December 31, 2009


I love New Year's. To be sure, it is a false fresh start constructed solely out of noisemakers, streamers, confetti and paper hats, but hey, what the hell?  I'll take it!  And I will resist nudging 2009's ass with the tip of my new boots as 2009 finally staggers out of the door.

2010? I am so ready for you. Come on in, have a glass of champagne, will you not?

2009 was not a good year.  But I am fine with that because at the end, I am still precisely, exactly, absolutely where I would like to be.

To be fair, the Aughties were very, very kind to me.  It is certainly not the entire decade's fault that 2009 turned out to be a little bitch (and yes, 2009 IS female because 9's are female.  And yes, that was for you, Monkey Dearest

Anyway, to recap the Aughties:
  1. I met a boy.  A really, really nice boy (more on that later.)
  2. I turned 30 and celebrated by dancing with my sister to Abba's Dancing Queen.
  3. I was working for a Dot.Bomb (Viva la Empriva!) when everything blew up and I had a fish-eye lens view of history in the making.  Which I do appreciate now, perhaps not so much at the time.
  4. I got a new job as a Blockhead as business systems analyst at a Big Corporate Tax Preparation Company that paid me much, MUCH more than the Dot.Bomb and was able to pay off some major debt AND buy myself a house - one accomplish I had always wanted to do as a Single Girl.  In addition, I made some incredible friends at this new job.  Friends who are still with me today.
  5. I went to Rome with a friend.  We had an amazing, incredible walking adventure of Rome and the Vatican - only taking the train once and no cabs whatsoever.  Everywhere else, we walked.  It was a trip of a lifetime for me.  Also, the plane ticket was a grand total of $329!
  6. I married that nice boy in a very pretty ceremony in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and we spent our honeymoon exploring the entire state.  (Sidenote: It thrills me to no end that now anyone simply wishes to build a life with the person they love can get married there - gay, straight, lesbian, whatever.  I am so fucking proud of New Hampshire.  Live free or die!)
  7. I went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank - it was a hellish job, actually, but I did have some amazing experiences there and got to work neck deep in the Check 21 project.  I was able to travel to 16 banks and branches, coast-to-coast in a very short amount of time.  I did NOT appreciate the experience at the time, but I do believe it allowed to really settle down and.......
  8. give birth to my first baby and become a homemaker with no hesitation whatsoever.  And then?
  9. 20 months later, I gave birth to his sister.
  10. And in the midst of all of this, I began this blog.  Writing here is purely narcissistic and I am my Audience of One. I cannot pretend otherwise.  Still, I thank you for reading all this endless blather.
I do not normally do resolutions.  Do you?  Do you keep them? 

Actually, I tend to make my big life changes in the summer -  I did not do this on purpose, but there is a lightness to summer that probably lends itself better for change.  After all, I quit smoking in June 2000 and this past June, I began a steady, consistent exercise program that has changed my life.  When I am plodding around on the track or doing my hamster moves on the elliptical machines, I am still amazed at what exercise has done for me.

I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year.  We are spending ours snuggled up in our house with movies, a nice champagne and a yummy dinner prepared by yours truly.  And I am not the least bit ashamed to say that I am pushing for a viewing of Grumpy Old Men - what better way to start the new year?

December 28, 2009

Be careful of what you wish for.

Kansas City had a White Christmas.

While it was simply precious to have a White Christmas, it meant that we spent Christmas alone since the particular set of family members due to arrive that day are mostly over OVER 80 years old.  Since the Snow Walker (with tennis rackets instead of tennis balls??) has yet to be invented, they did not particularly feel like braving the snow to trudge their way to our house.  Losers.

No matter, we enjoyed the slow, relaxing day.  I cooked the traditional  meal from scratch - stuffing, potatoes, cranberry relish and funeral corn.  Since my great-aunt Joan the turkey had flaked on us, I made a chicken sauteed in poultry seasoning and olive oil.  Fortunately,  I found a jar of gravy hiding in the cupboard. As my great-uncle Ted the veggie relish tray had failed us, we went without fresh carrots and such.  Oh, and since my grandma Vivian the pies also chickened out on us, along with my grandma Phyllis the chocolate cake we spent the day noshing on the sundry sweets that had gathered in our house in the preceding weeks.

The day was not a waste - it was nice to just relax in our pajamas and do nothing but eat, watch movies and play with our new toys.

One of the Anjali's Christmas presents was that I did not brush her hair all day.  All day!! She was not appreciative enough to pose nicely for the camera, though.

Arun got to eat cookies all damned day long.  ALL DAMNED DAY LONG.  And yes, that is the puppy totally crashed at his fee.  The puppy had a great day because it seems the puppy loves, LOVES the snow.  She was ringing her doorknob bell all damned long.  ALL DAMNED DAY LONG.  Thanks to Lucy, many angels got their wings this Christmas Day.

Later in the evening, we played in the snow. Then, we came back in and I made hot chocolate from scratch because we did not have a mix or powder.  Actually, making hot chocolate was insanely easy to do.  However,  lest you think I am painting a sweet mix of Thomas Kinkade with a splash of Rockwellian accents,  you may rest assured we enjoyed that hot chocolate with a lingering odor of sour, stale chocolate in the air because I had burnt the first batch.

On Saturday, I high-tailed my butt to a shoe store to buy boots.  On Friday, I had discovered with horror that I had NO BOOTS because I had given away all of my winterish shoes in the spring - all the shoes that were about 1/2 size too small because no one warns you that giving birth may increase your shoe size. So! New shoes!

That evening, I took Arun for his First Sledding Ever.  It was everything I could have hoped for  - nice, slick snow, a new sled and a boy squealing with delight.  Although, that same boy screamed bloody murder when his butt got too cold and he had to be escorted quickly to the safe confines of the car.  I have no pictures from our sledding adventure because I chose to use a vintage recording device instead.  My brain.  Amazing, yet true! I wanted to just enjoy the moment and be present without worrying over the Perfect Shot.

Overall, it was a nice weekend with few complaints.  Yes indeed, Life is good.

How was your holiday? 

December 23, 2009

Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear!

Today's title is courtesy of my favorite Christmas card this year- the one from my personal trainer.

Here is the card we sent out this year:

Per usual, I included Pearson our cat, but it just seemed odd to not include Lucy. She is such a constant presence in our house, that is is like we added a 3rd child this year.  The bottom picture of Team Chaos is one of my favorites from this year.  We had such a great time that afternoon at the park and I am glad I was able capture the photo evidence.

Our Christmas celebrations kick off today. My dad, a respiratory therapist, is on call tomorrow night, so we moved our normal Christmas Eve tradition up a day. My dad, step-mom, siblings and all of their significant accoutrements will be arriving at 4pm. Tomorrow will actually be a really quiet day for us, but that works in my favor - I am hoping to fit in some more driving around to see lights, vegging out to Christmas movies and decorating that gingerbread house languishing in the garage.  We are also going to let the kids open up their presents - all of them - that evening in a vain attempt to stem the tide over-stimulation coming their way the next day.  I am a little worried the three days of presents might actually be worse, though.  Christmas Day will be a stereotypical celebration with all the usual foods consumed with the chatter of TV (football?) on in the background.  My only worry is the weather - many of the folks coming on Christmas Day are over 80 years old and get nervous about rain, much less the more solid stuff.

Merry Christmas to all of my imaginary friends out there in the Blue Nowhere!!

This has been a year where I am so grateful for the folks who have been so supportive over the years. All of the virtual hugs and high-fives have really meant so much to me.

Now if you will just excuse me, I need go and dig out the some comfortable pants in preparation for eating my way through the next 3 days.

December 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Foot Christmas Tree

I had enough questions about my last post that I thought I would throw out an end of the week sort of post.  I bought the ornaments in 2000 at a Hallmark store, deeply discounted on clearance - the box still has the 75% sticker.  At the time, I bought TONS of cool HP stuff at a deep discount - a Gargoyle bank for my mom, bookends and some more ornaments.  I am glad I did, because after the movies began coming out, much of the things you can buy now are based on the movies and not the book's illustrations.

Anyway!  I did find the ornaments on eBay, if any of you are really interested.  The tree itself is a tiny tree purchased at Hobby Lobby - it is actually supposed to be a placecard holder, which is why it is so tiny.  I LOVE teeny, tiny Christmas trees and I have TWO more lurking in storage.  However, I also have TWO small kids (who also lurk in the basement on occasion).

There is a reason why the Harry Potter tree is on the mantel.

Completely and utterly tangential and pretty much apropos of nothing whatsoever:
While at the gym yesterday, I was subjected to an episode of Dr. Phil where the mom was distraught about her daughter getting tattooes.  For some reason,  I found this amusing, yet horrifying because it led me to ponder - How will Team Chaos defy Manoj and me?

Piercings?  Whatever.  After all, Manoj's people are a Piercing People and our kids can brag that their Grandma Lilly had her NOSE pierced, no??  Awesome!  Rock on, Grandma Lilly!! 

Tattoos?  Whatever.  I am considering getting one myself (a 1912 Jayhawk on my ankle, which I have ALWAYS WANTED and nearly got for my 30th birthday and damned well may get for my 40th.)

Skimpy clothes?  Whatever.  I am used to seeing nekkid teenagers running around.  One trip to a shopping maul and you become visually numb to peekaboo butt cheeks.

And that is where the horror begins.  I could only wish that piercings, tattoos and nekkidness and would be the worst of our problems.

December 16, 2009

Randomly Random Randomness

To be clear, we are not full-on Santa around here.  We just happened to be near a Santa last year and that was Arun's first visit to one.  I really do not care for pictures of screaming kids on Santa's lap, either and this is why I have never really gotten into the Visiting Santa gig.  Too many viewings of Billy Bob Thornton as Bad Santa will do that to you, I suppose.

A month back, I had gone through the toys festering in the kids' room and bagged some up for donation and scattering at grandparents' homes.  The kids discovered this cache of treasure lurking in our junk room and have decided that nooooooooo! they LOVE these toys!  they are their very! favorite! toys. MAMA.  Yes, THAT one, the little drum with a missing stick that was purchased in Target's dollar section 3 years ago.  THAT DRUM IS MY FAVORITE.


Anjali has 1 teacher and Arun has 5 teachers at their school.  I was racking my brain and came up with this for Teacher's Gifts: a gift bag for each teacher with the following: a Krispy Kreme gift tag with a free doughnut coupon on back, some Ghiraldi chocolate pieces and a $5 gift card for Starbucks.  Then, in the director's gift bag, I included a $20 gift card for Hobby Lobby for the school to use.  All in all, I spent about $60, but I thought that was not so bad for 6 teachers who are such a positive and sweet influence on my children.  I am always at a loss at what to do for teachers, I know some folks do baking.  But, I am not a baker.  I gave up a few years ago on that.

Yes, I am not a baker and baking cookies will never be a part of our holiday tradition.  Arun wanted some gingerbread man cookies and Panera just happened to have some adorable ones.   Folks, that sound you hear???  That is the sound of Everybody Winning.  Also, I get invited to a cookie exchange every year that completely stresses me out because did you see that part where I cannot bake?!?!?!  What the hell does a non-baker take to a cookie exchange?  Fortunately, my friend Jackie gave me a great, simple idea for a cookie.  I am calling them Jackie's Balls and if they come out okay, I will be sure to share the recipe, which involves refrigerated cookie dough wrapped around a candy Rolo. 

Oh,  huh.  I guess that would be the recipe.  You are welcome!  If you make them, be sure to call them JACKIE'S BALLS.  That makes them super special, moist and delicious.  And my friend Jackies LOVES hearing her name in conjunction with BALLS.  Trust me.  She does!

I am nearly done Christmas shopping and have been pretty much done for a few weeks now.  I just need to procure a few picture frames and a fancy cigar for my dad.  Then that will be it.   I began picking up doodads here and there back in October.  Cool, right?  Not really because I ended up buying too much for the kids.  We will be making a nice donation to Toys for Tots AND I will be setting aside some toys for entertaining them on Super Bowl Sunday and Ice Days.

As a sincere apology for the lameness in posting lately,  I present for your viewing pleasure, my Harry Potter Christmas tree.  It is about 5 inches high and the ornaments are so twee, they are smaller than a frocking dime.  No joking.  I love playing around with the macro settings on my camera and it was good practice for me.  My favorite has to be the golden snitch.

The detailing on these ornaments is exquisite and sadly, my photography skillz do not do them justice.

Potion Bottle

Winged Key

The Sorting Hat

Dragon Hatching From an Egg

Magical Theory Textbook

The Golden Snitch

December 14, 2009

I believe.

Last week, I met my co-workers from Friday Playgroup Inc. in midtown Kansas City.  We went to the Union Station to see the massive holiday train exhibit, then trekked over to the Crown Center to gawk at Gene Simmons' tour bus, eat lunch at Fritz's and to meet Santa in the Crayola Land.

Mr Claus.... St. Nicholas..... Father Christmas.

Yes, that guy.

Right out of the gate, Anjali was adamant about not greeting the Great Red One.  She was not upset and did not cry because I did not push it.  I gave her the choice and she firmly said "No.", then ran off to play.  Arun wavered a bit because at the wise old age of 4, is well aware of how this particular scam works - if he does not actually tell Santa what he wants, then Santa will not show up on Christmas Eve. He bravely faced Santa, then sort of sat beside him.  I heard him quietly telling Santa what he would like - "a squishy T-Rex like the one Lucy chewed up and a microphone".   I thought he was finished, but then I heard him say, "and my sister wants a triceratops and a tea set."

Without prompting, he had remembered to plead his sister's case.

Recently, Shaken Mama had a lovely post about Santa being a "morality booster rocket." I think she makes a nice point about havng Santa as a part of one's childhood holiday tradition and uses a valid literary example - Pinocchio.
I was thinking about Santa. And I realized, "We're trying to trick Chebbles into being good."

And I decided that this is what you are obligated to do while a child is developing a conscience -- make good behavior a habit by creating fictional constructs which a child will shed when he or she is older, when the reason to behave in our society is clearer in their mature mind.

We do not push the Santa Thing too hard around here.  Arun knows that Santa will bring a few things and that is about it.    However, after reading Shaken Mama's post,  I did add some bits about "being good" to the Santa Thing.  I do not use it as a threat and there no Elf on Our Shelf.  Besides, I have never cared for vague statements about "being good".    I simply added some specific measures to the Barometer of Goodness.  I decided that having Arun know that Santa rewards kids who listen to their parents and share toys with their sisters is not necessarily a bad thing.

I will probably never have this parenting thing figured out.  Just when I think I am on the right path, these two little hooligans begin lobbing curveballs at me.  But last Friday, as I heard my boy politely and quietly ask Santa for some toys for his pesky little sister and for all the other times I see Arun ask for an extra goodie for his sister of whatever he is being handed, I knew that I must doing a few things right on occasion .... some of the time..... once in a very great while.......

And I just have to hope that is enough.

December 10, 2009


From this post forward, all posts regarding will be titled #Shill.  Why?  
Because I call 'em like I see 'em.

I do not see myself doing an inordinate amount of posts about our business,  But I would like to use this space to talk about things going on with it.  Besides specific business activities, I may use this space to talk about the struggles with entrepreneurial ventures.  It is a damned shame I am not a Naked Blogger, because interesting things most certainly happen in one's life when you are living on the entrepreneurial path.  Sigh.  I never thought I would be living this life and while I have no regrets, it can be very stressful at times for someone like me, someone who would rather receive a neatly printed W2 than have to file a messy scad of incorporation papers.

Anyway., in a word, is going gangbusters.  I am 3 parts exhilarated, 2 parts utterly frightened.   I am in an active role with this business and hence, the slowdown on Rancid Raves as I scramble to adjust to this WAHM thing.  But really, some truly good stuff is happening around here, folks.  Besides some awesome meetings that Manoj has had lately, we have a few specific things going on right now.  As a bonus for enduring the boring stuff, I am including a list of restaurants that are offering special deals right now on giftcard purchases - in the interest of fairness, you do not have to purchase through Snapgifts, but holy smoke, the deal at 54th Street Grill is too damned good NOT to share with you.

1.  Most importantly, we are participating in the Shop For Anissa campaign going on today at  Aiming Low.  This means that we will be donating 10% of the revenues from today's sales towards the Hope 4 Anissa fund (revenues!  not profits.  Because we are a startup and profits?  I laugh at the prospect. Like a lunatic, I laugh. So in fairness, we went with total revenues. )  Additionally, we have a section of our shopping cart that allows folks to make their own donation towards Anissa's fund. Check out the list of vendors - serously!  There is some fun stuff there and I have a serious hankering for a warm cup of tea right now......

2. We are offering a special 2009 Holiday promotion valid through December  - FREE shipping and handling on all gift card purchases. Just enter "freeshipping" when you check out.

3. We are offering a cool, new product called a SnapCard.  In short, you purchase this product and it is emailed to you.  You print it off, give it to your lover, best friend, whoever and they can redeem it for any of the 600+ gift cards we currently offer.   So, if you find yourself in a bind with last minute shopping, this is a great option because you will receive it immediately - no waiting for the post office.

4. And finally, I promised a list of a few places offering good gift card deals!  The following businesses are offering these deals.  Note, of course, I have included links for Snapgifts, but in all fairness, you should be able to get these deals anywhere!

A bonus $5 certificate for every $25 gift card purchased

A bonus $10 for every $50 gift card purchased:

A bonus $5 for every $25 gift card purchased, plus a bonus $25 card if over $250 is purchased - plus, you still get the original 10 $5 gifts (that is $75 in bonus gift cards for a $250 purchase!)
54th Street Grill

And the fun deals of the day?
Cheesecake Factory: A coupon for a free piece of cheesecake with every $25 purchase.

Chick-fil-A: A free calender with a $25 purchase.  Their calendars are fun, quirky and include coupons valid throughout the entire year.  This year's theme is "Great Works in Cow Literature" - my personal favorites are Mooby Dick, Flankenstein and Robinson Cowrusoe.   Sadly, Snapgifts cannot offer this because of the shipping involved, so I will have to go rogue on you and simply suggest that you get your own ass to Chick-fil-A to get that calendar. 

December 8, 2009

Have a Heart, Tinman.

If that does not scream Christmas!Card! to you, then it would seem you are lacking a soul. Or maybe you do not celebrate Christmas.  Whatever.

So, I received my shipment of Christmas cards, only to discover that I must have found a helluva lot new friends in 2009 because the normal lot of 50 cards was not enough.  Another box of cards has been dutifully ordered.  You see, I like doing Christmas cards.  I love the process of picking the perfect photo (and before photo cards, the perfect card itself), the signing of them (I always hand sign my cards), the addressing of them (I do that by hand, also), sticking return labels and stamps on them, then trucking them off to the post office.  Call me crazy, but I enjoy it.

Now that you have read that, you will realize the seriousness of this: A week ago,  I discovered a significant cache of 2008 Christmas cards that had been signed and addressed, but not mailed.  I knew there were some cards that I had just let go, but I did not realize how many.  It is discoveries like that make me realize how very sad I was last year.  Sigh. 

The upside of all that is it simply makes me happier than ever to realize that I really am on the Other Side now.  Truly.  Life is frocking good.

Yes, things are just so lovely right now and it only makes it more poignant when having to deal with so many jerks lately.  Holiday spirit, folks?  Heard of it?  I can report that many folks are not getting it.  I am out and about a lot these days doing things for our business.  And all of the Scroogy McGrinch O'Potters are breaking my heart, y'all.  Within a few days period, I was verbally accosted twice at our post office.  Twice!

The 1st incident occurred after some Guy #1 pulled an illegal u-turn in the street and nearly hit me.  I was so flustered, I committed a minor traffic transgression.  I was in a right-turn lane, but went straight instead - I did not realize it because the right-turn lane is directly in line WITH GOING STRAIGHT.  Guy #1 begins furiously honking his horn, follows me into the post office and begins berating me.  At one point, I gave him the Talk to the Hand motion and threatened to call the police if he did not back off. 

The 2nd incident occurred two days later and this one still has me clueless.  Scene?  Again, the post office.  I mail a letter and pull forward to enter the exit lane.  In the corner of my eye, I see a guy racing through the parking lot, he beats me to a spot in front of me, then opens his door and starts screaming "You fucking bitch!!!!".  And my kids are in the car.  It was AWESOME.  I have no earthly idea what set off Guy #2 but rest assured, I threatened to call the police on him, too.

Those are two specific incidents which I can recount - the other days are littered with all sorts of randomness.....  Eye Rollers who are impatient with my sheer audacity to be in line before them or even better, the Line Cutters who trip over their happy selves to shiv you in the retail heel or, last but not least, Lovely Drivers are perpetually in a mental mode of Dammit, Get Out of My Way So I Can Beat You To This Traffic Light.  The mind boggles. Or perhaps, I am just too damned happy this holiday season and that is pissing people off.

Okay, folks, your traditional holiday PSA about slowing down and smelling the mistletoe is complete.

As you were....

December 2, 2009

Specifically Random

My stomach is a twisted ball of stress these days.  Fortunately, the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done, Christmas cards are ordered (thanks to, my favorite of online photo sites!) and some major packaging of presents have already been hoisted into a post office bin.

My goal is to concentrate on my newfound J-O-B (being married to an entrepreneur has its pitfalls!)  and a flurry of holiday activity coming up.  Yesterday, we went to Lawrence for the Festival of Trees at Liberty Hall and this Saturday, we head back for the the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in downtown.

Anyway, today is going to be one of those random sort of things because I simply cannot come up with a narrative that ties it all together. 

Such is my life these days, so be it.

I am ridiculously excited about two of my favorite shows returning in January - Antiques Roadshow and Big Love.  And truly, I am more excited about the Antiques Roadshow than anything thing else.  I must have some latent little old lady lurking deep inside of me.  Having said that....... I have also decided to pick Chuck back up - I had some DVR issues last spring and had to drop the show mid-season.  I have decided to buy Season 2 and catch up on the lost episodes. Now that we have a DVR through ATT, I will be able to keep with the maelstrom of shows that air on Monday.

I cashed in a slew of iTunes gift cards this morning and purchased a veritable musical smogasbord - Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, Kings of Leon, Black Eyed Peas.....    and ........... some Taylor Swift rounded everything off quite nicely.   I am not sure what that mix of artists says about me and my tastes, but I am really excited about firing up the iPod today while out and about today!!

Oh, my GOD. I am having zero patience with spammers right now.  I have turned on word verification, but if the spamming does not let up, I will have to tighten comments up further by not allowing anonymous commenting.  I really do not want to do that because I like commenting to be as simple as possible, but I simply do not have the time to deal with spam right now.

I noticed last night that Anjali managed to find the lone Asian in her vast population of Little People.  This little Asian girl has become BFFs with Anjali's myriad of Kai lan dolls.  My baby girl is 2 years old and already racial profiling?  We are so proud.

The tree trimming other day was simply wonderful.  One of those Life's Perfect Memories.  I think as parents, we all too often build up events in our head to the extent to where the actual happening can never, ever live up.  In this one instance, Real Life equaled Grand Vision and it was so precious to me that for once, it all happened as carefully and painstakingly planned.

When the kids woke up from their naps and saw the tree, their eyes bugged out.  We slowly dug through the decorations with absolutely no fighting and no ornament breakage.  I relaxed, played some holiday music and let the kids hang the ornaments wherever they wanted.  Later, I subtlety sneaked the more fragile ones up higher with no one the wiser.

Perfect.  Just perfect.

And finally?  Some random Twitterage:

I thought I would cobble together some heartwarming, O. Henryesque parable about the mutual love and adoration my cat and I share, but tragically, words failed me.  I just wasn't feeling the Gift of the Magi.  Anyway, if any of you were under the delusion that I was high-flying around here with ad money coming out of my ears as I purchase all sorts of pretty baubles for myself, you can rest assured that is most certainly not the case as my usual Taco Splurge was abandoned in lieu of a new litterbox for my beloved Vanessa.  Sigh.

Although, I could swear my cat smiled the first time she shat in her sweet new bathroom.