Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year in Review - 2008

Well, everyone else seems to be doing this post, and I didn't want to feel left out.

It always amazes me to get to the end of a year, and wonder what the next year will bring. This year, I've decided to do something special for my year in review.

Click here.

You've just been Rick-Rolled! If that isn't the best thing about 2008, I don't know what is. I don't even know if it is a 2008 phenomenon, or if someone thought about it earlier. I've seen it before when you click links on websites, but the other night, something happened to me that I didn't realize would or could happen.

I was Rick-Rolled on my cell phone.

One of Jen's boys, Chris, is apparently obsessed with calling people on their cell phones, and then playing this tune for them. When I answered my phone and heard nothing by the sweet strains of Rick Astley, I did what anyone else would do...I giggled hysterically and yelled to no one, "I've been Rick-Rolled on my cell phone!"

14 year-old boys are fun, aren't they? I've heard they eat a lot though, so I'm kinda glad I have my grocery bill right now, and not Jen's. Thanks for the giggle Chris...and YES, I did blog about it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Someone Hearts My Blog

Mary at Momathon gave me this award!

Thanks, Mary! I heart your blog too, but honestly I don't know when you have time to write anything. You see, Mary has two teenage daughters, a toddler daughter and a newborn daughter. And in her spare time, she goes to college. I'm not sure how she's even awake, much less giving out awards. She said she gave this award to me because one of my posts made her spit hot chocolate out of her nose. I'm not sure I'd give someone an award for that, it sounds painful! But I like my button, and will display it proudly.

According to Mary's directions, in order to accept my award I have to answer the following questions in one word only, then pass it along to five other people. So, here goes with the questions:

1. Where is your cell phone? Pocket
2. Where is your significant other? Colorado
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Mimi
5. Your father? Grandad
6. Your favorite thing? Peace
7. Your dream last night? Stealing
8. Your dream/goal? Significance
9. The room you're in? Office
10. Your hobby? None
11. Your fear? Dying
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Evolved
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Patient
15. One of your wish list items? House
16. Where you grew up? Tempe
17. The last thing you did? Typed
18. What are you wearing? Jeans
19. Your T.V.? Home
20. Your pet? Dog
21. Your computer? Toshiba
22. Your mood? Apprehensive
23. Missing someone? Terribly
24. Your car? Astro
25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
26. Favorite store? Target
27. Your Summer? Sweaty
28. Love someone? Yes
29. Your favorite color? Purple
30. When is the last time you laughed? Now
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday

Now I'm passing this on to:

Jenifer, because I love her.
Mom of the Year...Not!, because she gave me my first (and only other) award.
Pam, because I just love her too.
Sue, because she makes me laugh with every post.
Greta and Kiki, because dangit, I heart their blog too.

If you don't want to go through the whole answering the questions thing, that's ok, just take the award! I heart you all that much! :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Twas Three Days After Christmas, And All Through The House...

Danni whipped by in a cleaning frenzy. This never happens, but I'm just letting it go, because I really like a clean house. I just don't want to clean it. I'm also fascinated by this new behavior.

I guess while Shannon and Kylie and I took the husband to the airport, Danni got into the new Guitar Hero World Tour, and started singing in the empty house. Which, according to her, got her all hyped up.

After we took Steve to the airport, we stopped at Target. We were looking for a memory card for Shannon's new phone so she can put music on it. While we were there, Shannon noticed all the bags of Christmas kisses and Doves chocolates 50% off. That's like, $1.39 a bag, y'all. I think we got four of them.

So we get home, and Danni just goes nuts cleaning the downstairs. In the middle of it, she's all, "Can Josh come over for a little while?" This was her plan all along. Josh is the new boyfriend. So I'm thinking, if this gets her to clean up my house, the boy can come over anytime he wants. But now, I'm stuck downstairs on the computer instead of upstairs in my bedroom, because I don't really want to leave the two of them alone down here, if you know what I'm saying. He seems like a nice enough kid, but they're 16, and ... yeah.

Has anyone else had this experience? This happened with Danni's other boyfriend last year, and now again with the new one. Every time he's over here, Kylie goes nuts. And by nuts, I mean she acts like a complete maniac, racing all over the house, practicing her "cartwheels", and just generally being a huge pain in the you-know-what. It's just insane.

So, Steve is gone back to Denver. He'll be home again in two weeks, but now it will only be for weekends. We're hoping he can come home every two weeks. We have tickets lined up for the 9th and for the 23rd so far. So now it's just us girls again. And my house (well, the downstairs half of it), looks great. Thanks, Danni!

Right before Josh got here, Danni asked me if there was anything for dinner. I said,

"Ummm...there's some leftover ham and some roasted potatoes that you could heat up. And you know, I just bought like four bags of chocolate at Target."

We pretty much had a chocolate dinner. Because that's the way I roll. Literally.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The calm before the storm. Actually, it's 7:30am and I can't believe none of the kids are awake yet! Wishing everyone a wonderful day with family and friends!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

Kylie and I are watching the Weather Channel. It's supposed to rain tonight and into tomorrow. I'm excited by this, because it seems like the last few years it gets into the 70s and near 80 on Christmas, which never seems like Christmas at all. 58 degrees with rain helps me a lot. It will seem more like Christmas to me.

Kylie wanted to look at the Santa Tracker. This thing gets cooler every year. It's also a great geography lesson, both for her and for me! If you go here, you can watch Santa as he makes his way across the whole world. Occasionally there's a video showing him flying over certain landmarks, like the opera house in Sydney, Australia, The Great Wall of China, etc. It's a Google Earth map, and it shows you all the places Santa has already been. It looks like the eastern-most point is Providenyia, Russia (You know, the place Sarah Palin can see from her house), and then from there he's already hit New Zealand, all those islands where Survivor has gone (Vanatu, Fiji, Micronesia), eastern Australia, eastern China, Japan, and eastern Russia.

In fact, the video from the Great Wall just went up. I'm sorry, I just think this is way cool.

When Kylie found out it was going to rain tonight (maybe), she got a big grin on her face and said,

"Mom, Santa is really going to need Rudolph tonight, if the weather is going to be bad!"

Hee. I love that kid. If anyone knows any method by which I can keep her from ever turning 13, please let me know. I just love the innocence and wonder that is six. I love it so much it makes me cry. And I'm going to be so sad when it's gone. But for this year, I'm going to enjoy every single minute.

On a completely unrelated subject, the job from which I have been future-fired gave me a little Christmas gift. Well, not just me, but everyone in the company. I got a lovely Christmas card from the CEO (who does not even know I exist, much less that my job is going away), with a $50 AmEx gift card.

So, if you suddenly had $50 to spend on yourself, what would you buy? It's not enough to do what I really want, which is get my carpets cleaned. I could get half my carpet cleaned, but that would look funny.

I've always wanted my own DVD of "It's a Wonderful Life", but it's just never something I would go out and buy for myself. So I think I might do that. But I'm not sure what else.

What would you do with it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Short Note

Dearest Middle Daughter,

Someday, you will learn that it's not a good idea to piss off the person from whom you want a ride to the mall. That person may just pretend to take the garbage out the back door, then sneak around to the front of the house, get in her van, and go to work, leaving your snotty, bitchy, ungrateful ass sitting on the couch.

Also, since your dad flew home for Christmas, his car is still in Colorado. That means the only one in the house right now with a car? Is your sister. I hope you have fun kissing her ass.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Merry Christmas?

When I got home from work at about 6:30pm last night, Kylie told me to look under the Christmas tree. Since there are no presents under the tree yet (I'm slacking in the wrapping department), I immediately saw the little crayon-decorated white paper bag sitting there alone.

"Awww Kylie, did you make me a present at school?"

"Yup Mom! Open it!"

"Well, don't you think I should wait until Christmas?"

"No Mommy, open it now! You really need to."

"I need to? Are you sure? I really think I should wait for Christmas."

"No, open it now!"

So at her insistence, I retrieved the little white bag from underneath the tree. I carefully opened the stapled top, and pulled out my present:

Awww, a popsicle stick reindeer ornament! Now I see why she wanted me to open it now. Of course, we immediately found a good spot for Popsicle Rudolph on the tree. Cute, right?

Also in the bag, was this interesting card that she had hand-written herself:

In case you're having any trouble deciphering this, it says "Dear Dad, Mom is toltle insan. I love you, Kylie." Or, "Dear Dad, I love you. Mom is toltle insan. Kylie."

Also, in case you're not familiar with kindergarten spelling, this would translate as "Dear Dad, Mom is totally insane. I love you, Kylie."

At first I was a little speechless, then I starting laughing and I couldn't even read it to Danni, so she took it and read it and then she busted out laughing too.

When I got control of myself, I asked Kylie where she had heard the "Mom is totally insane" line, because I don't really think she came up with it on her own. I mean, she wrote it at school by herself, but she had to have heard it somewhere.

She was quick to throw Shannon under the bus, identifying her as the culprit. Big sisters are awesome, aren't they?

I think this could become the new standard for holiday greetings. If you're not sure whether to say "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holidays", "Happy Hanukkah", "Seasons Greetings" or whatever...just say "You're Totally Insane...and Happy New Year!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Things That Might Happen

Things that may or may not happen when your husband leaves town to start a new job:

1. Your daughter's car may break. Luckily, your brother-in-law is a mechanic who fixed it for the cost of the part. And about $7 in change that I never got, but I figure was well worth it.

2. The downstairs toilet might overflow. And while normally you are able to remedy this problem with a plunger, this time, for some reason, you can't. You work on it periodically with the plunger for two days, and you finally get it unplugged.

3. Your dog might decide to bring a dead pigeon into the house from the backyard. Since you cannot bring yourself to touch the poor dead bird, you might scream like a girl, and then go running next door and ask your neighbor's 20 year-old son if he could do you a tiny little favor and possible remove a dead bird from your kitchen floor. Thankfully, he does not mind.

4. Sunday morning, while you are at work, your 13 year-old daughter may call you and tell you that we have a slight "sitchiation" at the house. Like the ceiling is leaking. It has something to do with the bathtub. We've had this water bubble thing in the ceiling near the dining room table (which just happens to be directly below the bathtub in my bathroom) for a little while now, but I guess Danni just took a bath, and now it's DRIPPING. From the ceiling. Onto the floor in the dining area. At that point, you would probably tell her to put a bucket under it, and not use the bathtub anymore. Showers are nice too, and luckily they are separate entities.

I know there are a lot of single moms out there, and God bless you. I don't know how you do it. Personally, I don't really care for it.

And the garbage needs to go out, too.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some People Should Not Attempt Crafts

I'll be example A, above.

With Daddy gone and the two older sisters out of the house on a Friday night, I thought maybe this would be a fun thing for Kylie and I to do together. They were on sale at Michael's for $7.99. Every time I think it would be fun to do a project with Kylie, I somehow forget about my complete lack of any sort of creative or artistic talent.

A gingerbread house kit. Kit! Kit means everything included. Kit means easy. Kit means I can do this. Isn't it cute how delusional I am?

See the three examples of decorated houses on the box? They are oh-so-sweetly named "Candy Chalet", "Snowflurry Lodge", and "Christmas Dreams Inn." Awwwww.

I think we'll call ours "The Nightmare at the End of the Block."

First of all, "kit" never means what I think it does. The frosting included was a bag of powdered sugar. Crap, you mean I have to get the mixer out? Gah.

Due to crappy lighting in my dining area, and someone else having my camera so she can take videos of herself and her friend at the dance studio, these are rather bad pictures taken with my cell phone. But I'm sure you get the idea. See all those little colored candies on the side of the house there? That's my "throw 'em on the frosting and see what sticks" method. Creative, no?

How come the gumdrops trees only grow on one side of the house? Oh, I see. Better light on that side. Who threw the tires up on the roof?

Well, I guess we can forget about the frosting-sucker going to sleep for a while. She's going to be in a sugar-induced frenzy right when I'm ready for her she's ready to go to bed.

Well, it's not going to win any awards, but at least she had fun. I wish I could say the same for my tablecloth. I think the cardboard base may be glued to it with frosting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Light Parade

First of all, an update on Danni's car. It's fixed! The coolest thing happened yesterday. I left $35 underneath the back tire of the car when I went to work in the morning, and when I came home the car was fixed. It's like I was visited by the car-mechanic fairy. I would highly recommend this method of car repair. Totally painless.

As I had mentioned before, Kylie and I went to our city's light parade Saturday night. They had a bunch of bouncy things for kids to jump on. Of course, they can't be free...they have to cost between 2 and 4 tickets each, where tickets cost $1. But, for $9 you can buy an all-you-can-bounce wristband. Well, no thinking required there. I think I would have spent $30 on tickets for my little motor-bouncer, so the $9 wristband was a great deal.

She did this...

And this...

And a whole lot of this.

She wanted to try the rock wall, but she got scared after she was about 10 ft off the ground, and wanted to come down.

Then it was time to find a spot to watch the parade. My point-and-shoot camera + dark + moving people + Christmas lights = pretty crappy pictures. But hey, I tried. That blur in the middle with the blonde hair is Danni. The flag girls were just twirling poles with Christmas lights wrapped around them.

One of the many lighted floats. Some of them were pretty cool. Others, pretty lame. That would be Kylie's big blonde head in the middle of the frame there.

After the parade, they have the lighting of the Tumbleweed Christmas Tree. A tumbleweed tree, you say? Well, yes. This is Arizona, right? It's just a big ol' tree they make out of tumbleweeds, spray paint white, and put lights all over it. It's about 35 feet tall.

They've had the tree for about 50 years now, it's a tradition thing here. I copied some stuff from the city website about it below, if you're interested. If you're not interested, then stop reading now.

A Community Tradition

This unique Chandler tradition began in 1957, when Chandler resident Earl Barnum raised the idea of a tumbleweed tree after he saw a similar one in Indiana built out of cone-shaped chicken wire with pine boughs stuck in the holes. Many members of the community helped create the first tree in Chandler using tumbleweeds that they gathered from around town. Little did these folks know that they were the first to do such a thing and that it would continue as an annual Christmas tradition from then on. In fact, Chandler is the only city in the southwestern United States that has such a tree!

How is it done?

First, members of the City's Park Operations Division gather tumbleweeds from the outskirts of the City. With Chandler's rapid growth and development, fewer stretches of empty land are within the City limits, which makes it harder to find tumbleweeds in large quantities. So, the Park crews must start collecting the tumbleweeds earlier each year.

Once the tumbling tumbleweeds are collected, between 1,500-2,000 are used to adorn a 35-foot tall wire frame. Then, the tumbleweeds are sprayed with 25 gallons of white paint, 20 gallons of flame retardant and dusted with 65 pounds of glitter. The tree is later adorned with approximately 1,200 holiday lights that give it a spectacular look, day or night.

The lighting of the Tumbleweed Tree draws a large crowd, with more than 12,000 expected to watch the Mayor and members of the City Council flip the switch to light this magnificent sight.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Murphy Blows

Dear Mr. Murphy,
I do not care for you or your law. So there.

You know that it's inevitable that when your husband leaves the state to start a new job in another state, something rather major will go wrong the first day he is gone. I waited. Saturday went by rather normally. Kylie and I went to the Chandler Light Parade. Danni marched in the light parade. Shannon went to sleep over at a friend's house. All was well.

Saturday night, Kylie and I get home from the light parade. Danni calls me and says that she is coming home, and that her car is acting weird. Weird? Like what's it doing? Well, she says, when she goes over 25 mph, the car makes a loud noise and starts shaking.


So she gets home right about the time that Shannon calls me from the mall, wanting to know if I can come and pick up her two friends and her and take them back to the girl's house where they are spending the night.

Sure, why not?

I decide to take Danni's car, so I can see what she's talking about with the noise and the shaking.

As soon as I hit 25-30 mph, I see exactly what she's talking about. It feels like the car is shaking and shimmying right underneath me. Clearly, it's not an engine problem, it's more towards the middle or the back of the car. In fact, I stopped the car in the middle of the residential street I was on, got out of the car and made sure that one of the back wheels wasn't coming off. Because that's what it felt like.

I continued, slowly, taking mostly residential streets where I could, to the mall. I picked up Shannon and her friends and took them to the other girl's house. Slowly.

Then I went home and called hubby. He said from what I was describing, it sounded like a transmission problem, and that it was probably having a problem when it went into third gear.


He called his sister to have her husband come over and look at the car on Sunday. Ken did a lot of work on this car, the '93 Dodge Intrepid, when we first got it, and he didn't mind coming and looking at it at all.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Ken comes over, gets under the car, and sees the problem immediately. There is some sort of arm on the back driver's side wheel that apparently has snapped in half. I'm not sure exactly what it's called, but I'm guessing it has something to do with holding the wheel onto the car. He called it an arm...something.

Anyway, he said it was a pretty easy fix, he just needed to get the part. Which of course, is kind of an obscure part that a part store most likely wouldn't carry. You'd need to get it from the dealer, which is always expensive. So he does what most mechanics do, and goes looking for the part in a junkyard. He's done this for us before, and it's always worked out well...and by well I mean cheap.

He was supposed to go looking for the part this morning, but so far I have not heard from him. It's like 1pm, and I'm waiting. And this is stressing me right the hell out, let me tell you. Because I have gone from three working cars and three drivers to two drivers and one car.

With three kids at three different schools, and me at work, you can see how this becomes an issue.

My plan today was that I would drive Danni to school at 7am. Then she would get a ride home from a friend. She gets out at 2:15pm. My parents would pick Kylie up from her school at 2:40pm and take her home, where ideally, Danni would already be there. Then Shannon, who gets out at 3:35pm, would walk home. Until Danni remembered that she had to stay after school because she's the teaching assistant for beginning dance, and she has to go to their recital rehearsal after school.

Ok. Change of plans. So my parents will pick Kylie up, and take her to their house. I will pick her up from their house on my way home from work. Shannon still walks home. Danni should be done with her thing about the time I get home, so I can pick her up. If she has band practice tonight, which I think she does, she can just take my van.

I backed her car out into the driveway so Ken had access to it. Problem is, when he was messing around with it earlier, the tire got turned in such a way that I had problems backing it up straight. After much twisting and turning of the wheel, I finally got it out of the garage, but now three of the tires are facing forward, and the rear driver's wheel is at a definite angle. Danni says it looks like it's leaning up against the car. I'm hoping I didn't do more serious damage when I backed it out. And I still haven't heard anything from them about getting the danged part.

On top of that, Steve is moving into his new apartment today, and starting his job tomorrow. I'm also totally stressed about money, because we're burning through his moving allowance rather quickly (stuff for the apartment, warmer clothes, apt. deposit, first month's rent, plane ticket back for Christmas, gas for the drive to Denver, he's going to need to go to the grocery store, etc) Luckily, Comcast is setting him up with cable and internet without an installation fee. Although from what I've heard about Comcast and their customer service, we're in for a fun ride there.

He should get his last check from his old job on Friday, but he only worked half the pay period, and he may or may not get paid for all his unused vacation time. I really hope he does, because he had a lot of it. But with Computer Company, you never know.

I don't know where in the pay period he is starting his new job, so I'm not sure exactly when his first check from them will show up.

So what I'm saying is that I'm stressed out.


Send wine. Or rum. Or Xanax. All of the above.

Edited to Add: So as soon as I take a Xanax to calm my ass down, my sister-in-law calls and says that Ken found the part and that it's going to cost...drumroll please...$28. I can so handle that. If he can fix the thing for $28, there might just be a little something extra in it for him.

I meant I'll pay him some money! Get your mind out of the gutter. Gross.

Please please please let this fix the problem. I promise never to call you a bastard again, Mr. Murphy, if this works out.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Conversations With Six Year-Olds

Last night, Kylie was lying in my bed and we were talking about Daddy being gone. I told her that she was going to have to be a big girl and help me out, and listen to me and her older sisters. She said she would, except for one thing:

"Mom, I don't want to listen to Shannon. She's know...the 'b' word."

Oh Lord, I am going to kill whichever one of them taught her that little gem. I mean seriously, she's six years old! She shouldn't be thinking that word, or even know it or what it means. I'm gonna kill someone.

"Umm...the 'b' word? What word is that, sweetie?"

"Mom...I'm not supposed to say it. It's a bad word."

"It's ok, you can tell me, I won't be mad. What's the 'b' word?"

Whispering, she said,

"You know Mom...brat."

Oh. That 'b' word.

"You're right, honey. That's not a very nice word."


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Big Changes

I've been hesitating to write about this for a while, because if I do, it will make it real. But sooner or later, I suppose I have to.

If you read my post titled A Series of Unfortunate Events, you already know that I've been future-fired from my job. If you haven't read it, let me tell you...I've been future-fired from my job.

Future-fired is when you still have your job right now, but you know that on a specific day in the future, you will no longer have your job. That day for me is February 13th. My lovely company has decided to close its Phoenix office.

I had figured on looking for another job in the spring, or even before that. Ideally, I would have had another job by the time this one ends.

However, there were things going on at hubby's job too. He does computer sales, and his company was/is laying off people left and right. He survived two rounds of layoffs, but they said that they were going to be laying off 100 more people before Christmas. As a senior sales rep, he was extremely worried, because they seemed to be getting rid of all the senior reps, and keeping the newer hires, who make less money.

So, we made a decision. Instead of sitting around and waiting for him to get laid off, he is taking a job that was offered to him by one of his customers. A job that pays more, a job that involves some commission, but we will definitely not live or die by it, and a job that is virtually recession/economy proof. The bad news, or the good news, depending on your perspective, is that the job is in Denver.

Hubby was in Denver over the weekend, accepting the job. He has a small one-bedroom apartment lined up, and he is leaving Saturday. As in, this Saturday. Two days from now. Since I'm still at my job until Feb., and by that time we would be in the middle of the second semester of school, the girls and I are going to stay here until the end of the school year. Hubby will visit as often as is financially feasible. In fact, we have already booked his flight back to Phoenix for Christmas.

I think I am mostly good with this. There are a few people that I am going to miss terribly. My mother is going to miss seeing the kids, especially Kylie, all the time. But she will visit us often. I am looking forward to seasons and snow.

I feel so pulled in two different directions. On one hand, Phoenix is my home. I've lived here all my life, and I have deep roots and good friends. My kids have been here all their lives, and also have friends.

However, I know this is something we have to do for the well-being of our family. The kids seem to be adjusting to the idea pretty well. It's going to be hard for Danni, as we are moving right before her senior year. She is a smart kid though, and a great kid, and she understands why we need to do this. Part of her is apprehensive about a new school for her senior year, not knowing anyone. Part of her is also kind of excited about a change. Just think...a whole school full of brand-new boys.

Shannon was very upset at first. She has a tight group of friends. But she seems to be getting used to the idea quickly. She will just be starting high school, so it's actually not a bad time for her to make a move. I know her... she'll be fine, and she will make friends quickly. She's that kind of kid.

Kylie thought she was upset at first, until we told her that it snowed in Colorado. She's only been in the snow once before in her life. After we told her that, she was totally on board.

We've also made a couple of other promises that we're going to try our best to keep. One of them is a four-bedroom house. Shannon doesn't so much enjoy sharing her room with a six year-old, so we told her she'd be able to have her own room. We also told the kids that we could get a second dog. I think I can handle both of those.

One of my most daunting tasks is finding a good high school. There are 17 high schools in the Denver metro area. We need a school with a good dance program for Danni, and one that offers photography classes for Shannon. Because that's what Shannon wanted to do next year, and I don't want to take that away from her. All the high schools there have softball teams, so that's not an issue. We plan on finding a high school first, then looking for a house in that area.

My biggest stress right now, besides financially supporting two households (luckily, Steve got some relocation money so that will help), is the fact that I'm basically going to be a single mom for the next six months. That will be less complicated after my job ends, but Kylie especially, is going to miss her daddy.

Last night, we went and got Steve some things for his bachelor pad. Bathroom towels, some dishes, pots and pans, a garbage can, laundry basket, silverware, sheets, a blanket, a microwave and a can opener. Dish soap, garbage bags, paper towels, a toilet brush, toilet bowl cleaner and Windex. So we can pretend like he will clean. (Just kidding, honey!) We also bought two for our desktop computer at home, and one for Steve's laptop. I'm hoping that being able to see and talk to Daddy on video will make things easier for Kylie. For the rest of us too. We tested it out last night, with Steve on his laptop upstairs, and the kids and I on the desktop downstairs. You'd think none of them had ever seen a camera or video before. What a bunch of lunatics.

So, that's basically my story. At the end of the school year, we'll be relocating to Denver.

Dear Arizona,
I will miss my friends, and my parents, but I will not miss cacti, palm trees, the color brown or 9 months of 100 degree plus heat.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Ok, I lied, it's not totally wordless...I just have to wish that man in the picture a very happy birthday today. Happy Birthday, honey!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Holiday Curse

Let me share with you, all both of my dear readers. I have to tell you a secret. Well, two secrets, actually. The first one is that I really do not care for baking. Or cooking. There, I said it. I'll do it, but I can think of about 100 things that I would rather do.

The second secret is this: If you happen to know how to make something really yummy, do not let anyone know about it. Because if you do, you will be stuck making it for every holiday party/gathering/potluck/whatever for the rest of your life.

Since I had to make a couple five pumpkin rolls yesterday morning, and they didn't make themselves no matter how long I sat in front of the computer reading blogs, I thought I would at least try to make it a little more fun for myself by doing a pictorial recipe, P-Dub style. As it turns out, it's not easy to do this. You should probably have either a tripod for your camera, a friend over to take the pictures, or a third hand. I had none of these, so some of the pictures are a bit blurry.

Please forgive me. It will be worth it, I promise.

Now I'm going to show you how to make a pumpkin roll. And I blame the fact that I have to make these every holiday on my mother. She started it.

The cast of characters: Flour, granulated sugar, eggs, canned pumpkin, cinnamon, baking soda, cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and a 20 oz bottle of liquid crack Diet Coke. The Diet Coke is not actually part of the recipe, but it was vital if I was going to make it through the morning.

Start by getting out your mixer. Thanks to my mother, I am fortunate enough to have a Kitchen Aid. Unfortunately, it's only a 4-quart bowl. You'll find out why this is unfortunate a bit later.

Dump 3/4 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, three eggs, and 2/3 cup canned pumpkin into the bowl.

Then add one teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.

Mix these ingredients together. I know what you're thinking. Most normal people would use the paddle attachment here, and not the whisk. I would too, except for the fact that my paddle attachment has been missing for a couple of years now. I have no idea where it went. One day, it just vanished.

Mix until this is a nice, yummy pumpkin color. It only takes a minute or so.

Then take a cookie sheet, and line it with tin foil. Make sure your piece of tin foil is big enough that you have overlap on the sides. This will be important later.

Spray the lined cookie sheet with Pam or other cooking spray. My mother used to just rub a stick of butter all over it. That works too, but I've found that the spray is more convenient, not to mention less calorie-laden. Because at this point, we care about calories, right?

Pour your lovely pumpkin mixture into the cookie sheet, and spread it out evenly with a spatula, covering the whole pan.

It will look something like this. Slide this into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Yesterday, 13 minutes was just about perfect.

While your pumpkin mixture is baking, take a white linen baking cloth (I've also used clean kitchen towels before, don't tell, ok?) and sprinkle it generously with powdered sugar. I mean really...don't skimp here. There's no such thing as too much powdered sugar.

You can tell it's done because the edges will have started to pull away slightly from the pan, and they will be a nice golden brown. Don't mind the little hole in the middle there...that's where I stuck my finger to see if it was done. It will never show when we're finished.

Now this is the tricky part, and I could have taken a picture of this if I had a tripod, a friend, or a third hand. But I didn't. So grab both edges of the tin foil on either side of the pan, and lift your pumpkin bread out of the pan. You can do this when it's still very warm. Quickly flip the bread over and onto the sugar-coated baking cloth. Act surprised when you and your toaster are now covered with powdered sugar. Because you sprayed the tin foil with cooking spray, it should peel off quite easily.

Now, starting from the bottom edge, roll the bread up in the cloth like a jelly roll. Take your time and be gentle. We're going to let this sit rolled up for exactly 30 minutes. Don't ask why. All I can tell you is that I've tried less than 30 minutes, and I've tried longer, and neither one works out very well. Just trust me.

While our bread is rolled up and cooling, we're going to make the filling. Start with two 8 oz packages of cream cheese. The filling-making goes much easier if the cream cheese is soft.

Add one cup of powdered sugar.

Then two tablespoons of butter...

And a teaspoon of vanilla. If you are trying to make five pumpkin rolls in one morning, you may be tempted to double the recipe and make two batches of filling at once. While this might seem like a great idea, if you only have a 4-quart bowl, it is not a great idea.

This is why. I'll bet this never happens to Martha Stewart. Because she has the industrial Kitchen Aid mixer with the 6-quart bowl and the automatic lifter thing. Also, she's Martha Stewart. And I'm not.

If you make just one batch of filling at a time with your 4-quart bowl, it works much better. It also works better if you have the paddle attachment, instead of the whisk. Have I mentioned that my paddle thing went missing? If you want to know what to get me for Christmas...a replacement paddle would be great. For the mixer, I mean.

When the 30 minutes is up, unroll your pumpkin bread and spread the yummy cream cheese/powdered sugar mixture evenly all over it.

Then carefully roll it back up again, this time without the cloth. If you're lucky, the bread will not stick to the cloth, and it won't crack. But even if it does, the cream cheese makes a pretty good glue. It took some practice before I got to the point where my bread didn't burn, stick to the cloth, and rip in places. If you get it right the first time, more power to you. You can be Martha Stewart.

If you want the truth, this has taken me years to perfect. I'm a slow learner. And I don't like baking. When you're finished, your roll should look something like this. At this point, you should immediately cut a small piece off each end, just to make it look even and pretty. I only do this for aesthetic reasons. I certainly don't eat those ends that I've just cut off. No ma'am. Well, maybe just a little.

At this point, place your roll in a sheet of tin foil and wrap it up, placing it in the fridge for a couple of hours. They're much easier to cut when they've been chilled.

Hello, my precious.

For my office potluck, I sliced two rolls into about 3/4" pieces and brought them in that way. For Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's, I just took the roll whole. Three of them. I am not allowed in their house unless I am bearing pumpkin rolls. That's how it's always been. On the bright side, that's the only part of Thanksgiving dinner I'm required to make.

Yum, yum, and more yum. Doesn't that look delicious? I brought these to my office yesterday, and the most frequent comment was, "Oh my gosh, these are awesome! You really made these?" Because apparently, I don't look like someone who can make...something. So here, pictorial proof, that yes, I actually do make these myself. But only when I'm forced to.

And when you're finished, I would recommend hiring a four-person cleaning crew to deal with the layer of powdered sugar that has taken up residence in your kitchen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Baby On the Beach

When I first saw this picture, I thought, "What is wrong with the left side of her hair over there?" Upon closer inspection, I realized that was a seagull behind her.

Doesn't she look like a California girl? How old are they before you stop calling them your "baby?"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Just Because...

The band is leaving tomorrow night for a trip to California, where they will be in a competition, and also get to go to Knott's Berry Farm and the beach.

So I'm putting these pictures up. The first one because I think it's a great picture, with the sunset in the background. I know, their makeup is a little scary close-up, but when you're in the stands and they're on the field, it doesn't really show. Which is why I DO NOT understand the mandatory false eyelashes. Seriously, you cannot see their stinking eyelashes from the stands.

That's Danni in the middle there, twirling her rifle and watching it come down so that she can catch it with a grace that always surprises me. Nothing says "rifles" so much as girls in toga outfits, no? I like the way that Danni's rifle and the girl's to her left are at the exact same angle. The girl on her right, not so much.

Have a great time, baby...bring me back some Huntington Beach sand.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sunday Night Fun

Guess what I did Sunday night? It involved free wine, and a large crowd of people.

Hubby made a big sale on Friday, so we got free tickets to the Suns v. Pistons game.

But these weren't just any tickets...

These tickets were in a suite. So I got to see how the other half lives.

Luckily, we were the first ones to arrive at our particular suite, so I could take a few pictures without looking like a dork who's never been in a suite before.

Except that I'm a dork who's never been in a suite before. It was pretty cool. I like free wine.

The Suns warming up...

The Pistons warming up.

I guess the flag-wavers need to warm up too.

These two were in our suite. There were 12 of us all together. I thought this was a really sweet father/son bonding moment. This kid was really nice. I talked to him after Shaq got tossed out of the game in the second quarter. I said, "I think they're doing ok without him, right?"

The Suns were up by 20 points when the big man got tossed, and they won by about that same margain.

The little boy said, "I think they're playing better without him!"

I agreed. He was so cute.

If you click on this last picture to make it bigger, you might be able to make out a man sitting in the first row down on the floor. He's right in the middle of the picture, wearing a sweater vest and a yellow shirt. He has dark glasses hanging from the collar. That? Is Muhammad Ali. Cool, right? The announcer pointed out that he was there, and everyone gave him a standing O. It was nice.

I don't much care for basketball, but I'm glad we went. I mean, how often do you get to sit in a suite? If you're me, that would be never. Well, except for Sunday night. It was fun.

Also, I'll bet all two of you are thinking that since I didn't post about the football game on Saturday, that we lost. Wrong! We won, 29-25. And now, we get to play the team we've never beaten. This playoff game just happens to coincide with the band's trip to California, where they will be running all over Knott's Berry Farm while their football team is taking a beating. I bet they have more fun at the amusement park! I know I would.