"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Not To Buy A House: a lesson in comedy, futility, and madness (part 4)

I'm sorry I made you wait so many days for the next part of the tale documenting our exercise in futility. I didn't really intend to make you wait this long. I really did mean to write more the next day but remember how my life went to hell in a handbasket. Hehehe, see what I did right here. Not only did I cover my ass for the long delay but I gave you a taste of what the whole house buying fiasco was like for us...promises and hope with no fucking follow through.

When y'all last read the story, we were desperately hoping the house would be set up and closed on before the end of the year and I think that was the biggest joke we ran into. Despite everything we said, despite everything we did, the house did NOT get delivered and set up before the end of the year. We did NOT close before the end of the calendar year. And, all that meant we lost the $10,000 tax credit for first time home buyers that was expiring that year and we got bitch slapped by the tax man when he assessed taxes and penalties on the money we withdrew from Vic's 401K....taxes and penalties we wouldn't have had to pay if we had closed before Dec. 31 of that year.

Even once B's supposed crack set up crew delivered the house in the following year, things did NOT move quickly. In these situations, a crew usually has about one work week that they dedicate to setting up a house. They place the house on the foundation, permanently set the tie downs, permanently join the two halves and the pipes and the ductwork, and have specialists check electrical and water connections. 9 times out of 10, modular or mobile homes pass their inspection and get their certificate of occupancy on the first try...but not us.  It took multiple months, numerous long and mostly unexplained absences, and innumerable hounding phone calls until B's Crack crew finished the job that should have taken a week, 2 weeks if they were having a tough time. After all that, it took not 1, not 2, not even 3, inspections to get the certificate of occupancy. It took at least 4 inspections before we were cleared to move in.

This was when we got the next fun and special surprise from B. Do you remember the furniture that had been torched and supposedly reordered? Well, we remembered it too. That's all we could do because even though there was a certificate of occupancy, the furniture was still nowhere to be found. B swore up and down that he had reordered or furniture and this time it's absence was the fault of the manufacturer. See, this time, the manufacturer just didn't deliver it to B on time and then, in the interim, the manufacturer cancelled that line o furniture. It was gone,over, finished, kaput. My carefully selected, lovingly picked out furniture was DBA - dead before arrival. Yet again, we had to search through the books and make a new furniture selection. We got that done, went shopping for a new mattress, and tried to schedule or closing date. We waited and waited and waited some more to actually have a closing date set...and, that's when something snapped.

We decided at this point that we didn't give a damn if it was legal or not. We had a certificate of occupancy. We were moving in on x date whether we had closed or not. We were moving in on x date whether we had living room furniture or not. We were tired of being screwed around.

So, as the x date approached and we still hadn't closed, we rented a truck and started packing our apartment. We moved in with bare bones bedroom furniture for us and NO living room furniture at all. We moved in and filled cabinets and dressers but signed no papers making it ours. We moved in just in time to have our families over after Joey's baptism but we had to bring the bench seats in from our van for them to have anything to sit on. It was chaos but it still felt good to be there.

I guess our move in kicked B's ass into gear and he scheduled our closing date for less than a month after we moved in (even when he was in gear, he was a seriously slow assed mother). When we got the news that a closing date had been set, Vic and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. We beat B. We beat that sorry assed son-of-a bitch and the house was going to be ours. Surely we had finally mastered all of his surprises? Surely the closing was going to be uneventful? Bwahahahahahahaha. B had one more surprise for us and it was a doozy.

When we picked out the house, we picked carefully. A huge consideration in our decision was the total cost of the house and the land and what sort of payment that worked out to be with the interest rate we had pre-qualified for. Back then, we had an awesome credit rating. Well, maybe not awesome but it was good enough to qualify for an FHA loan with very low interest rate. We did not get the interest rate we pre-qualitied for. We didn't get our cherry interest rate because the company B had handling the construction loan on our house, the very construction loan that would roll into our mortgage, never received a single payment on that construction loan. The lack of payment on the construction loan was the first nail in our credit rating and it cost us about 1 1/2 % points interest and over $200 dollars a month in payments. It SUCKED.

And, to add a lovely garnish to the top of this fucked up house buying tale. We closed on the house, made one payment,yes, just one payment, and my husband blew his knee out while he was at work. One fucking house payment and we follow it up with a career ending injury. I sometimes think that house was never meant to be ours.

So, there you have it...betrayal, lying, piss poor customer service, more lying, a comedy of errors, and the ever encroaching madness thrust on us by a family member who was suppose to be looking out for us.

Have you ever gone through such a comedy of errors? Can you top my house buying tale of horror? Share your story with us...pretty please.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Marty titled this tableau "Crouching Butter, Hidden Freddy" and mad me laugh my ass off.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Fail

You know it's not a good omen for how the rest of the week is going to go when your Monday morning starts out with half a cup of coffee (warm, not hot) spilling all over your leg and the floor of your vehicle.

Anyone else have a story about a similarly disastrous start to a week that you are willing to share? Right now I'm feeling the glare of the Monday Morning Fail spotlight. Anyone?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Belated Back to School

Not that my children were late in going back to school but I'm late in getting the post up because of the chaos of Thursday night and my exhaustion on Friday. All three of the boys had a wonderful day on Thursday. Marty likes all his teachers but he seems to particularly like his creative writing teacher. He really likes the creative writing teacher's sense of humor.  Hehehe, the man has a wooden battle ax (black blade, green handle) that he uses for the bathroom pass. He really knows how to appeal to the teenage sense of humor. Joey has also gone from moaning about school to truly enjoying it. He likes his teacher and has his best friend in his class. We don't know who Gabe's teacher is going to be yet. His school does a staggered start for the kindergarteners. They divide all the new kindergartners into 5 groups and each group comes one of the first 5 days. That lets all the kindergarten teachers evaluate the abilities of all the kids. They then divide them into class making sure the classes are balanced as far as their abilities are concerned. We will get to go meet Gabe's teacher on Wednesday.

Of course, I subjected all three kids to first day of school pics...
How did my boys get to be so grown up looking and so handsome?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hell In A Handbasket part 2

As I briefly told you early, early this morning, my Thursday night went to hell in a handbasket. When Marty got home from school yesterday, he had some homework from his Honors Geometry class. Like all classes, the first unit is all about reviewing last years info which means he had Algebra homework. Now, what y'all have to understand is that Algebra is the bane of Marty's existence just like it was the bane of my existence when I was in middle school. The minute Marty has trouble with an Algebra problem, he gets frantic and becomes convinced he can't do it...just like I did back in the day. So, his homework was taking way too long, dinner wasn't getting cooked, and he was getting more and more frantic. Finally, dinner had to be had so I took Gabe and Joey with me to get pizza while Marty took a break from his Geometry homework and did his creative writing homework.

We got home with the pizza and the boys attacked the pizza. Little Gabey out ate both his big brothers that night...6 slices to Marty's 5 and Joey's 4 1/2. Once everyone was sated, Marty and I sat back down at the table to finish the work. We hadn't been there even 5 minutes when I heard a loud thump and Gabe started to wail. I looked over and Gabe was standing in the corner by the TV with his hand over his chin. Joey told me Gabe leaned forward off the ottoman to pick up something he dropped and he slipped and pitched chin first into te entertainment center. I called him over to comfort him and, once he was calmed down a bit, I asked him to let me check it out. I gently moved his hand back and the blood started flowing. It wasn't dripping. It was like someone had turned on a faucet. I yelled for one of the older boys to bring me a rag and slapped it over his chin and put pressure on it. When I thought the cut was just on the outside, I was prepared to hold pressure until the bleeding stopped and put some butterfly bandages on to hold it shut. But, as I'm holding Gabe and holding pressure, I noticed there was a fair amount of blood in the mouth too. So, I took a peek in without removing the pressure from the outer sore and can see a cut bleeding freely. My fear at that point was that his teeth had punctured his lip. That was it. I decided I had to take Gabe in. I couldn't look up the info I needed so I called Vic at work and asked him to check if any of the Urgent Care centers were still open. As I was talking to Vic, Gabe figured out I was going to take him to the doctor and he started wailing louder and louder. Despite the fact that it was only about 7, none of them were accepting any more patients for the night and that meant an ER trip for us. After I got off the phone with Vic, I had to calm down a frantic 5 yr old. Ever since Gabe had his back to school physicals, he has been quite vocal about how much he hates shots and never, ever wants to have another one. The pain of the injury plus the exhaustion from the first day of school plus the fear of needles made him almost inconsolable but we managed a brief state of calm. That calm was shattered once I got up and started moving him toward the door and the van. Gabe started fighting me tooth and nail and I knew there was no way to get Gabe to the hospital by myself while maintaining pressure on his cut. While I tried to calm (again) the wailing, screaming, and crying Gabe, Joey called Vic and told him I needed him to help us get to the ER. Gabe completely wore himself out and while we were waiting for Vic, Gabe fell asleep leaning back on my chest. He actually started snoring.

When Vic got home, Gabe woke up and started fretting again. His little power nap helped though and I was able to get him to listen. I promised him that the doctors would find the best and easiest way they could to take care of him. I told him that if we were lucky that the doctors might be able to glue his cut shut but I couldn't promise that. Well, the idea of gluing the cut shut must have sunk in. When we got to the ER, Gabe told the triage nurse he wanted it glued shut while she was checking and putting gauze over the gash.
He announced to the nurse who took us to a room that he was going to ask the doctor for no stitches, just glue and he perked up a little when she mentioned a popsicle when we were done.
Then, he asked the nurse and doctor assigned to him for glue, not stitches. All of the asking must have helped. Well, that and a little luck helped since the teeth cut deeply inside the mouth (but not all the way through) and the entertainment center cut deep outside the mouth (but not all the way through). This all meant they were able to glue the gash shut.
Gabe was a happy camper when they told him no shots or stitches but he still questioned them about anything that looked like it might be a syringe with a needle attached. Then he took a moment to show off his hospital bracelets.
I think it amused them a little bit. They also laughed a bit when Gabe made sure to remind them that he needed a popsicle when they were done taking care of him.
We got home from the ER between 10:30 and 10:45 and the younger two boys were in bed by a little after 11 pm. My night wasn't done though. I still had to help Marty with his math homework. The enforced break from math homework cause by Gabe's drama did have one benefit. Marty was no longer worked up and that meant he was actually able to understand the work and figure out what needed to be done. Even with that advantage, we still didn't get done with his work until well after midnight. I got a grand total of 4 hours of sleep last night and I am feeling it today.

My evening went to hell in a handbasket...

I meant to have a post or two up for y'all today. I really did. I was going to do a back to school post and a house buying craziness post but my afternoon and evening went to hell in a  hand basket. Marty had a crap load of math homework (and I'm the go to parent for that) and Joey and Gabe were exhausted from the first day of school so there was tons of sniping going on.  Then, we made a trip to the Emergency Room so Gabe could get his chin glued shut (believe it or not, I typed shit instead of shut initially...that tells you how my night went). And, because Gabe's disaster interrupted the homework time, I had to finish helping Marty with his homework at 11 pm. I am tired.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

EdenFantasys BlogHer '11 Party Post & Giveaway - NSFW

***Congrats to Cindy aka @normawatson!***
She's the lucky winner of a bunch of new toys with comment #32.

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

You know, I just realized that I never finished all my BlogHer '11 posts and one of the most important posts I hadn't put up is this one right here...a giveaway and the story of the EdenFantasys BlogHer '11 party. The EdenFantasys party is truly unique. Yes, there was one other adult toy company that hosted a party at BlogHer but the EdenFantasys party was the only party that offered arts and crafts with adult toys. Yup, that's right. At the EdenFantasys party you got to decorate a dildo (or 2). If you've never decorated adult toys, you are truly missing out on a hella good time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Not To Buy A House: a lesson in comedy, futility, and madness (part 3)

We left off our house buying saga with the land cleared and prepped. You'd think it would be a fairly short time from that stage until the house was delivered. In our case, you would be very, very wrong. Shortly after all the prep work was done, we started having a fair amount of rain again. B kept using the wet ground as an excuse for why his people didn't show up to deliver and set up our home week after week after week. The problem was that B's dealership was over an hour away (close to 2 hours away) and he never bothered to check what the weather was like up where we lived. There were many days when the ground had dried out up here but it might (may I stress the might) be wet where B worked. My normally trusting mind started to wonder if B hadn't used our down payment for personal gain instead of placing the factory order for our house.

We hit the end of October...still no house on the land.

We hit the 7th of November...still no house.

We made it to the 14th of November, just under 4 weeks from my due date with Joey...still no house on the land.

On November 15th, Joey decided to hell with waiting for the house. He was coming out then. This was the one and only moment I was glad we weren't in our house yet. Our apartment was much closer to the hospital than our new house was going to be and Joey's delivery was fraught with possible complications because I was bleeding a lot and no one knew why. Luckily, Joey's early delivery wasn't a huge issue for him. At almost 4 weeks early, Joey was 7 lbs and 20 inches. We both got to leave the hospital when Joey was 4 days old but I landed my ass back in the hospital for a 5 day stay when Joey was only 8 days old. Yup, I went back into the hospital on the night of Thanksgiving.

While B's continual fuck ups were a small blessing the night I actually delivered, the House Follies caused major problems when I went back into the hospital. There my poor husband was with an (almost) 4 yr old, a newborn, a dog, a cat, and no place for anyone to stay with him to help. But, thanks to the stellar coping abilities of my husband, he and the munchkins made it through my now house having, stuck in the apartment, hospital stay intact. Once I was home (in that piece of shit, hole in the wall apartment), we were able to go back to trying to get our house finished before the end of the year.  Oh yeah, we also had to plan for Christmas when we didn't know where we would be.

By December 15th, we had concluded (quite correctly) that we wouldn't be in the house before Christmas. While that wasn't a great tragedy, the proposal of not only not being in our house but not closing before the end of the year had us in a near panic state. See, we had taken money from Vic's 401K to make the down payment on our house. If we closed before the end of the year, that withdrawal wouldn't count as income. If we didn't close before the end of the year, we would get screwed hugely on the taxes because all that money would count as income and because the $10,000 tax credit for first time home owners that was being offered by the IRS would expire.

So, do you think we got screwed on our taxes or do you think B finally got his ass in gear and squeaked our house in under the wire?

Come back tomorrow to find out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Pecan Crusted Citrus Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

Welcome back for the latest edition of Tasty Tuesday. Both recipes today are mine but obviously draw on knowledge gained from following recipes in the past.

Pecan Crusted Citrus Chicken

  • 4 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • zest from 2 small oranges
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (adjust levels to match your personal tolerance)
  • 1 cup flour
  • Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease baking sheets.
  • You will want all your chicken breast pieces to be approximately the same size and same thickness. I was working with the *Chernobyl sized chicken breast that Sam's Club and Wal-Mart sell so I cut off the thinner half and then cut the thicker end into two pieces. Place the two thick pieces from one breast into a clean ziploc bag and seal with most of the air removed. This will prevent them from escaping when you try to pound them flat (don't ask me how I know). Then, pound those two pieces flat until they matched the thickness of the thin end. Ideally, use a kitchen mallet but a large rolling pin can do the job too. Repeat until all chicken breast pieces are same thickness.
  • Using a food processor, crush the pecan halves until they are reduced to small crumbs and powder.
  • Mix crushed pecans, orange zest, cayenne pepper, and flour together.
  • Coat each chicken breast piece with pecan mixture and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. 
*as in, chicken breasts so huge that they had to have been mutated by Chernobyl

Mushroom Risotto

  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice (if you can't find Arborio Rice, you can substitute a medium or short grain rice and get almost the same texture...long grain rice will probably produce a delicious dish but won't have the same texture as classic risotto)
  • 1 1/2 qts of meat stock (I used chicken)
  • 6 largish white/button mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic (you can reduce this if you aren't a big fan of garlic)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of vermouth or wine or sherry (I used blackberry Manischewitz)
  • Heat stock until hot but not boiling
  • Thinly slice the mushrooms and mince the garlic and onion (or, if you are like me and are stupid enough to believe the cooking websites that say you can freeze fresh, whole mushrooms, then you will have to dice the mushrooms)
  • Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat
  • Saute the onions, garlic and mushrooms, add a pinch of salt and pepper
  • Turn heat up to medium high
  • Add rice and saute for a few minutes longer, until the rice starts to look translucent
  • Add wine to rice and heat until boiling, stirring the whole time
  • Add stock one cup at a time, stirring continually...do not add next cup until liquid has been absorbed (this will take 15 to 20 minutes)

Veggie Toppings for Risotto

  • 2 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini
  • olive oil
  • soy sauce
  • Cut squash and zucchini into small bite sized chunks
  • Heat a few tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat
  • Add squash and zucchini and saute for a few minutes
  • Splash veggies with soy sauce and saute for a few more minutes

I did all the prep work, all the chopping and smashing and dicing before I started cutting and preparing the chicken breasts. I also cooked the veggies (and removed them from the heat) before I started cooking the chicken breasts. That meant that once I popped the chicken breasts in the oven, I could start on the rice and it would all get done around the same time. It was a truly delicious dinner.

How Not To Buy A House: a lesson in comedy, futility, and madness (part 2)

When I left off the tales of our house buying adventure, we had found the names of people to clear the land, pour the foundation, and dig the well. After a few weeks, B finally got off his ass and had scheduled these jobs and work was just barely starting to happen. Things were looking up. Then, we got the next set back call.

When you buy a mobile or modular home, many dealerships offer the option to buy furniture and have the cost rolled into your mortgage. We had taken advantage of that option and had ordered a living room suite. That set back call I mentioned, it had to do with our furniture. According to B, the furniture had come in quickly and was placed it in a storage shed on the dealership property...a storage shed that was torched by an arsonist...an arsonist that was never caught. So, we told B to reorder the same furniture and thought that was taken care of. Mistake #4...
  • Don't believe a bullshit story about a mysterious arsonist without seeing the police report.
Though we were frustrated by the latest setback, we were also excited because things were starting to happen out on our property. With things starting to happen, we were making trips out to our, OUR property. Marty, my friend Kristi, and I all went out there and checkout the area they had cleared for the house and our yard. The weather was working against us though. We had hit the early fall and it rained and rained and rained. The rain turned our newly cleared land into a mud pit and made it impossible for the heavy machinery to move around and be able to pour the foundation and dig the well. We had to wait for it to dry. But, I was still clinging to hope that we could be in the house before Joey was born. There was a whole month and a half left until my due date and I still thought I'd go late because I did with Marty. If B had done his job, it would have been possible. By this point, I should have known better but it was simply beyond my comprehension to think a family member would screw us over so royally. Mistake #5...
  • Clinging to delusional hope we would be in our house on time.
By the middle of October, the absolutely fabulous local companies had cleared the land, poured a perfect foundation, and had the well dug. With mobile or modular homes, this is the difficult part. If you have a good set up crew, you can have one of those bitches in place and ready for occupancy within a couple of weeks after all the prep work is done. A really kick ass crew could possibly do it all in a week and then leave you the next week for the inspections. B did NOT have a kick ass crew. B also wasn't a kick ass boss who could motivate a half assed crew. Getting in the house before the baby was born was a god damned lost cause.

Come on back tomorrow to read the next segment of the House Buying Follies .

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not What I Intended

Tonight, I had intended to write up the EdenFantasys giveaway I have planned. Instead, I go to give my 5 yr old a crew cut. For those of you who are new around here, this is what my youngest, my post infertility baby, Gabe usually looks like...
He has the most fabulous hair...nice soft curls and lots of them.

Well, Gabe is my little wild child and gets into anything and everything. And, like most 5 yr olds, he thinks he can avoid getting in trouble for a bad deed by denying it happened. I'll tell him multiple times not to jump on the furniture and, the next time he jumps and I fuss at him, he tries to claim he never jumped. Well, this evening, I was sitting with my laptop and Gabe came strolling through the living room. I looked up and, without even thinking, I said "What the hell did you do to your hair?" Gabe, without missing a beat, said "I didn't do anything." You have to admire his chutzpah and his ability to deny, deny, deny, when this is what I saw...
See that patch on the right side of his head (left side of picture). Well, it was maybe 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. The only way I was going to really even it out was by taking a razor to his head and shaving him bald but I was NOT willing to do that. I did the next best thing and put the 1/2 inch blade guard on my clippers and clipped away. This is what Gabe's new do looks like...
Right now, I'm praying it grows out before school pictures.

How Not To Buy A House: a lesson in comedy, futility, and madness (part 1)

When I was about 2 months pregnant with Joey, Vic and I were living in a little bitty apartment with one dog, 2 cats, and a toddler. This apartment had delusions of grandeur and claimed to be 1000 sq ft...and, if you went by external wall measurements it might have made that size. But, this apartment was in a real brick building and that meant walls that were between 18 and 24 inches deep. That meant some serious square footage lost to the walls. During one of my stir crazy pregnant days, when I was tired and hormonal and more than a little pissed off we weren't in our house yet, I calculated the square footage we actually had and it was a lot closer to only 750 sq ft...not enough room.

Even back in the day, we lived on a budget. So, money was a concern when we started talking about buying a house. We wanted the most house and land we could get for our money. We did a quite a bit of research and found out a bunch of the mobile home companies made houses that were pretty phenomenal buys and, in NC, they had to be built to higher standards than site built homes. They may not have been our dream house but they were structurally sound, had lots of square footage, and the monetary outlay was minimal. And, if you had land lined up, the turn around time from purchase to move in time could be as little as 2 to 3 months. Our course was set. I was so excited. We would be in our new home before our second baby was born...or so I thought.

Vic and I went looking for land and found a fabulous piece of land out in the country. It was 5 acres, backed onto protected forest (owned by a local university), and had a stream running through it.  We were sold. The price was right and the owner only required $100 earnest money. One contract and $100 later, we were set and ready to pick our home. Here was mistake number 1...my brother-in-law (now ex-bil) happened to manage a mobile home dealership and promised us the BEST DEAL POSSIBLE. What a fucking joke.
  • Never, ever make a deal with a family member...especially if it's a family member you aren't sure you like.
B's (now ex-bil) dealership was a couple of counties away but he assured us it would be NO problem to get the home delivered to our land and his crew would have no trouble getting it set up. We thought we had done due diligence and asked him all the questions you're suppose to ask going into a deal like this. Our mistake was believing his answers. Now, when you get a home through a modular or mobile home dealership, you often arrange the financing through them since you have to get a loan that will roll from a construction loan into a mortgage. They handle the payments on the land and once the house is set on the land it all rolls into the mortgage. B got us all set and we were excited because our credit was good enough to qualify for an FHA loan.

We visited the dealership, picked out our house (2200 glorious sq ft), picked all the colors and counters for the inside, and paid our down payment. It was less than a month after we started and we felt that left us plenty of time to get moved in before I delivered. After all, I would probably deliver late since I had delivered my first baby a full 9 days late...mistake #2.
  • Never, ever think you know how a pregnancy will go. Just because one baby is late doesn't mean another will. Thinking you can count on ANYTHING while pregnant is pure comedy.
Now the real problems began. It took over a month for B to get the land deal closed. Then he started throwing excuse after excuse about not being able to find local people to clear the land and pour the foundation and drill the well. Well, fuck me...these were questions we had asked and he had sworn it wouldn't be a problem. We begged, we pleaded, we called weekly and then daily. It got to the point where my sister thought we were persecuting her husband (she knows better now). Things finally got going when we contacted a friend who knows everybody and she was able to put us in contact with local companies who could complete all these tasks that had to be done before the house was delivered. We passed on the info to B and it still took a couple of weeks to get things moving. Mistake #3...
  • If this ever happens to you, kiss your $100 earnest money (on the land) goodbye, demand your down payment back, and run far, far away.
Join us tomorrow to find out what happened when they finally started doing work on our land.

    Sunday, August 21, 2011

    Random Fucknuttery for ICLW

    Welcome,welcome to the monthly fun and insanity of ICLW. I want to have something new up to greet everybody with so I found this cool meme. I have a content worthy post I'll be putting up later so make sure you drop back by. Happy ICLW and I hope to see you back here again.

    The Random Question Meme
    stolen from Sunday Stealing (edited a few questions that didn't make sense)

    1. When showering, do you start the water and then get in, or get in then start the water? start the water and then get in

    2. Have you ever showered with someone of the opposite sex?

    3. Were you ever been forced to shower with one of your siblings?

    4. Have you ever dropped your soap on your foot? not that I remember

    5. How old do people say you look?
    I've been told early to mid 30s...not the almost 42 I can really claim.

    6. How old do you act? Bwahahahahaha...depends on who you ask. According to my teenager, I definitely don't act my age. Other people are under the mistaken impression that I'm a good example for kids and act like a proper grown-up.

    7. What’s the last song you sang? Meredith Brooks' Bitch

    8. Have you recently become a member of anything? yup, a facebook group for book addicts um, readers

    9. What are your plans for next weekend? The boys, Jennifer, and I are heading down to join my mom and do some school/clothes shopping. Well, that and hang out with Vic at home.

    10. Do you kiss with your eyes open or closed? usually closed

    11. Whats the sexiest thing about Sarah Palin? ummmmm, ignoring politics, she is a beautiful woman but I've never analyzed what makes her sexy

    12. Who’s the sexiest famous woman alive? Angelina Jolie

    13. Who’s the sexiest famous man alive? Oooooh, definitely my tv boyfriend, John Barrowman...hot, hot, hot

    14. Does your family have a crazy uncle? I think we are a family full of crazies (in a totally good way)

    15. Have you ever smuggled something into another country? no

    16. Do you live in a city with a good sports team? sort of, Cary is directly adjacent to Raleigh which is home to the Carolina Hurricanes...Go 'Canes!

    17. What is the most unusual thing you covet? I want the Zombie of Montclaire Moors (saw it in the Skymall magazine) for my yard for Halloween...

    18. How do feel about the Goth people? I think everyone is entitled to pick their own style even if it isn't one I would embrace.

    19. Can you or your significant fix your own car? basic maintenance, sure...anything else, hell no

    20. Would you want to kill Casey Anthony yourself if you were guaranteed to get away with it? Nope, for me to kill someone, there would have to be a direct threat to me or my family. I'd make sure she got thrown into the general prison population and had to wear a big sign saying "I killed my daughter." Let the other inmates take care of her.

    If you decide to play along with this meme at any point this week, please leave the link in the comments...or you can just answer in the comments.

    Also, I opened the floor to any and all questions earlier this week. If you want to ask me something, anything (literally),  leave the questions in the comments.

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Friday Night Leftovers: The BlogHer With Beanis + More Edition

    Welcome to Friday Night Leftovers hosted by the fabulous Danifred of Sippy Cups Are Not For Starbucks...
    • When my dad stopped by today to drop off the dogs, he asked if I would give him Prozac before he read my blog the next time. I cracked up and said "I guess you read BlogHer with Beanis." My dad was just shaking his head.
    • He then looked at Marty and said "I don't know what went wrong with her generation. Maybe it's genetic? Maybe it's environmental?...but, something went wrong." I was laughing my ass off.
    • It was amazing how quickly he revised his opinion when I told him I had multiple people wanting to buy Beanises from me. Bwahahahahaha...the power of the almighty dollar.
    • Marty had his second official  ROTC event...helping at the first Cary Imps football game. He looks so handsome in his uniform.
    • Holy Shit...only 5 days and a wake up until school starts. All three boys will be in school this year. I'm so excited.
    • Holy shit...only 5 days and a wake up until school starts. *sniff*sniff* My baby is going to school. Can't he be a baby just a little bit longer?
    • Marty has decided we need to make risotto...damn those cooking shows. Guess I have to teach myself how to make something else.
    Head on over to Danifred's for more leftovers

      Invasion of the Four-footed Furry Wonders

      This weekend is going to be a little crazy around the Cruz household. Yes, my friends, even crazier than usual. This weekend, we don't have just 2 dogs in our house. We don't have just 3 dogs. We have 4 dogs for the weekend...4 big furry crazy dogs. This weekend, my mom has a conference for church and my dad is driving to Charlotte, NC to meet up with his sister and her husband. So, we are playing host to both of my parents' dogs until Sunday. Thank goodness all the dogs get along enough to be mellow. The reality is that 4 dogs that are all between 60 and 80 lbs take up a LOT of space and if they didn't get along so well it would be insane.Without further ado, let me introduce the Four-footed Furry Wonders...
      Chewy (my parents' dog) being served a meal by Gabe
      Sam (my parents' dog) and Jack (our dog) hanging out together
      Jolie (our dog) - the reigning queen

      So, do you think I'm as crazy as I feel right now?

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Tales of a Tweet War

      We all know how quickly things can blow up into a flame war or a tweet war but there was a tweet war this week that was note worthy. Fox News representative (from the show Red Eye) Andrew Levy took a shot at Chris Brown of R&B/Rihanna fame. Evidently, Andrew Levy has taken shots at Chris Brown before but this one set Chris Brown off and Brown and his stellar crew of supporters fired back.

      This time around, Chris Brown tweeted "No more planking for me unless it's on a sexy lady! LOL" (sorry couldn't find a screen shot) and Andrew Levy responded by retweeting and adding a "correction"...
      Chris Brown's twitter stream blew up and Andrew Levy offered this "apology"...

      Andrew Levy has previously mentioned he's taken these tweetshots at Chris Brown because he feels people act like they've forgotten what he did. Do you see the humor in this whole situation? Or do you think Andrew Levy took it too far? Please chime in with your opinion and let's keep it civil folks.

      *I am NOT a Fox News fan. There have been too many incidents with them claiming no bias and then showing bias as bad if not worse than the other news stations. I have NO respect for that.
      Remember that I've opened the floor for any and all questions. Ask away.

      Wednesday, August 17, 2011

      Random Observations and Other Shit...

      After the sadness of yesterday and today (Full Circle Mel's husband's funeral was today), I need something lighter, not so serious. This is all I've got...

      You know you are in serious trouble when your 5 yr old not only figures out that 1 + 1 + 1 +  1 = 4 but that means that 100 + 100 + 100 + 100 = 400. Holy shit, his teachers aren't going to know what hit them.

      You know you live in a house full of males when you get mustard on the *bottom hem of your shirt and no one points it out to you. Hell, they probably didn't notice.

      You also know you live in a house full of males when they let you leave the house in said mustard bedecked shirt and go to the store.

      You know your teenage son has been folding laundry when every single thing except your bras and underwear are folded. He might get contaminated with cooties if he folds them.

      Is it normal that my teenager is reading Nelson Mandela's memoirs and Poorer Richard's America: What would Ben say? without a teacher or adult forcing him?

      Does Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba remind anyone else of a giant walking talking dildo? I mean he is the one eyed wonder.
      I'm opening the floor for any and all questions...personal, factual, deep and introspective, or fluffy and light. I'll be posting answers later this week.
      I have an EdenFantasys post and giveaway coming up. I will be giving away a $55 gift card and some EdenFantasys swag from BlogHer '11

      *in my defense, I have really big boobs and don't see the lower half of my shirt unless I make an effort to see it

      Tuesday, August 16, 2011

      Live Big, Live Loud

      I was reading a book this weekend and the main character was musing about what makes a death tragic. She concluded that it's not just a life cut short, a life ended before the person has time to live, that is tragic. She decided that any death that happens before a person really embraces life, before they take risks and wear their heart on there sleeve, is tragic. Reading this didn't really make me pause too long because, as I grew up, I embraced the idea of living life to it's fullest and telling people how I feel. What did make me pause was this message seemed to be turning up everywhere.

      On Friday (I think), I stumbled across a post titled For Mikey. Blogger Jennie Perillo of In Jennie's Kitchen wrote a beautiful and heart-wrenching post about her last date with her husband before he suddenly and unexpectedly died.  Then on Saturday, I read a post from the Travel Diva about some people who were contemplating pulling out of triathalon competition because a few people died during the swim section of an event. She had a line that really resonated with me. She said *"We know not the day or the time when God will call us home, so it comes down to a simple choice – Get busy living, or get busy dying." After this timely reminder, I luckily had a day to breathe and digest this message before the universe decided to drive it home so more.

      On Monday, I heard the tragic news that a scant two weeks after reaching her heart's desire and having the adoption of SweetPea and LittleBuddy approved, the dear Mel of  Full Circle lost her husband this weekend. He was young. He was vibrant. They finally had their family and now he is gone. Then, today, my dear friend Lynn of Wistfulgirl's World lost her father suddenly and unexpectedly. Once again, after being faced with stories of loss and tragedy, I ran across **a post over at SelfishMom.com that reminded people that life is short and asked us to embrace the moment and tell the people we love how we feel.

      There has been so much tragedy, so much heartbreak, in such a short time. It's been a powerful reminder that we never know how much time we have left on this earth. We never know how long we are going to have with our children, our spouses, and our parents. We never know how long we're going to have to bake someone a peanut butter pie or try a new activity or to pursue a dream. Don't wait until a loved one's funeral to share memories and to speak about how you feel. Tell your friends and family you love them. Appreciate even the mundane moments with them. Pursue your dreams. Don't put them off until tomorrow. I beg of you...Live Big and Live Loud. You'll never regret it.

      If you could pick one thing, one way to live big and live loud in this next week or month, what would it be?

      Vee of Three Little Birds lost her mom this morning. Please add her to your prayers.

      *a loose paraphrase of a line from The Shawshank Redemption
      **found through the Aiming Low Daily paper...if you don't subscribe, you should

      Monday, August 15, 2011

      Blowin' in the Wind

      Marilyn in Chicago
      Last night, I was watching the news and there was a little story about a big statue of Marilyn Monroe that is on display in downtown Chicago. The statue shows off Marilyn's famous pose from The Seven Year Itch, the one where the air from the grate catches her dress and makes it fly up. As with any piece of art, there were some people who loved it and some who hated it and some that debated whether or not it qualified as art. And, honestly, I think everyone is entitled to their opinion on this. But, there was one women who responded in such a way to the statue that my jaw dropped a bit and I had to shake my head a bit. This woman made me think that we truly have become *"The United States of the Offended." This woman was horrified that a statue like that be on display where children could see it. In her opinion, this representation of an iconic moment in film history was offensive and highly inappropriate.

      Marilyn from behind
      What could be so wrong with a statue of Marilyn? After all, even though she was considered a sex symbol, her film costume never revealed too much skin. That was par for the course in the era her movies were made. Gasp, the back view of the statue shows Marilyn's granny panties. Now, granted that was pretty risque back in the day but not now. Any child who goes to a pool or the beach sees a lot more skin than that statue shows. I seriously doubt any child will be corrupted by the sight of the granny panties. And, I can't imagine anyone  being too warped by people posing and pretending to be shocked by the statue.

      Do you think I'm right and people need to get over their uptight selves or do you think the woman in Chicago was right and a statue like that should be off the streets? Have you ever been offended by a piece of art others considered harmless? If so, do you mind telling us about it?

      *a term coined by Robert D. Raiford from The John Boy and Billy Radio Show

      Sunday, August 14, 2011

      My 10 Seconds of Fame

      Andy Warhol said we all get 15 minutes of fame. I guess that means I have 14 minutes 50 seconds left. Here's the piece from the Australian News that I got interviewed for...

      My traveling companion and dear friend Kristi appears at :39 secs and I show up at about 3:19. I said all kinds of nice stuff about Eden and this is the part they used.

      (Almost) 25 and counting

      Did you know that next year is my 25th high school reunion? I know...it shocks the shit out of me too. When I think of myself, I don't think of someone who has been out of high school nearly a quarter of a century (is it just me or does that sound even worse?). I simply don't feel that old. I know my body isn't nearly as skinny as it once was and I know I have a 14 yr old going  into the 9th grade. What I can't figure out is how that many years have passed.

      It's a funny thing though. Being 41 and rapidly approaching 42 doesn't bother me. I am comfortable in my own skin. I'm more confident. I'm more secure. I really like the person I've become and I love the people I've surrounded myself with. Sure, if I could reclaim my high school (or college) body tomorrow, I would. But, I wouldn't go back to being younger (even when I wonder how I got to be old enough to be the one in charge). My teenage years were filled with the typical angst and insecurity and I don't want that feeling back.
      • Then: I would have been to scared about what people would think and say to do something really unique with my hair or body.
      • Now: I rock my purple hair and love it.
      • Then: I felt a desperation to belong.
      • Now: I am secure in who I am. I embrace my idiosyncrasies and eccentricities.Fuck anyone who doesn't like it.
      • Then: I had truly deluded notions of what would make me happy in life.
      • Now: I know how little it takes to truly make me happy.
      • Then: I'd look at the Duke Basketball players and think "OMG, they are so hot."
      • Now: I look at them and think "Boy, they'll look really good when they grow up."
      So, share it y'all. How many years since you graduated from high school? Does being older bother you? How have you changed?

        Saturday, August 13, 2011

        It's more than just the SwagHer

        You'd be laughing your ass off if you had been in my living room last night. I finally got the swag I shipped home from BlogHer and was busy sorting through it. It looked like the Expo hall exploded in my living room. While I was sorting through it, I was thinking about my time at BlogHer and the myriad of different posts I've read about the conference. I've read posts from women who didn't attend a single session but went to parties and events and other things. I've read posts from women who spent their time trolling the Expo hall with their friends. I've read posts from people who found a happy medium between all the competing demands on their attention. Each and every one of them has ended up having a fabulous time.

        For me, BlogHer is about so much more than the swag. Don't get me wrong. I like the swag. I git some really cool stuff and many of the vendors and sponsors were kind enough to let me grad some extras for my friend Rys (who couldn't go this year). And, I met some truly fabulous people who were at BlogHer representing their companies...the charming and lovely CEO of Smarties, the amazing people at the Hallmark booth who had the coolest shirts, the fab people at the Pressman Toy booth who swear they remember me from last year, and all the gracious sponsors at the Cheap Sally Party. But, truth be told, the swag I got was just the frosting on the cake of an amazing conference.

        The best part of the conference for me is the people. I got to travel with my wonderful friends Kristi and Jennifer. The conference began for me when I saw and hugged Mel (so sweet and unassuming and truly wonderful). I saw Eden again (I don't think she knows just how much she rocks my world) and met the fantabulous Mrs. Woog. I got a big hug from Deb Rox and Kim and the Next Martha. I saw *Calliope Dresden (who is one of my heroes) and finally met the dear Stacie (another person who doesn't realize how wonderful she is). I also made a friend for life in the unbelievably rockin' Shauna. I know there were tons of other people too and I humbly beg your forgiveness if I didn't mention you.

        And, the sessions and the keynotes and the Voices of the year...OMG, they were truly amazing. I was inspired and impressed and I laughed and cried. I can't even begin to summarize how wonderful these were and am just going to tell you to go check out the BlogHer '11 Virtual Conference.

        As long as I have the people (even the sponsors and reps) and the sessions, I can live without the swag. I feel like a learned and grew so much. Now, if I can only figure out how to double the hours in the day while at BlogHer'12, I'll finally have enough time to hang with my favorite people and just bask in their presence.

        *she finally gave up her alias

        Thursday, August 11, 2011

        BlogHer with Beanis

        Do y'all remember way back when I showed you the pictures of Beanis? Well, Beanis was made for my dear friend, Becky. The only problem was I kept forgetting to take Beanis to the post office. So, I was thrilled to hear Becky was going to BlogHer too. Problem solved...I could take Beanis to BlogHer with me. So, when I was packing for San Diego, Beanis went into my carry on bag. When we headed to the airport on Thursday morning, I was holding onto a secret wish.I was secretly hoping the TSA agents would search my carry on bags and I would get to look them in the face and say, "Yes sir, yes ma'am, that is a crocheted penis in my backpack." Sadly, my wish was not fulfilled.

        Once we got to the conference, Beanis relaxed around the room and took in the sights. Beanis didn't come out to play until we headed for the parties. I was hoping to run into Becky at one of the parties so I just carried Beanis with me. I kind of figured Beanis would get attention but I vastly underestimated just how much attention he would get. I seriously could not walk 5 feet without someone saying, "OMG, is that what I think it is? Can I hold it? Can I touch it? Can I take a picture of it/with it?" I have Beanis to thank for meeting more people and giving away more business cards than ever before.

        Beanis came out to play at the People's Party. Sadly, there was only time for a few guest shots but Beanis did get to meet the Hostess with the Mostess, the Bloggess. As I learned last year, she isn't big on crowds so she hangs out in the closest bathroom while the party she hosts is going on. So I took
        Beanis to the makeshift bathroom that had been constructed in the ballroom and Beanis met the Bloggess. As you can see, Beanis looked quite content and secure in her loving embrace.

        After we left the People's Party, we headed straight over to Queerosphere. The party was already hopping and there were fabulous people and fabulous drag queens everywhere. As Beanis entered the party, someone shrieked, "I've seen pictures of him already!" WTF, Beanis's reputation must be moving at light speed. Beanis got unbelievable action at Queerosphere and it's only fitting since he was a kick ass crocheted penis at a truly amazing party.
        Beanis was one tired penis by the end of Queerosphere. He was more than happy to go back to our room and get a good night's sleep.

        I was a little jealous that Beanis got to stay in the room and rest while I hit the fabulous sessions on Friday and Beanis was a little pissed off that I wouldn't take him to the Cheap Sally Party at the Stingaree on Friday night. I tried to tell him that he didn't have an invitation but he didn't seem to give a shit. However, Beanis was definitely mollified when we took him to the EdenFantasys party. There are pictures of him there but I haven't gotten a hold of them yet. Sadly, I think Beanis developed a bit of a superiority complex at the EdenFantasys party. He saw how much bigger he was than the dildos we were decorating and there was no living with him after that. After the EdenFantasys party, we headed straight to Sparklecorn. Beanis dressed up for the party...
        he had a beer...
        and took pictures with a few pretty women...
        and then Beanis and the crew headed to our room for bed.

        Come back tomorrow for the rest of BlogHer with Beanis and maybe my wrap up too.

        Wednesday, August 10, 2011

        BlogHer '11 Day 1

        I woke up at about 7 am on Thursday. Excitement rushed through me and it felt like I just couldn't sit still. Not only was I going to BlogHer again but I was traveling with two of my YaYas, my best friends, my sisters by choice. I had managed to convince Jennifer and Kristi that BlogHer in San Diego sounded like a wonderful way to spend their vacation. Our trip from NC to San Diego was completely trouble free.
        Planes loaded and took off on time. Turbulence was minimal.
        Jennifer and Kristi - 2 of my YaYas
        And, our flight attendant gave us free cookies. also, despite my camera issues (briefly mentioned in my Back to Reality post), I got some phenomenal photographs out the plane window on the way to San Diego...

        We were picked up from the airport by my twitter hook-up. Yes,twitter hook-up. I went trolling for a 4th for our room at BlogHer and found the incomparable Shauna who writes Cooking in the Burbs and can be found on twitter as @cookingnburbs. I couldn't have found a better 4th for our room if I had picked from people I've known forever. Shauna fit in with us perfectly. We got the the Marriott and discovered we had this view from our room...
        And, San Diego, oh my God is it ever gorgeous. The weather is fabulous. The sites are amazing. I even got to see a gorgeous hibiscus and I haven't seen a really pretty one since I moved away from Hawaii.
        I could live there if I hadn't sworn that I would never, ever move again.

        Before we started the full BlogHer experience, our whole group went out to dinner with a friend of mine from college, Dr. Dr. Mike Wilson.
        sorry about the sucky picture, my cell phone camera obviously likes taking pictres from planes better than indoor shots
        I met Mike during freshmen year at Duke and it's completely his fault I joined the Rescue Squad and became a paramedic. Mike is a truly fabulous friend and it was nice to know that the three of us (me, Kristi, and Jennifer) could still make him blush in about 10 seconds flat.
        Jennifer, Dr. Dr. Mike, Kristi, and Me
        We laughed, traded stories, caught up with each other, and, I think we were entertaining enough that we didn't bore Shauna to tears. Honestly, with company that fabulous, I would have been happy eating anywhere which made our dinner at The Fish Market a true bonus.
        yum, yum The Fish Market's famous Dungeness Crab Cioppino
        After dinner, we drove over to Coronado and were lucky enough to watch the fireworks over Sea World from the beach on Coronado. Sadly, it was soon time for us to head back to the hotel so Mike could grab his car and head out...he said something about being on call (ER duty) that night.

        When we got back to the Marriott, we ended up parking under the North Tower (a truly serendipitous occurrence since the parties were right upstairs). As we headed for the elevator, we stumbled onto one of the hidden treasures of the Marriott...an unlocked storeroom with a giant wooden clown in it. By that point at night, we were all a little punchy. Weeeellllll, at least us three east coasters were punchy, I'm not sure what Shauna's excuse was. We decided we simply HAD to pose with the clown and trooped on into the storeroom.
        While we were laughing and giggling and taking pictures, we got busted by a Marriott employee. Luckily for us, she was in a good mood and just rolled her eyes and laughed at us. It wouldn't have been good for Dr. Dr. Mike's reputation to get in trouble right before he had to be on call for the local ER. Once the clown induced photo session ended, Mike headed back to his car and we headed upstairs to the parties. My only regret about the first part of our evening is that Mike's lovely wife had a previous commitment and couldn't join us for dinner.

        Our first day away was capped off by the incomparable People's Party and the truly fabulous Queerosphere. We only had a very short time at the People's Party but we did get to see the Bloggess and I got her picture with my crocheted traveling companion (more about that tomorrow). Once the brief photo shoot with the Bloggess was over, we headed over to the fabulousness that is Queerosphere. Deb Rox did a truly amazing job again this year. The drag queens were over the top fabulous, the entertainment was awesome, the emcee was rocking her heels, and my crocheted one eye wonder had his picture taken about a million times.
        The Fabulous Regina Styles emceeing at Queerosphere
        Queerosphere has a permanent place on my BlogHer agenda.

        Come back tomorrow to read about BlogHer with Beanis: Day 1.