December 29, 2012

Top 10 for 2012

Like most of America, I have a cold right now.  Which is the perfect excuse, in my opinion, to do absolutely nothing.  So in place of a real blog post, I am offering my wonderful (Kleenex-clinging) readers a recycled medley of my Top 10 Posts for 2012.

You're welcome!

But first, here is a funny dog picture I found on Pinterest.

#1  Bully Bustin': a guest post

Yep.  My most viewed post of 2012 was actually written by my mom.  (Where do you think I got my general badassery?)  It's about bullying in the workplace.

#2  Sunday Stream of Consciousness

Interestingly, my second most viewed post this year was a hastily written, random one.  A little peek into my (unedited) mind, if you will.  This happens to be the post where I first came out with my nostril fixation. (Thus explaining the post's popularity.  Surely.)

#3  5 Things You Don't Know About Me 

I love when bloggers I like post a Things You Don't Know About Me post.  Humans are weird.  We all have fascinating tidbits that we don't think to share in our daily lives.  (Ooh!  Leave me a comment below sharing some of yours!)

#4  McDonald's Playplace: a good place to catch some Zs

This one's about an eventful trip to McDonald's with my best friend, Shrinky Dink, and our 4 kids. This chick got on my nerves.  I cartoonified it so she shall live in infamy.    

#5  My grandparents: a love story

This post is about my love affair with my grandparents.  It also has a picture of my naked butt.

#6  Ode to my left nostril

This one is when I fully unfurled my freak flag, sharing the fact that I actually Google my nostrils.  It's also when I discovered that my left nostril is famous.  (No autographs, please.)

#7  My kid's a genius. And so is yours.

The definition of success for kids is even more limited than it is for grownups.  In this post, I proposed a new definition.

#8  Farewell Ol' Henry

After driving our old, paid off cars for 34389653 years, we got a new one.  And like siblings, our dogs fought over shotgun.

#9  Farts: a compendium

Ahh, Nature Boy's inaugural post.  Who doesn't think farts are funny?!  (Besides my mother-in-law.)

#10  Tank says: It wasn't me.  

Another dog-centric post, this one is about our adorable (huge)(drooly)(separation anxiety-havin') boxer, Tank.  This month marks one year of sharing a life with the Tankster.  (We adopted him from Boxer Rescue.)  We think he's pretty awesome.

Thanks for a great 2012, y'all!

December 25, 2012

Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Story

Merry Christmas, y'all!  I hope you're having a wonderful time with your families and friends.  And presents.  And pie.

We're having a great holiday here.  I'm really grateful.  But it's cold, man!  It's currently 23 degrees here with a wind chill of 14.  And one of the Homeskool Mafia members stole my purple long johns(!), so I'm one cold mama.

Remember yesterday when I told you about my dwarf phobia and mentioned that the whole Elf on the Shelf thing freaks me out as well?

My grandparents had an Elf of the Shelf when I was little.  I remember waking up and looking for it each morning on the days before Christmas.  I went along with the tradition, I guess, but I was always a little freaked out.  

Who, I ask you, came up with the crazy idea to put creepy mini-Chuckies on our childhood shelves and move them around overnight so that kids think they come alive after bedtime?  HOW SCARY IS THAT?!

You know, our parents and grandparents will probably claim that they did the Elf on the Shelf thing for our benefit.  "It's part of the magic of Christmas," they'd say.

Don't believe 'em.

The real reason our elders tortured us like this is because it was FUN FOR THEM!  They were peeved about getting crappy kid-made macaroni necklaces for Christmas, so they exacted their revenge with Elves on Shelves!

The series of photos below came from our amazing realtor, Debbie.  She really gets into this thing!  And she posts pictures of her little elf family's adventures on Facebook, so the elf-averse are bombarded with creepy elvish scenes on a regular basis this time of year!  I asked her for one picture to use for my blog, and she sent me nine.  Nine!  [Thanks, Debbie (kind of) for the photos!]   

Below is how I imagine Elf on the Shelf life to be.  [All text (both on the photos and off) was added by me, so don't blame poor (elf-obsessed) Debbie.] 


Hi.  I'm Jack.  And this is my story.

This is me in happier times.

Before the whole leg-eating thing happened, we were flying high in first class to our honeymoon destination, when my new bride, Jingle, made a suggestion that should have given me pause.

I thought she was referring to the bodies of the snowmen that would melting on our front lawn after we returned from our trip, but I was to discover that I was horribly mistaken.

My second clue that something was not right was in my wife's choice of honeymoon activities.  

 Our wedding night was one I will never forget.  

Mainly because I came away from it missing my left leg.  

Still, I didn't want to start our marriage on the wrong, er, foot, so I decided to make peace with my "special" bride.

We had a couple of good years.  We partied late into the nights and took a lot of vacations.  I could tell Jingle was giving our marriage her best shot.

Soon, the two of us became three, and I was as happy as a one-legged elf can be.

Jingle's really getting into the wife and mother thing.  She even made us milk and cookies for Christmas this year!

Today is our anniversary, so Jingle prepared us a special lunch!  I can't wait!

[Note from the editor:  It grieves me to inform you that Jack is unable to complete his story.]

[He drank the Kool-Aid.]

The End.

December 24, 2012

So I used to have a dwarf phobia...

True story.

I'm not proud of it.  But I used to be afraid of "little people".*  They creeped me out.  Much like clowns do. And those Elf on the Shelf demons dolls, which are pretty much like dwarven Chuckies as far as I'm concerned.  (More on that tomorrow.)

And I realize how shitty a dwarf phobia sounds.  Imagine, you say, if some skinny dude came up to you and said, "I used to have a fat chick phobia."

I get it.  I really do.

But it doesn't change the fact that I used to freak out (on the inside) when a little person was around.  Why? Did I think he or she might magically disappear and reappear somewhere close to me like a tricksy leprechaun?  Did I think dwarfism was catching?  No.  It was totally an involuntary reaction.

I don't know why I developed a dwarf phobia.  It's not like I was jumped by a posse of mini-thugs.  (Although I did get "freaked on" by a dwarf at a dance club once.  He looked a little like this.)

I watched Time Bandits like every other child of the '80s.  Could my first experience with little people on the big screen have planted the seed?  (And don't get me started on Oompa Loompas.)  There was a tiny female dwarf who was popular with the guys in college (if you know what I mean).  Maybe that (imagined) visual is what did it.  Or maybe it was that episode of The Jerry Springer Show (What?  Meemaw and I loved to watch that show together.) when a guy with no legs scooted after another guy for sleeping with his woman.  He wasn't a dwarf, but he was little (due to the whole no legs thing).  Could that staged spectacle have pushed me over the edge?

No, I'm pretty sure it's when my youngest uncle (only 10 years older than me) sent me a cleverly disguised link to midget porn as a prank.


I am happy to say that I don't have an aversion to little people anymore.

And I owe it all to reality TV.

It all started with a Little People, Big World marathon.  I was recovering from lung surgery and living with Nature Boy in a hotel (while Tree Guy was supervising renovation work on our house to make it more lung-friendly).  All there was to do was watch TV.

The longer I watched that show, the less averse I felt.  The less weird or different they seemed to me.  Then I watched some of The Little Couple.  They were so cute!

The show that really kicked my phobia's butt was Pit Boss.  I love that show!

In fact, don't tell Tree Guy, but I kind of have a crush on Sebastian.    


*To the best of my knowledge, the medical term for a fear of little people is achondroplasiaphobia.   If you do a Google search, you'll also find lollipopguildophobia listed as the name.

I'm pretty sure someone made that one up.

December 21, 2012

Flo the 'fro had to go, but now I'm down wit' the Clown

So you know how I posted that Flo the 'fro was going into retirement due to concerns about offending Black folks and the possibility of having to deal with hateful backlash like the White chick over at Before and Afro? (She recently got her (real) hair did, by the way!)

Well, the feedback I've received since that post has consisted of:

1. Disappointment that Flo is no mo'.  (It's a public no-go fo' Flo.  But will I don her at home?  Fo' sho'.)


2. Indignance that White folks like Michelle at Before and Afro get attacked for wearing a 'fro, but Black folks can wear straight blond wigs with no backlash.  It's a double standard.  (Yeah, I said it.)

Howev, my reasons for not wearing Flo out the do' (that stands for "door", all you Whiteys) has more to do with my desire to accurately represent myself.  I'm not political.  I'm crazy.  I want to have fun, and be audacious, and rap crappily in the 'burbs.  A costume is part of the fun.  When it becomes about politics, it becomes unfun.        

Besides, my alter ago, Ms. Crazy Papers, has had the same 'do for years.  Every girl needs a change now and then, right?

I really like color, so how about some colorful do-rags?

Does this do-rag make me look phat?

Or perhaps something like this.  (I'd merely be emulating my favorite songstress!)

Or, even though clowns creep me out, how about a purple clown wig?  (Clowns are pretty much as White as you can get, so I would only be appropriating clown culture.)

Which Caucasian-appropriate look do you like best?  

Suburban Gypsy?  Frou Frou Diva?  Or Purple Clownstress?  

December 18, 2012

Broke Ass Christmas: a rap

Several of my girlfriends are struggling to afford Christmas presents this year.  Money is tight all around.  I don't know many people who aren't at least a little worried about finances right now.

I know that the real meaning of Christmas has nothing to do with commercialism, but I also know that it's at least as much fun to give as it is to receive.  (So have fun and send me an Ulta giftcard!)

I wrote this rap to commiserate with my fellow broke moms.  And to cheer them up!

Merry Broke Ass Christmas, e'rybody!

December 08, 2012

Drama: ain't saving it for my mama

I haven't been clicking my way through Blogland for a couple months because Nature Boy and I have been BI-ZAY.  We both got roles in a community theater production of Oliver! The Musical, and theater is a jealous mistress.  It involves so many practice sessions that I don't know how people with actual jobs do it!  They must be exhausted.  I can only do it 'cuz Tree Guy's bank-rollin' this operation.  (Thanks, babe.)

I totally get the draw of theater, though.  So many creative folks go through life doing what they have to do to get the bills paid.  Because of time or family or financial constraints, creative expression gets pushed to the bottom of the list.  I admire the people I'm working with.  They are committed to making room in their lives for creativity.  They are making sacrifices to honor the artsy fartsy parts of themselves (and to entertain the public!), and I'm sure it's not easy.  (I'm wo' out, and I'm a lady o' leisure!)

Me, as Mrs. Bedwin

We only have two more shows.  I'm really going to miss these peeps!  Theater is weird in that for two months, we're spending several days a week with former strangers.  Changing next to them in the dressing rooms, zipping up their dresses, complimenting the job they do on stage, talking about our families and hopes and health.  Then BAM!  Everyone goes his or her own way and it's back to reality.  Doing theater is a close-knit, intense, all-for-one-and-one-for-all experience.  It's like friendship bootcamp.  I hope I am able to keep some of the new friends I've made.

I hope Nature Boy stays in touch with his new pals too.  Theater kids gotta stick together!  Because their brand of awesome isn't really appreciated by their peers when they are children.  They have to wait until adulthood to get that recognition from their age mates.  It's hard.

Nature Boy, as The Artful Dodger

I've learned three major truths by doing this, my first musical in 24 years.  Prepare yourself for this wisdom I'm about to lay down:

#1 - People are basically good.  (And theater people are basically AWESOME.)  
It's okay to open yourself up to new friendships and experiences.  It helps you grow.  And it has major fun potential!  As my regular readers know, I like to say that I tend toward paranoia.  (For real.)  Doing community theater has been a sort of exposure therapy for me.  And I love the results.

#2 - It's possible to overcome stage fright.  

I've written before about my fear of performing in public.  Doing this show has been exposure therapy for that as well.  I can now walk out on stage in front of a theater full of people and belt it.  No tinny, wavering voice.  No 'stache-area sweating.  No backing out.  This has been a lifelong fear, and I am conquering it.  I'm proud of myself, y'all.

#3 - I'm nearing 40, and there's still so much to learn.  (Yay!)

I love learning.  It's exciting to get involved in something new and discover fresh avenues to explore.  I've learned how to project my voice, that even mid-1850's housekeepers need supportive bras, that menthol cough drops right before a solo really help open the throat, that theater kids really need the support of the adults in their lives, that baked goods are always welcome in the Green Room, that stage acting is not the same as film acting (it's more exaggerated), that defining one's brows makes a world of difference, that a bit of brushable hairspray is my friend, and that people in my real life think I'm nice.  (Aww!)          

What do you do to exercise your creativity?  When was the last time you tried something new? 

December 05, 2012

White chick + Afro wig = Racist

DANG, y'all.

Apparently, wearing an Afro wig as my (crappily) rapping alter ego, Ms. Crazy Papers, is racist.

That is, according to the majority of the commentors at Before and Afro.  It has to do with the appearance of caricaturing Black features and appropriating racial traits that aren't ours (as White folks) to possess.

Or something like that.

Like the blog author, I view wearing my 'fro wig as an expression of what I really like about Black culture. The attitude, the sass, the unapologetic, Here I am!

Unlike the blog author, I live in the White Capital of the World, so the fact that so many Black people find a White woman wearing an Afro wig offensive has never come up.

As I've written before, I grew up in racially mixed areas.  We moved a lot and in a couple schools I attended, Whites were the minority.  And I always felt comfortable.  That I belonged there.  I was accepted.  I wasn't prejudiced; I was "real"; I could sing, and I was "thick".

In other words, I was down.  (Check out my white girl "fade".)

And I still feel that way.

But I probably don't appear down to folks, since I've been living a very suburban lifestyle in a very Caucasian part of the country for many years.

This cultural juxtaposition is amusing to my White friends, something that I occasionally play up by wearing an Afro wig.  I really didn't know that it was a faux pas.  An incidence of cultural vampirism.  That wearing an Afro wig as a White woman was, in fact, evidence that I was not as down as I had thought.


Other than taking Nature Boy and his friends trick or treating in our subdivision last year, I'd never worn my 'fro wig anywhere but at home.  This Halloween, I impulsively vowed on Facebook to wear my 'fro all day.  In the car.  To a jewelry store.  To that bastion of Whiteness, the "country Walmart".

And I was surprised to find that I was really uncomfortable.

For the first time, wearing my wig felt wrong.  I felt like I was misrepresenting myself as a racist.  To the people who know me, who've called me "the blackest white person" they know, the wig was funny and appropriate.  It was an outward representation of  the inner me.  But to people who don't know me, it most likely appeared that I was making fun of Black people.

That was already on my mind before reading the blog post (and the resulting angry comments) at Before and Afro.  Since I am now aware of the offense, Flo the 'fro is going into retirement.

"What?" you say.  "No mo' Flo?!"

I know.

But you know what?

I'm bad enough without her.

November 11, 2012

5 Things I Suck At

So much of online sharing is the brag-worthy good stuff.  My amazing nostrils, the bounty from some lady's garden, some dude's daughter's karate trophy.

I try to keep it real, both online and in person.  If anything, I overshare--which is huge for someone who tends toward paranoia.  Blogging is my exposure therapy.  (I just have to trust that you guys aren't crazy, stalking loons!)

Since I keep it real, I am now going to share 5 things I really suck at.

You're welcome.


1.  Planning ahead.

I admit that I fly by the seat of my pants.  I am a fan of freedom and autonomy in all things.  Which sounds all noble, but isn't really conducive to responsible adult living.  I'm probably not the best homeschool teacher, definitely not the best employee, and likely not the ideal volunteer.  And I am most certainly not a money saver.  I usually don't know what's for dinner until 5 or 6pm.  Life with me is always a surprise.

2.  Eating in moderation.

Food is my drug of choice.  Especially sugar.  Especially in baked good format.  I will eat your slice too.

3.  Being reverent.

I know I'm not alone in this one.  Some of us just can't keep a straight face at church, at funerals, during a lecture from an authority figure.  As devastated as I was at my grandma's funeral last December, I couldn't help cracking up until I was sweaty and red-faced when the deacon decided to spend the service talking about purgatory.  PURGATORY!  Like people at a funeral want to hear about that!  Although at least half of my extended family is Catholic, I don't know that any of us even believe in purgatory.  But even if we did, we wouldn't want to hear about it days after losing a beloved family member.

Today's irreverent debacle was also church-related.  There's one older choir lady who is all old school when it comes to singing.  I was in choir growing up, so I know that she's just following the rules of choral singing.  She drops her jaw when singing vowels, seriously enunciates, and makes sure to end her words on a strong sound.  The problem is, no one else in the choir does that--so she really stands out to me.  And today she got a little overzealous.  She added hard "T" sounds to words that end with the letter D.  She was all, "We love you, Lort.  We obey your Wort."

I know I should have been focusing on the Word of God and the solemnity of the occasion, but I couldn't help laughing.  Nor could I be a responsible parent at that moment.  I brought Nature Boy in on it, and we both cracked up for the rest of the song.  Tree Guy doesn't appreciate public nonsense.  We totally got in trouble on the way home.

4.  Being on time.

I am always late.  Sometimes it's for a legitimate reason, but a lot of the time I'm late because I don't leave until it's time to be there.  It's not that I don't respect other people's time.  It's that I come up with 345345763786538 last minute things to do before I leave the house.  There's nothing like needing to be somewhere at a certain time to spur me to get stuff accomplished at home.  (Thing #76687 that drives my husband nuts.)  

5.  Tolerating bullsh!t.

This one's a biggie.  I am not very good at pretending.  I teach my son to ignore annoying people, but I don't always practice what I preach.  See, I inherited a gene from my mom that makes it impossible for me to avoid busting a (verbal) cap in a bully's ass.  When people act a fool, instead of quietly going about my business, I'm drawn in.  I'm all, "I'm your huckleberry."  (Obscure Tombstone reference.)  Which feels all badass at the time, but as I am 5'3", it probably looks absolutely ridiculous.  What I lack in stature, I make up for in crazy, though.  The best piece of parenting advice my mom ever gave me was:  Outcrazy the bullies.



What do you suck at?



November 01, 2012

Partytime! Excellent.

Happy Halloween, y'all.

I have really enjoyed the costume thing this year.  And the party thing.  We've attended two costume parties, and it isn't even trick or treating time yet.  And that's awesome.  Tree Guy and I used to discuss how nice it would be to have parties and dinners to go to.  To have the kind of friends who host that stuff. His parents have a big group of friends who always have something going on, some event to look forward to.  Most of them met while raising their kids in the same neighborhood.  Now they are grandparents, and they're still friends.  They've moved out but not on.  

Times are different now.  Tree Guy and I wave to our neighbors (the nice ones, anyway) and help them catch their escapee minpins, but we don't socialize with them.  We don't have progressive dinners or block parties.  People are too busy.  We all have other friends.  And we have Netflix.

What I've learned is that to get invited to parties and dinners, you have to throw parties and dinners. There's a kind of esoteric party circuit in the 'burbs.  If you throw parties, you are added to the invisible list of potential invitees.  You become a "party person".  

I didn't have dinners and parties when we lived in our old house because it was too small for such gatherings.  At least in my mind.  The kitchen was TINY.  I admire folks with small homes who make them so comfy and welcoming that no one notices the lack of dining space or seating.  I aspire to be a gracious, relaxed hostess.  But the truth is, I am too neurotic to relax.  

Plus, in keeping with my general quirkiness, I have a "thing" about being crowded in the kitchen.  It drives me nuts.  Makes me feel claustrophobic.  The kitchen is my domain, and when I'm cleaning or cooking, I want to inhabit it solitaire.  Sometimes I get claustrophobic just having both dogs underfoot in the kitchen.  

And I really love my dogs.      

My nuttiness doesn't help in the hostess department, but I try to make up for it with my fantastic cakes and amazing rapping skills.  So far, so good.

I threw a monster party for Nature Boy and his friends a couple weeks ago.  Everyone had to come in costume.  Even Tree Guy dressed up, which was a departure from his personal goal to not appear goofy in any way.  As y'all know, he's totally into the fake warrior thing, so he dressed as a monster hunter. Sharpened stakes, actual holy water, and all the rest.  It was hot.

Anatomy of a Monster Hunter

Nature Boy wore a werewolf costume, then later turned into a zombie.

I was a disco zombie.  This talented young makeup artist did my makeup.

I concocted these refreshments.

Gooey Eyeball Cupcakes

Nasty Brews

And then invited over some seriously creepy kids to share brains with.

It was a monstrously good time!

Stay tuned for another costume-centric post.

October 17, 2012


I am tired of hiding who I am, y'all. Tired of pretending to be this boring, ordinary suburban homeschool mom and wife from the Bible Belt. Tired of wearing denim jumpers and carrying a big binder everywhere I go. Tired of living a life of quiet creative desperation, afraid to reveal the truth of who I am.

It's time for me to come out of the closet and announce to you all that I am a...


I know that this will take some getting used to.  It might help to know that Cynthia Nixon, Jodie Foster, and Portia de Rossi are thespians too.  It's possible to be a normal, healthy woman, and a thespian. 

Thank you in advance for accepting me. ;)


Nature Boy and I both got roles in the musical we auditioned for last Sunday! We will be performing 9 shows in a community theater production of Oliver! The Musical.  NINE.  That's a lot.  With singing and dancing. Please pray that my Uncle Arthr-itis doesn't crash the party.  (Big women ask a lot of our knees as it is.) 

I was cast as an old housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin.

I just want to say that the makeup artist is going to have a difficult time turning my hot self into an old, frumpy housekeeper.  A REALLY difficult time.  Especially with my left nostril upstaging folks left and right.  I shall try to contain my youth and sex appeal.  

Nature Boy got one of the lead roles: the Artful Dodger.

It's the role he wanted, so he's really excited. Since he's all blond and angelic-looking, he usually gets cast as royalty or a bullied kid.  Royalty isn't too much of a stretch, but playing a scared, wimpy kid isn't his favorite.  He's got a rep to maintain, you know. 

Here's his audition video.  I'm so proud.

October 11, 2012

Audition Vlog

So, this is one of those awkward videos filmed in a bedroom.

That didn't come out right.

What I mean is, you know how some folks on Youtube film makeup tutorials and singing videos in their bedrooms?  I'm sure it's because that's where their webcams are, but I've always found it a little weird/creepy.

And now now I'm doing one.

Bonus: If you look closely, you can see my gold tooth.

October 06, 2012

Berfday hilarity

I am so cracking up right now.

I was at Shrinky Dink's this morning, enjoying free coffee and homemade birthday cards (I'm 38!), when I decided to send a text to my old BFF from high school, Toni.  We haven't talked in a year or so, but I was thinking of her because I'd gotten out my old high school yearbooks to scan some pictures for my last blog post.  In one of the books, I'd written about Toni making a "bumlooker comment".  I don't remember the impetus or the context of the comment, but I do remember calling each other bumlooker (pronounced buhm-look-uh).  It made me laugh.

2 cool
+ 2 be      
   4 gotten

So I texted Toni.

Me:  Bumlooker.
Toni:  Who is this?
Me (thinking, she doesn't have my number saved in her phone!):  Who is the only person who has a history of saying bumlookuh!? 
Toni:  No idea.
Me:  You're getting old!  It's Dani.  I wrote about us in my senior book and just read it this week.  I'd forgotten about us saying bumlooker until I read it.
Toni:  Dani who?  This is Stephanie.


My first thought was that Toni was just messing with me.  Pretending not to know who Dani is!  Har har.  But then I remembered that Toni doesn't joke like that.  So I texted again.

Me:  Really?  Hahahaha!  My old friend Toni must have a different cell number.  Oops.  SORRY!  Lol!
"Toni"/Stephanie:  That's ok!
"Toni"/Stephanie:  I actually commented on my husband's butt right before you sent that and I thought someone was in my house!  Lol!  Scared the shit out of me!  Hahahhaa.

Which made the whole thing doubly awesome.

We chatted a little more, she wished me a happy birthday, and I sent her a postscript that my husband has a nice ass too.

If she was local, I bet we could totally be friends.

October 02, 2012

5 Things You Don't Know About Me

My friend Jessica over at Bohemian Bowmans has a little link up going on.  It's cute. It's fun. It's easy.  (Like me!) (Just kidding.) (Kind of.)

You already know I have OCD and a strange nostril fetish, that I am a fantastic white rapper and an insanely talented cartoonist.  You also know that Christians (and intolerance) get on my nerves sometimes, that I firmly believe some kids are a-holes, and that I post crazy pictures of myself so you won't feel intimidated by my awesomeness.  

But what you probably don't know is:

1. I say the word "rutabaga" all the time.

For example, Nature Boy will say, "Hey, Mom. What are we having for dessert?"  And I'll reply, "Rutabaga pie!"  Or the person I'm talking to will say, "Man, I lost my train of thought. What was I just talking about?"  And I'll helpfully respond, "Pretty sure it was something about rutabagas."

I can't explain it.  I have no defense.  I'm just weird.

Happy Rutabaga Woman

2. I have 6 tattoos.  

They are all nature-themed.  These two are my favorites (a dragonfly on the back of my neck, and a poppy on my back).

Neurotic Moment:  I have a superstitious OCD-fueled dislike of the number 6, so I'm definitely planning on getting one more tattoo.  The poppy flower on my back is in memory of my grandpa, Poppy.  I'm thinking of getting a hummingbird near the flower in memory of my grandma.  Hummingbirds always showed up wherever she lived.

3. I played basketball and threw the shot put and discus in high school.

I lifted a lot of weights in high school.  I felt like a badass tossing that metal ball.  I think I was one of approximately two white shot putters in our school district.

4. I have a panoply of scars on my belly.

Yeah, there will be no picture accompanying this one.  But here's a drawing as a consolation prize.  (I left off the stretch marks.  You're welcome.)

5. I had a probation officer at the age of 10.

A friend and I entertained ourselves at her birthday sleepover by breaking into her neighbors' mailboxes and destroying their mail.  A crabby, kid-hating old lady called the cops on us.  As we learned, mail theft is a federal offense.  I had to get permission to move out of state in the 5th grade!

October 01, 2012

That's money, honey

One of my fellow Homeskool Mafia members (a happy mom of 11 kids!) pinned this blog series on Pinterest:  Living on Less than $28,000 a Year.  In the series, The Peaceful Mom shares her tips for living on less with a family of 6, a choice she and her husband made so that they can have more time together as a family while their children are young. 

We're a family o' 3, and our income is pretty average, but I'm still finding a lot of tips I can use.  More than that, it's helping me rethink my relationship with money.

I'm of the belief that if you've got $40 in the bank, you've got $40 to spend.  (My hardworking husband loves that about me...)  When it comes to money, I don't think about the future.  I live in the now.  I've written before that I'm cheap.  But that's mainly because I enjoy the thrill of finding a good deal--and getting a deal means there's money left over for more buying!

I'm not proud of this.  My fiscal flagrancy prevents us from having a nice chunk o' savings for unanticipated expenses.  We don't have credit cards by choice, so if something comes up and we don't have the money for it, we scramble around trying to find a solution.

And to be honest, I'm okay with that.  That's life, says I.  The future will take care of itself.  And retirement?  We all know that we can rely on the government for that, right?  Right?!


It's been on my mind lately, but The Peaceful Mom's blog series is really bringing home the point that I need to make some changes.  In my mindset, most of all. 

I already do some of the money-saving tips in the series.  I have a realistic budget.  I grocery shop on the same day each week.  I plan our weekly menu based on what's on sale that week.  I "price match" other stores' sales at Walmart.  I use coupons when I find them.  I buy generic when the quality is comparable.  I do highlights at home, and I forgo other salon services.  I buy most of our clothes at consignment stores.  I cook and bake from scratch most of the time.  I do Netflix instead of cable or movies out.  I do the library instead of the bookstore.  I drink coffee from home (or even better, I bum it off of Shrinky Dink). 

But if I've got $40, that moolah is getting spent, y'all.  I don't put the money I "save" into savings.  I use it for going out to eat.  Or for some new makeup that will probably fossilize in my makeup bag before I use it 5 times.  Or for something fun to do for Nature Boy and a friend. 

I am not a saver.

And I know that's not fair to Tree Guy.  He works full time as a forester with the electric company, and he has a side job as a landscaper.  He's working two jobs!  I do a lot to get more for our money, but what is that worth when I don't actually save the surplus?         

The Peaceful Mom recommends adding up all the non-monthly expenses that come up during the year (car maintenance, vaccinations and exams for the dogs, Christmas and birthday gifts, clothing and shoes, etc.) and dividing that number by 12 months.  She suggests that families put that amount into a separate checking account each month, so the money is available when those expenses come up.  The goal is to "pay" the non-monthly expenses account just like any other bill.  That way saving isn't an afterthought.  It's budgeted in. 

It's a great idea.  It's not exactly saving for retirement, but it's a huge step in the right direction.   

What's your money style?  Do you have a savings system?

September 30, 2012

Housework Rap!

This one goes out to all my fellow housework slackers!  (You know who you are.)

Check my flow.

September 26, 2012

Aw. Hair. No.

If you've been around awhile, you are probably aware that I have an ambivalent relationship with hairstylists.

On the one hand, I am in awe of their skill.  They are wielders of transformative follicular power.  They can make or break a look.

On the other hand, the stylists we see mess up far too often.  It's usually not a skill issue; it's a listening problem. 

While I am iffy about stylists for myself, I have lost all faith in hairdressers when it comes to Nature Boy's hair.  I've tried giving at-length descriptions, bringing photos, pointing to the exact length he wants, hovering, clarifying over and over like the OCD sufferer I am--and none of it works.  They all just do whatever the heck they want anyway. 

Which means every time he gets a professional haircut, Nature Boy ends up with a shortish layered cut and/or Mo bangs. 

I've been cutting his hair myself for almost a year because I'm the only person who doesn't chop it all off.  I do a pretty good job, but the boy has a lot of hair.  Eventually I lose the line of the cut, or he needs a little thinning out, and I don't know how to get it back on track.  So we go to a professional.

And it's always a mistake.

Nature Boy with Shrinky Dink's daughter.
(This is his normal hair length.)

I discovered last week that my long-time stylist, Doris (yes, Doris), moved to another state.  Yikes.  She was a good listener.  A no-frills, get 'er done kind of hairdresser.  My bad haircuts only happened when I went to someone else because Doris was booked.  I'll miss her.

I spent some time yesterday looking at online reviews for local hair salons, and I found a new one to try.  There were a lot of Likes on the salon's Facebook page, and the stylists looked cute and vibrant in their profile pictures.  So I made an appointment and hoped for the best.  I let Nature Boy be the guinea pig.  I selflessly let Nature Boy go first, because he was the most in need of a trim.  (The kid was in danger of inhaling his bangs.  He could snack on them with a flip of his head.)

Thanks to the recommendations of Erin over at Oh Honestly Erin, I was armed with some photos of Zac Efron's hair.  We explained to the stylist that Nature Boy has had several bad experiences with getting all his hair chopped off by hairstylists.  We told her he likes his hair long, but that he needed some shaping.  I gave her two pictures, explaining that Nature Boy wanted the sides and back of the first picture, with the longer bangs of the second one.  I told her we don't want short layers on top because of crazy cowlicks.  She assured us that most of the layering would be at the bottom...

And this is what he got.  (Sorry for the crappy photo quality.  As mad as he was about the haircut, I was just lucky to get a picture at all!)

The Nostril Flare of Pique

It's too short up front and--it's layered all over!  (Elton John would love this haircut.)

Today was all about damage control.  I shorted the sides a bit to reduce the squareness and layered them some to get rid of the poofiness.  And then I funkified it with bleach.  Because the whack job haircut also removed all of Nature Boy's natural summer highlights.  (&^$%$%!)  And in Nature Boy's words, "If I have to have a sucky haircut, I want to make it as funky as possible with highlights." 

Here is the "after-after".  It's cuter since I fixed it, but it's still not what he wanted.

And speaking of whack jobs, bad hairstylists make me wish I had mob connections.