Thursday, December 12, 2013

Emma's First Sleeping Pill

Have you ever worked a normal day, gone home to complete chaos and then gone back into work the next day as if nothing major happened? That happened to me last Wednesday.

Kids around here get out of school every Wednesday at 1:30 in order to avoid missed days for teacher in-service. This particular Wednesday, I took the afternoon of in order to take 19 (yes, 19!) second and third grade Girl Scouts to tour a t-shirt printer. Five of the girls came back to my house to hang out until their parents got off work. Sure, they used a whole bottle of chocolate syrup on their ice cream, but the day was still going ok.

Then Emma, my 14-year-old, told me she needed a haircut that night because she wanted to look cute for a concert the next day during school. My 12-year-old daughter, Alli, had a softball lesson at 6, so Emma, Alli and I headed out the door as soon as the last little scout was picked up. We went to Great Clips and hoped for a quick cut so we could be on our way.

As I was waiting for Emma, I thought I heard her say "Mom....", but she wasn't looking my way when I looked up. After the third time, I went to see what was going on. That's when I noticed Emma was uncontrollably SOBBING. She had wanted her side bangs trimmed shorter so she can leave them down, but the hairstylist had cut half of her bangs straight across her eyebrows. I tried to calm Emma down so the rest of the bangs could be cut because it had to be done at that point. I didn't mind the new look, but Emma was, and still is, devastated. I sent Emma and Alli to the car so I could pay and smooth things over with the stylist. Emma stayed in the car during Alli's softball lesson, dramatically mourning the loss of her bangs. I explained that no, she could not stay home from school tomorrow, and no, her life was not over.

I hated to leave Emma home in that condition, but I had made plans with my newly divorced friend who hasn't gotten out of the house in quite a while. We walked into a nice quiet restaurant, and she immediately recognized a "lady" who had been "extra friendly" with her husband. It was after they'd been separated, but it still stung. But the kicker of the whole thing is that the "lady" was wearing a product that is sold exclusively by my friend. We think it's most likely that this "lady" took the product from her husband's basement where they were being stored at the time. Luckily, we had a good laugh over it all. Whew! That could have been bad!

We went back to my friend's house to find some headbands that might help Emma hold her bangs back for the next few months. That's when I got a panicked call from Emma. I thought she was still worked up about her bangs, but she told me she had cut her knee open and needed to go to the emergency room. She was getting up on a bed and put her knee on a pair of sharp scissors. Ew, I know. I rushed home, and texted a photo to my husband, TJ, who was working at the fire station. I could post that picture, but ew. He told me it didn't look like it needed stitches, but I needed to use a couple band aids to pull it shut. I did my best and then cleaned up the blood, some of which had gotten on the dog's tail. Emma was hysterical, still partly overreacting from her hair, and partly justifiably from her knee. I caved in and told her she could stay home from school the next morning. As I was getting her some ibuprofen, I noticed a bottle of sleeping pills. Perfect. Emma is old enough for a sleeping pill, right? Right.

I called the school in the morning blubbering something about Emma staying home because she hurt her knee. I knew it sounded lame, and my attempt to over-explain only made it worse. I came home over my lunch hour the next day, and Emma was happy, ready to go to school, and looked beautiful with her bangs pulled back. Isn't she pretty!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My dog is a picky eater

Nellie is a pretty good dog. But one thing that irritates me is that she does not eat at her bowl in the kitchen.

Easy-to-clean tile floor
Instead, she scoops up mouthfuls of food and eats in the living room.

Dog food on my CARPET
She's good about cleaning up the pieces that spill out of her mouth, but I DON'T WANT HER TO EAT ON THE CARPET! The other day I caught her carrying food to her eating spot. I moved quick like a bull fighter to block her way. I told her NO. I asked her to please eat on the tile. I pulled her  back to the tile. I was determined to put a stop to the nonsense. I lost. I gave up. I gave in. I took a photo.

I didn't want to have to do it, but I think I'm going to put her on Maybe that will teach her.

Also, I think it's weird that she doesn't like most dog treats, but she LOVES sandwich bread. We don't give her other people food, but we use bread as a  reward and to teach her tricks. She is crazy for it! I once gave her a piece of her favorite bread that had been left out for a couple hours, and she wouldn't touch it. What a picky eater!

And another thing. She only eats mini chunks, even though she's big enough for the regular chunks. We tried to switch her, but the bigger chunks fell right out of her mouth and made a mess on the carpet. Sigh. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I No Longer Fear Mariachi Bands

I recently visited a Mexican restaurant called Jalapeno Loco near the Milwaukee airport. To my horror, it was mariachi night. I wouldn't say I have a Mariachi phobia, but they make me awfully uncomfortable. I take pride in my diverse taste in music. I like rock, indie, pop, folk, country. But Mariachi? No gracias! I tried calm my nerves and shouted to my coworker, "Are they too loud, or am I too old." Then, "I really just want them to stop." The next thing I knew, the happy musicians finished their unusual rendition of Roll Out the Barrel (only in Milwaukee) at the table next to us. And there they were, surrounding our little table for two, looking at us expectedly.

Flashback to my last real-life experience with a mariachi band. It was during my college years on a family trip to Tijuana. We were eating at a touristy restaurant with an authentic Mariachi band doing their thing. I felt like the best way to deal with them was to ignore them. My dad enthusiastically waved them over. And then looked to me for a song choice because I had studied Spanish. I froze and couldn't think of anything. It was terribly awkward, and I've avoided Mariachis ever since that day.

But on this more recent experience in Milwaukee, my manners proved to be stronger than my distaste in Mariachi. Without thinking, I spoke to them in Spanish. I don't usually use Spanish, even when I know I'm talking to a Spanish speaker. For some reason I feel like it is condescending or that it looks like I'm trying to show off. I was nervous and it accidentally came out like a side effect of my fear. Well, it turned out that they were delighted to hear a gringa like me speak their language. We instantly bonded! 

Like a horrid moment from my past, the band asked what we wanted to hear. I said I actually liked their rendition of Roll Out the Barrel that they had just finished. I could see them roll their eyes at one another. We settled on a Chilean folk song that was fun and not at all awkward. I'd actually like to hear them again sometime!

Virgin = Vegetation = Vegetarians

One of the consequences of going to Digitour was that the girls had to do homework on our way home from Chicago. Here are a few snippets of our conversation.
Gwen: Mom! It says PUBERTY on my homework!
Gwen: Yeah! It does! pu-ber-ty. Weird, right?
Me: What subject is it?
Gwen: It's math, mama. I don't get why it says that.
Alli: Gwen, that says property.
Gwen: Oooooh! (pause) What does property mean?
Gwen: I know how to spell virgin.
Gwen: Virgin. I know how to spell it.
Me: WHY?
Gwen: Because I do. It's v-e-g-e-t-a-t-i-o-n.
Me: Gwen, that's vegetation.
Gwen: Oh, ok.
Me inside my head: PUH-LEASE don't ask what virgin means!
Then later...
Gwen: What are some vegetarians around our neighborhoods?
Me: WHAT? Let me see the paper. Gwen, that says vegetation. It's not the same thing.
Gwen: I know, but I call it vegetarians.
Me: Vegetarians are people who don't eat meat. Vegetation is plants.
Gwen: Eh! Close enough.
Stubborn kid!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

I don't need help in the bathroom

It's been FOREVER since I posted, but I happen to be in a writey kind of mood today. I broke the kids out of school this week and road tripped to the 2013 Digitour concert in Chicago. I'm not big on pulling the kids out of school, but it was just a day, and I decided it would be a good memory for us.
Digitour is a concert series featuring several teen Youtube stars. Some of the youtubers sang cover popular songs. A group of popular British and a South African stars interacted with the crowd and participated contests like best bum and best makeup applied by an audience member. It was a family-friendly show, and totally worth the drive.
Traffic was horrible, so we got to the Riveria Theater in Chicago right as the show was starting. I dropped the girls off and found parking. I went directly to the bathroom when I finally got inside. It's been a while since I've made it out to an urban hotspot, so I had forgotten about the ladies that set up shop in the bathrooms and work for tips. They provide a tray of things you might need, like mints, candies, band-aids, aspirin, etc. In this case, they were also handing out paper towels because coincidentally, the paper towel holders were all empty. Hmmm...
It's an uncomfortable and unnecessary service, don't you think? I never know how to treat them. I generally avoid taking anything from them and don't leave a tip. I don't want to be rude, but it feels like a scam. No one really needs help in the bathroom. However, I feel guilty when I think about how I must look to them. I obviously have enough money to splurge on entertainment. And then I think about the bathroom helper, a person who has somehow taken a path that has led to earning tips in the lady's room.
So, there I was trying to avoid making eye contact, and a tough-looking bathroom worker said to me, "Oh, girl! Those shoes are FIERCE! If I saw you on the street, I swear I would BEAT YOU DOWN and take those shoes right off of your feet!" And her friend nodded in agreement.
"I...uh...thank you!?" as I scurried away to meet up with the girls.

We headed into the theater that was bursting with teenage hysteria. As we settled into our seats, Gwen tugged on my shoulder and shouts over the concert, "MOM! I HAVE SOME CANDY!" Sure enough, she held up a wrapped roll of Smarties. My first panicked thought was that she'd found it under her seat, but then she proudly announced that she got it from a lady in the bathroom. Oh dear! I guess it's a good example of how we see things differently as we get older.  
It turned out to be a great night overall. Emma and her friend, Nina, loved the whole thing. Loved isn't a strong enough word. They actually cried! Alli thought it was too loud. Gwen cried because she was too hot, but afterward said it was awesome. I was able to make it home safely, shoes and all. I know we'll all look back on the night as a fun adventure.

I'll end with a photo of Caspar Lee and Marcus Butler crowd surfing in bubbles.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy May Day!

Do you celebrate May Day? It's such a fun tradition, but is unfotunately not well known outside of the midwest. Traditionally on May 1, kids make little baskets and fill them with popcorn and candy. Then they sneak up to doorsteps, leave a basket, ring the doorbell and RUN!! You're not supposed to get caught, but it's fun to hide in nearby bushes to see the reaction. See...isn't that fun!

There are a lot of ways to make May baskets. I usually start with a paper or plastic cup, but I've also seen cute baskets made from gift bags or chinese take-out containers. I also love the idea of giving a little flower planted in a paper cup.

Here is what we came up with this year. It's pretty simple.

2013 May Basket
You can probably figure this one out. We used a party paper cup from Walmart and cut slits to add a pipe cleaner handle. That's probably the most commen way to make a May basket, by the way. We took it a little further by adding three flowers to each basket that we made from card stock, flat craft sticks, Hershey Kisses and Tacky Glue. May basket night always takes longer than I want it to, but the girls and I really like our craft night! The man in our house...not so much. Sorry, TJ!

May Basket Flowers

We tried to add candy that won't melt in the cups. I personally like wrapped candy and don't usually use the traditional popcorn. I used flavored Tootsie Rolls, gumballs, Tootsie Pops, and carmels. Fruit snacks are another good option.

We scaled back this year to about 20 baskets. Some years it's been more like 50.
If you don't already celebrate May Day in your neighborhood, I encourage you to start the tradition! And if you do celebrate, I encourage you to come to my house! :)

P.S. Parents, PLEASE teach your children not to place their May Baskets right in front of the door, because they'll put their friend in a real pickle. I can't even guess how many May baskets are knocked over by doors! It's a real flaw in the system, and nobody likes a spilled basket!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wishing My Mother a Very Happy Birthday!

I called Mom yesterday afternoon to wish her a happy birthday. It was one of those conversations that was not funny when we were having it. Everything was ho-hum, another busy day, la-ti-da. Sometimes it takes a few hours to find the humor! Here are some things that came up.
1. Mom told me that Dad had invited some friends over for dinner to celebrate, so she was getting ready for that. No, it didn't bother her at all to cook her own birthday dinner.
2. Mom was slightly concerned about having people over because, you know (no, I didn't) the bathroom isn't really functional because of the remodel.

3. I heard a few deep thunks. Mom explained that she was trying to thaw some frozen hamburger.

4. Mom told me about her trip to the Menards to buy "a long plastic thing" for $4. Well, ACTUALLY, she got TWO long plastic things for $4. Bargain! A friend recommended it to unplug Mom's kitchen sink, since you know (no I didn't) that it was plugged and had standing water in it. Well, it worked! She was proud that she didn't need Dad's help!

5. Mom suddenly panicked because she discovered a BRIGHT YELLOW stain on her kitchen counter from the Drain-o that she had use in an attempt to unclog the sink.

6. Mom told me that Turkey, a cat that now lives in their shed, but used to belong to me, has two new black friends. She didn't seem very happy about that.

7. Comet seemed to be making progress on the Drain-o stain.

8. Mom said, "Oh, darn!" but we continued to chat. A few minutes later she casually mentioned that she had spilled a whole bag of noodles, and some of the noodles was starting to burn on the stove burners.

Then I got a call from work so I had to let her go.
Happy Birthday, Mom!!

Here's the rest of the photo that I posted at the top of this post!

UPDATE: Mom said the birthday dinner went well. The company surprised her by showing up a half hour early...with a plunger to help her unclog the sink. Mom says there's no need to own your own plunger because it's not something you use very often. And the Drain-o stain didn't come out. It's one of the few things that Comet cannot fix (dry Comet, not the liquid kind).
And here are a couple previous posts about my mom:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Think I Just Saw a Mannequin Head in the Back Window of That Car

Look what I spotted in the parking lot of Crossroads Mall in Waterloo, Iowa! Clearly there is a mannequin head in the back window of this car next to two silver pom poms. That's...not normal.

My Main Question

Was the head thoughtlessly tossed in the back window or was it purposely displayed there?

My Next Question

How common is it to place a mannequin head in your back window?


My Third Question

What other weird things do people put in their back windows?


I googled images of "weird things in the back window" in order to find some other funny pictures to share. This was the second image, and is the only image that had ANYTHING to do with "weird things in the back window."
It appears to have been taken in New Jersey in September 2012. It's definitely a different mannequin head in a different car. I couldn't find any other photos or references to mannequin heads in the back window, so maybe it was just a weird coincidence. I'm quite baffled!

P.S. Please let me know if you have an extra mannequin head. I want one awfully badly.
P.P.S. I think these are cosmetology practice heads. Still...why are they being stored in people's back windows?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Green Apple Skittles

I'm a save-the-best-for-last eater. How about you? I eat my least favorite thing first, working my way backward to end with my most favorite. I pull apart my Oreos and eat the half with the least amount of cream first so I can end with the best part. I eat around the edge of my sandwich and save the middle for last. At potlucks I take a tiny bite of everything in order to rank the dishes because you can't tell what they're going to taste like from looks. Then I'll start by choking down the worst thing on my plate.

Green Apple Skittles. Holy smokes, guys. Yum! Hello green apple, and goodbye lime! This is a great moment in the history of Skittles, but I have found it surprisingly difficult to retrain my mind to save the best for last. With each handful of Skittles, I remind myself to save the green for last. Unfortunately, I subconsciously go for the green ones the instant I lose focus. I lose focus. A lot.

I swear to you on a jumbo bag of Skittles that I will not give up until I get this right. I will practice and practice and practice and practice and practice until I am able to save the green for last.
Taste the rainbow, friends. And also please buy me some Skittles, but make sure it has the new green apple flavor because the last ones I bought at the Walmart were were lime and it really set me back.

Monday, April 22, 2013

That One Time I Made 5,000 Headbands

I'm not trying to make excuses, but here's a partial list of why I haven't been blogging much lately:

  • Softball
  • Soccer
  • Girl Scouts
  • Taxes
  • A few good books
  • Variety show
  • Planning a fundraiser
  • Work
  • And most of all...Headbands!

Have you noticed the hot headband trend? Sporty girls, girly girls and nerdy girls are jazzing up pony tails with headbands. Well here's some inside scoop, a little trivia you may or may not find interesting. I happen to know that your store-bought headband may have been made in part by by a group of high school basketball players watching the movie Pitch Perfect. Or by me sitting in my basement or hotel room! (You're never going to guess this next one.) Or even a group of firefighters in the quiet room of a fire station between emergencies! Isn't that surprising?

When a friend of mine needed help making headbands, I said, "YES! I love stuff like that!" She has built a successful headband business called Peppy Bands. Man, I wish I could think of something like that, don't you?! She usually has her products made in China, but all the headband-makers in China take a break for a month to celebrate Chinese New Year. That was not perfect timing with a big order she received for 50,000 headbands. So that explains that one time I made 5,000 headbands.
About 500 headbands
Please buy Peppy Bands!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Here's a little dance to Crocodile Rock!

This year was my turn to come up with an act for the elementary variety show. It was a perfect storm. The girls wanted to dance. I know NOTHING about dance. Well...unless you count that time I danced in a college lip sync show to Baby Got Back. It was real bad. 

I wanted to something retro, timeless, classic. A real crowd pleaser that would appeal to their peers, my peers and grandparents. I considered unearthing Baby Got Back, but landed on Crocodile Rock by Elton John. The girls were excited to do "that song from Gnomeo and Juliette!" I slapped myself in the forehead and let them believe it was a new song written specifically for that movie about garden statues going to war and falling in love. Oh boy.

I'm just going to cut to the chase on this one and show you some pictures and end with the video. Enjoy!
Thanks to Katie Gaudian for making the tails!
My crazies

The McKenna crazies

All of the crazies

Friday, March 15, 2013

Leprechaun Mirror

Today I'm going to share a tutorial for a cute St. Patrick's Day craft I made with a 1st and 2nd Grade Girl Scout Troop.

I started with the instructions on this site, but added a few more steps.


  • 1 hand mirror per child (from the Dollar Tree)
  • 1 sheet of foam core per every 6 children (from the Dollar Tree; it's like a thick sheet of poster board)
  • 1 pack of colored craft foam per every 4 children (from the Dollar Tree)
  • Foam glue
  • Scissors
  • E-6000 glue
  • Exacto knife, metal ruler, pencil and cutting board
  • Template from the site that inspired me
You might have noticed the green felt in my supply picture. I was going to use it to make shamrocks, but I ran out of time.

1. Use the Exacto knife, metal ruler, pencil and cutting board to cut two 8" x 8" pieces of foam core for each child.

2. Trace the shape of the mirror on one of the squares and cut it out with your Exacto knife.

    3. Use the cut piece of foam core as a template and trace it onto a colored craft foam that will be used as the background color. It's the blue piece in my daughter's example.

    4. Use E-6000 glue to attach the cut-out foam core square to an in-tact square. It will form a perfect little nest for the mirror. Glue the mirror in place.

    The mirror should be almost flush with the top piece of foam core.
    5. Cut out the template pieces. Before you trace them onto the craft foam, lay them out on your mirror and adjust them if necessary. I did make the hair piece a little "taller" to fit my mirror.

    6. Trace the template pieces on the craft foam. Cut them out just to separate them from one another, but let the children cut along the lines.

    7. I like to create little place settings for crafts so the kids can get started right away. I covered my tables with plastic since we were working with glue and put the following in front of each chair: mirror glued to foam core, craft foam pieces ready to be cut out, and scissors. I also scattered a few things around the tables for the kids to share: foam glue, photos of the finished project, and paper towels. It's also smart to have a few extra supplies just in case someone makes a mistake. And don't forget to have a garbage bag or can handy!

    Some of my girly girls did not want to use the beard. But my silly girls were all for it! This is a picture of the mirror my daughter made. She added some gold coins for a little something extra.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013

    One Way Encounter

    What should have been a nice Subway lunch with my husband turned into an awkward encounter. Although it wasn't really an encounter unless an encounter can be one way. I encountered, but the person I encountered didn't encounter me. Does that make sense?

    Here's how it went down. TJ got up from the table, leaving me unprotected in the booth by myself. A guy I used to work with walked in and sat down in another booth, directly facing me.

    There was absolutely nothing between our line of sight. I was about to say hi, but then he looked away without a trace of recognition. Then it went like this in my head.

    Look away. He hasn't seen you yet. He'll notice you in a few seconds, so just pretend you haven't seen him yet.
    Oh! I think he's looking! Look up and act surprised to see him.

    Ooop! Nope. He didn't quite see me. I have no where else to look. Pick up my phone.

    There! Now he's seen me. Try to time it to make him think we notice each other at the same time.

    I almost said his name before realizing he didn't see me yet. It's a little too far away to shout a greeting, but I don't want to be rude. Is NOT saying anything more rude than shouting across the restaurant? Once he sees me, he'll realize that I would have had to see him. He'll know I was ignoring him.

    Ok, he noticed!

    No. No, he didn't. Maybe he did, but doesn't want to talk to me. Maybe he forgot who I am. No, he's too nice for that. I just saw him the other day, and we greeted each other by name. He knows me. He likes me.
    I went back and forth lots more times before TJ finally came back from his adventure around Subway. That's when I realized that I was making this into a ridiculous situation. I snuck a photo and told TJ that I would explain later. In the end, I never got my encounter, and TJ was disappointed I wasn't taking a picture of something more exciting.

    And now that I think about it, I don't know why I was so anxious for an encounter. It wouldn't have gone further than a couple words. And then I wouldn't have had a story at all.

    Friday, March 8, 2013

    My pedicure guy

    My oldest daughter, Emma, is in 8th grade show choir.

    You might not know what a big dealio show choir has become. Back in my day, we practiced a handful of times and did one show. We wore royal blue sequined crop tops with elastic-waisted black skirts. We were totally in it just to wear those sequined tops. Nobody got to wear sequined crop tops back then without being in show choir. We had three big moves. Low jazz hands, high jazz hands and the scandalous shoulder shimmy. There's WAY more to it now!

    In a borderline-bad-mom move last weekend, I took Emma to a mall between her performance and the awards ceremony. She probably should have hung out with the other kids at the competition, but it's hard to say no when your 14-year-old daughter wants to spend time with you. I had a brilliant idea when we got to the mall. Pedicures! Well, pedicures for Emma and me. 8-year-old Gwen opted for a manicure.

    As we waited for our turn, I noticed a young manly man guy come through the back door. I assumed he was there to visit a friend or maybe do some repair work. But much to my surprise, he pulled up a chair and started my pedicure. Here he is giving Gwen her manicure.
    I really wish those paper towels weren't in front of my Gwen!

    Here are some questions I asked:
    - Are you from here? Yes.
    - Do you have kids? No, but if I ever have a little girl, she'll have the best nails ever!

    That's all I asked because I couldn't stop thinking of questions that might offend him:
    - Is this your real job?
    - Are you a tattoo artist at night?
    - Why are you working here? Are you dating a girl who works here who is making you do this?
    - When did you decide you wanted to do nails?
    - So what do you want to do when you grow up?

    Since I was speechless, the conversation was pretty much up to him. He told me about how he'd been out sledding with his buddies the night before. Sledding and drinking vodka. Oh, ok. As he was massaging my calf muscles, he told me that the ladies usually love that part because he has strong hands. I was speechless again and wondered if I was on some kind of reality show. Evidentally not.