50 Shades of Circus Peanut

Laura's first post! In a perfect world, she'd sleep on a bed of circus peanuts.
Laura’s first post! In a perfect world, she’d sleep on a bed of circus peanuts.

They are firm yet spongy, shaped nothing what they taste like. The neon orange color doesn’t even give you the right clues. What are Circus Peanuts made of? Who cares? Why are they shaped like a peanut, colored like an orange, yet taste sort of like a marshmallow banana. No idea… again, who cares? According to General Mills (yup, I did a little research) in the mid 1960’s an employee cut up a few circus peanuts and put them into a bowl of Cheerios. This is where the idea for Lucky Charms came from. I hate Lucky Charms, so that was just a fun fact. Back to my obsession… I love everything about Circus Peanuts… the texture, the flavor, the stupid shape. My family members have to hide the bag so I don’t eat them at one sitting. Don’t ever bring a bag of this poison to my house. (ok, wait… here’s my address…)

Wow, That Sucked

aquarium or bust
aquarium or bust

Have you ever had a day that was so monumentally bad that you weren’t even mad because the screwed up series of events were so ludicrously set before you that you felt like you were witnessing it as a bystander instead of being directly involved? (No? Probably because that sentence was too long and confusing and you don’t really have any idea what in hell I’m going on about.)

Let me take you back to Monday, April 19, 2010. You’re probably wondering how someone so old and frail of mind can be sure of a specific date almost six years ago, but there are reasons that will make themselves clear as the story unfolds. You see, in and around Boston, Patriots’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in April to commemorate the first battles of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. This is the first Monday of public schools’ April vacation week and is also the day the Boston Marathon is run. My husband was home from work and, since our daughters didn’t have school, we planned to take them to the New England Aquarium in Boston, but only after I finished a couple of things that had to be done that morning. My older daughter was scheduled for an audition of sorts with a modeling agency (I feel like that sounds braggy but it never amounted to anything so don’t get all ‘God, she’s so braggy’ on me.) I loaded up the TomTom with directions — for those of you who remember this archaic form of navigation, it directed you to where you needed to be, but was really kind of a jerk if you deviated from its instruction, and it didn’t take into account any traffic issues — and piled my six-year-old into the Nissan Quest to get her to Newton to play with a battery operated fuzzy chick that made irritating, distinctly non-animal-sounding noises. (Had her picture been chosen, she would have been featured as the kid on the box looking deliriously happy to be playing with the stupid thing. She might be lacking a little in the delirious department like her mother.) On our way, the navigation is stubbornly trying to get us from one side of the marathon route to the other, but everything is blocked off. Like, seriously, everything. After swearing at every white and orange barrier I encounter (some repeatedly) I’m sweating with panic because we’re so late. By the time I manage to find my way to our destination, I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t need to include this in her growing list of incidents to discuss with her future therapist.

The appointment itself is fine and when we leave I’m calm enough to get us back to ‘our side’ of the marathon route. The other thing I needed to do was to stop at a nearby hospital to check in on my father who had been there for about a month after a botched surgery. This was his last day at this hospital before being moved to a rehabilitation center for another extended stay. We visit with him for a short while and go back to the car (the miserable mini-van that I hated so much but was so practical but I still hated so much) to get home so we could all go to the aquarium. Someone in the parking garage who shouldn’t have a license was doing a terrible and excruciatingly slow job of maneuvering his vehicle so, in an inpatient attempt to bypass him, I scraped my passenger side sliding door along an enormous concrete post, denting and scraping the right side of my stupid minivan. Awesome. At least I don’t have to take the time to exchange insurance information with anyone as the post remained unscathed.

I’m kind of numb at this point and have no one to blame but my fractious self, but I’m determined to get to the damn aquarium. We navigate back to the highway and I start to wonder why the car is driving so badly. I’m hoping I didn’t bend an axle grinding against the parking garage (because of how tremendously bad that would be) so I pulled slowly into a gas station to investigate. The car wasn’t driving poorly because of the axle, it was because of the flat tire on the rear passenger side, undoubtedly due to the post scrape. I start pulling all the junk out of the various areas of the stupid minivan that I hated to put the spare on the car. A couple of questionable-looking gentlemen (I try not to be judgmental but they would have been perfectly cast in Deliverance and didn’t have a full set of teeth between the two of them) take over and change the tire for me. (See — that’s why you shouldn’t be judgmental! They were incredibly helpful and super friendly. What is wrong with you??) I thank them immensely and, yet again, we’re on our way and finally make it home without further incident.

By the time we get home, my husband assumes that I’m junk and don’t have it in me to leave the house again – possibly for a month or two. But it’s just barely noon so I explain that now “it’s a quest” with the attitude of Clark Griswold’s “we’re all gonna have so much fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your a$$holes!” The rest of the day is lovely and, in distinct contrast to the morning’s events, all four of us enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in Boston. (Later that year, I ditched that stupid minivan for a small, white Honda Civic and have successfully navigated my way through numerous tight spaces since then. Stupid minivan.)

My Job in Hell

trampoline park hell
trampoline park hell

When I die, despite my best efforts — or at least a mostly good intentioned lifestyle — if I end up in the fiery depths of hell, I know exactly what I’ll be doing for eternity. My job will be to supervise the hordes of disheveled, screeching children at Satan’s Trampoline Pit while the same three nondescript pop songs play on a loop, all by untalented, tone deaf brats who rely on auto tune to achieve the level of fame their parents will remortgage their house for.

There was nothing but selflessness that brought me to this popular indoor trampoline park during winter school vacation week. I’d like to point out a clear ‘you’re-doing-it-wrong’ parenting moment when, upon asking my daughters if they’d like to go, I was met with enthusiastic, yet puzzled faces. They asked why I was offering to take them as if it were a trick and I really planned to sell them both for their organs. How bad is it that I had to explain to my daughters that I’d like to take them because A. I know it’s something they like to do B. it will be nice to get out of the house and get some exercise C. they haven’t had gymnastics for a couple of weeks so they’ll be able to practice a bit. They were stunned (if not still suspicious) but ran to put on socks and shoes.

From the outside, all looks subdued and peaceful (except for the guy who came screaming into the parking lot apparently nervous that his kids would miss a precious minute of jumping time – probably the same spoiled kids whose parents are hoping their horrendous songs will be playing on a loop here within ten years.) But upon entering all my senses are overwhelmed. It smells of sweaty feet and deep fried chicken strips (and not even good ones but the ones that are bland and tough and have probably been under a heat lamp since mid-November.) There are seizure-inducing, flashing neon lights and children of all ages and sizes running at various speeds in every direction. The floors are sticky with spilled soda and fruit juice. But the worst part is the noise. The Godforsaken overabundance of noise. The aforementioned awful pop music sets a background rhythm to the machines that beep and ring in sync with the flashing lights, cell phones alerting calls and texts, kids yelling to everyone and no one in particular — and we haven’t even made it past the lobby. Once we’re in, the girls find one small, empty cubby to share and cram in their boots and coats. There isn’t an area to put anything down, so I juggle my laptop and my bag (which is extra heavy since I smuggled in a liter of seltzer water past the ‘No Outside Food or Drink’ sign because I refuse to pay $18 for a pint of their water) while I put the older one’s hair in a messy French braid.

They head off in one direction to the trampolines while I go the opposite way to the ‘Observation Deck’ to sit with the rest of the parents stuck biding their time until they can escape this torture. Miraculously, a couple is leaving as I approach and I’m able to commandeer their table. This is where I will hide out for the hour until I can escape to sweet, sweet freedom. From what I can see the girls are having a great time, which is the whole point of this excursion, so I’m glad for that. But when I notice a young boy and his father enthusiastically gesticulating sign language to each other, I’m genuinely envious of their deafness.

The hour goes by fairly quickly thanks to a combination of pointless games and web surfing on my laptop, along with the joys of people watching. (Although I do notice that none of the other adults there look as miserable as I feel and wonder if I should have smuggled a flask with my seltzer.) I’m relieved when the girls’ time is up and they come to me, flushed and sweaty, to let me know I’m allowed to leave. The car ride home is delightful for the girls, who are happy to be giving their tired legs a much needed break, and me, who is relishing the quiet of my placid car.

A Christmas Miracle!

genuine Christmas morning surprise faces
genuine Christmas morning surprise faces

This post is a journal of my journey to create a perfect Christmas scenario by presenting my daughters with a kitten for Christmas. I have visions of them waking on Christmas morning to twinkling lights displaying piles of festively wrapped gifts, Johnny Mathis caroling his version of “Sleigh Ride,” the mixed scents of our Holiday Bayberry candle and a fresh pot of coffee wafting through the air, and a soft snow falling outside. The girls will muffle their squeals of delight so as not to alarm their precious Christmas gift — a sweet sleeping kitten bundled in a basket of soft fleece. In all reality, the girls will wake up before us and be annoyed when we tell them they can’t go downstairs yet. I’ll remember there are a few more gifts that I forgot to put out and stub my toe rushing to bring them up from the basement. My husband will fumble with his phone for at least ten minutes to set up the music through the wireless speaker and the song that plays will be Madonna nasally whining to Santa Baby for diamond rings and yachts while I fight with the timer to get the Christmas tree lit. I’ll forget to both light the candle and brew the coffee so it smells more like morning breath than holiday festivities, and despite the warnings of a brutal winter, it’s been like Florida in May for the past couple of weeks so we’ll have the storm door propped open, letting in the hoards of moths that have been plotting to fly off with our house. By the time the girls get downstairs, they’ll be confused by the cat stuffed animal thrown under the tree with a note tied around its neck that reads “I tried.”

How did a former cat-hater end up here, you ask? A little over four years ago, my husband and I encountered a perfect storm of wanting a pet for our daughters (something about teaching them responsibility but, who are we kidding, I’m the main caretaker,) requiring a pet who would be lower maintenance than a dog, and chipmunks overrunning our yard and nesting in my car’s engine, chewing the hoses and rendering it unusable. After paying to fix the car, we agreed that a cat would be a good solution to chase small critters out of the yard (and my car!), and found Spenser (you can read about him here) through craigslist. (I KNOW! I looked at shelters but I was lazy and the high adoption fees and tedious paperwork vs. going to someone’s house and paying $40 for a kitten was too easy.) We knew the girls would love him, but we didn’t expect to like him as much as we do. He’s awesome.

Sunday, November 29th

We spent the afternoon at a family friend’s house and they were fostering a neighbor’s one-year-old cat that was in need of a home. She was a stunning medium haired black cat (my husband even thought she was gorgeous – who is this guy, liking cats and giving them unsolicited compliments?) that didn’t even have a name so the girls decided to call her Saige. (I don’t even… and why that spelling?) They begged for this cat the whole time we were there and when we left Saige-less they cried the. entire. ride. home. Both girls walked in the house, took their Christmas lists off the fridge, and sniffled while they updated them with a simple word: “Saige.” What they didn’t know was that during a conversation I had with my husband at the party, a seed had been planted that sprouted about a week later. Because his main argument was that ‘Saige’ might not get along with Spenser, I quietly mentioned “if it doesn’t work out, they’re okay with taking her back…” His response was, “If we’re going to do this, we need a kitten. This cat is too old.” That means he’d been considering the possibility of a new cat so I stopped right there.

Monday, December 7th

He caves, with conditions. A) it needs to be a kitten B) no long hair C) the house can’t smell like cats D) “pick a good one”

The pressure’s on.

Tuesday, December 8th – Monday, December 14th

I’m scouring the internet for kittens. I start on petfinder.com and adoptapet.com looking for shelter animals. I also look on craigslist because it served me well in the past and those pets need homes too! I email, text, and call no less than 17 different places making inquiries. The most luck I have is with a shelter in a nearby town. I speak with a woman on the 14th and email her an application. And then I wait impatiently.

Wednesday, December 16th

Still waiting. The woman was very nice but has not gotten back to me. I call and leave her a message. I send her another email asking to verify if she received my application. In the message and the email I apologize for bothering her, but I’m not really sure how this works so I’m freaking out. Did she decide I was bothering her too much? Am I too needy? Am I not a good kitten person because I’m following up? Does she know about the time I accidentally stole eyeliner from Target? I didn’t even really steal it — while unloading the shopping bags I noticed it was still in the cart, unpaid for, so I left it in the cart when I wheeled it into the corral. A better person would have taken it back into the store and hung it back with the other eyeliners, so all I’m really guilty of is not restocking and I don’t think that makes me unqualified to adopt a kitten, does it???

Thursday, December 17th

STILL NO CONTACT FROM NICE-BUT-PROBABLY-OVERWHELMED SHELTER LADY. Haven’t heard from her since Monday. She has to hate me or she’d get back to me. I’m officially a stalker if I contact her again and I’m afraid she’ll take our a restraining order and I’ll be blacklisted from every shelter if I keep harassing her. I’ve got a week to work this out. I find kittens listed with another shelter that are being kept at nearby PetSmart and drive there to look at them. I find her. I FIND HER. She’s the coolest looking cat I’ve ever seen (I sound so hip to the jive) and is available. The woman cleaning the cages tells me to fill out an application and come back on Saturday at 12:30.

I don’t know how this works, so I’m still looking at craigslist and other adoption sites online. I’m obsessed with this search and panicked that my kids will notice a page I’ve accidentally left open on my computer or see an email from one of the numerous people I’ve contacted with the subject line “kitten.”

Friday, December 18th

Still nothing from shelter lady that I spoke to once. But with this new lead, my focus is on #5 (the name they’ve given the cat I saw at PetSmart.) I follow up with an email and a voicemail to verify the application I received the day before was received by the right person. I’m wondering if I should camp out in the parking lot overnight to make sure I’m first in line (if this is, in fact, a first come/first serve situation — but since no one responds I have no idea how this works.)

Saturday, December 19th

I’ve given up altogether on original shelter lady and fixate on #5. I get to the pet store early and am in full blown stalker mode but attempting to keep it cool. There’s a guy cleaning the cages and my furry friend is still there. A woman comes in pushing her her two toddlers in the shopping carriage and they’re eyeballing #5. I’m still playing it cool, but panicked as hell on the inside — will she get preference on the cute cat because she’s with two little kids? That’s dirty pool… The woman who’s supposed to show up for ‘visiting hours’ is running late. Cage-cleaning-guy asks me which cat I’m interested in and tells me she’s still available. Toddlers-in-carriage-woman asks about adoption and is told they’re out of applications here so she’ll have to print one out online. He asks me if I need an application, too, and I calmly respond that I already filled one out on Thursday (inside I’m feeling smug as hell.) Carriage-Toddlers leaves. A small victory for me. (Or is it? I still have no idea what’s going on!!) The woman with the authority to show the cats finally shows up. She’s very nice (sadly, this always surprises me as I imagine them all to be militant adoption Nazis) and, after spending way too much time chatting it up with store employees, lets me in to hold #5. I’m done. This has to happen. All I can think of is my girls’ reactions to this sweet thing on Christmas morning. We have a nice conversation and she’s make me feel confident that there’s still a chance of me adopting her. But not today, apparently.

Sunday, December 20th

Send another email about #5. Still searching craigslist and petfinder for backups because if #5 falls through I need options.

So far:

-I’ve texted someone who was asking $400 for shorthairs and &750 for what are probably not Maine coon cats.

-I’ve emailed someone who listed a kitten in Boston but was actually 3 1/2 hours away in New Hampshire.

-I’ve sent four emails to someone the next town who has consistently reposted a listing for kittens on craigslist for two weeks who has never responded. (make that six — six emails with not one response)

-I’ve called our vet to ask if they knew of anyone with available kittens and they referred me to an agency that I had already contacted.

-In total, I’ve emailed and/or texted no less than 23 (update – 28) separate people regarding kittens. A few appointments have been tentatively set up, but always fall through as someone else has apparently come in to swoop up the kitten faster than I could.

Monday, December 21st

Left another voicemail about #5. Am keeping my nervous self busy by hard core cleaning my entire house. Like, pulled-the-fridge-away-from-the-wall-to-vacuum-and-steam-clean-underneath cleaning. Waiting fanatically for a phone call and/or email. Resisting the urge to leave yet another voicemail about how it’s easier to have a child than it is to adopt a kitten. Practice breathing exercises to thwart an oncoming anxiety attack. I have three days to get this done!!! I tell myself I’ll wait until 7:30 p.m. to call again (because they’re volunteers and probably working all day — seems like a legit strategy, right?) At 7:07 p.m. I get an email. I GET AN EMAIL! I’m thrilled but am with my kids so I have to contain my excitement. The woman asks a few questions and says she’s sorry for the rush but would like to get this expedited to get #5 home and adopted tomorrow. (Sorry for the rush??? I’ve been staving off coronary heart failure for five days!!!)

Tuesday, December 22nd

I’ve already had too much coffee. I’m not getting responses and am positive I’m going to need high blood pressure medication before the end of the day. I send another email at about 4:30 p.m. Two hours later I get an email back with a phone number and instructions to call “asap.” (I put that in quotes because I hate that term and wanted to be clear that she typed it, not me.) I have yet another mini heart attack and hide upstairs to make the call where my girls can’t hear me. The conversation goes something like this:

“Karen?”

“Yes, I’m so glad to hear from you! How are you?”

“I’m good. You were asking about adopting #5, right?”

“Yes! Yes, absolutely. I’m definitely interested…”

“Well, she’s a beautiful cat and we got a lot of applications for her and some of them did come in before you…”

“oh…”

“So you can come and pick her up!!!”

“WHAT? ARE YOU SERIOUS???”

“hahaha — I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist!”

Remind me to send her my medical bills.

I head to the pet store at 8 p.m. and pick up this unbelievably beautiful kitten. I take her to my sister’s house because she has agreed to keep her there — despite the fact that my sister hates animals and both of her sons are highly allergic so they have to stay doped up on Zyrtec — so I can keep this a surprise on Christmas morning. #5 is in her crate on the front seat next to me and nuzzling my fingers that are stuck through the grate. She’s painfully adorable and there’s a good chance I’m in shock that I actually got her.

Wednesday, December 23rd

My sister reports that #5 only slept for an hour and “jumps and hangs on curtains, falls behind the tv, crawls on stair railing garland and knocks off ornaments.” Oh boy… just one more night…

Thursday, December 24th (Christmas Eve)

New report from my sister. “I kind of love kitty. She is so friendly. When you walk in to see her she jumps up at you like a puppy. Me likey.” #5 is turning around this animal hater.

I feel like a seven-year-old eager for Christmas morning to see my girls’ reactions. Still can’t believe I’m pulling this off. She’ll come home with me tonight after church while my husband and the girls go to his cousin’s for Christmas Eve festivities. His job is to come home late enough for me to be able to hide the kitty while they go straight to bed. #5 better be quiet and not screw this up!

(Thought it was worth mentioning that at about 2:00 p.m. I get a call from the original shelter lady that I hadn’t spoken to in ten days asking if I was still looking for a cat. I kindly explain that she’s a day late and a dollar short and wish her a Merry Christmas.)
#5 is here. Spenser’s feeling her out by letting out a low growl if she gets too close and hissing if she gets even closer. The girls come home and #5 stays hidden in the basement while they go to bed.

Friday, December 25th (Christmas Day!)

I wake up ridiculously early – about 4:30 a.m. (because that kind of happens a lot) – and tiptoe to the basement to check on #5, who is being crazy-adorable. I cuddle up with her on the couch for a while until she falls asleep and then leave her snoozing while I tiptoe back upstairs to bed. The girls wake up at about 6:15. We make our way downstairs and the tree is already lit. I put on the coffee, light the candles, turn on the music (it’s not “Sleigh Ride” but Nat King Cole’s singing about chestnuts so it’s equally delightful.) It’s the warmest Christmas in the history of the world, so there’s no chance of snow, but I have no control over that.

The girls start with their stockings gifts and are having a great time ripping open the colorful packaging and comparing presents. They open almost everything and my husband goes down the fetch the cat-in-the-box. As he brings it up, announcing that there’s one more gift for the both of them to open, they reply that they’re going to open it after they finish with the gift bags they got each other. I’m still in awe that they haven’t figured this out and haven’t a clue that there’s a warm bundle of fluffy cuteness just inches away. We wait patiently, cameras poised and ready.

They kneel in front of the trunk and fumble with the clasp together to get the lid open. Up pops #5’s furry head and up pop the girls gasping, hands in front of their mouths. The older one exclaims, “This isn’t real!” The younger one says, “No. No, you are lying to me right now,” and starts crying. They kneel in front of their new friend and history has been made. This whole event may have shaved a few years off my life, but to witness the looks on my daughters’ faces made it 100% worth it. Best Christmas ever. ❤

Merry Christmas from two relieved, yet exhausted, parents, their two thrilled daughters, an ornery cat named Spenser, and a kitten named Scarlet.

Watch Your Mouth

not pregnant, just fat
not pregnant, just fat

It’s been a long time since I’ve been ‘with child,’ but the trauma of insensitive comments can stay with you longer than stretch marks. It’s a special kind of awful to be asked if you’re pregnant when you aren’t (in fact, even when you are pregnant, it’s awful to be asked because you were hoping you didn’t look so bad that it was obvious.) It’s an extraordinary kind of awful to be asked if you’re pregnant when you aren’t while you’re wearing a bathing suit. (true story)

There are two circumstances when it’s acceptable to ask a woman about her pregnancy. You may discuss said pregnancy only when the pregnant woman has just clearly stated in no uncertain terms that she is “x amount of weeks / months” pregnant. If a female says “I’m going to be a mother” you’re going to need clarification before responding with something potentially hurtful like “I thought so but I didn’t want to say anything!” This implies that you noticed weight gain but were being polite by keeping it to yourself instead of mistaking a twenty-Twinkie-a-day habit for a baby. A comment as vague as “I’m going to be a mother” may mean she’s adopting a kitten, not that she’s physically growing a human parasite within her torso. Additionally, if a woman approaches you and tells you she is “x amount of weeks / months” pregnant, the only appropriate response starts with “WOW – you look great!!!” Even if she’s three weeks overdue, you have to tell her she looks great. (Actually, especially if she’s three weeks overdue.) Chances are she’s going home to down a pint of Häagen-Dazs – the difference between you telling her she looks great (even though she knows it’s a lie, she’s huge) and you saying something crass like “Wow – you look like you ate a pillow” (another true story – what is wrong with you people??) is whether or not she’ll be openly sobbing between spoonfuls of White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (or forkfuls if the dishwasher needs to be run and there are no clean spoons.)

The second time it’s marginally okay to ask a woman if she’s pregnant is if you’re in the maternity room, her feet are in stirrups, and the doctor is telling her to push while she’s crowning. I don’t recommend this method, however, because it will most likely end in death or, at the very least, life threatening injuries.

I Have Enough Lemonade

The Scream. In my head. Every day.
The Scream. In my head. Every day.

I haven’t posted here in a while because I haven’t been feeling a creative pull to write anything. I’m so overwhelmed with real life tough times that I can’t focus on anything but my current issues at hand. I don’t want to air out all kinds of heavily soiled laundry, so I’ll just recommend you google “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” and leave it at that. It’s scary stuff.

My intent for this blog was to have it act more as a window into finding humor in life’s every day insanities, as opposed to a personal journal of my daily mood. However, because I can’t seem to get out of this funk, I felt the need to post something to document why I’m having so much trouble with finding humor lately. Again, without trying to being cryptic or vague, my reluctance to get into it because A) there’s not enough room on the world wide web for the multitude of thoughts, feelings, and ideas I’d need to express and B) it’s not just me and I don’t need to involve everyone else. In fact, it’s mostly the other people (or person, really) involved that have me concerned and, while while there seem to be a lot of resources available for this particular issue (which isn’t all that uncommon,) it seems these resources are not so much to provide solutions as they are to say “I’m aware you have a problem so good luck with all that.” It’s an ongoing struggle to be so totally aware of a massive problem but feel absolutely useless in trying to fix it. I’m tired of feeling hopeless, I’m tired of injustice, I’m tired of experiencing the best people I know suffering every day, I’m tired of the obsessive and repetitive thought patterns all day, every day.

There will eventually be a solution because that’s how life works. Things end — whether good or bad. I rely on humor to enhance the good and support me though the bad. But in times like this, when even humor seems elusive, it’s effecting me in bad ways. In the darkest of times, if I can’t come up with something wildly inappropriate to laugh about and change my focus, I’m sunk. But for now things are too heavy to unburden myself with cheap laughs — while humor may help as a coping mechanism, it won’t always cure. I’m still grasping at optimism and waiting out the storm.

I thank God every day for my family because if we didn’t have the beautiful ability to band together in this, the most difficult of conditions, I’d be in a padded cell in the deepest depths of a psychiatric ward. They’d dedicate a team to study me, and a new design of straight jacket would be named after me. The new DSM-6 would devote an entire section to my damaged brain and its malfunctions. But for now, I’ll keep searching for the light while commiserating with my siblings.

Happy Halloween!

creepy, broken-down doll & brain-sucking zombie
creepy, broken-down doll & brain-sucking zombie

Halloween is supposed to represent all things spooky so I’m always hoping the girls will be something terrifying for Halloween. This year they’re being a baby and a cowgirl. And not even a demonic baby with glowing red eyes and fangs or a murderous cowgirl covered in blood who ropes victims in with her lasso. BORING! So I’m posting this picture from last year when they were a creepy, broken-down doll and a brain sucking zombie. Awesome, right? The best part was how they stayed in character to freak us all out — because after we were done ooh-ing and ahh-ing over their costumes and makeup and laughing about how great they looked, they continued to keep the penetrating ‘I-will-eat-your-soul’ gaze until we begged them to stop. And that’s what Halloween is all about, Charlie Brown…

Be safe, be spooky, and have fun tonight! And send all the Twix to meeeeeeee!!

A New Beginning(?)

Our Perfect Picnic?
Our Perfect Picnic?

Over six years ago we started this project with an idea that became a manuscript that inspired amazing oil on canvas paintings that resulted in our completed thirty page picture book. Pictures have been taken of all the paintings, text has been formatted and set, and the book is basically complete. We’re so excited to have seen this through and are proud of what we’ve accomplished.

We aren’t doing things ‘by the book’ (pun intended/not intended – pun coincidental) and have researched all the publishing guidelines to prove it. Yesterday, we spent the day driving around Boston visiting relevant publishing houses and were successful at two of the three locations (damn that one particularly merciless receptionist who wouldn’t be bribed with our basket of muffins, bars, and cookies!) and felt satisfied with our progress. We also emailed samples to additional publishers across the country. And now the waiting game begins…

Wish us luck!

(By the way, if anyone has words of advice, connections to children’s book publishers, or large cash donations they’d like to contribute, please don’t hesitate to contact us! xoxo)

My New Favorite Thing – 10.27

pumpkin snickerdoodle muffins
pumpkin snickerdoodle muffins

Every so often, I come across something that I become temporarily obsessed with — as in wanting to stop people in the street and present them with a detailed monologue about the amazing qualities of my new fascination — and then I realized what better format to deliver such a soliloquy than a blog post. Lucky you!

Since I didn’t think of this sooner, I have a number of things from the past few weeks I could post but in the spirit of the upcoming pumpkin-themed holiday, I’ll start this new feature with the amazingly, unbelievably delicious Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Muffins. I came across this recipe after my sister showed me an Instagram post by Heather Christo, and it prompted me to build a whole pumpkin carving party around my desire to make a batch of these muffins. (Because God knows I can’t make these without having lots of people around to help eat them or else I’ll have to do it all by myself.) My sister warned me that it was too early to carve pumpkins because they’d be rotted by the time Halloween rolled around, but I disregarded her prediction with a carefree “oh so what, rotted pumpkins are even spookier,” which I now realize may have been in haste as I look out at the four amorphic orange lumps on my deck. Now I’ll have to carve again this week so I have something to stick a candle in on Saturday. Except for the buttermilk, all the ingredients were already in my house. Because the recipe only requires a 1/4 cup of buttermilk but I was unable to find anything smaller than a quart, I made the recipe three times in one week. Yeah, they’re that good. (Plus there was enough leftover buttermilk to make pancakes for my kids which were also insanely good — maybe I should be posting about the glories of buttermilk.) I justified letting my kids gorge themselves because at least they’re eating something with pumpkin in it – which is actually a fruit, not a vegetable, but healthy in either category. (Yes, I am aware that butter and sugar cancel out the health benefits of the pumpkin puree, but I’m doing what I can over here, people!)

I was concerned that my obsession was bordering on a psychological disorder, so I laid off the muffins. And I made Pumpkin Snickerdoodles instead! Yay for cookies! These are equally as good, yet in a more convenient travel size. My daughter said they were like eating just the top of the muffin, but sadly the Seinfeld reference was lost on her. The recipe for the cookies does not include buttermilk so they are a bit less moist (when did ‘moist’ become an almost universally hated word?) but they have to be a bit more firm to hold their cookie shape. Their beautiful, delectable, exquisite cookie shape…

Don’t Open It!

Oh dear God, what was this?!
Oh dear God, what was this?!

This feels a little like cheating, but I’ve found another creative writing selection from my 16-year-old self and was vaguely amused. Plus, in keeping in the spirit of October and all things creepy, I figured it could be relevant. Again, I will resist the urge to correct any errors, grammatical or otherwise, and present to you in all it’s original unedited glory:

“Don’t Open It!”

She slowly picked it up. Her fingers touched only what was necessary, for whatever was in there might rip the lid off and slowly ooze up her arms. She held the yellow-orange Tupperware bowl up to the light, trying to look through the plastic sides to see what it was without having to actually open the top. All that could be seen were dark blotches. The thought of it made her want to drop the container, but she ventured further to see if she could possibly find out what this formerly consumable substance could be. She cautiously lowered the small bowl onto the table so that it wouldn’t be dropped on the floor once she saw what was actually in it. She leaned back and turned her head, having only her eyes facing the bowl. Her fingers reached out and peeled back the ridged top. She leaned forward slowly, her eyes ready to shut and her tensed body ready to run.

As she caught her first glimpse of dark green mold, she crumbled with disgust. Her face shriveled into a horror-stricken grimace as more and more of the fuzzy green fungus came into view. She finally found the courage to lean way over on her tip-toes and look completely into the bowl. Her teeth still clenched in a grimace; a groan of disgust escaped from her throat. She closed her eyes and let go of the container. She walked a safe distance away and stared at the plastic bowl, wondering what she should do with it. She certainly didn’t want to clean it; she could hardly go near it.

She carefully walked over to the table and picked up the cover. She put the cover on and gently pushed down on the center until she heard the small pop that told her it was sealed. She opened the refrigerator and placed the container back in the spot where she had found it, behind the jar of pickle relish and next to the half-empty can of spaghetti sauce, neither of which had been touched in months. Someone else would have to find it later. She didn’t know how long it would be there or how long it had been there. All she knew was that she wouldn’t be the one to open it next time, if there was a next time.