  Well, I thought all the conventions were gone and there would be no more freaks to be seen until next summer.  Apparently, I was wrong.

Leaving work this past Tuesday, I stopped at a light near the convention center.  What I saw on the corner was what looked very much like a stripper.  And before you think I’m calling some poor innocent girl who is just dressed a bit skimpily a stripper, let me paint you a picture:  Pink cowboy hat, long flowing blond hair, long fingerless gloves, pink bra, pink underwear with a short black mesh skirt over top, cowboy boots.  Right?  Here, you judge for yourself:

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Not your NORMAL Tuesday afternoon attire, no?

Now, this is not the type of corner you would usually see something like this.  This is downtown.  Next to the business district.  On a Tuesday.  With no conventions in town.  It was a little unexpected.  So, when the light changed, and I started driving closer, on my way to passing by, I tried to get a closer look, while also taking another picture.  But driving and picture taking are not really the most companionable tasks, so unfortunately, I only got a leg.

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Yeah, I know. It’s bad.

But if you look closely at that picture, you might notice something.  Those are neither panties nor bikini bottoms.  They are in fact . . . jockeys.  That’s right, this sexy stripper was actually a transvestite stripper.  Which became blatantly obvious as I got closer and he turned around, giving me a full view of his very hairy chest and 2 day stubbly facial growth.  Yikes!  Not what I was expecting.  Sorry that I couldn’t get a better picture, because, well, you kind of had to see it.  This guy was obviously very lost.  He was on Baltimore street, but a full 5 or 6 blocks west of the area he was probably looking for . . . Baltimore’s red light district, also known as “the block.”

Apparently, there is no end to the things I get to see while working downtown.  I’m not sure I can take much more, though.  I’m starting to feel a little violated, frankly.  At this point, pretty much the only thing I haven’t experienced yet is a Furrie convention.

Then again, there’s always next year.

Say What?

My good friend*, Leanne Shirtliffe, Canadian extraordinaire, and author of the phenomenally funny Don’t Lick the Minivan, and other things I never thought I’d say to my kids, has begged asked me to guest post** on her hilarious blog, Ironic Mom, because she really needs some help*** maintaining the funny on her site while she’s busy promoting her fabulous new book!  So, being the kind and giving soul that I am, I graciously accepted her kind entreaty, and have whipped up a brilliant post,**** and allowed her to use it for her White Board Wednesday series. 

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*And by “friend,” I mean that I’ve never met her and she pretty much has no idea that I even exist, since she’s all famous and whatnot and I am a mere lowly and inconsequential blogging novice.

**And by “asked me to guest post,” I mean that she sent out a general “who wants to guest post?” request, to which I leapt at the chance.
 
***And by “she really needs some help,” I obviously mean that the level of funny has not dipped in the slightest since her book came out, and honestly, I might just bring it down a few notches.
 
****And by “brilliant,” I really mean . . . meh.
 

So, if you want to see what I’ve come up with for her blog, mainly involving inappropriate things to say to kids, then head on over here and check it out.

I Hate You!

I came home amidst a whirlwind of drama.  My oldest upstairs in his room crying with the door shut.  My youngest running to me to try to tell me what his brother had done.  My au pair telling me she was handling it.

Since I had not even had the chance to take off my damn heels, I decided to let her deal with it.  Besides, nothing was broken or bleeding, so it didn’t seem to be a huge emergency.

Once I desuitified and adorned myself with my home uniform, consisting of sweats and a t-shirt, I came downstairs to a quiet house, and began to make dinner.  My 5 year old then came into the kitchen to give me an updated report.

“(My brother) said, ‘I mmmm you!’  It was a bad word that I can’t say, mommy, but it starts with an H.”

“Hate?  He said ‘I HATE you?'”

“Yes.  And then he said that he wished that he had a different brother than me.”

Oh boy.

This was bigger than I had previously realized.  I knew that although the initial drama had been handled by the au pair, this was significant enough that I was going to have to address it myself as well.

At dinner, I told my oldest son that we were going to talk later, assuring him that he wasn’t in trouble or anything (he had since apologized to his brother as requested), but that there was just something that we needed to discuss.

“Is it serious?” he asked.

Realizing that the last time his father and I told him we needed to talk about something, a mere 4 days prior, we broke the news to him that our beloved dog had died.  Seeing the look of apprehension in his eyes as he asked me about the seriousness of the upcoming topic, I assured him that it wasn’t anything too serious, but just something that he and I needed to have a chat about.

Later in the evening, once my youngest was in bed and some TV had been dutifully watched, it was almost time for bed for my oldest son, but that’s when he reminded me about the talk.  Apparently, after 7:00 at night, my brain pretty much shuts down for the day.  I had completely forgotten about this promised discussion.  He, evidently, had not.

I had no script for this moment, never envisioning that I would have to deal with this issue prior to the teenaged years.  But shit happens, and deal with it I must.  So, I dove in.

But as I started to talk, I found myself getting choked up.  I was having a hard time speaking to him calmly and reasonably, while at the same time trying not to start crying.  I was not expecting that, either.

I told him that no matter how angry or upset he was, that it was never okay to tell a family member that he hates them.  That he can not like what somebody is doing, but hating family is not acceptable.  That not only is it hurtful and untrue, it is dangerous.

And then I hit him with the big guns . . . and also really started to tear up.

“What if your grandfather (who lives with us downstairs), did something that you really didn’t like and you got really angry?  And you said, “I hate you!” to him.  And what if right after that he got really sick and had to go to the hospital.*  And that ended up being the last thing you said to him?  How bad would that be?”

At this point, I noticed that not only was I barely able to get the words out around the tears that were closing up my throat, but he was starting to cry as well.

But I wasn’t finished.  And I couldn’t let his tears dissuade me from my objective.  So, I went in for the kill.

“When grandma passed away a couple of years ago, how horrible would it have been if those were the last words she heard from a family member?  And if you got mad at me or your dad or your brother, and then something bad happened to us right after . . . would that be the last thing you would want us to hear you say?”

I know.  I know, I know, I know.  This was possibly harsher and more terrifying than I needed to make this conversation.  Especially to an eight year old.  And by the end of it, both of us had tears flowing down our faces.  Him, probably more because I was crying than anything, and me because the thought of any of those scenarios makes me unbearably sad.  So, I hugged him and held him tight.  And I told him how much I loved him and that everything was alright and that everyone in the family is fine, and nobody is going to get hurt.  We both knew that last part was a lie, but eventually we both stopped crying.  I might have had to employ The Tickle Monster to get his tears to dry.  It is an exceptionally effective tear dryer and I would highly recommend it.

Even though I might be seen as a mean mom, who scarred her poor child for life with my horror story of family members dying, I have no qualms about what I did.  My hope is that I did both scare AND scar him.  I hope that he always remembers how harsh and frightening this discussion was, and understands the power of words.  I hope he thinks about the effect words can have before the next time he wants to tell one of us that he hates us.  I wielded mine as a weapon with intent, and believe I struck my target.  I hope that prevents him from unintentionally hurling hurtful words at those he loves in the future.  Hopefully, he is young enough for it to have hit home and stuck with him.  

And hopefully, I’ve disarmed one teenaged grenade that was heading my way in a few years.

* This conversation happened prior to this occuring.  I have never wanted to be less presentient in my life.

Views from the Beach

I realized that I never reported back on my time at the beach a couple of weeks ago.  And based on recent events, I think we could all use a little light fun beach time, yes?  Ok then . . .

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This was what I was viewing as I began my drive to the beach to join my family, already in progress since that morning.  Don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of this stuff.  Just the Ruffles and about 2/3 of the M&Ms. 

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This was my view the next morning when my lovely husband, knowing how desperately I needed some relaxation time, told me to sleep in and then take a bath, while he took the kids to the pool.  And, if after that, you still have any doubt as to his wonderfulness, I present Exhibit B:  he went to the lobby of the hotel and bought me TWO large lattes (and a cupcake).  Per him, “I just didn’t think one would be enough!”  God love that man.

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This was the view from our hotel room balcony.  Note the fun kid’s pool and also the adult pool, with a swim up bar.  Yeah, now this was a vacation.

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Unfortunately, we only stayed at that lovely hotel for two days, and then we had to move all of our stuff about 100 streets up the highway to the condo we were renting for the week.  It was very hot that day.  And my A/C was broken.  I drove up and down that very long street and packed and unpacked my car about 6 times that day.  Not very relaxing or fun.  Where is my bathtub again?  Oh, that’s right . . . back at the hotel.  Bummer.

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As per the norm with us, the condo we rented had some interesting accoutrements.  There were two walls full of paintings going up to the top level, and a painting on almost every other wall of the house as well.  I found it interesting that the artist was able to capture exactly how I would look on the beach in a bikini without ever having seen me.  Now that’s talent!

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This was some sort of crazy, flying, magic mirror holding, green mermaid thing.  I see Nemo, I see Dory, I see Ariel . . .

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This was my actual view of the beach.  Not bad.  Ignore the bright white knees.  They got a touch less flourescent while I was there.

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Apparently, there was some sort of theme on the beach this year of which I was previously unaware . . . matching swimsuits!

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FIREWORKS!!  Because . . . yeah, do you really ever need a reason for fireworks?  Exactly.

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On the boardwalk, I found this little ditty.  Yeah, as if I’m not going to have to try the fried cheesecake!  I mean, have you met me?

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Apparently, this is what happens when you put hot gooey liquid batter inside a fried dough shell and then try to take a bite.  Cheesecake explosion!!  It was a delicious explosion, at least.

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Much better than the original meaning, for sure.  Gotta love a place that has a tip jar with a sense of humor.

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This was the start of our annual family shenanigans night out as we were approaching the bar.  There weren’t really all that many shenanigans this year to be honest, but as we were headed towards the bar, we did pass this sign, and thus late night shenanigans were planned . . .

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That’s right . . . we were gonna steal the “west.”  Last year ended with a letter theft on a neighboring sign that transformed it from “We make custom shirts” to “We make custom shit.”  Good times.  So, we would be altering yet another sign after achieving maximum drunkenness.  Or at least, that was the plan.  This was before everyone got tired of hanging out at the bar and paying ridiculous sums for alcohol, and instead decided to go back to our condo, grab some booze, and sit out on the beach under the full moon, and drink the rest of the night away.  It was a lovely plan.  And a lovely evening to be sitting on the beach with a cocktail in hand.  Only problem with that plan, in regards to the sign . . . there are way too many people milling about at midnight to vandalize a sign.  Oh well.  We’ll just have to envision the beauty this would have been.

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The entire time I was at the bar, I had the strange feeling that I was being watched.  Spooky . . . . .

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Mmmm, beer.  The hubs and I went out for dinner one night at this place called The Taphouse.  As you might imagine, it had a bajillionty beers on tap.  While we were waiting for our table to be ready, we sat at the bar and ordered a sampling of those beers.  These were mine, and they were delicious.  Oh, and if you think I’m kidding about the bajillionty? 

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Yeah, seriously.  So much goodness. 

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Remember how I said the hubs was wonderful?  Well, it’s not every man who will give you a plastic faux-jewel encrusted mustache shaped mood ring, now is it?  Almost as romantic as the day he proposed. 

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Just because it’s my kids, and they are adorable, and I love this picture of them waiting to get their ride wrist bands.  Don’t mind me.  Let’s just move along . . .

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How about a picture of my niece trying to drown her brother in the pool?  Much more exciting, right?  Ok, you’re welcome.

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BOOBS!!  You know, because when I think family friendly train ride around the amusement park, I think girl pirates with huge overflowing knockers and a half-clothed, panty showing, pirate girl tied up on the ground behind her.  Fun!

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Well, just to give equal time, I figured it would only be fair to show a penis on display as well.  So, here you go . . . look closely (I mean, if you’re into that kind of thing).  Are you wondering why I have a picture of a lifeguard’s shlong?  Well, it was a very rough day on the ocean, causing this lifeguard to be seen numerous times running up and down the beach to help people out in the water.  Finally, he figured it was time to address it, so he called everyone on the beach over to his chair, and he told us all about what to do if we got caught in a riptide.  At least, I think that’s what he was saying.  I was a wee bit distracted by his little friend poking his head out at me and waving hello.  So, while I may not know what to do if a riptide gets me, the one thing I do know is that this man has been circumcised.  Mazel Tov!

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Sadly, after many days of fun and festivities, we finally had to leave the beach (and the boobs and penises) behind.  This was our view as we headed out into the sunset.  Bye beach!  I miss you already.  Sniff.

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