Taxation Without Education

Where, exactly, are my tax dollars going?

I posed this question to my older son during a game of Trivia Crack after he answered yet another question incorrectly.

His response?

Umm…up your butt?

Hmm.

That’s kinda what I was afraid of.

Incidentally, I just received our 2018 property tax statement.

Let’s just say it ain’t pretty.

Which is precisely why a friendly lunch note reminder seems to be in order:

If nothing more, it’s a helpful lesson in alliteration.

In my son’s defense, though:

I hadn’t learned that yet… I don’t think.

Sigh.

After answering 11 consecutive trivia questions correctly myself, he offered a bit of praise:

You’re not as dumb as I thought!

Thanks.

I think.

Guess you won’t be seeing either of us on Jeopardy anytime soon…

~Happy Friday, friends! No person in history has probably ever been overjoyed about paying taxes. But on that note… Where education is concerned, investing in the future is undoubtedly a worthwhile investment. Have a fantastic weekend!~

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Bigly Bestest Party Pup

@thebiglybestestdoggie: Why am I wearing this goofy hat, and what are we celebrating? Is it my birthday already? Or Cousin Chloe’s birthday? No? Hmm. Well, whatever it is, I hope it involves treats! 

(Psst! I think it might be Momma’s birthday!)

~Happy Tuesday, friends! It’s always fun to take a moment to celebrate the little pleasures in life!~

The Chaos of Crafting

Making memories?

Priceless.

Creating memorabilia from memorable moments?

Pricey.

And time-consuming.

But fun.

And also kind of stressful, come to think of it.

Remember my recent adventure in ocean snatching?

Well, guess what?

I finally did something productive with all those seashells, ocean water, and sand.

My masterpieces are finally done!

What can I say?

My creative streaks ebb and flow.

(Just like the tides of an ocean!)

It took me a few weeks to envision exactly what I wanted to create with all my awesome ocean loot.

All I knew was that I wanted to recreate a beach scene.

But how, exactly?

I’ve got my very own tropical island oasis right here at home, with a beachy island-themed office room that I’d designed myself.

Complete with an inflatable palm tree.

Yet, figuring out the best way to recreate the ocean at home with real ocean parts is no small feat.

Don’t get me wrong.

I love crafting.

I love making memories.

And I especially love the beach.

It’s a dangerous combination.

Forget all the money spent on the vacation itself…

If you truly want to preserve your memories, you’d best be prepared to shell out even more money with a trip to Hobby Lobby.

But first, let’s talk about glue.

One year, my brother gave my boys a cool sock puppet kit for Christmas.

But there was an awful lot of sewing involved to assemble and accessorize those puppets, and I am not a big fan of sewing.

Why sew when super glue is so much faster?

As glue oozed like a spewing volcano out of the tube, I discovered the sock puppet had become glued shut.

With my hand still inside.

Glue and I clearly have a complicated history.

And so there were all these little factors I had to take into account for my ocean project.

Like how to glue sand and seashells without having shells permanently attached to my fingertips.

And how to ensure ample air ventilation to avoid passing out from toxic glue fumes.

At any rate…

On a burst of creative energy, I was finally ready to turn my collection of goodies from the ocean into a work of art.

Or four.

One combining most of my prized loot into a display:

(A shadow box with a layer of beach sand as the backdrop for my Atlantic seashells, along with a little heart-shaped jar for the ocean water.)

Another for a more sensory-filled experience:

(My little sandy beach jar, with some of the smaller seashells. If sand beneath my feet isn’t an option, then I’ll settle for sand in my hands. Ooh, that rhymes!)

A stress-relief meditation jar:

(No, the glitter and pink water are not from ocean. And it’s also not technically a “jar”. But the seashells on top are indeed from the beach. Besides, it’s something to shake and throttle. What’s not to love?)

And another heart-shaped vial of ocean water:

(Because it seemed wrong to dump the leftover Atlantic Ocean water after all the trouble we went through to collect it. And drinking it just didn’t seem like a very good idea.)

Trying to capture the magnificence of a real beach is damn near impossible.

But if you’re going to steal from the beach, you might as well do something awesome with your loot, right?

Oh, and as for all the glue I used for my projects?

No matter how many times I scrubbed my hands afterward, they were still stickier than a pot of Winnie the Pooh’s honey.

I had to wear cotton socks to bed that night.

On my hands.

Because I was terrified I’d wake up glued to the sheets.

Or somehow stuck to the wall.

Or worse, with my hands permanently attached to my face, like that kid from Home Alone.

Whenever I use glue, I truly seem to have the whole world in my hands.

In the most literal sense possible.

Anyway…

I finally have something to show for my moment of blissful ocean kleptomania!

And yet, I still have 493 pictures from my trip to sort through, organize, and arrange into a scrapbook.

So much for the stress relief of crafting.

Where’s that !&#$ meditation jar when I need it?

~Happy Saturday, friends! Have a great weekend!~

Bigly Bestest Blessing

@thebiglybestestdoggie: I am happiness. I am a blessing. And I make people smile. The moral of the story? It obviously pays to be adorable! I think I’m on to something here…

~Happy Tuesday, friends! Doggies really do equal happiness, don’t they? Just look at that smile!~

Southern Inhospitality

The struggle of being a former New Yorker/Washingtonian/Arizonan in an excessively friendly southern state is all too real.

One of the hardest things about being a transplant in the south is the challenging adjustment of having to talk to people.

Especially extraordinarily friendly people, because they make me feel like a sorry excuse of an ill-mannered human being.

For someone naturally reserved, such unexpected conversations with enthusiastic random strangers can be grounds for a full-blown anxiety attack.

On an exceptionally good day, I can plaster on my most natural fake smile.

Then I cross my fingers, in hopes that my face won’t actually freeze that way.

Especially if I am unintentionally bearing teeth.

When I’m out walking around my neighborhood and people go beyond the perfunctory wave and vocalize their greeting, or worse, initiate a conversation?

What am I supposed to do then?

The obvious answer, of course, is to make a run for it.

I go outside to throw away the trash in my pjs in broad daylight and the neighbor twelve houses down to the left with the terrifying horse-sized Scottish Deerhound smiles and starts waving a little too enthusiastically.

My typical instinct is to discreetly crouch down and scuttle away like the stealthy ninja that I am.

Suddenly, my brain is rapidly firing off panic signals.

Crap! You made eye contact! What were you thinking?

“How ya doing? Nice day out, don’t ya think?”

Great. Now the neighbor wants to make conversation while you’re standing outside like a fool in your Hello Kitty pajamas!

“A shame about that field being plowed down for another housing development, ain’t it? Where all them cows gonna go now?”

Might as well be standing outside naked. Maybe that’d be less awkward.

Must. Get. Out.

Quick! Excuse yourself! Get out of there NOW!

The last time I had been caught off guard by a neighbor, I managed to back out of there after a record time of 1 minute and 28 seconds.

By pleading a bathroom emergency.

Classy, I know.

But it was the best I could do after my overactive brain presented the pitiful excuse on a silver platter.

Yet once again, my brain is tasked with conjuring up “logical” excuses while my neighbor continues on with his riveting monologue about cows.

I’ve narrowed down my choices.

I have to go because:

a) Dinner is almost ready, and I need to go turn the oven off

b) The house is now on fire because dinner has been in the oven 5 minutes too long

c) The kids are beating each other within inches of their lives with Nerf swords

d) All of the above

While all of these seem like perfectly rational justifications, I naturally go with the most plausible one.

The house is on fire.

Not seeing the thick gray smoke?

Really?

Well, gotta go! See ya later!

~Happy Friday, friends! I’m sure all my fellow introverts out there can relate to this one all too well. Have a fantastic weekend!~

I made eye contact, and now it's all over. This must be the end.

I made eye contact, and now it’s all over. This must be the end.

(Southern Inhospitality originally appeared on Comically Quirky on 8/6/15)

Bigly Bestest Birdy Buddy

@thebiglybestestdoggie: Just sitting around, chilling with my boy. Or a bird. Not really sure. Smells like a human, but looks like a mighty fine dinner prospect… Wonder if this is one of those goofy sphinxes I heard about? Hope he takes his head off soon so I know for sure.

~Happy Tuesday, friends!  If this isn’t proof that friends come in all shapes and sizes, I don’t know what is. As long as there are belly rubs involved, anyway!~

Beep Beep Bo Bleep

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Well, one thing’s for certain:

There’s no escaping reality.

Fire! Fire! Carbon monoxide warning! Get out! Get out!

No.

Not this crap again.

But this time around, it wasn’t merely the obnoxious chirping signifying a dead battery.

Or the smoke detector getting triggered by my disastrous attempts at cooking.

No.

This was a full-scale notification of distress, with every single alarm throughout the house screeching in synchronized cacophony.

At a ridiculously ungodly hour of the night.

Which is obviously when I do my clearest, most rational thinking.

I’m normally the world’s lightest sleeper.

Yet I jolted from a deep sleep in a state of utter confusion.

What was going on?

Was this seriously real?

The Bigly Bestest Doggie would probably know.

For surely, if anything were truly wrong, he’d alert us and then heroically save us the way Lassie saved Timmy.

Right?

Or not.

Loud noises terrify The Bigly Bestest Doggie.

And so he just laid there in his bed, looking for a cue of what to do next.

And then it hit me:

We had absolutely no concrete plan of action in place.

No clear-cut escape routes.

What the hell was wrong with us?

What kind of parents would wait for a moment like this to start planning?

I mean, we did have a plan.

Once upon a time.

In our old house.

But apparently we hadn’t given it any thought since moving several years ago.

Did I mention my husband was out of town for the evening on a business trip?

I briefly bemoaned my myriad of failures as a mother, figuring I’d probably drop dead from a panic attack anyway before my senses finally kicked in.

Only one kid stirred with all the commotion of the alarms.

The other zombie either somehow managed to sleep through it or simply didn’t want to be bothered to get out of bed.

My oldest demonstrated impressive priorities as he sleepily muttered that he couldn’t afford to spend $200 on another phone.

I forced both kids to move their butts and get out before rapidly searching for a potential source of fire.

After examining every single room, closet, and the garage, I dashed outside to check the perimeter.

The alarms were shockingly audible outside, too, their ear-splitting decibel enough to wake up the entire neighborhood.

Speaking of neighborhoods…

We just so happen to have a rather passive aggressive Facebook page for our development.

And while occasionally helpful, the discussions can get downright ugly sometimes.

I could almost picture it…

The audacity!

The nerve of those rude neighbors allowing their fire alarm to go off and disrupt our sleep!

The next time that happens there’d better be real flames bursting through the roof!

And why is that dog of theirs running frantically down the street?

Hello, animal control?

Fortunately, the alarm stopped on its own several minutes later.

Upon discovering it had been a false alarm, I got the boys settled back into bed for whatever was left of the evening,

I warily laid back in my own bed, unable and unwilling to sleep.

I could’ve sworn I felt a surge of heat as I thrashed around in bed.

Adrenaline?

Or was something really on fire?

I bolted out of bed to do another thorough check.

Then I noticed the flashing red light on a detector above my bed.

Something in my bedroom must’ve triggered the alarm.

But what?

A sadistic insect?

Unusually high humidity?

A defective smoke detector?

(Because that’d be incredibly comforting.)

Or was it my domestic ineptitude?

God knows I hadn’t dusted all that recently…

So I suppose that could’ve been it.

I’m far from coordinated when woken from a zombie-like state of sleep.

And you know what the best thing to do when you’re exhausted and can’t see straight?

That’s right!

Haul a gazillion-ton expandable ladder out of the garage!

And then attempt to drag  that ladder through the house without taking out a wall or knocking yourself out.

Obviously.

Isn’t that what any normal person would do?

That beast of a ladder could’ve reached the top of the Empire State Building.

Hell, that thing could’ve reached the top of Mount Everest.

But I couldn’t figure out how to open the monstrous thing.

And once I finally got it open, I didn’t pay any attention to the orientation of the battery when I yanked that sucker out of the alarm.

So I fumbled around with that for several more minutes.

Thank goodness it was only a false alarm.

But it was still downright scary.

And it showed just how ill prepared we were.

Which is even scarier.

The next day, the boys and I discussed fire safety and evacuation plans.

I think it’s safe to say that while we now have an effective plan in place, I also effectively scared the living crap out of them.

Now I’m worried if there’s ever another false alarm, they’re going to bolt out of bed and jump out their second-story windows without being 100 percent certain there’s actually an emergency.

I can picture it now.

Oh well.

Better safe than sorry.

Oh, and that ginormous ladder?

It’s still sitting in the middle of my bedroom, two weeks later.

But good news!

It’s being repurposed!

The ladder works surprisingly well as a clothes hanging rack.

The Industrial Look is fashionable, right?

Repurposing is awesome!

Beep beep bo bleep!

~Happy Friday, friends! Anyone here a fan of irony? Well, guess what? As I sat here typing this, my thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the wail of tornado sirens and hail slamming vigorously against the windows. Fortunately, everyone is safe. But I think we’ve had enough fun for a while…~

Could this be the future of bedroom design? If so, I want due credit for starting this trend!

Could this be the future of bedroom design? If so, I want due credit for starting this trend!

Bigly Bestest Candy Crazy

@thebiglybestestdoggie: I want candy! I want candy! Ohhh. But I’m a doggie and can’t have candy. And those candy-filled Easter baskets behind me sure aren’t helping the matter. Oh, the injustice!

~Happy Tuesday, friends! Anyone else suddenly craving candy? Hmmm…~