Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ask A Stupid Question...

I was trying on dresses to wear for the New Year's Eve party extravaganza that we are hosting. I turned to my husband and asked, "How's my neckline in this dress?" He, in turn, raises his eyebrows... cue the wolf-whistle and cartoon like eye-pop. It was a fashion question. I wasn't asking if he liked boobs. But, hey, ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

But it gave me a great idea for a website, although I don't know how to implement it. I imagine a website where women from all over the world can upload pics and ask for fashion advice. Yes, I know this exists already but MY site would be different. Because seriously, we want honest advice from other women, or gay men only.

This is where it get's complicated.

I'd have to have a way to gender authenticate. Like an estrogen meter but then that's a whole hardware component you'd have to buy. Or maybe I can ask really specific questions about menstruation or child birth. The male OB / GYN's would slip through that security and those women who've never experienced the sheer joy (ha!) of child birth would be excluded. Or maybe it can be a combination of questions about the female reproductive cycle, Desperate Housewives, shoes and Twilight. Although I might fail the Twilight questions myself.

We'd also want to let the gay men in because, seriously, who better to give you fashion advice than a guy who can look past your boobs and actually observe what you are wearing. But how to do that? Some detailed questions about Judy Garland and show tunes?

There's one other flaw in my plan. I did says HONEST advice, didn't I? How do I weed out the caddy chicks who would say "OMG! You looks so totally amazing!" when, in fact, you look like a fat, stupid, cross-eyed tranny. You'd think that they'd be honest, because they are strangers. It's not like they'd be going to the same place as you are and they want you to look fat and stupid so that they look better by comparison. However, I think there are still some women, no matter what, who will want you to go out with your dress tucked into the back of your pantyhose. So, how to weed out caddy bitches? Maybe have them rate a series of "seed" pictures and see if they say all the train-wrecks look "beautiful" and if all the super-models are "okay, if you like that sort of thing."

Alright, my idea needs work. I'm just saying, it'd be nice to have. When I need fashion advice, my only nearby options are my kids who always think mommy looks beautiful, which, though very sweet, isn't helpful. They tell me they "like my hat" when I come out of the shower with a towel wrapped around my head. My other option is my husband, and I already told you how that story goes.

See you in 2010, everyone!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Crystal The Christmas Imp

This is not my typical blog post. It's an illustrated children's story. In 1989, my dad had the idea for a new addition to the Kringle Family and the overall Christmas legend. I, at the tender age of 15, wrote the following poem. At the time I painted it on the window of a store I worked at in the mall and it was published in a local paper. In 2002, my dad's friend illustrated it. We always hope to get it published but it never happened. So here I share it with you. Please share it with your family this Christmas.

________________________________________________

Foreword:
The Legend of Santa Claus
By Anthony J. Solicito


In 1822, Dr. Clement Clark Moore, a classical scholar, composed "The Night Before Christmas" to read to his children on Christmas Eve. Unbeknownst to him, a friend sent it to a newspaper and it was published. Other papers and magazines reprinted it, and soon, Moore's every word became an integral piece of the legend of Santa Claus.

Over a century later. in 1939, the poem "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" appeared in a Montgomery Ward Christmas booklet as a marketing ploy to have customers save it and remember the department store's name each holiday season. The skyrocketing success of "Rudolph" marked the only new addition to the folklore of Santa Claus in this century.

The following poem brings a much needed helper to our aging St. Nick, so that he may better serve our ever expanding population. Who better to assist him than a long overdue child ... a daughter. Yes, the world is about ready to have a female sharing some of the credit for those wonderful presents!


_____________________________________________


Crystal, The Christmas Imp

by Jean Tagliamonte
Illustrations by Gunn Orachantara




One Christmas Eve, some winters ago. Something happened that not many know.

When the air was especially crisp, and the stars were especially bright. The sky was especially black and the snow was especially white,




A very special child was born to a very special pair. Sparkling blue were her eyes and golden was her hair.

The baby was quite a beauty to see and Crystal was her name. Through her birth, it came to be, Christmas would never be the same!






Crystal was an imp, you see, which is a very special gift. She's very small with silver wings that make her very swift.

With a shake or her tiny fingers, there's magic all around. Once where nothing was before, presents can be found!




It was on that day, of birthday twelve, that it came to be, Santa took young Crystal Claus, and placed her On his knee,

Crystal, my dear, the time has come that you should understand. The very special power that's been placed upon your hands.






"The gift that you were born with, is wonderful, you see, Because now you are old enough to begin a journey with me."

"Crystal, my daughter," Santa said "This is a growing world. And I cannot possibly reach every boy and girl!"





Then Mrs. Claus began to add, "Together you'll spread joy, all over our beautiful planet, to every girl and boy!"

"I'll be glad to help you, Daddy" She said In a voice so small, "I'll do my best, around the world to spread joy to one and all!"





Now on Christmas, children. if you fail to hear a sound, don't think that nobody's there, Crystal just may be around.

And you may not hear the sound of sleigh bells clanging. Just the little chiming of jingle bells dangling,





Or instead of reindeer hoofs, you hear tile fluttering of wings and at night, you are dreaming of sweet and special things.

It just may be a sweet little imp. who's quiet as a mouse, spreading joy and leaving gifts, all throughout your house.




And if you wonder why your parents. are especially filled with joy. That's Crystal's very special gift to ever girl and boy!

Whether Crystal or Santa was there, you may never know, but in the morning you may find tiny footprints in the snow.



MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
JT

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is A Few Hours Of Fun Worth A Full Day Of Tantrums?

I wasn't sure if this was blog-worthy (and every time I say the word blog-worthy, I think of the episode of Seinfeld when Elaine is trying to decide if her boyfriend is sponge-worthy. Genius!)

Anyway, I wasn't sure if this was blog-worthy but what are my other options? A Facebook "Note"? Nah. That's sooooo early-09. A long status. Lame. Squeeze it into 140 characters? Impossible. Keep it to myself. Also, impossible. Blog it is!!! So if it's not the most awe-inspiring, hilarious or life-affirming post ever, I apologize.

I went out to a Holiday Lights festival with the kids last night. We had a great time even though it was booger-freezing cold out. By the time we were done exploring and they were loaded in the vehicle, it was an hour past their bed time and I still had to get them home, free of the 86 layers of clothing they were wearing, pottied, pajamied and tucked in bed. By myself, mind you, as my husband got to escape the freezing activity of the evening and go to his work holiday party.

The munchkins dozed in the car but of course I had to wake them to strip them down. I longed, briefly, for the days of sleeping babies I could undress, change diapers and dress again without waking but then I remembered that they'd be up once every three hours and I stopped longing.

Lights out was 9:53, nearly two hours past their regularly scheduled bed time.

Fortunately, my daughter adjusted and slept much later than she usually does. My son however, has an inconsistent wake up time to begin with. He wakes anywhere from 6:15 - 7:30. Today it was 7:20. On the later side but still, clearly not enough sleep for him as he has been awake an hour an a half and has lost his mind no less than five times.

It must be me. It must be that I'm such a horrible, evil mother to make him scream and cry like he's being murdered! Thank the Lord we don't live in an apartment building.

Let's see. What was the first AWFUL thing I did today? Oh yes! I decide to make them chocolate chip pancakes in Holiday shapes using cookie cutters as pancake molds. The horror!!!! He melted-down because his tired brain couldn't comprehend that we were using them in a hot pan and not like we would to cut cookies and he wanted to do it himself. When he finally settled down I made one round pancake and let him cut it with a cookie cutter.

What torture did I have in store for him next? Muwahahahahahah! Just to rub salt in the wound I gave them extra chocolate chips to decorate their pancakes with! I'm simply diabolical!!! He fell apart because one of the chocolate chip "eyes" was slightly melted and smudgy and he wanted me to throw the pancake away and give him a new one.

It goes on like this. In my maniacal plan to destroy him, I gave him a malformed white chocolate chip that he thought was melted, made the chips fall off his pancake when he picked it up and made the bottom of his pancake all LUMPY. Call CPS! I must be stopped!!!

I'm sure it will go on like this all day, or at least until blessed nap time which is a looooong 3 1/2 hour away.

I still haven't figured out if it's worth it. It's hard to run a tight enough ship that everyone is tucked in by 8PM but, when I don't, the next day is usually full or screaming. Sometimes them, sometimes me, sometimes all of us. I know, with absolutely certainty that their sleep directly affects their behavior so I try to hit that magic bed-time number but I can't always make it. Is the ruin, worth the reward? I certainly don't have the answer and I know I'll run into this again soon with Christmas and New Year's Eves upon us. If anyone has the answer, I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Juggling Act


As a parent, I spend most waking moments attempting anticipate and meet all the needs of my tiny overlords. Typically, I pride myself on being a exceptional toadie; breakfast ready before their highnesses awake, clothes laid out in the morning, each meal served with a generous helping of ketchup. But, as it turns out, I am human. I have quite a lot of balls in the air. Some are rubber, some are glass. It's inevitable that I'm going to drop one and I only hope, that when I do, it's not a breakable one.

I dropped one earlier this week and I didn't even know it until the next morning when my daughter told me that I forgot to pack her a snack for a library visit with Grandma. Mom FAIL. Technically, I just didn't pack a drink because there was still a box of cheese crackers in the bag. When my daughter told me about it, it seemed innocuous enough. She said "Yesterday, you forgot to pack my snack for the library so Grandma took me to A&P and got me a juice box and fruit snacks!" The way she relayed it, it sounded like it was an adventure. Seemed like a rubber ball. Phew.

The rest of the day was fun-filled. We put up some Christmas decorations, I did some baking, we went to the diner for dinner and the kids sampled the treats I made. About 10 minutes after they were snug in their beds, I heard my daughter calling me. I went in her room and she was sitting up looking like she was about to cry. When I asked what was wrong she said, in the most heart-breaking voice imaginable:

"Will you give me anything AT ALL to eat tomorrow?!"


Freeze. Isolate this moment. If anyone saw or heard just this phrase and how it was delivered, they would think that I had her locked in her room all day with some stale bread and water. This is a kid fresh off a huge dinner of diner grilled cheese, fries and juice followed by handmade chocolates from mom's kitchen! Not some orphan from a Dickens story!!!!

She began to cry and it took me about 15 minutes to calm her down. The impetus for her crying fit was the fact that I forgot her snack the day before. I think, in her busy little brain, she started thinking that maybe it wasn't an accident, after all. Maybe I didn't give it to her on purpose and she was heart-broken at the thought that her evil-witch-of-a-mother withheld her snack in some kind of punishment attempt.

So much for a rubber ball. Hopefully this glass one is only cracked. However, I have a feeling that won't be the last I hear about "the forgotten snack heard 'round the world". About a year from now, we'll go to a library and she'll say, "Hey! Remember the time you forgot my snack and I cried and cried and cried."

It just goes to show how fragile their tiny little psyches can be and makes me fearful for the times that I'm NOT on my best mom behavior and say things like "Why would you do something that dumb?!" and "If you don't listen to me right now you're going to be in time-out forever!".

I must say, the crying fit was a brilliant move on her part. I can almost guarantee I won't forget her snack again. EVER! Way to whip mom into shape!

Tiny Overlord "1" --- Toadie Mom "0".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Go Bah Humbug Yourself

Hi. It's me. I'm the one you hate because I'm done shopping well before Thanksgiving. I'm the one who starts playing Christmas music at the first sign of a nip in the air. My office-mate just loves it too, so there's it's no problem at all. I'm the one who hopes for a white Christmas (but just a dusting of please!)

I'm a big giant KID! I love it. I love the shopping. I love giving gifts. I love baking and making candy. I love decking the halls. I love tradition. I love getting together with friends and family. I love getting dressed up. I love cutting down a tree so GINORMOUS that needs to be anchored to the wall in my home lest it fall over and crush my family in a horribly ironic holiday tragedy.

Here are the 5 thinks people B&M about the most and why they should stow it:

People bitch that it's too hectic and rushed. Shush! Start shopping earlier. Waiting for the last minute is stressful. I do 95% of my shopping before Thanksgiving so I can cruise leisurely through the last 5% and if I find myself with a extra time and money, I can splurge on something special for someone deserving like the person who makes all the magic happen (in other words ME!).

People grumble that it's too expensive. Double-shush! Don't spend so much. Do a grab bag with family members. Make gifts for each other. Bargain shop. Clip coupons. And, again, shop early! You end up spending too much when the only thing left in the store on the day before Christmas Eve is a $90 coffee maker for someone you would've normally spent $20 on. I know the economy bites this year so even if you decide to forgo gifts entirely, you can still enjoy the season with your loved ones.

People complain that they eat too much and put on weight. Zip it! (Oh wait, maybe you can't. HA HA HA!) Two bits of advice. Either "Live A Little" or "Control Yourself". You can choose whichever bit suits your particular eating style and pant size.

People gripe that the true meaning of Christmas is lost. You know what?!? Shush up, you! Christmas is what you make it! If you make it a capitalist orgy of spending and consuming and hate seeing your friends and family, then yup, your holiday is devoid of meaning. Remember that your supposed to be giving gifts that are meaningful and will lift people's spirits. Don't forget that you should be gathering with the ones you love and enjoying these moments because life is short and precious. Keep in mind that there are those less fortunate and don't forget to help in whatever way you can.

People claim they're not religious or Christian. Note these are usually the same folks who accuse Christmas of being devoid of meaning and a capitalist orgy, so you can see why the "I'm not religious" argument doesn't hold water --- so, shush! I'm not talking about those who celebrate something else like Hanukkah or Kwanzaa during the winter season. I'm talking about those who used to be Christian or still are on paper. I feel, if you do all the giving and caring stuff I mentioned before, you are respecting whatever deity or spirituality you subscribe to. If you subscribe to none, hell, being nice to others is just good Karma. Happiness is good for your health.

The moral of my story is, if you are going to be a Grinch, go stash yourself up on Mount Krumpet with your abused dog, Max. If you are going to be a Scrooge, stay home with your Ba Humbugs and ghosts. Or for the McDuck's among us, go swim in your vault full of money. If your going to act like the Burger Meister Meister Burger, go play with your yo-yo by yourself. If you are going to be as mean as Professor Hinkle, just leave Frosty's hat alone and go practice being a less of a suck-ass magician.



Of course, if you truly are any of these things then you probably aren't getting my classic holiday character references.

In other words, don't come to the office Holiday party and spout your anti-Christmas propaganda. Don't go to the mall and groan loudly about the crowds and this hateful season. Don't invite people over and don't go for visits. Keep your stupid frowny face hidden until January and we'll see you then.

Oh... and Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cujo + Deliverance = My Halloween

I used to live in NYC. I used to work in Greenwich. I considered myself quite metropolitan. So why did I find myself cowering in my car on Halloween afternoon like something out of some scary backwoods horror movie?

We live in a beautiful house in a rural area. We have a lot of acres and we like the outdoors. My husband is an very avid, and very responsible hunter. Having grown up in the city, he always longed for a place of his own on a lot of acres he could hunt. We have that but lately we've been invaded by dogs! Dogs scare deer away and chase them until the deer die of exhaustion (which is illegal). Plus, having strange dogs around is just unsafe.

We have not one, but two neighbors who apparently have never heard of NYS Lease Laws. The first is on our road. Dealings with her have been interesting but that's a story for another day.

The second neighbor is over a road. We'd never been there before but we were told that they'd gotten an electric fence for the animals and if we saw the dogs around, that the batteries must have gone dead. We'd seen the dogs every day for a week so we decided to let them know. This was on Halloween. Before we could get over there, one of the dogs came and stole the head of the 7-point buck my husband got last week. This was the biggest trophy he's ever gotten on our property and he was mad. He asked me to do the talking as he didn't think he could be civil.

We turned down what we thought was their driveway. We were driving and driving through the woods on a dirt road thinking "This can't be right". We passed a few... well... shanties, I guess. Basically, what I'd refer to as "good places to hide the bodies." We came across a teenage boy shooting at a bee hive in the tree. Fantastic. We rolled down the window and I asked if the house up ahead was the family that owned the German Shepards. He said yes and we continued into what was quickly turning into my worst nightmare.

We pulled up to the house, if you could call it that, amongst piles of garbage, old cars, furniture, trailers, etc., etc. To quote the late, great Dr. Seuss, it was an "appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of rubbish imaginable mangled up in tangled up knots."




There was a woman and young girl standing outside the shack and three very large dogs, two Shepards and a St. Bernard mix that I like to call, Cujo, barking at the car. I got out of the car and they were barking and growling at me. The woman shouts "I wouldn't get out of your vehicle if I were you. The big one will kill ya." (Sidebar: Last year, before the electric fence, when these little darlings were turning up on our property, we were told they were harmless. Yup. They sound harmless. I think it's the snarling that makes you just want to go scratch their bellies.)




I got back in the car and beckoned her over. I explained that the dogs are the reason for our visit, that we understand they have an electric fence but the dogs had been on our property every day for a week. She asked if it was just the Shepards or Cujo as well. I told her just the Shepards but that we'd seen Cujo quite a few times before they got the fence. She seemed shocked and stressed again that he's a killer. Lovely. She claims the Shepards are harmless but I told her I still wasn't to fond of them being around and that my mother had opened the door to find one of them right there. Fortunately she was very civil and she agreed.

Of course there was still the business of the snatched buck head to deal with. I couldn't believe I was hearing the words come out of my mouth as I uttered them. What has become of my life that I find myself telling a woman, who could so easily dispose of my body, that her dog stole my husband's deer head? As she reacted with shock, the Shepard ran by with the smoking gun, a.k.a. the deer's EAR in it's mouth. And I used to be sooooo classy.

They promised to go look 'round the pond where the dogs like to drag things, or, as I like to refer to it "another good place to hide the bodies" and we got the flying fig out of there with our hides in tact.

It's been two days and no sign of the dogs, but no sign of the disembodied head either. Whatever the outcome, I am NOT going back there. I wish I'd taken pictures but, did I mention that I'm NOT going back there?

I could not have asked for a scarier Halloween experience. A lonely dirt road, a scary young man with a gun, creepy shacks, snarling, angry dogs, a disembodied head and dismembered ear. Kevin McCurdy's Haunted Mansion has got NOTHING on this place. They should charge admission.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mysteries Abound

I'm not the most observant person in the world, it's true, but there are certain things that I pick up while walking around this kooky marble we call Earth that really make me stop and scratch my head. I think, back in the day, C&C Music Factory called it "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm."

There are always those little things that I see that I can't quite figure out the series of events leading up to what I am witnessing. Imponderables, if you will.

Earlier today, I visited the ladies room. As I went to enter a stall, I couldn't help but notice, there was a huge mass of toilet paper hanging from the flush handle into the bowl, but suspended above the water level. I don't know how to describe this large wad other than a hastily constructed beehive of toilet tissue or maybe a ill-conceived pinata. Good Lord, I hope there was nothing inside of it! I should clarify. I wasn't USED toilet tissue left behind by the regular occurrences in the loo. It was unused. It was almost as though the person in question was attacked by the roll and when they were able to free themselves from the entanglement of the malicious TP, crumpled it up and recklessly threw it at the potty in their rush to escape, leaving it suspended over the bowl. What? Do you have a better theory? It was one of those rare times I wished I had a camera in the little girl's room with me. Although, using the restroom in my office building is often an adventure so I ought to know better than to enter camera-less.

A week ago I took my daughter to a kiddie party at a bowling alley. She had to use the facilities and being as germ-conscious as you can manage with an uncooperative 4-year-old, I reached for a NeatSeat -- one of those little paper rings to protect your tush from the invisible evils lurking on the toilet seat surface. Luckily I looked before I reached because someone had stuffed their underpants in there! What could have gone so horribly wrong that someone found the need to dispose of their clearly soiled underwear with such urgency that they couldn't throw it in the trash? Not to mention that they looked like they may have been men's briefs and we were in the ladies room. I didn't really get that close of a look.

I'm a naturally curious person. These things give me pause and I wish there were some way to unravel these mysteries, or explain why they keep happening in the bathroom. Any theories?!?

UPDATE!!!!
Another visit to the ladies room resulted in more confusion. As I was walking out, the garbage pail beside the door contained not ONE, not TWO but THREE open and partial consumed bags of snacks in different varieties. As far as I'm concerned, this begs two questions. One: Who is eating chips in the bathroom? Or anything for that matter? Gross. and Two: Considering each was only partially consumed, were none of them satisfactory? Apparently none were tasty enough to satisfy the discerning palette of one who chooses to snack in the bathroom.

This time I got a picture, however poor quality. I learned my lesson.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Define "In Bad Taste"

Pepsi recently released an iPhone app (application) called Amp Up (Before You Score). It categorizes women into types. The user taps to flip the card and get relevant information to help him (or her, if that's how you roll) close the deal. The tips are anything from appropriate pick-up lines to a chart to judge the wealth of a married woman's husband by the size of her diamond (HA!)to stretching exercises if you are about to try to land twins (Double HA!).

The fact of the matter is... it's funny, well-designed and possibly even helpful. Okay, so I agree that the BRAG button that lets the user instantly tweet or FB their conquest is a bit much but, that is a judgment call. The loser who taps that button would be the same tasteless slob who'd tweet his victory anyway. But, I guess Pepsi doesn't need to make it easier for guys to be insensitive assholes. Maybe they could drop the BRAG button but the rest of the app is gold.



What I'd like to know is who's defining "in bad taste" these days? It seems like anything goes. Apparently 36% of us tweet after sex (and that's only counting those who admit it!). One look at Oversharers.com and you'll see a whole lot worse than a guy tweeting that he just landed a smoking hot foreign exchange student. If you've ever sent or received a Someecards you'd know that just about any topic is fair game. For goodness sakes, there's a site called Poop Tweet and I'm sure you don't have to visit to figure out what that site is populated with.

With today's net-culture, who's looking at the Pepsi App and saying "WELL! I NEVER!" as she drinks from her silver tea cup with her pinkie held high. C'mon. Cut Pepsi some slack.



I think we are all grown-ups here (at least I hope so). If you don't like the app, don't download it. If you don't like the Tweeter, don't follow. If you don't like the blog, don't read it. Except mine. You should TOTALLY keep reading mine. But you like mine, right? And I'm never offensive so I won't worry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Perspective


Warning: This post is not funny. Okay, maybe it's a little funny but I'm actually trying to be serious for a change. Nothing to worry about. I'm sure I'll be back to my regularly scheduled shenanigans in no time.


Today I'm talking about keeping things in perspective in regards to conflict. Everyone argues. It's a fact. People are different and will clash. It's something we have to deal with every day, and frankly, life would be pretty uninteresting if everyone agreed with each other all the time. Everyone would be smiling and happy... practically skipping and hugging with the joy of their conflict-free lives and I'm pretty sure I'd have to be punching them in their stupid faces on a regular basis.

Life is conflict. The key to harmony is keeping those conflicts in perspective. I've seen so people fight with their friends and loved ones over little things and turn those little things into something all consuming. They turn the disagreement into something much bigger than it needs to be: a huge, ugly, angry monster that seethes and grows until it consumes the people involved. Ick. Who needs it?

A conflict doesn't necessarily require a resolution. It just requires the strength and presence of mind to move past it.

It only takes a few minutes of thought and a little effort to take a step back and see the conflict for what it is and not make it into something it's not. If a woman fights with her husband over who's turn it is to empty the dishwasher, she shouldn't make a disagreement about a household chore into a show of disrespect or a power play. "He knows full-well it's his turn, he just wants to see if he can control me and I'm not going to let that happen." Chill. Maybe he's just an idiot. Maybe he woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Maybe he did empty it last time and she didn't realize it because she was at the grocery store. In any case, she married the guy for a reason, right? It might be hard for her to see that reason clearly when she thinks he's being an ass but it's still there. She just needs to adjust her perspective.

I know that I have a lot of friends reading this right now and thinking it's all about them. It is, and it's not. It's not ALL about anyone. It's about everyone. It's just some advice. I think it's good advice. You may think it sucks and that's fine. I still love you. (look at that, a conflict... and now it's done.)

I'm not a Pollyanna (okay, maybe a little). I don't think people can just put all of their differences aside. Sometimes it's hard work. Sometimes it's a family member or a co-worker. Sometimes it's a friend that you work with and you get along famously outside of work but butt heads constantly in the office. In these cases, you have to work harder to compartmentalize the disagreements. "Sure, we fought for a day and a half over how to handle that account but that doesn't mean we're not still going to watch the game this weekend."

I used to work closely with one of my best friends. To be clear, we didn't make friends on the job, we were friends BEFORE working together. Actually, I was his supervisor. At work, we used to fight. Not bicker, not banter but FIGHT. That didn't make me love him any less. I didn't twist it into some crazy notion that he had some other agenda or vice versa. We'd fight at work and let it go. We've been friends for 20 years.

My point is, these conflicts, in the grand scheme of things are so minor and insignificant. They are what they are an nothing more. Differences of opinion. Conflict of views. They are nothing more and to let them consume you is, well, just dumb.

Life is so much better when you count your blessings instead of counting your misfortunes.

(There. I'm done. We now return to our regularly scheduled silly posts about parenting, fashion and other nonsense.)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Faux Celebs on Twitter

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a celebophile. I don't watch E! I don't check the news on TMZ. I don't follow Brittany Spears on Twitter. I have followed a few celebs on Twitter but I remove them if they are boring or obnoxious or repetitive (read: Kevin Smith, who tweets solely about Hockey and banging his wife). I don't keep following the rich and famous for the simple fact that they are a celebrities and, therefore, worthy of my attention. Blah.

Of course, anyone who knows me knows that when I do catch the obsession-bug, celeb or otherwise, it is with stalker-like severity. It's scary, really and sometimes useful (ask my husband how we met). But that's not what this post is about.

I do follow a few celebs on Twitter. Usually attractive male celebrities, go figure, like James Roday, Hugh Jackman and Michael Johns. Sometimes I'll pick up some celebs because they are just funny or interesting, like Mike Rowe, Adam Savage or Stephen Colbert.

But what I don't get is what some one gets out of impersonating a celebrity Tweeter. Where is the thrill in pretending be a famous person in 140 characters or less? Is it just so fanboys or fangirls will @reply telling them how cute/talented/sexy/funny they are? How can that be validating? Sure, everyone loves a compliment but they aren't actually complimenting the twit-faker, just the persona they've assumed. Or maybe they're hoping someone with Twitpic them something risque. If that's the goal, they should realize that could go horribly wrong (read: fat, hairy, wrong gender).

I also don't understand how some celebs get many more impersonators than others. It seems very random. There are quite a few fake Wentworth Millers on Twitter. He's not a super star. Most people are sadly unfamiliar with the sexy brooding star of Prison Break (now off the air) yet there are dozens of people pretending to be him in micro-blog form.

What is even more astonishing is the number of followers these impostors have and that they continue to send them messages of adoration when it's so obvious that they are faking it. It's sad, really, that some people so badly need to make a connection that they'll ignore the warning signs. It is the same formula that makes people stay in relationships with cheater, abusers, addicts, etc.

I guess we all have our voids to fill.

For me, I prefer to pretend that I actually AM an Internet celebrity, rather than impersonate one. I like to imagine that I have tons of adoring fans anxiously awaiting my next blog or tweet or status update. I like it here in my fabricated "JT World". It's pretty. There are rainbows and bunnies and chocolate ice cream for everyone! I don't want to go back to reality. You can't make me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Entertaining 101

My husband and I love to entertain. We both like to cook. He's better and faster than I am. He's also a back-seat chef so he does most of the cooking, otherwise I'm liable to hit him with a frying pan. I like to bake and I'm damn good at it. They call me "Cupcake". Okay, they don't actually call me that but I wish someone would.

We very much enjoy having people in our home, plying them with delicious food and libations. We've been told we do it with flair. We have all the appropriate accouterments: bread bowls, olive dishes, appetizer plates, etc. I've even got fancy martini glasses with squiggly stems which are quite the challenge to hold after consuming 1 or 4.

My point is that, apparently, this doesn't come naturally to everyone. As a matter of fact, there are people out there who can't put together the simplest BBQ or Picnic lunch without horrifying their guests. I won't say how I know this. I just do.

Here's a quick list of what to do and what not to do when you invite people over. I know this sounds like common sense, but believe me, it is NOT.

1.) No surprise guests unless it's a big party. For an intimate gathering, people should know who, or what to expect when they get there. It's not nice to show up and find out your the only college friend among colleagues.

2.) If people don't know each other, make introductions, especially before leaving them alone together while you go tend to preparations. No joke. People skip this obvious and essential step all the time.

3.) Beverage should be cold (or warm if your serving coffee or something like it) and ready. They should not still in a box on the kitchen counter that you let people forage around for. It's a dinner party, not a treasure hunt.

4.) Don't ignore your guests. If you need to tend to things in the kitchen, invite them along or if you're a couple, divide and conquer.

5.) Have appropriate seating available. Believe it or not I've heard of rock-hard backless benches for 4-hour dinner parties, plastic lawn chairs in the living room and even adults being seated at child-sized tables.

6.) Have food to serve shortly after arrival. Appetizer, veggies, chips...anything. It's simply rude to keep your guests hungry. They came, expecting food and probably didn't eat McDonald's in the car on the way over.

7.) Have enough food. If you never have a single piece of food left over, you are doing something wrong. People shouldn't have to awkwardly drooling over the last cheese-laden Ritz.

8.) If you have children, mind them. Nobody is expecting little angels but they shouldn't be sticking the carrot sticks up their noses and then putting them back either.

9.) Clean your freakin' house first. 'Nuff said.

10.) Okay, maybe not enough. If you are cooking in front of people, whether on a grill or in your kitchen you should be cooking on equipment as if the health inspector is about the walk in. This is not a "Greasy Spoon".

11.) Know your strengths. For goodness sakes, if you can barley boil water, order in. If you're a basic cook, stick to the basics. Don't attempt Beef Stroganoff if your specialty is opening a can of Beefaroni.

12.) Don't kill your guests. You don't win friends with food poisoning.

13.) Hide your penny pinching. If you're going to buy all generic brand stuff, disguise it by taking it out of the packaging. Decant your stop and shop ketchup into a bowl with a serving spoon. Plate your A&P cookies on a pretty plate. Your guests don't need to know that they are only worth a $2.99 apple pie.

14.) Have everything your guests will need. Utensils, napkins, plates, soap in the bathroom, toilet paper. Make sure there's some extra toilet paper visible too so they don't have to go rummaging around under your sink.

15.) Don't be rude. Don't abandon your guests for the football game or go off and play with your dog for hours at a time.

Basically, if you don't like people, don't invite them over. If you've invited them over, then, theoretically, you'd want like them to come back again. You don't have to be Martha Stewart, in fact, I'd rather you not, but nobody wants to have dinner with The Clamppett Family either.

However, if your goal is to get these so-called friends to hate you and never, ever want you to invite them over again, then, by all means, do the exact opposite of what I've said here. Either way... you're welcome.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Will Work For Pants

Though we didn't get much of a summer this year, that undeniable nip in the air forced me to admit that fall is, in fact, upon us and my capris, sandals and tanks need to get packed away in favor of long pants and knits. I undertook the bittersweet task today. I say bittersweet because I love fall fashion but I hasten to say goodbye to sun and sundresses.

As I was was making the switch, I turned to my husband and said "I have NO PANTS." He instantly assumed the male anti-shopping stance. "I find it hard to believe you have NO PANTS! You've got a closet full of clothes for God Sakes!" I quickly put an end to his tirade by reminding him that I lost nearly thirty pounds between February and May of 2009 and all of my pants are about 2 sizes too big. His half-joking response, "Well, you'd better EAT UP." Nice.

I didn't kill him (yet) because I understand where he's coming from. We don't have much disposable cash these days as I'm sure is the case for most people in our particular type of boat (mortgage, kids, economic strife causing no raises or bonuses in sight). That said, I can't walk around pants-less. I did happen to uncover a stash of jeans from the ear 2000 BK (that's "Before Kids") that fit me nicely but if I were to wear jeans every day, I'd have to consider a new career, possibly as a construction foreman.

I suppose I can afford a few belts just to keep my pants from falling down but the "baggy-ass" look doesn't really work for me.

I have lots of skirts that fit but, gosh, I hate wearing skirts in the winter. I'll have to invest in some heavy tights as well. Water-proof, fur-lined ones, preferably, if last winter was any indication.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Okay, so, I AM complaining but I'm aware that I could have worse problems than my clothes being too big. "Oh, woe is me! I'm too thin for all my pants! Boo hoo!" Yeah. I could see how a lot of women might be rolling their eyes right now. But, hey, it's not like I'm a size 2 either. I'm far from skinny so I'll won't feel too guilty about my rant.

In any case, I need pants.

I'm planning on standing in the mall with a sign hastily scribbled on cardboard with a black sharpie marker that reads "WILL WORK FOR PANTS" I'm not picky. I'll hand out fliers. I'll spray people with perfume. I'll be that annoying person who asks people in the mall if they'd like to take a survey. Of course, I'll need a babysitter so my kids don't scare away potential customers. Babysitters are expensive. Damn, there goes my pants earnings. I need a new plan.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Harper's Bazaar Thinks We're All Idiots

I don't read a lot of girlie magazines. Ummmm... by that... I mean magazines FOR GIRLS, or women rather, not CONTAINING PICTURES of scantily clad women...although these magazines do, also, contain pictures of scantily clad women. Sheesh.

I'm referring to magazines marketed at the female population and containing articles with tempting titles such as "How to wear this season's hottest colors" and "Are you pleasing your man?"... because that's undoubtedly what we live to do.

Honestly, with these new-fangled Interwebs, I don't read many magazines at all, but when I used to thumb through such publications I was more a reader of Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and Maxim, believe it or not. Maxim is just plain FUNNY and it's interesting to see a male perspective, even if it is on how to make your own rocket car.

This past weekend, however, I found myself at Barnes & Noble with some time to kill. I picked up my usual reads. Everyday with Rachel Ray, Hairstyles (I'm always ready to do something different with my mop) and Better Homes & Garden's Halloween Issue. Seriously, how could I go on not knowing how to make a pumpkin man out of matchsticks and masking tape?!?

I thought I had all the reading material I could handle, considering I was with my family and would have one eyeball on each kid and no eyeballs left for the mags. I was about to walk away from the rack when one of those tempting titles caught my eye. The June/July issue of Harper's Bazaar beckoned me with the big, bold caption "Sexy at Every Age: How To Be A Style Icon From Your Twenties To Your Seventies"

Well THIS I've got to see.
I skipped right to the good stuff, thumbing quickly past the twenties to check out the thirties. I thought the model looked mighty good for being in her thirties but figured maybe she's only 30 or 31 and has a young face. I moved on. I'm in my thirties but I'm half-way to forty and I like to plan ahead.

This model looked just as young, if not younger than the last one. C'mon now! Do you really think we're THAT gullible?!?! There's NO WAY that chick is in her forties.

Moving on. They couldn't possibly use a young model for a woman in her fifties. You can only push the envelope so far, right? I turn the page to see another youngin'. They are not even TRYING!

I was relieved to flip to the sixties section to see a woman clearly in her sixties (and looking FABULOUS, by the way) and the same for the seventies.

The moral of this story must be that the editors of this magazine think that women under the age of 60 are very easily duped. Apparently, once we turn 60 we become shrewd enough to identify another woman our own age but before that we think we are all sprightly wrinkle-free twenty-somethings.

There's a reason I don't read these kinds of magazines. I'll stick to my trashy vampire novels and the occasional issue of Maxim. Maxim's July issue featured: America's Best Beaches, The Rise of Recession Sex and Hot Grill-on-Grill Action. Now THAT is smart writing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Facebook is Profiling Me!

I'm about to redefine the term "Facebook Profile".

Not those pages we so painstakingly compile that brings together the best of our photos, the movies we love, our interests and talents. I'm talking about "profile" as a verb, as in the targeted advertising the Facebook decides will interest each user.

Many of you probably ignore it completely. After all, that's not why you are there. You want to know about the latest iPhone app your techie friend recommends or to see see pictures of your adolescent niece's weekend drinking binge. But, believe me... the ads are there... lurking, judging, pretending they "know you".

What does Facebook think of me?

Well, currently, they think I might be interested in a Hot Pink Macbook Air from Chooseyourcolor.com. It could be mine, FREE, if I agree to let them use my personal information in any way they choose. In this case, I declare Facebook to be half right. I'd absolutely LOVE a Hot Pink Macbook Air, however, they were wrong in thinking that I'm a complete moron.

They also think I might want some coupon deals from a guy named, Brad. Maybe.

I frequently get ads for "Moms Go Back to School!" They obviously don't check the profile closely enough to see that I have my degree. Or maybe they think I want to get my Masters Degree. Even if I did, I don't think an ad featuring a sexy, windblown avatar with glasses is going to do the trick.

I particularly love when they surface ads for "The Flat Belly" diet and "Anti-Aging Cream". Brilliant. Women in their 30's just love being called fat and old. It's our favorite. You'd think with advanced technology they could analyze your photos and do a better job of targeted advertising. The ad should say, "Even though you're 34, you don't look a day over 24. Keep it that way by using this cream." Simple. Butter me up. I'd click that ad in a hot second!


Why do they think all moms want to sell AVON?

I love the one that reads: "ATTENTION MOMMY BLOGGERS." Okay, I'm a mommy blogger, I'm listening. "ARE YOU BUYING OR SELLING A HOME?..." Ah, I see! The old bait and switch! Get my attention then give me a real estate pitch. Who thought that would work?

There's one about "Coping With Diabetes". Come on! I know I like my chocolate but let's not jump to conclusions here!

Occasionally, the ads are spot on. They surface ads of pretty shoes. Wine and chocolate. Shiny jewelry. Unique clothing stores. I've clicked a few times.

But most of the time, I just I feel insulted. I feel like they've got me labeled in a database as "Overweight, Undereducated, Aging Mother who's interests include Blogging, Belly Dancing and Parenting."

There may be some truth in there but it's not something I plan on slapping on a T-Shirt any time soon.

Bite me, Facebook.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Clean Your Room!

Awwww, Mom! Do I HAVE TO?!?!?

Yes, you do, and don't come out until it's spotless!

Believe it or not, this was grown-up me arguing with my inner whiny teen, earlier today.

I am a good mother, wife, and housekeeper (shudder) for lack of a better word. I'm no neat freak but I have a beautiful home and I like it to stay that way. It's tough, though. My mother watches my tots, both under the age of 5, every day and they are in the house, most days, all day. In my pretty house. Eating crumbly corn chips. Using sticky stickers. Brushing linty, furry stuffed animals. The mess doesn't end. There's no shortage of things that need to be vacuumed or straightened or put away. Somehow, we manage. Most days I'd be horrified if I had an unexpected guest but in reality, we are hardly ever more than an hour away from a presentable home.

Except for our bedroom.

To say it's messy would be the understatement of the century. Forget dust bunnies, I have dust PONIES in there!

How does this happen?

Believe me, I have read all of the articles about how your bedroom should be a beautiful and serene haven of relaxation. Better yet, it should be an exotic retreat for you and your spouse to connect on a romantic level.... hang on.... can't... stop... laughing.

Okay, I'm done. I've heard it all but the fact of the matter is, nobody visit the bedroom. At least, not in my case. It's the place to hide everything so the rest of the house doesn't look like a dump. Under my bed is the graveyard of unused video game consoles. On my dresser are the shoes my son wore for his Christening. He's now almost 3-years-old. It's the room with the huge pile of pants that (thankfully) are much too big on me now but I haven't quite figured out what do do with. Hell, it's the room that we never got around to adding window trim and closet doors to when we built our house 6 years ago!!! 90% of the things that happen in there happen in the dark anyway. Who cares if my sweaters are hanging there exposed?!?! It's dark... I can't see them!

Why the sudden urge to kick my own ass into cleaning it? There could only be one reason. I'm having overnight guests and one of them will be using my bedroom. PANIC!

This was a MONUMENTAL undertaking. I actually took a half-day off work to do it! There were about six-billion receipts from Christmases past, costume jewelry all tangled up into something resembling modern art, enough orphaned socks to assemble a formidable sock puppet army and an oscilloscope. Yes, I'm married to an engineer and no, I don't know what he was planning to measure with it in there.

I washed my sheets and my comforter. I emptied the waste basket. I straightened my many, many shoes. I stowed away those over-sized pants. I waded through the muck and dust and the occasional spider (EEEK!) and, eventually, found my bedroom.

It seemed impossible that I had finished the job. I didn't come out, as per my own orders, until it was spotless. And I'm so glad! It looks lovely. I should invite more people to come stay in my bedroom...umm...that could mean something other than I intended.

I am happy to report that the end result is just like that haven of serenity and relaxation I've always read about... only without closet doors!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Google Voice Telephone Game: The Results Blog

Last week, I blogged about the hysterically inadequate transcription service employed by Google Voice. I gave an example of a transcribed message that would lead you to believe the caller was having a stroke when they left it. Finally, I invited you to call me with some... uh... creative voice messages. You responded in kind.

Below are some of the funnier transcriptions I received since the Telephone Game was underway. I thought it would actually be more interesting and amusing if you don't get to hear what the caller actually said.


Not sure what this is about but sounds like this message was intended for a coach named Dean, not me.


A Shakespeare buff (I think.) Either way, I plan to re-evalutate my relationship with this person who, according to the transcription, thinks my name is James. Original "To Be Or Not To Be" text.


This caller's purposely cryptic message gets even more cryptic with images of dogs parking and flying.


Personally, I've never seen a sleaze triangle. I know you're probably curious so "scared process it was a box" was actually "scarecrow said in the Wizard of Oz" and "maxwell physics" was "math, not physics".


Sounds like a drunk dial from Captain Jack Sparrow who's currently working third shift as an office assistant in an building with a bad leak.



I think JK Rowling would love to know that Google voice translates VOLDEMORT to "hold of more", AVADA KADAVRA to "a part of the barbara" and DUMBLEDORE to "on the floor".


What do these results tell us? Does it mean that Google Voice SUCKS and is a waste of time? No. Of course not. It's FREE and, besides, I "less than three" my Google Voice account. It just means text-to-voice isn't perfect. It means that you should go the extra mile and listen to the voice file. You might be thinking that you could get the gist from the transcription, but here's why you shouldn't go by interpretation alone.

"Don't forget, I'll see you at the game." could be misconstrued to read "Just for that, I think you're lame."

"This is your mother's seamstress, I'm calling to find out when to meet with you." might be transcribed to "This is Roger's mistress. I'm calling to find out what he sees in you."

"I might be late, I'll have to text you from the car." could be erroneously translated to "I might be late, I'm having sex in the bar."

Listen to the voice mail before jumping to conclusions. Don't be that guy (or gal) that we read about in our twitter feed "Mistranslated Google Voice message leads to public humiliation."

Sidebar: I had both of my kids try to leave a message but Google Voice didn't seem to hear them at all... if only...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Telephone Game Goes High-Tech: An Evaluation of the Google Voice Transcription Tool

Technophiles world-wide are chomping at the bit to get their very own invitation to Google Voice. I was thrilled to get my email invite on Friday and I must admit it's pretty slick.

If you don't know about Google Voice, Google gives you a FREE phone number that will ring your other phones, send you texts, deliver voice mails to your email inbox, transcribe your messages and much more. I haven't even played with all the awesomeness yet.

First, I had the challenge of acquiring my phone number. The interface gives you the opportunity to request combinations of letters and numbers. Therefore, I was left typing in as many combos of the ideal awesome phone number I could imagine. (845) JTROCKS, (845) 2CALLJT, (845) JEANTAG. I think I did this for 20 minutes. Eventually I was successful with (845) 475-84JT. Not bad. I got the "4JT" in there. I later looked over the buttons on the telephone and came up with the mnemonic (845) ISJT4JT but I'm not sure what that means or if it'll help anyone remember anything.

I found some of the advanced set-up features employed some backward logic, like setting up a schedule of when NOT to ring a certain number, instead of when TO ring the number. After burning a few brain cells, I figured out the best schedule for me. I made a few test calls and let it go to voice mail so I could check out the transcription feature. First time, it got my message 100% straight. Second time, it said "transcription failed". I don't remember exactly what I said but apparently it confounded the system.

Then, today, someone called my Google Voice number. I missed the call and it went to voice mail. I was in a meeting when I got the transcription and it was all I could do not to wet my pants.



I listened to the accompanying voice file and it wasn't even close to this! Transcription fail. This is a person who typically speaks loudly and clearly. Maybe it was a bad connection. Who knows?

This whole thing got me thinking of the telephone game. You remember the game when you'd whisper in the first kids ear "I brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch" and by the time it get so the last kid it was somehow "I thought I'd beam up a hand wrench for a bunch."

This gave me an idea! (Can't you almost see the little light bulb above my head) Let's play a High-Tech game of Telephone. I'll put my Google Voice number on "Do Not Disturb" from now until Sunday 7/26 at midnight. That way all calls will go straight to voice mail. I invite all of you to think of a really creative / complex message to leave me. Don't make it too long because there may be a character limit. Once all the calls are in, I'll screen capture the text messages (or at least the funny ones) and post them here. I'll blur the names and numbers to protect the innocent. I'd imagine, that, much like the original telephone game, the more complex words will get horribly and hilariously mangled.

Ready...GO!
845-475-84JT