Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rest Assured

I want to assure everyone that IF I get the job, it really won't take away from the Closet that much.

Will we be as likely to have 9-post-a-day days? No. I think we all agree that's a little nutty, even if we do like when it happens. But you'll still see me at least once every day. It's amazing how I can carve out blogging time, no one could keep me from you all.

So have no fear that the Closet would feel empty or even necessarily any different. Hopefully, I just won't be as poor, will be busier during the day and will be in even more interesting situations to share with you all.

It will be okay.

Genius and Randomness

Have I told you all my latest bout of sheer brilliance?

The Boppy (a breastfeeding pillow for you non-parents) is The Perfect Laptop Desk in Bed. It keeps it off your lap so it's not hot and you don't get marks, it elevates it just so, and it is extremely comfortable.

And it makes your Boppy useful for more than a couple of months!

I had a maternity shoot tonight, a gorgeous mom and her gorgeous two year old daughter. The daughter complicated things, as two year olds always do, but the two of them are so striking to look at that it was easy to get some amazing photos. I was dreading going just because I'm so drained from this week, but it was really pretty down at the beach and it ended up being a lot of fun.

I've got three things I've GOT to do tomorrow and three things I'd LIKE to do tomorrow and I can't figure out what I'm going to do and how. The three things I've got to do are actually pretty mandatory, but my brain just can't seem to wrap itself around the unfairness and boringness of it all since the three things I'd like to do are much funner (not a word but should be) options.

Alright, it's late and I'm rambling. You'll see me tomorrow at some point.

I just reread this and it is all disjointed, there are no segways and it's not at all cohesive or even very interesting other than my Innovative Boppy Strategy. Oh well. They can't all be winners. You read it anyway.

I had a feeling segway was wrong and I was right. I guess it's "segue" but you probably wouldn't have guessed it was spelled that way anyhow. Let it be a lesson to us all. Segways are those new-fangled scooter thingys and segue is "
proceed to what follows without pause".

Interview Day

So, yesterday I had the big birthday party to go to before the big Interview. It was at Pump it Up, essentially a big, ginormous place full of bounce house/inflatable slide sort of stuff. KICK ASS IDEA. In fact, we all decided that I should have my 30th there and make it an adults only, drunken party...how much fun would that be? So.Much.Fun.

However, little kid was not content to go do his own thing and would only play if I played, so my pre-interview self was hopping around bounce houses and zooming down slides. Finally, Girl Crush and I just sat inside one of the bounce houses and talked and that was nice BUT she carpooled with New Friend, the one she went with on the Girl's Night Out I missed? I'm obviously the third friend now. I live between them, but no one asked me to car pool. Yeah.

I was also super hungry and super nervous. I had been prepping Big Kid for the fact that my Interview was SUPER important, and that a lot of mommies would just cancel the party and do their super important thing, but I knew the party was super important to him so we were going to split the day, and this meant that we might have to leave right after pizza but that all the playing will be done by then. I even stopped him while playing three different times and reminded him. He was fine with it, it was a deal, he was thrilled to be going, thrilled to be there, even excited about my interview for me.

So pizza is wrapping up and I tap him on the shoulder to give him the 5 minute countdown.

"But I don't wanna go," he starts. Oh no. Oh hell no. This was not the deal. I remind him that my interview is important and he bursts into tears and starts crying that he doesn't want to leave. Everyone starts watching. I try reasoning with him, the hostess comes over and offers to take him home and keep him for me but that was simply not practical, it was not the deal, and there was no way I could reward him at this point.

Now I'm pissed. Down on his level, looking in his eyes, quietly but in my best don't-fuck-with-me voice, "This was the deal. Go with the flow. Toughen up. We ARE leaving, are you going to make a good choice or a bad choice?" These have been our go-to phrases during emotional outbursts lately and sometimes they work.

He starts really carrying on and now people are trying not to look, but you know they're aware of the whole scene and you know that no matter what, you have somehow failed at parenting in someone's eyes, or are about to.

So I pick him up, stiff and rigid and crying, grab little kid's hand and head for the door. The hostess follows me out (nicest girl, I seriously love her. She is a true friend kind of person, always calm and collected and a great mom and wife. I aspire to be her and she is fascinated by my ability to be me) and takes charge of little kid, chattering with him ahead of us and giving me my chance to hiss threats into Big Kid's ear as he resisted me all the way out to the car.

I'm embarrassed to admit that Big Kid is no stranger to public tantrums. Do you all remember when I almost left him in the parking lot of Chick-Filet? Like for real? Em's mom and I together couldn't get his ass into the car seat. I don't think I elaborated on that situation for you all, and I won't now, but trust me when I say that it was a parenting low. It was also the last time we had a public tantrum and it was quite a while ago.

So I knew what was coming. I knew his ass wasn't going to go into the booster seat willingly. The hostess (Good Friend, we'll call her) went to put little kid in (my car was a mess too, but I doubt she'd expect anything less) and I went to put Big Kid in, and got the resistance I was expecting.

Now it's 95 degrees out, so humid I'm breathing in moisture, and I have a job interview in a little over an hour and can feel my hair frizzing. I wasn't fucking around. I knew the only solution was the Atomic Elbow, a modified WWF move that is 98% effective at getting car seats buckled. I won't share the controversial details, but let's just say that Good Friend was forced to witness it and I'm sorry she had to be there.

But I got him in.

And I gave him hell the whole Interstate ride back.

In a moment of fuming silence, he asked, "Is ebrybody embawassed of me now?"

Ashley: Yes. Embarrassed for you, for sure. I'm embarrassed, gram and daddy will be mad, I'm sure little kid is embarrassed. You acted like a total baby.

Big Kid: So da whole world is embawassed of me? 'Cuz now I'm sowwy I cried. Da deal was no crying.

Ashley: Yes, you should be. But that room full of people don't see you feeling sorry, they just saw you acting naughty. You made me feel like a bad mom in front of my friends, and you acted like a baby in front of your friends.

As soon as he walked into my mom's house she told him she was really mad at him and he'd just better go and watch some tv. "I know," he answered sullenly. I was fuming, shaking mad that he pulled that shit on me, definitely not the pre-Interview mood I was planning on.

I got ready there for my interview. I rolled my Spanx bicycle pants and body shaping camisole on, overlapping for extra coverage, put on my nicely pressed trousers and tailored shirt, a strand of chunky pearls, my fabulous Ann Taylor wedges, re-applied my makeup, fluffed the hair 9 trillion times, and I was off.

I got there early and parked in the shade and laid back my seat so as not to wrinkle my pants, and alternated between practicing my hypno-breathing and just full on panicking. Finally, I did final make up touch-ups, another hair fluff and went in.

Eventually I ended up in a conference room with three other women who were really nice. They were all moms, all seemed down to Earth and were easy to talk to. They were impressed when they asked what I would do if I had the position and I whipped out my notebook full of ideas. The leader loves lists too. She admired my tidy, one-side only lists and we discussed color coding methods and our love of blank notebooks.

When I'm nervous, I resort to humor, nervous laughter and leg shaking and I had all three going on. They were laughing too, so hopefully I was funny and I'm hoping only the girl sitting right next to me could have detected the leg swinging. I think that those are better nervous tics to have than sitting there scared into silence.

I had good answers and at one point the three of them looked at each other with an obvious "DAY-UM" look on their faces. At one point she asked how I knew that I could convey the right tone and personality necessary for the online portion of the job because being able to attract an audience was essential, and it was so hard to keep the closet a secret but instead I concentrated on my many online friendships and online forum experience and hopefully that's enough.

I tried to get her to tell me if I had the job that day by saying I could start that night, but she didn't take the bait. Dang it. I did follow up with a thank you email (she travels too much for snail mail, I think) and this morning I sent her a lead on another position they were trying hard to fill.

So, let's hope I hear tomorrow and let's hope it is good news. Since I think it went so well and I'm so qualified, I'm going to be really crushed and confused if I don't get it. Be prepared for lots of whining.

little kid's Morning Accomplishments

-found every Sharpie in the house (well, put them up you say...there is no up here. I could superglue the Sharpies to the ceiling fan blades and he would be able to find them immediately and retrieve them momentarily. He cannot be kept away from these things. They cannot be hidden and cannot be put away, he always either has another one or gets them back.)

-dumped out the art box

-got into my jewelry box and took handfuls of jewelry into the bathroom before being caught

-stole cookies from pantry, dumped out bag, stomped on them gleefully

-put cookie crumbs in his and his brother's juice

-put a penny in his mouth

-keeps getting into office drawers, found with a box of thumb tacks, threw rubber bands around

and it's only 10am. The next time out is going to be an Extended Time Out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Lied

and said I'd be back tonight to update you all but...

Super Lucky

I came home to 41 comments and it made me want to cry with happiness. Some were for Christian the lion but still...I love you guys. I'm seriously lucky no matter what.

The job interview went grrrrreat and if they don't hire me, it's because they're jealous and afraid I'll take over the whole corporation. They did love me and my hair was looking pretty fabulous, so thanks to God for playing along this time.

I'll tell you all about it, and how pretty I looked, and how Big Kid almost got his ass kicked in the parking lot of Pump it Up, in a little while. These kids need shit, as usual.

Memo:

All closet inhabitants are asked to do NOTHING but cross all fingers and toes and chant, either silently or aloud, depending on your circumstances, "Give Ashley that job" over and over between the hours of 2:30 and 4:00.

Em's mom reminded me that I've never been interviewed for a job before, that in every prior case I've been pursued and offered jobs, not out looking for them. This actually only managed to add to my anxiety.

Don't forget, the sooner Ashley starts amassing her fortune, the sooner we go on the Closet Cruise.

Lion Hug

I'm up early trying not to poop my pants with nervousness and I'm watching the Today show, and just saw this video clip of two guys who bought a baby lion cub and began to raise him. He soon became too big so they took it to Africa to re-acclimate him to his natural habitat. A year later they decided they wanted to see him, but were told that he was now the leader of a pride and therefore completely wild.

This is their reunion:


This had me SOBBING.

God, I am a sensitive, emotional wreck.

Please let today go quickly and well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dear God,

I know I have a bad habit of getting in touch mostly only when I need stuff. If it makes you feel better, I'm like that with just about everyone I love.

Unfortunately.

Hey, you made me.

Anyhow, it's about tomorrow. I think I'm prepared. I think I am capable of presenting myself as an intelligent, organized, employable person with good hygiene.

Eyebrows are waxed, accessories are purchased, pants have been pressed, Spanx are packed. Lists have been made and updated. Gift for party is wrapped, directions written, time line carefully constructed and analyzed.

What I need your help with is A.) things going as planned and B.) Good, no make that GREAT, hair. I'm talking big curls, messy-but-perfect part with volume in the back, no frizz, all day hold. I know, it's a lot to ask. I will gladly forgo a future lucky hair day if I can have this one.

Also, please, please make them love me and hire me on the spot. I'm going to warn you now, if I don't get this job there will be an immense amount of crying and whining. In fact, I predict that it could send me straight into a major depression and you'd have to deal with me lying in bed and complaining at you for who knows how long.

So, if this isn't your plan for me, could we change your plan just this one time? I mean, just because I'm often changing my plans to suit you, so maybe just this once we could do it my way? Just a thought.

I do have back up plans. I'm thinking I'll bring a dozen cupcakes and tell them that one is poisoned and I won't say which one until they hire me OR, if they dare to attempt to not hire me, I will send them a rejection letter.

It would be easier for everyone if we didn't have to go with either of the back up plans, so if you're not doing anything else, like helping out those starving kids in Darfur or ending wars, I'd really and truly appreciate some good hair and a job.

Amen,
Ashley

Public Service Announcement

If you use Photobucket to store your online images, please, please, please, for the love of God, make sure your album is set to private if you don't want the whole world accessing your photos.

I mean to tell you all this every time I go there to find a relevant image. They changed their privacy policy, and did so in a manner that 97% of normal people wouldn't have read it or noticed, and I see lots and lots of pictures that I'm doubting people mean to share.

So don't be one of those people. Check your security settings.

Another Stinker

2 down, 22 to go, 10 days til Chick Fest in the Closet.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Bad Egg

There was a stinker in the incubator so I took it out and decided to crack the egg open outside.

There was a bunch of bloody yolk and an itsy bitsy embryo, in my expert Faux Farming opinion, it died within the first 3-5 days of incubation.

It was squiggly and looked like a little jellyfish with one big black eye. Kind of yucky, huh?

I wasn't sad though because it looked nothing like a chicken and having 24 (23 now) eggs in the incubator has got me a little nervous. I don't need some massive chicken herd. The first 12 or so that "quit" on us won't be mourned much.

So one down, 23 to go, 11 days 'til Chick Fest in the Closet.

No Offense But

attorneys really are assholes.

I don't want to stereotype but I've dealt with a few of them today and in my experience, they have an even bigger God complex than doctors do, and for no good reason as far as I can see.

It's frustrating, to say the least.



Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dressed for Success

So I went to the rich people's mall today to shop for my interview outfit!

Wouldn't you know, the rich people get all of the bargains. Most of the rich people only live in our area during the winter, so the stores are desperate for business AND they have to get rid of their summer inventory (even though it's summer all year long here...), so everything everywhere was on sale.

I got THE CUTEST pair of Ann Taylor wedges for $30. Apparently, no photo of them exists on the internet yet, so I'll have to be the first so that I can show you all later. I also got a fitted, white, v-neck, 3 quarter length sleeve, button up shirt for $30.

Damn J. Crew and B-A-N-A-B-A-N-A-N-A Republic haven't exactly gotten their fall stuff out on the floor yet, so their websites are not accurate representations of what one will actually find there. Banana Republic seemingly has a safari obsession going on right now and J. Crew had a fabulous sale going on, but no adequate Interview shirt.

Then I went to Gap to get my $65 trousers. As I was selecting my size 6 regular, size 6 ankle, size 8 regular, size 8 ankle sizes, I noticed a shelf above the "Perfect trousers" of pants that also looked like trousers but were on sale for $14. I grabbed a pair, thinking they'd clearly be crap compared to the new line of "Perfect trousers" but figured I was headed to the dressing room anyway, so what the hell.

I tried on the "Perfects" (size 6 ankle, WOO-HOO!!) and they were *perfect*. I was getting them, for sure. Then I remembered the clearance pants and tried those on...SAME FREAKING PANTS. Minus the tab top thingy and not the same pattern fabric, but really who the hell cares? Same fabulous fit. Just as perfect, for $50 less.

I know you are all jumping up and down in excitement over the incredible savings, and you should be. I was too, all the way to J.Crew to cash in on their kick ass sale with my hard saved money. Two pairs of capris (LOVE their capris), one shirt, two pairs of socks (so I can be cuter at the Gymboree play dates, the only place I wear socks) and one pair of cute flip flops for $54.

I still need jewelry, but there's a great, inexpensive boutique in town I'll probably find that at. I wish Catfish lived close enough for me to borrow one of her fabulous purses (she's got all the good bags), but I probably have something that will work.

So, it was a really good day. Also, just so you know, the rich people get offered bottled water and what not while shopping. Must be nice, huh?

Shameless Bragging

Big Kid just sat down and asked me to read him a book and I jokingly told him that he should read it to me instead. He opened it up and read the whole thing! Easily! It was a 2nd grade level Arthur book. He doesn't even sound out the words, it's like he just recognizes all of them. He was as surprised as I was as sentence after sentence flowed out effortlessly.

Also, have I mentioned that little kid is The Best Snuggler? For as much as he can make me crazy, I have never had that sort of intense, loving, physical connection before. A million times a day he'll walk up to me and lay his head on my lap so I can stroke his hair, or hug my legs tightly while I'm trying to do something, or reach for me to pick him up so he can snuggle his face in my neck while I pat his back. His little body gets all warm and pliable and just melts into you. He immediately makes himself comfortable for the long haul. He'll push his face onto my lips, searching for kisses for those fat little cheeks and soft little forehead.

He also has no qualms about giving out hugs or kisses (tight lipped, slobbery little things) to anyone who may need one. He kept getting in the space of a young couple at the jazz concert we were at and when we finally decided to intervene and rescue them, the girl held out her hand for a high five and he wrapped her up in a tight, long hug instead. He is just delicious with that plump little body and the way he revels in physical affection.

I just wanted to make sure to point out some good things about him so that when he reads this in 30 years, he can't pull that whole "I knew you liked him best" business in regards to his brother...they both annoy me equally and I love them both in different ways.

Dear John Travolta,

Why did you have to go and get all weird with this Scientology business?

I really like you. You are an American icon, you were in Grease for heaven's sake. You seem like you'd be fun to have dinner with, relaxing to be around, and interesting to talk to.

So why, oh why, are you hanging with the crazies?

It's sad enough that we've lost Tom Cruise, but we've moved on from that loss. Don't make us do it all over again.

Please grab Will Smith and get the hell out of there, while there is still time, while we still care.

kthxbai,
Ashley

Saturday, July 26, 2008

What to Wear

Here's what I'm thinking for Interview Wear. Don't look at the prices, we'll figure that part out later.

These pants (maybe in plain gray, I don't know. Black?):



from Gap.

I actually have 900 pairs of Editor pants from the Express, which would probably suffice, but I really like those pants above. I love trousers. I don't have gray Editor pants, if that strengthens my case any. Also, there is a chance, although a slim one (pun intended), that I am now a size 6 in Gap pants and I just have to see. That also means that my Editor pants could all be too big. I'm thinking I NEED new pants.

Before we talk about shirts, can we discuss the obsession with cap sleeves, princess sleeves, flutter sleeves, look at Ashley's fat arms sleeves? I don't like my upper arms, I'm not sure why all short sleeve shirts have evolved into something that either barely covers the shoulder or feels snug around my arm. I Can.Not.Stand.It. No more please.

Anyway, I was thinking maybe this:
because that color would look awesome on me and it looks like it has good arm coverage without any squeezage.

or this.

With this as a distant third, even though I kind of think the neck tie thingys are gay looking and it is a lot of arm exposure:


I also like this, this or this.

Probably with big, but not ghetto huDge, hoop earrings and I don't know what else yet. I'm also not sure on what kind of shoes will look good with those pants. (Catfish?)

So would I look hire-able?

Parenting 101: Jedi Mind Tricks

Big Kid is standing here in my face, sucking his lip against his teeth so it makes a horrid squealing, farty kind of sound.

I am locked in a silent stare down while he does this. I'm not even looking at the computer as I type this.

Two minutes ago I specifically, flat out told him that he was making me insane. To please just go entertain himself while his brother naps and not to ask me for anything else for at least an hour.

And now he is standing there, making that sucking sound, challenging me to send him to his room which would result in him screaming and crying and me telling him time out doesn't start until he's quiet and him completely not grasping that concept and it turning into a 35 minute ordeal over the stupid sucking sound.

I just turned my lock down stare into the Evil Eye and he cut it out right quick. I need to start learning Jedi mind tricks to control these brats for the sake of my sanity, and for the sake of the universe really. As I figure them out, I will pass this knowledge along to you.

So far the silent stare down/intensifying evil eye tactic has been successful. I doubt it will last for long, but even if it just gets me a couple of hours today, I'll consider it a win.

Social Dilemmas

Girl Crush and the other New Friend invited me out for a girl's night out tonight.

I *NEED* a girl's night out. More than you know, and you think you know, but you don't. I need one. Like a lot, a lot. I need some time to just be Ashley the human being. Not Ashley the lunch lady, or Ashley the jungle gym, or Ashley the dish washer, but Ashley the human being who has more to talk about than why no means no and why I'm not going over it again.

Also, I'm a little nervous about their little relationship that is forming. I'm not going to be the third friend, New Friend is supposed to be the third friend. Ugh. This is not good.

However, one of Mr. Ashley's relatives is in town and is coming over tonight. Unbelievably, this person comes about once a year and I get invited to do something cool about once a year and THREE YEARS IN A ROW these two events have coincided.

The last two times I went, but if it happened a third time, it'd be pretty hard to convince said visitor that I'm not wild, drunken, Saturday night party mom.

But man do I need to be wild, drunken, Saturday night party mom.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Date Set

Okay, everyone. Breathe, just breathe.

I have an interview. On Wednesday. The ONE day this week I said I couldn't do it is the one day that they really want to do it. Okey doke.

Big Kid has a birthday party that he has been anticipating for a month. It's about an hour away from here at this really cool new place that just opened. It is on Wednesday morning.

To make everyone happy, I will have to wake up early to get ready, pray for a kick ass hair day, and bring interview clothes and make up in the car with me, just in case I have to have my mom meet me at the interstate for the pass off in order to make it there in time.

These are not ideal conditions.

Anyway, what will I wear? I need to look professional, but also like the pretty, popular, trendy mom. What do those people wear?

I Am Involved

in an exhausting game of phone tag with the HR lady.

The anxiety is going to have me comatose by the end of the day, and I have a beach shoot to do at 6:30pm.

There WILL be quiet time today. Even if everyone is crying except for me, there will be quiet time.

Putting the Care in Day-care

That HR lady called me to set up an appointment for Monday and I called her back and left a message.

Let's hope I get this job...because my next stop will be the nearest daycare center for official little kid enrollment.

He requires a highly paid, very patient professional caregiver and I am not any of those things. He is wearing me down and making me totally insane.

I am trying to convince Girl Crush and the other new friend that we should co-op babysitting so that one of us has all 6 kids and the other two can go back to their home and clean or nap or sit on the couch and bask in the solitude. Because I don't want a babysitter so I can go out, I just want someone to take them away so I can sit here and enjoy my home and appreciate the fact that I am an individual human being who deserves quiet, and privacy in the bathroom, and the right to go an hour without being groped, grabbed or climbed on.

I've got to go get little kid out of the fucking silverware drawer. I'll either be back soon, or I'll run away forever.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Those Crazy Boys

Aside from smashing each other over the head with golf clubs and skateboards, and running around the house screaming all day about Webkinz and who got in whose chair, I think they kind of like each other.

I Know

that the post with the links had way more comments than that and I know that I published them, but they aren't there.

That's very strange.

Productivity Report

I'm getting so much done these days that it is FRIGHTENING.

What if I'm changing? What if I end up rich, organized and successful? Will we have anything to talk about? The more I do, the more I FIND to do...and then I do it.

It's shocking and scary.

Photography business picked up in a major way and I have lots of appointments booked and several orders to place. I try to only book one session a week because I'm lazy like that and I have three in the next week, because I'm so busy. Interestingly, I recently decided to bump my prices a little bit. Not only has no one batted an eye, but I have more business than usual. If I get this full time job, there will be serious experimentation with what exactly the market will bear and what different types of clientele will result. I've also vowed to stop being so nice, which seems like an odd vow to make as the owner of a business, but I'm getting pushed around a bit here and there. When in real estate I was good about detecting who I needed to be very firm with and who I could be friendly with, but I didn't think if would be as necessary in a creative business like photography. Wrong. Ashley is really nice but she is no longer your BFF in every business transaction. She is friendly, but she is mostly your photographer.

Someone called me about A REAL ESTATE DEAL out of the blue today. SELLING real estate at that. I immediately scoffed and said no way and redirected him, hung up, thought about the money, and called right back with a "You know..." and then made all necessary phone calls and looked up all kinds of stuff, just like the old days. I haven't been on the sales side of real estate for quite a while, so this is a surprising turn of events. I'm even willingly doing my continuing education instead of begging others to do it for me and inquiring about somewhere decent to hang my license just in case I get tricked into doing this here and there again.

I called the HR lady back. She was super, duper nice and I guess the person I need to interview with is unexpectedly in the hospital so everything is on hold until they figure out what to do. My mom said I should have offered to interview in the hospital and I totally should have. I can't be inconvenienced with other people's illnesses, I need an answer on this whole job thing.

I folded two loads of laundry, washed another load and unloaded and loaded the dishwasher. I'm also seriously considering vacuuming. The vacuum is even out.

I turned my eggs, which are developing very nicely. I think we're going to have chicks! They should be due to hatch on Big Kid's birthday!

Bravo Bravo

Are you all watching "Flipping Out" on Bravo?

A friend recommended this show to me a while ago and man am I regretting not making a point to catch it sooner.

I ADORE THIS SHOW. I didn't want to either. I'm pretty sick of everything real estate related, most reality television, and any mention of "flipping" anything makes me want to puke.

However, Jeff is so quirky, so OCDish, so demanding, bizarre and boundary-less, that I am in love.

I love the closeness of his staff (he has an oil portrait of his maid) and his obvious love for them, but total inability to express that in any way. The whole cast is very attractive too; he is gorgeous in a flaming gay, old Hollywood sort of way.

So if you aren't watching this, please do. I seriously Laugh Out Loud every single episode I catch. I can't get enough.

You know what I have had enough of? Jo from Real Housewives of Orange County. Slade too, especially now that he's the old pompous jackass playing young guy. Dude, you were hot in your little mortgage broker get up. When you were well-dressed, articulate, a good father, and tired of Jo's immature bullshit. You are just lame in your tight little henley shirts and sideways hats and that lost puppy look of longing for average Jo.

I was so happy when they broke up. He's clearly too good for her, in every way, and she clearly has a problem with growing up to be a responsible adult...not that ditching your half assed career to attempt to be a reality show starlet/rock star is irresponsible...a not very talented, not amazingly gorgeous, kind of old to be starting out in the industry rock star at that.

But now they are back in "Jo & Slade: The Break Up" where he helps her find a new date. Gag me with a freaking spoon. What guy would want to be in the middle of this wacked out threesome? Because these two are still doing each other, anyone with eyes knows it. Also, why the hell does Jo talk like a baby?? She does NOT talk like that normally, now all of a sudden any time she talks to a male she's practically cooing and gurgling. Nauseating, seriously.

Speaking of nauseating and Bravo, keep your eyes out for Million Dollar Listing. It is Douche-bag-tastic to the nth degree. I didn't know whether to laugh, roll my eyes, or dry heave.

It's about these three young, "hot", real estate agents in Beverly Hills.

I'm sorry but if you trust someone with hair like this:

with your multi million dollar listing, you deserve to lose your entire fortune. What an asshat. He's 29 years old too, so old enough to know better. I'm afraid he thinks that The Hair made The Donald successful...wroooong. Smart investing made The Donald successful, the bad hair just makes him a joke.

I began watching with a plan to despise the 21 year old, just because it's enjoyable to hate young, successful people, but he's good looking, charismatic and drives a hard bargain, so it was Mr. Emo Hair that drew my ire instead.

I'm going to try not to catch this show again though. The success of these lame asses is a true testament to the ridiculousness that is Beverly Hills and frankly, watching a bunch of uppity tards get filthy rich isn't my idea of enjoyment.

So...we've covered quite a bit of Bravo's television line up. Can you tell that I can't find the remote control for the bedroom tv?

Monday, July 21, 2008

The All Day Time Out

So today is my first day of real SAHMdom, with no other adult in the house until after business hours.

It's been going on for one hour and forty minutes and I'm wondering how long is too long to strap little kid in the time out chair for...

He's already been in there twice, it seems like less hassle just to keep him in there. That way I could eat and drink and use the bathroom like normal people do, not hiding and hurried. I could maybe even clean up without him wreaking a path of destruction directly behind me.

I have three appointments to book today and I think I will have these phone calls coincide with his next three time outs, so that I can lock myself in the sweet silence that is my bedroom to talk professionally while he's strapped down safely, and so that they'll get done in the morning.

I don't think it's a good sign that Big Kid (aka The Constantly Running Mouth) isn't even awake for the day and I'm already ready to run away or commit acts of violence.

If I get that job, I might just quit this one...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Right Now

I'm sitting in my house ALONE, watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and drinking a Coke.

I seriously didn't think life could get any better, but I just found out that it is in fact a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory MARATHON (on ABC Family).

I'm not a big fan of the newer one because Johnny Depp was just weird ass Johnny Depp once again (I love him, but come on already) and it totally took away from the whole thing for me. I don't know. I also wasn't a fan of the new Oompa Loompa situation. And nothing compares to the original. Nothing.

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is one of the best movies ever. That and Pulp Fiction. I'll watch them ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. I'll probably watch the old one twice tonight if Mr. Ashley will let me get away with it, just because I can.

Mr. Ashley is this way about Forrest Gump and Goodfellas. I love them too, but having seen them 3 trillion times in one lifetime is almost enough for me. Not him though. He's always up for 3 trillion and one. He confessed to almost borrowing Forrest Gump from a friend the other day, but he knew I would be less than thrilled. I'll usually let it slide if it's on television and he finds it but I think both of us can recite the lines from those two movies.

I've got to get back to Charlie and the silence of the Ashley household right now, but what are your ANYTIME, ANYWHERE movies that you'll watch no matter how many times you've seen them?

Weekend Update

So I finished clothes school shopping for Big Kid.

I was so proud of myself, through an AWESOME sale at Children's Place and Old Navy, I bought him a ton of clothes for a little over $100...and then found out that his school switched to uniforms last year.

I'm just too smart for my own good.

Last night we went to another one of those summer lawn concerts with Girl Crush and family and that other cool girl I told you about recently, the one with the awesome community pool.

We had tons of fun. Our 6 kids are within the same age range and we all lounged on blankets and gossiped while drinking Screwdrivers, while the guys sat in chairs and talked and drank beer, and the kids ran around our blankets and chairs, spilling our drinks and practically beheading innocent (and semi-crabby) bystanders with their swinging glow sticks.

Seriously good times.

But we didn't get home until 11:00pm and I thought little kid was sufficiently worn out for some prime sleeping in time, but no, he woke up at 7am.

So here I am, 7:30am on a Sunday, watching Elmo's Wild, Wild, West for the tenth time this weekend (literally).

Good times, good times.

Friday, July 18, 2008

OMFG

I just got her voicemail...which said she's out of the office until Wednesday.

Motherfucker. It'd be funny if it wasn't so very, very unfunny.

I called the number for the person she left as her replacement, and left a message there, and now I'm going to go crush up some Effexor and snort them.

Look Lady,

15 minutes until I am forced to make a follow up call. I don't want to do it, but I cannot end my day without resolution.

I am a nervous fucking wreck who might implode from the anxiety. You wouldn't want to be responsible for that.

So call within the next ten minutes, or at the very least, answer, don't sound inconvenienced, and be friendly when I call you.

Human Resources

Mine

Interestingly, I think The Closet would prove to my prospective employers that I am MORE than qualified for the position that they are offering.

However, I don't really want a future boss reading my personal blog. Frankly, it's weird enough that all of you are always out there. Also, what if my potential job provides hours of entertainment value for you all? I can't be censored.

The Closet is mine, it's ours, and I don't want anyone in here stinking it up (not that my future boss would, she seems a lot like us and would be a great Closet Reader under other circumstances, but you know).

So let's hope that I'm qualified enough without it. I don't know if I'm being selfish, selfless, stupid or smart, but I hope the Closet can stay in the closet.

edited to add: I have a secret fear that she's already a reader (it's a small world like that) and will put 2 and 2 together one day. If so, I swear I'm not as lazy as I claim and please just tell me that you know so we can laugh about it. Haha. And give me the job. Thanx.

Dear HR Lady at the Place I Want to Work,

Please call me back.

Your voicemail said that you were on the phone, so I left a message, as instructed, and it went well in that I managed not to sound like an idiot in any way.

Now I'm waiting, waiting, waiting and I can't stand it. I really hope you don't call after lunch. There is a small window of opportunity in which I'm at my best for phone conversation, and that window closes as time marches on and the torture from the kids begins breaking me down.

Also, I need an appointment upon opening on Monday and I need confirmation of employment before I leave so that I can resume sleeping and have an actual reason for the manic list creating going on right now.

I implore you to please help me, please call me back and please hire me.

k?thxbai,
Ashley

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Money Saving Tips

One of our good readers pointed out that the Hillbilly Housewife has a section where she makes meal plans and shopping lists out of the Angel Food Ministries food packages each month. Some of it is too weird for me, but some of it will probably come in handy.

Also, new fashion tip!

It's perfect for summer and you can get a 3 pack for around $6:


No?

(Thanks to closet reader, and Ashley's love, Coco for emailing this to me. I was in dire need of fashion inspiration.)

Gooklygoos

little kid loooooooves popsicles (knock off Otter pops, the kind in the plastic sleeve).

Unfortunately, he can't stop at just one and Big Kid eats at a snail's pace, so once little kid has slurped his down and finds out he's not allowed to have another, he watches Big Kid eat his and cries, sometimes even attempting to physically overtake Big Kid and his popsicle. This results in screaming and fighting and fun for the whole family.

The non-talker even has a word for popsicle, it sounds a lot like "gooklygoo". Once he finds out he's not having another one it turns into GoooooklyGOOOOOOOO, a really sad wail. He's doing it now. He knows he's not having another one until after dinner and he just can't handle it.

Even worse, Big Kid chose not to have his yet and little kid WILL.NOT.UNDERSTAND this whole timing situation. It will seem utterly unfair and he'll cry his very saddest cry.

That I will be forced to listen to.

Informed of My Former Fatness

Yesterday at the play date at Gymboree (where everyone made a big deal of seeing me, like I like), two different people said, "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight!" in a surprised way.

Instead of being happy, I'm a little shocked to know that I was clearly so fat before.

I think it just takes me two years to lose all baby weight.

Well, two years and some serious stress because it worked out like that both times.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Jobby jobs

I'm really, really tired, but just can't go a whole day without posting. I also have tons to post about, which actually makes it even harder. So we'll condense it into a list, because I like lists, and then hopefully we'll expand upon it all later.

1. Mr. Ashley got the job! Yay Mr. Ashley!! He starts on Monday and it's going to be great, we're all really excited. He will no longer be working from home, and he'll enjoy benefits and paid sick days and vacation time. Hooray!

2. I may get a job offer! I know, hold the freakin' phone, right? It's for a job I applied for months ago. I even followed up and got NO response. I had totally written it off and then some CEO calls me yesterday, and I called back out of curiosity, and not only is it for a job that is MADE.FOR.ME , but the salary and benefits are more than I would've ever hoped for and it's EXACTLY the bridge I need on my resume to qualify as a Writer.

I aced the phone interview. Seriously, no phone anxiety, great answers, funny, enthusiastic, endearing...you should have heard how long my "strengths" list was, I think she was sorry she asked. I feel very confident that if the final decision is up to her, it's mine. She said their local affiliate was doing personal interviews on the three final applicants next week, and that I'm one of them. Some of my answers were so good that they were met with a speechless "Wow" and by the end of the interview we were laughing and sharing our life philosophies (which are remarkably similar). She also mentioned several times that she loved my unconventional, and humorous, cover letter and resume and thought it said a lot about me. (she said this like it was a good thing)

So keep your fingers crossed. I was up until 5am this morning, my poor excited little mind racing, hoping, wishing, praying, planning, rinsing and repeating. I just couldn't sleep and then when I crossed that 3am threshold, I started panicking about my inability to sleep...a vicious cycle.

3. Our pretty blue eggs came today. Both shipments. One had three cracked eggs, and my dumb ass cracked another one during unpacking. Luckily both sellers sent extra, so I'm still ahead by 2. I spent all day at Gymboree letting the kids play, and then running around in the rain searching for a freaking water weinie because supposedly it will help me keep my incubator temperature more accurate. Water weinies are really easy to find until you need one, I might have to abandon that plan.

4. I don't know what else, but I'm tired and hopeful and have been productive. Everyone cross your fingers and keep them that way until my interview next week. I want it bad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Three Months Later

Every once in a while, out of the blue, Big Kid will break out with, "I really dest miss Heidi Weeze." Today he came up with it again out of nowhere and said he wished she could teach Murphy to bite at and chase the water coming out of the hose, like she used to love doing.

Ugh. It just takes my breath away every time he says it, because it's been a little over three months since she died and I still miss her Every.Single.Day. Overwhelmingly so, every single day.

He also says strange things about death and dying and I feel partly responsible. In having an elderly dog, I had thought about the talks I'd have to have with him when and if we ever had to put her down. I pictured it as a calm, sad, informative, beforehand discussion.

Since she died accidentally, it didn't quite go as planned. Because being on my knees sobbing, "No no no no no no God, no please not like this, no please not right now, oh God no, no no no no" and dry heaving was definitely not part of the plan.

I didn't mean for him to witness such raw grief. He shouldn't have been standing there stunned, and scared, and offering me hugs and drawing me hearts. The parent doesn't freak out, the parent stays in control. The parent presents the first lesson with death as a teacher, not a raving, retching, suddenly religious maniac. Damn, damn, damn.

It's just that I'd been her parent twice as long. For that devastating few minutes of not knowing for sure, parenting him took a backseat because I was more worried about her short term situation than his long term one.

Of course we've discussed it afterwards. Calmly and sadly and grieving in a respectable manner. But he recently asked if people in our family can die, and I could tell it was something he's been worrying about. He was very thoughtful after our recent viewing of Charlotte's Web and has started several conversations with, "Did you know spiders sometimes die?" and we end up talking about it some more. I once said, "I'm dying" about something that hurt (imagine that) and the alarm on his face made me quickly explain myself. I know dying is sad no matter what, but I feel that the manner in which it was presented really drove the point home with Big Kid.

It's sweet, but also really sad, to know that he misses her like I do, that the whole family is still thinking about her and noticing her absence daily.

It's also a reminder of how hard this whole parenting thing is, and how things never go as planned, and how you don't get do overs. It's hard to be a parent instead of just a person sometimes.

On Your Own

The Curse of Palmyra Island--we're not going here on the cruise.
Living in a garbage truck--looks like good living.
Photos of 300 calorie foods--because you like pictures and think you're fat.
The story of Napoleon's junk--it's been around.
Cute photos of giraffes--giraffes are neat animals.

Lacey

I need the zip code of our popcorn winner. I guess your package has been returned or something. Due to my headache, I am not in the mood to scroll through 4786 emails (that's an exact number) to find your email address, so please report to the closet with your correct zip code ASAP.

This Is It

I have had a migraine since yesterday and I'm pretty sure it's going to kill me.

I know I've claimed that I was dying in the past, but I'm pretty sure this is it.

If I die, make sure I am cremated and then take the Closet Cruise without me. Well, without all of me, my cremains will be present. I still expect to sit at the captain's table and be out on the dance floor, and for everyone to talk about how pretty and fun I am...and then dump me in the Caribbean somewhere.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Brudders

Popcorn Diet Update

I realized that my popcorn diet wasn't very well rounded, so I've decided to supplement it with M&Ms.

Mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmm mmmmmmmm, as little kid would say, except I only eat it when he's sleeping because he'll dump out all of the popcorn and eat the M&Ms before anyone else can. It pisses the whole family off.

The addition of M&Ms was a good move, the chocolate gets all warm and soft and everything is all sweet and salty AND I'm getting calcium, or something I'm sure.

Proudly Presenting...

I have a very, very special treat for you all today.

You better love it, because it took slightly more effort than my normal ramblings.

I have actual Big Kid footage for you all. Quirkiness and all (he's actually extra quirky because he's nervous). I hesitate to share it, because I don't know if it's even possible for you all to love him more than you already do, and I don't want him getting to be the famous one, but here is the one and only Big Kid, saying the alphabet backwards for you:

video

In the beginning he mentions his love for Super Wy, this is because I tore him away from television to do this for you all. I asked him if he'd let me videotape him saying the alphabet backwards and he shook his head no until I told him it was for the people on my blog, and they would really love it. He jumped up with a smile on his face to do it and has told me 100 times since that "Your people are really gonna love dat, dey can get to know me."

How crazy is the whole backwards alphabet thing?

One day not long ago he wouldn't stop talking, and it all involved a response from me, so I asked him if he could say the alphabet backwards, thinking it might buy me some time. Without so much as a pause, he spit it all out in a 30 second, completely accurate stream of letters. I was so shocked that I almost wrecked the car and then made him do it three more times.

We got to my parents' house and I made him do it for my brother, who sat there and stared incredulously. Then I made him do it for my mom, who sat there with her mouth open and her eyes big. I made him do it for Mr. Ashley, twice, who sat stunned and then cracked up, shaking his head and begging him to do it once more. By the end of the day Big Kid was saying, "I don't want to say it anymore. People are dest lookin' at me all cwazy and dere is sumthin' weird goin' on wif it. I'm not doin' it." It took several explanations that it was just pretty special and that most adults can't even do it, so people were surprised and that's why they act funny, but that it was a good thing.

He'll begrudgingly do it these days, but not always on command. I was glad he was willing to do it for you guys so I could record it for posterity. I would post the other two takes because they are just as freaking hysterical, but videos take forevah to upload.

little kid is now desperate to do his own video and keeps getting up in the chair and giving me his cheese smile. Maybe another day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Custom Cards & Invites

I know that 9 bazillion of you are knocked up, or getting married, or planning birthday parties, so I thought I'd share THESE super cute cards and announcements.

She's a normal person like us, so she's nice and easy to deal with.(I made all of that up. I know her name is Megan and she seemed pretty nice and normal in my dealings with her. She is a Closet reader and could be a total weirdo for all I know, but her cards look nice and she's very professional, so I'm going to guess that she is also nice, easy to deal with, and relatively normal.) She will also design the card and sell you the digital file, which is really convenient and could really help you save on printing costs.

So now you all really have no excuse at all for cheesy invites and announcements.

re: Blue Eggz

We gotz em!

Lots of them.

As I knew previously, I should not buy things on E-bay. I take being outbid as a personal affront and start feeling a little competitive. I thought I got over being outbid on the blue eggs and found some other blue eggs to bid on. Then, as I was strolling around, minding my own business, I came across the auction I got outbid on earlier and saw that there were 58 seconds left. Thinking I'd never get it, but being unable to pass up the opportunity of sniping it away, and still a little bit irritated that I had been outbid in the first place, I put in a hurried, last minute bid for just a little more than I had tried previously...and got it. Oops.

So we showed that outbidding bastard who's boss...and we now have 22 blue eggs coming our way and spent more than we had intended (by we I mean I, because I did all of this without Mr. Ashley's knowledge and hesitated to even confess what had happened after the fact. If he hadn't asked for specific details regarding the egg transaction, I probably wouldn't have volunteered them) and we will have more eggs than we had originally planned.

BUT this is okay, because as we know, all of the eggs will not hatch. Also, them coming from two different locations increases our odds of getting some to actually hatch. Plus, some of those will be roosters, which will be Craigslisted. Besides, I was going to purchase actual chicks at one point anyway, way back at the beginning of this whole plan, so whatever. And the incubator was free. It's fine. It's done.

No more E-bay for me.

They're Multiplying

So Brad and Angelina named the twins Knox and Vivienne.

For the record, I'm totally over these two. I think they're starting to look haggard (I'd still do either one of them, in a heartbeat) and the number of kids is getting a little crazy-ish, Duggar-style.

However, I totally love their taste in names. The only one I don't love is Zahara, and I'm sure it means something, it's not awful or anything. I LOVE the name Shiloh and Vivienne is gorgeous. Knox is pretty darn good for a celebrity baby name. I've always loved Maddox (the kid and the name) and I'm cool with Pax. Hot damn that's a lot of kids.

What's up with so many celebrities having twins lately? Particularly girl/boy twins? Don't get me wrong, I'm as glad as anyone that there is a miniature Brad Pitt in our presence, but girl/boy celebrity twins seem to be the next "in" thing and I'm just wondering how they're all doing it.

It's a little bit freaky, that's all.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do The Funky Chicken, Or Not?

So, I'm wondering if I just need to get over my desire for pretty blue colored eggs, in order to broaden my search.



(Yes, I've still thought of nothing other than acquiring new chicks today)

The blue eggs are just so pretty. I think they would bring me so much delight. The chickens they come from look like your typical chickens too, which is what I had in mind. But maybe I should just go with the cheapest or most easily available eggs instead? And deprive myself the pleasure of a glimpse of Tiffany & co. blue every once in a while?

There are lots of interesting chicken breeds out there (bet you didn't know that), but in all honesty, the ones that don't look like your average "little red hen" kind of freak me out. Could I come to love a face like this:

Punk - silkie hen

Ebay the frizzle

Turken Roo


Silkies 2


Surely, as their mother, I would love them even if the sight of them sort of creeps me out, right? I don't think I could love one of those naked neck things, my dad had one and it scared me, plus her neck always got sunburned. The silkies and frizzles are a little bit cute though, in a troll-doll sort of way. Perhaps the look would grow on me?

Also, can I confess that chicken feet really creep me out? Turkey feet are the worst, gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about them. I was going to provide a photo, but it's really hard to find a photo of chicken feet still attached to the chicken. I'm way more traumatized now.

The ick factor will go away once they are my very own babies, right? If I have a chance to gradually adjust to the growing feet and/or the odd looking chicks, things should be fine, correct? That must be how it works for the parents of ugly children, because they all seem to love their kids just as much as the rest of us love our cute ones.

Rich People Suck

I know I said I would never do E-bay again, but I was mourning my chicks that will never be and in a late night attempt to make myself feel better, I bid on 10 fertilized eggs from a chicken breed that I really like (they lay blue eggs, our other chicks were just going to be mutts).

Well, there are two hours left and some asshat went and outbid me. Against my better judgment, I tried a higher bid, but this a-hole obviously has more disposable income than I do.

I feel like our second batch of Closet Chicks have been stolen from us already. WE MUST HAVE CHICKS, DAMNIT!

And we don't want to wait a freaking month or more. I need new chicks NOW.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Juno

just restored my faith in movies.

I was starting to think that all current movies pretty much sucked.

AWESOME movie, and that girl is a great actor.

(adorable! all of it!)

No 5 Second Rule

Big Kid: No, I'm frowing my lollipop away because it dest fell on da floor. You can't have it, little kid. GET AWAY. Are you twyin' to get stuff in da garbage? 'Cuz it's in da garbage.

little kid: NOOOO!

Big Kid: Excuse me? Excuuuuse me? Did you say no to me? I BET you did. Do you want to choose a choice? Do you want to have fun out here or just be a bad, bad eater?

(sounds of a struggle)

Hey, I tode you not to try to get da lollipop. I frowed it in da garbage, little kid. Bad boy! You can't get it fwom da garbage. Fine, you're a bad eater. You choose bad eating. I can't believe you would want to be so discustin'. MOM! MUDDER!! He dest ate a cracker out of da garbage! I CANNOT BEWIEVE YOU ARE EATIN' GARBAGE, LITTLE KID. MOOOOOOOM.

Ashley: (finally rising from the couch, where I have been blogging their argument thus far) Okay, he already chewed it up, nothing I can do about it now. little kid, I have told you NOT to eat things out of the garbage. Stay out of the laundry room. This is insane, I shouldn't have to tell you this stuff.

Big Kid: (Bursts into tears) He ate garbage. He's gonna be sick. Oh no!! Oh nooooo, little kid, I can't bewieve you're gonna be sick. Don't eber do it again, promise me you won't eber do it again. WAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

Ashley: (stunned silence, along with little kid) Um, Big Kid...it's okay. It was half a cracker, still in the cellophane even. I promise, he won't be sick.

Big Kid: (sobbing) You don't know nothin' about germs. He will be sick. It was in dere wif garbage. He will be sick forevuh. I cannot bewieve you did dis little kid, dat you ate garbage. I dest still can't eben bewieve it.

I've finally managed to calm him down (and move the garbage can further away, it was too close to the baby gate) but I will admit to being totally shocked by Big Kid's reaction. WOW.

The hand washing obsession obviously runs deeper than the amusement of soap and water. I have no idea how I ended up giving birth to a germ freak, but he is living in the wrong house to have that level of concern.

edited to add: Not that we regularly eat things out of the garbage, but we are proponents of the five second rule. I just doubt we live up to his expectations in terms of sanitation, which seem extraordinarily high for a four year old.

All of you

who are excited about the Closet Chicks...you might want to postpone the excitement. I had one stinker that I had to throw away, and I'm very suspicious that most (all) of the rest are yolkers. Those are official faux farming terms and I'm not 100% on what they mean, but it's not good.

Not good at all.

I'm going to give it a few more days, because what could it hurt at this point, but I think it's safe to say that it's time to start looking around for new eggs to hatch.

Boom Then Crash

HERE is a really depressing, but accurate article about the dismal outlook in Florida right now.

I am seeing it all around me. It's unbelievable how far so many have fallen.

Let's pray for a non-existent hurricane season.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Any Gays in The Closet?

I'm watching "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" and I'm wondering how The Gays feel about it. Are they offended? Because I'm a little bit offended for them.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of it is funny, if you're immature enough to still think Adam Sandler humor is funny (I am) but some parts make me a little uncomfortable in a "that's not cool" sort of way.

edited to add: I finally got to the end (why wasn't The Other Boleyn Girl that long?) and I've just got to say...queerest movie ever.

And that has nothing to do with homosexuality.

What a waste of time.

Homemade Wipes & More Poor LivingTips

Yay! You all liked the poor people post, so I have some stuff to add to it. However, I don't know what updates do to you lazy asses that don't actually come to the site (aka you Reader users) so I'll just do a new post as a continuation, instead of doing it the way that I would prefer.

Many of you are impressed with the effort I must put forth to make my own baby wipes. Effort? I thought you all knew me better than that. Here is the effort involved:

-Grab roll of paper towels.
-Cut roll of paper towels in half with an electric carving knife, or a serrated knife. (This is the bulk of the effort. If you do it with a serrated knife, you'll "feel the burn" for about two seconds and could call it a work out if you really like to stretch the truth. If you use the carving knife, it's just plain fun. You're sawing shit in half in your kitchen.)
-Mix one coffee cup full of water, one small squirt of baby wash and supposedly a squirt of baby oil, but I haven't had any so I just skipped it. Slosh it all together.
-Place paper towel half roll in plastic shoe box, pour solution over it, put top on and give it a little shake.
-Pull cardboard tube out of the middle, in theory the towel in the middle follows you out and makes it easy to pull the rest of the towels apart.

It's really ridiculously easy. I use the Costco-cheap paper towels too, although others swear by Viva. We're too poor for the velvety richness and thickness of Viva.

Both little half rolls will fit in the shoebox together. However, and I did not mention this to you yesterday because I do still struggle with the shame of it all, we like to stick the other half roll up in the pantry and then when we DO use paper towels (which we try not to do), we use those, and a lot less paper towels as a result. I was filling another container with the other half roll and making a vinegar and water solution for cleaning wipes, but last night I saw they molded a little. Maybe a bleach solution would work better. Or maybe I need to clean more and use them up faster. I'm onto something there though, it was very cheap for being convenient.

I'm also really loving Costco these days. Now that I've managed not to buy all of the cute/fancy/fun stuff that they tempt me with, it really is a bargain. I get their generic dishwasher detergent (I think it might be $7 for two ginormous bottles) and it used to last me two months. Because I'm a dork, I'm going to start writing the date I opened it on the bottle and see how long I can make it last now that I use the BARE MINIMUM of it. I bet a long time. The organic washing machine detergent I got from there is lasting me forever because I probably only fill the cup a less of a quarter of the way and then fill the rest with the water filling up the washer and pour it all in.

We also buy the industrial sized cans of fruit cocktail and peaches for $4 a piece. Once we open one, we pour it into two tall tupperware containers we have and just ladle it out of there for the month. No more individually packaged fruit for us. We'll package it ourselves, thanks.

Speaking of extra packaging, we're also eliminating juice boxes from the house. We have one case that we got on sale that I put up at the top of the pantry for beach trips and other outings. Other than that, you get a cup of juice, or these days, water with a juice flavoring, we're all about dilution. I also dilute the dish soap with water...works great. Before school starts, I'm buying Big Kid a small stainless steel thermos to pack in his lunch. Once again, environmentally friendly, colder beverages AND cheaper. Seriously, it's not that inconvenient to pour juice in a cup and then wash the cup at the end of each day.

I don't have a Swiffer Wet Jet, and I don't clean, but my girl Gretchen has figured out how to refill hers. I DO have a microfiber cloth and can attest to their amazingness, if you use them. I think I'm going to start using a vinegar solution if and when I do clean but I hate that it smells like ass. I was wondering if you could add essential oils to the solution so that it would smell better? Is that wishful thinking? I like my citrus-y goodness smells.

I've also been stalking Craigslist. I haven't got anything yet because I don't have any money, but people are getting rid of some GOOD stuff. I eventually want bunk beds for the boys (I plan on moving them into one room and making the other room a playroom...stay tuned for that) and I figure if I just keep my eyes open long enough, the perfect set will fall into my lap for super cheap. I love used stuff. It's almost always better than new stuff and it's always different. My house is FILLED with used stuff, I love things with character. These things haven't always been less expensive than their new counterparts, because I love antiques, but they are always better.

I was a member of Freecycle, but haven't been doing as much of that lately. There are only so many WANTED: NEW LAPTOP OR A WII messages I could handle, I was pretty sure I would get kicked out forever if I responded how I wanted to.

I do agree with what The Renee said in the comments, our family is also having more fun now that we're broke. We actually go to the free movies and sneak in popcorn, we keep an eye out for community events, and are surprised by how many are available when you actually seek them out. Oh, and if you are a Bank of America customer, you can go to museums for free the first weekend of every month. I would have to travel a decent distance to take advantage of it, and with the price of gas it isn't likely to happen, but it could work out nicely for some of you.

Okay, I think that's all of the money saving tips I have right now. I'm going to go save money by not cleaning.

Raising Them Right

Once PBS Kids ends in the morning, some cooking and art shows come on.

Somehow, Big Kid is convinced that these shows are part of PBS Kids and I have to watch two hours of this programming (usually one cooking show, one artist painting clouds and trees show) before we switch to Nickelodeon for the afternoon.

Him and little kid were just lying in front of the television watching someone make Zucchini meatballs.

"Dose sure look good. Dey are little balls of hambughers wif da vegetables right in dere too. Dey took a cheese gwater and dest chopped 'em all up, put 'em right in dere wif da hambugher 'cuz it makes 'em juicy." Big Kid announced.

"Mmmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmm," answered little kid, enthusiastically.

"Our mudder will make does for us, little kid. And if she does not know how, we will dest teach her, or maybe even dest make 'em ourselves."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Comprehensive Guide to Being Poor

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So, I thought I would take a minute and update you all on how the whole "being poor" thing is going.

Honestly? Not that bad. Don't get me wrong, if someone pops up with an offer for me to never be poor again, I'll take it, no noble misgivings about it.

Now that I've had a taste of both, being poor is not as fun as being rich. Oh no. It's stressful and not very convenient. But it has been a learning experience.

I'm sure some of you remember that I am now forced to live without Tivo and with no satellite television. The first few days of this were a little rough. Big Kid had difficulty adjusting to the inability to pause live tv or to summons whatever show struck his fancy with the push of one button. I went through a couple of days of withdrawal from my Discovery ID true crime channel and missed several Oprahs before I realized that I was now responsible for catching them on time. But miraculously, like the true survivors that we are, we have pulled through, practically unscathed.

Big Kid now enjoys shows like Mister Rogers and Reading Rainbow. I cannot tell you how much more enjoyable these shows are to listen to than Higglytown Heroes or the Doodlebops. We still have Nickelodeon, so we get our daily doses of Spongebob and Icarly, so really, it's almost like nothing's changed. I just watch more A&E now.

We've even decided that satellite and tivo most likely won't be added back into our monthly expenditures. A commenter here once said that her family does without cable so that they can afford lavish vacations every couple of years. Would I rather have 80 extra channels of crap, or money towards a trip to Paris?

Using that same mindset, we canceled all of the extras on our cell phones and switched to a plan with a lot less minutes. We have to be a little more conscious of how long we chat on the phone and we can't text (I never wanted to anyway), but for the savings involved, those are minor inconveniences. We switched to Vonage for our home phone and so far, so good on that front.

Just checking all of our monthly expenses and cutting out all of the extras, saved us over $250 a month. Sure, $30 here and $40 there doesn't seem like a lot, but eventually it is! I'm amazed by how painless these cuts have been too, I'm annoyed I didn't realize I could live without it all before.

For entertainment, we have splurged on the $11 per month Blockbuster netflix-like movie account. We make sure that we watch the movie the day it comes in and we try to drop it off at the store so we get the next one faster. During transit time, we've been stopping by Wal-mart and renting Redbox movies. Do you all know about this miraculous movie vending machine? It's freaking awesome. There's A TON (that's a link, by the way) of discount codes, we haven't had to pay for a movie yet (but they are only $1 per night) and we're good about getting them back on time (so far).

For books, I'm totally on board with www.paperbackswap.com I still have a couple of books to read, but I'm definitely going to do this. You just have to pay shipping on whatever books you send out to others. By the way, if any of you has a copy of Middlesex or Peony in Love lying around, I'll trade you something for it. Email me, I'm dying to read both of those.

Interestingly enough, I think we are eating better than ever now that we're broke. We're forced to plan meals, and eat, or otherwise use, our leftovers. I believe I told you all about Angel Food Ministries(there seems to be a problem with their site right now). Well, we picked up our food and were amazed by what we got for $65! We got a ton of food and it all looks great! It's not just for poor people either, they are able to provide the discount since the food is ordered in advance, and in bulk. So if you have one in your area, you should check it out! If you don't have one in your area, check for SHARE Food Network. I think it is very similar. It is a wonderful service and has helped us out tremendously this month. We're having steak, potatoes and homemade bread tonight...not so shabby for poor people!

We've made other minor changes, too. I've been making my own baby wipes...and this is fine. I've been doing something similar for home cleaning wipes and that works too. I'm embarrassed that I've paid other people to wet paper towels for me for so long. We've also made an effort to not use paper towels unless completely necessary. We have a drawer full of dishcloths, cloth napkins, and wash cloths and we keep the paper towels in a pain-in-the-butt spot to access, so we actually take a moment to realize that a cloth would work just as well and reach for one of those instead. I've also cut all of the fabric softener sheets in half (took one second, works just as well), use the BARE minimum of laundry and dish detergent (noticed no difference) and wash almost everything on LIGHT or COLD (again, no difference.)

I've been getting our produce at the weekend flea market/farmer's market which is right down the street. It's cheap AND it hasn't traveled 1400 miles before landing in my kitchen. We've also practically cut Coke and beer out of the budget entirely. I drink Crystal Light's Raspberry Tea, Raspberry Ice, or pink lemonade like it's going out of style. It's cheap and way better for me than Coke (but I still LOVE me some Coke. Always will.)

We just make a real effort to use less. Luckily, being cheap is also known as being green these days. Not only are we saving money, we're using less and making less of an impact on the environment. I've even washed out some Ziploc bags and reused them. There, I admitted it. Ain't no shame. I'm even seriously considering making my only laundry detergent.

I'm also going to try to be one of those crazy coupon people when it comes to buying household items and toiletries. I thought THIS was a very insightful article on the cycle of coupons and sales. I used to pay to do The Grocery Game which helps you match up coupons to sales, and I'm pretty sure this is the same theory (but free). Hotcouponworld.com also has a ton of useful coupon information.

I love to bargain shop and have always enjoyed spending time on sites like slickdeals.net or fatwallet.com. The trick is not to buy all of the good deals that you don't need. It's fun to score a cheap bargain high. I dragged the whole family to Staples twice this week so that we could stock up on their one cent deals. We were all astonished and giddy when the total was $.04, even the cashier was beaming. So we got a lifetime supply of pencils for $.16 total. Yay us! Good, cheap, productive fun.

The scariest part of this whole unemployment thing has been having to cancel our health insurance. Someone pointed me towards Needymeds.com when I was worried about how I was going to pay for my prescription. I was apprehensive about this and certain it would be a whole big hassle, but I just filled out the application, had my doctor sign it, and received 90 days worth of free medicine in my mailbox a few weeks later. What a godsend!

Luckily, thanks to my awesome, well connected cousin Jules (also the provider of my fake ID, many moons ago), Mr. Ashley might be getting a job with benefits. We should know by the end of the week, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. Things look really good though, they're saying it's just a matter of red tape. Hopefully that will be the beginning of the end of our Adventure in Uncertainty.

I'm also pretty sure that I'll get an awesome writing gig any minute now and I'll be so rich that we'll look back on this post and laugh...and I probably still won't have satellite, or pay for the luxury of pre-moistened toilettes, because I'd rather use that money to stay in a castle or tour some pyramids or rent a yacht for the Ashley's Closet Cruise.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sunday Born on Monday Kidman Urban

Sunday Rose Kidman Urban...who was born on a Monday?

Is it just me or does it sound like the beginning of a Shel Silverstein poem?

Sunday is a cute enough name, especially for a celebrity baby, but a Sunday born on a Monday? With Kidman Urban on top? It's just absurd and involves too many two syllable words.

Even Sunday Rose Urban would have been an adorable name, until the inevitable and awkward, "Cute, was she born on a Sunday?"

No. No, she was not. Close though. Monday just didn't have the same ring.

Eureeka!

I have found it! The bottom of the laundry sorter--it DOES exist! I think it's been five or six years since it has last been sighted, but lo and behold, it is there! Within sight! Yay Ashley!

I've also been working. I've got two shoots to edit, I have GOT TO get back on the whole store thing, and I desperately need to update the gallery on my photography site.

So I'm back to editing the little pink petticoat girl for now. I miss you all like you miss me though.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Late Night Rambling

I'm up late feeling anxious about my embryos. I'm not positive that I have any. We're on day 9, I should see something, but I don't know. How do I know I'm not just seeing a yolk? Maybe my "candling" light is just not bright enough? I'm getting a new light tomorrow, I need to know. I'm not going to turn hardboiled eggs three times a day, or waste any love on them. (Because I do feel a little tender towards the eggs, I am their mother hen, after all.)

Also, during the domain name move, my technorati page rank was affected. I shouldn't even care, I check it every couple of months and whatever, it's not life altering. But I am a little annoyed. I was sort of fond of the old page rank. Oh well, we're all together here with our fancy new domain name and that's all that matters. They can just kiss my ass with their page rank crap. I may never check it again, just to punish them.

I saw this before and after celebrity photoshop article today and it made me feel better as a human being, and as a photographer, so behold--and know that your big pores and splotchiness isn't as abnormal as it seems when you're peering into the medicine cabinet mirror.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dead Baby Dumbo

I know I've posted about elephants who paint before, but THIS elephant painted an elephant. I was always under the impression that humans are superior to every other life form (in our own opinion) because we are able to use tools and possess self awareness. (I might have made that up, but nevertheless, it is the impression I was under.) This elephant and his self portrait really astounded me.

He also reminded me of a real estate client I used to have. He had an adorable Cape Cod style house on a couple of acres in a highly sought after area of town. He was a "for sale by owner"and it was priced right and I couldn't believe it wasn't selling.

I began stalking them and soon got the listing. As I toured the home for the first time, I walked into their family room and froze in my tracks.

IT WAS FULL OF DEAD ANIMALS.

We all know that I'm animal-sensitive. We all know that I get a little weird about guns and killing things. Therefore, I'm afraid you will think I am exaggerating when I tell you that he had dead, stuffed animals that would rival any museum's collection.

From what I remember (because the "Room of Death", as I came to call it, has thankfully blurred a little from my memory), the list included: a lion head, a rhino head, a wildebeest head, a flock of assorted birds, a full bobcat, a zebra skin rug, tiger skin on the wall, a full sized monkey (think Rafiki in the lion king), a coffee table made of elephant legs, two elephant leg side tables, an elephant head over the couch and his crowning achievement...a full sized, complete baby elephant.

He explained that he was a big game hunter and that he had paid to go on hunts and Africa and have his "trophies" stuffed and shipped home.

"Is this legal?" I asked, unable to conceal my astonishment.

"Yes it is, perfectly so", he insisted smugly.

"It's legal to hunt baby elephants?"

"It's mother was the trophy", he said, nodding to the coffee table. "She was pregnant and that was the fetus", he claimed, nodding to the fully developed, absolutely darling little elephant.

"How do potential buyers react when they see this?" I asked, with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

Looking annoyed, he answered, "Like everyone else, they're surprised and curious. It has nothing to do with the house though, none of it is staying, it shouldn't matter."

Always the optimist, I entered into a listing agreement and a formal relationship with The Room of Death and it's keeper.

I brought my office through for a tour during our weekly caravan of new listings and cringed when the first person walked into the family room and exclaimed, "Oh wow." Everyone filed in and stood there in shock, then the questions started. Incredulity, then anger, then sadness followed. The rest of the tour was plagued with "Poor Dumbo" remarks and disbelief that anyone could relax in that room.

I came to learn for myself how hard it was to relax in that room. It was the room in the house that had the television in it and was attached to the kitchen. I spent many open houses trying hard to avoid that room when I was alone, certain that the sad herd of dead animals were staring at me with their mournful glass eyes as I refilled my water glass.

Buyers generally followed the same cycle of disbelief/anger/sadness and were completely distracted from the house. One woman burst into tears upon seeing the baby elephant. One guy said that he couldn't imagine doing business with someone like this. Several felt he should be reported to someone, somewhere. Other realtors hated showing the house. I tried warning people, getting it over with first, saving it for last, reminders that it would all be gone, and more advertising. A couple of people were more curious/amazed than outraged, but everyone was distracted and had a tough time moving on from The Room of Death.

Finally, I told the wife that it was a problem (Yes, he had a wife. AND kids. Can you imagine watching cartoons with Rafiki standing in the corner? Opening Christmas gifts with Dead Baby Dumbo watching??) and she told me to take it up with him, but that it probably wouldn't go well.

So I told him that it was a distraction and that the sheer abundance of stuff in the room made it look small, dark and cluttered and that perhaps we should consider moving everything but the tv and the couch into storage, until his new home was built.

He was instantly annoyed and insisted that no, he wasn't going to and it wasn't a big deal.

I explained that people were unable to remember anything about the house other than the Room of Death, that people were crying, and refusing to allow their kids to enter the room.

He said that was ridiculous and that he wasn't putting tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff into storage and that it had to remain in air conditioning.

I told him about nearby air conditioned storage and that his house was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and had to be sold, and offered to reimburse the cost of storage out of my commission.

No, he insisted. His stuff could not be handled unnecessarily.

I believe I even proposed draping some of the larger pieces with sheets and at this point he was just angry and not budging on how much this should just not matter. But it did. As construction on their new home began to finish up, they reduced the price. Great home, great deal, great location, great market, plenty of showings...but no offers and too much feedback re: The Room of Death.

Finally, the listing contract expired and I wasn't surprised, or even that upset, when they decided to go with another agent. They moved into their new home two weeks later, taking the Room of Death with them. Two days later, the first couple who saw the home vacant purchased it. The listing agent, who had barely gotten around to listing it on MLS little less advertising it, had both sides of the deal and made $40,000 worth of commission, and was praised by the owners for being such a great salesperson.

So the moral of the story is not to display dead Disney characters in a home that you're trying to sell and/or that it can really suck to be a real estate agent sometimes.

Here's a link of a photo of an elephant skin. It's an odd picture that I bookmarked a while ago, that will probably never fit into a post better than this one, so there you go.

Here are some links of how elephants mourn and honor the bones of other elephants who have died.

Here is a National Geographic video of elephants mourning their matriarch.





and just because this hasn't gotten depressing enough (I didn't mean for it to go this way, I swear I didn't), here is a video of an elephant encountering the bones of an old friend.


Poor elephants.

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