Friday, July 29, 2011

Wonder Woman Super Mom Party Planner

I've been preparing for Robinson's first birthday party for months, and it's been a labor of love! I've been so inspired by other people's party blogs and sites like Catch My Party and Etsy. I started with an invitation, which guided my choices in theme and color scheme. From there I tried to thoughtfully plan a menu that adults would enjoy but that Robinson and his baby-friends can also eat.

I love to throw parties, but I rarely have the opportunity, so I jumped into planning Rob's birthday party with both feet. Somewhere between constructing a handmade "Happy Birthday Robinson" 10-foot pennant banner and testing made-from-scratch red velvet cake, I realized something. These Wonder Woman Super Moms who plan these elaborate, extravagant, inspiring Super-Sweet-Birthday-Parties typically order their refreshments from a bakery, and/or purchase printable or pre-made party decorations. Never on any of these blogs did I find a party where the mother single-handedly made all the food from scratch and designed and constructed all the decorations from nothing more than cardstock, glue stick and an x-acto knife. It's a minor observation I didn't notice until I was knee-deep in confectioners sugar, with food coloring stains from my fingernails up to my elbow.

What does Wonder Woman Super Mom know that I don't? That there is no glory in making everything from scratch, it's all about the finished product? That doing everything yourself is for suckers? That I just bought a one-way ticket to Crazytown by taking on more than I can handle? What have I gotten myself into? Martha Stewart I am not. I'm no Superman. I meant well--I was just a proud mama approaching this with a can-do attitude, wanting to make every element of Robinson's party with love. Plus, it seemed like fun. And it seemed more economical to do it myself. So far everything is going just fine and I've really enjoyed the challenge. But everything up until now has been planning and staging. As the party looms closer, I've reached the place where the rubber meets the road. I've tested all my recipes over a period of months, but now I have to make them all within 48 hours. And it needs to be delicious. Right now I'm in the middle of crumb coating the birthday cake so I can cover it in fondant and decorate it tomorrow. I tell you all this so that if I collapse in a heap in the middle of my floor, covered in confectioners sugar and red food coloring, everyone will know what happened to me.

I will post party pictures and details when everything comes together! Yeah, I think I've lost my mind, but there's no turning back now! Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't Stand So Close to Me | Shopping Etiquette Referendum

Does "shopping etiquette" exist? I think it should. I would suggest a few basic guidelines that people should abide by when shopping:

1. A shopping cart is an extension of the shopper.
2. Do not invade one's personal bubble, including their shopping cart.
3. In the checkout line, the shopper whose items are currently being rung up is King. Act accordingly.

Yeah, that's pretty much all I've got right now, but I think it's adequate and all-encompassing. Why am I suddenly so fussy and concerned with shopping etiquette? I was appalled at a recent trip to Wal-Mart.

I am purchasing groceries, along with items for Robinson's birthday party. I am paying with cash and want to be sure I have not gotten carried away or overspent. I'm trying to be responsible, y'all. The lady behind me in line is very typical of shoppers waiting in a checkout line. She would like to jump up my butt, and somehow have all her groceries scanned and paid for while I'm still in line. Pay attention: I am in front of you in line. No matter how close you stand to me, or how many of your groceries are placed on the conveyor belt behind that handy divider bar, you're not getting out of here before me. Slow your roll.

This time, I am standing in front of my cart, because I'm still unloading items and at the same time monitoring the cashier scanning the items to be sure everything is ringing up at the correct price. I would submit that this is my right and responsibility as a consumer. Woman behind me steps forward and pushes my shopping cart forward about three feet. My child is in the cart. So, by my reasoning, she touched my child. I shoot eye daggers at the woman. I feel like the chick in the Axe body spray commercial.
I know you're not touching my mannequin!

Yeah, except instead of a mannequin, it's a baby. Never touch my shopping cart (which I commonly refer to as a "buggy", much to Steve's annoyance). Never touch my baby. Never touch my shopping cart while it contains my baby. Are we clear?

I didn't say anything to the woman, because I wondered if I was alone in my shopping etiquette beliefs. Steve says, "Oh hell no, she did not touch your cart with Rob in it." Haha, I'm paraphrasing of course, but I just made it seem like Steve talks like a sassy girl. I'm amusing myself, but I digress. Anyway, Woman had two children with her. Also, she was of a different nationality. Maybe in Mumbai, people push each other's shopping carts. I don't know. I've never been there. I decided to let it slide this once. 

I'm not the only person whose personal space is invaded. Recently, my mom was on the phone with me while she was shopping, when she abruptly ended our conversation. I later learned what transpired that afternoon in the Hobby Lobby. Mom says she was being followed aisle-to-aisle by a woman who was crowding her so closely that she kept hitting my Mom with her shopping cart. Mom finally decided that enough was enough. Mom hangs up the phone, turns to the woman behind her and says:

Mom: I don't know you, and you are standing in my personal space.
Creepy Lady: [in a low, breathy voice] Yes you do.
Mom: Uhh, no. I don't.
Creepy Lady: [still in the breathy voice] Yes you do.
Mom: Who are you?
Creepy Lady: Who do you think I am?
Mom: I think you're a stranger and you're standing too close to me and you need to back off.

Ok, so I have to applaud my mom on her directness, but it was ineffective nonetheless. Creepy Woman continued to follow my mom through the store, eventually purchasing $300 worth of feathers, or "plumage" as my mom would say. 

Shopping is a universal, public, yet personal experience. When I need to buy my toilet paper or pregnancy tests or [insert name of item you're embarrassed to purchase in front of strangers], I don't want to do this while a stranger stands over me, close enough to braid my hair. At the cash register, I'm handling my cash, or presenting a debit card, or entering a PIN number. This is also a private matter. Back the hell off. Don't touch my stuff. You'll get your turn. 

Am I asking too much?

Friday, July 22, 2011


I thought I'd be in a puddle of tears today because my first born, my only child, is no longer a baby and now a toddler. Today is his first birthday. I'm a crier. I cry when I'm sad. I cry when I'm happy. I cry during the local news. I cry during the cheesy predictable ending of a romantic comedy. Today, I haven't cried. As a matter of fact, I've been the opposite of crying. I've been downright euphoric. Giddy. Happy. Robinson and I began our day at the pediatrician's office for Rob's one-year check-up, where I greeted the doctor with such enthusiasm that he was taken aback. "Wow. You're...bubbly." He actually took a step backwards. All I did was smile and say hello, I promise. Robinson's doctor is always reacting with surprise to see me in a good mood. What does he expect? Do all you mothers out there go to the pediatrician's office in crabby moods and I just don't know about it? I mean, I can imagine he encounters many mothers on a daily basis who are visiting him because their child is sick or injured, and I wouldn't expect them to be peppy; but I've only been to the pediatrician for the well-baby check ups. Should I be in a sour mood about that? Maybe my doctor is a glass-half-empty kind of guy, and he enters each appointment with the expectation that the mother is going to be a complete chore. I dunno. I'm not gonna speculate.
After the pediatrician, we went to an early lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I thought he might enjoy the play area. It's called "Toddler Town". It's an entire town for toddlers! What could be more fun? Well, if I was feeling wistful  earlier that my "baby" is all grown up, Toddler Town showed me that my tot isn't all that grown up. There was no way he could have held his own in Toddler Town. There were tots in there with ankles bigger than Rob's thighs. My kid's gonna have to learn how to scrap before he can play in there. Also, he needs to learn how to walk. I saw no crawling in Toddler Town. Robinson sat happily for an hour, watching all the children run around and play. His mind was blown.
Steve and I are so grateful for our healthy, beautiful, sweet, precocious baby boy, and we're excited for what the next year holds for our family of three!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Veruca Salt and Me: A Story of Interfriendtion and Redemption

Hi, guys! Do you remember the time I was furious with my best friend of over ten years and so I wrote a strongly-worded blog post and published it on the internet and hundreds of people read it?

Did you wonder if my friend Veruca Salt read the post?

She did.

Do you think it made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

It didn't.

Should I have saved it for Festivus?

Should I have worked through my feelings in a more private and productive way, like talking to a therapist?

That's not a bad idea.

Better still, could I have perhaps taken my issues directly to Veruca instead of publicly humiliating her on the internet?

She certainly thinks so.

In the interest of forgiveness (and as a testament to the power of friendship), the title and content of the aforementioned blog post have since been edited, so this post will only make sense to those who read that post in its original form. However, enough people read "The Blog" that I feel a follow-up is in order. It's only fair that I stop referring to my friend as "Veruca Salt". She would like to henceforth be known as  "A1". It's an old nickname. Don't ask.

I believe that I best process my feelings and express myself through writing, and that in doing so I was able to lay out my detailed account of how her words and actions hurt others and that this would prompt her to re-examine herself and return to being the sweet, loyal and fun friend I have known and loved for so many years. Urban Dictionary would call this an "interfriendtion". It's catchy and concise, so let's go with that. I would like to think that my post opened up a healthy and honest dialogue that repaired our friendship. 

A1 would say that I could have accomplished this in a much less public way. One woman's catharsis is another woman's humiliation, and I take no pride in hurting someone. I recognize that my blog is available for public viewing, but to say that the response to this particular post was unprecedented for this blogger would be an understatement.

You should know that A1 and I both agreed that this post is necessary. She certainly didn't want me to leave this story open-ended, with her cast as the villain. We have been friends since we were 18-years-old. The events I described in The Blog do not accurately reflect A1's character, or our history together. Hearing her heartfelt apology and explanation (not to be confused with excuse) provided clarity and a context that made it clear to me that we can absolutely move forward from this. We value our friendship and hurt feelings on both sides have been mended.

If you've been blessed in your life with important friendships that have withstood the test of time, then you know that times can get stormy. Borrowing from one of Steve's favorite expressions, "It's not all rainbows and lollipops." If you take anything away from this mini-drama, I hope it's the understanding that we all fall down sometimes. We hurt the ones we love the most. Sometimes when we hurt our loved ones, they hurt us back in ways we never imagined. But we always forgive, because we're a family. A1, The Gypsy, Mama, Cara, Beana, Sally, plus Panda and The Dr. (both absent from this year's trip), and me--we'll be playing cards in the old folks' home when we're 90. 

If you have your own "Veruca Salt" in your life, A1 and I would encourage you to pick up the phone. Y'all talk it out. The outcome could be better than you ever hoped. 

Step Right Up, and Feast Your Eyes on A PAIR OF REDHEADS!

In case you haven't noticed, my son Robinson and I both have red hair. If I ever forget that my red hair is an anomaly, there are plenty of strangers eager to remind me. As I've gotten older, and therefore more likely to go out with a ponytail pulled through a ball cap, people make fewer comments to me about my hair. But, now that I have a redheaded baby, we attract considerable attention. As the title of this post hints, I do at times feel like a bit of a freak show. Here are the odds of what's likely to happen if Robinson and I ever go out in public together:

9 out of 10: chance that someone will approach Robinson and strike up a conversation with him about his hair. Robinson can't talk of course, because he is a baby, so I stop checking the expiration dates on the milk in the dairy case and engage a stranger in a conversation about hair.
3 out of 4: chance that the person who approaches me will have a family history of red hair and will launch into a detailed account of their family tree, which members of their family have red hair, which generations the red hair skipped, and miscellaneous redhead topics, such as the occurrence of red hair with blue eyes versus red hair with brown eyes.
1 out of 10: chance that the person who approaches me will somehow insult red hair or pay a back-handed compliment.

Wal-Mart Employee: "My baby has red hair. Of course, he's all grown up now. He got to where he really hated it--said he got tired of everywhere he went he got noticed."
Me: [laughing] Yeah, I know the feeling.

Wal-Mart Employee sheepishly scurries away and pretends to rearrange the eggs in the dairy case.

Meow! I didn't realize until typing this that my reply was kind of pointed and catty. That was not my intention. I basically said it sucks that strangers (read: her) approach me everywhere I go because I have bright red hair. Then again, I was responding to her statement, which was basically, "My son has hair the same color as you--and he hates it." I'd call that an unintended insult. If you can think of a nicer way to respond to that, I'm all ears.

Another funny aspect of the "redhead conversation" is when a person who knows a redhead approaches me, and they like to discuss what I would call "the plight of the redhead". It's basically all the stereotypes about the "redhead experience", which they seem to  believe is universally shared by all redheads. They'll say things like, "I bet people gave you hell when you were a kid, but you like your hair now!" or "Ya know, redheads don't turn gray like so many other hair colors. Your hair color will probably just slowly fade," or "Have you ever noticed that most redheads are pasty and ugly?" or "Redheads bleed a lot when you cut them". All true. Seriously, whenever I am being prepped for surgery (as you do so often) and the nurses or surgical techs get a look at me and my copper locks, they shake their heads and say to one of the associates "No one told us she was a redhead. We're gonna need more blood."
If I sound like I dislike mine and my son's shared red hair, I don't. Nor do I mind that people approach us. My mom told me this would happen. She said grocery shopping took much longer with  Baby Samantha because people wanted to talk to her about my hair. And because every time a stranger approached me I wanted them to pick me up and take me with them. She had to keep a close eye on me. There are much worse things in life than being on the receiving end of positive attention. Added bonus: if (God forbid) something terrible happened to Robinson and me, like we went missing, and police were investigating our disappearance by retracing our last known whereabouts, I feel pretty confident that people at Wal-Mart, Kroger, Starbucks, etc. would remember us. I know, I know, that's a very morose place for my mind to wander...I'm just sayin'. I find comfort in being distinctive for that reason alone.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tales from the Beach | A Mostly True Story, Volume 4

The Only Sober Girl in the Bar
I'm not trying to act superior by saying that I was the only sober girl at the bar, and I'm not implying that my friends were tanked--they weren't at all. But by day three of living off of a steady supply of beer, I built up a resistance and just couldn't catch a good buzz. Also, three nights of straining my voice to talk over the house band left me voiceless. I didn't see the point in pounding back shots of tequila to get *crunk* (as the kids say), and chugging beer with no promise of a buzz seemed like a waste of calories. So, unable to get tipsy or carry on a conversation, I elected to observe and report. Below you will read an itemized list of my findings:

  • I don't think you have to get drunk to have a good time, but I do think you should get drunk to use the public restroom at a bar. Through the clear eyes of a sober woman, there is nothing scarier than a public restroom that is used exclusively by drunks. Every surface is inexplicably wet. The counters, the floor, the toilet seats, everything is wet. Is it sink water? Toilet water? Did employees hose the place down after somebody puked on the floor? It's crowded, and clumsy girls are bumping their heads on sharp corners. Other drunk girls are sharing their lit cigarettes with strangers and almost burning themselves and each other. There is a major toilet paper shortage. I want to leave this place, and immediately take a Hazmat shower and dispose of everything I'm wearing. I propose a special, separate restroom for teetotalers and designated drivers. You would have to pass a breathalyzer to gain entry, but it would be clean, dry, and well-stocked. Somebody get to work and make this happen please.
  • Drunk people pontificate. I patiently listened for five entire minutes as a man explained to me that Zooey Deschanel is the greatest actress of our generation. "If she is performing with highly capable actors, the result is magical, and if she is working with less talented or inexperienced actors, they rise to meet her. She makes them better." I love me some Zooey Deschanel, don't get me wrong, I just haven't spent this much time thinking about her impact and place in cinematic history. Oh, and the Zooey Deschanel devotee? He's in the Air Force. What did I tell you? My friends are always approached by members of the armed forces. They claim we seemed "non threatening". That's a flattering characterization if I've ever heard one. Accurate, too.

Beana: Who is Zooey Deschanel?
Me: She was in 500 Days of Summer.
Beana: What?
Mama: She was in Elf.
Beana: I don't remember anyone in that movie.
Me: Did you see Failure to Launch?
Beana: Yes! I saw that!
Me: She was Sarah Jessica Parker's roommate.
Beana: Ohhh. I like her.
  • I'm seated at a table with The Gypsy, who has struck up a conversation with two members of the Canadian military. The men act like they're engaging both The Gypsy and me in conversation, but I can't talk on account of I lost my voice. I wonder how long it takes them to realize I'm not participating in this conversation. Ten minutes later...
Canada Steve: That's quite an accent you have. I like the way you talk.
The Gypsy: I speak with perfect diction, and if you say otherwise, I'll slit your throat.
Canada Steve: Oh, I wouldn't dream of it. You're quite a pistol.
The Gypsy: It's too bad this one over here can't talk [points at me]. She lost her voice, which sucks, because she's got all the funny stories. My banter would be more witty if she could talk.
Canada Steve: Oh, is that what's going on? Because she hasn't said a word, but her eyes are screaming.
  • Drunk people injure themselves. I passed one girl on the way to the bathroom. She was sitting on a bar stool, surrounded by the bar's security team, crying harder than Shelby in Truvy's salon, as her foot gushes so much blood that a legit puddle forms beneath her bare foot. 
  • I've decided that Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" is the white woman's "Free Bird". When this song plays, every woman stops her conversation and begins an impassioned sing-along, like "this is my jam!" The guys watching them are sort of into it, but sort of scared at the same time. This is, after all, a very aggressive man-hating song. My favorite thing about this phenomenon is that there is always one girl who is singing along with her friends, but she doesn't actually know the words to the song, so she nervously mumbles jibberish like, "buh da love that ya gay dat we may wasn't ayyy ayyy ta may you up bup every tie you bee ber bay dun dee dun dun doe ray mee. WELL YOU'RE STILL ALIVE, AND I'M HERE!"
  • The same band played both nights we were at AJs. They were a group of capable musicians with an extensive and varied repertoire. The problem was, they played all their songs at the same time. I blame Glee: on Glee, they are constantly yammering about how innovative and cool it is to "mash up" two seemingly different songs, like "I'm Walking on Sunshine" and "Halo" and put them into a single performance. So the house band performed mash ups--of every song they played. Just as Beana and I would start jamming along to the first verse of "Fat Bottom Girls", the band flips the script and begins singing Radiohead's "Creep". It was very off-putting. 
  • We didn't fare much better at Rum Runners. Is that place a piano bar all the time? I must have been half in the bag every other time I visited this place, because the piano came as a surprise. There was a bachelorette party going on (there is always a bachelorette party going on), and these girls were dancing on the front row and trying to get on stage like they thought they were at a Poison Justin Bieber concert. Drunk white chicks love piano bars, who knew?! I don't know if they ever play "You Oughta Know" at the piano bar, but I bet it incites riots. 
  • The bouncer at Rum Runners was absurdly gruff with Cara and me. Also, he looked like Rob Riggle, the cop from The Hangover.
Bouncer: [stern and glaring] Show me your ID!
Cara: [uncharacteristically perky] Sure!

Bouncer spends an inordinate amount of time scrutinizing Cara's ID. 

Bouncer: [irritated] Do you know that your license is expired?
Cara: [shocked] What? No! I had no idea. Wow, idea. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. [perks up again and bats her eyelashes] It's my birthday!

"It's my birthday!?" Does she think this is going to win over the bouncer? Because it isn't. She has the youthful enthusiasm of a four-year-old hoping to score a free balloon at Chuck E. Cheese. This is so out-of-character for Cara. I'm standing behind her so she can't see me laughing.

Bouncer: Today is not your birthday. Your birthday was four days ago.
Cara: [crestfallen] Well...we're here to celebrate my birthday.
Bouncer: Here [gives back her ID, disgusted] Just go.

I step up and present my ID. The increasingly annoyed bouncer gives me a dirty look and snatches the ID from my hand. I decide to act like a cold-as-ice, bad-ass bitch. Show no fear! I'm not going to let him know that I think he is comically angry.

Bouncer: Well what the hell happened here? [He's referring to the bottom corner of my ID, which features prominent teeth marks.]
Me: [bored] Puppy.
Bouncer: [Suspiciously, while still carefully examining my ID] What kind of puppy?
Me: A Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
Bouncer: Glances up with one eyebrow raised] A what?
Me: A Pembroke Welsh F^#&ing Expensive Useless Corgi. [because the quickest way to earn street cred is with needless profanity and puppy mockery]
Bouncer: Mmm hmm [hands back ID]. Enjoy your evening.
Me: [casually] Thanks, I will.

Ok, gang--that's it for the Girls' Beach Trip 2011 Recap. I managed to stretch a three-night vacation into five blog posts. I even surprised myself at how much I could remember from the trip, three weeks after returning home. I'm glad I was able to document our experiences and that the memories aren't lost forever at the bottom of a shot glass. Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tales from the Beach | A Mostly True Story, Volume 3

The World's Meanest Cabana Man
What does "The World's Meanest Cabana Man" look like, you ask? Kinda like A-Rod. Racially ambiguous. Obnoxiously tan. Highly defined muscles. Wears Oakley sunglasses and a tank top.

Beana: He's not that big.

Translation: He probably works out two hours a day, six days a week, avoids carbs and sugar, but doesn't take steroids.

Since I'm the ginge with a history of skin cancer, securing a chaise lounge with a giant umbrella is of paramount importance. I won't last an hour out there otherwise. As such, I am reliant upon Cabana Man for survival.

You should know going into this, that my way of coping with aggressively hostile people is to turn into the wide-eyed and demure "Charlotte" from Sex and the City. 

Me: [cheerfully] Hi!
Cabana Man: [sighs, annoyed] Yeah.
Me: [confused by his hostility] Uh...I'd like to rent a pair of chairs. With an umbrella.
Cabana Man: [shrugs] Ok. Which chairs do you want?
Me: Oh! Uh...I can pick any chairs I see here?

Cabana Man impatiently nods. I attempt to communicate this information to the girls, who are about a quarter -mile down the beach, using sign language I've just invented, to ask, "Which chair should I choose?" The girls don't understand my made-up sign language.

Cabana Man: Look, I don't have all day.
Me: Right! sorry. 

Mean people make me nervous.

Me: I can choose any chair? Ok, let's go down this way.
Cabana Man: [highly agitated] I'm following you.

I begin marching down the beach towards the girls. Following me is Cabana Man...who is fast becoming Cabana Nazi, along with a middle-aged man who is also interested in renting chairs.

Me: Let's see...I can choose any chairs without a yellow tag? We would like to be seated away from children if you--

Cabana Man shakes his head and gestures to five pairs of chairs in a row.

Cabana Man: This is it.
Me: Alright. I'll pick one in the middle.

Cabana Man begins filling out the rental form.

Waiting Man: We're going to be renting four pairs of chairs, so my family will be seated on either side of you, and there are some children, but--
Me: [smiling] Oh! I can rent a pair of chairs on the end. Your family should be all together!

I think it's nice when strangers are kind to one another and work together in a spirit of cooperation. It gives me a sense of hope for the future in a world filled with chaos.

Waiting Man and I turn to Cabana Man, who glances up from his clipboard, annoyed.

Me: Can I change to that chair? [pointing at the chair on the end]
Waiting Man: It's just I heard you say you didn't want to be near children, so that might be better for you since we have children with us.
Me: Oh, yeah, we like children. We have children. We just didn't want things to get too rowdy.
Waiting Man: Oh, they're pretty calm.
Me: I wasn't talking about your children. 
Waiting Man: [uncomfortably] Oh.
Me: [laughing sheepishly] We're on vacation.
Cabana Man: [sigh] Whatever! You need to just pick a chair and stick with it! I'm writing this down in pen!

A pen?! That's absurd. He should work in pencil.

The girls approach with their cooler and bags.

Mama: [points at our chairs] This it?
Me: Yep. [grabbing Cara by the arm and whispering] He is the meanest Cabana man ever!
Cara: To hell with him. What did he say to you?
Me: I asked to rent a different chair, so that we wouldn't be sitting in the middle of that other man's family, and Cabana Man snapped at me because he had already filled out the rental form in pen.
Cara: Well, that's his fault for being stupid. He should work in pencil.
Me: I know, right?!

Beana, unsatisfied with the position of our umbrella, begins to wiggle the umbrella out of the sand

Me: [whisper-shouting so Cabana Man won't hear] I wouldn't do that if I were you.
Beana: [loud and indignant] Why not?
Me: [in a hushed tone] That Cabana Man is scary.
Beana: Psh. [continues wiggling umbrella]

Cabana Man throws down clipboard and stomps over to Beana.

Cabana Man: You can't do that!
Beana: [Pivots around with hands on hips] Why. Not?!
Cabana Man: Because. Then the umbrellas wouldn't all be in a straight line.
Beana: Psh. So?!
Cabana Man: Don't. Touch. The umbrellas!
Me: [whispering] I told you he is the meanest!
Beana: What a bastard. He isn't even that hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tales from the Beach | A Mostly True Story, Volume 2

A follow-up to my previous post, I'm attempting to chronicle my recent beach adventures with my college friends, to the best of my recollection, three weeks after the fact. Here is the second installment, later in the first night at AJ's bar in Destin, Florida.

They're Not Creepy At All
Beana, Mama, and I are sipping cocktails and enjoying the people watching at AJ's. At a nearby table, a fight breaks out between two girls, one of whom has crunchy-curly hair (it has been my experience that one never wants to cross a girl with crunchy curls. She has no qualms about clawing out your eyeballs.) The other chick is wearing a backless shirt that showcases her full-back tattoo of wings. I wonder whether they are meant to depict angel wings, or Pegasus wings, or even falcon wings. I will leave AJ's without answers.

As the fight breaks up, we are approached by a group of men who we soon learn are Marines. They are always Marines. Unless they're in the Air Force. One guy spills Mama's full beer all over her lap in a clumsy attempt at a handshake introduction. (Seriously, why do we shake hands in a bar? We're drinking beer. This is not the setting for a handshake).

Lance Corporal Cutie: Oh, man, I'm sorry!
Mama: It's cold!
Lance Corporal Cutie: I can't believe I did that! I'm not even drunk, I swear.
Mama: Wow. I have beer all over me.
Me: [points at Mama] It's her birthday.
Lance Corporal Cutie: Now I feel worse.
Me: [smiling] I meant for you to.

Lance Corporal Cutie buys Mama a beer. Bonus: Lance Corporal Cutie buys me a beer. We strike up a conversation.

Me: You are heavily tattooed, Lance Corporal Cutie.
Lance Corporal Cutie: Yeah, I am. [lifts his shirt to show off his ink]
Me: Does every tattoo tell a story, or am I going to find Yosemite Sam on your shoulder?

Lance Corporal Cutie reveals symbolic tattoos covering his torso, along with shrapnel scars. They're his war wounds. He tells me a harrowing tale from his last deployment to Afghanistan, where his fellow Marines saved him from a roadside bomb. Yeah, this small-talk just took a sharp turn into Serious Town, population: 2. He points out the heroic fellow Marines (who he repeatedly tells me he loves and that they're his brothers) among us at AJ's. These guys are conversing with Beana and Mama. I typically don't like when a group of guys approaches our group of friends at a bar, because I think their intentions are insincere. They strike up a conversation with the pretense that they "just want to talk to some nice, normal girls", but I don't believe that single men want to have innocent chit-chat with girls at a bar while on vacation. They're just interrupting our girl time. Maybe I'm jaded. Either way, after listening to Lance Corporal Cutie profess his undying love for his fellow Marines, I decide they're alright.

Then Lance Corporal Cutie asks me to guess his age. Why do people play this game? It's awkward, and it seems to only occur in bars. If you guess the person's age, and you guess too young, they may possibly be flattered, or they will find you absurdly insincere. If you guess too old, you've hurt their feelings or insulted them. If you guess the correct age, no matter what their age is, they're still insulted that you think they look their age, and will say something along the lines of, "Really? You think I look 28? Well, I am 28, but everyone tells me I can easily pass for 23. Hmmph. I guess not..." 

Lance Corporal Cutie: How old do you think I am? Go ahead, guess.
Me: Ugh...[eye roll]...25?
Lance Corporal Cutie: [stunned] What?! I'm 22!
Me: Oh. Well, I didn't guess "25" because I think you "look 25". It's just that I would never guess that a man of only 22 could be as worldly and experienced as you. Besides, I'm almost 30, so whether you're 25 or 22, you're still very young.
Lance Corporal Cutie: [Feigns a shocked expression] Wha--?! 29?! Nuh uh, no way! You're shitting me! I swear, I swear, I was sure that you were 22.

I smiled politely, but the conversation ended there. He was sure I was 22? Please. Even when I was 22, nobody thought I looked 22. I've been mistaken for 25 since I was 18. I always look older. Whatever. So, unless I've stumbled into an alternate universe where I'm living in some kind of Benjamin Button situation, there's no way in hell anybody thinks I'm 22. Sidenote: This is the second time in three years that I've revealed my age to somebody who is younger, and their reaction was to gasp in shock, and spend the next five minutes comforting and consoling me and assuring me that I appear much younger. I've never had a problem with my age, why do they feel they need to console me?

Having grown bored with my conversation with Lance Corporal Cutie, I'm even more grateful to see that Cara and Sally have finally arrived! Before I can do anything else, I must debrief Cara on the military insurgence at our cocktail table. Cara has a history of overzealously protecting her friends from skeezy would-be suitors. She will literally chase them off, hurling profanity and threats so they'll never come back. I decided these fellas didn't deserve the "Cara treatment".

Me: I know what this looks like, but it's all under control. We've been talking to these guys a while. They're Marines, they're 22, they're from Mississippi, they bought us drinks, and they're not creepy at all.
Cara: [incredulous] Really? What about the one who's raping Mama with his eyes?

Cara points across the table, and I turn to see Mama, smiling and sipping her beer, blissfully unaware that a man standing directly to her left is vigorously thrusting in her general direction, looking at her with an expression that is intensely dirty.

Me: Eww. I didn't know about that.
Cara: Hey buddy! [snaps fingers] You better lock it up!

Thrusting Marine ceases and desists from dry-humping Mama for the rest of the evening.

Cara and I turn our attention to the dance floor, where a Latino man is wearing tear-away pants and demonstrating some straight-up MTV Grind dance moves. Where is Eric Nies when I need him?

Out of the corner of Cara's eye she notices a highly inebriated young woman wearing a white sundress with a veil, dancing barefoot in the center of the floor.

Cara: That bride--has lost her shit.
Me: That is our sorority sister.
Cara: What? 
Me: True story. She's getting married. See all those girls in black who are holding her shoes and looking on with concern? Sorority sister, sorority sister, sorority sister. It's a small world after all, yes?
Cara: Indeed. You know, I have to hand it to the Bride. She's doing an excellent job maintaining her balance. And she looks hot.
Me: I'm concerned she's going to get splinters in her feet--oh! What--? Oh, now she's doing The Worm. That's nice.
Cara: I love everything about this.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tales from the Beach | A Mostly True Story, Volume 1

Cara asked me to write a post about all the fun times we had at the beach. We had a blast and met a colorful cast of characters. It's too much for one post, but I'll share the highlights in a series of shorter posts. These are true stories, told to the best of my sharp-yet-beer-soaked recollection. I may improvise to fill in the gaps or paraphrase some dialogue, but this is basically what happened.

Meth Face Molly
Mama, Beana and I are the first from the group to arrive in Destin, so we go to AJ's to wait for Cara and Sally. AJ's is crowded, so Mama, Beana, and I stand in a single file line waiting to order a drink from the bar. Suddenly a woman comes barging in between Mama and Beana. She looks...older. And the years have been unkind. I name her "Meth Face Molly". I'm good like that. She looks like Patty the daytime hooker from My Name is Earl. She perceives Mama and Beana as great adversaries and begins aggressively sparring with them.

Meth Face Molly: Hey! Back away from my man! You better watch out! You're not so hot!

Beana and Mama are stunned. Molly reaches under the bar, pulls out a stool that was previously unseen, and that Beana was unknowingly blocking, and sits down next to a guy who is young enough to be Molly's son. I'm watching in amazement, as Beana juts her head back, and Mama's eyes bug out of her head, their signature, non-verbal way of saying, "Bitch, who do you think you are?" Molly better check herself before she wrecks herself.

I'm standing back a short distance. I can observe the catfight better this way. I watch Beana and Mama, both so offended, muttering and grumbling things to each other like "That hag!" and "Who died and made her the Queen of AJ's!" I am really enjoying the show. Molly has gotten under their skin.

Mama pays for her drink and moves away from the bar. She stands behind Molly and loudly comments about "classless people". Beana pays for her drink, and as she turns to walk away, she endures one final insult from Molly: "It's a shame you can't get a man to buy your drinks for you!" Beana glares at her, her jaw dropped in disgust as though Patty spit on her shoes. She struts off, furious. Now it's my turn to face Molly's wrath.

Me: [smiling at the bartender] Redbull and vodka, please.
Bartender: Eight dollars
I hand a $10 bill to the bartender
Molly: It's a shame you can't get a man to buy your drink.
Me: [calmly smiling] My husband buys my drinks, thank you.
Molly: [stammering] Oh, yeah? Yeah, well, my--my husband buys my drinks too!
Me: [grinning] It's nice, isn't it?
Molly: Yeah. Sure is. I'd buy you a drink.
Me: What a sweet thing to say!
Molly: You're a sweetheart, not like these other bitches [points at Mama and Beana, still shocked by Molly's continued verbal assault.]
Molly: Especially this one [points at Beana, who gasps]
Molly and I both glance at Beana, then Molly and I lock eyes with one another
Me: [straight-faced and deadly serious] She better recognize.

Molly stares at me intently. She's trying to decide if I'm serious or if I'm mocking her. We're now in a staring contest. Molly decides that I'm sincere. I'm on Molly's side.

Molly: Yeah! She will if she knows what's good for her!
Me: I'll keep an eye on her. You have a good night.
Molly: Thanks, hon, you too.

Mama, Beana, and I walk off.

Me: She looked like a day shift hooker, no?
Mama: We almost got our asses beat by that meth face, and Freaky makes friends with her!
Beana: Yeah, what the eff is that about, Freaky?
Me: I just saved us all from getting our asses beat. You have to follow the rules for managing belligerent drunks: fully agree with everything they say, maintain eye contact, and match their intensity level.
Beana: How do you know that?
Me: Everybody knows that.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Girls Beach Trip 2011: Meet The Girls

My best friends from college have been taking an annual "Girls' Beach Trip" since our first Senior year of college. We made a pact that we would do this every year, even after we got married and had kids. I think we've kept up the tradition longer than anybody thought we would. Some years it's a small group enjoying a weekend at the lake, and other years it's a beach blow-out with eight or nine girls. This year was a "big" year. Seven women in a high rise condo with ocean views, and big plans for the night life. We're gonna party like it's 2004! Only better, because we're old enough to afford mid-range liquor and all the oysters we can handle!

Some of the girls asked me to blog about our adventures. It's much too much for just one post, so this blog will exist as a brief introduction. Names have been changed to protect the fabulous. I'll be using college nicknames, aliases, and alter-egos we've adopted over the years. I've also substituted their actual photos with photos of celebrities or characters who remind me of them. The hope is that they won't mind my blogging about them if I don't reveal too much and they are represented by photos of sexy starlets.

Mama is the Cruise Director of the group. Planner of trips, maker of ham sandwiches, provider of aloe vera gel. She is also the Vice President of Conflict Resolution, meaning she will speak up for the underdog, mediate disputes, and, if need be, she will smack a bitch. In short, she's the glue that holds this operation together. She has a three-year-old and 11-month old twins, and one of her twins was born with a life-threatening tumor. I tell you this because it's brought up later in this post, and because I'm proud of her. Mama is a total blast, super-loyal, and smokin' hot. Kind of like Jules, Courteney Cox's character in Cougar Town. 

Sally is literally never angry, and she's a good person in the purest sense. She is friendly, devoted, and giving, but without being naive or blindly optimistic. She's one of the best people with whom to have a serious conversation about life because she's very thoughtful. It's not that she's impervious to anger, sadness, or disappointment; she just manages those emotions differently. She doesn't get fired up. Not one to dwell on things or hold a grudge, she's quick to shrug it off and move on. As my roommate, Sally taught me the simple joy that can only be found when sitting in a camping chair in the middle of an open field, for no reason whatsoever, just drinking beer and laughing with friends. I'm a better person for having lived with her.

When Cara and I struck up a friendship at age 22, we really clicked, and I had a feeling that we'd be friends for years. We complement each other. We both know a little bit about everything, and we want to tell you about it...whether you want to hear it or not. She works hard and plays hard, which I appreciate. She's three months and one grade older than me, and I like to consult her when I need advice from somebody "older." We always share a room on the Girls' Beach Trip.

The Gypsy
The Gypsy is a fun, free-spirited and unpredictable kind of gal. Not unlike the lovely Drew Barrymore. She's probably the friend who is least like me, and that's cool, because she makes me do things like try edamame and rock climb (I hated it, and I loved it). She always has this mischievous twinkle in her eye. She's fiercely protective of the ones she loves, she's always planning her next adventure, and the Billy Joel song "She's Always a Woman to Me" may or may not have been written about her.

Mean Girls' Gretchen Weiners instantly reminds me of my pal Beana. Beana is in the unique position of being a lot smarter than she sounds. She means well, but behind that bright smile and sassy strut lies a girl who knows how to turn a phrase:
Beana: Those Vermont Hokies sure are strange, but I'll tell you one thing: they love their football as much as we do.
Me: Actually, it's Virginia Tech
Beana: [sighs and shakes her head] "VT" stands for Vermont. It's the Vermont Hokies.
Me: That is true. "VT" is the postal abbreviation for Vermont, but the car decal you're staring at is the Virginia Tech logo. 
Beana: Are you sure?
Me: Positive. My friend's sister went there. [That wasn't true, but I thought saying so would give me credibility and make me more persuasive.]
Beana: Well. Guess ya learn something new every day!

Freaky-Freaky Wil' Wil' (Me)
I wasn't planning to include myself in this character sketch of my friends, since it exists purely for identification and illustration puposes, and you already know me if you read this blog. But, Steve insisted that I include myself. So...the celebrity or character who most reflects my personality is Kelly Kapoor from The Office. Kelly Kapoor and I are both cheerful, friendly, gossipy chatterboxes who are pop culture obsessed and have a flair for the dramatic. Am I leaving anything out?

Friday, July 8, 2011

New Layout. New Outlook.

Do we like the new blog layout? I think the design suits my personality and the tone of my blog better than the precious shabby chic layout previously did. It was much sweeter than I am. Plus, peacocks are kinda muh thang.

I am not sold on the font, but that's ok. I changed a lot in one day. Thanks for fabulous free layouts at The Cutest Blog on the Block! I don't know why I'm making a plug. I don't get paid to promote anything on my blog. But a little gratitude is always nice; it's a nice break from the typical snark I sling around here.

Speaking of snark, thank you for letting me get the rest of my Casey Anthony hostility out of my system! After seeing her in court today, the day she clearly thought she'd be released--note the Snooki pouf she's sporting--
It's like Elvira-meets-Snooki-meets-Amy Winehouse with a shit-eating grin and a cable knit sweater (as you wear in Orlando in July). Some reporters were sitting in front of George and Cindy Anthony during today's proceedings and they had the opportunity to overhear their chit-chat. George and Cindy were going on about how long Casey's hair has gotten, and how pretty she looks. 

That's it. I'm done. She's a baby killer. She got away with murder. She has a wacked-out family. They can have each other. Would you like to know what I've been accomplishing--and what I should have been accomplishing--in the time I've wasted watching this stupid trial?
  1. I finished reading Bossypants by Tina Fey. Loved it.
  2. I purchased new sheets. Restoration Hardware was having a sale. 
  3. I ordered the invitations for Robinson's birthday party
  4. I redesigned my blog
  5. I wrote about 7 blog posts
  6. I cooked dinner for my family
  7. I watched a movie with Robinson. Or tried. He's pretty squirmy.
  8. I resumed logging my daily food intake on And not a moment too soon. I was unknowingly eating about 2,500 calories a day! Body by Sargento.
  9. I worked on Robinson's Shutterfly baby book. 
That's kind of it so far. But I need to work out and finish planning Rob's party. And for Heaven's sake, step away from the dairy products!

What Happens Next for Casey Anthony? | This Blogger Speculates

I consider humor to be a valid coping mechanism, and I would offer that it is a much healthier coping mechanism than drinking, binge eating, and forming an angry lynch mob to carry out a special brand of street justice that so many seem to think Casey Anthony deserves. The fact is, Casey was acquitted and State Attorney Jeff Ashton says we have to move on (I'm mostly talking to myself here, but if this helps you, too--I'm happy.)

Much has been made about where Casey will go after she's released from jail, and what she will do. Some of my friends made mention that they don't know much about Casey's background, so what happens in this next chapter is even more of a mystery. Allow me to summarize:

1. Boyfriends. Casey seemed to place a lot of importance on her romantic relationships (some theorize she murdered her daughter so she'd be free to shack with her boyfriend without her mother griping about being an "unfit mother"). All the guys she was banging at or around the time of her arrest have all moved away and testified for the prosecution. I don't think they want to date her anymore.

2. Girl Friends. Casey seemed to have trouble hanging on to female friends. She appeared to have two friends: Kristina and Amy. I don't know where Kristina has gone, but after Casey stole more than $700 from Amy Huizenga and was convicted of multiple felony counts of check fraud as a result, Casey has effectively burned that bridge. Amazing but true:: Casey stole $400 cash from Amy, but convinced Amy that Amy lost that $400 while sleepwalking. 

3. Family. Let's see...Casey's aunt, uncle, and grandmother have all gone on record as saying they believe Casey killed Caylee and that Casey is pretty much an awful person. The only people standing in Casey's corner were her brother and her parents. She stole money from her mom, accused her dad and brother of molestation, and her defense claimed that her father was the one who disposed of Caylee's remains in the swamp. I suppose anything is possible, but the prospect of Casey going back to the home she and Caylee shared with George and Cindy Anthony seems unlikely.

4. Marketable skills. Casey failed to complete high school, and the only job she ever had was when worked at a Kodak photo booth inside Universal Studios. She spent a couple years telling people she worked in the Events department, but that was a lie. 

So, that brings us to the burning question on people's minds: Where does an attractive young woman go when she has no education, no job skills, she's alienated her friends and brought shame to her family? 
That's right, Paris! The only place Casey would be welcome is in the world of reality television. Much has been made about Casey Anthony cashing in big on a book deal, but have we forgotten what happened the last time a high profile figure got away with murder and tried to profit off of a book about the crime?
People don't want to buy that kind of book.
Since that leaves nothing but reality television, allow me to pitch a few ideas. I asked Steve if it was too soon to crack jokes about Casey, and he assured me that it's not. So, I submit to you for your consideration:
The Simple Life: Pinellas County
Casey is on probation for at least a year from the time of her release, but I propose that she visit the county that is home to the esteemed jury who exonerated the murdering mom. She and Paris can rotate through the twelve jurors homes as their house guests, and during the day they will peform manual labor and other entry level jobs. Casey will gain valuable experience, learn a skill, and her wages can be garnished to help towards paying off her mountain of debt to the state of Florida. 
The Bachelorette
Casey has always attracted plenty of mail attention. Now we can watch as 25 eligible suitors vie for her affections.
Khloe and Kasey take Pinellas County
There's a theme here. I really want Casey to move to Pinellas County so she can hopefully live, work (ha, like she'll work) and shop at the local Target with the jurors who acquitted her. They think she's so innocent, she can move next door to them. I wonder if somewhere in Pinellas County, some nice resident is reading this  and muttering through clenched teeth, "Don't you put that on me, Samantha!" Kris Jenner can manage Kasey's career, and as she did with the sisters Kardashian before, she can market Kasey by plastering her name and face on a variety of products: "The Prison Diet", a style guide for how to be "Kourtroom Chic", etc. Kris is a genius. She'll think of something. And the proceeds from all these products (after Kris gets her cut, of course) will go to Tim Miller, whose non-profit Texas EquuSearch spent over $100,000 searching for a missing Caylee Anthony when Casey knew her whereabouts all along.
Better Kate Than Never
Who better than Kate Gosselin to teach a newly released Casey Anthony how to navigate a country where you are very famous, and everybody hates you? And, as an experienced mother, Casey can help look after the Gosselin children. Of course, at the end of each day the producers will need to take a head count. Kate Plus Seven isn't as catchy.
I'm with Jose
Like Roxie Hart and Billy Flynn, Casey and Jose are a dynamic duo. Now that Jose successfully secured Casey's freedom, will he feel some responsibility not to turn her out on the street? Watch as cameras capture Casey enjoying cozy accommodations as Jose's permanent house guest, à la Kato Kaelin.  Domestic hi-jinx ensue. Casey will "work" at the Baez Law Firm, but in Casey's world that means she'll just tell people she works there and go hang out at her boyfriend's apartment all day and watch him play video games with his friends.

Stillwell Angel

Remember "Stillwell Angel" from A League of their Own?
That little boy who behaved like a complete monster unless he was granted his beloved chocolate bars? Well, I have a "Stillwell Angel" on my hands, but instead of demanding chocolate bars...he demands my cell phone.

He won't accept any substitutes. It has to be my phone. And it's gotten to the point where I can't pull my phone out in his presence unless I'm willing to surrender it to him. I like to use the calculator on my phone to tabulate the cost of my groceries as I'm shopping. Not anymore. Robinson will confiscate it. Heaven help me if I actually need to talk on the phone while he's playing with it. He once came unglued while I was trying to talk to Steve, screaming so loudly I couldn't hear Steve, and I hissed at Robinson, "I do not negotiate with terrorists!" I'm taken by surprise by this turn of events. I know it's too early for the Terrible Two's (if eleven months isn't too early for the Terrible Two's, that's a very inaccurate characterization).
"Give me muh phone!"
What's a mom to do with a child who is feisty and opinionated; outspoken, yet inarticulate; and bent on global domination? Oh, and too smart to be fooled by slight of hand or other attempts at distraction. If I try to be sly and stuff the phone between two couch cushions for instance, he knows it's there. And he doesn't forget. When my little angel morphs into this feisty, furious creature, he is known as "Stewie Griffin". If Steve calls to check on us and I announce that "We have a Code: Stewie", he knows what that means--can't talk now, pick up dinner on the way home. And don't forget the booze.
Another thing, since it's hot, and he's a ragamuffin, I've taken to dressing him in those Huggies diapers that look like blue jeans, and nothing else. It's pretty cute. Then, this morning, I went into his room to greet him. I guess I kept him waiting for too long (while I was making his breakfast), because he had thrown his stuffed animals out of the crib, stripped off his diaper, and tossed the diaper out of the crib. He. Was. Pissed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Did it Steve's Way | Robinson's First Haircut

I had ideas about how Robinson's first haircut would play out. I would wait until he was about 14 months old. I had no real reason for choosing that age. I just thought it seemed like a good age for a first haircut. He would be old enough to have grown sufficient hair to be cut, and we wouldn't be cutting his hair so early as to make him look like a toddler prematurely, and we wouldn't be delaying the haircut to such an age as to tread into Kate Hudson territory:
That's a little boy.

I may occasionally dress in the style of "boho chic", but I am not one of those hippie people who doesn't believe in short hair on little boys. And my husband doesn't believe in bowl cuts. So there's our philosophy on boys' hair.

Sidenote: at a baby shower earlier this year, I pointed out to Amy that celebrity spawn Ryder Robinson is the child of actress Kate Hudson and rocker Chris Robinson and that Amy's baby's name is Hudson and my baby's name is Robinson and she and I are the best of friends and isn't that interesting? Amy says that this isn't interesting, but she isn't at all surprised that I would think of this.

Robinson's first haircut came earlier than anticipated for three reasons:

1. He grew the oh-so-desirable "baby mullet"
2. He was mistaken for a little girl by a well-meaning restaurant patron.

3. His hair is always falling into his eyes, like the Looney Tunes quail

I mean, did you see that last picture? It looked like he'd already had his hair cut...with a Suck Kut...
"It certainly does suck..."

So, back when I planned for Robinson's perfect first haircut at the perfect age of 14 months, I wanted to take him to a perfect stylist I once worked with named Savanh. Savanh is super fabulous and a very talented stylist. She cuts adults' hair, but the adults love her so much, and she is so wonderful with children, her adult clients bring their children to her. She takes her time and lovingly creates personalized styles for each and every tot who sits in her chair. She charges $35 for a kid's hair cut. That's high for a kid's cut, but she's worth it. Steve had other ideas involving a trip to Great Clips. Marriage is about compromise, so I gave in without protest. Ok, maybe I rolled my eyes.

 And if I wet his hair and style it, it looks like this for a little while:
...before it morphs into what I affectionately refer to as "The Friar Tuck":
So yeah, I love the haircut. You know what's the weirdest part? He has this "big boy haircut" that makes him look like he's two years old, but he doesn't act like a sophisticated toddler on the brink of preschool. He still grunts and snorts and swipes at my coffee mug, spilling my coffee on my lap like a demon cave baby. His baby behavior betrays his grown-up appearance. It's off-putting.