Misadventure Merriment

Melee.

Mayhem.

Misfortune.

I’m a magnet for disaster.

I suppose that in itself isn’t particularly shocking.

But the thing is…

A disturbing percentage of these incidents seems to be birthday-related.

It’s astonishing, really.

Coincidence?

Perhaps.

But you have to admit, the timing is utterly impeccable.

I mean, I’m prone to chaotic situations in life.

Period.

But as my birthday started to get closer and closer, it became glaringly obvious.

Case in point:

On my very first birthday as a mom, my baby managed to get ahold of a dangly earring.

He innocently toyed with it.

And then the little Hulk yanked that sucker right out of my ear.

Well, they say love hurts, right?

A couple of years later, we decided to take a day trip to the Grand Canyon.

I was 7 months pregnant, but up for an adventure.

At least, I thought I was.

When we arrived, a thick fog closed in on us.

It obscured the entire view of the canyon.

The fog was so thick, and visibility was nonexistent.

If that wasn’t bad enough, droves of hail started falling from the sky and pelting me in the face.

And in my big baby belly.

We left the Grand Canyon without ever actually seeing the Grand Canyon.

Talk about a memorable trip.

Then there was that year of pink eye fun.

First, my oldest had gotten it.

Damn school and their teachings of sharing everything.

From crayons to chicken pox.

Anyway, a week later, he passed it along to his brother.

But lucky me!

I escaped without incident!

So my husband and I went to Las Vegas to celebrate.

My birthday, that is.

Not the kids having pink eye.

We went to a kick-ass Steel Panther concert at the House of Blues.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of going to Vegas, it’s basically a city that never sleeps.

Where parents bring their kids to roam smoke-filled casinos in misguided judgment of what constitutes quality family time.

Where trucks advertising topless dancers fill the streets and abandoned pornographic trading cards are plastered to the sidewalks.

Where moms push strollers at 3 o’clock in the morning with one hand, while balancing twenty-inch cocktail glasses in the other.

Very interesting place, that’s for sure.

Especially on The Strip, the best place in the world to go when you need to feel better about yourself.

I mean, aside from Walmart.

But all good things must end.

And so we returned home.

The next morning, I woke up with pink eye.

Evidently, there’s no escaping the great conjunctivitis epidemic.

Another year, my mom and I spent the day at the beautiful resort where my husband and I had gotten married several years prior.

After strolling the scenic tropical oasis grounds, we decided to head indoors and explore some more.

We marveled at the magnificent brunch setup we’d stumbled across.

Then realization dawned on us when we saw a giant Welcome! banner.

We had unwittingly wandered right into an Ophthalmology Convention.

It was a bit awkward, but we hung out for a while and acted like we totally belonged there.

In retrospect, we should’ve grabbed some coffee and a bagel or two on the way out.

Maybe next time…

Another year, we’d dropped the kids off at school and hit a local casino.

I’m hardly a gambler.

Mostly because I lack the attention span and get bored easily.

Besides, how many slot machines can one play before their eyes glaze over and their butts become permanently fused to the chair?

When it was time to leave, I didn’t even bother to cash out my big winnings of the day:

A whopping 34 cents.

Woo hoo!

But the highlight of that day, by far, was the email I had received from my oldest child’s teacher:

“Happy Birthday! Your son asked me to wish you luck at the casino today!”

Oh, my.

I’ve had my share of other memorable birthdays since.

We’d gone to Chuck E Cheese.

We’d gone to Legoland.

We’d spent the day on a pontoon boat on the eerily brown waters of Lake Texoma, where I didn’t dare to dangle so much as a single toe in the water for fear of contracting something that would surely lead to some sort of unfortunate mutation.

And, of course, there was that one horrifying, traumatizing day with Princess.

But this year wasn’t so bad.

My darling sons repeatedly threatened me with a trip to Cabela’s (a.k.a. Vegetarian Paradise).

Complete with dinner consisting of moose.

Fortunately, they didn’t make good on that promise, and we ended up having a nice family day a few weeks before my birthday.

At the zoo.

Because we hadn’t been to a zoo in several years.

Oh, well.

At least it was a beautiful day.

But on the night before my birthday…

I accidentally gave my little one a fat lip.

While it may seem like payback for that Easter nearly a decade ago, when he knocked me in the face with his hard head and I had to go to work the next day with a fat lip, this was totally a freak accident.

You see, the little sneak had been watching clips of The Walking Dead on YouTube.

That night, I turned out his light and tucked him in.

Next thing I knew, he was on the floor, sinking his teeth into my leg.

Presumably, he had been protesting bedtime.

The little Walker zombie’s role-playing earned him some brain rattling, lip splitting action when I landed on his bed and our heads collided like asteroids.

Geez.

Do we know how to celebrate or what?

~Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week, and enjoy the last weekend of April!~

This card was undoubtedly designed for me...

This card was undoubtedly designed for me…

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Gardening in Gnome Man’s Land

Who would’ve thought I’d moved to No Man’s Land to become a farmer?

I certainly didn’t see it coming.

My garden gnome would probably agree, too.

But he doubles as a bird bath, so what does he know?

Gnomes are thought to be symbols of good luck.

And, as protectors, they’re meant to watch over crops and ensure a bountiful harvest.

But I have to wonder if my gnome has gone into hibernation.

Or passed out drunk.

Every time I go outside to water my plants, I get eaten alive by fire ants or chased around the yard by kite-sized dragonflies.

But that doesn’t stop my determination.

Not even a bit.

Now, I don’t particularly have a green thumb.

But I do like living things.

And I also like green things.

Particularly if they’re useful. 

Especially if they’re edible.

Sure, I may be a bit rough around the edges…

But I can be very caring and nurturing.

I want things to grow and thrive.

Unless they’re prickly weeds.

Or hairy spiders.

Anyway…

Last year for my birthday, I begged for my very own veggie garden.

Seriously.

It was an experiment of sorts.

I knew nothing then.

I know slightly less nothing now

But this year, I am so ready.

In fact, last year’s oregano and parsley plants are still going strong!

In spite of unintentional neglect.

Meaning there may have been a month (or three) when I had completely forgotten to water them.

In my defense, it’s been a very hectic year.

Last year, we started with two strawberry plants, along with some cucumbers and tomatoes.

The tomatoes and cucumbers each yielded respectable levels of output.

And the strawberries?

They lasted six days.

Apparently, the adorable rabbits needed them more than we did.

This time around, I opted for a different variety of herbs.

Unfortunately, you can’t plant vodka.

Or Prozac.

So, I bought some lavender for my frazzled nerves.

And peppermint.

And purple basil.

Purple!

Green is great and all…

But diversity is a great thing.

In retrospect, I probably could’ve used an aloe vera plant for my gazillion bug bites.

Oh, well.

Maybe next time.

I was on a roll, though, and decided we also needed a tree.

And so a tree we did get.

A tree named Bob.

Yeah, you read that right.

Bob is named in honor of a generous Home Depot employee.

Nobody could find a price on the lone little Redbud tree that I so desperately wanted.

The checkout line was starting to snake all the way around the garden department.

So, Bob sent us off with a wave and a “Merry Christmas!”

Who says Christmas cheer can’t last all year?

Oh, but I wish I had remembered to ring the specially-designated bell for great service.

The only time I ever think about doing that is when I use self-checkout.

How funny would that be?

Besides, who doesn’t deserve a pat on the back for a job well done?

Maybe next time, I will remember.

And I will ring it.

For Bob, not myself.

No matter how awesome of a job I’d just done scanning and bagging my own crap.

But getting back to Bob the Tree.

My mom has taken a liking to calling our new tree Bob Hope.

After all, we really do seem to need all the hope…and help…we can possibly get.

Hope.

It sounds so promising.

So prosperous.

Plus, Bob Hope was a humorous centenarian.

A centenarian, for goodness sake!

Yeah, the guy was clearly on to something.

~Happy weekend, friends! As Bob Hope once said, “A sense of humor is good for you. Have you ever heard of a laughing hyena with heartburn?”~

Meet Bob. He's the coolest little tree in town.

Meet Bob. He’s the coolest little tree in town.

Ascending into the Abyss

All girls love horses!

Do they?

Do they really?

Well, then.

I guess I’m just not like all the other girls. 

So, anyway…

My birthday is right around the corner, and I’ve been thinking about one exceptionally unforgettable birthday.

Not exactly fond memories, per se, but memories nonetheless.

I’ve affectionately come to call it The Horse Adventure from Hell.

My husband, DJ,  wanted to do something nice…

Something different…

Something unintentionally death-defying…

Now, let me just say this:

Despite being a vegetarian, I’m interestingly enough not really an “animal person”.

Horse-sized dogs terrify me.

Dead skunks and armadillos don’t look so cuddly.

Cows and their babies are kind of cute, though.

Everything else, I’m clueless about.

Hell, my family couldn’t even handle taking care of half a dozen pet fish.

Every time we’d look over, another sucker would float lifelessly to the top of the tank.

Well, whenever they weren’t busy inbreeding, anyway.

But back to horseback riding.

Actual proclamations from the stable’s website:

“The view is spectacular!”

“Everything always looks peaceful and natural from the saddle of a horse!”

“Our trail rides are great for reducing stress and creating peace of mind!”

More like great for inducing enough terror to drastically reduce one’s lifespan.

But hey, I’m sure it’s all relative.

At any rate, we soon found ourselves climbing to the top of a 9,000-foot mountain in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona on a 3-hour scenic tour.

Scenic being some sort of deranged code word for “direct path off a freakishly high mountain, straight to your death”.

In retrospect, this was probably not the wisest choice for a novice.

I had never ridden a horse before, nor had I any particular inclination to do so.

But I am all for trying new things.

And since we like getting the most bang for our buck, we opted for the best value-

The longest ride option available.

Naturally.

Upon our arrival, we were introduced to our guide.

She couldn’t have been older than 16.

And for the life of me, I can’t recall her name.

So let’s call her Philippa, the Greek word for “friend of horses”.

Seems appropriate enough.

I was assigned a lovely white horse named Princess.

DJ received a brown one called Spirit.

Knowing absolutely nothing about horses, I figured they both looked mild enough.

But just five minutes into the experience, I was fully convinced these horses were trying to kill us.

Or just me, at any rate.

DJ somehow seemed to be enjoying himself.

Hmmph.

The horses kept climbing and climbing.

Up and up and up.

Princess demonstrated a startling pattern:

Climb up, look down.

Climb up, look down.

Slip, slip, slip.

It was a narrow, single track trail, with loose rocks lining every inch.

With each step upward, it felt like she was losing her footing.

My confidence was shaken by this point, but the journey upward continued.

There was nothing even remotely peaceful or relaxing about this experience.

When would it end?

Mare?

More like nightmare.

Every once in a while, I’d get a bit of a break when we were on a patch of flat surface.

I’d close my eyes briefly and try to enjoy the moment.

For, like, ten seconds.

And then we’d be galloping upward again.

Walking, trotting, cantering, galloping.

The majority of these terms meant nothing to Princess.

She knew only one speed:

Galloping uphill at neck-breaking speed.

But at last, we had made it to the top!

The saddle was killing my gluteus maximus.

My hands throbbed from holding onto the reins for dear life.

But we were still alive!

We dismounted from our horses and tied them to a giant log.

The vista view was indeed breathtaking, overlooking magnificently lush forests.

We marveled at the stunning sight and took a few pictures.

And then break time was over.

Princess was the first horse to be untied from the log, so I climbed back up.

But then the unthinkable happened.

As DJ was about to mount Spirit, all three horses spooked.

The two that were tied to the log pulled back with all their might…

Pinning DJ and Phillipa under the log.

Meanwhile, amidst all the chaos, Princess ran in frantic circles.

Before sprinting right toward the edge of the cliff.

Terrified, I was pretty well resigned to the fact that I was gonna be a goner for my birthday.

After all, nothing says Happy Birthday like the gift of being tossed off a horse from the top of a mountain.

I can’t even begin to remember how I managed to get that horse under control and avoided going off the cliff.

But somehow, we miraculously turned around and headed back toward the other two horses.

DJ eventually lifted himself from the weight of the log.

And then he freed Phillipa.

Her jeans were torn and bloodied.

Tough cowgirl that she was, Phillipa hopped back on her horse like nothing out of the ordinary had just happened and led us back down the mountain.

Slip, slide, slip, slide.

When we reached the safety of flat land again, I could finally breathe.

In fact, going back toward the stable was by far the most enjoyable part of the adventure.

We parted ways with Phillipa after giving her a whopping 50% tip.

You know, for almost killing her.

I’m sure nothing would make her happier than knowing she’ll never in her life have to see us again.

Don’t get me wrong.

Horses look nice enough.

When they are safely inside the stable.

And far, far away from me.

Sure, it could have been a fun adventure…

If somebody else had been on that horse.

Anybody else but me, that is.

As the company’s website proclaims:

“You will remember this horseback riding adventure for a lifetime!”

Oh, if only you knew.

Once in a lifetime may have been one time too many…

But at least I look back now and can laugh.

Sort of.

~Happy Friday! Hope you all have a marvelous Easter!~

The "before" picture, with me obliviously posing with Princess and Spirit. I can assure you I probably wasn't smiling afterward. And if I had been, it would've been solely out of relief from surviving this "adventure."

The “before” picture, with me obliviously posing with Princess and Spirit. I can assure you I probably wasn’t smiling afterward. And if I had been, it would’ve been solely out of relief from surviving this “adventure.”

Apocalyptic Annoyance

Knock it off!

Make me!

You wanna go?!?

Sigh.

Some people get up and start the day with yoga and meditation.

But not us.

Oh, no.

We get up and start brawling.

It makes life so much more exciting.

Hey, no fair! He’s got more cereal than me!

Nuh uh! Why do you have more cereal than me?

Whack!

What was that for?

I wanted that book!

Well, I had it first!

Shut up!

No, you shut up!

I’m telling!

Not if I tell first!

Mom!!!!!

Mealtime has always been painful in this household.

One child eats only as a means of survival…

And even then, only by force.

Meanwhile, the other one “helps” clear his brother’s plate.

In the most annoying manner possible, of course.

Well…

Life is all about balance, I suppose.

Stop looking at me!

I’m not looking at you!

Knock it off, or I’ll lick you!

Mooooommmmm!!!!!

One boy reaches over and snatches a single piece of dry cereal out of his brother’s dish.

I need more food! He ate most of mine!

And so the flailing begins.

Between foot stomps and arm twists…

And pinches, punches, and pokes…

It’s little wonder I’m such a fan of finger foods.

No way am I encouraging the use of utensils if not absolutely necessary.

Fencing with forks?

Slapping with spoons?

Noogying with knives?

No, thank you.

Knock, knock!

Who’s there?

Boo.

Boo hoo?

Why are you crying?

Shut up!

No, you shut up!

Alrighty then.

I like trains!

You’re rude!

I like turtles!

And rotten!

Cheese! Cheese! Cheese!

And you’re annoying!

I swear, sometimes I can’t help but marvel at how I’m the most normal person in the room.

Yeah? Well, you’re mean!

No, you’re mean!

I like cheese with my squirrels,

I like squirrels with my cheese!

OMG! Why are you being so annoying?

Smell my feet! SMELL them!

You wanna go?!?

And so ended breakfast…

~Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’ve had a great week! Enjoy your weekend, and try to stay out of trouble. Well, maybe a little mischief won’t hurt…~

I'm fairly certain my child invented this impressively annoying catchphrase...

I’m fairly certain my child invented this impressively annoying catchphrase…