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Oh, Fudge!

>> Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don’t you love making Christmas cookies and candies? Okay, let me rephrase that. Don’t you love eating Christmas cookies and candies? Me too. I wish I could just skip to that part, but no dice. Today I’m working on some candy to send to Monkey Boy’s teachers—with visions of leftovers dancing in my head. The peppermint bark came out great! In fact, it came out so great that I’ve had to convince DSguy that he can’t have any more until I have all of the gifts made.

Chocolate fudge was on my list of must-have treats to put in the Christmas tins. Was is the operative word here. My attempt at making good old fashioned fudge was ho-ho-hopeless. (Hey, even Betty Crocker couldn’t bail me out this time!)

I dunno. Blame it on the altitude, a faulty candy thermometer, or sheer ineptness, but I ended up with a couple of jars of homemade chocolate fudge ice cream topping.

Well that’s not gonna fit in those tins. 



>> Sunday, December 5, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas...at least outside! After 14 years of marriage, The Man and I actually have put up exterior Christmas lights! Man, was I stoked. I love Christmas lights. The soft glow is beautiful, festive, calming. Well, usually it’s calming. I had to tone our lights down. The blinking pattern was so spastic I felt like I was looking into a strobe light. Add to this the fact that Monkey Boy can have seizures induced by flickering lights, and changing the pattern to a slow fade was a no-brainer.

I put the Christmas tree up that day, too. More lights! We turned off the ceiling light in the living room and watched TV by the glow of the tree. OK, not exactly a Norman Rockwell moment, but it worked for us.

The next day, I put the tree up again. And again. And again.

Monkey Boy had discovered how to topple a tree, no axe required. You’d have thought he was a lumberjack, he felled it so easily.

Thankfully, none of the ornaments were on the tree yet, so the damage was minimal. I just packed that sucker up and took it back to the garage. So much for trimming the tree photos for the scrapbook this year.

I’m thinking maybe I’ll make a tree out of green butcher paper and tape it to the ceiling. If I stick it in the center of the ceiling, it’ll take Monkey Boy a bit longer to figure out how to get it down. He does climb doorjambs, but as of yet he hasn’t sprouted suction cups from his feet, so I think the makeshift tree will be safe in the middle of the ceiling—at least for awhile. I’m hoping it’ll last until December 26th, anyway.

On second thought, maybe I’d be better off just draping some tinsel from the ceiling fan. Less work. Added bonus—on New Year’s Eve, I can just turn the fan on and voila! Instant confetti.


Singin' in the Rain

>> Saturday, November 20, 2010

I love this hat.

No, I wasn’t in a production of Hello, Dolly! (Not that it would be a bad thing. I would practically kill to play Dolly Levi.) I was wearing that giant hat of Flying Nun proportions to go Christmas caroling.

I hear you out there. I know at least one of you is out there hollering “But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!” I love Thanksgiving as much as the next girl, but I didn’t make the plans here. I just showed up for the fun.

Our town has an annual “Victorian Holidays” celebration. Our Main Street lights up with activity as we try to recreate the feeling of Christmas in a different era. Think life-size “Currier & Ives.” We put on our best Victorian duds and stroll Main Street singing and making a cheery spectacle.

Well, cheery at first, anyway! By the time we were finished, it was probably more of a just plain spectacle. DSguy and I had walked to the meeting point for caroling when it was lightly raining. By the time we were hoofing it home, it was coming down so hard that we should have been wearing waders. We were getting drenched.

Ginormous chapeaus with ostrich feathers don’t do too well in the rain. I looked like I was wearing a drowned rat taking up residence in a big purple cave. Take into consideration the size of the hat in proportion to my head, and I probably looked like a bobble-head wearing a drowned rat in a purple cave. Thankfully, a kind shopkeeper lent us her umbrella. (Thanks, Trudy!)

Despite being wet and cold and needing to defrost my toes, I would do it all over again in a second. I love being part of the atmosphere. I love celebrating Jesus’ birth with anyone who will stop to listen to us sing. I love living in this little town where characters and community abound. Sometimes it’s like living in a storybook—one with vivid colors and a happy ending.

So, as I hang my borrowed hat up to dry, I wish you a Merry Christmas, albeit a bit early. Now would someone please pass the turkey?



>> Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The wallpaper on my desktop is a Jack London quote that I enjoy very much. It says, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” Ain’t that the truth! I’ve found as a writer that I am much more productive if I sit down to write and beat the no-idea-what-to-write blahs into submission. Getting something on the page is better than getting nothing on the page!

Speaking of which, I need to get cracking on my FW Challenge piece, since it’s due tomorrow morning. If one wants to finish a piece, one must start the piece, right? Where’s my club?

UG! Me kill story!


Go Suck Hose Water!

>> Friday, November 5, 2010

Does anyone else find it absurd that the only people who can get health insurance are the ones who don’t really need it? That’s right—those of us with pre-existing conditions, or chronic diseases, or hideous multiplying warts, or a need to sit on a therapist’s couch, or any other of a host of medical scenarios—we are the folks that insurance companies don’t want to touch with a ten foot pole! (And no, those conditions do NOT all apply to me. If I had warts, I probably wouldn’t cop to having them—at least not in print.)

Let me see if I can put my recent experiences in a nutshell.
-         Workplace closes. Lose job. Move back two spaces.
-         Pay into COBRA for umpteen months with government subsidy signed by the president. (Affordable, thankfully!)
-         Pay into COBRA after government subsidy expires. (Not affordable, but I can squeeze by for a few months.)
-         COBRA expires. Offered HIPAA insurance. (Nowhere near affordable.)
-         Looked for options beyond HIPAA and was offered major risk pool insurance. (Costs more than the HIPAA!)
-         Spent half an hour banging my head against the wall.

Meanwhile, the folks at the insurance company, which shall remain nameless, are practicing their evil villain laughs… MWAAAAAHAAAHAAAAHAAA!

Long story short, (too late), now I wait to see if the government will help me out. As a conservative, this is kind of a mixed bag for me. I believe the government needs to spend less, yet the only possible way I will be able to be insured is if they give me a hand. Ah, sweet irony.

So, to sum up, I am willing to pay reasonable premiums, but no one will insure me unless I pay them in body parts. The health insurance industry has basically told me to go suck hose water.

Lousy aftertaste, hose water.


In Bad Form

>> Friday, October 29, 2010

Aha! I found the keyboard under the mess!

I don’t know about you, but I have been buried in mail and paperwork for days now. Amazingly, it’s not all political propaganda, either! 

Somewhere in between the stack of bills I need to pay and the stack of magazines I need to read is a pile of forms that I need to complete ASAP. These are the big, hairy, time-consuming type of forms. The kind that ask you about your second-cousin-once-removed’s shoe size and what your third grade teacher thought about President Carter and the severity of your grandmother’s gout. (Not that my Grandma has gout…)

It’s all strangely reminiscent of having to fill out the FAFSA form to get financial aid for college. Hoo boy, now that was a booger of carbon-backed long form goodness. There’s nothing like having attendance at your chosen campus hinging on a nit-picky form.

To my high school’s credit, they did have a workshop to teach us how to fill out the form before sending it in. (Wouldn’t it be great if someone introduced that concept to the IRS?) I guess I wasn’t paying close enough attention, though. I still managed to leave one of the boxes blank. That one empty box was enough for the powers that be to deny me a grant my freshman year. And the real kicker? It was a box to fill in my GPA, which was stellar! Duh, I are smart!


In a strange twist of coincidence, The Man (before we had ever met, mind you) made a similar mistake on the same form. He was denied a grant as well. We both fell for the dummy clause. He was the Tweedledee to my Tweedledum. We were meant for each other.

We now have an accountant fill out our income tax forms. Just in case.


Down and Dope-y

>> Saturday, October 16, 2010

In a strange slice of coincidence, right after I posted about the FaithWriters website, the server died and the site went down. How’s that for timing? Thankfully, our fearless leaders have it up and running again! (God bless Scott and Deb!) Alas, I shall have to wait another week for my yellow boxes. Bring on the chocolate.

Speaking of going down, is anyone else ready for the pre-November mudslinging to stop? We have a gubernatorial election in California this year, so you can imagine the frenzy of political ads. Honestly, I’ve started to tune them out. Don’t get me wrong—I am very much an advocate for being an informed voter—but if I get one more piece of junk mail touting Jerry Brown’s straight talk (with Meg Whitman’s face plastered all over it), I will be able to re-wallpaper my bathroom!

And in other “truth is stranger than fiction” election news…there is a proposition on the ballot to legalize marijuana. They want to make it legal for anyone age 21 or over to be able to have, grow, or transport weed legally. If it weren’t such an awful idea, it would almost be laughable. I can see the headlines now: “California Passes Bong Bill, Still Bickering Over Budget.”

Advocates for the prop say it will weaken drug cartels and generate tax revenue. Opponents point out drivers will be able to consume marijuana right up until the moment they get behind the wheel, thus endangering public safety.

Things could get very interesting if this sucker passes. Visions of psychedelic potlucks are dancing in my head. Bring your own picnic basket, folks. Who knows what Joe Schmo put in those brownies? Sigh. What a waste of perfectly good chocolate.


Yellow Box Addiction

>> Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hello. My name is Kristi and I’m an addict.
(Everyone in unison now…Hello, Kristi!)

I have an addiction to little yellow boxes.

You see, I’m a writer. I write because I enjoy expressing creativity. I write to honor Jesus Christ. I write because my mouth can’t keep up with what my mind wants to say. I write because if nobody wrote anything, what on earth would we read? I write because it’s in my blood, baby!

The thing is, we writers rely on readers to regularly read our writings. There’s something supremely satisfying in seeing someone savoring our scribblings.  (Say that ten times fast!)

Allow me to annotate without alliteration.

Writers need somebody to read their work! We thrive on feedback from others, whether they enjoyed or destroyed our work. The little yellow boxes provide that fix.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

A couple years ago I got involved with a website called FaithWriters. Aptly named, FaithWriters (henceforth known as FW), is a site for Christian writers. FW is quite possibly the coolest place on the web. You can check it out here.

After more than a year of being distracted by everyday chores, I found my way back to the FW site and joined up as a platinum member. FW has a weekly writing challenge to help writers discipline themselves to write to topic, within a certain word count, and by a set deadline.

The Official Writing Challenge is now back from its quarterly hiatus, and all of us at FW are salivating like stray dogs in a butcher’s shop! I’ve already written my piece and submitted it. Now I wait.

Wait for what? The yellow boxes! Once the weekly contest ends, all of the pieces are brought online anonymously for FW users to read and critique. The little yellow boxes are what pops up when someone has given you feedback. Those boxes are just plain addicting, like chocolate is to a premenstrual woman!  Little yellow boxes are what keep us going until the judges announce the winners and the new topic.

If you have even the slightest inkling to put pen to paper, it’s worth your while to check out FW. Come wait for little yellow boxes with me! Bring your own chocolate—I need mine.

And yes, I can quit any time I want. Really.


Movers and Shakers

>> Thursday, October 7, 2010

A couple days ago we had a 4.4 magnitude earthquake. Can’t say I felt it. I was in a building with the fortitude of a 1950’s bomb shelter, evidently. Didn’t feel a thing.

A 4.4 is a pretty minor temblor for these parts. We get a little shaken, but not stirred. Nope. Stirred would be the 6.5 magnitude rumbler we had back in January. That was one to remember.

The January quake caused quite a bit of property damage around town. Some still hasn’t been repaired. Our house was almost unscathed compared to the damages sustained by the local merchants. Our bathroom and garage cabinets emptied all over the floor and we lost a knick knack or two.

Of course, stuff all over the floor isn’t a new concept to us. One of Monkey Boy’s favorite pastimes is chucking things all over the floor. Like my buddy Ray would say, “The floor is the biggest shelf in the house.” Let me tell you, Monkey Boy puts lots of things on that shelf. Constantly.

Yup. Monkey Boy is our own personal mover and shaker. He’s constantly on the move and he’s always shaking something up. It’s not uncommon to see dinner scattered all over his bedroom carpet, toys mixed in with the recycling, or the occasional rubber duckie tossed into my pot of boiling supper. (Don’t worry. No duckies were hurt in the making of this post. Said duckie was promptly airlifted to safety.)

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of our stuff crash and burn at the hands of our little mister. We don’t need no stinkin’ earthquake! We make our own disasters, thank-you-very-much. In fact, we’ve tried to stop taking mental inventory of all of the possessions that have been broken. It’s all just stuff, right?

We have what’s important. Our faith, our family, our lives. Some of the folks in Haiti’s earthquake weren’t so lucky.

God had his hand over us and our little town. We have been truly blessed.

Even our material stuff—the extra stuff that isn’t life or death stuff--made it through just fine. We’ve been through multiple moves and a major earthquake, and I can still say I have my grandmother’s china set intact.  Many times I have packed and unpacked that family heirloom, trying to be oh-so-delicate as I placed the dainty teacups in their positions.

Enter Monkey Boy. He darted around the room, stopping here and there to push my buttons. He climbed up the fridge. I pulled him back down. He climbed the fridge again. I pulled him down again. He climbed some more. I pulled him down ad nauseum!

Finally I tired of his little game. Whatever. Climb the fridge. Knock yourself out.

He does this all the time anyway. Why should this instance be any different? Why do I fight against the instinctive urges of the suburban Monkey Boy in his natural habitat? He must climb. It’s what Monkey Boys do.

Monkey Boy smirked with that impish gleam in his eye and scurried up to his fridge-top lair. He watched me as I observed him from the low ground, like some scene from a National Geographic special. I could barely blink before – CRASH!

In a split second, Monkey Boy scooched over to the adjacent china cabinet, stuck his hand down through the safety-locked doors, and knocked over one of my grandmother’s precious teacups.

My china makes it cross-country in a U-Haul (twice!) and survives a natural disaster, and it’s felled by a six-year-old?!

Inhale. It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff. It’s just stuff. Exhale.

The instinctive urges of suburban Monkey Boy mamas when their natural habitats have been disturbed are…well, disturbing. It’s a good thing God made Monkey Boys cute! Their survival depends on it.


When I Throw Up, I Wanna Be Just Like Dad!

>> Monday, October 4, 2010

Warning: This blog is written by a mom of boys, and as such, will contain barf, boogers, and bathroom humor. If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read this post.

Ah, the first sick day of the year. DSguy stayed home from school today with a fever and a strange smell emanating from his room. To put it bluntly, it smelled like puke. It even looked like there could have been a hurling incident. The mystery is, DSguy himself doesn’t remember throwing up.

Wouldn’t most people remember hacking up their guts?

Maybe he barfed while he was asleep. (I’ve seen someone do that before. It’s really rather disgusting.) Maybe he just spit out liquid medicine and doesn’t remember doing it. Acetaminophen isn’t particularly tasty. Could have been an involuntary gag reflex. Perhaps the Upchuck Fairy thought it was Christmas and left him a special gift. Who really knows?

Stranger things have happened.

Like the time The Man got the flu. Hoo boy, was that an exercise in creative cookie tossing! He threw up so violently that it came out his nose.

The Man is rather inexperienced with the whole retching thing. He can count on one hand how many times he has thrown up in his entire lifetime. It takes all of my fingers and most of my toes to count how many times I barf in one bout of illness.

So The Man is in bed filtering his vomit through his nostrils, and I hear a horrible man-scream. “AAAAAAAAGHH! Honey!” Now The Man is not one to screech like that unless there is a potato bug involved, so I came running. What I found was—well, I’ll spare you the Technicolor details.

Poor DSguy. He and Monkey Boy both got my proclivity for pukeage. Maybe they’ll grow out of it and they truly will be like Daddy when they throw up.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m getting nauseous.


Holy T-shirts, Batman!

>> Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sometimes autism bites. To be a bit more precise, it tears. Or rips. Or shreds. Take your pick.

Monkey Boy has gone through more t-shirts than the health care bill has pages. I’m beginning to think keeping him clothed is going to cost about as much! I’ve lost count of how many garments have fallen prey to the unbridled fury of Monkey Boy’s meltdowns.

Exhibit A:
The Phineas and Ferb t-shirt, brand new for this school year. He wore it once before it bit the dust. It’s probably the best-looking rag on the block now.
Exhibit B: The famed Animal t-shirt? No more. It came home from school yesterday with this big ol’ gash. So did the extra shirt packed in his backpack. (Ironically enough, that shirt said “I do all my own stunts.”  Don’t say we didn’t give you warning.) He got off the bus wearing whatever shirt the school had on hand. It had a hole in it, too.
You’ve seen enough. No use going through the rest of the gruesome evidence.
There has to be an upside to all this, right? They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, when Monkey Boy gives you torn up tees, you can:
  • Use the material to make drapes to match the comforter he gnawed a hole in.
  • Add a little rubber cement, a warped vinyl LP, and a busted badminton racquet and display your work as modern art. (It will distract your visitors from the other work of art your little Picasso left on the kitchen wall.)
  • Tear them into little shreds and line your hamster cage.
  • Market them on cable TV as the world’s first shirts with built-in air conditioning.
  • Start a fashion trend. The I-just-wrestled-with-a-lawnmower look could be all the rage this season.
  • Get out a needle and thread and try to repair the damage. (Has it come to that?!)
Of course, I could always go the practical route. Shopping, anyone?


Double, Double Toil and Trouble

>> Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yesterday I decided to do a little baking. Everyone in the house has a sweet tooth, and no sweets = cranky dudes. (OK, and an even crankier Mom. There, I admitted it. Are you happy?) So, I dutifully put on my apron and got my Suzy Homemaker on.

I wanted to make some peanut butter cookies. DSguy had requested them recently. After spying some just-about-to-go-bad bananas, I thought better of it. Wouldn’t be prudent.

Out came the Betty Crocker cookbook, and I was whipping up banana nut bread in no time. You’ve just got to love the Betty Crocker cookbook. It’s practically impossible to screw up one of those recipes. They could have titled it “Idiot-Proof Cooking.”

Speaking of Betty Crocker, I love seeing the progression of clothing styles and hairdos she’s had over the years. My copy of the cookbook was my great-grandmother’s, and it was printed in the 70’s. On the back cover is Betty, wearing a bubble flip hairdo and high-necked collar with a red blazer. Her expression is somewhat warped, perhaps alluding to the pain of having lived through the dark decade following JFK’s assassination and the U.S. involvement in Vietnam…no, wait. That’s just the melted imprint from that time I set the book on a hot burner.

You can take a peek at Betty’s style evolution here: http://www.cookbkjj.com/college/betty_crocker.htm. Thank goodness it only shows her picture up through 1986! I’m afraid to see what the 2010 version looks like. So help me, if Betty shows up looking like Lady Gaga, I’ll wear a meat dress! But, I digress.

After I set the banana nut bread out to cool, I remembered the two large, beautiful, home-grown zucchinis sitting in my fridge. No, I didn’t grow them myself. I’d be hard pressed to grow a cactus. They came from the garden of a lovely lady in our church.

Prudence won out over peanut butter cookies once again, as the thought of rotting green squash in the crisper drawer was not particularly appealing. Use ‘em or lose ‘em! I had just the recipe for zucchini—“yummy muffins” they were called. Having already tasted them at a Bible study, I knew they would go over well with the dudes.

I had quite a bit of zucchini, so I’d better double the recipe, I reasoned. I grabbed the largest bowl in the house and hefted it on to the kitchen counter. I read down the ingredient list…and found spotty bananas were required. Doesn’t that just figure? I just used all the bananas in banana nut bread! Classic. All that shredded zucchini still had to be used, so I traipsed down to the grocery and bought more bananas.

Alright! I finally had everything I needed to actually make the muffins. I started adding items from the list in double portions. I began to worry when I was two-thirds of the way down the ingredient list and the bowl was full to capacity. Somehow I managed to pile all that stuff into the bowl, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to stir it without dumping batter all over the place.

Think. What do I own that is larger than this monster bowl? There was only one solution. I had to transfer the mix to my stock pot.

It all fit, but the effect was reminiscent of Macbeth’s witches stirring their brew in a cauldron. “Double, double toil and trouble!” How ironic. I did double the recipe—and boy, did it bring toil and trouble.

I think I’m set for muffins until next June.


Meet the Family

>> Thursday, September 23, 2010

Much of my humor inspiration comes from the cast of characters in my home. Since I'll likely be referring to them often, I thought you might like to know a little more about them.

The Man - He's my other half, both in life and in slapstick. On our honeymoon, The Man picked me up to carry me over the threshold, and my head hit the doorjamb. I kid you not.

DSguy - Our oldest progeny, so named for his affinity for all things video game. DSguy will happily accompany me anywhere so long as he can play Nintendo DS all the way there. A particularly precocious young scholar, he will often surprise us with little gems of wisdom. When The Man mistakenly took something DSguy said literally, DSguy responded with, "Dad, I was using hyperbole--an obvious exaggeration."

Monkey Boy - Lest you think we are insulting our youngest son, I offer photographic proof that Monkey Boy can climb anything. It doesn't matter if he has a boost or not. If it stands still long enough, he can shimmy up it. Behold:

Yes, that's Animal from the Muppets on his shirt. We picked that out especially for him.

There they are, then. My fellas. My family. My story fodder.


Made You Look!

>> Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Admit it. You’re curious. Why that blog name? I mean, most people instinctively know that they shouldn’t press their lips to something known for burning bread, right? Anyone with common sense could figure that out.

Yeah. And in the annals of “things I shoulda known”—the toaster incident. I must have been around ten or eleven at the time. Blame it on prepubescent hormones, momentary insanity, whatever. There I was, staring at myself in the shiny silver appliance. It was uncannily like looking into a fun house mirror—kind of fun, actually! I twisted my expression into a bunch of different contortions and configurations, pulling my face closer and closer to the polished surface.

You know those warning tags they put on appliance cords? They really mean it.

In one spectacular “duh” moment, my lips made contact with the hot toaster.

Remember those Disney cartoons with Goofy skiing and flying off a cliff? Yeah. That was me. “YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHOOHOOHOOOOOOOEEEEY!”

You’ve just got to laugh at yourself. If you don’t, someone else will beat you to the punch! Humor can be found in many things in life, from the mundane to the milestones, if we look at them with fresh eyes. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s laugh it up! Oh—and never kiss a toaster. Your lips will thank you.


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