Thursday, December 31, 2009

Girls' Night Out...Bowling Style



















Mom, today I learned that my friends look terrific pregnant! Only one of them is actually pregnant, but they look terrific!


I learned that I don't care one bit about my double chin in this picture because the ball loves me!



You can't tell from my score, but really...it loves me!  No, really!



I learned that no amount of Malisa's patient guidance will ever help my score if I don't take it seriously.




















And finally, I learned that no one, but no one, has more fun than the MOFia. (Also, I learned that I was capable of one flattering picture. Go me!)

(Thanks to Lara B. for taking better pictures than I could have taken with my camera phone. Thanks to Lara, Malisa, Meagan, Tisha, and Taffi for reminding me that I should learn to bowl sometime. Thanks to my ball for loving me. Next time, love me by knocking down some pins, k?)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Only in Utah

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Mom, today I learned the people at our favorite cafe crack me up.

I remember a day in the 4th grade when my class was learning about advertising.  Why were we learning about advertising and not history or science or math?  Who knows?  We were given the assignment of creating an imaginary product, then writing and presenting a commercial for that product.

That was the day that a usually quiet and unassuming boy named Cody Driver blew us all out of the water with his Billy Mays impersonation.  Since this was at least 15 years before anyone would ever hear Billy Mays do his infomercial schtick, that was pretty impressive.

The product Cody created was "The Amazing Driver Underwear!" or as he put it: "The Amaaaazing Driiiiiiiiver Underweeeeaaaaar!"  He strode around our desks, enthusiastically shouting the various uses of his invention.  "You can swim in them! You can skate in them!  You can even pick your nose with them!"  Needless to say, he got an A on his assignment.

I couldn't stop thinking about Cody as I checked out the website of this week's Stupid Product.  I think my exact words upon seeing Handerpants: Underpants for Your Hands! was, "Uhhhhhhh...whaaaaaa...are they...ooooooookay."  Just...just...just watch the video.



Handerpants come from Archie McPhee and Co., so they are categorized as a novelty product.  However, as I said in the LED Toilet seat review, being a novelty product does not exempt you from Stupid Product status.  This is true of Handerpants. 

I can't get the image of Cody Driver hawking his magical underwear out of my head when I think of Handerpants.  Both products are undergarments promoted by loud people who say their product can do anything.  The difference between Handerpants and The Amazing Driver Underwear is that Cody was a 4th grader and understood that a good joke is just that.  He didn't actually expect to sell his product to anyone.

I think that's where Handerpants head over into Stupid Product territory.  The video is funny.  The concept is funny.  Ask me to pay 12 bucks plus shipping for a pair, and you've officially become stupid.

Also, I can swim in them.  I can skate in them.  But I can't pick my nose with them.  Archie McPhee, you should have hired Cody.

(Thanks for Jennifer G. for the heads up on Handerpants!)

I challenged my fans, and my fans won!

Just about 24 hours ago, I noticed that I was a mere 9 fans away from reaching the 100 fan mark on my Facebook fan page.  Feeling saucy and a bit delirious because of the late hour, I challenged my fans to find me 9 more.  If I made it to 100 fans by New Year's Day, I would post a video on youtube of me singing the National Anthem while standing on my head.  As of 9:30 pm this evening, 17 new fans had joined the page. 

Fans, you rock!

I don't have a video for you yet, but I can tell you one was made and will be emailed to me in the next day or two. I learned a lesson tonight.  I don't have the first clue how to do a proper headstand!  When I made the challenge, I kept thinking I'd done this before.  Apparently, I have not.  I think I just remembered my mom losing a bet and doing this and figured if she could do it, so could I.

Mom, I am not worthy.  All I managed to do on my own was put my head on the floor and my butt in the air and laugh hysterically.  I did this in a packed bowling alley, where I'd gone for a Girls' Night Out with my MOFia friends.  (More on the MOFs here).  A couple of my more nimble sisters demonstrated the art of the headstand for me, but all that taught me was how thin, flexible women with good core muscles do a headstand.  A couple more failed attempts later, Lara and Meagan (or was it Malisa...it's so hard to know when all you can see is carpet) each grabbed a leg and held it on the wall while I screamed/laughed/sang the first few bars of the "Star Spangled Banner."  Alas, we didn't manage to hold the position for much longer than "twilight's last gleaming."

I'll be putting the video of the failed attempt on youtube and posting it here, but I'll also be going back to the drawing board to do it again and do it right.  We made a deal, and I intend to keep my end of it...even if I have to hire someone with a waterproof camera and do the headstand in a pool.  I actually have an idea that involves wrapping my feet around the pipes that hang from the ceiling above my bed.  I'm also considering wedging my toes in the hanger rod in my bedroom closet.  As Blogger is my witness, fans, you will get your video!

More than anything, though, I want to say a big THANK YOU! to all the Mother Load fans who spread the word and helped bump my fan base up!  Keep it up.  Once the headstand videos are up, I'll make the next fan goal...500 this time...and I'll let you guys suggest what crazy antics you'd like to see me perform.  (I really, really, really hope you don't ask me to eat a lot of chocolate...or sushi...or cheesecake.  That would be the WORST!)

So, to sum up:  Headstands are hard!  You guys came through.  I'm working on it.  Please know, I wouldn't stand on my head for anyone else in the world.

Except maybe Weird Al...

Or Will Smith...

Or the ghost of Gene Roddenberry...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spellchecked!

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Mom, today I learned that the dictionary Blogger uses does not recognize the word "bloggers."  Whew!  That was a close one.  Good save, Blogger.  Good save.

Monday, December 28, 2009

With Christmas just barely past, I have for you an Outrageous News story all about Jesus. To be more accurate, this is a story about people who purport to know the truth about Jesus, specifically, the truth about his financial holdings. You can read the full story here.

So, the traditional view of Jesus has always been of a humble man serving others without the trappings of wealth and often without the convenience of a home. Indeed, his birth in a stable full of animals seems to set the stage for a lifetime of poverty. This view has been largely unchallenged until recently.

Enter the preachers of the "prosperity gospel" who believe that not only was Christ NOT poor, he was actually quite wealthy. This, of course, has theologians in the poverty corner annoyed.

I'll say right now that I'm not taking a side in this debate, mainly because I wasn't there, and because I plan to continue worshipping whether Christ walked around in rags and bare feet or flashed his Rolex everywhere he went. I do have to take issue with a few of the arguments presented by the proponents of a wealthy Jesus, mainly because they're silly.

One scholar on the side of a prosperous Jesus points out that Mary and Joseph had to be wealthy because they traveled to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey (the Cadillac of its time, so says this guy). Poor people would have eaten the donkey (not so true of a Cadillac). I'm actually not entirely sure the donkey in question is even doctrinal. A quick search of my online version of the New Testament produced the following: "There were no occurrences of the word DONKEY found in the Text of the Scriptures." Hmmmmm...maybe I should search under Cadillac. (For those sticklers out there, I also searched using the word "ass" and found no reference to the presence of one during the trip to Bethlehem.)

Another of the wealth believers argued that Jesus had to be rich because he had many followers, and nobody would follow a poor person. A more traditional scholar is quick to counter that with examples like Martin Luther King, Jr., Buddha, and Ghandi. I submit myself. While not a religious figure, I do have 42 followers and 91 Facebook fans at this writing, and I'm not exactly raking in the dough here.

Finally, there is the argument that because soldiers at the crucifixion gambled over Jesus's clothing, the clothing must have been very expensive, ergo, rich Jesus. The person putting forth this argument states that he doesn't know anyone, not even Pamela Anderson, whose clothes would be gambled over like that. Considering the fact that celebrity belongings frequently fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars in auctions, I don't think this person understands how to make his own case. Also, I think the gambling had less to do with the quality of the clothing and more to do with the fact that there was one set of clothes and more than one soldier who wanted it. Casting lots is to Jesus's time as rock/paper/scissors is to ours.

Of course, even trying to refute arguments I think are nonsensical has made it appear as if I'm firmly in the "Jesus was poor" camp. I'm not. I'm in the "Jesus is personal" club and figure I'll have all the answers to my questions after I die. In the meantime, angry theologians can have their debate.

I'll be busy looking for a Cadillac to eat.

Today's You've Gotta See This entry comes from my own, dear, marginally sane (I'm being generous here) sister, Carla.  What can I say about Carla?

-She's weird.
-She bumped me out of treasured youngest position a mere 15 months after I was born.
-She thinks I'm funny, so I forgive her.
-I think she's hilarious, so I really love spending time with her.
-Living five hours away from her is the worst.

This video should give you a general idea of what a night out on the town with my sister is like.  Add her former roommate, Kayleen, and the craziness doubles.  Add me, and it triples.  Add my husband and...well, you get the idea.  Carla and I were once kicked out of a hospital room because our antics were making my friend, Becca, laugh.  Becca had just had her gall bladder out, and one does not laugh after that surgery unless one wants to experience extreme amounts of pain.  I knew that, having had my own gall bladder out a year or so before, but when I'm with my crazy sister, all bets are off.  Sorry, Becca.  Really...

So, here you go.  A little bit of Carla and Kayleen to make you spit your drink across your computer screen.  Kayleen's on the left.  Carla's driving.  I'm not drinking anything until this video is over.

(Let it be known that Carla once made me laugh so hard, I spit my drink all over the plate of Chinese food I was eating.  However, I once made her laugh so hard she vomitted in her hand. I believe that makes me the winner.  Huzzah!)

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Mom, today I learned that Padme is still alive (and THIRSTY!).  Yes, that was in question.  No, I should not be allowed to own a turtle.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mother's Day weekend a few years ago, my friend, Becca, and I climbed to the top of Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, sat down along the edge for a snack and took pictures of our feet dangling over the side.  Angel's Landing is about 1700 feet above the canyon floor, so it made for exciting photography. 



I sent this picture out to my friends and family in an email titled, "Cool picture of my feet."  I called my mom on Mother's Day and told her she had an email then listened while she headed over to her computer to check it out.  I got the following response:

"Sarah! That is NOT a cool picture of your feet!  That's like a LAST picture of your feet!  It's the kind of picture they retrieve from your camera when they recover your mangled body."

Despite what you see above, I'm not a thrill seeker by nature.  Angel's Landing is a thrilling hike, but I do it for different reasons.  I must say, however, that scaring the snot out of my mother with this picture was more fun than I had had in a long time.  I vowed that day to do it again and do it often.

(The dropoff you see is actually not as steep as it seems...not that rolling off of it wouldn't lead to my certain death....  My bottom was wedged nicely in a groove in the rock where I sat, so my chances of rolling off the cliff were pretty small.   I took the picture with my camera phone, which allowed me to snap it while only extending my arm.  See, Mom!  It's not so bad!)

So, it's been three and a half years since my mother seriously questioned my sanity and warned me my days on the earth are numbered if I kept up the crazy hiking.  A week without my kids provided the perfect opportunity for me to put on my daredevil hat and make my mother sigh in exasperation. 

The venue this time was again Zion National Park.  The hike: The Zion Narrows.  For those unfamiliar with this hike, I pity you.  And I offer this website for more information.  The Narrows is a breathtaking river hike through the longest slot canyon in the world and, in my hiker's opinion, is the most fun a person can have in Zion National Park.  I had hiked various lengths of this canyon three times in the past, but those hikes all occurred in the summer months, when hiking in water is a very welcome relief from the 100 degree heat of Southern Utah.

The Narrows involves a degree of risk, year round.  Flash floods can strike suddenly and high ground is not available in many sections of the canyon.  This, alone, might have been enough to cause heart palpitations in my mom.  However, because of my conservative practice of only hiking the Narrows while flood potential is low, I knew there wasn't much chance of really scaring her.  I had to up the ante.  It was time for a winter hike.

Hypothermia!  That's IT!

Here's where I come clean and say that we didn't plan to hike the Narrows when we went to Zion.  We didn't even plan to do any serious hiking.  We'd booked the Jane Austen room at the Novel House Inn in Springdale, and were prepared for a quiet two days of Jane Austen living...you know, strolling, reading, needlepoint, pining for suitors too far above our station to ever marry us...stuff like that.  On our way out of town, the Novel House proprietors called and regretfully informed us that due to a complete lack of any other bookings, they needed to cancel our reservation, close for the holidays, and let their staff have time with family.  I was dismayed (I was so looking forward to busting out words like "thither" and "anon"), but before we could say, "Edmond's been sent to London again," we realized this was a blessing in disguise.

Our plan B was the Zion Park Inn, a fairly nice Best Western in Springdale.  We checked in, telling our sad tale to the man behind the desk, who knocked a few bucks off the nightly rate because we were pathetic and he was sweet.  Later, a walk through the lobby revealed that a good friend of mine (who will remain nameless in case her awesomeness could lose her a job) also worked at the hotel.  She decided a few bucks off the rate would never do and promptly cut the price of our two night reservation in half.  Nameless, you're the best!  I will love you 'til the day I die.  (Don't get excited about that, Nameless.  My mom thinks the day I die will be sooner than I think.)

Speaking of my mom...this day happened to coincide with my birthday, so Mom did her birthday thing, calling my cell phone to serenade me (loudly) with the string of silly birthday songs we've been singing since I was a kid.  It was during one particularly precipitous high note that I thought of the precipitous cliffs of the Narrows, realized I'd just saved $200 on lodging, and a plan was formed.  I waited patiently for the final strains of "Happy Birthday To You" to end and then sprung my crazy plans on her aging heart:  "We're going to rent winter gear and hike in freezing cold, chest deep water tomorrow!"

*Cue exasperated sigh*

Am I trying to kill my mom?  Well, of course I am!  Didn't you read that column? 

True to my word, we took our room savings down to  Zion Adventure Company the next morning and informed the adventurous employee of our adventurous intentions.  She didn't look at us like we were crazy, probably because we were offering her job security in the form of money whether or not we died a horrible death in our rented gear.  She sat us down with another family of crazies in front of an informational video about the Narrows, introduced us to the gear we would be taking with us, and then lined us up to size us for our dry suits and fleece.

People, I hiked for hours in water so cold it could have killed me, and the most harrowing part of my experience was having a skinny 20-something try to figure out my size just by looking at me.  I was seriously unsure what would be worse: having to state my weight in a room full of smaller people (rather than have her guess, which she was trying to do), or get to the trailhead and learn I wasn't going to fit into my gear. I settled on the latter, quietly shared my concern that I might be too fat for the size she had chosen, gave her my weight, and died a little inside, to which she replied, "I have a coworker built exactly like you, and this is the size she uses.  I think it will fit great!"  Of course, you KNOW it fit fine and all my anxiety and embarrassing revelations were for nothing.  The woman should work for a carnival.

Since we hadn't brought anything worthy of a hike, we rented a full set of gear for the Narrows.  This consisted of two layers of fleece pants and tops, dry suits made of goretex and rubber, two pairs of neoprene socks each, water shoes worthy of a walk on the surface of the moon, hats, gloves, waterproof backpacks, walking sticks (essential for any Narrows hike), and a waterproof camera case.  We loaded our gear into the car and headed into the park.

Here's what you need to know about Narrows winter gear.  It's crazy hard to get into.  That statement might just be applicable to me, but I'm not willing to sugar coat what might be a difficult experience for someone like me.  Neoprene socks are manufactured in China, having been outsourced from the depths of Hell to save on overhead.  They don't want to be on your feet and fight you on every inch until finally settling just above your ankles, refusing to straighten out, thereby cutting off most of your circulation to your feet.

Dry suits made of goretex and rubber are probably easy to get on if one is not already stuffed into two layers of fleece.  The experience of donning my dry suit was somewhere between trying to put on too tight jeans and giving birth.  Once the suit was zipped and the moon boots were buckled (with ample help from my husband), we tottered to the car, and I learned the only thing harder than walking in this gear was driving in it.  Sitting in a goretex dry suit causes the air in the pants to billow into the top, puffing the suit up around your face like a microwaved marshmallow.  We giggled all the way to the trailhead. Richard took a picture of me, and I promptly threatened to break his phone if he didn't delete it.  (That was when I remembered it was my phone.)

I'm glad to report that after awhile, you can get used to wearing anything.  I won't say the gear became like a second skin the way my usual hiking gear has, but at some point along the trail, it stopped being cumbersome and began to feel useful.  This was probably about the same time we stepped into water that reached our waists and realized we weren't screaming like little girls from the cold.

The weather conditions for the day called for highs of 40 degrees in the canyon with water temperature at about 40-45 degrees.  The boots and socks were not water tight, so we felt some of that cold, but socks manufactured by direction from Hell are actually pretty handy.  As long as we were moving, I never felt my feet get colder than the cool feel of the water during my summer hikes.  The dry suits lived up to their names, keeping us completely dry from head to toe, despite several falls into the water.  (Falling is a normal Narrows activity, and probably the part that makes it the most fun.)

With our walking sticks in front of us to test for water depth and for help with stability, Richard and I made our way through scenery that amazes me more each time I see it.  The beauty of the canyon was enhanced by the winter snow, the juxtaposition of red and white creating a spectacular contrast.  The cold weather provided for a more quiet, contemplative experience than I've previously felt in the summer when crowds of hikers visit the canyon.  The only other people we encoutered were the family of hikers we'd met when renting our gear.

In preparation for our hike, we'd stopped by a small store outside the park for food and water.  Most of what we bought proved extraneous.  We barely finished a half a liter of water between us and left most of the food untouched.  If I had it to do over again, I would still bring along as much food and water as we did, because the Narrows hike is unpredictable and there are hikers who have had to hunker down for a night or two before hiking back out.  Also, jerky and granola bars are good roadtrip food.

We had been warned while watching the video back at Zion Adventure Company to be aware of the signs of hypothermia.  Since I needed a good story to tell in order to continue my "freak out mom" tradition, I kept an eagle eye out for this.  The symptom I focused on the most was "poor decision making."  Any time I found myself pushing against a current more swift than I liked or trying to cross along rocks too slick for my boots, I wondered if hypothermia was setting in.  Every fall left me giddy with delight and then quickly concerned that the aforementioned poor decision making had led to it.  At some point, I realized that most people would consider the entire hike a testament to poor decision making, so any decision within the hike would likely lead to a hypothermia diagnosis. 

We had to have our gear back by 6 pm, so we didn't get too terribly far through the canyon before deciding to turn back.  Heading back to our car on the Riverside Walk, I found that the spring in my step I've always experienced after a summer Narrows hike was just as evident in the winter.  Our bodies were sore, our joints aching and bruised from various falls into the water, our hands stinging from spending too much time in wet gloves, but our faces beamed with the joy of the hike.

We decided Hell could have its socks back as soon as humanly possible, so we stripped out of our boots and dry suits in the Temple of Sinewava parking lot, ignoring the curious stares of others in the area.  The bathrooms at this trailhead are being remodeled, so we used our tailgate for support and pulled each other out of the bulky gear.  Once free of the neoprene and rubber, we decided we'd had enough of the fleece, too.  Jumping in our minivan and shutting the doors, we giggled our way out of our rented clothes and back into our jeans and t-shirts.  Richard used the tiny space between the back seat and the back door.  I wedged myself into the middle bench seat, struggling against Michael's carseat and the remains of a Christmas stocking one of the kids had dumped on their way to their dad's.  At one point, my feet were on the ceiling, and I again considered that we might have hypothermia.  There was a woman sitting alone in a car a couple of spaces away. I can only imagine what she thought was going on.

We got our gear back fifteen minutes before our deadline and high-fived the adventurous employee who helped make our hike possible.  There was a family of tourists in the shop checking out the gear, and we were happy to tell them about the hike and encourage them to try it the next day.  I thought about pulling the daughter of the group aside to tell her how much this would scare her mom, but since her mom was planning on doing the hike, it didn't seem like it would really work.  I should have busted out the Angel's Landing picture at that point, but somehow the thought eluded me.

I think I might have been suffering from hypothermia.

 (Thanks to my mom for being a worry wart and letting me make fun of her for it.)

Various and sundry

Well, hello there!  Didja miss me?  You did?  Awww...that's nice.  It was wonderful to take a few days off from blogging (and most everything else) to enjoy the holidays.  And now?  Back to the grind!

Monday, you can expect the usual Outrageous News story.  Wednesday, I have a Stupid Product sent to me by my friend, Jennifer, that will make you question your place in the universe...or maybe just laugh a lot.  I'll also be posting a Stupid Awesome product review.  I can't decide which it is, so I'm left with no alternative but to put it in both categories.  I thought when I first saw it that it was straight stupid, but then I spent four and a half hours hiking the Zion Narrows and realized I could really use it!  What the hey, right?

Speaking of the Narrows, I'm settling in tonight to write a column about that experience.  Pictures will follow once we finish up the roll in the disposable camera we took along with us.  (I was too afraid I'd break anything more valuable.) 

Also coming this week...maybe tonight...a new You've Gotta See This video.  It will probably involve my sister, Carla.  You'll thank me after you've been resuscitated after dying from laughter.  Merry Christmas to you!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that the Tiger Woods backlash hasn't made it as far as Springdale, Utah yet.

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I learned I should never, ever take the elevator because there might be an emergency.

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I learned that when your B&B cancels on you because they didn't get enough reservations, your regular hotel room will be just fine if it has a view like this.

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I learned that one of the symptoms of hypothermia is "poor decision making."  I learned this from the people who rented us our winter gear so we could hike up to our chests in 40 degree water.  I don't know why they didn't diagnose us when we walked in the door. 

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I learned that even if my fire didn't keep me warm, they won't give me my money back if I bring in the ashes.
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I learned that no matter what angle I shoot this picture, it will not do justice to the sheer size of this burger.

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I learned that the scenic route home is best taken in the summer.

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I learned that the people at this restaurant might not know what most people think the word "ho" means.

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Or maybe they do...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coffee...squared

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Mom, today I learned that this is an option at the cappuccino dispenser.  I got hot chocolate.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gesundheit!

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Mom, today I learned that whatever "cachews" are, they're very expensive!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We all have our disabilities...

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Mom, today I learned that I am paper towel challenged.

Friday, December 18, 2009

All right, people.  It's crunch time.  It's officially seven days until Christmas (known in more cultured circles as two days until Sarah's birthday).  Some of you haven't even written your annual Christmas letter.  I know this, because I am one of you.

Actually, this is the fourth (fifth?) year in a row that I've failed to write a Christmas letter detailing all the wonderful ways my family has contributed to the betterment of society and how my children have outshined their peers in every respect.  While I like to brag as much as the next gal, I just haven't had the time.

For all of you who are like me and have waited this long to get to writing your letter, and for those of you who have nothing positive to report and are wondering what to do, I have here some tips for getting it done this late in the season.

-Mine your email account.
Chances are, you sent at least a few emails over the course of the year to update people on your family.  Creating a complete Christmas letter is a copy and paste job away.  If you want, you can even break it up into months and just put a tidbit or two in each.  When your in-laws call you to complain that your letter is a retread of stuff they've already heard, just tell them that, A) All Christmas letters are like this; and B) It was a test to see if they read your emails, and they passed.

-Use the news. 
Newspapers (remember those?), bloggers, and TV networks are publishing their "year-in-review" recaps as they prepare for 2010.  Simply take the top news stories of the year and write your letter based on those.  "So, you all know about the economy.  John's job is part of that."  "The Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change is underway.  Coincidentally, we also live in a climate."

-Embrace mediocrity
This is the "less is more" approach to writing a Christmas letter.  Just add a post-it note to the Christmas card with a hastily written, "We're fine.  Everything's the same. Merry Christmas."  Believe me, there are people on your Christmas card list who will appreciate this so much they'll send you an extra gift for keeping things concise.


-Beg, borrow, and steal
If you see an idea on a friend's Christmas letter that you think you can use, go for it.  Whether you beg permission, borrow from the concept and make it your own, or outright steal the idea is up to you and your personal ethics.  I'm one to ask, but I'm also one to never actually write the letter, so permission is moot anyway.  If you're thinking of begging, borrowing, or stealing the achievements listed in someone else's letter, you're probably pathetic enough that no one would believe them anyway, even if they did happen to your family.

-Write you letter on your blog.
What's the point of having a blog if you can't use it to bypass the U.S. Mail?  A quick email to everyone on your Christmas list with a link works just as well, if not better, than printing off copies and sending them the old fashioned way.  It's the green thing to do.  In fact, it's such a good idea, I think I'll do it right now.

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you've all had a wonderful 2009, except that we know you all haven't, what with the economy in the toilet and the tendency for people to get sick, divorced, fired, hit by cars, and burned with acid.  If any of those things have happened to you, we're sorry to hear it.  (Except for the acid part, because we hear superheroes are sometimes created that way!  Go you!)

It's been a fun year here at Team Liger headquarters.  We're all still alive, so that's good.  No one was fired, expelled, or subjected to waterboarding. I don't know about you, but I call a year like that a success!

Richard has a new hobby involving 3-letter permutations that isn't remotely interesting or noteworthy.  He knows this and lovingly calls the notepad he carries around his "Crazy."  Please, don't encourage him.

Sarah started a blog and doesn't ever talk about anything else.  She's become completely insufferable, but we all just try to ignore her and pretend we have something pressing to do whenever she starts yammering.

The artist formerly known as Ray will be a teenager on Monday.  Enough said.  He's informed us he wants to be called by his first name, Aaron, from now on. So far, we've managed to call him Raaron a few times.  It's a work in progress.

Miriam started playing the flute and can play Mary Had a Little Lamb and Jingle Bells, which have been the required repertoire for budding musicians since cave men were banging rocks together.  The good news for us is that she's quite good at it  (the flute, not banging rocks, though the girl's got skills there, too.)

Cate was chosen by her school to have lunch with the author of the Fablehaven series of books after writing a particularly good essay.  The morning of, she woke up vomiting and didn't stop until the next morning.  I believe her next essay will be on mastering the art of tragedy.

Evelyn is somehow a whiz at math despite having her father's and my genes.  We're having her tested to find out how such an anomaly occurred.  The good news for us is that she doesn't particularly like math, despite her aptitude for it.  *Whew!*

Michael started preschool this year.  He's learned his colors, numbers, and how to shove an entire handful of animal crackers into his mouth without choking. We're very proud.

On the pet front:  Euclid abandoned us for the quieter home across the street.  He visits from time to time to eat our food and not appreciate us.  Buster, sadly, was hit by a car while following Richard and Sarah on a late night run for hot chocolate.  There's nothing funny to say about this.  We miss him.  Isis has thrown off the last of her feral tendencies and is now a full fledged family cat, which means that she only runs and hides 48% of the time when the kids come home from school. Padme is still alive by the grace of God and continues her turtle-y existence with grace and frequent trips into her shell.  Psyche and Quill are our new kitty additions, adopted together from the pound a few months ago.  They're fat, fluffy, and fabulous, except when they get themselves locked inside the downstairs bathroom, which is often.

We hope you all have a wonderful 2010, though we know many of you will not.  In case next year is as terrible as it possibly could be, just remember that this, too, shall pass.  I know that doesn't help while you're in the thick of troubles, but when they have passed and you're feeling better, you'll look back on this letter and think, "Hey, Team Liger told me this would pass, and it did.  They're the best."

Merry Christmas!
Love, All the people that were listed above. (You thought we were going to sign this?)

Those of you who look forward to my Stupid Product reviews every week undoubtedly realize that this one is two days late. It's late because I was too busy studying for my math final to write it before now.  Also, this product is math related, and I was too busy hating math to want to look at it for more than 30 seconds at a time.  If you thought this paragraph was leading up to an apology, you are grossly underestimating my dislike of all things mathematical.

Before I start lampooning this product, I should say that I have friends who not only like it, but who say they'd buy it.  The good news for them is that I'm a forgiving and generous individual.  Math geeks, you can stay in my life.  You're welcome.

On to the product!

It's called the Pop Quiz Wall Clock, and it's just as twisted and demented as you'd expect something called the Pop Quiz Wall Clock to be.  Each number place on the face of this clock contains an arithmetic problem whose answer corresponds with the number that would be there if this were a clock made by sane people.  You can see it here.

Do you remember the words "pop quiz" from your school days?  These do no induce feelings of peace and comfort (or accurate timekeeping).  For most students, a pop quiz brings with it anxiety, fear, disgust, and the risk of urinary incontinence.  This clock is like that teacher who enjoys springing a pop quiz on her students so much that she practically sings the words as she announces the oncoming misery and then smiles an evil smile while her students squirm.  You remember her, don't you?  She probably has this clock on her wall at home.

According to the makers, if you're not great at quick arithmetic problems, you shouldn't worry.  You should let the Pop Quiz Wall Clock test your skills.  Am I the only one who understands that if you're not great at quick arithmetic problems, all this test will tell you is that you're not great at quick arithmetic problems?  Hi, everyone!  I stink at math!  Thanks, Pop Quiz Wall Clock!

This is the part of the review in which I tell you that my husband, my own, dear husband, would probably give his left arm for this clock.  I'd give both my arms to never have to buy it for him, so for now I'm counting on his love for me trumping his love for math.  It's close, but I think I'm safe for the time being.


(Thanks to Jennifer G. for the Stupid Product idea!)

Poor Nemo

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Mom, today I learned that the chances that my fish pen will be mistreated are directly proportional to the hours I spend at work.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that Cate's teacher isn't paid enough.  Not nearly enough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My first experience with Theraflu

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Mom, today I learned that making a drink that tastes like "hot cough drop" is not a nice trick to play on a sick person.

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Fortunately for me, Belgian Dark hot chocolate handles the situation nicely.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yes, please!

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Mom, today I learned that if you're going to put this on your license plate, you should be waiting by your car to make good on your promise.  It's common courtesy...and I really need a hug today.

Monday, December 14, 2009

For those of you with better things to do with your time than follow the Chris Brown/Rihanna story (in my defense, I keep up to date because I use it in the domestic violence group I teach at work), I will tell you that Chris Brown and Rihanna are singers and were in a relationship until he beat her to a bloody pulp back in February.  Both have continued on with their careers, though it seems that hers is continuing more successfully than his.  According to a news story here, Brown threw a tweety tantrum on Twitter after learning some stores are not stocking his new album, "I Ought To Be In Jail and Got Off Because I'm Famous."  Or maybe it's called, "Grafitti."  I forget.

Apparently, Brown was so outraged (OUTRAGED!) that some stores might refuse to sell an album produced by a "woman beater," that he ranted all over his Twitter page before finally deleting his account all together.  (I'm taking my fists and going home!) 

Chris Brown...dear, deluded, inexplicably not incarcerated Chris Brown... I don't sell albums, but you can add me to the blackball list.  I don't buy albums made by woman beaters.  I won't sell albums made by woman beaters.  I WILL make fun of albums sold by woman beaters.  Shall I continue?

It's interesting to note that Wal Mart, the store Brown singled out in his tirade, has actually not blackballed the album at all. (I'll talk to you later, Wal Mart.)  The store he entered had simply sold out of the initial order of the CD.  I guess Brown didn't wait long enough to find that out before crying, "BS!"

BS...now what did that stand for again?  Beaten senseless?  Blood stains?  Brutal sadist? Bratty sniveling? 

Wait, wait...don't tell me...born stupid!  Right?  Amiright?

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Mom, today I learned that my school has bathroom facilities for both housebroken and non-housebroken students.  That's social progress in action. 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Spent an evening at Richard's work...

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Mom, today I learned where all our dishes have gone. 

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sometimes, people make my day.

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Mom, today I learned that I'll get out of the car at the drive thru for something this blog worthy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh Christmas dish, Oh Christmas dish...

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Mom, today I learned that there are dishes for sale that people only use during the holidays. And I learned that if this blog ever makes me millions (or even dozens) of dollars, I will totally buy them.

Superwoman lives on workahol and tears.

It's 12:30 am.  I have to be up at 6:00 am to start working on my final paper for my Psych class.  It's due at noon.  I also have four or five (or six) chapters to read in another class, and finals to study for in three others.  I have to write or find speaking parts for three Christmas programs I'm directing, finalize the music by Sunday, and prepare for final rehearsals.  I still have to work my full time job, and, of course, there's that family you all know and love.

But wait...There's also the Christmas shopping to plan and do.  I really should get my gifts for my parents in the mail.  I wonder if we're ever going to take our Christmas card pictures.  Did I really say I was going to make sure there were refreshments for my choir concert at work?  I wonder what I'm wearing to Richard's company Christmas party.  Are any of my nice clothes clean?  Laundry...I should do laundry...

4 years ago I took on a challenge from the man who would become my therapist and I sat on a rock in Zion National Park for four hours and did absolutely nothing.  Four hours of quiet reflection makes a girl look at her crazy busy life and say, "Why?"  I left the park determined to reevaluate and let go of everything (EVERYTHING) that didn't need to stay.

I kept the kids.  I kept the column.  I didn't keep much else.

Hello, my name is Sarah, and I'm a workaholic.  ("Hi, Sarah!") 

I wonder what I would say if I were to face the man who issued the challenge all those years ago?  "Hi, Steve.  Remember me?  No, not the new me.  It's Old Sarah again.  Are you enjoying those many thousands of dollars I paid you to help me in my quest for inner peace?  Where's the new me, you ask?  Oh I buried her under textbooks and sheet music and treatment plans and troubled teens and laundry.  Once she's done with that, I'll let her out long enough to do the dishes and shovel the walk and write the Christmas letter. And I'm really excited to tell her about the major rearranging I have planned for the house."

It's not all that bad.  Really... I keep telling myself that.  It keeps the tears at bay.  People have told me more times than I'm willing to count (who has time for counting?) that they think I'm some superwoman with everything I do.  They ask me how I do it.  I tell them I cry a lot.  They laugh because they think I'm joking.  "That Sarah...full time student, employee, mom, volunteer...and she's got such a great sense of humor about it."

Sometimes I want to shake people and say, "This is a disease!  Don't admire it, and PLEASE, don't aspire to be like me!"  I don't need accolades.  I need a 12 step program.

I mean, really.  Would you stand over a drunk in a bar and say, "Wow!  You really packed away the booze tonight!  You're setting your sights high!  I wish I could be like you!"  Well, ok, some people might do that, but I'm assuming discerning Mother Load readers aren't among them.

Don't mind me.  I get this way during final's week.  This time next week, I'll have finished my finals, had my good cry, and I'll be enjoying my time off.  The Christmas programs will be upon me, but I'll be handling those like a pro because I'll have danced like a crazy woman around the textbook bonfire.  I'll relish my school-free existence for a couple of weeks, perhaps taking a much needed adult vacation with Richard, and I'll head into next semester having forgotten completely my current state of workaholic stress.

It's like having a baby in that way.  (Workahol's such a tricky thing.)  All through labor you grunt and you moan and you endure contraction after contraction thinking you were a complete idiot to do this and you will definitely never be making that mistake again, and then there's this wiggly mass of joy in your arms and you think, labor who?  All this stress and academic travail will completely leave my mind the moment that grade point average is posted on my student page.  When January rolls around, I'll be all butterflies and rainbows over the excitement of a new semester.  Silly, excited Sarah.  She's so naive.

Every now and then, I consider spending four hours on a rock again and wonder what I would do with this crazy busy life if I did.  Somehow, I don't think much would change.  School is temporary and necessary.  Work is lifelong.  Blogging is the escape.  Family is forever.

Maybe I'll take a workaholic's shortcut and spend four minutes visualizing myself on the rock and I'll find something to change that will make my life just the tiniest bit easier to manage.  Okay...four minutes...start...NOW!
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Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am at peace with the universe.  (Hi, Sarah!)  After much reflection and deep breathing on my rock, I have decided I will no longer be cleaning out the litter box.  I will delegate this chore to my oldest child who will do anything for a soda.

Butterflies and rainbows, people. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Queen Victoria once got his autograph.

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Mom, today I learned that 150 year old British rock stars still make the cover of Rolling Stone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

You know what I've always wanted to wear? A shrunken head. I've always felt like we lost something with the advent of modern civilization. Sure, we've got cell phones, and running water, and table manners, but what about the shrunken heads? Why did we have to get rid of the shrunken heads?

If you feel the way I do, you're in luck. Looky, looky! Someone has taken the concept of the shrunken head and jazzed it up for the modern age. Don't worry, though, they're still just as creepy as you'd expect. Check them out here.  Ah, Barbie heads in bottle caps.  Nothing says...gosh, I can't even finish that sentence.  What DO these pendants say?

(I think it's, "Help me! Help me!  Somebody cut off my head and put it in a bottle cap!")

Poor Barbie.  Poor, innocent, plastic, disproportionate and fashion-conscious Barbie.  Who cut off your head, dear?  Did it hurt?  Do you haunt her with your happy little disembodied smile, or are my nightmares the only ones you're visiting?

I had to double check the seller on this, because I distinctly remember my brother decapitating every single Barbie I ever owned.  Apparently, Mikey didn't have any idea of the financial potential involved in his acts of little-brother torture.  Note to Mikey: Dude.

If there's one compliment I can give to this strange jewelry (and that's a big if), it's that it doesn't have reindeer poop dangling from it.  So, I guess in terms of jewelry badness, that's not as bad as it could be.  But when the absence of feces is the only good thing I can say about a product (and let's face it, I can say that about a lot of things), then it's safe to say we have a stupid product on our hands.


(Thanks to Kendra A. for today's Stupid Product idea!)

Golden Corral gift cards are ok by me.

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Mom, today I learned that if shopping's too hard, the solution is to shop. And rhyme.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What do you mean I'm obsessed?

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Mom, today I learned that when we go out for hot chocolate, we will order specific add-ins so our total equals the total in Weird Al's "Trapped in the Drive Thru." You call it insanity. We call it love.

Monday, December 7, 2009

(Note: This is the first post in a new feature, "You've Gotta See This." I might do this weekly, more often, or less often. I'm thinking about it.)

This is a video created to raise awareness about breast cancer research. It was brought to my attention by my dear friend, Heidi, who is a breast cancer survivor herself. There is a rumor going around that Medline will donate money once this video gets 1 million views on youtube. According to Snopes, this rumor is false, however, Medline is donating a portion of its sales of these gloves to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and has already donated half a million dollars. No matter what, I think this video is super cute and worth watching. Enjoy!

I remember a news story from the late 90s about a toddler in Utah who was removed from his parents' home due to malnourishment. The parents believed he was a prophet and only fed him watermelon and lettuce, and at 20 months, he only weighed 15 pounds. Do you remember that story? This one's like that, except that it's completely ridiculous. Read the full story here.

Let's discuss.

So, a couple in Britain were worried because their son was a "fussy eater" and didn't seem to be growing at the rate one would expect.  With four other children, they'd had the opportunity to see what normal growth looks like.  Doing what any reasonable parent would do, mom got the toddler in to see a doctor.  Doing what any doctor severely lacking in brain cells would do, the doc told the mom to bulk the kid up on chips, cake, and candy.  Mom refused, and that's when the government intervened.  Because, you know, you're abusive and neglectful if you refuse to stuff your child full of junk.  Unfit parents take note! Kids have a right to eat crap!

After four months and an admission from social services workers that these were loving and capable parents, the boy was finally returned to his home.  Mom says he's now a chocoholic and only gained about 8 ounces on the sugar and fat filled regimen.  Good job, government.  He was clearly on the brink of death and you saved him with sweets.  What would we ever do without you?

To those who think I'm being a little hard on the docs and social service workers, I will point out that one of my own children was severely underweight as a toddler due to a heart condition.  On the day he went into surgery at a year old, Ray only weighed 13 pounds.  That's just three pounds heavier than his younger brother weighed at birth.  As he got older, I was given information on how to help him grow.  This included feeding him good fats such as avocados, olives, and peanut butter, hiding powdered milk in casseroles and sandwiches, adding cheese to meals, and supplementing his diet with Pediasure.  At no point was I ever instructed to bulk him up on junk food.  I bulked myself up on junk food, but I didn't need a doctor to tell me to do that. 

I'd like to know when refusing to do what a doctor said became abuse.  I can almost wrap my mind around the government stepping in when parents refuse chemotherapy...almost.  But a disagreement over nutrition?  Really?  Doesn't this entire case prove that doctors don't always know what they're talking about?  Doesn't it prove that parents must look at medical advice critically and make informed decisions rather than being blindly obedient to the medicos?  I think so.  I also think it proves that the junk food manufacturers are in bed with doctors in a vast conspiracy to keep humans unhealthy so there's more moolah to go around, but that's a column for another day.

The hospital involved in this debacle stands by its decision to involve the authorities, saying they still believe they acted in the child's interest.  Well, of course they do.  I imagine the butt-covering meeting in which they came up with that stance involved plenty of donuts and cookies.  Eating crow just isn't nutritious.

(Thanks to Sonja Y. for the heads up on the news story!)

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Mom, today I learned that cardboard cutouts of Bill Clinton are just as slimy as the read thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Didn't even know I was in the room

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Mom, today I learned that handheld Tetris is serious business. Just look at that furrowed brow. Someday, my husband will be called upon to save the world with his Tetris skills, and that, my friends, will be a very good day.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

:giggle:

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Mom, today I learned that coy is a good look for me.  I'm going to do this wherever I go from now on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Slow Computer Blues

You know you have a slow computer when you sit down to write a column that usually takes about two hours, and two of your kids leave for college before you're finally done with it.

My computer is so slow, I can clean half of the family room while waiting for a page to load. My computer is so slow, I've started using my cell phone exclusively for email, Facebook, and youtube. My computer is so slow, DHL just hired it. (Oh, snap!)

The annoying thing about my slow computer is that it isn't old, cheap, or suffering from a dialup internet connection. Everything that should allow for lightning-speed connections is in place, and yet here I sit...and wait...and clean...and wait. Every now and then, I reboot in the hopes that this will somehow magically fix the slow computer problem. Alas...it just creates more wait time.

It wouldn't be a problem if so much of my life weren't dependent on my computer. Dependency leads to depression, and depression is best expressed through chocolate and music. Since I'm out of chocolate (how is this possible?), I guess it's time to sing the blues.

I'm trying to write a column, (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
And do some homework for class. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
I've been stuck here for hours. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
There's no chance that I will pass.
I've got the slow computer bluuuues. (Harmonica)
My computer just crashed.
Won't somebody come and fix it?
Before I throw this slow computer in the trash.

Got a paper due Friday. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Got four finals next week. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Gotta work on my blog posts. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Now my future's lookin' bleak!
I've got the slow computer bluuuuues,
And they're just getting worse.
Won't somebody come and help me
This slow computer is a curse!

At night I dream of a laptop (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
I can use anywhere. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
But for now I'm a prisoner (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Of my *&@&@* computer chair.
I've the got the slow computer bluuuuuues.
Just can't take it anymore.
I'd replace it in a second
If I weren't so dang poor!

Now I've finished the column... (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Only took me all day. (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Waiting for every page load (Doo-doo-doo-doo!)
Made me want to run away.
I've got the slow computer bluuuuues
Did I mention it's slow?
My computer is so slow now
Let me tell you, it's slow!

I've got the so ridiculously slow it's driving me insane I'll probably kill people from a clocktower and end up on the news soon slow-ow-ow-ow computer BLUUUUUUUUES!

Shhh! Don't tell them!

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Mom, today I learned that little girls who refuse to clean their room are granted automatic and enthusiastic forgiveness for looking adorable in choir robes. This could be really bad...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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Mom, today I learned my husband knows exactly what I need when I ask him to pick up some feminine supplies while he's at the store.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Busty, sleep-deprived women, I give you The Kush!



I had seen the Kush before and wondered what the fuss was about. I'm not particularly large in the chestal region (read a column I wrote about it here). I don't struggle with the weight of my breasts keeping me awake or putting strain on my back. When it was presented as a candidate for stupid product status, I knew I'd have to learn more, because it's not like I'm going to try it out. (Okay, it could be fun for target practice or a game of fetch with the cats, but really...when you don't have enough on your chest to hold it in place, it's just not that interesting.)

I polled a few of my more voluptuous friends. The consensus? Amazing concept...craptacular execution. According to my friend Corey O., having something between her breasts would be extremely helpful to her nighttime comfort. Having something plastic, however, would cause her to wake up smelling like, "stinky, old man," and no amount of comfort is worth that. Ah, Stinky, Old Man.  That's a fragrance every girl wants in her cleavage.

All of my bosom buddies (heh) agreed the $55 price tag was ridiculous. According to the main site, the Kush can be purchased for the lower price of about $25, but even that is pretty pricey for a piece of plastic that does nothing more than sit between your breasts. The inventor may have had a brilliant idea, but a pair of rolled up socks would do the trick for free. Other possible alternatives my friends came up with included a toilet paper roll stuffed with cotton, a small stuffed animal, and, ahem, a husband's arm. (I will point out that husbands cost much more than $55, and can sometimes smell like "stinky, old man," so I don't fully endorse this alternative.)

Perhaps if I had larger breasts, I'd understand how life-changing this product is. As it stands, I don't have larger breasts and likely never will, so all I see is a pricey piece of plastic shouting, "Just call me grandpa, and don't mind the smell!"  So, busty ladies, it's all yours.

(Thanks to Jenn P. for the Stupid Product idea.  Thanks to Corey O., Tisha H., and Kaylee for the mucho mammary insight.)

Lung health is such bondage.

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Mom, today I learned that I can be free from breathing! Wheeeeeeeeeee!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This month's awesome product idea comes from my mother, a woman who taught me from a young age that diamonds are expensive and can be lost or stolen, but brownies are a girl's best friend.  The product in question is the Perfect Brownie Pan.

(FTC Moment: I was not given anything by the makers of the Perfect Brownie Pan to write this review.  However, I was given the gift of life by the woman who told me about this product.  If you think this disclosure clouds my judgment, feel free not to buy the product.  I will feel free to pity you while I eat perfect brownies.)

I was surprised to learn this product was from from those As Seen on TV people who will undoubtedly supply me with stupid products for many years (Bumpit, this is your only warning!).  I don't have TV, so everything sold this way is "As Seen in the Store with an As Seen on TV Label" to me.  Or in the case of the Perfect Brownie Pan,  "As Heard About on the Phone from My Crazy, Brownie-Loving Mom."

Crazy, Brownie-Loving Moms know their stuff, though.  And here it is:



So, what does Willie Braudaway say after using the Perfect Brownie pan?  Well, that it's PERFECT!  It does exactly what the video says it will do and is the answer to all the problems in the world and the greater universe.  She's sending one to President Obama and says the war will end, the economy will turn around, and puppies and kittens will live in peace within the month.

Okay, maybe she didn't go that far.  She did, however lament her complete lack of brownie cutting skills (and she's no slouch in the kitchen, let me tell you) and says the Perfect Brownie Pan gives her the opportunity to serve perfectly cut brownies for the first time in her life.  She used the pan as recently as last night and said even though she accidentally overcooked her brownies, she was still able to get the seperator out with a bit of help from a rubber spatula, and they still tasted great.  For someone who loves brownies as much as she does, the Perfect Brownie Pan is pretty incredible.

Of course, I write this as if I don't also love brownies more than life itself.  I'll admit it.  I think brownies are God's gift to me and you guys get to eat them because I'm nice enough to share.  I love eating a brownie hot out of the oven, which anyone who's made brownies knows is not technically possible, because attempting to cut hot brownies results in poorly formed globs of what tastes like brownie.  I've been okay with that until now.  Mom reports the Perfect Brownie separator makes a perfectly cut, hot from the oven brownie a possibility.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm in.  That's all I need to know.  They had me at Perfect Brownie.

The Perfect Brownie Pan is the perfect gift for the brownie lover in your life (and come on...who doesn't love brownies?)  At the usual As Seen on TV price of $19.95, it's also very affordable.  I've already begged for one for Christmas and secretly hope someone will read this and send me one for my birthday.  Because the only thing better than a tray of perfect brownies is two trays of perfect brownies.

I hope Obama gets his soon!

When in doubt, add an apostrophe!

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Mom, today I learned that the people who wrote this want to help me write my resume.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The After-Thanksgiving Leftover Party!

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Mom, today I learned that the prettier pie gets eaten, but my ugly pie gets to come home with me for breakfast, so it's all good.

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I also learned that it doesn't pay to be the fun dad at the party.

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Really doesn't pay.

(Thanks to Jarom for being a piece of playground equipment so the rest of us could chat it up in the other room!)

It seems we're all so used to Black Friday mayhem that one news outlet felt the need to report that no one died this year.  There were tasers at one Toys 'R' Us store and a shopper was trampled at another, but the death toll stands at zero.  Good job, crazy shoppers.  Good job.

I should point out that I'm not without bias.  I refuse to shop on Black Friday on the grounds that I don't think a risk of death should be associated with Christmas gift giving.  I've always been weird that way.  I just posted an old column about my love for bargain shopping, but it doesn't run that deep.  I've never even been manhandled at a thrift store or yard sale, let alone trampled.

Trampled.  What a word. Trampled.  The more you say it, the more ridiculous it becomes.  A woman was trampled.  Shopping. For toys.  And she makes the news because she didn't die. 

What would they have written in her obituary if she had died?  "Jane Elizabeth Doe, beloved wife and mother, left this earth Friday, November 27, 2009, after a courageous battle with 500 bargain shoppers.  She died doing what she loved to do: punching her way through a crowd for a chance at a deal.  She will be sorely missed by all who loved her.  The TV we didn't get is also sorely missed."

Until next year, shoppers.  Until next year.

I didn't post my weekly column last week because I was too busy lying around in a food induced daze (it's hard work, people!).  So, here's a column from 2001 to get you ready for Christmas shopping at the thrift store. :)

Published January 20, 2001
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

I have a confession to make.  I am shopper.  I feel a certain thrill whenever I venture out in search of that perfect something.  I've come to believe it's the prehistoric "gatherer"instinct in me.  It's in my genes.  My mother is a shopping goddess, and as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, I am just like my mother.

This leads me to my second confession:  I am very, very cheap.  If I can't get it on sale, I don't want to buy it.  I refuse to buy anything new if I can find the same item used.  And at least one Saturday a month is spent in search of yard sale bargains that I can proudly display to friends and family.  And believe me, I do wear this skill like a badge of honor.

Being a benevolent person by nature, I have decided to impart this great wisdom on you, my adoring public.  I have compiled a list of rules and strategies which I am offering today only in what I'm affectionately calling the "JUNK SALE JUNKIE SALE OF THE CENTURY!!!"  I pondered calling it the sale of the millennium, but that would be excessive, don't you think?

RULE #1: Every yard sale deserves a second look.
Maybe you think you can tell from a perfunctory curbside glance whether or not a yard sale will yield your next treasure, but this is simply untrue.  Sure, those orange dresses, circa 1970, are a powerful repellant to most inexperienced garage sale shoppers, but they may be hiding a Giorgio Armani original...or at least a great Halloween costume.

RULE #2: The early bird gets the dirty looks.
Do no, I repeat, do not show up to a yard sale before the advertised opening time.  You need the sellers to be your allies, and this is the easiest way to make them your enemies.  So, just don't do it!

RULE #3: Haggle, haggle, haggle!
Let's face it, folks, this is used stuff...as in, somebody has already worn it, slept on it, read it, or otherwise USED it.  The price is always negotiable, and anyone holding a yard sale who believes differently has no business in the business.  Even if you only manage to reduce the price by 10 cents, that's 10 more cents to spend as you see fit.  That romance novel on the book table isn't looking so out of reach now, is it?

RULE #4: When it comes to thrift stores, time is your new best friend.
When you head out to a thrift store, make it an event.  Wear comfortable shoes, pack provisions, and plan to spend a minimum of one hour.  You absolutely cannot afford to miss a good deal, so you're going to have to spend some time at each rack. As you become more practiced at this, you'll be able to whip past polyester pantsuits without so much as a second glance until you come upon the perfect find.

RULE #5: If all else fails, Go West!
Now, I'm all for shoping in my community and helping the local economy, but there are some things that simply can't be found in the Southern Utah area.  Chalk it up to the prevailing values of industry and frugality.  People here just don't seem to shop frivolously, which means their yard sales won't turn up that outrageously expensive item you've been craving.  A quarterly pilgrimage to that great yard sale Mecca is definitely in order.  Can you say, "Las Vegas?"  Believe me, that autographed  Velvet Elvis will more than make up for the gas.

Now that you're all educated in the intricacies of second hand shopping, I urge you to go out and put your newfound skills to good use.  Get out there!  Find those bargains!  Slay that shopping dragon!

What? You're low on funds because you overdid it during the holidays?  Hmmmm...maybe you could hold a yard sale.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You know the one...

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Mom, today I learned that the "spontaneous-high-pitched-squeal-of-delight" gene is still active in my DNA.

Friday, November 27, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that Richard's phone, though significantly cheaper than mine, has way cooler camera options.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that I need a double boiler to make a chocolate cream pie. I've learned that every Thanksgiving for the last 10 years, but when the pies turn out tasty anyway, you tend to forget those little details. On a related note: Mmmmmmm...pie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  I've been busy baking pies and wondering why my rolls aren't rising while trying to get my kids to understand that we don't own a Shop-Vac, so sucking up large objects and small animals is not a great idea.  By the grace of the Mayflower, we will be ready to feast tomorrow!

But wait!  I've forgotten something!  I never bought my traditional, ridiculous Thanksgiving hat.  What was I thinking?  I can't serve up an elegant meal at my table without a stupid hat on my head!  Why, it's downright un-American.

Fortunately for me, there are kind people out there creating ridiculous hats just for the holiday.  Follow the links and feast your eyes on these beauties:
 
NEW Gobbler Thanksgiving Bird TURKEY HAT parade pilgrim

Hey, I didn't name it.  It is the custom of some Ebay sellers to include as many keywords as possible in the names of their products to maximize their chances of coming up on a Google search.  For instance, I googled "thanksgiving mini parade" just to see what came up and found this.  Congratulations, seller.  Your keywords landed you on my stupid products post.  You must be very proud.

As for the hat, it took me a minute to decide if the fake red hair was just attached to the mannequin or if it was, indeed, part of this monstrosity of a hat. I regret to inform you that the hair is included.  The good news is that this hat is sure to "get you gobbling."  I don't kow about you, but it's been way too long since I last gobbled.  If you snipe me on this sale, I will take pictures of you in the hat and send them to your boss.

Plush Gobbler Hat

If doll hair isn't doing it for you, you can try this turkey hat.  There's not much of a description, but the picture is pretty self explanatory.  Bonus points to this seller for having the turkey's plush legs dangle down over the ears of the wearer.  This hat is perfect for those chilly runs into the store for forgotten corn starch or whipping cream.


RAW TURKEY-THANKSGIVING HAT-NEW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think the look on this guy's face says it all. Why, God, why? Note the sellers claim this hat has "hundreds of uses and applications!" Okaaaay, there's wearing it on your head and, uh, burning it in your fireplace? That's only two. I guess I could use it as toilet paper in a pinch, but that would seriously reduce any further uses or applications.

If you want to wear a raw turkey on your head, the only correct way was demonstrated by Monica on "Friends." It's real turkey or nothing, people.

That's all I've got for today.  It's time to put the rolls in the oven and pray for the best. Have a great Thanksgiving holiday and remember, a turkey's not a turkey unless it's on your head.

Just...you know...FYI.

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Mom, today I learned that I didn't milk my newlywed status nearly as long as I could have.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that if I want to eat a child for dinner, the youngest cuts are the cheapest!

Monday, November 23, 2009

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Mom, today I learned that Quill doesn't quite understand the rules of cat behavior when it comes to bathtubs.  I think I'll call him Anti-Cat.

With Christmas just about a month away, you might be wondering just what to get that special someone in your life. Men, if that someone is a woman, you might consider a nice piece of jewelry, for instance, the kind one Mother Load sponsor sells on this site. Cute stuff, huh?  Every piece is elegant and versatile.  Not a single bit of it says, "I came out of the wrong end of a wild animal."  Call me crazy, but I like that in my jewelry.

What kind of jewelry would say such a thing, you ask?  Oh, naive Christmas shopper, you have much to learn.  Apparently, an Illinois zoo is offering up necklaces made from the dung of their resident reindeer just in time for the Christmas shopping rush.  You can read the full story here.

According to the story, the practice of creating baubles from bowel movements is nothing new.  Last year, the zoo offered Christmas ornaments made from reindeer droppings, and these were "swept up" by eager shoppers who think sparkly pieces of excrement are the perfect complement to popcorn garlands and tinsel.  I guess if you want your artificial tree to seem more authentic, animal droppings are the way to go.

In an attempt to get a bit more personal with the meadow muffins this year, someone at the zoo decided to add to the crap collection and make some jewelry.  Each piece sells for $15 at the gift shop, or you can purchase your jewelry online for $20.  Holy Deer Diarrhea, Batman!  That's a bargain!  (I can imagine a woman proudly showing off her purchase: "You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen?  They made my necklace.")

I suppose I should point out that the dung is sterilized before it's covered in glitter and resold as jewelry.  Because, you know, feces are fine as long a they're sterilized.  It's okay if the reindeer who produced your earrings had an intestinal parasite.  The worms are definitely killed in the sterilization process.  Feel free to wear them close to your face or leave them around for your baby to chew on.  They're clean!

I have no beef (venison?) with the zoo trying to make money.  This particular zoo lost about $200,000 this year in budget cuts, so I guess they're feeling a bit desperate.  Or maybe they're going with the reverse psychology angle.  For all we know, they're hoping people will pay them not to send them poop jewelry.
 
It's worth $15 to me...

(Thanks to Jami K. for making manure-free jewelry.)