Thursday, November 22, 2007

Eat 'Em and Weep

Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers out in Blog Land!

Over here at Casa de Madness, we are having a fake Thanksgiving. On our first T-day in Virginia, we learned, much to our sorrow, that Thanksgiving without family and friends in attendance just isn't the same. No matter how much food you cook, or how good it is, without a big crowd in the house the day just feels like one of those obscure national holidays, like Learn to Grow Your Chia Pet Day. Or something. Point being, it just doesn't feel like a proper Thanksgiving.

That said, we are still taking advantage of the Thanksgiving Rule of Eats, in which one is required to stuff one's self to the point of being sick, then wander off to take a long nap. (Hear that kids? Napping will not be a foreign concept for you today. You. Will. Nap!) We will not, however, succumb to the restrictions of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Oh no. We will be tossing the turkey-and-stuffing rule out the window, thankyouverymuch. I present to you my menu for the day:

My favorite appetizer, Savory Cheesy 'Shroom Bites, in which one takes crescent rolls, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, and mushrooms, mixes them properly, bakes, and then eats as hot as one can stand. One word: freakingfantasticallydeliciousYUM.

Pot Roast for dinner. Yes, pot roast. No turkey. I don't eat anything that says gobble. My pot roast is a mouth-watering concoction of tender beef spiced to perfection with my secret spice recipe (which I cannot share even upon the threat of death) (mainly because every year I just pull yummy-smelling spices out of the cupboard and cover the meat with them), carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms, all simmered together in a fabulous beef bullion-brown gravy sauce mix.

Homemade mashed potatoes. From scratch. Milk, butter, cream. Oh yeah.

{insert some sort of vegetable here; one must keep somewhat of a pretense of healthy eating for one's young children}

Dessert this year will be something new, Pumpkin Cheesecake. I'm not a big fan of pumpkin, but my friends who have made this recipe assure me that it won't matter, as supposedly this is the most delish cheesecake on the planet. We'll see. I have a back-up of ice cream and apple pie, should my friends let me down.

Considering I will be presenting this veritable feast to my (not so) huge family of four, that's a lot of freaking food. But alas, one must concede to at least one tradition on days such as this. It may not feel like Thanksgiving, but we are going to give it our best shot at changing that.

Happy eating, everyone!

(Oh, and Julie, don't go giving me any crap about the mushrooms. When you're here, I'll cook without them. Until then, my food will be fungus-filled!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The laptop I use during the day, for posting and other internet-related good stuff, is a piece of trash. Literally. N, who is a computer geek by day, was told by his boss that it wasn’t worth fixing and to just throw it out.

N brought it home instead.

He formatted the hard drive, installed the necessary virus and spyware programs, and viola! A free laptop! Nothing to complain about there. Well, it does have some major issues a few annoying quirks, but whatever, it works.

One of the annoying quirks is that the internal wireless card doesn’t work. This would be a major problem if N had not managed to get his hands on an external wireless adapter (I don’t ask where these things come from; it’s better that way). Having the external adapter means I can ignore my kids while looking at naked men accessing the internet just fine. Alas, the wonderful, wonderful external adapter is dead.


I am cut off from the internet! No email, no entertainment gossip, no yahoo groups, no checking in on my favorite blogs, no posting my own genius blather!

Apparently either a child or a dog stepped/jumped/fell on it, bending it rather nastily. And as my husband rather bluntly informed me, bent electronics = no workey.

Jonseing for my internet fix, I tried using my desktop computer yesterday to take care of business. The desktop is in my bedroom, so I waited until the munchkins were engrossed in their movie of the day, then snuck out of living room. It took less than 10 minutes for them to notice.

“Mommy! Why aren’t you watching the movie, mommy?”
(I’m working, honey. You can watch by yourself for awhile.)

“Mommy! Are you done yet?”
(No, babydoll. I’ll be done in a little bit. Just watch the movie, okay?)

“Mommy! JT is sitting on me!”
(JT, share the couch! Sit next to your sister, not on her!)

“Mommy! Tucker is licking me!”
(Tucker, come! Good boy.)

“Fish-ee, fish-ee, fisheefisheefishee fiiiiiissssssshhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

This last one came from JT, who ran into my room wailing and scared out of his little 2 year old mind. Apparently the diver-capturing-Nemo scene is overwhelmingly scary for toddlers. Who knew.

So I’ve resigned myself to posting less, which blows because I’m already having a blast with this blog. I’ve got ideas for posts coming out the yingyang. (No, not that yingyang! Minds out of the gutters, people!) Anyway, I’ve got a lot to write about and no way in which to write it.

My diabolical sensible plan, for the moment, is to type posts on the laptop in Word, save them to my thumbdrive, and post them from the desktop computer after the kiddos have gone to bed. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve had problems going from Word to html before, mainly that the formatting goes all to hell and it’s a complete pain in the ass to fix it. Hopefully blogspot won’t be as craptastic as my other posting forums.

I’m working on obtaining a new external adapter. We’re on a tight budget, and this is definitely not on the list. Santa might bring one to me, but if he does then that’s about all I’ll get. I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice the child-like glee experienced upon opening present after present on Christmas morning, but I just may grow to be that desperate. Until then, just know that I love and adore all of my (three) readers, even if I’m MIA. Don’t forget about me.

Oh, and if anyone has a Wireless-G Notebook Adapter just lying around, please send it my way. Karma will shower many blessings on you (and I’ll worship you forever).

Friday, November 16, 2007

New Clothes

I hope all (three) of my fans out there like my new look. The green was getting to me. I liked the format, but just couldn't do the vomitous color any more. I think I'll be sticking with this boring soothing white for awhile.

Blogspot, please come up with more templates. Please.

Letting Yourself Go

So I was reading a thread on the message board formerly known as CAM regarding women who, upon becoming stay-at-home moms, becoming fat, or just plain getting older, stop taking care of themselves. Everyone on the post agreed that mothers (and just people in general) feel better when we take the time to take care of ourselves. That was the easy part. No so easy was the definition of "take care of yourself." Even more not so easy was what our husbands, co-workers, friends, and neighbors think of us when we start slipping. Well, the start of "slipping" depends on your definition of "take care of yourself." So if your definition is different than mine, then your downhill slope is higher and steeper than mine. And what right do you or anyone around me have to judge me? And why should my husband get a say in how I look? And just how far do I have to go before "taking care of myself" is synonymous for "pleasing others"? You can see how this went on and on. It became a thread full of snotty, self-righteous posts, with judgements thrown left and right in the guise of "helpful advice." But in between the cattiness and maliciousness, there were some hard questions and for me, some even harder truths.

Many mothers have a tendency to put their kids, husband, chores, bills, shopping, and other routine necessities ahead of themselves. Yes, that is a generalization, but one that I believe is pretty darn true. It's what we've been programmed to do ... take care of your family, be the rock, the glue that holds everything together. That's fine, but unfortunately, for a lot of woman, m-o-t-h-e-r spells martyr. Personally, I think it's stupid to believe you can continue putting yourself last and still be a happy person. If you haven't had time to take a bubble bath, read a book, see a movie, get a pedicure, or just enjoy a couple hours to yourself, then (in my very humble opinion) you have priority issues. I'm not saying you should lock your kids in a closet on a daily basis so you can lounge around eating bon bons (mmmm, bon bons). I'm saying that you will be a better mother, a better wife, a better person (and more fun to be around!) if you take the occasional break. To me, that is just common sense, and in all honesty wasn't the topic of the CAM thread. I got distracted when starting this post and had to go off on that little rant. Hopefully I have enlightened someone's life. Back on subject now!

The focus of the thread was that apparently, to be happy with one's self, attractive to one's husband, and pleasing to those in one's presence, one must take the time for basic hygiene, dressing nicely, styling hair, and applying makeup. Without those four items, according to some of these ladies, a woman just won't feel good about herself, her husband's eyes will start to roam, and the other moms who see her will think she's a lazy slob.

Being clean is something I think everyone is on board with (or should be, for Pete's sake). I don't know many people who disdain things like soap, toothpaste, and/or deodorant (with the exception of Matthew McConaughey, who is hot enough to get away with it). Dressing nicely, well, I'm more in favor of dressing appropriately. You work in an office, feel free to torture yourself with fashionable-but-excruciating heels and deal with runs in your nylons. You stay at home with your kids, then clean, decent-fitting clothes is about all I think anyone has the right to expect. Are jeans nicer than sweat pants? Yes, of course, but if you're having a true, we're-staying-home-today day, or a I'm-pmsing-and-none-of-my-jeans-fit day, or an I-haven't-done-that-particular-load-of-laundry-yet day, then by all means, wear your (clean) sweats or yoga pants or whatever. Even if you have to (gasp!) run out to the store, it's not the end of the world.

Stylish hair, eh, anyone who knows me is aware that hair's not my thing. If it's clean, brushed, and not hanging in my face, I'm good to go. I'm not gonna judge a woman who throws her hair up in a ponytail or clippy every day. (In all honesty, I'm going to envy them for having hair long enough to pull back. Damn butchering crazy person disguised as a hairstylist.) If hair is your thing, and you pay lots of money to have it cut and highlighted and styled to a T, then more power to you. I'm sure your hair looks better than mine, and I'm okay with that. Just don't bitch about how expensive your salon/colorist/stylist is, and no punches will be thrown.

Now, on to makeup, which, even though you don't know it yet, is the entire point of this post. I have always been a makeup-free person. I have lots of makeup, expensive, high-end makeup, but I rarely use it. I have fun with it when I'm going somewhere that requires me to look nice, and I'm good at doing full-face, out-on-the-town makeup, if I do say so myself (hey, my mom told me so!). But I don't wear makeup on a daily basis. Never have, even when I worked in an office. In all honesty, it's mainly because I'm lazy. I don't want to have to get up 30 minutes early so I can put gunk on my face without being interrupted forty two million times by my (darling) children. I don't want to have to spend 15 minutes at night washing it off, then applying three kinds of facial lotion to my extremely dry skin, made drier by the very makeup I'm wiping off. I don't want to have to haul out and then put away my makeup case every day, which, because I only know how to do full-face, is pretty damn big. If you haven't gotten the picture yet, I'M LAZY. I fully admit it!

It doesn't help that I'm married to a man who prefers me to be bare-faced (and bare-a--never mind, not going there). He is not into what he calls the "fakeness" of a made-up face. It also doesn't help that I've never really liked my looks and have always thought of myself as a tomboy, both of which have led me to a "why bother" attitude. So, for thirty years I've been facially au natural. Thirty years, people! By now, it's more than a habit, it's a lifestyle.

But this CAM thread got me to thinking. I've been trying to feel better about myself lately. I've had some issues with self-esteem, depression, weight gain ... in general I've not been real happy with myself. I'm taking steps to fixing that, and so far I'm happy with the results (except in the weight area, which appears will be the bane of my existence for life). So I'm open to new ways of doing things, suggestions toward Becoming A Better Me. (Is that a book? It sounds like a book. Hmmm.) I am a dry sponge, and the CAM thread was a downpour of non-filtered water. I soaked up the bad along with the good, which was a bit damaging to my psyche. Luckily, good sense (aka my husband) came along and wrung me out, helping to get rid of the excess bad and leaving me slightly damp with mostly good. Ooookay, enough of that metaphor. End result is I was willing and ready to try wearing makeup on a daily basis to see if it would help in my Improve Jenn campaign.

Enthusiastic as I was, spending a ton of time messing with my face was still a flat-out no go. Not happening, sister! But I've watched What Not To Wear enough times to (somewhat) remember Carmindy's 5 Minute Face technique. She rarely uses it; she seems to prefer the full-face method that I have (ahem) mastered. But occasionally there will be a busy mom on this show who bluntly informs Carmindy that makeup time simply does not exist in her life, and out comes the whole 5 minute thing. Light foundation, a bit of eyeshadow, a swoop of mascara, puff puff of blush, and some lip gloss. Voila! A glamorous whole new subtly improved you in just 5 itty-bitty minutes. I figure I'll give it a shot.

I'm into Day 3 of the Makeup for Jenn strategy. To my surprise, the 5 minute thing really is pretty easy, although it takes me about 10. To my delight, I look much better while still appearing natural. To my dismay, no one has noticed. Not. One. Single. Person. I had to point it out to my husband on Day 1 (although I will allow that it was the end of the day, he was tired, and some of makeup had rubbed off. But please, that does not get you off the hook. The foundation and mascara were still there, dammit!). My co-workers have said nothing. The moms at gymnastics class, nope. Not even a "Mommy, you're so beautiful" from my kiddos (yes, I have gotten that in the past, thankyouverymuch). So what now? Do I go on? Is it just a big fat waste of time to put on makeup which is apparently so light and natural looking that no one notices? Is it worth the effort I'm putting into this if the only person who likes it is me?

See, this whole thing is about me. Me me me. Being happy with myself. Being confident and secure in my skin. But sadly, when it comes to looks, I need the reassurance of those around me to be convinced that I'm good to go in that department. Maybe at some point in the distant future, I will be so full of self-esteem that I will be able to look in the mirror, blow myself a kiss and tell me, "You look HOT baby," and believe it, then walk out the door and maintain that confidence, even if not a single soul compliments me. That would be a good place, indeed. Well, it would be a good place if it were true, not if I had William Hung syndrome and was just really, really good at fooling myself. But I digress. I am not in that place, and do not know if I will ever get there. And in the face of what I think of as such a huge change, the silence of those around me is a bit depressing.

For now, I am going to continue along the Path of Makeup. It's only been a few days, after all. Maybe my friends have noticed, but they just can't come up with a nice way to say, "Wow, you look great! It's a nice change from the old you." :-) Maybe they just aren't the noticing type, or maybe they aren't the commenting type. Who knows. I figure I'll start with improving my own impression of myself, and worry about everyone else a ways down the road. Whether that improvement will continue to include makeup, I can't tell you. I do know that I bought an eyelash curler last night, which was such a girly-girl, beauty queen thing to do that I cringed while using it even as I rejoiced at my lovely, up-turned (!!) lashes.

Non-makeup vs. make-up, slightly amused

Non-makeup vs. makeup, cheesy grin

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Pass Me a New Pair, Please

I began writing a post on the amazing properties of Mommy Goggles, which polish up the best parts of motherhood to such a rosy glow that we simply can't see the horrible parts (and as an added bonus make our own children, no matter how hideous, look truly beautiful to us) when my own gorgeous daughter called to me.

"Mommy? There's a musical instrument in my room."

Since Kays is supposed to be taking a nap, I'm not quite sure why she is affected by this. We do not have musically inclined poltergeists in our house, so said musical instrument is, I assume, laying harmlessly and quietly on her floor.

"Kays, don't worry about it. Go to sleep."

"But Mommy! I need to put it away!"

God knows, when your child wants to clean up, you do not stand in her way. Encourage that slave tidy gene!

"Okay, honey, bring it in here and then go back to bed."

Kays brings said instrument (a tambourine, if you're interested) into the living room and lays it carefully, lovingly, in the music bucket. Yes, we have a music bucket. Don't ask.

Mission accomplished, she comes over to me. "Mommy, I'm not sleepy. I want quiet time."

In our house, quiet time is mommyspeak for, "Go away. Go to your room, shut the door, and don't bother Mommy for the next two hours. Mommy needs a margarita and a bubble bath."

(Come on, now, anyone who knows me knows I don't do margaritas!)

My daughter, however, only knows that quiet time means she doesn't have to nap. Seeing as how I have this idea for a post about Mommy Goggles and I need some time to myself to get a-postin', I graciously allow her to have quiet time. Pull out the laptop, get comfy in the recliner, and--

"Mommy, there's a frog in my room!"

(This is not nearly as dramatic as she makes it seem. It's a rubber frog. A realistic rubber frog, but rubber nonetheless.)

"Kays, just put it in the hallway if it's bothering you." Which is a load of crap, because my daughter is a boy in disguise, and loves things like frogs, snakes, lizards, bats, bugs, spiders, etc. I could go on and on. But I won't.

Despite clear instructions from her mother, who is desperately trying to get her (very funny) thoughts on Mommy Goggles posted and does not need any further interruptions from small children who should been unseen and unheard at this time of day, Kays walks out of her room to put the frog in the animal bucket. Yes, we have an animal bucket. Don't ask.

She's putting the toy away, so on one hand, that's good. However, she's deliberately leaving her room, so in the other hand I'm seeing lots of bad. Instead of reprimanding her, I start counting. In Casa de Madness, the short people get to the count of 2 to stop doing whatever it is that they are currently annoying the tall people by doing. If the tall people get to 3, the short people are in Time Out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Time Out (yes, it must be capitalized) is extremely unappealing to the short people in Casa de Madness, so the counting threat usually works well.

It also helps that when the word "THREE!" is spoken aloud, a short person will be sitting in Time Out, come hell or high water. No threats without follow-through here, no siree. We are lean, mean, Time Out-enforcing machines.

"One. Two." Long pause while I debate if it's really worth it to say three out loud, thus ensuring a histrionic fit and scattering all post-worthy thoughts to the wind. However, as per the above paragraph, once began, the Time Out countdown cannot be stopped. "Three. Time Out."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I don't want Time Out! Nooooooo! I'm in my room! I'm in my room! I don't wanna nononononononooooooooo!"

(Insert eyeroll and loud sigh on my part.) I enforce the Time Out, during which my precocious spawnling cries and carries on. "Kays, if you are this upset and grumpy, maybe you should nap instead of having quiet time."

Ominous pause.

(If you have ever spent any time with a small child, you know this is the pause in which said child is sucking all the air out of the room so as to have more with which to scream.)


Oh. My. Lord.

The screaming, pleading and sobbing (real, honest-to-goodness crocodile tears, nach!) continued even as I put her back in bed. She didn't stop as I told her to have a good nap. She didn't stop as I kissed her then walked out her door. She didn't stop as I sat down in the living room and tried to concentrate on my blog. She didn't stop as I yelled over her noise for her to quiet down and go to sleep. She didn't stop as my Mommy Goggles slowly cracked, splintering in front of my very eyes. She didn't stop as I stood up, crushed my Mommy Goggles into crystallized dust particles, ground them into the carpet, and stomped down the hallway to her room. She didn't stop as I (dramatically, I admit) threw open her door and asked her if she'd like to spend the rest of the day in her room. She didn't stop until she held out her arms to me and said, "You made me so sad."

Kill shot.

I take her into my arms, dry her tears, and love on her. We talk about her time out. We talk about napping, or at least trying to nap even if you're not tired. We talk about listening to Mommy. We talk about how we can't always do what we want. We end with a kiss and hug, and a compromise that she will try napping for the next 30 minutes.

I lay her into bed, cover her up with her blanket du jour. Turn on her Baby Einstein lullaby CD, and walk out of her room filled with a warm, loving, perhaps even rosy glow for my baby girl. Once again, I sit down and start ty--

"Mommy? I'm thirsty!"

Looks like the universe's supply of Mommy Goggles is funneling into Virginia these days.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Hello, my name is Jenn, and I have been addicted to reading for 30 years, 2 months, and 19 days. I read books, magazines, newspapers, and the back of toiletry bottles when I'm stuck in a bathroom. I read while eating, while watching TV, while on the computer, while driving (only at the red lights people!), while working ... you get the picture. It's a problem, I fully admit, but I have no intention of correcting it. I've gone so far as to seek out interesting and witty reading items, which is how I was introduced to the world of blogging. Lately I've taken to reading blogs by random people, and am greatly entertained. So greatly, in fact, that I have bookmarked several of them and check them pretty much daily to see what's new. And of course, it's a (seemingly) short jump from reading to writing. It doesn't seem so hard, I tell myself, to type out some anecdotal evidence of my daily life, post a few times a week. Then my friend Julie starts blogging more often, and I take this as a sign that I should once again attempt my own blog.

You may know that I had a blog, still do, actually, on my family's website. Problem is, I am getting spammed beyond belief and I just don't want to deal with that. I'd like to have a blog where people can comment (I kid myself that people will actually be reading this) and I'll be able to read through them without having to delete 100s of comments on sex, sexual techniques, sex-enabling drugs, sex-enhancing surgical procedures, sex-finding websites, and Ghandi's secrets to sexual bliss (well, okay, not the last one ... it might be worth the spam for that one). I'm fine with my sex life, thankyouverymuch.

So today I decided to grab the bull by the horns, the tiger by the tail, even carpe diem! Hence, my new blog. I am not deluded enough to think this will be a daily thing. In all honesty, if I get my kids out and about like a good little SAHM would, I won't have much time for this. But I like to write, so I'm giving it a shot. Besides, one might consider watching videos to be, in truth, good for one's children. How else are my kids going to learn Spanish (thank you Dora), interesting animal facts (thank you Diego), different music styles (thank you Backyardigans), names and uses of tools (thank you Handy Manny and Bob the Builder), how to be a good friend (thank you Clifford and Strawberry Shortcake), how to be a neurotic, overbearing parent, do everything wrong, and still save the day (thank you Finding Nemo), how to be a jealous, scheming, two-faced leader and still end up a hero (thank you Toy Story), how fighting can kill your enemies, impress your future wife, and make you king of everywhere the light touches (thank you Lion King), and how to appropriately use the term "bite me" (thank you babysitter who let my sponge-like children watch Freaky Friday).

After all, I can't be expected to cover all that. Right?