Monday, February 28, 2011

Butter makes it better

Remember when I wrote to Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Lady?

(No, she didn't write back...yet. I have hopes that she will someday.)

I was asking how she stays looking so awesome with the no-calorie-left-behind cookbook she put out. And I started down the "Why me" path of body image self-pity.

Well, since then, there have been a few developments.

First of all, I am cooking my way through Ree's cookbook much like that Julie lady blogger did with Julia Child's cookbooks. Only I don't think they'll ever make a major motion picture about this. There are only a few things in her cookbook that I probably won't try, and that's only because it has peppers in it. Ree's cookbook (yes, I'm on a first name basis with her, because there's no restraining order yet) calls for ingrediants like heavy cream, butter, and Crisco. I made her cinnamon rolls - best thing ever - and there's so much butter, it's scary. But good.

Along with the cinnamon rolls (9 cups of flour, by the way), I've made chicken friend steak (Disgruntled Husband says we can definitely make this again), orange marmalade muffins, beans and cornbread (no one but Mini Me and I liked that one), egg-in-a-hole, spaghetti chicken, and last night, I made her Sunday roast.

Every single thing I made of hers was awesome and tasty and sure to even more jiggle on my money maker.

Except in 2 weeks of cooking like this, I've lost 7 pounds.



Ladies and gents, may I introduce, the new diet food!

Now, granted, I was sick for 5 days, but the weight I lost then didn't come back on. Last Monday when I weighed in (you know, only once a week because the local firemen and people that measure seismic activity are busy enough), I was down 5.5 pounds. Most of that was from being sick, but I thought I'd try something different for that week. I'd eat anything I wanted, when I wanted it, but emphasis on homemade things and actual meals.

So I did. I had cinnamon rolls. I had tasty things like creamy chicken spaghetti. I even had Arby's one day and ate until I didn't want any more. Olive Garden and I reunited Friday night with a plate of shrimp and Gorgonzola ravioli.

And today, I was down another 1.5 pounds.

Did I just figure this whole thing out? There's no taboo now. Nothing is off-limits and suddenly, I don't want some of the crap I used to crave and binge on.

There's no low-fat or low-carb options to worry about. I'm not counting calories or sweating it out at the gym. I will say, however, that I've been a little more active at home, you know, like actually standing up and moving rather than sitting my keister on the couch with the laptop. Like I am right now. Laundry, sweeping, shopping, painting...all burn calories.

I haven't been this excited to go to the grocery store since I was pregnant.

It's amazing what I'm learning in the process, too. Like if I have something really sugary, I have no energy 20 minutes later. And if I don't deprive myself the dinner I made for everyone else -with the heavy cream, butter, etc. - I find my portion size is smaller than what it would be if I had just "given in."

And of all the discoveries about myself I've made in the last 31 years, I think it's my favorite.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Need more scarves.

Six months ago, I cut 9.5 inches off my hair. I did it on a Saturday while Disgruntled Husband was meeting his parents halfway to get one of our children back. He came home and saw me, and didn't say anything. And then, he said everything. He actually told me that I cut my hair because he didn't want me to. Yeah, that's it, honey.

You can read about my hair experience here.

And now that I've lived with it, and somewhat maintained it for the past 6 months, I have to say, I'm missing my longer hair.

(Cue phone call from DH....NOW.)

I got my haircut so I'd actually have to do it each day rather than sling it back into a ponytail. I wanted to look more mature. Oh I look mature, all right, like a 48 year-old office worker going through menapause. It's aged me in ways I didn't want, and now, all I can do is wait.

I'm thinking maybe somewhere between chin and shoulder-length, all one layer, no bangs. Which is a long way of from where I'm at right now...I'm a cross between a lesbian mullet and Justin Bieber. This is one of the few times I'm thankful that it's still winter and I don't have to leave the house much...and when I do, a hat is usually involved.


On a 16 year-old boy, it looks good. On an almost-32 year-old mom, it just looks awful.

I wanted to look pull-together and polished, and I feel like the only look I've achieved is "homeless."

(That's not even fair to habitat-challenged folks; I've seen some news footage of soup lines with people that have better hair than I do standing in it.)

I am somewhat lucky in that my hair grows pretty fast and it's a nice color naturally. That all falls under the same catergory with the fat girl with the pretty face. It's a small piece of good news.

As spring approaches, I'll be bringing back the Grace-Kelly-windblown-scarf-look. Now all I need is some big black sunglasses, red lipstick, and a convertable.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Price is Wrong

I've always wanted to go to L.A. for two weeks and do the game-show circuit. You know, a little Jeopardy!, a stop by Wheel of Fortune, and maybe even a stint at one of the obscure game shows on the Game Show network. Aside from paying 40% taxes on what I rake in, it could be a fun and profitable vacation.

However, something I read today in the newspaper makes me think the game show industry is going down hill, fast.

The Price is Right is giving away a trip to the Dells. In the Showcase Showdown.

To quote the girls, "WHUCK?"

This offends me on so many fronts. First of all, the Showcase Showdown is pretty much sacred in the grand finales of game show history. People win boats, trips to Europe, Brazil, Aruba, experiences of a lifetime. Which brings me to my second point, It's the frickin' Dells.

For those not familiar with "The Dells," please climb up from under your rock to let me tell you the propaganda, as developed by the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. The Dells, which is short for Wisconsin Dells, is the self-proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World. There are 42 waterparks there, many HUGE resorts, a lot of dying Mom and Pop motels, t-shirt shops, Tommy Bartlett show, Duck rides, and of course, Illinios tourist riff-raff.

This is the place you go for a weekend's break from Schaumburg or Prior Lake. Not a vacation to be featured on The Price is Right.


Who'd want to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Rio, when you could come HERE instead?!

Can you imagine being that unlucky contestant?

Okay, Ned, you've passed on the first Showcase, which was a a yacht trip around South America and a new car for when you return home, so here's your Showcase! Charlie, tell him what he's bidding on!

Well, Drew, it's a trip to Wisconsin Dells! Complete with tickets to the Tommy Bartlett water ski show, a week's stay in the interstate-adjacent Kalahari resort, and as many tacky souvenirs as you can carry! And did we mention that it's in south-central Wisconsin?! Located near no major airports, body of water, or Red Lobster.

I think I'd punch out Drew, and then call Bob Barker out and punch him too. After I'd spayed and neutered my pet, of course.

For those still confused with what the Dells are, remember a few years ago when a big lake drained into a river, taking 4 houses with it? That's where I'm talking about. (I hear a collective "Oh!" across the internet.)

The first time I'd ever been to the Dells, I was pregnant with Larry Potter. My step-sisters did two trips within 4 months to what is now Mt. Olympus. (Side note: what isn't Mt. Olympus at this point?) The first time, it was winter and we went to an indoor waterpark. I didn't think much of it. The second time, it was summer and as soon as I got off the interstate, I saw what could only be described as the Grand Strand of Myrtle Beach, except no beach.


The Dells is fine for a family vacation. It's like that movie "The Great Outdoors" only with commercialism, waterslides, and four exits off the Interstate. (Madison, our state capital, only has three.) Want to eat a steak as big as your head? Go for it. Want to ride a boat and hear Native American folklore about the rock formations? Have at it. Want to spend a week in a hotel room that rivals the cost of Disney World, without it being Florida? Whatever blows your dress up. 

But to choose an all-expenses paid trip to the Dells over, say, a trip to Greece or an Alaskan cruise? Are they letting Drew "I love me some cheese" Carey pick the prizes? Some one at The Price is Right is smoking something good.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Pre-Conference Letter: Part Deux

Dear Hoover's Teacher:

I know the school has mandatory conferences in the fall and "teacher recommended" ones in February, I've just never been to one of the latter. And quite honestly, I'm feeling like I've been called to the principal's office. This letter is a little different than the one in October. I'm more worried for Hoover than I am for myself.

Because I've never had a "teacher recommended" conference before, I'm unsure as to what I should expect. I know Hoover has had his share of problems this year, from the crying about broken crayons, to pouting under the table, and even a laceration to the finger that scared your office worker because, unbeknownst to her, he was playing with purple marker minutes before and got some on the finger he later cut. I have but two words for you: Have Mercy.

I volunteer in your class one or two mornings a month and I see how things work. I know Hoover is a, ahem, strong-willed child, but I've seen the other kids in your class. Quite honestly, you have bigger fish to fry than him. Should I be proud or worried?

Is it because he's the middle child he's seemingly reaching out like a flesh-starved zombie for attention? Is it being in the shadow of the very bright Larry Potter that's doing him in? Can I blame Spongebob for any of this? These are all legitimate questions I've thought of today, as I was in your class earlier today and had a sort of pre-conference conference.

*May cause bad manners, horrible vocabulary, and superfluous meetings with kindergarten teachers.
I know he's a bright boy and a good kid at heart. I know you feel the same way. When I volunteer in your class and LP's, I see the kids that require special aids and office-intervention for when they start to lash out. My son isn't at that point, but I'm afraid if we don't get a handle on things now, I'll be sitting outside Juvy by third grade.

And as if it weren't enough being at school today and witnessing one of my son's stand-offs, I ran into the gym teacher in the office as I was leaving. He told me that Hoover was very confrontational and a poor sport. Awesome. Just what I'd like to hear.

I've told you this story before, but it's worth repeating. When LP was 3 1/2 and Hoover was 8 months old, I checked a book out of the library called "Parenting the Strong-Willed Child," because LP was testing his limits. In the book, it said you can tell if a child is strong-willed from the time he or she is a baby. Then, there was the checklist. Holy Shark, I was reading this for the wrong kid. At 8 months old, I knew this. This is one of those times that the phrase "Knowing is half the battle" isn't applicable.

My five-year-old isn't happy at school, and if you don't like school in kindergarten, then the rest of school isn't going to get much better. It makes me very sad, and yet at the same time, I admire his resolve to make people listen to him.

So, in two hours, I'll be sitting in a little chair, talking to you about what to do about my son. I hope you don't mind the alcohol on my breath; I find it dulls the pain of reality.

Waiting for the second batch of finger paint to hit the fan,
The Snarky Mom

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Season!

What were you doing between Memorial Day and the 4th of July?

I ask because I have 6 friends in real life that are pregnant and due between March 10th and April 3rd. And a bunch more on Facebook.

Is there something about those last days of Spring and first days of Summer that are an aphrodisiac? (My birthday is March 20, so maybe I don't really want to know...)

I think it's a very strange phenomenon. It kind of reminds me of when I was pregnant, it seemed like the rest of the world was pregnant, too, because I was just more aware. But this time, it's all on them...no babies coming around here.

Now, the really strange part to me is that of these six friends in-real-life, five are expecting girls, and only one is expecting a boy. Wow.

And now, they're all starting the countdown. The waiting game. Some are even contracting as you read this.

My friend C on Facebook is due today with a boy. Her family is there with her, waiting, and as far as I know (through stalking her status updates...and her brother and sister-in-law's, whom I'm also friends with) there's no baby yet.

I remember those days well. When I was pregnant with Larry Potter, I stopped working about 3 weeks before he was born. I was an assistant property manager at an apartment complex. Without an elevator. And three buildings, all with three stories and a basement. The day of my shower in the community room, my boss took one look at me and said I had "the look." I didn't know what she meant then, but I know it now. And anyone that's ever had a baby knows "the look" I speak of.



You're going to need a few bribes if you want me to come on YOUR schedule.
He didn't come for three weeks after that, which was right on time, but that didn't stop me from doing all the old wives tales to induce labor. There was fresh pineapple. Red Raspberry Leaf tea. Good, old-fashioned, ahem, biological ways of starting labor, which didn't work and was more of a comedy of errors. Castor Oil, which left me cleaned out and afraid to eat anything for a day, but still pregnant. (I borrowed it from my downstairs neighbor Jill who had a baby 3 months earlier. Didn't work for her either.) There were long walks and bumpy car rides (which we brought Mozart along for, which is when we discovered that our cat gets carsick). And about 4 days before my due date, I stopped trying because I was convinced the baby was never going to come out.

And the night before my due date, my water broke. I guess I should have trusted the medical profession all along. (Except when my doctor estimated LP's birth weight at "Eight pounds...maybe," when he was over ten. Yes, I still have a grudge. And a limp.)

I didn't have a chance to try any old wives tales for the other two, as we were trying to stop labor with both before they came. Hoover was a month early, and honestly, my first thought was "Yes! I don't have to be pregnant any more!" and then "This baby is just going to slide right out!"

So my gestating friends nearing the end, I'm thinking of you. Some of you, hormonal; some of you, anxious; all of you, uncomfortable. My friend ESM is due March 10 and since my birthday is the 20th, I keep saying she should go on that day. I would say she no longer finds it funny, but that would imply she once thought it was actually funny. "Why do you want me to go that long?" she texted me one night. I forgot that few things are as unfunny to a pregnant woman in her 3rd trimester as joking about going over her due date.

So, to my remaining friends, online, through the blog, and in real life, if you're due in March or early April, aim for the 20th, but only if it's your due date or earlier. And if you're still trying to find that most beautiful name for your daughter, might I suggest Jessica...

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Joan who won the Direct Sales contest by a landslide! (Or is that by Astroglide?)

Your unfortunate conversation starter has earned you a few fun kitchen gadgets. Send me your info and I'll get the stuff out to you this week!

Thanks to all who entered! Just think of all that character you built from those situations.

--
(Blog post forth-coming. It's a 2-hour delay, and you all know how much I LOVE those.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moms in Distress

Sometimes the only thing mom- in-distress can do is call out to other moms-in -stress. Misery may love company, but I think some of us just want to hear validation that we're normal moms. This validation often comes from my friends' children and what they do while they are on the phone.

Today is Friday. The rest of the world is looking forward to a weekend after a hard work week. I'm looking forward to a weekend so I can finally kick this plague without leaving a 3rd grader in charge of the other kids.

School was called off for today. (See yesterday's post here.) And that's fine. But I'm still not over Strep, the sinus infections, the swollen glands, and apparently a small touch of tonsillitis. And there are 3 kids in my house. Because I've pretty much been out of commission the whole work week, there is very little in the way of "easy" foods, clean dishes, or clear paths to-and-from vital areas in my house. I've had worse weeks as a mom, but not many.

So, I do what any red-blooded American mom would do. I call my friend. And she's having a worse week than I am.


This jingle was chosen because "Chardonnay, Take me Away" was thought to be too offensive.

J's husband is out-of-town, scheduled to come home tonight, after a family funeral 1,000 miles away. She has 4 kids, two of which are normally in school. Except they have today off, and a half-day yesterday. Did I mention she's also 34 weeks pregnant, supposed to be on modified bed rest, getting fun shots in her rear once-a-week and contracting?

Moms aren't supposed to compete, but she wins. Hands down.

So today's conversation had a formula to it: talk about a topic for 1 minute, yell at kid for 45 seconds, talk about topic for another 30 seconds, yell at kid for a minute, talk about yelling at kid for 3 minutes, yell at kid for 30 seconds...

The phrases said today?

"It is not time to throw chairs right now."
"Painting your nails is about the last thing on my to-do list."
"Get out of the dryer!"
"You do NOT end an argument by SNEEZING on your sister!"
"Calgon!"

(That last one was J and I, together.)

Dear Oprah, Rachael Ray, Ellen, or any other talk show host willing to send stressed out moms on vacation: We're ready. We'll pay it forward by not being total Bs at home to our husbands and kids. But for the Love Of God, please send us somewhere.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Something's Rotten in the State of Beer and Cheese

I'm taking a deep breath and popping a Xanax right now. I'm going to try my best to not make this post political. I don't believe in politics; I believe in common sense.

You might have seen Wisconsin in the news lately. Our new governor, Scott Walker, is rushing a bill through legislature that would do many things, one of which is take away the collective bargaining rights of unions in the state. (This is all true...CNN and Fox news both agree on these facts).

Written out like that, it seems so calm. I've left out a few details for effect. Let me add those in now:
-When he announced this bill, and the rush, he also called the Wisconsin National Guard. And then went to hide out.
-He's not including State Police or Fire unions, because they supported his campaign for governor.

Suddenly, it's not so calm.

Madison Public Schools closed yesterday because 40% of the teachers called in sick. They are closed again today, with 18 other districts. My kids have school today, but from what I hear, may not tomorrow.

:::Deep Breath:::

Those are all facts. These are not:
- I love my kids' teachers, past and present, and will support them walking out on the job, even if it means I need to add an extra bottle of Chardonnay to the grocery list.
- This Walker guy really knows how to make friends and influence people.
- I hope he gets a violent testicular disease that makes him talk like Alvin and the Chipmunks and seek the help of unionized medical workers.
- I also hope the National Guard rats out his location and opens the door for a very public mauling.


Duties of the WI National Guard: Help out during disasters, like tornadoes, floods, wars, and Scott Walker
The merits of the bill don't thrill me, but it's the way he's done all of this that really drives my carpool. A horrible bill. Rushed through legislature. Call the National Guard because you foresee problems. Hide out.

Yeah, you're classy, Scott Walker. About as classy as a pallet of Massengill.

--
PS...A more annoying, and yet, amusing problem today is the Facebook statuses. Lots of ignorance being spread by those that need to look up words more than 5 letters long.  Here's my status update right now:

Dear friend of a friend spouting off about the selfishness of teachers, when the teachers in your district are holding school today: It's obvious by the 8 spelling mistakes in your 23 words that your teachers probably did the best they could with what they had to work with. Don't you need another 40 or tattoo? Aren't you late for HUBER check in?


Again, I find it all humorous and sad at the same time. And God no, it's not my friends. But some of my friends have dumber friends (not including me!) that makes the whole Facebook stalk worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Germy McGermpants

Welcome me back to the land of the living.

As you all saw on Monday, I was sick. What you don't know is that I was also sick yesterday, and still not that great today, but much better than I was the previous two. Yesterday morning, I was doing a little better and got the post up (by the way, go vote -->), it was part of my love for you guys and part of trying to regain a sense of normalcy.

And about two-seconds after I hit the publish button, I fell asleep on the couch, with the computer still on my lap, for two hours. Game over.

But this morning I'm feeling better. Which is good because I'm about out of Kleenex and I'm sure the boys' teachers are wondering why they're wearing mismatched shoes again today.

There are some upsides to being sick. Few, but fabulous:

1.) I can be as snarky as I want and use the "I'm sick" excuse.
I really don't set out to be a B to Disgruntled Husband. But when I'm sick, it all seems to seep out like an oozing wound. "Why did you buy me soup? We have soup at home? Where are my cream horns? You took forever at the store! Why didn't you make me the soup? I want Taco Bell instead." Even on my worst day well, I'll try to rein it in better than that. And, in case you were wondering, that was an exact quote from me last night. I'd like to say "conversation," but as you can see, there was only one person talking. And yes, he did get me Taco Bell.


Just bring me Taco Bell and no one gets hurt.

2.) I've lost 5 pounds in 3 days.
Even with Taco Bell and the Shamrock Shake DH brought home for me last night, I down 3 pounds from yesterday morning, which was 2 pounds down from Monday. I'm going to start calling this The Newborn Diet. Sleep for 20 hours a day in 2 hour increments and eat only high fat food provided to me in bed. More points if it's in bottle-form, like a whole-milk mocha in a Starbucks sippy.

3.) Angelina Jolie lips
With Strep throat and then the sinus infection that started yesterday (same antibiotics, thankfully), I've been doing a lot of mouth-breathing. This morning I woke up with a mouth as dry as Hawkeye's martini and lips so chapped and crusted over, I scared the cat. I'm pretty sure you all know what I'm talking about. Once I rubbed off whatever it is that makes your lips like that, my top lip swelled up like Goldie Hawn's in The First Wives' Club. Hey, I'll take it. A side bonus? That film that develops on your teeth when you breathe out of your mouth while sleeping...once that comes off, your teeth look so white!


However, the downside right now is that even though I'm down five pounds and feeling better, the glands on either side of my throat have not gone down.  I feel like Jabba the Hut from the neck up.  Here's hoping that goes away tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vote for the "winners"

(Because I'm pretty sure all these ladies felt like winners-in-quotations when this stuff was happening.)

Here are all the entries for this unfortunate contest. Vote for the one you pity the most. It's too bad J-Dub didn't submit her story...she has a great one about a Tupperware rally that turned into a burping-food-container cult. And no, she was never a rep; she just wanted to party with the not cool kids.
--
Jen's story:

My funniest direct sales story is from The Surprise Lady. I was, I think 23, the first time I went to one and thought it was hilarious we were throwing around a penis and watching vibes roll on the floor everywhere. It was just odd and uncomfortable since I didn't really know many people there. I think the funniest was when I went to the secret check out room and the lady tried to "up sell" by telling me about intimate times she'd used a certain product. W.O.W. Needless to say, it's not the DS route I went. I mean, spatulas can be used for a lot of things I guess but generally just for cooking. lol


Megan's story:

At my last Pampered Chef show, the host & I were prepping before guests arrived. We opened up the cornbread mix needed for the recipe to fin some lil' red critters inside- about 5 dead & 1 alive. The Host insisted we still use it & picked out the little "friends". Ugh.... The guests never knew & all who indulged in the entree still live on....Phew!

Sara's story:

I had a jewelry party about two years ago...the rep showed up wreaking of booze and looked like she had had a wild night with a local bar fly. I was not impressed but had done a TON of cleaning and cooking for this party. My guests showed up and everything seemed to be going fine. After about 45 minutes and one game, my rep was getting drowsy on one of my couches. I made her some coffee and did my best to keep her awake/sober her up. That was the last time I had a party of that nature. But now looking back, it really cracks me up!! I don't think her career as a jewelry rep lasted too long. And rum is probably to thank for that :)


Melanie's story:

I was a Tupperware consultant. During a party, I stepped back, hit the table with all my wares on it and knocked the table over, and fell on top of the stuff. That was the worst home-party I have ever been to. I had to stop selling...too mortified!

Ami's story:

About 13 years ago when I was working for a dentist office, one of my coworkers decided to host a Mary Kay party. I wasn't married yet and had my own apartment, so I wasn't exactly rolling in dough to spend on make-up. So I went and fell for the whole enchilada...now since this was 13-14 years ago I don't remember how much I spent, but lets just say it was way too much! anyway the Direct Sales Consultant was a patient at the office I worked for, and she was one of these OVER complimentary, bubbly-too nice, smiley, pushy woman. So approximately a week after the party I had buyers remorse...I seriously didn't need all the products I purchased. So this woman came in for an appointment, and she says, "Oh Ami, you look so pretty!" so we start talking and I explain how I really couldn't afford all the products I got and was there anyway I could return the merchandise...as I am talking the smile slowly leaves her face, and now she is glaring at me and I am feeling completely horrible so she says, "Fine, I will take back your product. You put waaay too much foundation on anyway...your make-up looks terrible!" and proceeds to leave as I am standing there with my mouth wide open! Apparently she was just selling Mary Kay to put her self through school, she is now a Elementary School teacher. YIKES!

Joan's story:

Quite a few years ago, a girlfriend of mine hosted a "slumber party."I have been friends with this girl since I was itty bitty, so I was a little confused and truly thought it was a slumber party. When I got there and saw the array of sex toys, I realized I was wrong. However, I stayed and had so much fun that I decided to host my own party.


My own party was far less fun. That being said, I did get enough credits to get the toy I really wanted. It was great because its all done in the privacy of your own home (key point to the story to remember later)


Fast forward 2 years...


My husband started a new job. About 9 months into the job, his co-workers decide to have a bbq with all the families. It was a bit awkward for me because the other 3 wives knew each other and hung out regularly. I was clearly the odd man out. One wife in particular kept staring at me. It started to make me uncomfortable, but I was trying to forget it. She waited until all the husbands were around (luckily the kiddos were outside) and said, "Didn't you have a sex toy party at your house a while ago? I was the hostess." Heads quickly turned my way, I sputtered and tried to deny it. She persisted and even brought up what I bought and specific people that were there. One of the wives is from my small town, so she knew this had to be true. She changed the subject and saved me.

Worst.experience.ever.

-----

And now, it's up to you to vote! Because I'm not smart enough to figure out how to put the poll in the actual post, everyone's going to need to take a field trip to the top of the column next to this one. The poll is there, and will be until Friday at 5 p.m. Central Cheese-and-Beer Time.

Winner will receive an assortment of unused Pampered Chef items, as well as a few Uppercase Living items I have in my arsenal.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Uuuugggghhh

My apologies to the faithful readers, expecting to see a voting scenario of bad home-party horror stories.

If I get it up today, it will be tonight, once my husband comes home with my Z-pack.

I have strep throat, and I've never had strep throat before. I feel like I was run-over by a bus.

Everything hurts, and I'm nauseous, too.

Blech. This is almost worse than lice. Almost.

Friday, February 11, 2011

What's for lunch?

I wrote an e-mail yesterday to The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.

(If you don't read that blog, you should. She's adorable and has tons of giveaways. Plus, she's funny and cooks with butter.)
--
Hi Ree -



Long time listener, first time caller. :)


I have such admiration and fondness for you, if I wasn't sure I'm awesome and normal, it would be a little creepy. I bought your cookbook over the weekend (after hinting about it for Christmas, then NOT getting it from anyone, then finally breaking down and buying it for myself), and it's the only cookbook I've ever read from cover-to-cover, over-and-over again.


I made your chicken pot pie last night, and my eldest - who doesn't like ANYTHING - said it was the best thing I'd ever made. And it was taaaaasty. And now, I'm thinking what I can make next.


I saw you on the Today show making the cinnamon rolls with Al. And on Food Network with Bobby Flay (whom I have a very strange crush on...if you ever do write back, tell me more about him...). What is your eating/exercising plan, if any? You don't eat that stuff for every meal, do you? Or is it that you burn enough on the ranch that you CAN eat all of that? Please address this issue...because I want to eat cinnamon rolls and brisket and cobbler, but need to know how to do it responsibly.

Sincerely,
Jessica, The Snarky Mom

--

And this leads me to questions for all of you. How do you live day-to-day with food? I'm always in the midst of a dieting lifestyle eating plan, and if I'm doing low calorie, I crave butter and sour cream. If I do low carb, all I want are Wheat Thins and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And I find when I do one plan, I switch sometimes mid-week (sometimes mid-day) to accommodate what I want to eat.

It's very frustrating.

I also toe the line between healthy, organic, food-as-fuel and comfort, down-home-cooking, traditional family meals. There doesn't seem to be much in common with the two.


It may not be a part of the Food Pyramid, but it sure makes things tasty.

(Well, the one thing in common happened last night. I made beans and cornbread from Ree's book. I thought it was awesome. It was definitely "down-home-cooking" with ingredients like shortening and buttermilk. And like the healthy stuff, my kids wouldn't touch this either. And neither would Disgruntled Husband.)

I have a Body Bugg (the thing on the arms of the Biggest Loser contestants), and it helps, but like most things in my life, it all comes down to laziness. I want the Body Bugg to monitor what I put in my mouth without me having to enter it in on the computer. By the same token, I'd also like something to exercise me in my sleep.

Last year, I did pretty well with weight loss, but I also was on my elliptical machine every night. This year, as I approach the old age of 32, I'm just too lazy tired to do this. This might have something to do with the department store of misfit toys in front of it.

And going out to work out? It was -21 yesterday. As the high. Even if I went outside to go workout, I'm pretty sure the not-so-mini-van would growl in protest.

Which is why I am wondering what other people do. If you do "down home cooking" how do you NOT become a diabetes risk? If you do healthy, how are you getting your kids to eat it? And yes, I know that I can't just sit in front of my computer and burn the amount of calories needed to lose weight. But I have faith in science that someday it will happen.

Oh, and if anyone wants to send me a personal trainer and/or chef, I'm open to it.

Help. I'm afraid to eat. I'll get over it, but would like a little guidance.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pack Attack

As everyone knows, the Packers won the Super Bowl over the weekend. Here in Wisconsin, it's practically a religious holy week. It's all over the news, the schools, and the small town chat.

Which is all fine and good, but I have one child not happy at all about the Super Bowl.

Hoover. He's a conglomeration of feelings, physical activities, and questions. And since his dad is a Bears fan, he too says he's a Bears fan. Except, on Sunday when even Disgruntled Husband was cheering for the Packers, Hoover remained firm that his team was the Bears. And when we told him the Bears lost two weeks before, he changed his alliance to the Steelers.

My boy is nothing if not loyal.

Well, Larry Potter and DH watched the Super Bowl together until the end (side note: it's the first time they've ever cheered for the same team ever) and LP went upstairs to go to bed. Hoover and he share a room, and there was a lot of commotion. Then, Hoover appears on the stairs. Crying.

"I am very sad the Packers won"

On one hand, I wanted to laugh and tell him to toughen up, but on the other, this is the kid that would rather put a fist through a wall than express his feelings in words, so I went with it.

I gave him a hug and told him it was just a game. I sent him back to bed, but he wasn't happy about it.

All week, it's been like this. Anytime people bring up the Packers -which is like every other hour - Hoover gets upset. He even told me that the Friday before the Super Bowl, there was a pep rally the last half-hour of school (hi, tax dollars?) for the Packers, and he covered his ears the whole time.


This is the monster my middle son fears the most.

Not to mention, he brings it up the Super Bowl himself at least twice a day.

Yesterday, while killing time with the two little ones (LP's play practice is the next town over...for two hours...that will be a whole 'nother topic someday), we went to my old work where many of my friends still are. My friend Jeff asked Hoover if he watched the Super Bowl. And then the drama started.

Nichole, another friend and mom of 2 boys herself, was trying to engage Hoover in a discussion about it. Hoover had already let Jeff know his opinions on the Packers, and was telling Nichole the same thing. And Nichole pointed out that we all live in Wisconsin and that's why we all like the Packers.

And Hoover started to cry again. Big sobs and crocodile tears. I think Nichole was trying to figure out if she should laugh or cry, too.

I had to console my middle child and explain to everyone else that Hoover is very sensitive about the Super Bowl.

It's probably not the last time I'm going to explain Hoover's unusual behavior.

Dear Bears: Could you win the Super Bowl next year? Because I don't want to deal with this again.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Direct Sales: A story and a contest!

(Note: the person I describe in a less-than-beautiful light is not anyone specific. At least no one that would ever read this blog. I can pretty much guarantee that. So if you're reading this, you are not the unfavorable.)

(And I'm using the actual company's names. If they don't like it, well, it's their fault for having crappy representatives of their company.)

I'm a Direct Sales supporter. You know, direct sales...the "party" kind of selling, where you get a postcard in your mailbox and go to a friend's house to browse and buy candles or jewelry or other home products. I go for a number of reasons - seeing friends, helping the hostess earn free product, supporting the woman that is the consultant or demonstrator, free food - but I also go because I'm in the direct sales arena myself.

(Don't run from the computer screaming. I'm not here to sell you anything. But if you want me to, let me know.)

My first venture into this line of business was in 2004, and it didn't go well. Not because I wasn't good at it, because I was pretty good, but rather because I fell into a "line" (DS speak for your "family" in your company) that liked to buy leads at $65 a pop to call strangers and sell them things. I lost more money than I made, and in the end, pretty much learned the definition of "pyramid scheme."

Everyone has a story about a party that went wrong, or a nightmare consultant. As I've been involved in a few other companies since the pyramid, I've heard horror stories of bad parties, failing products, dirty houses, you name it. But as a consumer first, I can tell you what people hate most is pushy sales people.

(Who wants a story?! Okay, here you go!)

Right around the time I had started with the newspaper, I was invited to a Stampin' Up party. (Note to other Stampin' Up reps: your stuff is cool; this woman was NOT, and I know there are much better reps out there.) I went to the party and made a card. All I remember is that I used frog stamps and paper punches. The rep - let's call her B-face -had a game where you draw a stamp and you either host a show or get free shipping or something. I chose to play and my little piece of paper said I had to host a party. I was okay with this.

B-face wanted to close the show that day or the day after (and being in direct sales, let me just say, this lady had some major cajones. It wasn't even the end of the month.). I didn't know what I wanted and said I'd call her with my order.

The next day, she called me. Now, remember when I said I had just started with the paper? It was a very busy and stressful week. I told her I didn't have my order ready and if she had to close the show, to just go ahead and close it. She said not to worry, that she'd hold it open for me another day.

Everyday for a week, it was the same conversation. "No, I don't know. Close the show without me." But she just kept saying she'd keep the show open one more day.

The breaking point came a few days later. She left me a nasty message on my answering machine. On my birthday. While my mom was visiting and she heard every word. Mom called me at work and I called B-face myself.

I told her the same things I'd been saying all along: that I didn't know what I wanted and to close the show without me. To which she started yelling at me "I kept this show open for you!" Yeah, who asked you to?

After the verbal abuse was done and I nailed (stamped?) it through her thick skull that I wouldn't be buying anything from her, she composed herself and asked when I wanted to host my party.

(blink blink)

You've got to be kidding me.

Why on EARTH would I want to deal with you again or subject my friends to you?


What do you mean you don't want to buy anything from me?

I didn't say any of this, but probably should have. Instead, I told her the beginning of the summer would probably work. (This was in March.)

She flipped her lid. "Did you understand the rules of the game you chose to play?" she asked me.
I should have said, "Did you understand that you're a raging B and I hope you die in a vat of stamp ink?"

That was the end of that. Or so I thought. (And no, I never hosted that party.)

A few months later, I start receiving information on Stampin' Up. With little scribbles on it that said things like, "Let's try again! Love, B-face." Again with those cajones. After ignoring those for a few months, the phone calls started. I love caller ID.

About this time, I started with The Pampered Chef. (I love their stuff, but am no longer selling it.)

One day, I'd had enough, and answered the phone when she called.

"Hi Jessica. This is B-face. How are you?"

Ready to plot your death, thanks for asking.

"I want to tell you about our current special for new consultants. Do you have a second?"

Nope, I was about to go get a tattoo over my episotomy scar.

What I did say to her was that I was with The Pampered Chef now and didn't want any more phone calls.
(I'm nice over the phone, since I'm apparently not on-line.)

She started asking me questions about being with PC. And then she hits me with, "You know, I'm also with Pampered Chef. And Partylite. You can do more than one, if you'd like!"

Um no.

I told her to leave me alone, in the politest way I could.

And then the email blasts started.

(Honestly, at this point, I'm like "Will this B ever just buy a clue?!")

I wrote back and told her to remove me from her email list. We are DO-NE. She wrote back and said she'd remove me.

Two weeks later was another email.

I was fed up. Fed up in the way only Cankles, the crappy school administrator and a couple student loan officers have witnessed me fed up.

I wrote her back, telling her where to go with her businesses. That I had explicitly asked her to stop contacting me, both over the phone and over the internet. That I was contacting each of the heads of her businesses to alert them that she was doing three at-home businesses [which I guess is okay if you're not a higher-up] and that if she contacted me again, I would have my husband, the lawyer, serve her with papers suing her for harassment.

And that was the last I heard from B-face.

--
Which is why I try my darndest NOT to be that consultant.  I think I run a pretty fun, low key, low pressure show. I run the show I would like to attend. And that usually means I don't recruit, but I'm okay with that.
(I'm sure I'll write another post about this later.)

In light of Direct Sales and B-face and a lot of Direct Sales companies' spring catalogs coming out this month, I'd like to announce a contest!

Reply to this blog below, email me or put a message up on Facebook about the worst Direct Sales party you ever went to. Bonus points for pushy salespeople stories! I will put them (aka...figure out how to) and we'll have a vote on who's story is the worst. Or best, depending on your point of view.

The prize? An assortment of unused Pampered Chef items I found while cleaning out my cabinet over the weekend. And maybe a little Uppercase Living freebies thrown in.

But if you enter, you have to promise me that you know that all Direct Sales people aren't like this and to, in the future, go to a Direct Sales party. Okay? Okay.

I need the stories by 5 p.m. Friday the 11th. Sooner is better though!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

True Hollywood Story

My son is going to be a star.

Or so he thinks anyway.

Last night, Larry Potter went to his first audition ever; it's for a play put on by a traveling children's theater group. They audition, rehearse, and put on the show, all in a week. LP saw the "casting call" in the local newspaper last week and pointed out he'd be in that town anyway for an orthodontist appointment.

So, we went. I dropped him off while I found parking. Hoover, Mini Me and I ventured in to the beautiful old theater. After about the 30th time of shushing the little ones, I decided we'd go grab a bite and come back. As we were leaving, I asked the people in charge when the kids would be done. The answer? TWO hours.

Yeah, so the little ones and I went home. I wasn't about to keep them occupied for 2 hours somewhere that isn't home. And, keep in mind, we'd just been to the orthodontist. Three kids at the running-a-half-an-hour-behind orthodontist? I'd had it before we even dropped LP off at the theater doors.

When I returned (with the little ones at  home with Disgruntled Husband), LP ran up to me with a grin and a piece of paper. He'd gotten a part.

And suddenly, the world was his Globe Theater.


Please, no autographs.

The play is Sleeping Beauty, and LP is a grumpy caterpillar. I don't remember any caterpillars in Sleeping Beauty, let alone grumpy ones, but I'm all for artistic license.

I'm very proud of him. And excited for him. But I know my son, and this week is going to be hard...for those of us that have to be around him.

He and I went to dinner, where he announced to the hostess and waitress he'd gotten a part in the play. During dinner, he wondered aloud whether or not the play would make him famous.

On the ride home, he was singing in the backseat because "I"m a REALLY good singer, Mom." And no, there's no singing in the play. I suppose he's just keeping his options open, in case the directors need someone to do an impromptu Victoria Justice song in the middle of Sleeping Beauty.

And that was just the ride home from the audition.

I'm just hoping he reins it in this week at school. It's one thing to be excited; it's quite another to be so obnoxious that you tempt classmates to beat the snot out of you.

And LP only operates in extremes.

(Much like his mother, I'm afraid.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The expense of being cheap

It started with a conversation with my dad.

"Dad, do you like the new Nook you got for Christmas?"

"Yeah, I do. But I really like the I-Pad I got."

"You got an I-Pad? Why?"

"I bought it for $12."

[I dropped the phone.]

My dad went on to explain to me that he accidentally found a website called Quibids and bid on the I-Pad. When it was all said and done, he was the winner.

Here's the thing, if it had been anyone but my dad telling me this, I would have thought it was a scam. But my dad is a penny-saved-is-a-penny-earned kinda guy. The kind of guy that likes to spit out cliches like "There's no such thing as a free lunch," and "You get what you pay for." So, it adds a lot to his street cred for me when he tells me about a place where I can get an I-Pad for $12.

Quibids is a penny auction site with lots and lots of things to bid on. Each bid costs you $.60 and you buy your bids in bulk. I've seen blenders, I-Pads, MacBook Pros, gift cards, golf clubs, toys, etc. The auctions go almost like a real auction; after you bid, someone else has a chance to outbid you - either in 20, 15, or 10 second increments.

My first time out of the box, I won a $25 gift card to Walmart for $.02.  Then again, I also spent an ungodly amount of money on bids, and that was the only thing I won. That time.


Cheap gift cards are my kryptonite!

Actually, it's the only thing I've won at all. They have this feature called "Buy it now" where you can purchase what you've bid on for the purchase price, minus what you spent on bids on it. For example, I bid on another $25 gift card (because hey, it worked so well before). After spending almost $22 on bids, I lost the auction. So they gave me an option to buy my gift card for $3, not having my $22 in bids go to waste. So I did it. I mean, after all, I have to have SOMETHING to show for it.

So what's the problem? Well, I'm cheap. I don't like to pay full-price for anything. Here's a website that shows $200 gift cards being sold for $.08. It's like coupon-mom crack. Couple that with an apparently budding addictive personality, and it's bad news. Especially since it can save your credit card number on your account. (Not that I need to do that because I have mine memorized, but that's an entirely different post.)

I have spent too much money being cheap this week. Way too much. It pains me to think what else I could have bought with the money. And yet, I just saw a $100 Home Depot gift card go for $1.04. It's taunting my cheapness.

Luckily, a friend of mine is just as cheap as I am and I sent him an invite to join. I received notification this morning that his wife joined, thanks to me, and that's 25 free bids in my pocket.

They're already gone.

Friday night, I disabled the credit card saving thing on my Quibids account. I haven't spent one red cent since.

It's like it's part couponing, part gambling, and part blind luck all rolled into one.

And I'm no good at the last two.

But hey, if you'd like to support my habit, let me know and I'll send you an invite, too. Because we're going to need more than one person to start the support group.

Friday, February 4, 2011

'Snow it's true

Well, the snow came down.

All 4 inches of it.

Yes, you read that right. I know you all know I live in Wisconsin, and sure, parts of the state are buried in the white stuff. My folks in Illinois are digging out too. But me? Eh.

Here's the thing I'm loving about Snowpocalypse. Or Snowmaggedon. Or, my favorite, the Snowtorius B.I.G. We usually get EVERY snowstorm in the state. It's like the weather systems like to find my backyard on doppler radar and aim for it.

Four inches may sound like a lot to you. My friends D and N got 18. My mom has about 20 and my dad about 22. I saw pictures. I heard stories. It was all over my Facebook feed. And aside from the fun pictures of the make-shift frosty block parties, I wasn't all that impressed.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold the hate mail. I know none of you were impressed by it either. It looked like a ginormous pain in the rear. And it's not everyday major cities are completely shut down by weather.

I live in Wisconsin. We've had snow like that. I don't remember specific years because it seems to happen every year. The year Larry Potter was in kindergarten, we got over 100 inches of snow that winter and blew out weather records. That winter, there wasn't one week of school that didn't have a snow day declared between Christmas vacation and Spring Break.


"All right boys, just aim for the backyard with all the kids toys!"

My attitude might come from the responses I get when I complain about snow. They are mostly "You live in Wisconsin, what did you expect?!" And it's true. Which is why I don't complain much about it anymore, and why it makes me bite my tongue when I hear people complain in the Walmart line.

But I'm turning the other cheek. I'm happy for my snowdrifter friends. Everyone got the day off Wednesday. I got to catch up with a lot of people at home, mainly because, well, they were at home. Pictures of kids in snowsuits sliding down 8 foot piles made me smile. My kids stayed inside because they are pretty much over the snow.

Okay, it might be a little schadenfreude. But much like Wisconsinites feel about Buffalo, NY ("Hey, we may have snow, but at least we don't have as much as Buffalo!"), I'm pretty sure the rest of the country (besides Buffalo) feels about Wisconsin.

(My friend Stephen came to Wisconsin once in February for Hoover's baptism. It was record setting cold and I brought him a coat when I picked him up at the airport. He refuses to ever come back here unless it's during June, July, or August. And I think he's still in therapy over the windchill. He lives in Alabama now, mainly so he doesn't ever have to experience the term "windchill" again.)

So, to all my snowbound friends, you know I'm on your side when I say that snow is only pretty if you don't have to go anywhere. That, and it builds character to shovel for four hours. And to the National Weather Service, thanks for telling this system to skip my house this year.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Five more minutes

This morning began like every other school day in my house.

"Hoover. Hoover, get out of bed. HOOVER!"

He's only 5, but in the mornings it's like he's 15. Disgruntled Husband and I shoot for it to see who has to deal with Hoover in the mornings. And the other person deals with the other two.

Sadly, it's not an even match. Larry Potter and Mini Me jump out of bed and get dressed.

On one hand, I'm not much of a morning person either, but on the other hand, I'm 31. When I was five, there were no problems getting me out of bed. That didn't happen until I was about 16 or 17.

So why is my son so "advanced?"

People talk to me about bedtime. He goes to bed about 8 p.m, but is in and out of bed until about 9. That could be a component. Hoover also snores like a 65 year old man. Maybe there's a little sleep apnea going on, but he's snored since he was a baby. (Really. I wish I had this on film. Because there's nothing funnier than a 3 month old snoring like his grandfather.)

And then there's the naughty theorem: The naughtier you are, the more sleep you need. And though I'd politically-correctly change naughty with active, it still holds water. Or Ny-Quil in this case.


Is it bad to slip this into Hoover's mouth about an hour before I need him up?

Hoover bounces on his tip-toes like Tigger and runs around a room like the Tasmanian Devil. Kindergarten has really been challenging this year, as he has to somehow pull all that energy in and sit still and do what needs to be done. We got report cards Friday, and let's just say it's an area that still needs work.

What's a mom to do?

Let me tell you just how bad it is. This morning, it took me 10 minutes to get him standing. I brought him his clothes and he hid under his covers, at the bottom of the bed. Once I got him where I could hold him, I put his pants on him, while he was still in some sort of sleep state. It's very reminiscent of his babyhood. And not in a good way. I get kicked. He rolls over. Sometimes, he falls out of bed. Once I got him on his feet, I threw his shirt on him and sent him downstairs to find socks and put on his boots.

And after all that, he's not exactly speedy with getting his outside stuff on.

Short of pouring him an espresso, I'm not sure what to do anymore.

It's gotten to the point that we have to bribe him with breakfast. Not that he can't have it, but rather that if he dawdles, he can't eat cereal at the table. It's dry in Ziploc bag or a granola bar. And if there's one thing Hoover takes seriously, it's his meals. (But even this is starting not to work. The other day he told me he'd just grab some snow on the way outside.)

But what really worries me is if he's this bad now, how much worse is it going to get? He comes from a long line of teenage sleepers. Pray for me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Distracted

Howdy! I'm going to play one of my few "distracted" cards today, as it's a snow day here, and with all my excitement yesterday with Rants, I didn't prepare a topic for today. And today, well, I'm a little distracted hoping to hear about something.

And I figured none of you wanted to read about that. I know I wouldn't.

While I pace by the phone, would you all indulge me and tell me what one thing annoys you today? I hesitate in using a question mark. It's an order. Vent away.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Aw Shucks

Check out the Snarkiness on my favorite blog Rants from Mommyland . You may recognize the writer today. ;)

And if you're coming from RFML, welcome. Have a glass of wine and let's chat.

Love to you all!

Real Housewives - False advertising

Dear "Real" Housewives,

I don't care what city you're in; you're all the same. Your shows are the modern-day equivalent of  "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" when combined with the movie "Mean Girls."

Sure, I love your shows, some more than others. I just never could get into Atlanta, but the rest I would watch. Until Beverly Hills, I had a few ounces of respect for the creators of the franchise. But when I realized there was nothing real about the BH housewives, my respect for you plummeted to somewhere between childhood bullies and the houses that hand out apples at Halloween.

The problem I have with RH is that they just aren't real. It's false advertising. Though I love NJ housewives, none of my friends have ever flipped a table at a restaurant. Or hang out with someone we consider deplorable. I get it, you're in it for the money. But I think the money would be better if you kept it real.

Here's my idea for your newest location: Wisconsin Town. The Real Housewives of Wisconsin Town, coming to a Bravo station near you. The cast of characters would be me, friends J-Dub and B, and two other people we like.

What would we see? Howabout how it all gets done. J-Dub lives between two towns, and yet drives back and forth between one town and her house for, no joke, 4 times a day. And that's just for school. There's also basketball games, gymnastics, a dying incontinent dog, and a husband that works so much, we joke that he's having an affair with his computer. Or B, opening a store the week she finds out she's pregnant with her 4th child, not taking a salary from the business just so she can keep it open. Or me, figuring out how to feed a growing family of 5 with a food budget of $100 for two weeks, most, if not all, made from scratch.

Lets see the "Real" Housewives do that.

Instead of fancy cars, townhomes, and designer clothes, we have econovans with almost 300,000 miles on them, old drafty houses with leaky roofs and dishwasher issues, and Lands End fleeces in every color - even a "dressy" fleece.

Ferragamo be damned. We have Crocs. Suck on that, Countess.


Let me show you the proper way to clean up cat yak.

Some will say the RH franchise provide entertainment. No argument there, but I don't like entertainment that makes me pop a Xanax for the reunion show. My favorite people from each city are Bethanny, Vicki, Jacqueline, Mary, and Adrienne. Did ya catch all that, Bravo? Those would be the least confrontational ladies on each show.

I dare you to come out and film the antithesis of your Real Housewives. We could even have a Housewife throw down, a la Bobby Flay. I'd love to see Theresa from NJ get ready in 10 minutes because a child has failed to say that it was her day to bring snack. Have Alex from NY come on over and we'll vacuum my stairs, points for not stepping on the cats and going around the toys on the landing. Michaele from DC and I can compete seeing which of us can get the kids ready for Grandma's visit, while making three PB and Js and scrubbing the toilet. I dare you.

There's nothing real about your housewives, Bravo, and you either need to change the name of the show, or come on out to Wisconsin Town to see just real the housewives here are.

Sincerely,
The Snarky Mom