Monday, December 31, 2012

If It Wasn't For 2012

It's a good thing that I established low expectations for New Year's Eve a long time ago.  I could try and make it sound like Cory and I are really fun by telling you we're going dancing tonight, and it wouldn't be a complete lie, but the truth is we get to have to chaperone a teenage dance.  If I was a good person I might find some sort of positive spin to put on this, but the way I see it I'm like the guy at the Carnival who has to clean the port-a-potties; you're not really there to have fun, you just have to make sure everyone else is taken care of.  Having said that, I think if I play my cards right I still might end up taking a hot guy home with me.

Say what you will about 2012, some of you might have wished the end of the world to happen as predicted by some on May 21st.  And then October 21st.  No wait, DECEMBER 21st.  As for me, there were a few days I wouldn't like to repeat but for the most part, I will shut the door on 2012 without slamming it and saying, "I HATE YOU!" and stomping away to my room.  After all, if it wasn't for 2012 I never would have seen my daughter turn 16 and start driving and dating.  I never would have seen my son grow 7 inches and win his first basketball game in 3 years.  (Seven inches!  THREE.  YEARS.)  They are the reason I don't have a career making four figures.

If it wasn't for 2012 I never would have learned about Smashburger, seen my brother on National Television, or run into an Anime Convention with Cory on our date night:

If it wasn't for 2012 I never would have gone to Vail and ziplining with my friends:

I wouldn't have seen two nephews get married, danced Gangnam Style in my brother's backyard dance floor or learned these important tips at the Salt Lake City Airport:

I never would have discovered A&E's Duck Dynasty.  This thought actually causes me to panic and have shortness of breath.

If it wasn't for 2012 I wouldn't have been in the middle of nowhere for Thanksgiving when Cory was awakened with a pain that seemed to be competing for a "How Do You Like Me NOW?" award and had to drive him to a hospital an hour away to get him help.  The doctor wouldn't have given him morphine, and he wouldn't have passed a kidney stone, and he wouldn't have been advised not to show it off to me.  (On a pain scale, the kidney stone is often compared to a woman giving birth.  It's not much to look at, and hard to believe such a small thing caused such immense pain, but I will say this - ever since it joined our family it has never asked to borrow money or left its shoes in the hallway.)  Oh, and Cory never would have caught this fish.

If not for 2012 Cory never would have bought a new car only to hit a deer three weeks later, and I never would have walked into my bathroom to discover my shower shattered to bits.

I never would have discovered this sidewalk sign,

or been able to write these notes to my kids' school when they were late.  (Yes, yes I did.)  October 19th was a rough day.

Most importantly, I wouldn't have been able to spend another 365 days with these people. 

 Happy 2013 everyone May your kidneys be free from stones, your roadways void of wildlife, your sidewalks lined with bacon, and may the magic of Duck Dynasty fill your homes with joy in the coming year.   
xoxo - the Vern Family

Friday, December 28, 2012

I Can't Even Roll My R's

One of the concepts I've been taught throughout my life is if you want to exercise your faith, even if you don’t feel like you HAVE faith, you can simply start by WANTING to have faith.  Then, letting that desire work in you will eventually lead you to where you want to be.  That’s kinda how I feel about blogging right now.  I don’t feel like I have it in me to do it, but I WANT to do it.  So here I sit, trying to let that desire work in me to see if I can come up with anything to write.  My fingers feel rusty, my brain feels devoid of wit, wisdom, charm, or anything else that would invite you to sit and stay a while. 

Did you catch that joke I just made?  I just wrote that my brain was devoid of “charm” as if they were once well acquainted.  Charm is a word I guarantee will never appear on my epitaph.  The day I wax charming is the day Prince William passes gas at family dinner.  I don’t know why but I always think of the Royal Family when it comes to gas.  Did you know that the average person passes gas at least 14 times a day?  That’s a lot you guys, and while the Royal Family is anything but average they are still human.  So maybe for them it’s just 7 times a day.  Still.  Where do they go?  What do they do?  Are there aides who pack travel size Febreze in their pockets JUSTINCASE?  This is what I think about at night when I can’t sleep.  HOW DOES THE QUEEN LET ONE?!

Did you see how quickly I transitioned from “charming” to “royal (gas) pains?”  It’s a gift, people.  Moving on.  (How do you think this is going so far?)

Here’s something else.  A few months ago I was asked to accept a new responsibility in my church community and because I am so nice need something to counteract all the times I drop minor cuss words, I said “yes”.  If you speak Mormon I am a counselor in the Stake YW.  If you don’t speak Mormon it means I go to a lot of meetings, nod my head in support when the teenagers suggest pumpkin bowling for an activity, and periodically raise my hand to say, “How about instead of taking 500 youth to Wyoming to reenact the Pioneer trek to Salt Lake City we just make some foil dinners and watch Brokeback Mountain?  Wasn’t that a nice family western?”  I’m a very integral part of the process.

As part of this job I’m also responsible for occasionally speaking to other congregations.  Recently, for example, I had an assignment to speak in a Spanish Ward.  In other words, no speaky the English during their meeting.  In cases like this they would normally provide a translator for guest speakers such as myself.  That didn’t appeal to me, because it seemed like that would be too distracting for everyone involved.  So, I thought (first mistake), “Hey, I took Spanish in college twenty years ago, I’ll just speak in SPANISH!”

Here was the problem with that.  Nowhere in my talk did I need to tell them I was going to the library (la biblioteca!), or that I needed to buy some lettuce (lechuga!) and milk, or that the bathroom was “over there” (¡El baño está allá!).  And despite the fact that I know a good empanada, make Mexican hot chocolate all the time and have seen all 4 seasons of Ugly Betty, I realized that I was not, in fact, qualified to speak for 20 minutes about Jesus in Spanish. 

ENTER:  My nephew’s new, cute wife.  We had just come home from celebrating their wedding nuptials in Utah – she had just received permission to leave her native Mexico for America to marry my nephew.  She didn’t speak English, but she DID speak Spanish and my nephew spoke both.  They rescued me using their gifts of translation, and I delivered my talk as planned in Spanish.  For all I know I announced that I was pregnant and told them all they were going to @#!*% if they didn’t start worshiping false idols but I haven’t heard.  It’s probably best.

Well, this was fun.  Was it good for you too?  If not, try WANTING it to be good.  You gotta start somewhere.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Off The Wagon

Sometimes after a hard day, even a good Mormon girl could use a nice, tall pint.  Hello lover:

What?  It was a small spoon, I had to improvise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


One of my gifts is that I can read people's minds.  People's minds that I've never even met before, and that's how I know you're thinking, "If I could just figure out a way to make this election last a little longer we might actually make it to see the demise of those Suite Life twins...."  Enjoy the journey folks, 'cuz we have two more excruciating weeks to go.  But wait!  Don't go yet, this isn't a political post.  This post is actually about Shrek, and news anchors, and women in real life who look like men in animated life.  Intriguing, yes?

As Cory and I sat and listened to the final Presidential Debate last night, the first thing I wanted to do was wash it all down with some brownies.  Because let's face it, nothing goes better with Syria, Iran and gas prices like a 9x13 pan of chocolate.  But then I remembered my promise to Samantha - I told her I would spend this week before her State Cross Country Competition not eating sugar with her so she could be nice and purged of impurities before she attempts to run 3.1 miles faster than I can walk to the mailbox.  And since I couldn't wash down my emotions and frustrations with a Ghiradelli mix from Costco I was forced to use other coping skills, like laughing at others' expense.  That's how it happened, as Cory and I flipped around to different channels to watch the After The Debate critiques (kind of like "After The Final Rose" episodes of The Bachelor where the happy couple reunites only to break up 3 weeks later) and we saw this woman interviewing various camps for their opinions.  Cory looked at her and said, "Is it just me or does she look like Prince Charming from Shrek?"  I immediately began to chuckle because you guys, it wasn't just him.

I give you EXHIBIT A:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Better With Age

There we were, sitting across from each other in a booth at Chipotle trying to quickly chow down some lunch as we hurried to Samantha's Cross Country meet.  Cory was dousing his burrito with hot sauce and I was inhaling my diet Coke, rambling on about some inconsequential information for sure.  Suddenly I realized that Cory had paused and was now staring at me so I looked up, met his gaze and said, "What?"  He just smiled at me and responded, "You know, I think you get prettier the older you get." 


I kept waiting for him to follow it up with something bad like, "Did you hear that Netflix is going out of business?" or, "I saw on the news that Pottery Barn has been acquired by JCPenney."  But nope - he just went back to eating his burrito.  And just like that he made up for all the times he has farted on me in his sleep.

Cory's declaration, however, was a bit of a revelation because I was like, "WAIT.  I thought I peaked in the 1st grade."

Actually, no.  It was 7th grade, the year my brother's friend sat down next to me at my nephew's baby blessing and introduced himself by asking, "Sooo...are you Mitch's little brother?"

Or maybe I was getting that confused with the golden years in high school when my self esteem really began to take shape:

Then again, there was that time I dressed up as a rap star for a Primary activity:

 (it's a scan of scan folks, deal with it)

But Jill looked way worse than I did, so at least I had that going for me.  Not that dressing like a Jamaican at a political rally doesn't have its place:

Certainly, we can't overlook how stunning I can be when someone takes a picture of me yelling at them in the dark:

I think when Cory told me I was getting prettier all the time he was forgetting that my friends and I had this photo taken at Wal Mart once:  (can you spot me?)

 (Teeth - courtesy of the $1 section.  Wigs - courtesy of our costume stash.  Boas - well, Wal Mart provided those.)

Or perhaps he was reflecting on this doozie taken after Drew was born and he wanted to express how far I've come.  You guys, I don't even know what to say about this except "you're welcome", "I'm sorry", and "this hurts me more than it hurts you."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Things That Make Me Uncomfortable

1.  The words “fluids” and “shmear”
2.  Men shopping in Victoria’s Secret.  Seriously, what are you doing here?  When I am being fitted for a bra I should not be able to hear a man’s voice within at least 11 miles.  Are you there by yourself?  CREEPER.  Are you there with your wife?  Ew.  Are you there with your girlfriend?  Come on, there’s a Sports Authority across the street go make yourself useful.  
3.  Being fitted for a bra.  Strangely, not as violating as the airport security pat down but still.  Having a stranger come in my dressing room to check out my girls in the mirror is about as natural to me as asking my Gynecologist to gently scratch my back.  
4.  In my defense, I was enjoying the brilliant evening air during one of our last 80 degree days before the Fall weather rolls in.  And while it did make me uncomfortable it turns out that gnats do not actually taste that bad.
5.  Glancing out my bedroom window and seeing that my husband and son who were supposed to be long gone to play Basketball were pulled over just down the street, walking slow laps around the car.  It was dark so I couldn’t see what was happening – I threw on some sweats and headed out the back door to find out if my boys were ok.  Halfway down the stretch I spotted the injured deer in the middle of the road.  After that I spotted the injured bumper of our brand new 3 month old vehicle that is so important to Cory that he almost ordered it a birth certificate.  We are all a little sick about it, but at least the deer limped off in one piece.
6.  Pictures of women and their bare pregnant bellies.  And cupping your hands in the shape of a heart over it doesn't make it any less weird.  In fact, MORE weird.
7.  When my kids asked, "So Mom, what's been one of your lowest parenting moments?"
8.  Stores that charge $50 for a burlap throw pillow.  First of all, scratchy.  Second of all, $2.99/yd at a fabric store.  Which means some shmuck out there is making BANK for stamping the Eiffel Tower on your home decor.  Hey, I wonder where I can get an Eiffel Tower stamp?
9.  When I'm running and I say to myself, "I have to go to the bathroom" and myself answers, "you're 2 miles from home or 5 inches from that bush...."
10.    People who are too nice.  They're hiding something. Like the lady filling my tacos at Chipotle yesterday - calling me "Dear" the first time was fine, but by the 5th "Sure thing dear" I was all, "ARE YOU POISONING MY SALSA?"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top 10 Things You Shouldn't Say To A Depressed Person

      10.  “You’re going to need more flaxseed.”

9.  “No ma’am, I didn’t stack 7 invisible bricks on the scale before you got on.”

8.  “Season 3 of Downton Abbey doesn’t start until January.”

7.  “Do you usually wear tie dye to Wal Mart or is this a special occasion?”

6.  “You should try these soy based potato chips. If you swallow really fast you can hardly tell that they are cardboard’s distant cousin.”

5.  “Sorry lady but you’ve got the wrong DMV.”

4.  “When I say ‘try again tomorrow’ what I really mean is ‘that’s my day off’.”

3.  “We’re all out of chocolate chips.”

2.  “If I squint really hard and turn off the lights I can’t even tell that your age spots mimic the galaxy.”
1.  “Hey, wanna watch Sophie’s Choice again?”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I’ll See Your Mole Removal And Raise You A Bladder Infection And 6 Trips to the DMV

At first I stopped blogging because I was having too much fun. Now I’m not blogging because I’m not having any fun at all. Which would you NOT like to hear about first? I’ve made several attempts to sit down and break my non-blogging streak but I haven’t been able to muster anything that rings true to my normal tone here, so I kept walking away from the computer. At this point, however, I’ve decided that even though I’m not capable of posting something pretty and all wrapped up in a bow, perhaps there is value for someone out there to hear my truth. And the truth is I have spent the better part of the last few months having a fabulous time with my family, both immediate and extended. I’m very blessed that way and I don’t take it for granted. But the other half of that truth is that I have spent the better part of the last three weeks alone in my home on the perpetual verge of tears, staring at blank walls and willing them to speak just to break the silence. If silence was deafening, I could mentor Helen Keller.
I think I’m depressed. There, I said it. I don’t like it, but I also don’t like election years and that doesn’t seem to be going away either. While I’m at it, I don’t like doctors cutting out my cancerous moles (I had 2), bladder infections (I had 1) or botched trips to the DMV (I had 6. As in, more than 5, less than 7, SIX. The 5th time they turned me away I may have yelled to those congregated near the door as I left, “It’s Hell, this place. HELL!” And I pushed my way out the door like I really meant it. Which I did.).
Depression is very confusing. For me, much of it gets lost in all the possibilities of what “could” help.
I could get a job.
I could volunteer more.
I could serve other people instead of wallowing in self pity.
I could write more.
I could orchestrate unforgettable meals.
I could make stuff. Yummy stuff. Cute stuff.
I could organize photos! Write my family history! Clean my basement! Alphabetize my spices! Crawl naked over broken glass!
And I guess I could. But all the “could’s” in the world don’t appear to help, they only remind me that I’m doing it wrong. It’s confusing to know how fortunate I am (and I really do know) and still feel like I could burst into tears at any given moment, like a birthday card that opens up to say “With Deepest Sympathy”. It doesn’t make any sense, so it must be my fault, right? Probably not. Maybe? I guess that’s what I mean – confusing. How can one feel like grey stucco on a rainy day when the sun is shining, there’s enough money to pay the bills and all around you are people who want to make it better? I don’t know.
I’ll tell you what I do know; lighting candles and taking a hot bath while listening to French jazz music was a terrible idea. It did, however, instill a sudden urge to wear a beret, eat croissants and take up oil painting so it wasn’t a total loss. To be clear, I’m still talking about depression and not date night. For reals people, this is SERIOUS.
Complicating matters are the people that love you and want to help. It doesn’t sound like that should complicate things, and I’m not ungrateful for the support. But it’s difficult to talk to loved ones about a topic that is so tired, especially when there’s nothing they can do about it. It would almost be easier if I were shot, as that path of action is clear – get me to the ER, find a doctor that looks like Patrick Dempsey and save my life. There are no Patrick Dempsey’s in depression, only boxes of Zoloft, hopeful bottles of Vitamin D and loved ones shrugging their shoulders, waiting for the fun version of you to emerge again. (And for the record, my life doesn’t need to be saved. I’m okay, just not quite right.)
I know it will get better – experience has shown me I will find my footing and look back on this moment and feel like it happened to someone else; I’ll feel silly for even bringing it up. In no time I’ll be gleaning life lessons from Phineas & Ferb and waxing poetic about Hugh Jackman’s upcoming performance in Les Miserables on the big screen. But for now…
…it’s not pretty.
It’s not wrapped in a bow.
That’s just the truth.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Week's Deets

My accomplishments over the past week include:  
  • Samantha and I drove over 1500 miles on our first ever, girls only road trip
  • Scouted out 3 potential college campuses
  • Family reunion
  • Broke a trampoline
  • Got a parking ticket
  • Fought a parking ticket
  • Lost my fight against my parking ticket
  • Swore under my breath at the stupid cops in Utah who have nothing better to do than to stalk an out of state visitor who is simply trying to eat her cream pie shake in peace in less than the one hour parking limit.  They chalked my car WHILE I WAS STILL IN IT.  Can't you guys start hiding crack in your glove box or something and get those guys off my back? 
  • We ate ice cream every day
  • (I'm not kidding)
  • Wore a bathing suit in public
  • Lost a game of Nurts
  • Saw Brave
  • Went tubing behind a boat and didn't break anything
  • Took about 3 pictures to document everything
  • Washed down some Excedrin with a little Dr. Pepper on the drive home to help me stay awake (Mormons abusing drugs. Yo.)
  • Watched a lot of YouTube videos
Samantha and I took in both sides of our family on this trip and it seems that no matter where we go, we end up watching people's favorite videos.  My nephew shared one with us about a woman who took the cinnamon challenge - did you know there was such a thing?  Her video has over 17 million hits, so I feel like I might be the only one who doesn't know about this.  Apparently swallowing cinnamon is not for the faint of heart.  We laughed at the videos and came home to share all of them with our boys.  Cory was intrigued with the cinnamon challenge idea.  One tablespoon of cinnamon?  "How hard could it be?" he said.

I agreed that if anyone could do it, it would be him.  Just that morning I had been driving with Drew and I was asking him about his week of scout camp he had just endured with his Dad while Samantha and I were on said road trip.  He said, "Yeah, there was one kid who was deathly afraid of spiders.  One time he yelled to Dad for help and when Dad got there he asked, 'What do you need?'  The kid asked him to kill a spider for him that was on the outside of his tent.  Dad pointed to it and said, 'this spider?'  The kid said, 'yeah' so Dad grabbed it, threw it in his mouth and ate it!"  I burst out laughing and clarified, "Seriously?!"  Drew, who was also cracking up as he retold me the details, vigorously nodded his head in affirmation and then added, "Of course he also had everyone eating ants by the end of the trip too."

You see why a tablespoon of cinnamon would seem like no big deal, so he decided to see what the fuss was all about.  I forced him to at least do it outside and then grabbed my phone to document any potential footage.  Ladies and gents, here's how that turned out:

Sorry y'all, he's taken.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

If Blogging Was My Boyfriend

If Blogging was my boyfriend he'd be asking for his stuff back.  There I'd be, standing on my porch with a small box of shirts, movies, maybe a Glo-Worm (I don't know why) and a CD teetering on the top labeled "Our Songs".  I would say something about how it wasn't him it was me, and that maybe when I got my crap together we could try again.  He might say there would never be another girl like me and...he's right.  He may never find anyone else who teaches her children not to judge on Monday, and then sits down with them on Tuesday to watch Toddlers & Tiaras and makes fun of every single person.

Mercy, a month is a lot to catch up on.  Should I start with my groin injury or my suspicious rash?  Or happier topics like how I discovered "Smashburger" and a boy named Andrew gave us a free milkshake?  I also had a mammogram yesterday.  When I came back and told my kids where I had been my daughter asked, "What's a mammogram?"  I said, "It's when they squish your boobs between a machine to check for tumors."  She replied, "You keep your clothes on though, right?"  Poor thing.  Reminds me of her mother who used to think there must have been some kind of invisible film covering people's lips when they kissed in movies.

It's been so long we should probably crunch a few numbers. 
  • Drew is averaging 1 inch of growth every 3 months.  
  • Samantha got 1st chair for the flute section next year.  (This was a big deal at our house - there was tough competition.)
  • A moth set off our house alarm at 4am
  • Cory and I celebrated 19 years of marriage.  That is if you call waiting out the tornado sirens crouched underneath the stairs in our basement celebrating.
  • Drew played 12 lacrosse games.  Drew's team lost 12 times.  
  • Samantha ran 800 miles.  Or something. 
  • No really, I'm quite thrilled that she has cross country practice for 2 hours every morning in the summer beginning at 7:30 am.  THRILLED, I say.
  • Samantha doesn't get her license for another 31 days.
  • On the first day of summer Drew had a friend over and I heard him ask, "Hey, you wanna watch Dance Moms Top 10 OMG Moments?"  AND THEY DID. 
And that doesn't even cover the big stuff.  First, the abbreviated version for those of you who are sick of reading already:  Cory almost died, we went to Vail, I got pulled over by a cop, we bought a car, I went to Vail again, and then I almost died. 

And for those of you who haven't had enough yet, read on.  It's true, I personally think Cory is very lucky to be alive.  A few weeks ago he was driving on a freeway when a semi truck went to change lanes behind him, but the semi cut it too close and clipped Cory's bumper, sending him into a 180 spin that flew him across the far lane of traffic and crashed him into the center median.  And then?  THE SEMI TOOK OFF.  Beautiful.  Our car was totaled, the perpetrator got away and as for Cory...he didn't even get whiplash.  Not a scratch, not a bump, nada.  It can only mean one thing: God is not done with him yet.  I guess God and I have something in common. 

Just like that we became a One Car Family (how spoiled are we that this conveys hardship?), and the next day Cory and I went to Vail.  When we got back I began my search for a 2nd car - it was during a test drive that I saw the flashing blue and red lights in my rear view mirror and I pulled into a McDonald's parking lot.  "Yes officer?" 
"I notice you don't have any tags, ma'am."
"I'm test driving sir, the plates are on the dash."
"I see.  So, how do you like it?"
"The car?  It smells funny."
"OK then, here's my card.  Good luck."

We didn't buy a car that day, but we bought one at 11:00 am the next morning and by 2:00 pm I was on the road to Vail again to celebrate my friend Ganelle's 40th birthday.  We ate pasta and fresh beignets, lounged in terrycloth robes, watched a guy slackline over a river, and then went ziplining over a canyon.  "Zipline" is a fitting title, but I find "The Crotch Killer" to be equally appropriate.  Still, we had a blast - right up until we were driving home in the rain and began hydroplaning on I-70.  We managed to avoid incident after several close calls, so I guess God isn't done with Ganelle or me either.  One more thing God and I have in common.

The busy isn't stopping but we're working it out.  And as for that boyfriend of mine?  Oh, he'll be back.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

El Dia De Las Madres

The truth about Mother's Day is you rarely get what you actually want.  When I was a mom of younger kids what I really wanted was to sleep in, skip church, eat ice cream in my bed alone and pretend to not have kids for 24 hours.  Not that waking up to the sound of kids fighting at 6:30 am so you can have breakfast in bed by 7:00 am isn't great too, but....  To be fair I've had some great gifts to mark this day in the past, but in my experience a gift seems to lessen the responsibility of answering to my beck and call and I prefer to be waited on.

Besides, what I really want for Mother's Day this year isn't possible.  Sure, a maid would be nice, maybe a day at the spa, perhaps a double header of Dancing With The Stars to watch William Levy muster up a Cuban salsa number would rock my world - all good options to show your beloved your gratitude for ALLTHETHINGSTHEYDOFORYOU, but what I want?  What I really want?


Is anyone out there shouting out a "hallelujah" or an "amen" in this regard?  I'm telling you, having older kids is much more suited to my psychological well being but the homework has a tendency to kill my happiness.  I mean, don't reel me in with tales of sleeping through the night and trips to Disneyland where everyone is tall enough for EVERY ride and then give me Holy Crap I Forgot To Major In Math So I Could Get My Kids Through High School.  Sure, our kids are old enough now that we don't need babysitters.  But they are also old enough that they have to read War & Peace over the weekend and write a 15 page summary about how it reminds them of their family by Monday.  Which means a date night on Saturday only drags out the meltdown through Sunday.  Total buzz kill.  It reminds me how I felt when I got all excited about Pierce Brosnan being in The Lightning Thief, only to find out they had covered him in facial hair and stuck him in a wheelchair for his role.  Honestly, if you're going to reel me in with "Pierce Brosnan" I'm going to need a suit, some wingtips and a steely gaze.  Don't kill it and give me the Geico caveman. 

No homework.  That's what I want.

I think I'm ready for summer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

To Do List

Most of my thinking happens in the bathroom.  For such occasions I keep a whiteboard marker handy so I can write myself notes and reminders on my mirror.  Here's what it says right now:

Mole Check
Glaucoma Test

And now you know why I haven't had anything to say for a month.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What? You're Still Here?

Oh, hey.  Hi!


Want to know something funny?  This Thursday I am teaching a class on blogging.
Step 1:  Set up your blog.
Step 2:  Ignore it for weeks.
Step 3:  Feel guilty for not blogging.  Feel tempted to apologize.  Don't.  Nobody really cares.  In fact, many are relieved because now your craft (kids, spouse, home decor) isn't cuter than their craft (kids, spouse, home decor).

Part two of my tutorial will focus on how to monetize your blog.  Step 1:  Joke's on you.  I have no idea.

I think it's going to be a really good class.


Last Sunday Drew turned 12.
Monday his voice started changing.
Tuesday he had lacrosse practice, and as he gathered his gear from the trunk I caught his reflection in the rear view mirror.  If I squinted really tight I could see past the shoulder pads and arm guards to the little boy who used to grasp a plastic animal in each chubby hand everywhere we went, but relaxing my focus revealed the truth.  A man in the making.  He has grown an inch and a half in the last three months, three inches in the last six, and four inches over the course of the year. If I buy him pants on Wednesday, he has outgrown them by the weekend.  And yet, despite my tireless (tireless!) efforts to explain that it's "COULDN'T care less", NOT "COULD care less", he shakes his head and says I'm not making any sense.


Samantha went on her first date and I didn't even have to be sedated.  It was a blind date organized by another couple so they could double, so we didn't know this kid.  It took me two days to find out his first name, three more days to get his last name and about 7 seconds to search him on facebook.  Samantha said that made me a Creeper.  I say trying to make sure her soon-to-be date didn't claim serial killing or Mafia Wars as favorite past times was the right thing to do.  Her date was adorable and she had a good time.  So normal!  We are normal!  I like to celebrate the small victories.

How have YOU been?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How Stella Got Her Boobs Back

A few years ago I was at a New Year’s Eve party and as the clock struck midnight, the gentleman sitting next to me shared the following:  “My only resolution for this year is that by the end of it, I’d like my nipples to stick out further than my belly button.”  I laughed and replied, “No way!  That’s mine too!”  And then we blew our kazoos and went back for seconds on chips and dip.  I’m not sure whatever happened to that guy but as for me, I’ve ultimately managed to claim that resolution.

It hasn’t come easily.  When I was in middle school I was sized up by a serial pervert in my Science class who waxed philosophical one day on breasts.  “Some,” he explained, “are like MOUNTAINS.”  He sported a wicked smile.  “Others are like little hills,” he rattled as he curled his hands in little waves.  “But YOU?”  He flashed a cursory glance at my chest before he announced, “They’re like…mosquito bites.”  Yeah, I know.  In 2012 that’s called sexual harassment but in 1983, well, that was called 7th grade.  And trust me, as soon as time travel becomes viable Room 201 at Del Dios Middle School will be one of my first stops and I will show that gangster what is up.  He will probably be able to take me by then what with all of his experience he likely gained from prison, but I’d at least like a go at it.

Over the next 20 years life happened, and several extra pounds happened, and that whole cupcake explosion – it just HAPPENED.  Before you know it you’re sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips using your chest as a shelf and your son’s playmates want to know when your baby is coming.  It’s a real party.  I’ve endured several highs and lows on the scale over the years but my hopes for true reform waned as I rebelled against a life sentence of boiled chicken and low fat hummus.  Then about a year ago I decided to make one last ditch effort.  It’s been slow, but even slow over twelve months adds up and I have since lost almost 40 pounds.  I’m in a really good place.  A couple of days ago I was getting ready and as I checked my make up in the mirror I took a step back and gasped a little.


I had boobs!

It was like living puberty in reverse.  And to be clear it’s not that I care about other people noticing, it was just interesting to me that I noticed. 

A waist reborn.
A pervert shamed.
I have boobs.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sixteen Candles

No dating until you're 16.  That was the rule in my house growing up.  And short of kissing Mark Marean in my back yard as my brother pretended to marry us, I respected it.  I waited. 

I waited and waited and naturally assumed that along with my great anticipation of turning The Great 16 there were certainly others anxiously waiting too.  Pathetic, really.  I guess I hadn't suffered enough disappointment in life yet to arrive at the conclusion that the world did not, in fact, revolve around me.  I still believed that what happened in the movies was possible, which is why I avoided haunted houses at all costs and fantasized about a dreamy boy showing up in his sports car to save me on my birthday and kiss me through the window light over my birthday cake.  Imagine my disappointment when November 24, 1986 finally arrived, my 16th birthday, and I sat in stunned silence on the stairs of my family home, alone and confused as to why the phone was not suddenly ringing off the hook.  I was genuinely surprised that I hadn't corralled my first date on the exact day of my eligibility.  Oh, how I want to take that 16-year-old girl and smack her right upside the head.  She was kind of a dummy.

Now, that dummy is the parent.  And today that dummy's baby girl turns 16.  That girl has been given the same rule about dating, and she has respected it.  She has used her 16 years here on the planet earth in brilliant fashion - unabashedly trying new things, facing setbacks head on, tackling challenges with determination - that girl impresses her mama.  Regularly. 

I used to hear mothers regale their birthing experiences with pride while conjuring phrases like, "As soon as I saw her I knew her and loved her."  I expected to feel that, and of course I loved her instantly.  But I didn't feel like I knew her.  Instead as I held that little girl in my arms after she was born I felt like she was on loan; like God was giving me a chance.  God was going to let me borrow her - He was trusting me with one of His very own and He was going to let me teach her, show her, love her, guide her.  And then I would get to sit back and watch what she did with all that teaching, showing, loving and guiding.  What a privilege.  As it is, she hasn't really needed me much - I'm not being self deprecating here, just telling the truth.  This girl - I have been getting to know her for a while now.  I like her.  A LOT.  She's too smart to think the world is waiting for her to turn 16, and I guarantee she won't be spending the evening on the stairs waiting for the phone to ring.  Eventually she will capture some boy's heart and I will officially roll into a fetal position and begin sucking my thumb.  I do know one thing, whoever gets this girl is going to have to get past her mama first, and when they do...

...well, I'll try to be nice.

Happy Birthday baby girl.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On A Positive Note I Got To See Liam Hemsworth On The Big Screen

My first born left me a few days ago for a Spring Break trip with a group from school.  I'm not sure what normal moms think about when their kids leave to do something like that, but every time my son leaves the house to catch the bus I think about Jaycee Dugard can imagine. 

My parting words to her were something like, "Listen, I want you to have a blast and I don't need you to miss me or think about me.  Just, please, send me a text once a day or something to let me know you haven't been abducted by aliens.  Or worse, the Real Housewives of Orange County."  Do you know what she said?  "I'll try, Mom."  I'll TRY?!  Next time you beg me to bring the lunch you left on the counter I'm going to remember this.  It's day four, I've heard from her twice.  Fine, baby girl.  Is this how you wanna play it?  Just for that we are taking Drew to see Hunger Games WITHOUT YOU. 

In fact, we DID take Drew to see Hunger Games without her and as we arrived early and waited for the movie to start he looked over at me and said, "No offense, but this would be way more fun if Samantha were here."  I couldn't disagree, but I feigned a bruised ego.  "I'm sorry," Drew continued, "it's just that if she were here I would be saying something stupid and she would be laughing at it anyway."  His comment helped me recall a small moment I observed last week as we were headed in to church.  I was stuck a few paces behind them as we made our way into the front doors and I glanced up to see the two of them walking side by side, cracking up over a joke I wasn't a part of.  It made me happy - I've given many rousing speeches about their need to be loving and supportive of each other, and it did my heart good to witness those prayers being granted.

At church again today, as I gathered my things at the end of class I went to my normal meeting spot for Drew.  After I corralled him away from friends to join my pace we headed for the area where Samantha is usually waiting.  As we approached we found an empty room and I commented, "Oh.  I came here to get Samantha but I forgot, she's not here."  Drew confessed that he had done the same thing only minutes ago, and the two of us walked out quietly.

It's not these few days that rattles me because truly, I want her to have fun and be happy and fine and not think about home.  (Too much.)  The problem is that I know this is just preparation for the day she will truly LEAVE.  When it happens, I will deal with it.  Drew will deal with it.  Cory will barely notice.  We will be okay.

But man, we (will) miss her.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some Must Push And Some Must Pull

A little while ago I received an email from the middle school advertising that they were looking for some part time para educators to work through the end of the year.  I applied.  The main thing about it that piqued my interest was that is was temporary - other than determining who to sleep with for the rest of my life and devoting myself to Pinterest, I'm not into making long term commitments.  But, there’s a couch I want and this little stint would pay for it.  (“ARHAUS” currently has custody of my couch, but I’ve been very consistent with my visitation.  We know each other pretty well at this point, and we’re ready to take our relationship to the next level.)  Plus, this gig sounded really easy.  The job description actually listed the following requirements:

"High school diploma or equivalent" - Done.  (Ha, I'll see your GED and raise you a BS.) (Resist the joke.)
"Frequent bending, reaching, climbing" - (So what you’re telling me is the lady on “Sit And Be Fit" could do this job?  Not only can I move both of my thumbs at the same time while tapping my toes, I can skip to my mailbox - weather permitting.  Get a hold of my mad skills.)
"Visual concentration" - (Short of 8th grade boys with ADHD, who do you think they are trying to discourage here?)

“Squatting” – Dude, all my cupcake pans are on the bottom shelf.  I’ve GOT this.

“Occasional lifting, pulling and/or pushing” – They seem very intent on making it clear that the person they hire for this job will have to do something besides get from their car to their desk.  Again, who are they trying to discourage?  I don’t think many 27-year-olds playing video games in their parents’ basements are pining to get their foot in the door of middle schools.  I was tempted to divulge on my application that I’ve set up chairs for Bunco NUMEROUS times, but I didn’t want to brag.

Turns out, maybe I should have played the Bunco card.  I didn’t get the job.

Not only did I NOT get the job that required “excessive pulling, pushing, and reaching” but I didn’t even get called in for an interview.  

For real?  

For real.

People say when God closes a door he opens a window.  I say when God closes a door to the middle school he opens another one that leads to Cheesecake Factory.  Incidentally, right across from “ARHAUS”.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

We're So Cool We Poop Ice Cream

One of the sad realities of my current phase is that most of my social life happens within the aisles of Wal Mart.  I know a lot of people in my community and we tend to shop at the same times, for the same things, in the same places as we strive to score deals with Great Value.

It was during one of these interludes lately that I ran into someone new in my social circle, and she caught me with my eyes glazed over in the skin care aisle.  (Am I the only one who gets sweaty palms in that section?  I never know what product to buy.  I'm old, I live in a climate that is drier than a popcorn fart, and I'm certain my current wrinkles are irreversible.  Despite inflated claims I'm certain no one makes a cream that addresses all that.)  I'm not exactly sure how it happened but somewhere between giving the Clean & Clear products a "to talk to the hand" gesture and throwing some Burt's Bees Night Cream in my cart, I found myself engaged in a discussion about the demise of femininity.  Not to be confused with the Gloria Steinhem fan club, this mom was genuinely concerned about the kinds of women who were interacting with her sons on facebook.  "They're so crass," she lamented.  After citing several grievances she added, "I mean they don't even like guys opening their doors anymore."  I nodded sympathetically and tried to weigh in respectfully, and she wasn't wrong, but my mind kept wandering back to a conversation that took place in my home only hours previously.

Drew:  "Do we have any plans tonight?"
Me:  "Yes, we're going to McDonald's for shamrock shakes."
Sam:  "What's a shamrock shake?"
Cory:  "McDonald's only makes them around St. Patrick's Day.  I used to LOVE them as a kid."
Sam:  "Cool."
Cory:  "And you wanna know the best part?  It turns your poo green!"
Drew:  "Sweet!"
Sam:  "Awesome!"

On the one hand I think it would be sort of awesome for one of my friend's sons to fall in love with my daughter, purely for the social experiment of it all.  But she seems really lovely, so I don't really wish that on her.  What I DO wish, however, is that there's another family out there taking a trip to McDonald's just for the shamrock shakes and their side effects so that my children stand a chance at happiness.  Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vern: Raw & Uncut

So, I have this "friend".  She's very funny, smart, and great company over an order of cheese fries.  She's launching a new comedy web series  called "Pretty Darn Funny", and I'm excited to see her talents being put to great use.  (I mean, FINALLY.  Because having worked with William Shatner doesn't really count.)  She's asked people to upload videos of humorous personal stories to share on the web, and despite the fact that I enjoy being videotaped about as much as having my butt rubbed with a brick, I relented and posted a video.  I'm hoping Lisa will feel like she owes me one after this because on a cool factor scale of Kathy Griffin to Jennifer Aniston, Lisa's like Anne Hathaway and I'm like the girl who works security for iCarly.  I could use a boost. 

But before you all go on thinking I'm just SUCH A NICE PERSON trying to help a friend, you should know that there's also a free cruise on the line.  As in, the best video wins a cruise!  Which is why this isn't about friendship at all, and more about YOU helping ME because I want you to vote for my video.  Oh, and while you're there you should post one of your own.  (Come on, be helpful!  Get out of your comfort zone!  It's either that or watching The Bachelor on hulu and YOU'RE BETTER THAN THAT.   I DVR'd it, I should know.)  (Jill:  You should have Dave get on and tell his story about resuscitating that mouse.  Ganelle:  Remember when you licked poo off your finger thinking it was chocolate?  Perfect opportunity to turn that lemon into lemonade.)  (Then again, is it really lemonade?)

My story won't be new to those of you who have followed me here for a while.  Remember when I was found with liquor in my purse at church?  This is the same story, just in spoken rather than written form.  I do not enjoy watching myself on video like, ever.  But what the heck?  I'm a 41-year-old stay at home mom in menopause, it would do me some good to try something besides getting to Kohl's before my 30% off discount expires.  If you want to watch it, go here.  Then look for the video "The Appearance of Evil", watch it, and if you want to vote for me (if for no other reason than to repair the damage of never having been asked to Homecoming in high school) (and if that's not enough consider that I was the girl at lunch in grade school whose sandwich was made with whole wheat bread and all natural peanut butter who didn't know a Twinkie until well into my teens) simply click on the orange "thumbs up" in the corner.  That's it.  I'll love you forever!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Did You Hear? iPhones Are Giving Out Hickies Now.

Several months ago I was caught completely off guard by something I never thought possible.  I started to love running.  I know!  I don't even like to say it out loud because I fear it makes me "one of them".  (If you don't know what I mean, you are probably the President of that club.)  It got worse, and I actually started waking up every morning thinking, "I can't wait to put on my running shoes," instead of, "I wonder if Reese's peanut butter cups would be good cubed and thrown in waffle batter with homemade caramel syrup?"  (It SO would.)  It was a refreshing new path.

Then something happened.  In the middle of a run one beautiful, fall morning I felt something betray me in my lower leg; it popped, I froze, and I had to limp the rest of the way home.  I had to stop running after that, and since then I've sort of been ignoring it for months because I was certain that a trip to the doctor was going to result in an MRI, which appropriately translated means "one thousand dollars that I would rather spend on pedicures for life."  It's funny though, what happens when something is taken away from you.  Just like trans fats, real light bulbs, or "Land Of The Lost" when you lose something without your consent you want it that much more, and that's what happened with running.  My body has been missing it, craving it even, (CRAVING it!  I'm like your Aunt Ruth who just woke up and announced she's going to start waxing her mustache and wear dresses from now on.), so I finally relented and sought out a specialist.  He sent me out the door with the name of a physical therapist and guess what?  NO MRI.  We can afford those two weeks of college for Samantha after all!  I've been going for about a month now and as it turns out, there IS a payoff for enduring repeated deep tissue massage followed by having to peel oneself off the ceiling.  Just last week, he released me to do a little running. 

In the meantime, Cory bought me an armband for my iPhone as a birthday gift so I could listen to my tunes while running outside.  I haven't even been able to use it yet, but since it was SIXTY THREE DEGREES in Denver yesterday I took it on its maiden voyage around my neighborhood.  My review on getting back to running is positive - it felt like I was giving my soul what it wanted.  Then again, that could have been the seductive haze of 63 degrees talking.  Still.  I didn't run far, but I felt free again.  My review on the armband however, is mixed.  Yes, it was nice to not have to hold my phone as I ran, but I hadn't accounted for the chafing.  Or the hickey that developed on my underarm from the suction created as I attached it.  I was like, "Hellloooo?  FIRST DATE here iPhone armband, and I'm not about to give YOU more action than everybody else who took me out for the first time."  Loosening it proved ineffective, and tightening it even more was worse than being dry needled at physical therapy.  So, arm in arm we continued around the bend until I was past feeling. We'll work through it.  In the meantime, I'm free.  Today's forecast:  High of 72. 


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My "Support" Group

I'm a back row kind of girl.  Classrooms, movies, you name it, I don't like to sit near the front.   I'm very shy at my core, and to sit in the front of a room feels very vulnerable - I don't want to be noticed, I don't want to get called on, I just want to be a fly on the wall.  Pretty much the only place I don't like sitting in the back row is on an airplane, and that is simply due to my exit strategy.  After all, the whole reason I ever get ON a plane is so I can get OFF a plane, and if I'm sitting in the very back waiting to exit it's like trying not to pee myself while having my picture taken next to a waterfall after drinking 3 gallons of lemonade.  I can't stand it, can't flash a real smile - all I'm really capable of is saying a prayer of gratitude that I no longer have to travel with small children.

I am the same way with my Weight Watchers meetings.  I weigh in, catch a seat in the back, then try to ignore people for the next half hour so I'm not delayed getting out as soon as it's over.  I don't usually say much. 


Our last meeting centered around the topic of stress eating.  The group was discussing how to handle stress without using food, and what to do when one is tempted to use food as a coping mechanism.  "Take a hot bath," offered one member.  "It helps reduce stress and it's pretty challenging to eat while your bathing."  I couldn't resist and piped up, "Challenging, yes.  But not impossible."  It was in that moment when the first 4 rows of people turned around in their seats to stare at me that I realized...

...there are certain perks to sitting in the front.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, Monday

10:30 am - I leave for the gym.  Incidentally, a mile from my house.
10:31 am - Cell phone rings.  It's an 800 #.  I ignore it.  In hindsight, a poor choice.
10:32 am - Arrive at the gym and survey the possibilities - elliptical with TV or treadmill with iTunes?  I opt for TV.  I put phone on vibrate, stuff it in my jacket, and hang it on the coat rack. 
10:48 am - Starting to sweat, I watch the dude on The Price Is Right lose a trip to Thailand while another woman walks off with a boat and designer purse.  I reminisce about my brother winning $40K in cash and prizes back in the Bob Barker days, and how he had Bob hold his shirt while he spun the "Big Wheel", thus revealing his Battlestar Gallactica undershirt.  (a calculated move)
10:50 am - potty break.  The woman in the other stall is wearing too much perfume.  It stinks.  At about this time the police are arriving at my home and I have no idea.
10:52 am - blow nose, switch to treadmill, and judge the girl next to me who is working out in her nightshirt and flip flops.  Try to take a subtle picture of her to post to facebook - dangit! too blurry.
11:07am - Follow physical therapist's instructions:  Run 1 minute, walk for 30 seconds.  Run 1 minute, walk for 30 seconds.  Do this for a mile to gradually break in that calf muscle I tore four months ago.
11:28 am - Final trip to bathroom to wash hands - walk in on nightshirt/flip flop girl dancing in the mirror.  It is all I can do to keep a straight face.  Leave to retrieve jacket, check cell phone, NINE MISSED CALLS, 4 text messages, and two voice mails.  I take it off vibrate, head to my car, and answer Cory's text first in response to his question, "where are you".  I think he is just interested in making lunch plans, so I call him back and leave him a pleasant message on his work voice mail.
11:30 am - Jump in car as quickly as possible to avoid the torrential winds from blowing me to Canada.  Cell phone rings - it's Cory.  He's calling FROM HOME.
"Honey?  What are you doing home?"

"Well, it seemed like the right thing to do when the security company called to tell me our alarm was going off and you were not answering the home phone OR your cell phone.  I was worried."
He was worried.
He also works not very close to home, and I know how busy he has been at work lately so suddenly I felt very guilty that I had, unknowingly, caused such a ruckus.  What happened?  After talking it through for a few minutes we figured it out.

There's a system when I leave the house:  turn on alarm, leave through house door, open garage, and exit.  Today, apparently, the door from the garage into the house didn't fully shut when I left so when I opened the garage the winds (which again, were torrential today.  Like, two hands on the wheel, don't bother doing your hair TORRENTIAL.) blew back open the door without me realizing it, rendering the alarm unable to engage.  When this happens the alarm actually sounds, but I was halfway to the gym by then.  I didn't know - they tried to tell me, hence the 800 # call that I ignored.  So there I was, burning calories and watching people make the highest bid without going over and not only were the police on their way, but Cory called a neighbor to come check on me while he jumped in his car to make the half hour drive.  "I was supposed to be going into a meeting," Cory explained, "but I knew I wasn't going to be able to concentrate."  You guys, he chose ME over ACCOUNTING.  I mean, I've had guys who didn't even choose me over Physics homework and reheated dorm food so forgive me if I think this is a big deal.

Cory might say the moral of this story is to make sure the door to the house is FULLY closed before leaving through the garage.

I say the moral of the story is He Loves Me.

That and if you thing your dance moves are worthy of flaunting in a public bathroom mirror while wearing your nightshirt, think again.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Trip Inside My Head

I want to blog.
I don't want to blog.
I want to write something brilliant.
I don't care if I ever write again.
I don't like Adele's music.
I am happy for Adele's success.
I don't think Meet The Parents was a funny movie.
I think Zoolander was hilarious.
I don't like reading sad stories.
I have been reading Half The Sky.
I want to do something meaningful.
Watching Ellen do it is easier.
I want to be an influence for good.
I'm not sure that mocking the people on The Bachelor counts.
I want cookies for lunch.
I ate broccoli soup.
I don't want to shovel the snow.
I also want Cory's car to make it into the garage after his long day at work.
I shovel the snow.
I want Kate to confess her true feelings for Castle.
I want HGTV to knock on my door and declare me the winner.
I don't want to move to Utah.
I want a nap.
I want to run.
I want to NOT be sick for the eleventy thousandth time since Christmas.
I want to fall asleep and wake up after the election is over.
I want to be funny.
I want to hug my physical therapist.
I want to stab my physical therapist in the eye.
I want to be the best at something.
I don't want to work that hard.
I want to say something interesting.
Instead you get this.

It's not always easy being me. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I'm Sexy And I Know It

"Humble Pie" should be a new flavor at Marie Callendar's.  I've been eating a lot of it lately - perhaps it could be inspired by me, bear my namesake and then maybe I could finally get some free pie.  Seems only fair.

I thought it was enough that I was forced into menopause in my 30's.
I thought it was enough that I had to buy a tube of Preparation-H, and not for a practical joke.
I thought it was enough that I chipped my tooth ON A RAISIN.
But no.
During my visit to the dentist to usher in my first crown of all time due to said raisin debacle, my dentist asked, "Did you know that you grind your teeth?"  No, I didn't.  "You're going to need a night guard," he added, "oh, and your insurance doesn't cover it."  (And no more happiness!)  They proceeded to take a mold of my teeth, but to stop there would be like telling a friend over a cup of coffee, "Oh, and then the Nazi soldier asked me to turn the shower head to the left *yawn*".  No, to "take a mold" while following the instructions to "breathe" and "try not to gag" is like telling a bulimic to try and keep it down while staring at their index finger.  In short, A VERY LONG TWO MINUTES.

Last week I went to pick up the finished product.  They shoved it in my mouth and declared it a good fit, "nice and tight" they said.  I thought, "Good as in 'I can now sub for Laila Ali in a pinch'? or good as in, 'There's not a pheromone strong enough to overpower that this side of the Mississippi'?"  Personally, I think it was a little of both, which means a) I may have a boxing future after all and, b) nothing bad can ever happen to Cory.

Are you thinking it stops there?  Silly Brett.  As I got up out of my chair the dental assistant handed me the box and said, "You'll want to get some denture cleaner for that."  Say whaaa...?  "Yes, you need to soak it every night or else it will start to smell."  Within minutes I was buying Fixodent with Scope at Target.

To sum up:  Betty White is in her 90's hosting SNL and getting Emmy awards, I am in my early 40's taking hormones and soaking my night guard in denture tablets.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to hurry up and get a nap in - Price Is Right is on at ten and Marie Callendar's is featuring a new pie tonight for their early bird special.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

"On Little Wings" Winner!

Using Random.Org the winner of "On Little Wings" by Regina Sirois is...lucky #13, "Yarbrough Clan"! Congratulations! Email me at vernmaster at gmail dot com with your contact information and we'll get that out to you ASAP.  If you didn't win and would still like a copy, you can download it to your Kindle for only $2.99 right now through amazon.  $2.99!  That's like choosing between a Gatorade or a full on book (notice I didn't use Diet Coke or chocolate as my examples - I know my audience guys).  Paperback versions are also available for around $10.95. Thanks for the free copy Regina!

Friday, February 3, 2012

White Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake

The first time it really snowed I was sick.
Cory went to work.
The kids went to school.
So I shoveled the driveway.  While I was sick.  [cue violins and weeping cherubs]

The second time it really snowed I was sick.
Cory went to work.
The kids went to school.
So I shoveled the driveway.  WHILE I WAS SICK!

The third time it really, REALLY snowed was today, and again, I am sick.
Cory went to work.
The school district canceled school.
So I am making the kids shovel the driveway so I can blog about cake.

It's the one I've been talking about, and I think you know by now that I don't share recipes here unless I am a true believer in them.  Folks, I've never believed in any cake more than this one.  I read about it on Brooke's Blog over at "All Things Thrifty" and while she is often very thrifty and nifty, she spares no expense on this cake and I dare say, this cake will spare no expense on YOU.  I read about it three weeks ago, I have made it FOUR TIMES.  Three times of the white chocolate variety, and once in an experimental vein along the dark chocolate variety.  I surprised myself by preferring the white chocolate version, but not so much that I still didn't eat several pieces of the dark chocolate one by myself while watching "Fat Chef".  You would think after making it so many times I would have paused to take a picture at least once, no?  In fact, no.  But I DID strap it into the front seat to bring home the leftovers one time after a baby shower, and I took a picture of that:

If you look closely you will see that I conveniently left a plastic fork sticking up for easy access on my excruciatingly long, 3-mile drive home.  The seatbealt proved invaluable.  (If you want better pictures, see Brooke!)  So my friends, here is THE RECIPE:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together:
1 Betty Crocker White cake mix (follow box directions to make batter)
Add 1/2 cup applesauce (no cinnamon)
Add 1 small package of instant vanilla pudding (just the dry mix)

Divide batter - Pour 1/3 (approximately) into another bowl leaving 2/3 in main bowl.

Defrost 1 cup frozen raspberries and mash them up with a fork. Add 1 Tbsp flour and mix.  Add the mashed berries to the bowl containing 1/3 of the original batter and mix well. Set aside.

Take 1 c. white chocolate chips and melt them gradually in the microwave.  Add to remaining 2/3 batter and mix.

Grease bundt cake pan well and coat bottom of pan with 1/2 of the white chocolate/cake batter mix.  Add dollops of all of your raspberry/cake batter mix to the pan on top of the white chocolate batter.  Then add the remaining white chocolate cake/batter on top of the dollops. To create the marble look, make an S pattern through the batter using a knife.

Bake 42-45 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for a bit, then turn it out onto a cooling rack.

IMPORTANT STEP:  Place the cake in the fridge until it is COMPLETELY cool, then frost the bad boy with cream cheese frosting (recipe following). (NOTE:  If you don't like cream cheese frosting, a nice vanilla buttercream is just as good.)  After the cake is frosted, place the cake BACK in the fridge to cool the frosting again, and then serve it cold. It is a million, and I mean a MILLION times better cold.


1 stick softened (NOT melted) butter (1/2 cup)
1 brick softened cream cheese (8 oz)
Mix butter and and cream cheese until soft, add 2 tsp vanilla, beat until light and fluffy.
Add 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Beat frosting until smooth. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.  Add food coloring if you want.

Voila - it's the perfect dessert for Super Bowl Sunday, or perhaps marking another basketball loss on a Saturday, any and all holidays, birthdays, movie nights, rare moments alone in your kitchen when everyone else is sleeping, or say, a snow day when you're in your underwear, and you're sick, and the kids are outside...shoveling the driveway.