Thursday, May 24, 2012

Troll feet and dandelions

You’d think it was a gift-wrapped Playboy Bunny.

In a way, I kinda wish it was.

“OHMYGOD!” my husband screamed in wondrous delight as he ran into the kitchen and reached for the box on the table. He clutched it to his chest, jumped around in excitement and hollered, “It’s here! It’s finally here!”

That’s one way to get a just-turned-48-year-old man to move quickly without tossing a cold can of beer in the air and yelling, “CATCH!”

Seriously, who asks for a juicer to celebrate his birthday?

I’ll tell you.

A weirdo. That’s who.

....OK, I conceded. It also makes smoothies. I can get on board with that.

If it’s a double chocolate-peanut butter-Hershey’s syrup concoction that makes the world seem brighter during PMS.

Not, however, the spinach-beet-parsnip stomach bomb of doom my husband is sure to whip up.

So you might be questioning my lackluster response, my obvious trepidation at his gift, considering I’m the one who bought the damn thing for him. Oh, the damage a girl can do when online shopping.

But it was the only thing he wanted for his birthday, so I caved and bought it.

Crud. I’m an enabler. They make Lifetime movies about this kind of thing. Really bad Lifetime movies.

And I’m sad because I know the presence of that box in our home means one thing and one thing only.

A dreadful, four-letter word that strikes fear into the heart of someone like me who is in a serious relationship with carbohydrates, sugar and red meat.


“Juiced carrots,” my husband shuddered after he swallowed, grimaced and slapped the cup down on the counter, “taste like dirt.”

So it’s safe to say the honeymoon period is over.

Consider me shocked.

“It’s not like you were a big fan of the orange veggie anyway,” I lectured. “Did you really think its taste would improve after squishing it into a bazillion pieces?”

He frowned and peered into the glass, “Well, I thought the strawberries would cover it up.”

Back it up, folks.

Strawberries and carrots? Commence gagging now. The man has two college degrees and for some reason thought that would taste good?!

For the love of God, we may as well become circus folk.

“You mixed strawberries with carrots?” I questioned around a mouthful of Cheetos.
Yes, Cheetos.

I wasn’t about to let him drag me into his alternative lifestyle of mixing foods that had no business being mixed together unless under threat of firing squad.

And even then, I’d seriously have to think twice about jumping on the juice train rather than throwing my arms out wide and instructing the dudes with guns to go ahead and make my day.

But then I had an absolutely marvelous idea. Because it’s me and I’m a genius.

I held up a Cheeto and gestured toward the blender, “Can we put this in there? Because then I’m all for this mixing orange foods thing.”

“Taste this.”

My husband ordered and held out - yet another - glass in the air as I walked through the kitchen. Or as I had begun calling it, the militarized zone.

I really needed to find another place to stash my Cheetos.

I looked at the cup with not-so-veiled disgust. “What’s this one? Troll feet with dandelions?”

For some reason he didn’t find that funny.

He just pointed at the cup, “Drink.”


I threw him The Look and said, “I know it’s been a while, but I do not recall ‘Thou shall honor and obey and drink whatever my husband says’ written anywhere in our wedding vows.”

He just smiled and asked with a quiet kind of evil, “Did you check the fine print on the marriage license?”

Uh, no.

But you can be sure it was next on my to-do list.

“Come on,” he urged, putting the cup under my nose. “You’ll like it.” He shrugged then added in a quiet voice, “I lost five pounds last week.”

I growled, grabbed the cup and proceeded to chug my life away.

Chemistry I’m not too found of.

But he lost five pounds last week.

Math? That I can understand.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Entry organizer

The problem: a narrow entry from the garage into the kitchen doesn't leave much room for storage or organizing.

One side consists of double doors to the laundry area. The other side is this:

There's no room for a bench (must not mess with Bear's food and water bowls). I wanted something with a little more substance than just a shelf with hooks. Something on which to hang backpacks, lunch boxes and jackets so they would no longer be covering my dining room chairs.

I was inspired after seeing this on Pinterest:

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Guess what the Baldwins did on Saturday?

Yep. We started with some recycled wood.

Sanded, primed and painted. And - VOILA!

(Just waiting on the hubby to attach it to the wall.)

I know a lot of people wouldn't choose black. But white was out of the question. It would show scuff marks when moving hooks around. Being able to adjust them for changing needs (i.e. a growing boy) is a big plus with the design. When winter gets here, I plan to add some small, transparent bags to hold gloves and other cold weather essentials.

And I even went the extra mile and created a little artwork to top things off. Which was a job. As most of you know, my craftiness only lies in my writing.

I created one for each of us with my own printer, using a large font and some free background wallpaper found online.

The best part about the project? Everyone got involved. My husband trimmed boards and nailed the grid together. Our 7-year-old had a ball with the sander. And I painted.

The dog? She supervised.

PLUS, the entire project was super cheap. $11 for paint. $15 for the hooks. $12 for all three photo frames.

I love the look of Pottery Barn but can rarely afford it. Thanks to this little project, I can have the look without going broke.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A day for moms

My son's first grade class hosted a Mother's Day Tea.

I asked my 6-year-old what I could expect. His answer?

A shoulder shrug and a muttered, "Boys don't have tea parties."

OK. This'll be fun.

But imagine my surprise, later that day, when all us moms walked into a classroom full of beaming faces, presents and flowers.

And then things got really serious as their wonderful teacher began to tear up, thanked us for being great parents, complimented our children and quoted one sweet student who had remarked earlier in the day, "Our class is like a family!"

At that point, it was a contest, a battle of iron will. Who's the toughest mom? Sneaking looks out of the corner of our eyes at the other parents, checking out who was gonna break down first. Soon after, the Kleenex came out.

Then it got even better - each student stood, said what he/she liked most about Mom and presented her with a flower.

My son's comment, "I love my mom because she always tells me how great I am."

No matter what we think our failings are as parents, it's always important to remember we aren't perfect and should never expect our children to be. We learn and grow together as we form our families, in our homes and in our schools.

And when I pass from this beautiful world onto the next, I will always hold in my heart the things I taught my child...and he understands that I know how great he is and always will be.

Parents are our biggest fans. Never forget it. Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Who turned off the lights?!

There’s nothing like traveling to Europe and discovering just how stupid you really are.

For instance, it’s vitally important to understand the delicate connection between interior lights...and the toilet.

The Irish are committed to keeping their Emerald Isle as green as can be. As part of their conservation efforts, many of the hotels require you to swipe a hotel key card through a designated slot inside the room, which allows you to turn on the lights.

No wasting electricity here, my friends. Admirable? Yes.

A pain in the rear? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

And here’s why.....

There I was.

Sitting on the porcelain throne, minding my own business.

In a hotel room in a foreign country.

And the lights went out without warning.

Drowning me in total darkness. Suffocating in its entirety. Almost scaring the you-know-what out of know, if my intent had been a #2. Which, fortunately, it had not been.

And I am not ashamed to tell you I was a little more than nervous and feeling quite vulnerable in my precarious position.

But then I remembered I was a red-blooded American, and there’s a reason the rest of the world hates us.

We’re easily ticked off and have no problem expressing ourselves.

Shock and awe, my friends. Shock and awe.

“What the hell?!” I yelled into the darkness, pushing back the fear and getting angry instead. “Did someone forget to pay the light bill?!”

Damn, Irish. I muttered. I knew their economy was - well, in the toilet - but this was taking things a bit far, don’t you think?

So there I sat. Blind. In the dark. Pondering my next move. 

You know, beyond the obvious.

I finished up best I could then threw open the door and stormed into the room and over to the little key-card-light-switcher-on-er thingamajig.

I leaned in to look closer.


Apparently I pulled another American-ism: Failure to read directions completely.

Apparently one must LEAVE the card in the slot. A mere swipe of the key only turns the lights on for a few seconds, leading to my innocent belief the lights were working before venturing into the bathroom.

And, thus, the reason they went off at a most inconvenient moment shortly thereafter.
It’s like the hotel people timed just how long it takes a person to walk into the bathroom, close the door, drop his/her drawers and assume the position.

14 seconds.

Yeah. They timed it. Just to screw with us.

Can we invade Ireland? Is that allowed? ....Like NATO or the United Nations would stop us.
As long as we promised to turn over the Guinness warehouse, everyone would turn a blind eye.


Oh, I kid.

Ireland is a gorgeous country. Full of friendly faces and open hearts.

The worst part was having to rely on e-mail to communicate with my family back home. As I settled in one evening to “chat” with my 6-year-old son and my husband, I was excited to tell them about all I had seen that day.

My son’s first question, “What does Ireland look like?”

I gushed about the miles and miles of rock walls lining the lush, green countryside. The hundreds of small castle ruins. The Cliffs of Moher and the gently rolling hills where sheep quietly grazed under the warm Irish sun.

Ten seconds later I read this snarky comment, “I don’t care about the hills...that’s boring.”
I sniffed. My feelings a little more than hurt after reading the terse message.

My husband, dutifully dictating my son’s thoughts, made sure I knew just who was doing the talking, “I’m just the messenger,” he typed after the snarky hills comment. “Don’t shoot me.”

I waited out the next minute in a snit. Apparently Dad had a little talk with our heir because the next message was a little friendlier, “So what kind of sports do they play in Ireland?”
That’s more like it.

So I started telling him about this game called hurling. A cross of hockey, lacrosse and rugby played with sticks, a small ball, no padding and a total disregard for human life.

It. Is. Awesome.

Fast-paced and fierce.

And that’s just the blood-letting.

“Sounds cool, Mom!” my son wrote in response to my commentary. “When can I play?”
Over my dead body.

I smiled and typed back, “Forget about hurling. Let’s talk about chess instead.”