Bye, Bye, Blogger

A coworker and I were lamenting the fact that we can't post our blogs to Blogger at work. Big Brother is watching us constantly, and Blogger and all it's Googly cousins are blocked. She came up with the idea to switch to another blog host. I was thinking about it- most of the bigger blogs I read are on Wordpress, Typepad and/or Tumblr. I always thought they either cost money or were too hard to use.

Well, they don't and they aren't! So this blog is now moving over to Wordpress.

Thank you, Blogger, for making it easy for me to blog these past few years. And nothing against you, Blogger. I have a backlog of posts in my email inbox waiting to be posted and no time when I get home to do so.

You can now find me here! Don't forget to change your bookmarks!

The Kid Is Alright

"How's Dad doing?" "How's your father holding up?"

I get these questions often. We celebrated my niece Lily's 3rd birthday today. During the party, my in-laws asked me how Dad was. Last Friday at our monthly meeting, I haven't seen my friend Toufek in a while. I was training him to work in one of my buildings while Mom was at the end of her fight with cancer and the doctors had told her they can't do anything for her. I spent the majority of the time on the phone with Dad crying and then apologizing afterwards for not working. He understood and left me a very heartfelt phone message after Mom passed. Friday he considerately asked me how my Dad was doing.

How is my Dad doing? I'm sure he has his moments and times where he gets sad, but honestly? I think Dad is doing freaking great!

Dad reads my blog. (Hi Dad!) He discovered it when I sent him an email- the blog address is in my signature. I was a little chagrined that my DAD was reading all my inner thoughts and crap that I deem important. (GOD- did he read the bloody Diva cup post? I sincerely hoped he skipped that one.) A quick glance at my blog list- nah, there's nothing in there (except the Diva cup post) that would make me a little squirmish when I saw Dad.

So because today is his birthday, I want to dedicate this post to him to tell him how proud I am of him. He's doing all the things Mom did all those years- shopping, banking, paying bills. He buys birthday gifts for the family. He found a new insurance company for the house. He pimped out his truck- ghostly flames and LED lights. He tried Thai food.

Last Saturday, he goes with me and gets this:
Yes, Dad got inked.

So did I. Dad's heart tattoo honors my Mom and my brother, tricked out with blue flames to match his truck. I finally got my poison ivy tattoo- my little talisman against getting poison ivy every year. Mine also honors Mom and my brother, Robbie, as well as our friend J. Can you see the initials in the vines? While mine hurt like hell, Dad didn't flinch, he claims it didn't hurt at all. I wish I had his nerve endings. He's already planning on going back this week to add more to his tat! Someone's addicted!

I've been inked with my daughter, now I got inked with my dad. The guys at Sparrow Tattoo in West Hempstead said they've never had that combination before.

Then today, I get the surprise of my life-an email requesting me as a Facebook friend...from Dad!

My Dad is on Facebook. He wanted to find some long lost friends, so he signed up. At 74, he got a tattoo and signed onto Facebook.

My daddy rocks.

Happy Birthday, Dad! Keep doing what you're doing and you'll be fine!

I love you.

All That Pomp and Circumstance

So much to say, so much to write....but first and most importantly;

My daughter is a college graduate. Yes, Beena- my eldest- graduated today from Adelphi University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Math.

Those were the quickest four years of our lives.

Three thousand undergrads and graduates walked across the stage at Nassau Coliseum. Three thousand brown and gold students switched their tassels from one side to another. Three thousand students cheered when the President of the School congratulated them on being the Class of 2010.

And my Beena was one of them.

Beena, one part of your life has ended, but another, more important part has begun. You have officially become an adult. If you were not going on next year (and this summer) for your Master's, you would be starting to look for a job. A real job.

Such responsibilities to look forward to! And maybe a little scary?

I see only good things for you in the future. Your work ethic is wonderful- who, at the age of fourteen, was running their mother's business for them? You were. You were a full time student and managed to practically run the retail store you've worked in since high school. I have no doubt you'll find a job in a school you love, teaching kids you love. You love putting together lesson plans. Your favorite time of the year was always "back-to-school" because you love school supplies. You were born to teach.

I am so proud of you! Don't be discouraged or afraid to do those adult things you're going to have to do in the future. Daddy and I will always be here to help and guide you when you need us. Please don't think we're crazy. We love you and always want the best for you!

Oh, and thanks for graduating! Since I didn't go to my college graduation, going to yours was extra special to me. And yes, we'll be going to your Master's ceremony same time next year. We wouldn't miss it. We've got this graduation thing down- we know what to expect!

So conGRADulations, graduate! The world is yours- take advantage of it! There is so much out there to experience!

Love you, Beena! Lots and lots and lots. Right? Right! Begub...begub...begub.

A Sleep Trance, A Dream Dance

Synchronicty. No, not the Police Album (even though it is one of my favorites.) I’m talking about the experience of two events that are apparently unrelated occurring together in a meaningful manner. It’s happening to me more and more, and in more startling ways. Even Zombiegirl is noticing.

Or maybe I’m just in tune with the world these days. Like waving to my neighbor in his red pickup and then seeing four more red pickups -not his- on the way to the train station. I notice things. I’m paying attention.

Example Number 1: I’m web surfing at work and I hit one of my Web Pals. She mentions that she just bought tickets for Roger Waters- The Wall Live. The SECOND I read this an email pops up in my second monitor. It’s an update from Nassau Coliseum. The featured event? Roger Waters- The Wall Live.

Example Number 2: MR drops Zombiegirl and I at the train station. She has inherited her father’s skill in finding dropped items on the ground. She kneels down and picks up a Scrabble Tile piece. Weird enough that there is a game piece at the train station, right? Weirder still that I just ordered Scrabble Tile pieces to make Christmas presents this year. Weirder yet…she turns it over and it’s an “S”. (Insert spooky music here.)

Example Number 3: I just took two books out of the library-"The Little Giant of Aberdeen County" by Tiffany Baker and "Raven Black" by Ann Cleeves. I finished Little Giant (which was really good) and I started on Raven. Somewhere well into the book, they mention one of the characters going to…Aberdeen.

Example Number 4: May 3rd was J’s birthday. Our dear departed friend J. On his Facebook page, one of his friends called him a Rockstar. Walking to the train station that day, I noticed the inscription in the sidewalk that was replaced last year…

Example Number 5: Driving to the gym at 5:30 in the morning, I listen to the Z-morning zoo for the eight minutes it takes me to get there. On the way there, I hear Taio Cruz' Break Break Your Heart. I park, and walk the block to the gym. Halfway into my workout with Mike, I hear Break Break Your Heart. I leave the gym a half hour later, get into my car and guess what song comes on the radio while driving home. Go on, guess!

Example Number 465: This happens all the time to MR and I. That's why the high example number. We'll sit to watch a movie noting who directed it and any actors we know/like. We'll flip through the channels and find another movie by the same director or with one of the actors. WITHOUT FAIL. It's getting to be a little weird...

These are all little things, but noticeable to us. Is anyone else experience coincidences, deja vu or synchronicity lately?


F*CK YOU Friday!

This was a pretty quiet week. I had a great time with Jodi last Friday- we went to see Promises Promises at the Broadway Theater, courtesy of MR. Thanks, honey- that was an awesome birthday gift! Jodi and I had dinner at Iguana on 54th Street first. After the train to the city, and a full day of work, we were looking forward to a drink. I had my first martini (Sexy Cactus Martini) since the Great Martini Debacle. But that's another post...

If you go to Iguana for dinner, I totally recommend the fresh guacamole appetizer. A dude comes over to your table and makes it for you. Holy Guacamole, is it good! Tofu fajitas for me, shrimp tacos for Jodi. This place has never failed me!

The play was really good, too. I always regretted not seeing Kristen Chenowith when she played in Wicked, so I was looking forward to seeing her in this. Due to her recent appearance on Glee, there were a bunch of "Gleeks" there just to see her. Okay, there were also a LOT of GUYS there to see Sean Hayes, who plays Jack on Will and Grace. Jodi dubbed them "Just Jacks." He's a very visual comic, and although he isn't foremost a singer, he did a pretty decent job.

It was a good night.

The week had it's moments, though. Thus the next installment of F*CK YOU Friday!

  • More bus drama. F*CK YOU to the Asian lady with the stinky fish riding the bus last Monday. How on earth could one eat something that smelled so disgusting? We all breathed DEEPLY when you got off the bus.

  • F*CK YOU to the dude who hit me in the face with his bag on Wednesday. Thank goodness you only had a newspaper in the bag. Look, I totally understand the "bus-stops-short-so-you-grab-the-pole-and-it-swings-you-around." I've been there. Put your bag in the other hand then, man! This way when you grab the pole, the bag swinging from your wrist doesn't smack anyone (me) in the face. My lip still hurts...

  • F*CK YOU Faisal Shahzad for leaving a bomb in Times Square Saturday. It was the day after Jodi and I enjoyed a nice stroll after the play through the madness of Times Square. That was a little too close for comfort, you terrorist prick.

  • F*CK YOU to oak trees. Mine in particular. There are four LARGE oak trees hanging over my property from the county in the back and my neighbor on the side. I've accepted and have even come to enjoy planting for shade, since that's all I got. But every other year or so, the trees spit out these wormy nurdles and they get all over the place. Walking on my sidewalk is like walking on carpet- your feet don't make a sound. Poor MR has swept up almost every day and we still get piles like this... Apparently these things are called catkins and it's the male stamen that first releases pollen, then falls on the ground. Leave it to a male to make a mess...

  • F*CK YOU to all the little mice living in my garage. They've nested just about everywhere- in every box, every bin and bag we have. We've had to clean out box after box of garage sale items, party place stuff and memorabilia. Sadly, we had to toss a lot of things because they were completely ruined. Including all the colored sand I had promised to Little Saints Preschool. Not only was there a nest in the box and all the sand stunk like piss, there were dead mice in the bin as well. Good thing we checked before bringing it to the school! How long have they been in there? Time for more of these.

  • F*CK YOU to the visiting team the Panthers played last week. Not only were the parents obnoxious and loud (and on a Player's Weekend- it's a game where the players can play with no distractions from the parents or the coaches) but I counted five, FIVE, white Yukons in the parking lot. Do you know how big a Yukon is? I'd have to drive 100 Prius' to offset the footprint of a Yukon. And really people, did you all PLAN to drive the same car? I'm friends with all Zombiegirl's teammates parents. I would NEVER purchase the same car if one of them bought a new car. T-A-C-K-Y.

  • F*CK YOU to everyone who didn't wish me a Happy Birthday (hellooo CAFM TEAM) or remembered the next day. Just because I'm old doesn't mean I'm not young at heart and don't still enjoy celebrating my day. Where's the love, guys?

New post tomorrow! And that picture is taken with my Android. Not too bad!

Cross My Heart

Another post coming soon. Damn work keeps interfering with my blog!

We Love MoMA and Justina*

I crossed my fingers as we went through the revolving doors. This was the fourth time we were trying to see the Exhibit. As we crossed the lobby, Zombiegirl spotted members of her own species- striped, goth-like people wearing articles of clothing featuring that broad, smiling skull face, colored hair and high-topped Converse. Splashes of bright color against dark brooding clothing.

She pointed out to me everyone going to the Tim Burton exhibit.*. She fits right in.

I kept my fingers crossed as we waited on line at the Guest Services desk. Waiting for tickets through my company's corporate sponsorship. This was our only hope since the exhibit has been sold out for weeks and it was closing in five days. This was our only hope since Zombiegirl wouldn't be coming to work with me until the summertime. She was here today because it was Take Our Kids To Work Day and it was her last chance. I crossed my toes just to be on the safe side.

The bored girl at the desk told us there were no more tickets left. They give out the Corporate tickets first thing in the morning and they were all gone for the day.

I wanted to cry. We struck out again.

Zombiegirl looked so upset. She couldn't believe she wouldn't be able to see her hero's work. Burton is the Director of all her favorite movies, the man who has directed her favorite actor. We've tried four times- why couldn't we get in,? she asks.

We have bad luck, I tell her. I offer to buy her something from the MoMA bookstore, knowing they have the Exhibit book.

As we walk back across the lobby, she spies a girl a little older than her sporting Jack Skellington shirt, bag, hat and socks. They make eye contact- Z-girl staring at the outfit, the girl staring at her red-streaked hair. The girl's mother notices them staring at each other and quick turns to me and asks me if I need a ticket. Her other daughter wasn't able to make it that day and she has an extra child's ticket for a half hour from now. I told her I couldn't get another ticket for myself and she tells me to buy an individual membership and they give a free ticket.

A total stranger helps us out.

After thanking her profusely, we go over to the Member Services desk so I can buy an Indivdual Membership. What? It costs $75? No, that must be for a Family Membership. No, it's per person. I turn to Z-girl and tell her I can't afford $75.

That dejected look is starting to kill me.

Do you want to go by yourself? I'll wait outside for you. No, maybe that's not a good idea, I think. Do you want to go with the lady that gave us the ticket? No, she's gone already and I really want to go with you, she says. The walk to the bookstore is quiet and heavy.

Inside, we see the display of Tim Burton books. Zombiegirl picks up an enormous art tome and starts reading. She wants this one- full color photos, harcover, two inches thick. It's $69. This day is killing me! I steer her to the $20 book- she looks through it and agrees. After walking around a little we find TB playing cards. She's a little happier as we wait on line.

When we're called next, we put our purchases on the counter, but the salesperson turns to another customer who had asked her a question. She tells them they're all sold out. Another Burtonesque-type couple asks her something and again, she tells them they're sold out. She turns to us and apologizes as she rings up our things.

What are you sold out of, I ask?

Tim Burton Stain Boy t-shirts. I tell her that's not the only thing they're sold out of- and proceed to lament how we've tried four times to see the exhibit, how much Zombiegirl loves Tim Burton and how we won't be able to come back to try again. How I tried to get tickets through Corporate Sponsorship. She looked at the kid and was quiet for a moment. First, she says, I can give you 20% off your purchases for being a Corporate Sponsor. She asks me if I can wait around for a few minutes, she wants to check something out.

We're not going anywhere.

She tells me, very quietly, that she has to get an employee guest pass for her husband who's coming in later that day. She said she'll check to see if she can get two more for us. She said SHE feels bad that we've tried four times to see the Exhibit. She said Zombiegirl's face makes her sad.
We wait on the side of the line while she runs off, dodging tourists and Burton fans.

Ten minutes later she comes back with two employee passes and a big grin on her face. As she hands them to Z-girl, she smiles even wider, saying the look on the kid's face is totally worth it. As I burst into tears (ignoring Zombiegirl's admonishments about my crying) I ask her for her name. She hands me her card- she's the store manager- and I give her a hug. Thanking her and telling her people just don't DO nice things in New York, we laugh and make our way back upstairs to the Exhibit.

Which was awesome and SO worth the agony of dejection and waiting.

Walking back and forth in the crowd of people recognizing early sketches and artwork of Tim's characters. Seeing the suit Johnny Depp wore in Edward Scissorhands and having Zombiegirl almost faint. Picking out your favorite Jack Skellington head of the 30 on display. Watching the gross but funny Stain Boy cartoons.

It was all worth it.

And it wouldn't be possible without the kindness of strangers.

Thanks, Justina!* You've restored my faith in the human race.

UPDATED: *Names and links have been changed and deleted to protect the innocent and good.

That Started From This Tropic Port Aboard This TIny Ship

One of my favorite gifts I received this birthday was one from Rob.

Rob Schiff. Best Man, musician, personal IT support, printer, Showerhead and all-around great guy.

He's a friend of ours that's closer to our family than some of our family members.

Guys usually don't put a lot of thought into their gifts. MR does, but he's my husband. It meant so much that Rob thought about this gift months before my birthday. He got me this:
I remember going to my great-Grandmother's house and using this little guy to pour milk over my cereal. MR remembers having one too as a kid. I don't know how Rob knew we would remember this from our childhood. He must have known it would fit so well with these.
Thanks, Rob. I think everyone needs a Moo Cow Creamer!

Just Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale, A Tale of a Fateful Trip

No F*CK YOU Friday today, I'm too full of love...

The love started on Wednesday, celebrating my birthday. The girls took me out for lunch to the Brick Lane Curry House Too- the home of the hottest curry dish in North America. No, I didn't try it. I was too chicken. The place was tiny-it seats 14- but the food was delicious. This satisfies one of my 101 in 1001- trying a new restaurant!

After a pretty unproductive day at work, where almost no one (including the team I work with)wished me a Happy Birthday, I left a little early to go home to my family who was waiting to take me to Thai food. Indian and Thai in the same day? This must be Heaven! What made it extra special was that Dad joined us!

Now this wouldn't be such a big deal to most. It was to me since my parents always refused to try anything outside their comfort zone. They knew what they liked. If they didn't think they would like it, they wouldn't try it. This included eating most ethnic food, traveling outside the country and watching popular tv shows. That was okay, though. They stood by their convictions and didn't feel like they were missing anything.

Except dinner with their family on my birthdays.

We would go out for Indian, or Mexican, or Thai and they would meet us back at our house for cake. This time, though, Dad went with us to Frankly Thai (otherwise known as Onzon). AND he tried the spicy, crispy noodles! And lived! I am so proud of him, and honored that he was willing to go out with us. He said it was good, and I'll choose to believe him.

After dinner we had cake back at the house and I opened my presents. A bread maker from Dad (along with three bread mixes,) sock monkey slippers from Zombiegirl, from MR-tickets to Promises, Promises on Broadway, a rain barrel, topsy turvy tomatoes and an Amex Gift Certificate. From Beena- a HUGE bread recipe book. Wonderful gifts from my wonderful family. Thanks you guys!

The best part of this day, though, had to be the fact that I wasn't turning a year older than I thought. Since MR is three months older than me, I automatically start saying I'm the same age he is whenever anyone asks. I must have convinced myself I was already 47 and started saying I was turning 48. It took Soulspeak23 to remind me I'm a moron and I'm a year younger. Hooray! I'm NOT 48!

Avada Kedavra! Just Kidding.

Continuing on with the Zombiegirl's Harry Potter Party…

Since I wasn't going to be holding a Defense against the Dark Arts class, the kids would have no way of knowing what spells to use with their wands. So I figured I would give each kid a spell, charm and potions handbook to take home. During my lunch hours a few months before the party (um, yeah, lunch hour….), I compiled a list of Spells from The Harry Potter Lexicon using their Encyclopedia of Spells. I added Potions and Potion Ingredients from their Encyclopedia of Potions and from Harry Potter Wiki. In fact, these two websites were invaluable to me- this is where I got most of the details for the party. To the book I added a brief History of Hogwarts and a few pages for notes, a title page and a cover. The cover was printed on the same parchment cardstock I used for the invitations- thanks, Rob! The only problem I had printing the book was the layout. I'm not good with pages and printing on two sides so it took me a few sample printings to get the order right in MS Word and at the printer. Finally, the pages worked and I was ready to assemble. Another lunch hour (snort) to assemble the books and staple. My work graciously let me use their deep throated stapler (bwahahahahaaa!)

Now the kids will have the books (no cost to me, yay!) and a place to take notes. The ONLY thing a Hogwarts student would be using to take notes is a quill pen, right? I need feathers. Michaels had packages of turkey feathers in white and different colors (black for Z-girl) so I picked up enough for everyone. When I got them home, however, I realized the shaft wasn't hollow. Well, it would be hollow if it didn't look like it was vacuum-sucked in. I got a Bic pen insert about an inch up the shaft (OMG this is sounding so dirty….) before it couldn't go any further. CRAP! I remember making quill pens when I was a kid using seagull feathers I found on the beach. I definitely couldn't use these Michaels feathers so I started researching were to by genuine feathers online. I found a feather place on West 38th street in the garment district. I called and they confirmed they had feathers I could use for pens.

I promptly forgot about the quills until the Wednesday before the party. I HAD to get these feathers the next day since I wasn't going in to work on Friday (stove repair man coming). I figured I would stop in the morning when I get in to Penn Station. After a late start at home on Thursday, I got into the city and walked up to 38th Street. I turned THE WRONG WAY (WEST) on 38th Street and didn't realize it until I ran out of buildings, somewhere around 9th. I called the place and they said they were between 6th and 5th. Wonderful! It's the first hot day of the year, I'm totally overdressed, and now I'm four VERY long blocks out of my way. And late. I get to Dersch Feather and am blown away by the amount and beauty of all the feathers they have displayed. My mind does a creative flip trying to think of what I could possible do with all this! John snuck up from behind some boxes and when I told him what I needed, he was thrilled! Seems like he's a Potter Head, too. Had the Hogwart's denim jacket to prove it! But…he couldn't tell me what type of feather was used for the quills. He showed me a few and we settled on the turkey feathers. The shaft was indented in like my other feathers, but a little higher- I would be able to get more pen up the shaft. Twelve dollars later (cash- no debit, no credit- I had to leave to find a cash machine) and I had a handfull of long white quills. Since I'm not versed in the Manhattan bus system, I couldn't figure out how to get uptown on the east side, so since I was late anyway, I walked. From 38th Street to 48th Street. Sweating, carting a bagful of Girl Scout Cookies and feathers. Mama's not a happy one, this morning. I get to work, down a full bottle of water, race like a pee horse and log into my workstation. I scout out the supply cabinet for pens, and come up empty. Crap again! I'm going to have to buy Bics. Thank goodness they're cheap, around $2 for a pack of 10.

When I get home I start trimming the ends of the feathers and pulling out the inserts of the pens. I try to stick the pen in the shaft, but again, it doesn't go all the way in. Now I'm desperate, and start cutting the pens to fit. And getting ink all over my hands, the table, the feathers and the scissors. I try to do the rest in a neat and clean manner, but my hands turn slowly blue-black over the course of this craft. It's okay- I managed to get all the pens in, glued where they're a little loose and standing on end so the ink doesn't run back into the feather.

Now our little Hogwart students are ready to take notes!

F*CK YOU Friday!

I'm back to taking the bus to the subway. Oh, I have SO much fodder for F*CK YOU Friday! That and this week at work ...

-F*CK YOU to the bus drivers on the N6 route who don't notify the passengers that the bus is a LIMITED. I got on two buses this week that I swear did NOT have the LIMITED sign on the front, but went Limited anyway. One time I was able to get off at the Limited stop before my stop to transfer. One time I ended up at Shopper's Village and MR had to come get me. Thanks, bus drivers. Now I ask before I get on the bus. Even though I shouldn't.

-F*CK YOU to the guy on the bus the other day. You were talking to the soft-spoken rasta guy. Loudly. And every other word out of your mouth was "F…". Now I can somewhat deal with that- I have friends who use the f-bomb like it's an adjective. The kicker with you, guy on the bus, is that you said you "want to be a F*cking English teacher." Really? Did you realize how stupid you sound? Did you realize that everyone around you was uncomfortable and giving you dirty looks? (I was standing right over you guys and saw EVERYONE'S faces.) And no, thanks- I didn't want to sit. Not that you asked. I pray that an opinionated (hated golf, the ballet and opera) boorish miscreant like you never becomes a teacher.

-F*CK YOU to Kate Gosselin. Every day of the year, you deserve a F*CK YOU. Yes, your ex-husband is a slob and a womanizer, but I don't blame him in the least. You are a harpy. If I were married to you, and took the abuse you gave (it was evident on camera- which means it was probably worse off camera) I would skip out of that relationship with the first person that saw me as a human being instead of the doormat you thought I was. You need to step out of the spotlight and be with your kids. As a mom. I'm sure you have enough money now to live comfortably (maybe give up the big house and the hair extensions) so go home. I'm tired of seeing your face.

F*CK YOU to Dancing With The Stars for even CONSIDERING Kate Gosselin to appear on their show. This woman is a manipulator, an attention whore and an absentee mother. She is NOT a star, she's NOT a celebrity. She's painful to watch. A double F*CK YOU to all the sheeple who are still voting for her. Or is it DWTS subterfuge keeping her on the show for the ratings? In my Google search for "I hate Kate Gosselin" I found this website. Awesome job, Snark.

-F*CK YOU to my job. I've had just about enough of your shenanigans.

-F*CK YOU to State Farm for dropping my Dad's homeowners insurance because he lives too close to the water. The company is reducing their coastal business and eliminating all the homes in a flood plain. That's leaving him struggling to find alternative affordable insurance. And the kicker? Because he no longer has homeowners insurance, his car insurance is going up because there's no more discount for multiple policies. Seriously. Well, State Farm? I'm dropping you as my homeowners insurance. You gave me such a hard time when we were robbed, and my mortgage expert, when reviewing for refinance, said my insurance was on the high side anyway. It'll be tough because basically all of the insurance companies I've already spoke to will not cover me because I am within 11 miles of the water. But I will find other insurance then I can cancel with State Farm with a big F*CK YOU!

-F*CK YOU to the people who drag rolling luggage behind them on the subway or through Penn Station. My feet were run over twice this week. Reel them in, people. No need to roll them so far behind you. And be conscious of other people, please. Those suckers are heavy.

-F*CK YOU to our dog, Spencer. Your habits lately are disgusting. Stop eating your poop. We won't kiss you if you do. And stop throwing up on the rug every morning. Now I have to take you to the vet. And who may. be. fatal. Bwah ha ha ha!

Now, I was going to give F*CK YOU's to all the factory farms in the US, but becoming a vegetarian is my way of protesting the use of drugs, genetic testing and abuse on these farms. I DO want to give huge SMOOCHES to Chipotle (I am NOT obsessed with Chipotle, really!) Chipotle uses naturally raised pork, chicken and beef. I don't eat their meat burritos, I adore the Vegetarian Burrito Bowl, but I admire their "Food With Integrity" program. I'm not sure if 100% of their meat is naturally raised, but they're on the right track!

It was a tough week, and there was no resolution today, either. That means Monday we start all over again.

At least the weekend is here!

It's My Deadline and I'll Cry if I Want To

I cried at work today. These tears had nothing to do with a death, or an accident, or a fight with a loved one. These tears were shed out of frustration.

Usually I get angry- spitting mad- when the stupidity of the job gets to me. Today they broke me. I went through a stack of Chipotle napkins (note to self…must get more Chipotle) while hiding behind my cubicle wall so no one could witness my demise. I MUST have been utterly frustrated to actually call someone and cry on their shoulder. I think I scared them. Mamasoo is known as a bitch, not a crybaby.

So, not only was management being reluctant about giving me answers I needed to complete a report I'm working on, I was forced to delay a deadline- twice- because of it. And of course, when I get frazzled, I get sloppy. I get so angry and upset that I don't think things through. The report I had to prepare for this certain manager in order for her to get answers from her manager had to be redone three times. Information passed to me months ago was recanted when brought up, and it skewed the results of the report. At least the CRETIN that scurried over to the manager to inform them I was running the routine wrong (using their information) called and apologized for "getting me in trouble". Then, after correcting the report (not my fault), I neglected to correct a comparison (my fault). A nasty email from the manager informed me of that error. I was already into my fifth napkin by then (they're made without bleach and from 90% post-consumer recycled paper! At least I'm earth-friendly while I cry…) and this just made it worse.

I think I snapped today because lately I've been at everyone's beck and call to produce reports, drawings and proposals for upper management. And we all know upper management needs these reports IMMEDIATELY and extremely dumbed-down because they don't want to have to "think about it", IT being the results of the report.

But when I need something on a deadline- which happens EXACTLY FOUR TIMES A YEAR- no one takes me seriously. I was actually questioned in a meeting with the above-mentioned manager about my deadline date. Management has no idea what my process is, so why am I being questioned? I guess the point of this part of my rant is that I don't question management's deadlines, why should they be questioning mine? As it turns out…it doesn't look like I'll get any answers until the MIDDLE OF THE MONTH anyway!

Okay, I just realized that the middle of the month for me means PMS. That...might explain my reaction to this situation, but seriously, it's still a situation. Do I like being everyone's whore? Do I like being everyone's circus bear- jumping through hoops and juggling balls? My business contacts love me- they've told me so many, many times. My boss has doled out the rare nuggets of praise over the years. But Upper Management? One member of Upper management…has referred to me as "Autocad Lady" and won't speak to me in elevators. Another member has ignored me at the mall. And never respects my deadlines. Am I destined to be a peon the rest of my working career?

I left the answer to that question hanging until I got home. I had two hours of commute to think it over. And the answer is yes…I am destined to be a peon for the rest of my working career. And I'll tell you why.

Even though I've supervised many people, have made crucial decisions and worked on multi-million dollar projects in past jobs and am perfectly capable of being Upper Management it will never happen. Requirement number one to move up the corporate ladder is that you must kiss ass. And the LAST thing I do is kiss ass. I usually tell it like it is, and if I don't like you, you know it.

Requirement number two is you have to attend meetings. I think meetings, especially weekly meetings, are a waste of time. They're usually run by the wrong (read "stupid") people and end up not accomplishing what they've set out to do. Plus being late is a pet-peeve of mine, and it's a requirement that you MUST wait for Upper Management to show up, since they're so busy doing other things they can't possible get to a meeting on time.

Requirement number three is you will probably have to work late. No, let me rephrase that. You'll probably have to stay at work late. Doesn't mean you're necessarily working. You might have taken a LONG lunch hour with the contractor-du-jour and need to catch up. You may be trying to get Lady Gaga tickets for your kids. You may be surfing p0rn sites (even though our company doesn't let you on anything remotely suspicious…) But whatever the reason, you'll be working late. Me? Sorry- I have a family to go home to.

Requirement number four- you have to torture the people under you. After all, they are the people who make you look good. You have to harass them to get you reports that are all ready available if you would have just listened to your underlings when they told you where to look. You have to harass them to print things out for you because it really is too much trouble to find the print button in the document you have open. You have to harass them to make even minor corrections on reports that you've created because you're too busy to make them yourself. Seems the higher you go up the corporate staircase, the less work you actually have to do?

Notice the money didn't even come into consideration. I wouldn't trade my freedom at the job and the freedom at home to make the salary these managers make. I'll stay where I am, thank you. Frustrations and all. As long as I have recycled napkins and a shoulder to cry on.

Happy Borned Day, Zombiegirl!

I wanted to post this on Zombiegirl's actual birthday, but as soon as we got home, the festivities began...and then life quietly spiraled out of control with the holidays and everything else we had to do. So I'm pretending, two weeks later, that the kid turned 11! Yes, 11. My baby is 11! What the hell? When did my little girl get big? In the blink of an eye, she went from this… to this.

She was the easiest and quickest labor of all the kids. We went into the doctor's office in the morning so he could break my water- I was already nine days overdue. (She was supposed to be born on St. Patrick's day. Good thing she wasn't seeing how much I now dislike St. Patty's day…) Dr. Sherman inserted the "crochet hook" and snagged the amniotic sac. After my water seeped out, he told me to go home and rest up before the contractions started. We went home and right after that the contractions started coming fast! We headed out to Winthrop (and didn't get caught at the railroad crossing like we had been kidding about every time we went to the doctor) and they put me in a labor room right away. All hooked up to the fetal monitor and ready to go!

Labor, like I said, was quick. During one of the last pushes, however, I closed my eyes and felt my nose running. A lot. I thought maybe I had ruptured a vessel or something and my nose was bleeding. The doctor looked up at me and said "Oh my God"- not something you want to hear from your doctor during labor. Seems I had a sinus infection and pushed so hard all this snot came streaming out my nose. Dr. Sherman said he'd never seen that color green before! Lovely. Ignore the snot and last push and Z-girl was born!

MR was allowed to cut the umbilical cord, and the most perfect little girl was handed over to me after her evaluation (which she scored so high on!) I remember thinking that she was so beautiful- except for her nostrils- they were a little squished. It wasn't until we got her home that I realized MR's nostrils are the exact same shape.

Kelsey Cecelia was born at 3:13 p.m. on March 26, 1999. She shares a birthday with my beloved Nana Ethel, who was too sick to realize her great-granddaughter was born on her 91st birthday. The time of her birth was the date MR's little brother passed away- March 13, 40 years ago. She was 8 lbs., 13 oz, the second biggest baby of all the girls, right behind Beena, who weighed in at 9 lbs. She was, and continues to be, a wonderful child.

So, Zombiegirl, I want to say, even though I'm a little late, a little scatterbrained...

Your dad and I think you're awesome. That's why we'd do pretty much anything for you. You have a great personality, a wacky sense of humor, and you're really smart! Your flips and jumps while you were in my belly just proved to us how great an athlete you're turning out to be. Daddy already said you're a better soccer player now than he was at this age. Keep kicking, kid. You'll go so far with this sport!

I love the fact that you have your own style. The colored hair proves that. You don't go in for what all the other girls are into- all the Disney chicks and the princess crap. Sometimes you scare us with your love of blood and gore and Johnny Depp, but that's okay- you don't take it too far or too serious. You never seem to realize that people do a double take when they see you pass by with the latest hair color (red and yellow this month). You don't do it for the shock value. You do it because YOU like it. I have a feeling that your creativity is going to come out more and more and I personally can't wait.

Z-girl- I want you to know that I'll always have a lap that you can snuggle on, even if you think you're too big.

I want you to know that you can always have tickle-time and wrestle-time with me, even if you think I'm lame.

I want you to know that you can always talk to me, even if you think I won't understand.

I want you to know that I'll always be there for you, even if you think I won't.

I'm so very proud of you!

I love you, Piglet!

Wingardium Leviosa!

We had the Zombiegirl's Harry Potter birthday party this Saturday, but before I go into that, I have to blog about everything leading up to this momentous occasion!

The Wands

You absolutely can not have a Harry Potter Party without wands! That's where all the magic comes from! I gave MR the task of turning the wands on his lathe. He'll carve them and I'll stain and finish them. After turning one wand that took a half an hour and finding out we needed over 30 of them, he threw his hands up in the air and quit on me. I told him I'd do it, then- a few wands a night- and cheerfully took chisel in hand, donned my safety goggles and turned on the lathe. I put chisel to wood in an intricate pattern, sanded it down and shut off the machine. Big deal, I thought to myself. What's he crying over- this was easy!

When the wand stopped spinning I saw that only one side was carved. WTF?

If the lathe is not placed EXACTLY in the center of this 3/8" dowel, it wobbles and you can only catch one side with the chisel. Okay, let's be more careful about placement, then. We went through the whole rigmarole piercing the end, crosscutting it and placing it in the lathe, only to find out I chiseled one side again! Two more sticks went the garbage route. At this rate, I'll have one stick in 30 days.

Or buy MR a smaller lathe. I would have bought another one if I didn't mind spending the extra $200. But I really wanted to keep the price down on this party, so I tearfully clomped up the stairs (hoping MR would feel sorry for me) to research how to make 30 plus wands in one month with little money.

Hallelujah, I found this on!

Okay, I was a little leery. Paper and glue? We're having 30 10 and 11-year olds who will want to practice their spells on each other. MR was worried about giving them ANYTHING pointy less we find an eye on the end of someone's wand. How in the world is paper and glue going to hold up to rigorous wand flicking?

I started rolling the paper as directed and after about 45 minutes, I had 35 wands rolled up tighter than a Cheech and Chong joint. Than a Geisha sushi roll. They were a little sticky from the glue you have to slather on the end to keep them tight, so I put them on a cooling rack to dry and went to bed.

The next night I checked and they were still tight! I had rolled some at different angles so they were wider on the ends, or tapered on both sides. I started each roll with the last of my pack wooden skewers so the roll started tightly. By the way? Buy a package of wooden skewers at the 99 cent store. They have a MULTITUDE of uses- in fact I went through 100 of them without skewering ANYTHING- which is what they are really for! For stability, I left the skewers in the wands, and clipped off the ends where they poked out. In the wider end wands I stuck more skewers, or paper scraps- any thing to fill it in and make it stiffer.

Then I brought out the hot glue gun. I love my hot glue gun. Remember these?

After filling in the ends of all the wands and squeezing glue down into them to make them more solid (solidier?) I started decorating. Spirals, snakes, swirls, drips (that look like blood) and circles. I finished 10 that night.

A few nights later, I finished all decorating all the wands. I was proud to say no two were alike! I took them all outside late that night and placed them all int eh spray booth MR made me. I gave them all a coat of black paint made for plastics because I didn't want acrylic paint to start flaking off the hot glue. About 15 minutes later I turned them and gave the other side a coat. I gathered them up 15 minutes later when they were dry- they looked awesome even all black! The following day was Saturday-Zombiegirl had Kedals over so I put them to work giving them a coat of acrylic paint. We stuck mostly to browns, but we had some blues, greens, reds and yellows. We made a couple pink (for the girlie-girls) and let them dry.

Later that afternoon, Z-girl and I went over the ones that didn't get a full coating, and started antiquing the ones that were okay. We painted on a watered-down black acrylic and really quickly wiped it off. Some of the color paint came off with it, because that paint was water-based too, but it was okay because there was a base coat of black underneath. They started looking really old and chipped where the paint came off. We managed to antique all of them that night the next day we touched up where necessary. I brushed on off-white highlights on some and gold on others. After awhile working with these things I just got giddy because I was so pleased with the outcome! I think they looked amazing- each one was unique- different color, different size, different design!

(I totally didn't shower that day)
The finishing touches were a light spray of clear semigloss to seal the paint and an Ollivander's tag stating what wood the wand was made of, how long it was and which magical ingredient was in the center- phoenix feather, Veela hair, dragon scale…you get the idea.

So for approximately 40 cents for the hot glue, nothing for the paper and paints and $6.78 for the clear spray, I made 32 wands! It took a little while and my dining room table hosted the wands for about a week, but that's okay. Ollivander would have been proud.

Erin Go Blech

Today is St. Patrick's Day. Woo. Hoo. Note the lack of enthusiasm.

St. Patrick's Day is probably my least favorite "holiday" of the year. Not because I don't like the Irish. I like them just fine. Heck, in my varied pedigree, I've got some Irish in me somewhere. It's just...working in the city on St. Patrick's Day is no fun.

Sure, there's the parade. Lots of people like parades. I am not one of them. Another thing I can safely blame on my parents- my dislike of parades. Being dragged to the Macy's Thanksgiving parade every year as a kid, freezing on a street corner until I couldn't feel my toes and then having my vision blocked by larger people sneaking in front of us. Why did we come early, then? And then the squeeze of the people behind us, pushing and shoving to get a better line of sight. Sorry, not my idea of fun.

Then there's the drinking. Not me, mind you. I have to WORK. I'm talking about the faux Irish people who take off today and tomorrow to literally drink all day. Starting on the commute IN to the city this morning. By the time I go home, the train smells like vomit and those people who had shamrocks prettily painted on their cheeks are bleary-eyed and their faces are smeared with streaks of green goop. They'll be loud and smelly and will pick a fight with you if you shoot them dirty looks for singing "Danny Boy" at the top of their lungs. AND getting the lyrics wrong.

But the real reason I dislike St. Patty's Day?

I hate kelly green. I love hunter green and chartreuse and even mint green. But kelly green turns my stomach and makes me see red.

I have no idea why. I wonder if one of those parade goers when I was a kid wore kelly green and stepped on my frozen toes.

Monday Tidbits

I swear I saw Almira Gulch pedaling furiously through the air on Saturday. Laughing and pointing and scowling at me as she flew by the window. What kind of weather was that? Seventy-five mile per hour winds, slashing rain, thunder, lighting...we're not in Kansas anymore!
After an already full day of wet haircuts and wet Bridal Shower (Congratulations Jessica and Mervin!) we were tired. I started painting the brick wall for Platform 9-3/4 and Z-girl was on Facebook. We were zoning out fast. I finally dozed for a bit. That's when the tree limbs started raining down from the sky.

Since MR was seafooding it at the Boston Convention Center for the last few days, Zombiegirl and I were left home by ourselves in the middle of the storm. Z-girl was a little nervous about the lights going out so we got dressed and went out around 5:30. Maybe not the smartest idea.

We went to Panera Bread on Jericho Turnpike for dinner. Just the walk (run) from the car to the restaurant soaked us. Hot soup was looking mighty good 'bout now. Zombie-g waited a long time to finally get the potato soup in the bread bowl and it was worth the wait. She finished it in record time, which for her is odd since she's the slowest eater on the planet.

After another quick, wet dash to the car, we drove up Jericho for about a half mile before we were detoured by a LOT of police cars. This was not boding well. I couldn't see a half a block in front of me, and people took this kind of weather as an okay to drive like assholes. We finally made it, after about 45 minutes, to the BJ's on Broad Hollow Road.

Hey- I needed stuff for the party! Yes, I knew it was hurricane-like out. But we would be the only ones in BJ's! It'll be great- no crowds!

Yeah, no.

We weren't the only nuts out in this weather. There were plenty of people there, buying 2-3 items- not even huge orders! It was like BJ's was a sanctuary in the maelstrom of a storm.

Until they announced their system was down, and could only take cash.

I moved up to the front of the line and bought my Cow Tails and Pixie Sticks. Zombiegirl, being the smarty that she is, grabbed one of those boxes in the front of the store to put over her head. I was complimenting her ingenuity when the box of giant Pixie Sticks broke (due to leaning against my wet coat) and went flying all over the exit. Where people were all standing and debating whether or not to go out in the rain to their cars. And, of course, not helping me.

So we once again ran to the car, and drove approximately 100 feet to the movie theater. This mad dash to the theater was totally worth it because WE FINALLY GOT TO SEE ALICE IN WONDERLAND!

Yes, instead of staying home under the covers, we risked power outages went to the movies.




We're going back to see it again since it was such a colorful, beautiful movie I'm sure we missed alot of stuff.

And because Johnny Depp is in it.

Driving back home was super creepy/ The kid fell asleep and I was listening to Bad Romance (again) and I realized that the whole area of our neighborhood north of Hempstead Turnpike was dark. No streetlights, no house lights-it was like someone painted a dark gray veil over the neighborhood. I tried to wake Z-girl up, but she was zonked. Then I came to the turnpike and the brightness of the lights actually hurt my eyes! Thankfully, we had power when we got home.

Not for long...

F*CK YOU Friday!

Two weeks since the debut of my F*CK You Friday post! Last week, all went pretty smoothly- I didn't get pissed off enough at anything that would warrant a F*CK YOU rant on my blog. This past week, however…

F*CK YOU to the little girls in my neighborhood who are well on their way to becoming bitches. The one that said the public Middle School my daughter is going to go to is the "poor person's school." (This little twit goes to the local dysfunctional Catholic school.) And the ones that take advantage of the sweet, quiet kid- bossing her around and making her pay for their lunch cookies. And the little girl that looks at you like you have a horrid disease just because you said "Good Morning" to her at the bus stop or at school. So sorry that I'm so beneath your social status that you can't respond back.

Parents, are you honestly aware of how your child acts towards others? Wait. What am I saying? These kids have been raised by dysfunctional, self-absorbed parents. Of course they have no clue their children are on a downward spiral to bullying and socially unacceptable behavior. Much like their parents! Silly me. Social ineptitude begets social ineptitude. I just hope Zombiegirl has a thick skin (unlike her mother) and doesn't let these cretins bother her.

Speaking of Zombiegirl, a big F*CK YOU to hormones! You've taken my lovable, caring little kid and turned her into a pre-teen with a 'tude. I was troubled last week and had it out with her about her lack of respect, but after I've read this article, I plan on dealing with this issue in the future more calmly. She's going through emotions she's never felt before either, so no use both of use losing sleep and tears over it.

F*CK YOU to the horde of small people that took in the matinee last Wednesday. There was one adult to every two kids, yet you still managed to TOTALLY block the entrance to the 1 train and still gave us grief when we (the older lady, the businessman and I) tried to get through, saying "Excuse me" over and over again. Sorry if WE inconvenienced YOU. Next time, send a scout down to purchase your tickets, or pull it over to the side. I'm not going to be so nice next time. Sixty of you milling around holding hands DURING RUSH HOUR does not make for happy commuters.

F*CK YOU to air pressure, my brain, New York, Mother Nature and Excedrin for Migraine. None of you made me very happy Thursday.

F*CK YOU to the assholes that robbed my friend and her family. The stuff you took meant more to my friend Jodi than it would bring in for your drug problem. Karma's a bitch. Look what happened to the asshole that robbed my family. For invading other person's space, you deserve to die.

F*CK YOU to my local ASSociation of Girl Scouts. That debacle you called entertainment last Friday made MR and I wish we never had kids. I understand you're dealing with many, many different troops, and you probably don't know what each troop is going to do until they get up there. But overall? It was disorganized and chaotic. Put someone in as an Emcee to introduce the concept and each troop by number and what they're planning on doing. The Oompa Loompas were cute, but you couldn't understand them when they were announcing the acts (when they finally showed up…) Try putting some microphones on stands in the front so the audience doesn't have to sit and watch a pantomime of a fairy tale. Set some guidelines for the troops- time limits, behavior expectations, prop usage- or better yet- HAVE A FREAKING DRESS REHEARSAL so you can see where your problems lie! I know we're dealing with kids and all the leaders are volunteers, but I shouldn't, as a parent, have to wish those hours of my life back. And fellow parents- your child is NOT cute when they act up and show off onstage. It's obnoxious. And the parents of Zombiegirl's troop? It was obnoxious of you to leave right after our kids were done.

F*CK YOU to soccer coaches if they don't acknowledge their players off the field. You do realize the kids you coach look up to you, right? You and your team are a family away from family. If you met a family member in Stop N Shop, would you say hello? Probably, if you're not SOCIALLY INEPT. So if you meet a member of your team in a social situation- say hello. Ask how they're doing. Be human. The rewards of children loving their coach are FAR better than having them fear and loathe you. You get more with honey than you do with vinegar, honey.

F*CK YOU to America for voting Lilly Scott off American Idol. She has a unique, 1920's style voice. So she doesn't sound or look like Brittney Spears. She has more talent in her left big toe than any of the other girl contestants, with the exception of Crystal Bowersox. And Crystal? Stop looking so smug. You know you're good, granted, but be a little grateful they're still voting for you, 'k?

(Whoa. Did I actually just write that? Me, who hates all network television and reality shows in general? Who have I become??? Darn you, Simon Cowell!)

F*CK YOU to my company's benefits department. You overcharged my 1099 form around $8,000 more than what my 401K was actually. You sent me to SEVEN different departments this week claiming it wasn't you- that tax forms are not your issue. But YOU sent the amount out! Where's that extra eight grand? And who's going to fix my form so I can give it to my sweet accountant so he can finish my taxes?

Wow. I'm not bitter, I swear! I just can't stand the stupidity and injustice and ignorance around me. As I typed these out, the funny thing is, there are specific links to all the different FU's I've posted. Common threads that run through these posts. Maybe it's a handful of people that set me off? Maybe. All the more reason to bring the people that I love and respect tighter around me.

Tell me what set you off this week. Tell me I'm not overly sensitive. Tell me who you want to send a F*CK YOU to! You'll feel so much better, so much lighter when you get that all off your chest!

On a happy note, HIGH FIVE to the conductor on the LIRR that let me slide on the fare going home yesterday. You said I looked horrible (I did- I had a migraine) so I didn't have to worry about getting home. Thanks! You're a peach.

HIGH FIVE to the neighborhood High School on their production of Les Miserables. You're all very talented. It was just a tad too long. Sorry I kept yawning. It wasn't you. Really.

Squirrelvision- Now in IMAX

I think bed is the best thing in the world. I love sliding into bed at night, curling up in my blankets and quilt. I love going back to bed after my shower, my spot still slightly warm from when i left. After snuggling back to bed in the morning (must be why I'm always late to work) I'd either doze off or gaze out my bedroom window, thinking of the gazillion things I have to do.
A few winters ago, I spotted this in the tree growing in the creek behind our house:

Can you see the "5"?

Then, at the beginning of this winter, I spotted this:
It's an upside-down (and maybe backwards) "4". Okay, it's a stretch. But it's clear to me...

Then a few months ago, I saw this:
It's an "8". Put together, I see this in the tree every morning. The day I found the "8", I played "584" in Lotto that day.

I didn't win. Of course not.

The best thing about gazing out the window at this tree is the entertainment. Three out of the four seasons I can watch the squirrels jumping from limb to limb. If they're mating, it's twice the fun (not what you're thinking...get your minds out of the gutters!) When it's mating season, they chase each other and wrestle and fall through the air only to catch the branches on the way down, landing on their little paws.

I have blinds on my window that go up from the bottom or down from the top. We keep the back blind on the bottom and pull it up so the people in the parking lot of the pool can't see me in my naked glory when I get dressed. The other day while I was lounging in bed putting off getting up, MR dropped the blinds all the way down and I was able to watch the squirrel show in IMAX. Awesome!

What's outside your window? Send a picture, I'll post it.

Hermione, Can I Borrow Your Time-Turner, Please?

Holy Hedwig! I apologize, Blogosphere. I've been so busy eating, sleeping, shopping and planning Harry Potter shit I haven't had time to do much else. My house is furry around the edges (where's my Vacuum Bitch, aka MR?) and the laundry is piling up. If Zombiegirl hadn't given up fast food for Lent (my good little Lutheran…) we'd be eating out every day this past week. I'm starting to cast spells on the people around me, and alas, they're not working.
So to take you all down the road to the Harry Potter hell I've been in, let me tell you what I've been doing.

Zombiegirl's birthday is coming up. She's going to be 11. And I've told her this is the last big party I'm throwing her. From here on in, we'll do the movie thing with a couple of friends, or a light sleepover, or a trip to the city with a BFF or two. Middle school is going to be hard enough with all the cattiness and the backstabbing. I'm not going to add to that mess with "who-invites-who-to-whose-birthday-party" crap. From here on in, birthday's are on the down-low. We're going to pick and choose whose parties she goes to based on who's throwing it and where they're held. If I deem them a waste of time due to the location or the child, she's not attending. We'll plan something else to do instead. I want her to be friendly with everyone, but some of the parties she's invited to, well, the friendship seems superficial. I want her to have meaningful friendships, not ones based on presents. Or how many kids are invited to the "popular" girl's party.

When I asked Z-girl what kind of party she wanted, she thought for 10 seconds and said "Harry Potter". Yes, she was reading the book at the time.

Now, I thought last year's party was the bomb. I didn't think anything could top that. A photo scavenger hunt in the mall, then cookie decorating and candy selection at Dylan's Candy Bar! That was probably the best party a kid could want. They all had a blast and went home with tons of sweets and a huge sugar high that day. What could I do to top that? If you know me, you know that I'm a crazed party planner. It's what I used to do as a side job. Planning kids parties, then later planning adult parties. I hate going to an actual party- for me, it's all about the details and the planning stage. Ask my older kids about their childhood parties. I threw them craft parties, Pocohantas parties, a Fashion Show, a zoo scavenger hunt, a star-filled Sweet Sixteen and a Disney Graduation Party. Different and unique. Without any help from the Web, either. I planned everything by myself and each and every one of them (except maybe the craft party…only one kid showed up…) was a huge success. I live for a party, at least to plan it. And dammit, I was determined this was going to be a good one.

I started researching Harry Potter parties on the Interwebs. And I was totally surprised at how much info there is out there. And how many geeks love Harry Potter enough to throw huge, intricate parties!

So I agreed (being a Harry Potter geek myself) and started planning.

Zombiegirl has 95% control over this party. Almost every idea has to be run past her first. I'm saving 5% of the control to surprise the kid- I want her to feel the Harry Potter magic as well.

I'm posting each piece of the party as a separate blog post labelled HPP. I'm also going to link my sources of inspiration because I couldn't have even STARTED thinking about this without these talented people's posts and websites.


Now that all the invites have been delivered, I can post how I created them.

I'm blessed with a person like Rob who can get me any type of paper I need. I'm also blessed with the freedom to do stuff at work without too many prying eyes. I took the parchment that Rob got me and typed up the invite in Word almost verbatim from "The Sorcerer's Stone". Since we're having the party at St. Andrew's, I included directions to the social hall, aka King's Cross Station.

Since I only had 8.5" x 11" parchment to make the envelopes, I had to fold the invites to fit. A little manuevering in Word let me print the addresses before I cut and folded the sheets to fit around the invites.

Since these invites have to been delivered by "owl post" I wanted to put something in the post mark spot besides at stamp. And since I'm trying to make this as low-budget as possible, I didn't want to go out and buy an owl stamp. So I researched rubber owl stamps on the Web and found a suitable picture. I looked around my office for a rubber eraser, which is pretty hard since I don't actually draft plans anymore (I did finally find one in the back of my drafting table) and copied the owl onto the eraser. I spent the next hour cutting the eraser out to make the owl in relief. I rubbed a red sharpie marker over it and stamped the invite. I was so excited about the result I giggled all the way into Soulspeak and Ruddyna's office to show them. They must think I'm a freak...

More carving of the eraser produced a backwards "Owl Post" so I had to redo it and then stamped it under the owl. "Owl Post" indeed!

These invites needed one more touch- the wax seal on the back. Again, I didn't want to spend $8 on wax and an "H" seal at Michael's, so back to Google. I found this very inventive website. Using my hot glue gun, a block of frozen mozzarella cheese, three buttons from Mom's collection and some black spray paint I created the "wax" seal for the back.

We drove Zombiegirl around a few nights to deliver them. She was stealthy and quiet when sneaking up on the houses, dropping the invitations off and running away. She hand delivered them to her whole soccer team. Thirty-four invitations in total.

We are on our way. I need a Butterbear...

Monday Tidbits on Tuesday

I can't believe how fast time flies. This weekend marked the year anniversary of Mom's passing. She technically passed away on February 27, 2009, at 11:45 pm, but she wasn't declared gone until the Hospice nurse got there at around three o'clock in the morning of the 28th. I'm amazed that the year went by so fast. Dad has been awesome this past year- he's had his sad moments, but he's coping. Very well. I'm so relieved.

After Friday's "Snurricaine" turned into a "Snore-iccaine", we were pretty sure we would be able to follow through with our plans to remember Mom. I took off work on Friday due to the weather, so I was able to get done everything I needed to get done (sewing little man clothes- more on that later) and be able to devote all day Saturday to our trip. We honored Mom by going down to Atlantic City.

What better place to remember Mom? What better place to cheer Dad up…especially after he won over $600 at Caesar's! Yeah, he's cheery now. Mom definitely smiled on him. We played the two slot machines they always played and he was describing how they would nudge each other when they hit. He turned around from elbowing me and he had hit the jackpot- 2,500 quarters! After he did his happy dance, and threw me a few $20's to keep going, we left and switched off with MR and Zombiegirl.

Thanks, Mom. You dissed me and your son-in-law. But you made Dad happy.

I wanted to post this on Monday, but the pain I was in prevented me from doing much more than moaning on the couch begging MR to rub my back with Bengay. I'm not sure what I did to my back, but I'm pretty sure it's not muscular. I need to see the chiropractor, stat.

Oh, btw. If you give up candy for Lent, do NOT bring your child to It'Sugar. It's a playground for kids, a Willy Wonka type of heaven. I was in HELL.

Freaky Friday (and a New Friday Theme)

I've been pretty busy at work lately, so I haven't had much time to do more than quickly visit my blogroll everyday. I found some great games a few weeks ago and sent them to myself to post for Freaky Friday.

Gluey is a cute blobby kind of game where you have to eliminate the blobs with eyes. Pick the biggest blobs for the most points.

Factory Balls is a great sequence game. Figure out the steps to create the sample ball in your factory.

WereBox is another one of those physics games involving boxes and balls. Change the boxes into balls and vice versa to remove the red balls from the screen.

Now-during this past week I've run across some people and situations that were screaming for a big F*CK YOU! Not that I would ever scream that in public...but to get it off my chest and move on, I've decided to share my Freaky Fridays. Introducing:

Here goes:
  • A big F*CK YOU to the Trailways bus that zoomed up 50th street yesterday and splashed me and that cute touristy couple with icy slush. I was sloshed all down my right side and had to ride all the way home wet.
  • F*CK YOU to the traffic cop that gave my Dad a $115 ticket as he was pulling away in MY car after we dropped off the Girl Scout cookies at my office loading dock. He was in GEAR for crying out loud! Planning on moving! What ever happened to "a warning?"
  • F*CK YOU to the people who man the phones at EZ Pass. Do you people have any education whatsoever? You all sound like drug addicts. Speak clearly. You're customer service- try to make a good impression. After three phone calls, I've given up trying to get help. I'll have to make time to go into the service center, since you people clearly haven't got a clue and no desire to help.
  • F*CK YOU to my cookie helper. I know you sell alot of cookies for Zombiegirl and I do let you slide on your cookie order. BUT you take advantage of my good will and I KNOW you gypped me out of money. Offer a little harder to pay for your cookies, huh? And next year- I'm handling all the money. I know you like to take all the credit for the sales, but I'm going broke covering for you all these years. This is the last straw.
  • F*CK YOU to Bank of America for calling for Obdurate Daughter at all hours of the day. It's not because there's anything wrong with her account- you just want to sign her up for other services. Five-thirty in the morning and nine o'clock at night is not acceptable.
  • F*CK YOU to Facebook, who won't let me change my email address because I already have an account linked to that address. I cancelled that account but it seems that you never really leave Facebook- it will be in the system until I "change my mind." So now I have three accounts all linked to different emails. If you're my friend on anything other than "SUE R..." I don't check those accounts anymore. Come find me.

Okay, I feel better! Knowing my temperment, I'll be posting more F*CK YOU FRIDAYS than Freaky Fridays!

Riding the Roller Coaster with Marlboro Man

Oh, it’s been so long since I’ve blogged. My emotions have been riding this roller coaster, which is mostly engineered of twisting downhill turns and long plunging dives. These past few weeks have been a rackety ride with double dips and zero-g rolls. I didn’t want anyone buy a ticket to my mental ride. Refunds would have been requested.

I admit, a lot of my emotional turmoil could be attributed to PMS. Hating on my friends, exasperation with my family, no patience with work or the commute or the stupidity of life. Well, I’ve bled and I’m feeling better. Better, but still sad.

We lost J.

John Garino- musician, researcher, Big Bottom, grizzly bear, Indian Food lover, Groomsman, Guinness drinker, bucket-game player, doctoral student and good friend- passed away February 13th. It was already a sad day because it was my Mom’s first birthday in Heaven. J went to sleep on Thursday and never woke up.

No one got to say good-bye.

Being friends with J was like being in an exclusive club that everyone belonged to. He always made you feel like you were the funniest, smartest, most talented person he knew. Yet he travelled in such wide circles of life making friends wherever he went. You could go a long time not talking to J but the next time you saw him was like coming home. You fell into such an easy patter with him because he was so easy to talk to.

He was the smartest person you never realized you knew.

The guy playing bass in a punk band. The guy at the bar having a little too much to drink. The guy smoking a butt covered with tattoos. The guy at the Yankee game yelling at the umpire. You wouldn’t think this guy would be as brilliant as J was. Getting first his BS in History, then his Master’s in Library Science while working IT at St. John's University. Deciding to pursue his PhD so he could teach. He was at home in the classroom as well as the stage. But did he show off his smarts? Was he obnoxious about how much he knew? Nope. Most people upon meeting J never realized how intelligent he was. Sure, he would debate baseball, religion, music and politics with you. But you never came out of an argument mad or exasperated at him. He would show up at your door with home-brewed beer or his mom's Irish Soda Bread and never looked for praise. He was unassuming to a fault.

There’s a special place in my heart for J. He was practically the only one of MR’s friends I met when I first started going with MR that didn’t make me feel uncomfortable because I had two kids. He made me feel at home with the guys (we were on the dart team) and when he came out to the beach house, he played endlessly with the kids- humoring them in their made up games. He coined the persona I use to this day- Mamasoo, bad spelling and all, because I was the one with the kids. And it never bothered him like it bothered so many of MR’s other friends and family members. I will always be grateful to him for that.

It’s hard to accept that he’s gone from our lives. What will happen to Norman Bates and the Showerheads? I listen to his “Rock of J Bralter” CD over and over, appreciating more and more what a great musician he was.

Yes, my life is dimmer now that he’s not here. But living “The J-way”by accepting everyone (faults and all), living life to it’s fullest and learning new things will definitely make my life brighter. It’ll be hard, but I’m really going to try. I wonder if Guinness helps?

Rest in Heavenly Peace, J. You'll be missed.

If At FIrst You Don't Succeed...Call It Something Else.

Finally. A blog post. Sorry, but it was a long, busy week. And too much to think about. And too many demons to

Before I worked for The Bank, I worked for the City of New York for eight years as a Project Architect. The learning opportunities at the Housing Preservation and Development were great- not only did I get to design and build housing for lower income families, I learned the fine art of running a business out of a cubicle.

ALL the city workers do it...

I learned the tools of my trade at this job- Autocad. I also learned that not all architects are created equal. Especially if you're male. If you're male, you are naturally a much higher caliber individual. And smarter.

Of COURSEyou are...

But the most important lesson I learned while working for HPD was one my future husband taught me. He taught me to love different ethnic foods. Lunches at Indian restaurants. Dinners in Chinatown for Thai. Snacks at out-of-the-way Pakistani stands. He introduced me to spicy foods and now it's one more thing I'm indebted to him for.

Working for the City was like working in the United Nations. I worked elbow to elbow with every nationality. And with those nationalities came the food.

Oh, yes. Bharti's vegetarian lunches. Mike's hummus.. Lily's scallion pancakes. Ann's spicy curdled milk.

Different folks, different foods. I tried all of them and loved it all.

One day, we had a brainstorm. Instead of going out one day, let's all bring in something from home for a potluck. I always dreaded being on the supply side of a potluck- especially an ethnic one. This American white girl has no ethnic history. White girl usually brought cornbread. Or salad. I think on the day of the HPD potluck I brought in a huge bowl of lettuce. Oh so boring.

But on the receiving end? I was in heaven. All the homemade Russian, Greek, Polish, Indian, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, Italian, Chinese, Guyanese food...and salad...was wonderful. We ate and picked all afternoon. It was the first time I tried dishes like hummus, babaganoush, tabouli, saag paneer and kielbasa. My favorite? Our Egyptian engineer's wife's babaganoush. I remember taking the whole bowl back to my desk after lunch to nosh on with the toasted pita points. Heaven!

So I was craving this eggplant dish the other day and decided to document making it. Hey-all the big name bloggers are all doing I figured I'd try my first photo recipe. Since I cleaned the fridge and threw out the tahini, I needed a recipe that didn't include it. I remember Mike's babaganoush to be tahini free, too, so I found the recipe here:


2 eggplants
2 tbsp lemon juice
5 cloves minced garlic, preferably roasted
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cumin (the stuff in the blue bowl)
1/2 tsp parsley
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice eggplants in half and pierce with a fork in several places.
Roast for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool slightly, then scoop out inside of eggplant, leaving skin behind. In a blender or food processor, process eggplant with remaining ingredients until smooth.
Easy, huh? One would think. I split the recipe in half and used the other eggplant to make this:
Chili Lime Babaganoush

2 medium eggplants
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Slice eggplant in half, and roast in 400 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until soft.
Allow to cool slightly, then scoop out inside of eggplant, leaving skin behind.
In a blender or food processor, combine eggplant and remaining ingredients until smooth.

I don't know if I processed the eggplant mess too much, but it didn't have the consistency I've come to know as babaganoush. It came out more like a tapanade. Spreadable. Creamy. Not "ganoushy" at all. Or maybe too "ganoushy?"

So I call it eggplant tapanade. I've been spreading it on wraps and stuffing the wraps with baby spinach and sprinkling dried cranberries on top. Oooh, what a great tapanade. So spreadable! Delicious! Perfect for my new low-carb diet.

Yeah, that's not raspberry jam and caramel sauce. It's my wonderful new tapanade/babaganoush fail.
I'll keep trying to perfect not only the babaganoush, but also my picture taking.

Because I like typing the word BABAGANOUSH!


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