Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Goodbye May, Hello June

So, I was looking at recent posts and see that January was pretty tough... a few rounds of illnesses, dead car battery, misc frustrations, etc... and May has continued the 2016 trend of frustration. It's not life ending. It won't matter in 10 years. Life goes on, but I'm elbows deep in one thing after another, and could use a break.
It actually started April 18, when our old kitty, Sebastian, after 18 years of always being around, he is no longer here. A few short days later, the world lost Prince. Who wasn't like David Bowie to me, but still... Prince.
My car had the check engine light on, as well as a light to fix some burned out bulbs - the dealer had the car all day and forgot to check the bulbs and didn't have time to fix the other problem.
Look, it's a pain to take the car in. Husband has to take my car, drive it to the dealer, get the shuttle to work, get the shuttle back to the dealer. In the meantime, I have a car that cannot take 3 kids anywhere so I'm trapped at home.
We take it in a second time, and they finally remember to fix the burned out lightbulbs, but then the check engine light comes right back on the next day. The manifold something or other they just fixed, is still indicating it is broken. I have not yet scheduled the third return to the dealer.
The mower won't start. I took the battery and had it charged, but mowing uses up the battery - it doesn't recharge itself. Mower gets picked up tomorrow for repair.
My husband's horrid brother comes to town. He's gonna be with some girl he knew in high school. You know that person in your family nobody likes? The black sheep? The one who shouldn't be around children or pets? Yeah, this guy. So, he immediately gets in a fight with his dumb girlfriend and moves in with his parents instead. He is a dangerous person, he regularly makes threats to my family, I will not be around him, and damn well my kids won't be around him either.
SO, after watching our kids 2x a week since they were a few months old, my husband's parents decide they'll choose their shitty son over everyone else. Kids haven't been to their house since. Shitty useless brother has moved back in with his girl or something. More news has been discovered, and the kids won't be going back to Nana & Papas. After an extensive search, a new sitter has been hired, she started last week.  Daycare is hard. We can afford to pay for daycare, but I can't justify paying more money than I bring in in a day - otherwise, what's the point? Why beat my brains out at work, if there's no profit? I love my job, but I'm not doing it for nothing.
In the meantime I've had my mom helping out, and I'm so jealous of other people who have awesome parents that are thoughtful and independent and confident and mature and energetic. Other moms clean and cook. My mom looks at Facebook. Other moms take kids on long walks or to the pool or to the playground. Mine is afraid to take them outside. I get home and still have more cleaning to do and get asked what's for dinner. Yes, it's true that other moms smoke crack or won't watch their grandkids at all, but that isn't my story, ok? I should be grateful she's offering to help at all? It doesn't mean I don't get to be frustrated at the lack of forethought.
April 30 - I take the kids to get photos taken, and they all look good, but it is 24 hours before I'm to leave town for western Canada with Rocky Mountaineer. Claire throws up on the couch at 8:30 am. We get photos taken anyway. (Sorry!) They are cold and grumpy, but we get a few good ones somehow. Claire throws up two more times this day. I leave for a week, which is a bright spot in the month of May. My parents are here keeping children alive while I'm out of town. My keys disappear, as well as a couple of spoons and who knows what else. Well, kids are still alive so I've got that going for me which is nice.
Rocky Mountaineer does good work, but look, Kensington set the bar really high. People pay Kensington money for Rocky Mountaineer and it lacks the intimacy, magic, and special moments that good tour companies know are important. Our group leader was new, I didn't make any friends, or have any special experiences. Africa was filled with them. I know. Not every trip can be Africa - but I would have expected more of that special something from a company like Rocky Mountaineer. However, I still love Canada and the scenery was cool. Vancouver is fantastic. Lake Louise was stellar. It was a good trip.
Continuing on.... we had sprinklers installed. I find out after install, that in order to add a second meter (to not pay for sewer service) you must add plumbing between the sprinklers and the second meter. An added cost that was quoted to be as much as $650. Later I find out my neighbor friend got a quote from a different company including the necessary plumbing for the same price I paid - and his yard is bigger.
Sprinklers are stupid. The necessary plumbing is done, second pump comes Thursday. I hope all is well with that.
We ordered caterpillars online, and fed them. They soon turned to chrysalises and sat that way for several days. The butterflies began to emerge on Friday. This past weekend the weather turned beautiful. The pool opened and we spent several hours playing and enjoying the hot weather and sunshine. Monday afternoon it was time to set the butterflies free. One by one, they all flew to their freedom. All five caterpillars made it to chrysalides, and then to butterflies. I'd like to think it's a simple sign and positive change is coming.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Comic book crafty

So, I love Daredevil.*  I love it more than any show I've watched and I don't care. I'm a total Marvel nerd and I am continuing my obsession. This obsession will bring me to Motor City Comic Con this Friday and Saturday where a couple of Daredevil actors will be, along with lots and lots of sweaty smelly nerds. My people.
I've worked with mod podge before - when I bought an antique looking fabric map on Etsy and put it on the front of all the drawers on my dresser. It is one of my most beloved things I own, and if my house catches on fire I'll probably drag it out with me. Or maybe make a new one, you know, whatever.
So, I've had it on my mind to make comic book shoes, as I've had this crafty idea for a while. I also really want to make shoes out of a map too. But with Comic Con coming up and all... time to make things happen with this first. Besides, crafts make my brain happy and lately things have been piling up on the stress mountain.
I ordered a Daredevil comic book and a Punisher comic book on Ebay, and decided to make one shoe of each book.
Some of my supplies...

getting started on the Daredevil shoe

Kinda diggin the back

Still drying, but it doesn't look bad!

Yasss. I love his eye is the lace hole.  

A few days later... starting the Punisher shoe

Some good heel detail

I'm liking it. 


So, I really hope they don't fall apart. If they make it through Detroit they'll be perfect for FanExpo Toronto in Sept. Matt Murdock will be there. Squee!

*(the Netflix series idiots - not that Ben Affleck steaming turd.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Holiday beers

I have a 6 pack of Tusker beer in my basement fridge -ok now there's actually only 4, but still you get the idea. It was the beer of choice in Tanzania and Kenya, when we were out bopping across the Masai Mara and the Serengeti, or enjoying lunch, or dinner, or whenever... I got home and wanted some nostalgia beer and learned it could not even be obtained in the state of Michigan and was lucky enough that my brother and sister in law found some in NYC and brought it to me for xmas. I am thinking I'll spread them out maybe, save one for my birthday, do a search and see how far into Canada I need to drive to get one.
I get home from volleyball Tuesday night and grab a Red Stripe, and I realize... I pretty much always do this when I get home from a great trip. I got home from Alaska and all I wanted was beer from Alaska Brewing company. I went to Jamaica and drank a lot of Red Stripe when I came home. After London, I had Pimms and Strongbow, and after New Orleans I had to hunt down Abita Strawberry Beer. All four trips to Italy? Get me wine. Lots of wine. Italian wine. Traverse City? More wine, please. I'm a traveling booze-o-phile. Well, it's a good hobby to have!
Where am I going to go next, and what shall we be drinking?!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Secret Krampus

Around Christmastime I got a terrible idea. A terrible delicious idea, that could be a lot of fun. Secret Krampus. The idea is it's like Secret Santa, but with terrible gifts. (for instance, a bag of chewed pens...) I toyed around with the idea a bit, then created a Facebook group, invited some terrible friends and started Secret Krampus. The rules were simple. Mail your terrible gift by Jan 15 and post photos in the group. I sent my giftee a mason jar full of vinegar and sticks, and several plastic bags with one item in them, like a broken crayon, an empty sample size tube of toothpaste, an old sock, etc... and at the very bottom of the bag was a lovely box of chocolates - with one bite taken out of every single one. Hahhaaa.
Husband sent his gift - a DVD of a bad movie, all scratched to oblivion, filled with glitter, wrapped in plastic wrap and then wrapped up with diapers that had been rubbed in the dirt and drawn on with markers. 
I got my gift today. A large box, probably 8 inches tall by 14 inches wide by 22 inches long. Filled with about 3,000 puzzle pieces. To more than one puzzle. With no box or photo. I am pleased. 
Well done! I think Krampus 2.0 for next year shall be quite competitive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This is ground control to major tom

Well, 2016 has started out kind of rough. What are we, day 12? and yipe - take me back to last year. Hell, while I'm wishing take me back to November 1, 2015. Hehe... That would be ok. ***Homer whisper "THAT'S THE DAY I WENT TO AFRICA***
Friday night at bedtime, Claire is whining that her tummy hurts (like often she does) and I give her a bucket and tell her if she's gotta throw up, put her face in the bucket... low and behold like 20 minutes later, she throws up. This champ gets it in the bucket! Awesome deal for a 5 year old. First time I haven't had to change all the sheets, you know? Barf is nasty.
She's not done. She upchucks 4 or 5 more times before giving it up for the night. Fast forward to Sunday night, approximately 12:30 a.m. and I go upstairs and check on the twins before bed and Zoey is sitting up in the corner of her bed, silent. It was unsettling and creepy and then I realized she had vomited all over her hands, pajamas and center of her bed. Oh boy. I clean her and her bed up and put her back to bed, and then I go to bed... and she's at it again. I change and clean her and her bed again, and then decide to rock with her in the rocking chair and wait for the next round with my bucket. She goes four more rounds. Some is on her, some on me, some in the bucket. Eventually I'm rocking two clean babies because there's only so much activity before A wakes up. At 3:05 a.m. my phone alerts me that David Bowie has died. Nooooooo. No no no. As someone else said, it never occurred to me that David Bowie *could* die. I wasn't a "super fan" and didn't own his albums but David Bowie is the closest thing to religion that I have. He is the way and the light! He is in everyone and everything. He is the stars. Man, what an unpleasant surprise.
Z seems to be settled, I put her to bed and pass out myself.
Not much happened Monday... I was supposed to go get a free hot stone massage and instead I stumbled around my house on 3 hours of sleep trying to adult. It rained, then got really cold and then snowed, so it was all snow on top of ice. Lovely.
TODAY... super genius. I leave work to head home and realize I've left my headlights on all day and my battery is dead.  OF COURSE I did this on the bone chillingest day of the year. OF COURSE I've never done that before. Luckily, I work in Plymouth and have a lot of friends there and within 30 minutes I had 3 people ready to rescue me (Love to you Brad, Al and Eric!) and lo and behold, roadside assistance got there first.
So... Day 8, 10, 11 and 12 are kind of a bust, and there were probably more but I don't remember anymore. Sheesh. Get your shit together, January.

Edit 1: On Wednesday I accidentally backed into my garage door. From the inside. While it was closed, of course. Don't tell Damon.

Edit 2: Alan Rickman passed away on Thursday. That's just cruel.

Edit 3: Alice succumbed to the stomach flu later Thursday.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Vanilla and sweet orange

I'm gonna go on a rant here and sound a bit whiny, but I'm tired. It it doesn't matter anyway I'm pretty sure nobody is actually reading this. I'm tired that my family doesn't try. With the exception of my brother and his wife, Christmas was fucking annoying. First world problems.
Brother Joe sent out a lovely email including a Christmas list and asked others to do the same.
His list included Old Navy and Amazon Gift Cards, Dark Chocolate, Starbucks VIA Instant Sweetened Iced Coffee. I bought all of those things.
My sister in law's list (Lindsey) included Whole Bean coffee, Gift cards for Amazon and Starbucks, Instant coffee like Via Dark Roast. I bought all of those things. My mom, dad, and stupid sister could not be bothered to make a list.
First, my mom can't Internet because she doesn't try. She instead drove all around the place looking for a thing on my list and texting me all the while that she couldn't find it. Could you at least PLEASE pretend my gift will be a surprise and stop giving me the difficult play by play? How about making a phone call to these places instead of driving? How about asking someone to help you Internet? Stop thinking of yourself and realize how rude you are being.

My list:
Gift Cards (Old Navy, Zappos, REI, Alloy Apparel, Lands End)
Hugo Naturals Vanilla and Sweet Orange Lotion
Milk Chocolate covered almonds
Dark Roast K cups
Big Red cinnamon gum
Tusker Beer
Cards Against Humanity expansion pack 5, 6

What I got:
$40 cash and a bunch of texts telling me how hard it was to find a gift
Old Navy Gift card (win)
Target Gift Cards (that wasn't on the list...)
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds (not milk... ok)
A package of Meijer brand trouser socks or something (No. Just, No.)
A box of swiffers
Garbage disposal cleaner
Kitchen sponges
A Hello Kitty Beach towel (WTF?)
Shampoo and conditioner (ok, fine)
More shampoo and conditioner, travel size

The winning items all from Joe and Lindsey:
K Cups, french roast (would have liked darker roast, but oh well)
Tusker Beer (Ok, I admit - BIG HUGE WIN for Brother and SIL)

I complain because there was a list. If you have a list, why do you completely ignore what is on it and buy whatever you want anyway? I shouldn't even waste my time and energy and thought into helping you know me, because you don't care. And the reason I don't want $40 cash is because I won't buy these things for myself. I'll use $40 cash to pay for babysitters or buy lunch when I'm at work. I didn't ask for Target gift cards because I won't buy things for myself at Target, I will buy diapers. I wanted to receive things I won't do for myself. That is part of the fun of Christmas and you ruined my hope.

We go over to my parents house and start trying to visit but there's little glass Christmas knick knacks all over the place. Random junk in every nook and cranny of the living room. A nativity thing on a table in the living room, more Christmas junk on a table in the kitchen. All within easy reach of the two year old twins I have with me. Their house is small to begin with and crowded with miscellaneous items just makes it claustrophobic. I don't get to sit and rest and relax, with a non-baby proofed home. I have to watch their every move. It's exhausting.
My mom immediately pulls me aside to show me some tricycle she found at a yard sale that fits Alice pretty well, so of course now both twins want to fight over and ride the small tricycle. Indoors. In the already crowded knick knack house. Grr.
Take it away. Hide it.
Then the toddlers want to eat, but they want to eat and roam. There is one booster seat so it's pretty difficult to feed two squirming mobile toddlers. The five year old wants crackers, the five year old wants cookies, the two year old grabs the pie she can reach, the other two year old grabs the package of brownies she can reach. Stress. Levels. Rising.
My dad goes to pick up my stupid sister and her ratty children and returns without them. They weren't ready to leave and he is tired of her shit, so he left and came back. My mom defends her, as she always has and always will.
We open presents and I get my weird collection of "gifts." They do pretty well with kids toys, although I specifically said no more coloring books and got some anyway. They have a long history of buying things I specifically told them not to buy and it pisses me off to no end. They don't do it to be assholes, they just don't care?  They don't think about me? They don't think at all? I don't know.
Paper and gift shrapnel is all strewn about and my moms gifts are half opened and she just leaves everything piled around her chair precariously and decides to leave to pick up my stupid sister.
I gather up all her crap and move it out of the four grabbing hands of the toddlers and try to clean up the pine needles all over the floor.
They return. Her homeless looking brood open their gifts and don't seem to care who they are from and don't thank anyone. We go downstairs to see my dad's Christmas train he is proud of and the kids want to play in the "playroom." Next to the doorway is a pile of crap on a bookshelf including plastic bags, a coaxial cable, a screwdriver, a scrabble letter tile holder, a pair of pliers, many many papers, paperback books, random junk, 7 easter baskets, pieces of picture frames, etc etc. I start bagging up the garbage and handing things to my mom and then just go in and do a quick clean up of the room. I mean, what is all this shit? She says, "you don't come over very often."
Are you surprised? This house is a pain in the ass to be in. There's no room to move or play. We bag up about 3 bags of garbage from just this tiny little room. I'm tired and stressed and hungry.
I start reaching for a soap opera digest to throw it away and my sister starts reaching for it too, I win and throw it out and she says, "I'm just gonna go" in her baby tantrum pouty voice. Yes, hoarder - just go away.
We finish in the playroom and go back upstairs, feed the littles and start packing up to leave. There's no dinner in sight and I need to eat. All the stuff now is in the car, the kids are half dressed to go out in the cold and then my mom wants to get a picture of all the grand kids just like her mother in law used to do. Could you ever fucking try to do this at some other point in the day? Why do you always think of this while we are half out the door? That drives me nuts. Are you trying to annoy me?
Then we are saying goodbyes and my stupid sister tries to hug me and I give her my shoulder. I. DON'T. LIKE. YOU. I don't want to talk to you. I don't want to be your sister. Why, on the one time a year you see me, do you try to hug me like if I let you do it you're going to win some kind of fucking prize? Then you and mom smirk at each other. Ha, ha, almost got her this time, look mom, she still won't hug me. I hate you. STOP FUCKING TOUCHING ME.
If you don't know why I can't stand her, the list of items is 37 years long.
On the bright side, I do have a brand new Hello Kitty beach towel for sale.