Friday, October 21, 2011


I got shushed this week by some old lady at the post office. She was hogging the window because she wanted to fill out some paperwork, which could have been done anywhere else. I was trying to send a large sewing machine across the country. My children were being very good, which never lasts all that long. The second you think to yourself, "I must be doing something right!" all hell breaks loose. Morgan wriggled out of my arms as I signed the credit card slip. "Don't touch anything!" I told her. She immediately went to the packaging supplies to touch all of them. Halle put her in a headlock and started dragging her toward me. Morgan let out a milk curdling scream, causing me to gasp and say, "Oh my!" I grabbed my receipt and the window hog irritably turned her head and shushed me. I would have shushed the kids, but that's just me.

I go in between thinking that I can't wait to be old so that I can be obnoxious and thinking that I hope I'm nice, even if I'm crazy. There was this old guy who used to come into the store I cashiered at during college. He suffered from narcolepsy, which made him very entertaining. He would start digging out money, and fall asleep. After a few snores he usually woke up and finished the transaction. One visit, he fell asleep three times before I could hand him the receipt. But he was very nice.

Another old lady who came into my store asked me to help her out to her car. I happily obliged, asking her which was her car. "I don't know," she said. "You mean, you don't know where you parked?" I clarified. "No," came her reply. "I don't know which is mine. I can't see them. I parked in the front row. It's a blue car," she squinted and meandered around. After settling on a Lincoln, she went on her way. I entered the store, raised my arms and made an announcement. "Nobody leave the store for at least fifteen minutes. There's a lady on the road who is considered blind and dangerous." She was nice, too.

I think I would rather be nice and crazy. That way, even if you don't have an excuse to be obnoxious, you have someone to drive you to the store while you sleep in the checkout line. Sleeping while you shop plus good company. Win/Win.

Friday, October 14, 2011


 Parties and I don't mix. The last party I went to, my cat ended up dying. When we were new to our church, we had a group of people over. In the group was our pastor and his wife. In the middle of dinner, I discovered that I had forgotten to remove the fly tape hanging over the table. We never used our table; we mostly ate at the counter since it was just the two of us. I mentioned this fact as I climbed on top of my chair in my dress and removed the fly tape (hopefully not flashing anyone in the process, but it is a possibility). Our pastor said that it was okay; he had been to lots of redneck houses and that hadn't scared him off at all. That really was his reassurance.
 Later, it was discovered that my fish was dead in its bowl.
I am terrible at remembering things like silverware, too. I think of the plates, napkins, balloons, but forget about basic necessities.

Thus, after Halle's first birthday party bust, (wherein no one enjoyed themselves) I made the decision to cancel all birthday parties. Instead, we go somewhere. We went to the zoo this year, last year we visited the Children's Museum and the Museum of History.

Unfortunately for Halle, we were travelling home from Oregon on her birthday this year. It was a long, exhausting day. The next day, I bought an ice cream cake (still in our freezer) from Dairy Queen, dug out some farm-yard themed candles from two years ago, and we sang. The candles kept going out so by the time I got them all lit at the same time, the chicken's head had burned off.

Morgan's birthday yesterday was a good time had by all, and the presents were all opened at the same time after a proper cake was lit and sung over (it was actually a carrot cake roll that happens to be my favorite sort of cake - Morgan was easily persuaded). All this fun and festivity prompted Halle to ask, "Mom, can tomorrow be my birthday? Because my birthday was kind of messed up."

You know, my birthday wasn't much of anything this year either. I would also like a do-over. At least I can still talk my kids into getting my favorite kind of cake for their birthdays.

Oh, and the first picture is of albino alligators. I just thought that needed to be shared. Albino alligators - who knew gators could be even more terrifying and ugly? Their eyes are red because they have no pigment. You're actually seeing the blood behind the eyeball. Learned that yesterday. See? No clean up and educational.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Actual Unexpected Gifts, Part II

4. Fanny Pack
Willie asked for a fanny pack for his birthday a couple years ago. I asked if he had had a flashback moment to 1992, but he said that in the fishing world a fanny pack is considered fashionably acceptable. He didn't use those words, but he did tell me that they are incredibly handy and he didn't care what Tim Gunn thought.

5. When we were dating, I lost a pocketknife that I had claimed in a lost and found box at the end of the school year. I was so disappointed, not because I ever used it, but because my Grandmother had always carried a pocketknife with her. I figured I would probably need one at some point during the aging process. I did not want to find myself without one when that day came. Valentines Day rolled around, and I was presented with a blue and purple Kershaw knife. I use it all the time. My Grandma was totally right.

6. Dinosaurs
We stayed the night at a friend's sister's house while visiting West Virginia about two years ago. A dino-obsessed little boy lived there, and Halle was instantly taken with the reptilian monsters. She opened her arms wide toward the plastic replicas. "All these could be MINE!" She exclaimed with glee. They couldn't be hers, but I did give her two that I found for a dollar a piece.

Now, every night after her bath, Halle disappears. "There's no Halle anymore!" a muffled voice says. Covered in her towel, she makes cracking noises. Leaping out of the towel stands a baby T-Rex. "Wrrrrraaaaa," she says. From that point until morning, she answers only to "Baby T-Rex." She has also introduced herself to strangers as "Baby Triceratops", "T-Rex", and "Spinosaurus".

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Actual Unexpected Gifts

One day I decided to see what people find when they google my name. They would find my blog, of course, but the reason they would look for it is because they're looking for unusual gift ideas. I figured I might as well write some entries about that subject so that people aren't completely disappointed.

1. Krystal Burgers
The first year we were married, we moved to Georgia from Washington state. Willie was literally the only person I really knew in three thousand miles, and he forgot my birthday. We had just moved into our apartment and I couldn't even find the box that might have a shower curtain. Willie wore a panicked expression as he left to try to  remedy the situation. He returned a couple hours later with a small paper bag. "It's Sunday," he said. "Everything is closed. I couldn't get you anything, so I bought you these." The bag held ten tiny, square hamburgers. I declined the offer, telling him that the dry cereal I had eaten earlier was more appetizing. He devoured the tiny grease squares and then asked with a desperate expression, "How can I redeem your birthday?" We ended up going to Savannah, which is charming and the entire day is one of my favorite memories of our time in Georgia.

2. Eisenhower
Before we got married, I adopted a cat from my Grandparent's house. It was a Siamese and I thought (erroneously) that it would be fun to name our cats after Presidents. After the wedding, Ike had difficulty adjusting. He hated Willie. He would sneak into a room, leap into the air, rake his claws across Willie's back, and then hide somewhere in the house. Anything that smelled like Willie got sprayed.

Ike also made friends with a local racoon. I found him shredding a bag of garbage on our back porch with his masked companion. They ate side-by-side from Ike's bowl.

Willie had a custom-made guitar sitting on a stand next to its custom-made case. Ike decided this case would work as a second litter box. It was then that I agreed Ike had to go.

Willie's parents came for a visit and we happily gifted Ike to them. Eisenhower only lasted about a month in the country before he got ran over.

3. Smartwool socks
My brother Jarred is famous for the comment, "Thank you. I hate this" which he made about a gift I gave him one Christmas. I repeated the phrase when I opened a pair of socks he gave me one year. It was a pair of neon yellow felted wool socks. They were the most uncomfortable, ill-fitting, ugly things I have ever laid eyes on. What had happened, was some guy at college who needed money had made them and then suckered Jarred into buying them.

No one in my family can say no to a traveling salesman. Once, I let a rambling black man wash Willie's truck for ten bucks. It was the worst car wash known to man and Willie was incensed. This summer, I bought a bunch of books from some college kid. Girl scouts actually frighten me.

At any rate, the next Christmas Jarred asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted some socks. He thought I was mocking him, but I really did want socks - just not handmade ones from alpaca boy. He bought me two thick pairs of gray Smartwool socks. I wore them for two weeks straight during a trip to Europe. The only time I took them off was when I took a rather rare shower.

I was telling my friend about my love for Smartwool socks: "They're more expensive, but you don't need as many because you almost never have to wash these things! They breathe so well that you can wear them for like three days and they're not too stinky." I could tell by the expression on her face that not only was she NOT planning to invest in Smartwool socks, she had also lost some respect for me.

That's probably enough for this installment. The moral of this entry: 1. Don't buy burgers to make up for forgetting your spouse's birthday, but DO ask her/him how you can fix it; 2. Do NOT buy Siamese cats, but if you get one, give it to your in laws who can dispose of it for you; 3. Smartwool socks are an excellent gift at anytime for anyone.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Showing Sheep

 The girls and I courageously ventured out west last month. To make the trip easier, Halle got a Leapster Explorer. She calls this electronic entertainer her "GPS" because she wanted a GPS for her birthday and I didn't want to give her mine. An aunt bought her a penguin game that we played for the first time on the ride home. I can only imagine what the other passengers thought of us. In this game, the penguin has to slap (at times using "fish-chucks", numchucks made of fish) cockroaches, birds, and rats. Halle needed help at times: "Mom, you've got to smack that rat! He's a bad guy! Those birds are bad, too! Smack the birds!"

Anyway, during the trip we went to the Walla Walla county fair, which is one of my favorite times and places. I grew up showing sheep at this fair, sheep usually named George. My nieces and nephews were all showing sheep this year, so we watched and even participated. The girls each earned suckers in Pee-wee showmanship. I'm very proud. Also, the suckers were delicious.

I talked my brother, sister-in-law Stephanie, mom, and one of my friends into showing with me. We all borrowed sheep and led them into the ring. My mom showed dairy cows when growing up, so she decided to use charm on the judge. Winking earned her a milkshake and third from last. Stephanie got asked the hardest question of the entire fair, "When was FFA founded?" Stephanie's wild guess was only two years off: turns out FFA was founded in 1928. She got last, which isn't bad considering she had never been in either 4-H or FFA. My friend Ashley used a ewe, who was about twice Ashley's size, and approximately forty times meaner. Ashley had hives afterward.

Meanwhile, my jeans were coming down a little in the back, so I decided to tuck my shirt in so that my bright pink underwear wouldn't show. In a video shot by Ashley's mom, it was revealed that I had actually tucked my shirt into my underwear. In showmanship, you're taught to pretend that you have a hole in the back of your pants that the judge can never see. I don't think that the judge saw my underwear, but everyone else sure did. My brother Tim did pretty well. He got third place, and I think a hamburger or something. They ran out of milk shake certificates, so they gave Steph a sucker. "Because you're a sucker for coming!" they joked. Steph did not find them funny. The Fair isn't always fair.

Afterward, we were all chatting in the stands while the girls played in the dirt. Mom bumped me and pointed at Halle. Halle's pants were down. I rushed to her and tried to pull her pants back up. "MOM, I'm peeing!" she yelled.

Mom had bought a tank top for me for $1.50 earlier, just because she can't pass up a deal. It turns out that adult tank tops can be turned into a child's dress with the aid of balloon string found on the ground.

We had lots of adventures everywhere we went. They'll probably make it into other blog posts because not much happens the rest of the year.