An Ode to an Oldie

I’m his favorite sister.

And he’s unquestionably my favorite brother.

This may be largely due to a technicality, but I’m pretty sure it still counts.

It’s sort of a process of elimination by default.

But I have to admit, it sure makes it easier when you only have one sibling to choose from.

It’s about to big a huge milestone birthday for this favorite brother of mine.

The big 4-0!

And with that said…

Happy Birthday, Dante!

My awesome, absolute favorite brother.

He is every bit as unique as his name.

But then, it’s not like anyone in my family is capable of doing normal very well.

He and I are obviously related.

Despite the fact he used to try to convince me I’d been adopted.

(News flash: We look far too much alike for that to have been true. So there!)

Sure, he’s more than a whole foot taller than me.

(He enjoys teasing me about how I’d clearly stunted my growth by becoming a vegetarian at too young an age.)

But we both like to write.

(Yup! He writes, too!)

And we’re both funny.

(His favorite word is haha.)

At least, I think I’m funny.

Hmmmm…

I must be pretty funny, because he’ll typically reply to my texts with one of three responses:

  1. haha
  2. lol
  3. funny

He’s got a delightfully dry sense of humor, but he truly is a man of few words.

For this reason, we tend to text far more frequently than we talk on the phone.

Whenever we do have an actual phone conversation, he’ll mutter an occasional word here and there.

Which helps reassure me he didn’t get eaten alive by his feisty dog mid-conversation.

And then he’ll proceed to breathe intermittently into the phone like Darth Vader.

Oh, well.

Some people just don’t know when to shut up.

Growing up, he was paradoxically my best pal…

And worst nightmare.

Thanks to my favorite brother, I learned how to swim.

Or perhaps more accurately…

I learned to swim because he’d otherwise have kept trying to drown me in our backyard pool.

For fun, of course.

Because this, apparently, is what bored children do to keep themselves entertained.

(Note to parents: Think carefully before you send your kids outside with painfully vague instructions, like “Go find something to do”. Nothing good ever comes out of this.)

We’d make the most of our excruciatingly short pool season in New York by excitedly jumping in as soon as the pool temperature warmed up to a bone-chilling 59 degrees.

Hey, it seemed like a totally bright at the time.

But this may well be one factor in why there are clearly some things wrong with us.

Bloodlines run deep, but crazy runs deeper.

He also got me permanently banned before I’d ever had the chance to play an instrument.

My parents made the fatal error of allowing him to play a trombone in the school band.

He wasn’t exactly what one might call a natural.

The odds of him winning a medal for his performance weren’t sounding very favorable.

And I suspect I wasn’t the only one who’d felt that way.

A year or so later, we ended up selling that trombone to the first person who showed up at our garage sale, just to make it go away.

But alas, so started my future path to choir.

At least I wasn’t making everyone’s eardrums bleed.

And then there’s what I affectionately call Dante’s Shop of Horrors.

He used to set up shop in his bedroom, with an assortment of toys, stuffed animals, and other goodies on display, in an attempt to make a few quick bucks.

Did I mention most of the items in his shop already belonged to me?

But I’d always feel sorry for him, and so I’d end up buying my own crap back out of pity.

After all, the boy had a real hunger for life.

He’d count his earnings and walk to the store to stock up on more crap.

Including an assortment of treats, like dozens of those cheap apple pies that contained no real apples.

Money well spent, I know.

But then he would always surprise me with cute little stuffed animals he’d won from the claw machine.

Which made up for a lot.

Like when he’d change the channel on the one tv in the house and kill my few remaining brain cells with never-ending marathons of Beavis and Butthead.

(Those brain cells have yet to return.)

Or when he’d blare Metallica’s Enter Sandman on repeat, shaking and rattling the house all odd hours of the night until the vibrating floor would eventually lull me to sleep.

(I’ve known every word of that song by heart since 7th grade.)

But I think of him affectionately whenever I hear She’s a Maniac.

(It’s one of his favorites.)

And whenever I hear Journey’s Any Way You Want It, I can’t help bursting out in laughter.

(I still can’t figure out why he hates that one with such passion.)

I can’t help myself.

I always crank that one up and sing along at the top of my lungs whenever it comes on the radio.

I wonder if, subconsciously, I like that one only because I know it annoys the hell out of him.

It’s entirely possible.

Aren’t siblings the best?

Anyway, I’ll leave you all with this wonderful picture of baby me playing nicely with my big brother.

(And just to be clear, I was sooo not adopted.)

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

Don't feel too bad for him. He probably started it...

Don’t feel too bad for him. He probably started it…

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The Perilous Piñata Beatdown

What could beat a whacking, smacking good time?

Why, whacking and smacking a helpless piñata, of course!

But not just any piñata.

cheeseburger piñata!

On a crazy child’s birthday!

Stegosaurus Boy celebrated his birthday in his typical bat-swinging style earlier this week.

He requested a Calvin and Hobbes theme.

Which, evidently, fits our typical pattern of choosing the most obscure themes possible.

No cake decorations, no paper plates, no banners, no nothing to be found on the face of this earth.

Not on Amazon, Etsy, Party City, or anywhere else in the world. 

Well, besides on eBay. 

For thousands of dollars.

Like that’s gonna happen.

Sorry, boys.

I love you, but no way will I be spending more on birthday party supplies than I did on my own wedding.

Last year, my older son begged for a WWE-themed party.

Easy enough, right?

Oh, but he had a special request for his cake design:

John Cena vs. Bill Nye.

Bill Nye?

The Science Guy?

Hmmm.

Interesting matchup, but okay.

I’m always up for a challenge.

Especially with a couple of great sidekicks, namely Google and my printer.

Unfortunately for Stegosaurus Boy, I was not able to find a Calvin and Hobbes piñata this year.

Nor was I able to create his requested life-sized Hobbes plush out of God-knows-what on six days notice.

I also couldn’t find a Stegosaurus piñata.

That would’ve been the next best thing.

After all, my boy likes Calvin and Hobbes, and Calvin likes dinosaurs, and so does my boy…

See where I’m going with this?

Yeah, well.

Excuse my far-fetched logic.

At least I try.

But fortunately, there was a fascinatingly unique one at Target that caught my eye.

A cheeseburger!

A freaking adorable smiling cheeseburger piñata.

And so I bought it.

And then I stuffed it with glow sticks and plastic dinosaurs and Dum Dum pops.

Because I’d long learned my lesson about stuffing Matchbox cars into piñatas.

Bad idea.

Especially if you’re not a fan of having dozens of small metal objects raining down on you like the dangerous little projectiles they truly are.

Whack, smack, whack!

In this household, it’s just not enough to whack the crap out of a piñata, collect all the candy, and happily move along.

Nooooo.

These boys have to tear the piñata apart like maniacs with a prized wishbone for the grand finale.

No one is content until the poor thing looks like it’d been ripped apart by a pack of feral wolves.

How’s that for a cheeseburger-smashing celebration?

~Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’re all enjoying the first few days of summer so far! (Or winter, if you’re lucky enough to be chilling in the southern hemisphere.) Have a great weekend!~

The "before" picture. Look at how happy this sweet, smiley cheeseburger was...until my boys came along.

The “before” picture. Look at how happy this sweet, smiley cheeseburger was…until my boys came along.

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.”