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)

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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!

Threading the Needle

Fasting and physicals.

They both start with the notorious “f” sound.

The very same “f” that starts off fabulous words such as failure and faint.

Sounds so promising, doesn’t it?

I don’t like doctors.

I don’t like physicals.

I especially don’t like blood.

Or perhaps more specifically, I don’t like the blood work that’s part of a rather unfortunate package deal with the aforementioned physical.

And the requisite fasting before the blood work?

That right there is my worst nightmare.

Well, that, along with passing out from loss of blood.

It’s not the needles that freak me out.

It’s the fact that my body riots whenever it’s forced to part with five vials worth of blood.

And for the record, passing out sucks.

But back to the whole fasting nonsense.

No food or drink for eight hours prior to having blood drawn?

What’s up with that?

Right around the three hour mark, I typically start exhibiting signs of feral beastly hunger so intense that this vegetarian becomes pathologically unpleasant while getting dangerously close to resorting to cannibalism.

But seeing as how cannibalism is frowned upon in most parts of the world, that’s probably not the way to go.

So anyway, no food or drink prior to the sadistic practice of drawing blood is truly a hardship for me.

But according to the doctor, in addition to water, I can also enjoy a nice cup of black coffee.

Yeah, no thanks.

I’d rather be a zombie.

Given my track record of passing out every time I have blood drawn, going solo is simply not an option for me.

As I’m getting ready to head out to my impending doom, my husband is forced to monitor me closely.

Hey! What are you doing? Are you actually eating that toothpaste!?!

Maybe I am!

Come on. Spit it out. NOW!

As we drive toward the blood work lab, a similar conversation ensues.

What are you doing with that Do Not Eat packet?

This time, he doesn’t bother waiting for a response before snatching it out of my hand.

Maybe I can enjoy that as a treat after the blood work.

By this point, I’m seriously contemplating eating the wrapper off my water bottle; just yanking that sucker right off and chomping away like an uncouth mule grazing in a pasture.

We arrive 15 minutes before the lab opens, so I have more than enough time for a quick trip to the restroom.

But I’m clearly not moving fast enough for my husband’s liking.

What’s taking you so long? You’d better not be eating the toilet paper!

Ha! Like I’d really do that.

I desperately scan the contents of the trash.

But it’s early in the morning. The trashcan is practically empty, with the exception of a used tissue and an empty bottle of Victoria’s Secret lotion.

We eventually enter the dreaded lab and get down to business.

It’s over fairly quickly, actually.

Holy crap!

I didn’t pass out this time, even after all three huge vials are filled.

Of course, this is solely due to the fact that I’m laying flat across the table like roadkill instead of sitting in the chair like a normal human being.

But whatever.

It worked.

After a few minutes, the room is no longer spinning.

I peel myself off the table with as much dignity as I can muster as my husband guides me out the door like a stumbling drunk.

We stop at the first store we come across, which happens to be 7-11.

We go in and grab a few munchies.

Oh Thank Heaven for 7-11.

I devour a family-size bag of popcorn in ten minutes, tops.

It’s a huge victory, overall.

I didn’t pass out, and I didn’t starve to death.

Perhaps more importantly, I didn’t resort to inhaling yet another Do Not Eat packet.

~Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend!~

Things are about to get ugly...

Things are about to get ugly…

(Threading the Needle originally appeared on Comically Quirky on 11/05/15)

Culinary Mayhem

If you can read, you can cook!

I read that somewhere a while back, and I could’ve died laughing.

I can read well enough, thank you very much.

But cooking?

Now that’s a different story.

As it turns out, that line is actually the title of a cookbook.

I’ve never read that particular cookbook.

But I’m way beyond the point of help, anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, the need to “refuel” is not only a major inconvenience, but an unfortunate human inefficiency as well.

It’s a necessary evil, at best.

And how utterly ironic that I am always hungry, yet I don’t want to be troubled by stepping into the kitchen to prepare anything that might take longer than 30 seconds.

Every time I open the fridge, I secretly wish that my next meal will magically materialize before my eyes.

I can bake decently.

From a box.

I’m usually able to follow those directions well enough.

Unless I don’t have all the ingredients and end up having to do a little experimental substituting.

Who needs a stick of butter anyway when you’ve got a whole tub of rice pudding?

Right?

Yeah.

I have no business being in the kitchen.

If I had a personal chef, I could probably get out once and for all.

Before somebody really gets hurt.

Case in point:

I’ve almost been knocked out by the freezer door on several occasions.

And I’m convinced the ice maker on the fridge is also trying to kill me, as it spastically fires off sharp-edged ice cubes at random angles across the kitchen.

There’s also The Oven Fire Incident, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.

Onions aren’t the only things that can bring tears to my eyes.

For the record, I can tell you from experience that if you accidentally rub your eyes after handling an onion, you’re in for a world of burning inferno waterworks.

Kitchen gadgets terrify me.

On the rare occasions I wander into those kitchen stores at the mall out of morbid curiosity, I can’t figure out what most of those gadgets even are, let alone what purpose they could possibly serve.

Cookie cutters are fairly self-explanatory, but all of that other stuff?

Not so much.

Some of these bizarre looking items look like they belong in a science lab.

Butter churners look downright dangerous.

Nutmeg mill, anyone?

Banana slicer?

Butter curler?

Wow.

There’s something for everyone.

And yet, it’s all so useless to me.

I can slice and dice things just fine.

Oh, and I do excel at making mixed drinks. I’m a natural at that!

Surely, that’s got to count for something.

Speaking of drinks, Baileys is the ultimate utility player in the kitchen.

I’ve used it to transform random ingredients into a work of… well, a real piece of work.

Baileys is a delightful addition to cereal, yogurt, and strawberries.

Voilà!

Instant meal, with a little added bonus.

In my house, we tend to plan our meals based on what’s about to expire.

Oh, the eggs are at their sell by date, the twisty tie for the loaf of bread mysteriously disappeared, and the plums are starting to shrivel?

Guess we just solved the dinner dilemma.

If the produce is getting too soft and the yogurt is a couple of days past the sell by date, it’s definitely smoothie time. It is the ultimate saving grace, the fabulous Waste Not, Want Not approach.

Smoothies are easy, sometimes delicious, occasionally nutritious, and most importantly, a great way to use up all those bananas, blueberries, avocados, and brussel sprouts that are a mere 6 hours away from turning into moldy mush because they’ve been hiding in the ghastly shadows of gallons of milk and apple juice for the past two weeks.

Perhaps the best part about smoothies is that if you’re feeling lazy and think chewing might take more effort than it is worth, all you have to do is gulp it down.

Which may be especially beneficial, depending on the alarming mixture of foods you just dumped into that blender.

On the plus side, you can drink it out of a cocktail cup to make it feel like an extra special treat.

A few more perfectly valid reasons why the kitchen and its gang of appliance and gadget buddies are not my friends:

I once forgot to put the coffee pot under the machine before flipping the switch and wandering out of the room. I returned a few minutes later to the sight of coffee spewing out of the machine, across the counter, and forming a muddy lake that snaked all the way across the kitchen.

There was also that time I reached over to unplug the toaster. It was still hot, and it burned my arm. Yes, I actually got beat up by a toaster.

And I’d once forgotten to coat a pan with oil before pouring the brownie mix in, and ended up eating the brownies all by myself right out of the pan with a fork because it just wouldn’t come out otherwise, and I hate wasting perfectly good food.

The blender also literally blew up on me while making a smoothie. In my defense, it was pretty old.

And my greatest failure in the kitchen (to date) that has clearly set me up for a lifetime of culinary success:

When I was in junior high, I attempted to turn pita bread into pita chips by tossing it into the oven for a few minutes. When I reached in to grab it, it was hotter than hell.

The next thing I knew, the oven mitt went flying into the oven.

It came out engulfed in flames.

Seriously, if that doesn’t’ make my point for needing to stay out of the kitchen, I don’t know what will.

Needless to say, the smoke alarm and I are old buddies.

~Happy Friday, friends! I know there are plenty of people out there who enjoy cooking. Clearly, I am not one of them, and for good reason. But if you happen to also be a culinary misfit,  you’re in good company!~

Take that, Martha Stewart

Take that, Martha Stewart!

(Culinary Mayhem originally appeared on Comically Quirky on 9/03/15)

Directionally Delusional

Recalculating…

I swear, I’d never get anywhere without a GPS.

Although I don’t particularly seem to be getting anywhere with one either…

Ah.

The great Global Positioning System.

Where exactly does this thing think it ought to be positioning me?

Straight into the path of danger?

I wouldn’t doubt it.

After my younger son’s doctor appointment, we decided to get out and explore downtown.

My GPS informed me of a sprawling park with playgrounds and a botanical garden just one mile away.

I was looking forward to enjoying a bit of one-on-one time with my son.

Now I know I should’ve just dumped him back off at school and called it a day.

For the record, I’ve got a track record of getting lost just backing out of my own driveway.

Truly, I have no concept of direction.

If I didn’t have a compass in my car, I probably would’ve driven straight into an ocean by now.

Some people have an internal compass.

My husband and older son both have it.

My younger son and I clearly do not.

Instead, I’m gifted with an overactive imagination and an inclination for getting lost going nowhere.

Yes, I know GPS is not foolproof.

And sure, some people prefer to use good old maps.

But for me, reading a map is like trying to decipher hieroglyphics.

I’m convinced printed maps serve only as intricately detailed wall hangings.

Did I mention I have no sense of direction?

None.

Zero.

Zilch.

Turn left now.

Um, okay.

But that would put us the wrong way on a one way road, so I think I’ll pass.

Thanks, though.

At the fork, stay to the left.

That’s all and well…

Except following that cue just threw us onto an entirely different freeway altogether.

Would somebody please explain to me the logic of a freeway called I35E that evidently runs north and south?

Rather than eastbound, as the would imply…?

Why not just name it I35Q instead, to eliminate any unnecessary confusion?

At any rate, we could actually see the park from where we’re at…

Make a U-turn.

Make a U-turn.

Take the ramp ahead.

Okaaaay…

But which ramp?

And to where, exactly?

There are various ramps leading to six different freeways.

One of them is a toll road.

And I refuse to pay money to get lost.

No, thank you.

Prepare to park and walk the rest of the way.

Excuse me?!?

Does that seriously sound like something anyone ought to be doing?

Across a freeway?!?

I always say I want to get out and explore more.

But this was not at all what I’d envisioned.

Getting lost is never intentionally on my agenda.

Nor is driving in circles.

Or making dozens of U-turns.

With such overwhelming helpfulness, GPS surely must be one of Siri’s relatives.

In 200 ft, make a U-turn.

Make a U-turn.

Turn right.

Make a U-turn.

Seriously?

The GPS loses connection as we go through a tunnel.

On the wrong freeway, of course.

And then it can’t seem to figure out where on earth we are.

By the time it regains satellite, it’s convinced we’re coasting along on an adjacent freeway.

Gotta love complex metropolitan cities.

There’s a reason I prefer to stick to surface streets.

Half an hour later, we’re right back where we started.

I’m not getting anywhere.

Literally, I’m going nowhere…

 Recalculating…
 ~Happy Friday, friends! Who else can relate to the chaos of getting lost every time you enter a vehicle? I know I can’t possibly be the only one… I hope! Anyway, have an amazing weekend!~
The GPS never lies...

The GPS never lies…

Rogue Rotisserie Nosh

More skin!

Give me more skin!

Ooh, it’s so soft!

And the bone is so weak!

Yeah.

So, I made the mistake of buying a rotisserie chicken.

For the boys, not myself.

I don’t eat meat.

And I’d prefer not to look at it, either.

But life is seldom so accommodating.

And so I sit there, watching my child wave around some chunk of chicken that appears to still have a butt attached.

Or maybe it’s a thigh.

Either way, I don’t want any part of it.

Yet there he sits, unwittingly recreating the scene from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, when Chewbacca prepares to devour a freshly prepped Porg in front of all the other Porgs.

Months later,  I still can’t help but wonder-

Was that Mama Porg?

Or one of their idolized big brothers?

Or perhaps it was their wise, Yoda-like grandfather figure?

I’ll never be able to look at Chewbacca the same way.

At any rate, the chunk of rotisserie chicken looked eerily like the rotisserie Porg in that moment.

No, my son doesn’t particularly resemble Chewy, aside from the dark brown fur.

I mean, hair.

But they both make similar, indecipherable noises.

Hmmm.

Maybe my son is actually a Porg-eating Chewbacca progeny…

Whoa.

I’ve gotten a bit off topic.

As the child continues to exhibit more animal-like conduct than an actual animal, I don’t know whether to be mildly amused, mortified, or just downright disgusted.

The Bigly Bestest Doggie surreptitiously creeps into the kitchen.

With big puppy dog eyes and preemptive lip smacking, he secures his position.

He settles in under the kitchen table and enthusiastically began his complimentary floor licking service.

Maybe, just maybe.

It’s no secret kids are notorious for getting more food on the floor than actually into their mouths.

I sadistically find myself almost wishing the doggie will leap up onto the kitchen table and scarf down the rest of chicken, effectively putting an end to this horror show.

But alas, his manners are disappointingly impeccable.

Mmm, yummy chicken!

Are you sure you don’t want some?

Come on, have a bite!

Right.

I haven’t eaten meat since I was 15, and I’m not about to start now.

Especially with something that’s probably a Porg.

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

Is it any wonder those poor Porgs always look so sad

Is it any wonder those poor Porgs always look so sad?

Fundamentally Fashion Impaired

Dresses made out of trash bags.

Jumpsuits that resemble prison attire.

Crotchless jeans.

Um, hello?!?

Why do I always feel like I’m missing something?

Why would anyone want to parade around in attire that gives the disturbing impression of having just kicked Big Bird’s ass and then using his fashionable feathers to flaunt their victory?

I simply don’t get the world of fashion.

It’s so…

Weird.

And not the good kind of weird, either.

Haven’t these designers ever heard of yoga pants?

Or lounge pants?

Or better yet, pjs?

If not, they’re totally missing out.

Comfort should never be underestimated.

Who is all this eccentric stuff designed for, anyway?

Surely not most human beings?

Erma Bombeck said it best:

“Sometimes I can’t figure designers out. It’s as if they flunked human anatomy.”

This stuff possibly can’t be meant for real life.

I don’t know.

Maybe I don’t get out enough.

Or maybe I’m not normal.

And I’m perfectly okay with that.

But come on.

Who wears this stuff?

It’s like fashion from another planet.

Ooh, maybe that’s what this is!

Intergalactic fashion!

Garbage can lids for hats.

Rompers made from mops.

Boots that are furrier than a wooly mammoth.

Talk about statement pieces.

And celebrities only perpetuate the madness.

How about Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress?

Or Bjork’s weird swan dress?

Or Katy Perry’s memorable carousel dress?

Somebody intentionally created these monstrosities.

Some of those outfits would result in common folk getting thrown in the slammer for indecent exposure.

Especially with a scarcely concealing dress made out of meat, for heaven’s sake.

But celebrities?

They can get away with strutting down through town wearing nothing more than a sheer scarf as a top and car mats for a skirt.

That’s fashion.

Using one’s body as a kooky canvas like that…

Well, Picasso would simply be horrified.

But the madness doesn’t stop there.

When I go shopping for clothes, it gets overwhelming sometimes.

Is that garment supposed to be a tube top or a dress?

Or is it intended to be worn as a cape?

And that freakish in-between-fingers ring…

Is it meant to be a weapon?

All I know is somebody’s gonna get hurt.

And it’s usually me.

Especially when sadistic curiosity gets the better of me and I take a questionable garment into the dressing room.

Which appendage is supposed to go through which strap?

Surely this can’t possibly be a dress if it doesn’t even begin to cover my butt…?

Why does this shirt seem to have three arm holes?

I truly don’t want to end up in ER after accidentally knocking myself out by trying to cram my unsuspecting head into a narrow little arm hole.

But I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve managed to clobber my own face while trying on some sort of whimsical attire.

Simplicity is the key for me.

I can live without Star Trek inspired looks.

Or leopard print from head to toe.

Or aluminum foil onesies.

These concepts are certainly costume party worthy, if nothing else.

And not only are these crazy pieces…well, crazy, they’re insanely expensive.

If you spend $2,000 on a hideous fringe-covered, barf-green purse- I mean handbag– will you actually have anything left to put in it?

It might be nice to have money left over to do other things.

Like eat.

And maybe even pay the mortgage.

Not to be a slave to the money-draining, ever-changing world of fashion.

I can’t do high maintenance.

It’s too exhausting.

And that level of quirkiness is far too much.

Even for me.

Some people spend ten dollars on clothing and look like a million bucks.

Some people spend a million bucks and look like disheveled cow-wrangling floozies.

It’s all in how you wear it.

So be true to yourself and wear whatever makes you feel like a million bucks.

Especially if you’ve actually spent a million bucks.

~Happy Friday, friends! Clearly, fashion is relative. Just ask that poor doggie in the picture. Have a great weekend!~

It seems anything goes in the world of fashion...

It seems anything goes in the world of fashion…

A Loose Screw

An endless parade of buses, tractors, and horrifyingly inexperienced high school drivers finally pass.

And then the typical bickering and brawling commenced, mere moments after we made our way out of the school parking lot.

My precious darlings wasted no time, cutting right to the chase of intentionally annoying and aggravating each other.

And me.

Someone in the car was obviously an expert.

On everything.

But that someone clearly wasn’t me.

And then the fun really began.

Stop making that stupid noise!

Turn that down! You’re gonna go deaf!

He’s being stupid!

Why are you being so stupid?

Stop acting like a baby!

Meh.

I continued driving among the bickering insanity when I noticed something… off.

And not just figuratively speaking, either.

I panicked.

The brake and gas pedals…

What the…???

Where did they go???

My life flashed before my eyes.

Was this seriously how things were going to end?

In a malodorous, sweaty-gym-sock-stinking,  juice-box-stained deathtrap, with those two arguing beasts screeching and howling?

I don’t think so.

Over my dead body.

Ooh, no.

That was bad.

But what was going on?

Did I just break the brake?

Did I unwittingly have some sort of deranged Hulk-like moment and destroy a crucial car control with my freakishly strong right foot?

A hunk of plastic unceremoniously rolled backward and magically revealed the presumed missing controls.

And then it rolled under my seat.

Okay, that was a good start.

Except there was still a mysterious piece of rogue plastic on the loose that obviously broke off from somewhere.

I pulled into the post office parking lot, the very place my boys both harbor an unjustifiable aversion to, in an attempt to figure out what the hell was going on.

A large heap of plastic with a loose screw surfaced from under my seat.

I hadn’t the slightest clue what is was.

It vaguely resembled a pedal-shaped…

Something or other.

What did I know?

But the brake pedal was still intact.

The gas pedal was still intact.

So I determined it was safe enough to continue driving.

I mean, relatively speaking.

What with those shrieking banshee passengers and all.

Evidently, that heap of plastic turned out to be part of a vent that was situated near the brake pedal.

A vent part that I must’ve kicked and sent rolling.

Dangerously rolling, at that.

Well, that’s what happens when you discover you’ve got a loose screw.

Or two…

~Happy Friday, friends! Hope you all have a terrific weekend!~

This thing could easily be just a bonus piece of plastic with no justifiable purpose... right?

This thing could easily be just a bonus piece of plastic with no justifiable purpose… right?

Lessons from the Fish Tank

Responsibility?

Pfft!

Who needs that?

Well, if responsibility is your goal…

Then pet fish are definitely not the way to go.

PetSmart’s Black Friday ad, boasting 50% off all small pets, really got me thinking.

It brought back memories of That One Christmas five years ago.

Santa had oh so generously brought my boys a very nice fish tank, filled with cool fish tank ornaments like treasure chests and Sponge Bob Square Pants and his pineapple under the sea…

And Sponge Bob’s bizarre pet meowing snail, Gary.

All that was missing were the fish.

So my husband and I gifted our boys each with a certificate for one Mickey Mouse Platy fish apiece.

Which turned out to be a huge mistake.

Or, rather, a life lesson.

A lesson in The Circle of Life.

The cycle of life.

And death.

And inbreeding.

That’s right.

The whole experience served as a constant lesson in the disturbing never-ending cycle of death in a fish tank plagued by frequent new life, even more frequent death…

And inbreeding of epidemic proportions.

Sure, the kids were excited at first.

We started off with three fish:

Chloe-Dante, Bailey, and…and…

Well, some other fish.

We soon added snails Gary and Larry.

And then a cool sucker fish, creatively named Sucker Pluto.

We would all sit there like scientists, measuring for proper ph levels to keep everything properly in balance for the safety of our beloved new pets.

But after a matter of months, nobody cared enough anymore to clean the algae-filled tank or even be certain if they’d been fed lately.

Before we knew it, there were far too many fish to remember names of or even keep track of.

On that note…

Never name fish after your family members.

The first fish to kick the bucket was a red Platy named after my brother and his dog.

A child showing up to school crying about dead fish named after a family member is bound to be a traumatizing experience.

Chloe-Dante just died!

Um, isn’t that your uncle? And his…dog?

Your uncle and his dog just died…and you’re at school?!?

What is wrong with your family?!?

Oh, you guys name your fish after your family members…???

Seriously, what is wrong with your family?

Yeah.

Not an ideal situation.

Always a new fish.

Always a new one kicking the bucket.

On the bright side, we really got the most bang for our buck with all that inbreeding, which led to our pet count multiplying exponentially.

So I guess in that sense, we got a pretty good deal out of it.

I mean, with the exception of The Missing GloFish.

How can a bright neon green fish go missing?

It’s not like they can jump out of a tank…

Or can they?

We’ll never know for certain.

Maybe he was just trying to escape that horrifying inferno.

I can’t say I would’ve blamed him.

Pet fish?

Ha!

Never again.

It’s safe to say I’ve learned my lesson.

~Happy Saturday, everyone! Have a fantastic weekend!~

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...

Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…

Unfinished Accomplishments

What do you do all week?

I swear, sometimes I ask myself that very same question.

Where is the time going?

And perhaps more importantly…

What the heck have I accomplished lately?

I’m gonna go with nothing.

Or nothing much, anyway.

Definitely not a whole hell of a lot, from the look of things.

I’m sure laundry and emptying the dishwasher technically count as something.

And with a to do list a mile long, surely I’m not lacking for things to do.

Yet, it seems that for every one thing I manage to cross off the list, I’m instantly having to add 10 more things.

It’s like being a hamster running circles on a wheel that never stops.

(Is this why people sometimes refer to life as a rat race? Interesting…)

On days like today, there is little to show for it.

Let’s see.

Today, I…

Fed the kids breakfast.

Fed the dog.

Brought the boys to school.

Walked the dog.

Worried incessantly.

Did multiple loads of laundry.

Emptied and filled the dishwasher.

Vacuumed.

Wandered.

Picked the boys up from school.

At least, I think I did…

Did I?

Where are those boys?

I haven’t heard a peep out of them in a while, and that’s never a good thing.

Hmmm.

Oh, well.

But truly, I don’t sit at home shoveling Bon Bons down my throat like a glutton while watching soap operas when the kids are at school.

For one thing, I don’t have the attention span to watch a soap opera.

Or anything else, for that matter.

I typically have to get up and do something.

Like dust off the TV or pull out the vacuum…

I’m telling ya, my ability to multitask has reached new levels.

Did you know it’s entirely possible to eat breakfast while pushing the vacuum around the house?

Yeah, well.

I never said it was a particularly good idea.

Some people have to go to the gym to stay fit.

But I get all the physical activity I can safely handle by pushing the vacuum around while balancing stuff while also trying not to choke to death.

I think I’m on to something here.

Some days, I drink my green smoothie out of a cocktail glass.

Because, why not?

By my calculations, I spend roughly three hours a day worrying about everything that is, and everything that can, go wrong.

Such an impressive use of time, I know.

My mind doesn’t merely wander.

It full-out gallops across intersection after intersection of green lights with not a single red light in sight.

I wander around the house, trying to remember what I had set out to do in the first place.

So then I wander around the neighborhood in hopes of clearing my head.

But curiosity wins and I start wandering into new construction homes within my development.

On the way back, I marvel at why the flag is at half-staff, and resolve to Google it when I get home.

And then I get back home and start to worry about everything that needs to get done around the house…

From touching up paint to dusting the base boards to dealing with the backed up dryer vent.

So I become overwhelmed as all these thoughts swirl through my head.

Then before I know it, it’s time to pick the kids up from school.

And I still haven’t managed to eat lunch.

Did I mention I’m still in my pajamas two minutes before I have to head out?

I cram a protein bar down my throat as I’m driving.

So what if my time management skills aren’t looking too hot at the moment?

Some days, I manage to get an entire week’s worth of things accomplished.

Go figure.

A little laundry, a little cleaning, a little writing…

And a whole lotta worrying.

About the state of the world.

About if I’ve somehow been screwing up my kids all along.

About the commotion of upcoming holidays.

That’s right.

Let’s just add the chaos of Christmas to the mix, too, shall we?

Because I might become bored otherwise.

It’s the season…

For what, exactly?

Migraines?

Ulcers?

Some days I start off by making a healthy green alkaline smoothie…

And end the day with a shot of Baileys.

Is it so wrong I’m secretly kinda sorta okay with everyone in my family landing on the naughty list to alleviate some of the stress?

I think I might have to accidentally delete the to do list on my phone.

I’d be okay with that.

Oops.

Too bad, so not sad.

So what is it that I do all day?

I swear, sometimes I just don’t even know.

~Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’ve all had a great week, and that you’ve managed to accomplish…well, more than I’ve managed to accomplish. Have a terrific weekend!~

Pretty sure this right here counts as a fairly significant accomplishment...

Pretty sure this right here counts as a fairly significant accomplishment…