Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If I had some duct tape, I could fix that

So here's my dining room in its stripped down before holiday decorating state.

Now the reason that I'm showing you this is because I want you to see how low the chandelier hangs. Which is perfectly fine when there's a table directly under it, but not so fine when I move the table out from under it to make room for a second table during--say--a major holiday like Thanksgiving.  By 'not so fine' I mean that a person who is trying to set these two tables (me) will hit her head on said chandelier many, many times. (15. At least) Or, she will until she comes up with a brilliant, inspired plan that would bring MacGyver to tears.

First I got some extra large, heavy book rings like the big ones here:

Then I got my handyman (Drew) to climb up on a ladder to carry out my instructions.  I'd have climbed up on the ladder myself, but while my brain power might rival MacGyver's, my balance most certainly does not. Plus, I'm way better at the bossing around part than the actual doing part.

Anyway, I had Drew thread a book ring first through a link on the hanging chain and then through the fixture's loop. Then I had him repeat the process two more times just in case one of those little suckers decided to spring open in the middle of the dessert course. I made sure that he used the same link for all three rings so that if one did break, the force from the fall wouldn't spring the others open. Does that make sense? I also had him turn the openings to different points--one on top, one on bottom and one in the middle to distribute the tension or uh something. (Two semesters of Physics people) Now if one opened, it would be ok because the other two would hold it in place. And if all three decided to spring open--well then darn Newton and all of his stinkin' laws.


And for the visually discriminating--note the difference in hanging height. No more bonked heads! And bonus, none of the rings opened or even cracked a nanometer in the 3 days they held the chandelier up to a head clearing height.

 And oh so much simpler than pulling out the pliers, prying those links open and then squeezing them closed again only to have to undo the process a few days later. Sometimes I just hate it when I'm right. But not today, folks. Not today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Despite the Evidence to the Contrary

My kids are not always calm, peaceful, perfect little dumplings. Which is why after a seemingly endless vacation from the routine of school, I am sitting here on a Monday morning rejoicing in the silence of the house like I'm surrounded by gold coins rather than the absence of sound waves. Judge me all you want, just so long as you do it in a library whisper. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

1 Holiday, 12 Labels

The Tables

The Guests

The Baby Whisperer

The Appetizers

The Crazy-Haired Hostess

The Turkey & Crazy Hair

The Turkey After PopPop Had His Way With It

The Story Snatcher

The Photographer:

Most Photogenic

The Runner Up

The Late Night Gobblers

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hello Big Boy

Yesterday, Drew questioned why it was that I needed to clean out and rearrange the refrigerator at 8AM. He even went so far as to accuse me of taking on more than I really needed to during my time of stress. But then today we got a visitor named Willie.

And now Drew understands.  Like I said, there's a method to my madness. Better recognize.

Scatterbrained Anonymous (SA)

I must confess that at times I can be a bit--um--unfocused. My brain jumps from thing to thing, and I rarely ever do projects in a linear, sequential kind of order. Instead of starting and finishing one task I have several chores all in various stages of completion. As you can imagine this method has the potential to turn into mad chaos if I don't keep a tight handle on it. In the off chance that I am not the only one with such organizational problems, I'd like to offer a holiday gift wrangling tip for other members of SA--I mean surely I can't be the only one, right?

In the Mellon house, we have several different gift exchanges with  family and friends, and they all have different specifications as far as price goes. Since I tend to shop in an "Oh look at that, I bet Suzie Q would just love that, I think I'll get it" fashion rather than by a specific list or plan, it taxes my poor brain trying to keep track of who I've bought for and who I haven't. So here is what I do.

For every needed gift purchase, I commandeer a shopping bag that I label with the recipient's name and any $ limits or theme information. Then as I buy gifts in my preferred, randomized way, I just place them in the bag and record it on the handy attached slip. Observe:

And yes, sometimes I do accidentally buy something for someone who's bag is already full. This is the reason why I only buy people gifts that I would also enjoy receiving so that I can just keep it for myself when this occurs. Method. Madness. Impressed aren't you?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gotta know when to hold 'em

  Whoa boy, is this girl stubborn. She'll throw down attitude with nary a care for all the minutes she's going to end up spending in time out because of it. The smallest of slights will set her on a crying jag that can last hours. Here's just a snippet of what it sounds like when the little tyrant doesn't get her way--like say when Mama is so mean as to not allow her to play the kitty game on the iPhone unless she washes her sticky fingers first.

Say it with me: Drama Queen.  Good times, Good times.

Just when I think I've reached the end of my rope and my only remaining option is to send her away to live in a convent, the little monkey completely changes her strategy and plays the "Look how cute and innocent I am Mama" card instead.

 One look at that, and I am willing to completely forgive all of the hair pulling she'd put me through earlier. She must have some kind of warning bell installed in her brain that rings the alarm when she's almost used up the last of her earned adorableness credit because she always throws out that sweetness ace at the moment that I'm hanging on to my remaining sanity by the loosest of grips. Girl is a Trouble Card Shark. 

Still, even the mightiest of us fall from time to time, and one day she might find herself going all in at the moment I decide to go ahead and call her bluff.  Maybe that's the only way the girl will learn that sometimes you just have to fold 'em. Just in case that lesson is a little too abstract for a 2 year old, I think I'm going to slip a few of those boarding school brochures under her pillow, too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is that you Casper?

For those of your that follow my Twitter feed or are my Facebook friend, you might remember a post awhile ago about a poltergeist doing crazy things to the light in Andy's office. If you don't follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I just have to ask WHY NOT? I mean clearly I post very enlightening and entertaining status updates, aren't you bummed to be missing out on them? No really, the gist of the story is that when I hijacked Drew's office to work on my writing, I was derailed by a spastic light fixture that randomly turned on and off, then turned the fan on low, then high, then low, then off. It was nuts.

So of course I had to post about it on the internet, but also I had to tell the hubster about it as soon as he walked in the door. That went something like this:

Me: "Hidearhowwasyourdayandbythewaywehaveapoltergeistlivinginyourofficewholikestoplaygameswiththelightmakingitblinkonandoffoverandoveragain."

Andy: Huh. That's never happened to me before. Can I take my coat off now?

And I knew that would be his response and that if he went into the room to test the light for himself that it would work perfectly for him. Like the time the toaster wouldn't work, so I plugged it into the other receptacle, still didn't work, so I tried the can opener but it didn't work either so I told Andy the outlet was fried. So he came in and plugged in the toaster to the same outlet, and (surprise, surprise) it worked just fine for him. That is how it always goes around here--things break for me, I tell Drew, they work for him, he gives me that "It's ok that you're a little crazy Mellon, I love you anyway" look while the ghost snickers in the background at the perfect execution of his diabolical plan. But I outsmarted him and the stinking other-wordly visitor this time--I took a video! God bless the iPhone and all of its handy little gadgets.

After watching the screen that I shoved in his face before he could get his shoes off, the man had no choice but to admit that there was something wonky going on with fan in his office. For awhile, I bathed in the delighted glow of having proven my sanity. But today, the glow has gone. You see,  the husband decided that he needed a new fan since this one has a weird donut shaped light bulb that requires you to take the fan apart to replace it. Seeing how neither one of us is what you could call mechanically capable, that meant we had to call in a professional to install the new fixture. And that would be why I'm sitting here now waiting for the electrician to arrive--just another in the long list of chores I'd really prefer not to be doing this month. I just can't win for losing--but at least I'm not crazy. Yet.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

But I want my knee high boots!

First, I would like to start this blog post with two photos of my little bundles of joy. I offer this as a sort of pre-reward for having to read the rest of the whining in the post. It's not pretty, in fact feel free to just skip on out of here after viewing the kiddies. I won't hold it against you, in fact I'd do the same if it weren't me who was doing the whining.

So it has recently come to my attention that there are not enough hours in the day nor active neurons firing in my brain for me to accomplish everything that I want & need to accomplish in the month of November. I am being forced to come to terms with the fact that I am not a Super Woman, and honestly the dawning realization is really starting to torque me off. Mainly because I'd like to wear a cute little skirt and cape, but also because when something has to give on my list it always is the things that I want to do rather than the things I need to do--which frankly are quite boring and dreadful chores and tasks.

So yes, I'm stressed, and I've noticed that when I start to feel this way, the only thing I want to do is sleep. I guess it's a survival mechanism? Sleep until the pressure alleviates itself? Except the problem is that if I do sleep as much as my body is demanding, then nothing at all will get done. So, I trudge on through, and cross my fingers that everyone stays alive during this time. On the bright side, I think that I still look mighty cute--

at least on the days when I take the time to do so. Other days...
not so much.

Friday, November 12, 2010

17,445 Words Down, 32,555 to Go

Did anyone remember that November is National Novel Writing Month? What's a NaNoWriMo you ask? Essentially the goal is to write a 50,000 word 'novel' in 30 days. I see now the wave of understanding that is washing over your faces as you begin to see why I've been more spacey than usual the past 12 days. Simply put, it is because NaNoWriMo has fried my brain, eaten my soul and proceeded to spit out the remains. That is what I am currently functioning on--my own regurgitated brain and soul.  So yea, overall things are going swimmingly. It's an exercise in absurdity, so how could it be otherwise?

If you'll recall, in 2008 I finished my 50,000 words, but the story was only half told at that point. It sucked so bad that I have only looked at it twice since. Both times I slammed the laptop shut and wept for three days while surviving on a diet of Peanut M&Ms and Laughing Cow cheese. That masterpiece now resides on the hard drive of a laptop that has been replaced twice since then. So yea, it's pretty much gone for good.

Then in 2009, I started out meeting each day's word goal with ease. I felt ok about that little story, but remember the purpose here is not quality, but quantity--so we weren't talking future Pulitzer winner or anything. But then I got the swine--as in the flu not Pig.com--and that pretty much killed all hopes for finishing that project. That little essay resides on the hard drive of the laptop that replaced the 2008 model. Still harvestable if the urge ever strikes though I doubt it ever will.

Enter 2010: I actually prepared for this year a bit by doing something completely crazy that I had never done before in either of the previous two NaNo's: I sketched out an actual plot. Not a good plot, but at least I have somewhere to take the characters that I've created. I am hoping that this plan will not only get me to the 50k goal, but also will leave me with a rough draft of something I'd actually like to see again. Something that I would be willing to put the time and effort into editing and polishing. And if not, well there's always next year, right? 

Just another Friday morning

  • Chase is super proud of his idea to layer his short-sleeved WVU football jersey over a long sleeved one. To hear him talk about it now, you'd never guess that he threw a 15 minute whinefest precisely 7 days ago when I suggested he use the exact same trick. 
  • Amaya Papaya is having an identity crisis. She's not sure if she wants to be a big girl or be my baby girl. Which means one minutes she's begging to be carried and then the next she's squiggling in my arms saying, "No, Amaya do it". Keeps me on my toes. 
  • Drew informs me that there are big changes coming soon to Pig.com. This is husband code for: I'm going to be sneaking away to my office quite frequently in the next few days. Pretend you don't notice and I might bring you a latte.
  • I'm trying to talk myself out of not talking myself out of going to Body Pump. If you followed that quagmire then I am truly impressed.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Can't Say 'Thank You' Enough

I know I've been picking on him just a wee bit this week, but today I'd like wish my dad and all the other men & women who have served or are currently serving our country a Happy Veterans Day.

Thank you so very much for answering the call, for all of the sacrifices you have made and will continue to make, and for proudly standing in harm's way to defend our freedom. God Bless America!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If wishes were horses, all Mellons would ride

The other day, one of my facebook friends posted that she had made beef bourgogne for dinner. I was immediately reminded of the movie Julie & Julia. Well immediately after my initial feeling of being pea green with envy that she had the skill and desire to make such a fancy dinner on a week night anyway.  For anyone who doesn't know, that movie was a mini-dual biography of Julia Child and a blogger named Julie Powell. The premise is that Julie decides to make all 524 recipes in Julia's cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in 365 days while documenting the process daily on her blog. From this experience, Ms. Powell wrote and published a memoir and had a major motion picture made about her life. Pretty neat, right?

So here's what I'm thinking: I could totally be the next Julie Powell. I'm just one ridiculous project away from major stardom here people. All I need is a concept, and I'll be on my own way to fame and fortune. So what should it be? Should I watch every Martha Stewart show and make every intricate craft she showcases? Or maybe follow the Twinkie diet until I shrivel on down to Kate Moss's size? Or perhaps I should go the other end of the spectrum and train for an Iron Man competition. Or feed my family of 4 on $35 a week. Or teach my dog to bark the alphabet. Why not buy an alpaca and learn to knit my own sweaters from its wool? Or build my own bomb shelter using only edible materials??

The list of absurd goals I could aim for just keeps growing and growing. I'm having trouble focusing and choosing just the right insane endeavor to pursue. So I can either give up on the whole idea or y'all (go me) can help me out by leaving me your suggestions. If I end up choosing yours and it leads me to the land of swimming pools and movie stars, I'll invite you to the premiere of my film. At the very least, I'll make you a lovely dinner of beef bourgogne.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Rebuttal: Dad

So I got an email from my dad today in response to yesterday's post. Thankfully, he hasn't written me out of the will yet. Here in his own typed words, Dad's official statement regarding the allegations that he schmoozes his way out of speeding tickets.

Just to set the record straight.    When I was dating your mom, I traded my VW beetle for a Ford Pick-up Truck.  The day I bought it, I  picked up your mom and then went up to interstate 68 to see how fast it would run. I got caught that day, and I was awarded a ticket, not a warning!  Tell Andy that when his hair turns gray he will get a break too. 

There's only one flaw in your reasoning there Papa--Drew doesn't have any hair to go gray. Guess there won't be any ticket avoiding in his future unless by some miracle he learns how to drive like he has sense. Given the odds of that, I might as well start planning on wallpapering my bedroom with traffic citations. très chic

Just one more question: how many tickets did you rack up while cruising along on this contraption?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Consider Yourself Warned

This weekend we met my parents in Winchester to celebrate an uncle's 70th birthday. It was great getting to hang out with some family members that we don't get to see often, and of course the kids had a spectacular time seeing G-Ma and G-Pa and cousins that they'd never met. The highlight of the night for them was probably their picnic in the batcave.

You see, I didn't want them to eat in the living room with everyone else because they're kids and they're messy. So I put them on the kitchen floor under the table so they'd be out of the way of foot traffic. Then to make having to eat on the floor more palatable, I told them that it was their secret lair--their own personal batcave. This is just another example of why I deserve the mother of the year award. 

Anyway, the real point of this story is to talk to you about G-Pa. On the way to the party, my father was driving just a little too fast and consequently was pulled over by the Maryland State Police. But that man somehow talked himself out of a ticket and drove away with only a warning--this even though he had an out of state license plate which practically screams, "FINE ME". 

The kicker here is that it happens all the time. When the man gets pulled over, he uses his country boy charm and head of thick, greying hair to schmooze the officer into letting him go with only a verbal warning. In fact, I think he's been pulled over on the same stretch of 68 at least three times with nary a ticket or court date to show for it. Andy gets fined every single time he's pulled over in his own state. Now granted, Grandpa's 'speeding' is only 10 or so mph over the limit while Drew's tends to veer more towards the "I ain't tryin' to see no highway chase with A" realm, but still. It's just not fair. Which is how I can explain my uncontrollable urge to sing "Criminal, Criminal, Criminal" every time I see my father. And also, how I explain sharing this retro photograph of him. I mean the man simply can not get off scot free. Lessons must be learned. 

I think it's obvious where Chase gets his epic hair

And believe me, I don't hold myself above the need to learn lessons. Perhaps you've noticed that I frequently include the grammatically incorrect ya'll in my writings here. Yes, I knew it was incorrect, but I laughed at the little red line that squiggled under it completely disregarding its suggestion to fix it without even the slightest twinge of remorse. I am such a rebel. 

But why did I fly in in the face of correct grammar in the first place? Because ya'll seems to me to be the most in sync with how I actually pronounce the word. Yes, I know it's a contraction of you and all that should be spelled y'all. But to me that just sounds like "ya-all". Since the y already makes the ya sound, I don't see the need for the all at the end. Of course, given that reasoning I should probably write it y'll or just the phonetic yawl, right? 

But then last night, I began to be riddled with guilt for my grammatically inaccurate ways. What if everyone just started randomly picking which grammar laws she wanted to follow? We'd be immersed in a land of intentional run on sentences and dangling modifiers. That's just not a world I want to raise my children in, you know? So, as Sheriff of the MellonBlogs Grammar Police, I have issued myself a warning. Henceforth, I will make every effort to break my habit of defying the accepted spelling conventions of the y'all contraction. When I fall short, as I'm sure I will after years of contempt for the law, you can feel free to call me a criminal, criminal, criminal. But no fines, y'all.

Friday, November 05, 2010

I practically gift wrapped it for you

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it's officially holiday shopping season people. And you know what that means right?

You're about to find yourself surrounded by enough freaking Styrofoam peanuts and packing tape to wrap around the equator 3 times and still have enough to encase your children in a 2 foot thick bubble of manufactured cushioning. I can't think of anything that I hate more than having to unpack my purchase from this tomb of containment. Hate it. Despise. Detest. Abhor. Yes, all of those.

Which brings me to my first Mellon's Holiday Tip: Do the annoying work for your gift recipients. Unless you're afraid that the person will think that you're giving them a regift or something you've just had lying around the house: Be Kind, Unwind--the object from all of this excessive packing. I know I would thank you profusely if my exposure to that white, crumbly stuff was decreased.  Assembling the gift will give you even more bonus points. However, since this is a very time consuming, labor intensive, bad-word spewing endeavor for me, I save it for only those on my list who have been uber-nice without even a touch of naughty.  So far, there's only one person who meets that criteria...me. Better luck next year folks.

Now that you've decided to spare your giftee the pain of dealing with the packaging nightmare attached to their gift, let's see how we can minimize your frustration, too.  Just because we're generous, it doesn't mean we have to be tortured any more than necessary. Your good karma still counts, trust me.

So we have Mellon's Holiday Tips #2: Try to keep as much of that miserable material in the box as possible.   Don't, I repeat do not, pull out the entire mess on to the floor unless you want your room to look like an overturned snow globe. Snip as much of the tape and other adhesivey nonsense off as you can while everything is still in the box. Try to free as much of the item from its clutches as you can. And that's where you'll need Mellon's Holiday Tip #3: Keep your scissors within easy reach. This as you are no doubt aware can prove difficult when parts, packing and pieces start flying everywhere. Luckily for you, I am here to offer a solution. First, cut a slit in the top flap or sturdy side of the box like so.

It will look like this:

Then open your scissors and wedge them into the slit so that the blade joint is resting against the end of the slit like so:

If your scissors aren't spring loaded like these, apply a little pressure so that the blades start to cut into the cardboard, but not enough to actually do so. And now you have scissors ready to grab as you need them. That they're handle side up to avoid any unintentional slicing of one's skin is just the bow on the box. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Halloween Fail 2010: Parts II & III

Fail Part II

Chase ate a cookie after dinner that must have had some trace amount of nut on it because the poor guy started wheezing and retching. So instead of fueling up for the festivities with treats, we tricked him with a hit of benedryl and an alburterol treatment instead. This was so much fun it should become our pre-trick-or-treating tradition, right?

Fail Part III

Chase started feeling better, so we attempted our annual Halloween Night front porch picture. Drew was in charge of the camera, so I should have known it was not going to go well. This is what all the pictures looked like.

Fuzzy, Focusless, Funny-Faced. The dreaded Triple Fs.

Five minutes later, Chase was throwing himself on the ground screaming, "I give up!" Amaya joined in as a sign of sibling solidarity.

One month, Three fails. Still, if I dig hard enough I can find an equal number of wins.

Win #1--Successful play date photos

Win #2--Happy Trick or Treaters. Chase especially enjoyed singing "The Hound Dog Song" for anyone who asked. Child is a ham.

and Win #3 Awesome jack-o-lanterns

I didn't know at the time I carved it how appropriate mine would be.  Boo to our October Fail and Boo to you too--until next year.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Halloween Fail 2010: Part I

For the first time since Chase was born, we did not make it to Cox Farm during the month of October.  So instead of nice happy farm pictures, we have sad little random pumpkin stand photos. I'm so bummed by this I can't even tell you. I was disheartened to the point that I didn't even want to write this post. But, well it's tradition, so here we go.

Cox Farm October 2006

Cox Farm October 2007

Cox Farm October 2008

Cox Farm October 2009

Random Pumpkin Stand October 2010

Cox Farm October 2008

Cox Farm October 2009

Random Pumpkin Stand October 2010

 You may have noticed that the title of this post was Halloween Fail 2010: Part I.  Yep, there's more. So stay tuned. October just wasn't our month. Hopefully, this little detour on the path of Halloween traditions will straighten itself out by 2011.