Category Archives: why I drink

Scalloped fingers with a side of mandolin whine

Please excuse any tpyos, as I am pecking at the keyboard for the first time since typing class in middle school. And trying not to yelp. Granted, only the cat is home to laugh at my pitiful attempt at hacking, but she keeps shooting me totally unsympathetic glares and has been sniffing around at my wounded digit as if she’d make me a meal if I ever die home alone.

As I’ve stated many times, I will never qualify to be a REAL foodie. While I do love to cook and make many dinners my friends consider “fancy-schmancy,” there are a few things I just make straight from the box. Like cake. And potatoes.

Another reason I will never be a real foodie: apparently I lack basic slicing skills. I can wield a knife just fine, thank you, but  I am not responsible enough to use a mandolin slicer.

 Looks simple, like on this example from, right?

SunDAY was lovely, the kind of day I fantasized about when I imagined my life as a grown-up with a family.  I enjoyed a yoga class in the morning, then Hubby, Kiddo, and I rode our bikes to the park for a leisurely afternoon of reading, playing, and quality family time. I had no choice but to complete the Rockwell-esque day with a classic Sunday dinner. I make a mean meatloaf (and if you don’t like meatloaf, it’s only because you’ve never had a good one), and I wanted something homestyle, something evoking images of June Cleaver in an apron (and pearls and heels) to pair with it. I still had potatoes leftover from Christmas, so I decided make some scalloped potatoes from scratch. No problem, right?

Wrong. So. Utterly. Wrong.

I make homemade potatoes once a year, at Christmas. And these potatoes kick ass, but they take far too much time and effort to make on a regular basis. (I’ll post the fantabulous recipe one of these days.) We don’t go the potato route often, but when we do, I usually leave it to Betty-in-a-box.

The savory meatloaf went into the oven, I peeled the potatoes (a task I HATE), then broke out the mandolin. First potato sliced up fine. I turned to my Hubby, who was washing dishes beside me, and bragged, “Look how EASY this is.

Famous last words.  Never, ever utter such a challenge to the fates when dealing with razor sharp blades. Might as well just shoot myself in the foot.

The second potato was oddly shaped, like funky turnip or a turd. It wouldn’t stay in the SAFETY guard. It was so long— my fingers were inches away from the blade — I figured I’d just trim down one end flat so it would fit into the safety guard.

Slice. Slice. Slice. SCREAM.

I looked down and all I saw was red. And firework bursting before my eyes.

I threw my finger under the faucet and screamed at my Hubby to get me a towel. He gave me a wad of paper towels, which I pressed to my finger as I slid down to the floor.

I sat there, with the cabinets holding me upright, direct pressure on my wound, for a good 20 minutes. Kiddo offered to call 9-1-1 for me. The bleeding must have stopped, as nothing was dripping onto the floor or anything, so I passed on that idea.

Hubby peeked around the potato slices, checking for any lurking finger parts. He found none. But there had to be something there. Then he actually asked if I wanted to save the damn potatoes. Hell, no — I do not want a side of skin with my potatoes, thanks. (Oh, trying not to get nauseous…)

Eventually, I had to get my finger bandaged properly. I can’t look at my own blood. I will pass out faster than you can say “I am a freaking wuss.”  It was up to Hubby.  As soon as he removed my compressed paper towels, I screamed. He panicked. He threw some antibiotic on some gauze and slapped it on my finger.

I ran through my entire repertoire of swear words. Yes, it burned that &*%$#*@ bad.

Eventually the pain receded and we managed to eat dinner (and we didn’t even burn the meatloaf, yeah!). I sucked down a well-deserved glass of wine.

But we still have no idea how much of my finger was sliced off. We are all afraid to asses the damage.

When I called my parents this morning, I received absolutely no sympathy. None. Instead they laughed hysterically. Maybe I should drive a half hour to have them change the bandages and check the damage. (Okay, my mom worked the desk at an ER and my dad was a paramedic — I’d have to lose a full appendage to get sympathy, I suppose.) It’s just a flesh wound…

I wonder if I can convince the Kiddo to tend to my finger. Maybe I can bribe him with a new Skylander?

Typing without  a finger utterly sucks.

What I wanted was a beautiful homemade casserole.
What I got.
Betty Crocker is making ALL of my potatoes from now on.

And mandolin slicers are tools of the devil.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy: The Book, The Review

I shall start by assuming you all know about Scary Mommy. If you have somehow lived under a cyber rock for the last few years, here’s the rundown:

The blog: Scary Mommy: an honest and irreverent look at motherhood — the good, the bad, and the scary. Thousands of moms flock to her site religiously for a daily dose of wit with a side of mom-bonding.

The woman behind it: Jill Smokler, a Maryland mom of three, and the reigning queen of dishing out motherhood’s dirty little secrets.  “Erma Bombeck-style insights…about the underbelly of marriage and parenting…to a new generation of women.” …yeah, yeah, yeah… She’s funny, she’s real, you’ll wish she lived next door so you could vent together over margaritas.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, Jill Smokler wrote a book. A pee-in-your-pants, snort-coffee-out-your-nose, funny kind of book. Confessions of a Scary Mommy, hitting stores April 3rd, is not a highbrow work of literature. It’s a book about stretch marks, snot, and shitting on the delivery table. It’s also about cutting yourself some slack, having compassion for fellow moms in the trenches, and maintaining a sense of humor as necessary skill for survival. It lifts the sacred veil off the face of motherhood, revealing that none of us really have any clue what we are doing. It’s about REAL life.

The book’s twenty-seven chapters cover everything from delivery room dramas to competitive birthday party planning.  Each is only a short snippet — kind of like a Reader’s Digest or Men’s Health article — perfect for a quick read while hiding in the bathroom with a sleeve of Oreos and a shot of tequila.

Each chapter starts with a round-up of “Mommy Confessions,” anonymous admissions taken from Smokler’s highly poplar blog boards where moms air their dirtiest laundry. Many will make you laugh, some will make you gasp, and most will make any mom nod her head in agreement while shouting, “Hell, yeah!” because, well, we’ve all been there. (And yes, there’s even an App for that.)

As to be expected, Confessions of a Scary Mommy doesn’t sugarcoat any aspect of modern motherhood.  If you are not a mom yet, you may be outrageously offended by some of the off-color confessions and candid reality checks. How dare some mothers think these things, let alone say them! These women are EVIL and don’t deserve to raise a child! Ditto that on the brand-spanking-new first time moms still jacked up on the delicious new-baby-smell high. They’ll fall from their pedestals soon enough, and they will come crawling to this book and to the blog to get them through the day.

If you are a mother and you cannot find something to relate to in the first chapter alone (even if you are afraid to admit it) you LIE. Or you are a cyborg, Stepford Wife, or on some really, really good grown-up drugs.  From the dreaded mommy guilt to aching ovaries and swearing at our children when they act like little shits (in our heads, of course) — we’ve all been there. And it is an utter relief to realize we are all a part of this vast sisterhood of Scary Mommies.

This book will scare some people — absolutely— there’s foul language and feces and brutal honesty.  Confessions of a Scary Mommy may terrify my expecting cousin, but I’ll buy it for her because she deserves to know what she’s getting into. And for my mom, so she realizes I now understand all the crap I put her through. And for my Mother-In-Law for — nope, never mind — she’d drop this book like a flaming shit bomb at the first “fuck.”  She’s of the generation who believes some things just aren’t said. I think these things should be screamed from the rooftops, so this generation of moms can be saved from a lifetime of self-flagellation and vodka tonics at 10 a.m. They need to know it’s okay to not like your children every second of every day, even though you love them fiercely. They are okay. Scary Mommy said so.

The only thing missing from this book was a few more pages. I would have loved for the chapters to be longer, explored in more depth, but then no busy mom would be able to sneak in enough time to read it.  Call me selfish, but I just didn’t want Confessions of a Scary Mommy to end.

So buy it. Yourself. It would make a fabulous Mother’s Day gift, but you know your husband won’t remember, so just put a nice bow on it and call it even. Consider it a belated Push Present.  Because you fucking deserve it.

Confessions of a Scary Mommy
by Jill Smokler
Gallery Books, 208 pages
$10.20 [hardcover] $9.99 [Kindle]

*I won a copy of this book fair and square. I did not receive any monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are my own.  I cannot guarantee a positive review for any product or services, but I can promise a review written with honesty and integrity. Others opinions and experiences with this product may differ from my own.

My Golden (Globe) Boy

Two nights a year I am glued to the television: the Oscars and the Golden Globes.

Around 6 p.m. I mute the TV (Ryan Seacrest and god forbid Joan Rivers grate my last nerve) and settle in to watch the Red Carpet Live pre-shows.  Seriously, it’s the only time I get a free pass to act like a catty, celebrity-stalking, fashion-whore. Oh, and I watch because I appreciate the fine arts of acting and movie-making, as well.  


Sunday night I was a horrible mommy and turned on the Golden Globes pre-show during dinner. I didn’t want to miss a dress, gem, hairdo, snippet of gossip, or (could we be so lucky?) trip and fall.

Then Kiddo started getting into the show. And commenting.

The outrageously gorgeous and perfectly curved Salma Hayek floated across the red carpet in a stunning Gucci gown. I assumed the Hubby’s eyes would be on her. I was not prepared for the 8-year-old’s to be as well.

“I like that dress. I think you’d look *damn* good in that dress, Mommy.”

I nearly snarfed my chardonnay.
Instead of scolding him for his unacceptable language, I gave him a Nutty Buddy.
I may not win Mom of the Year (like I was even in the running),
but my kid’s going to make a brilliant husband someday…
 Because this is what I *really* look like.
Mama’s Losin’ It

I’m linking up with Mama Kat, and sliding this in as #4 (describe the scene at breakfast dinner) and #5 (what brings you joy).

Buy More Girl Scout Cookies to Sate the Hate

I’m feeling rather stabby today. I don’t know if it is because of the rain, my sore throat, the recent death in the family, or the massive car repairs, but my mind is lingering in gloomy places. Even the cat refuses to come near me.

In addition to all this crap I’ve had to deal with, over the last few days I’ve seen several young girls broadcasting messages —confrontational, stupid messages — and I just want to rip them to shreds. They are just kids. Technically teens. If you put yourself out there on YouTube or the Today Show, you must realize people are going to judge and comment on your message, right?

Earlier this week I ranted about the sexy high school yearbook photo controversy.  Yesterday I found a video of a young teen asking us to boycott Girl Scout Cookies.

Boycott Girl Scout Cookies? Is she insane?  I sold those evil divine cookies for a cause for a least seven years, and ate them for at least thirty more. Why on Earth should I boycott them? According to this girl: because some troops refuse to discriminate against transgender children, and allow them to participate. The horror.

This little Girl Scout obviously worked hard on her message, practiced the delivery, and attempted to present it like a well-thought out argument. I’m assuming a parent recorded it for her, or is at least aware of her posting the video on YouTube. While I applaud her standing for what she believes in,  I vehemently disagree with her.

 I will buy twice as many Girl Scout cookies this year just to show how much I disagree with her bigotry.  (I suppose it won’t hurt that every little girl I know is selling them this year and has already hit me up.)


I am biting my tongue (or restraining my fingers) because I totally want to go off on this girl, but I remember how words can maim, and I did vow to be nicer.

Though I enjoyed a sheltered childhood and kind parents, others still spit comments which cut like a razor and seem to linger forever. I’ve suppressed most memories of the mean girls’ taunts in school and blacked out a good part of my college years (when I when I was not exactly a stellar friend either). I know so many people suffer far crueler jabs on a regular basis, but I’m cranky, so I’ll throw these little nuggets of venom out there for the world to judge:

No.  I just don’t like her. ~ Overheard from Mr. McGreggor, 4th grade P.E. coach, on why he wouldn’t let me join the safety patrol.

Your so clingy. Stop following us around like a puppy dog and find your own friends. ~ 8th grade “friend” (who had the nerve to send me a friend request FB recently).

My, your so pale…and you’ve gained weight. ~ Aunt. I was 5’4 and about 104 lbs at the time.

But everyone else likes me. There’s obviously something very wrong with you. ~ Whispered by Mr. Arico, 10th grade biology teacher.

And this song goes out to (*insert my name here*)…they must have written it just for you…{cue Cold as Ice by Foreigner} ~ High school friend/massive crush/d.j. LIVE over the airwaves (because he couldn’t get into my pants).

What, you think you’re gonna be a brain surgeon or something? You’re JUST A GIRL… ~ Mr. Zagacki, 11th grade physics teacher.

Yeah,  you’ve gained weight. I can see it in your back. ~ (EX) college boyfriend.

You’re a Nazi, and you will be a terrible mother someday! You shouldn’t be allowed to even have  children! ~ Certifiably crazy employee (who I WAS NOT allowed to fire. At the time, at least.)

I guess I just need some sunshine and Samoas. Thin Mints would work just as well. Luckily, I think may still have a box or two lurking in freezer and/or Aldi is down the street (have you tried their ‘fake’ G.S. cookies yet?). Yup, cookies and sunshine…works every time…well, at least when it’s too early for wine.

Let’s (not) Talk About Money

There was a time when no one ever talked about money. Not how much you made, nor how high your bills soared; it was utterly uncouth to mention what you spent, or even how much you generously donated to charity. Money talk was a complete taboo in polite company, and even behind closed doors within a family it was simply not discussed.

Now everything is flaunted out in the open like a tacky Nude Girls Here flashing neon sign.

In these tough times, it seems as if friends and family are always talking about money — be it how much they have, spend, splurge, or charge.  And it’s getting damn hard to differentiate when to keep my mouth firmly clamped and when to call someone out.  With everyone in such fiscal fluctuation,  personal finance often becomes a main topic of conversation.

But seriously — should it be?

I’ll admit, I am guilty of this faux pas. But for me, it’s more of  a defense mechanism, a last ditch justification. It’s certainly not bragging, although I do want to encourage others to find great deals.

My biggest problem is legitimizing any money I spend. We live on such a shoestring, I constantly feel the need to explain each buck I dole out. For example:

Friend: Wow! I love your new suede skirt and boots! {I think she is looking at me with her eyebrow cocked in a challenging, possibly even accusatory, manner. Panic sets in.}

Me: Oh, thanks! It cost me next to nothing, really. {whispered} The skirt was only three bucks, the boots five. My “secret shopping place,” of course.

Now, why can’t I just say “thanks” and be done with it?  Accept a compliment, instead of rising to a (most likely imagined) challenge?

But then there’s the other side to the coin: the braggarts. We all know them. We might groan inwardly when they open their Chanel-lipsticked mouths. But we never know just what to say to them.

Friend: I just had the most amazing dinner at {insert fancy & overpriced restaurant name here}.  You’ve been there, of course, right?

Me: {smile and shake head politely} Nope. Haven’t made it there yet.

Friend: Well you simply MUST go there. I had {insert $50 Kobe beef burger or $65 prime rib here} and it was just amazing! Really, why don’t you go there tomorrow night? You simply have to!

Me: {fake smile getting painful} Sounds delish. We’ll have to check it out, someday.

Friend: But you MUST! The restaurant is right around the corner from you. Our bill was only $250 for the two of us. And of course we left a $50 tip. You should go. Treat yourself!

Me: Really. Sounds great. We don’t just eat out much.

Friend: I insist!

Me:  Are you treating?

Friend: {aghast} NO!! I am on A BUDGET!

Me: Well, so am I. And dinner there would cost more than my entire month’s grocery budget. Okay? I probably won’t be going there anytime soon.

Friend: Oh. Well…{waves hands in the air dismissing all that I said} Did I tell you about the surf and turf I had at {insert another schmancy restaurant here} last night?  It was only $60. The appetizer was cold,  and my steak wasn’t cooked right and I had to sent that back to the kitchen twice, but the lobster was divine and…. 

 {My eyes glaze over as I imagine the waiter spitting in her food…}

Wasn’t there a time when this conversation was absolutely socially unacceptable? What is the right thing to say when this drivel is shoved down your throat? Sometimes you just can’t walk away, change the subject, or punch the offender.

Another modern phenomenon: friends and family who brag about their new $400 cell phones and $1,500 3-D TVs, and insist on telling you how much they spent on them down to the penny. Then, about a month later, they subtly hit you up for a “loan” to pay their cell phone and cable bills. They’d mow you down if you dared mention the fallacy of their actions. And it really is none of your business how they spend their money.  Except, well, when they spend so much time talking about it, it does become your business, even if you do your best to change the subject and ignore the chatter.

Times are tough for so many people now.  Unless you are Suze Orman, you shouldn’t be judging any person’s financial habits. So…can we just stop talking about it so damn much?

It’s quite possible, the next time you brag about buying the family (all seven of you) Disney season passes (it was only $2,500) then you whine about how you can’t pay your electric bill, I’m just going to walk away.

Or the next time you spend an hour telling me about the six new dresses, three handbags, and ten pairs of shoes you bought yesterday (but they were on sale at Neiman’s), then ask me to install a new garbage disposal in your kitchen because you can’t afford a plumber, I’m going to hang up on you.

It’s one thing to vent to a friend or need a shoulder to cry on, and those are not the situations I’m talking about.  It’s the bragging. The blustering. And the flat-out lying.  Can’t we just all agree to keep our mouths and wallets shut?

Just for today…

Source: via Vinobaby on Pinterest

I fully resolved not to make any resolutions this year.  But while perusing the Sunday paper this balmy New Year’s Day morning, I came across Dear Abby’s list of New Year’s resolutions. She adapted these credos from the original Al-Anon manifesto, so technically, they are twice over NOT my resolutions. They are pretty dead on, so I’ve only slightly modified them to suit my place and time.

Just for today: I will live through this day only. I will not brood about yesterday or obsess about tomorrow. I will not let all of the hooplah about the Myan Calendar freak me out.  I will not set far-reaching goals or try to overcome all of my problems at once, but not because I believe the world is going to end on December 21st.

I know that I can do something for 24 hours that would overwhelm me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime. But if I can just do it for one little day, it will be enough.

Just for today: I will be happy. I will not dwell on thoughts that depress me. If my mind fills with clouds, I will chase them away and fill it with sunshine (or images of lounging on a Costa Rican beach, or my son’s smile). I will not let rainy days and Mondays get me down. I will go to yoga and actually try to breathe instead of using the time to dwell on mental to-do lists.

Just for today: I will accept what is. I will face reality. I will correct those things I can correct and accept those things I cannot. I am not an alchemist; I cannot turn lead to gold.

Just for today: I will improve my mind. I will read something that requires effort, thought, and concentration. I will not be a mental loafer. I will not rot my brain watching reality television or Fox News. I will not waste too much time on Pinterest. I will write something.

Just for today: I will make a conscious effort to be agreeable. Even if it nearly kills me. I will be kind and courteous to those who cross my path, even if they are cutting me off in traffic and flipping me the bird. I will improve my appearance, speak softly, and not interrupt when someone else is talking. I will strive to make my fake smile seem genuine, and to learn to bite my lip without causing pain.

Just for today: I will refrain from improving anyone but myself. Except for my kid. I’m a parent. That’s kind of my job. Adults, however, are not my responsibility. They are on their own.

Just for today: I will do something positive to improve my health. If I’m a smoker, I’ll quit. (Are there really still smokers out there?) If I am overweight, I’ll eat healthfully — if only for today. If I’m at a good size, I will try to eat more veggies and less crap. And not only that, I will get off the couch (or desk chair) and take a brisk walk, even if it’s only around the block instead of to the gym (where I’m paying for a membership anyway).

Just for today: I will gather the courage to do what is right and take the responsibility for my own actions. I will treat people as I want to be treated. Karma is a bitch, but only if I am. I will be enough.

Namaste, my friends, 
and best wishes for a happy, healthy, and sane 2012.

Dear Coldplay: a note from the little people

Dear Coldplay:

Tickets for the U.S. leg of your Mylo Xyloto tour officially went on sale Saturday.

Even though I am a massive fan, I didn’t buy any.

I don’t know if I’m more upset with me, or you.

My husband and I caught you last time you swung through Orlando on the Viva la Vida tour. The show was  amazing: a vibrant mix of older favorites flowing into new, and I fell freshly in love with several songs on the album for which I hadn’t shown the proper respect. We had such a fabulous time that we snatched up tickets for a second show a few months later, under the stars in Tampa. But that time, we bought a ticket for our son, as well.

My little guy was absolutely enthralled with the Viva La Vida album. Though he was familiar with the older songs, he knew the words to every track on the then new album, and had mastered the art of pounding the air drum to his favorites. Your show at the Tampa Amphitheater was to be his first venture into the entrancing and exhilarating world of live rock shows.  He was only six at the time. (He also had a  bit of a crush on Apple, and mentioned how we should arrange a playdate for the two of them before the show. We tried to explain that cool as that would be, it probably just wasn’t gonna happen.)

Then the show was cancelled.  He was devastated — we were pretty bummed as well, but, hey, we had caught the act a few months before. Though, I had been desperately looking forward to getting lost in the lush tunes while dancing under the stars. We had to promise (pinky swear, technically) to take our son to see you next time you toured.

And we fully intended to keep our promise.

We bought Mylo Xyloto the day it came out, and had it had been on vinyl, we would have worn some heavy grooves in it already. My kid and I worked on our wild and free dancing to Hurts Like Heaven,  Every Teardrop, and Charlie Brown nightly. We watched  as shows were announced in Europe, and waited for our chance to join in the reverie.

I understand you are a megaband now, a powerhouse quartet headlining massive festivals music across the globe. I realize you currently have a hit album and the band is riding on a wave of success. I get that life is a whirlwind for each of you at the moment, overflowing with fame, fortune, and a maybe little family time squeezed in where possible.

Source: via Dedra on Pinterest

But, dudes — the tickets went on sale one week before Christmas. For June shows. And they were far from inexpensive.  $70+ bucks a piece for nosebleed assigned seating. Well into the $100s for anything where we could actually watch you in person instead of the video screens. And that’s not touching the cash for parking, gas, beers, and merchandise.

Most of us little people have exhausted our measly budgets right now. December is rough; every bit of hard earned cash we could scrape up went into the form of bicycles and Barbies, or video games and coffee makers. If we were real lucky there might be and iPad or a new phone under the tree (the better to watch your videos on, of course). But most of us don’t have hundreds left in the kitty for concert tickets at the moment. For a show next summer.

So, as much as it breaks my heart, we won’t be buying tickets now. If you had put them on sale earlier, perhaps they could have been my Christmas gift to myself, or a few months later, they could have been a birthday or anniversary present.

Because as much as I come alive at a show, as much as I dream of dancing under the heavens to Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, as much as I want to watch my little guy’s eyes light up like technicolor stage lights as he hears the first notes of Viva la Vida, we are going to have to pass this time.

It’s just not in the stars…or the wallets…

But best of luck to you this tour.  Maybe by the time the show comes around, we will have saved enough to buy tickets. Or maybe we will take those hundreds of dollars and just buy a new flat screen television, a Coldplay Live DVD, and a couple of decent bottles of wine so we can rock out with you for more than one night only…


A Coldplay Fan & Her Little Family

Different, Disturbing, & Slightly Disgusting Toys

While perusing the sale ads last Sunday, I was amazed how many odd toys there were out there.  Some were unique, while others could be considered slightly disturbing or downright nasty.  Besides the first toy listed, how many will Santa be setting under your tree?

This one is cool. It is the only thing in this post I’d  buy…but for myself. The FAO Schwarz  Muppet Whatnot Kit lets you create your own Muppet Whatnot. {Whatnots are those zany-looking extras you see in every Muppet production.} I want my own Muppet.

FAO Schwarz Orange or Blue Muppet Whatnot Kits include a Muppet Whatnot body, 3 wigs, 3 pair of eyes, 3 noses, glasses and a pupeteer rod.  $59.99

Aren’t we lucky: Doggie Doo, Europe’s top new action game, has crossed the pond just in time for the holidays. Kids feed and walk the little plastic pup. When they squeeze his leash he makes a gassy sound that gets louder and louder until…plop! You have your own, fresh doggie doo. The first to clean up after the dog three times wins. I wonder if it is scented?  WTF?
Only $17

Kids + ninja swords = Bad Idea.  
Fruit Ninja Game is a takeoff of the digital application. The object of the Fruit Ninja Game is to slash and splatter fruit like a true ninja warrior. What happens when they get bored with the plastic and decide to raid the fridge and knife drawer? Danger Danger. $20

I’m not really sure what to say about these things. Ugly Dolls are plush toys and they are…well, ugly. They look pretty much like how one of my sewing projects would turn out. So I think I will save the $20 each and just glue some felt together. Or perhaps marketers are hoping parents will reminisce about the days of Ren and Stimpy and want to share them with their kids (recommended ages 3-5).

Animal Planet Remote Control Charlie the Capuchin Monkey  can sit on your shoulder and “unleash cheeky phrases on your friends and family!” I am dying to know what these “cheeky” phrases are — swearing? Dirty jokes? Do they simulate throwing poo like the monkeys at the zoo? This interactive toy features many mannerisms, sound effects, and movements which really bring him to life. All I can think of is Betsey, the cute, cuddly, and diseased monkey from the movie Outbreak. My son would freaking love this (for a day).  $25

Animal Planet Radio Controlled Rattle Snake looks and moves like the real thing. Realistic skin and serpentine movement mean this can easily be mistaken for a live snake. As it slithers in an S pattern, its tongue flicks in and out and eyes light up. This could make Christmas day with the family highly entertaining as screams of terror echo through the house. You might even get a trip to the ER for a heart attack. Great way to clear out the house and signal everyone that it’s time to go home. $29



“The Wow!”  My Keepon  is the dancing robot that moves to any music. A tiny microphone in My Keepon’s nose (ewww) allows him to hear the music you play or even the rhythms you make yourself. My Keepon listens for the tempo of the music and matches the beat with an uncanny sense of timing.
Look — can’t you see it’s dancing — wait, it moved left, then right, up, down — seriously, how much can two Nerf balls dance?


Masquerades are all about mystery, and so are the Bratz Masquerade DollsRemember all the slutty Halloween costumes so many of us were complaining about? Now we can give our daughters a leg up on deciding if she wants to be a sexy angel or come-hither fairy next year by playing with these dolls.  Maybe it’s all a plot — if parents see these dolls around the house for a few years we will be desensitized to the trashy tween costumes. And each doll comes with makeup and a child-sized matching “sassy” mask so our little girls can practice for their nights out full of mystery and disguise. At least they’re not wearing fishnets.


From jumping over creeks in the backwoods, all the way to the skatepark, the General Lee BMX Bike will take your rider everywhere he needs to go. Do kids now even know what this is? Are the Dukes of Hazard making yet another retro comeback?  At least there isn’t a big ‘ole Confederate flag  license plate dangling from the handlebars. {sigh} $179 @

**Nothing here is a product review or endorsement.

Prom Dress Confidential

 This is perhaps one of the most humiliating posts I recall writing. But I know all of you women out there in the  blogosphere must have some pretty hideous skeletons prom dresses in your closets as well. Tacky prom dresses are a feminine right of passage, like attempts at big Jersey hair and blue eyeshadow duos or your first hangover, bikini wax, and walk of shame. It wasn’t pretty, but we’ve all been there.

Dress #1
It’s 1989 (yes, I’m THAT old). I’m 14 and I had never been asked on a date or kissed a boy. I have more books than friends. I’m just a shy, pale L-O-S-E-R.

Suddenly, I was cast into a leading role in the school play. I ditched the bad perm and braces. And I started dating the play’s director — a SENIOR ! {gasp} With long hair! {gasp}  And an accent!
{cue Dad breaking out the shotgun}

Late one night after a performance, he knocked on the front door. I was still covered in white hair spray and old lady stage make-up. He danced me to his car while his friend played the sax in my candlelit driveway. He asked me to prom (of course I said YES) and I finally experienced my first French kiss. (ooh la la)

I believe the next day was recorded in our family history as the day I gave my mother her first grey hair. And she will never let me forget about it. 

Because of this sudden twist of fate, all the pages of dreamy satin and taffeta I had ripped out of the Seventeen Magazine Prom Edition became extremely important. Vital. A matter of life and death. I was a bookworm Cinder-fecking-rella going to the cool kid’s ball.  I had to find a dress. THE dress.   My favorite was a royal blue Jessica McClintock (for Gunne Sax?) number I drooled over in the teen fashion mags. It was only two weeks until prom, my mom was utterly UN-thrilled I was going, and I was desperate to find the dress.

Somehow, we managed to find the last one. In my size. I had my dream dress. And the matching royal blue pantyhose. And the matching dyed satin shoes. And probably the matching eyeliner as well. Now I want to gag at this over-coordinated ensemble, but back then, I thought I was the bomb.

A very, VERY nervous bomb.

The prom was uneventful. I was absolutely petrified. I was far too naive to hunt down some spiked punch in the ladies room to calm my nerves and force my tongue to work. I vaguely remember dancing to Madonna and trying to melt into the walls. My date was a perfect gentleman (despite nail polish and an off stuffed duck) and dropped me back home by my strict 12:30 curfew. Then he most likely went out with all his friends and got trashed.  I bailed on him before the prom pics even came in. I was not ready to leap from Girl Scouts to groping in a relationship with someone far older and wiser.

But at least I can say I went to Senior Prom as a Freshman.

Which is a good thing, because my actual Senior Prom blew corn nuts.

I went stag with a couple of girlfriends. I did not have a date.

But by then I had learned that poofy prom dresses were passe, for mere children, and not my style. I upgraded to reading Vogue and Glamor. I wanted to look stylish, sleek, and as sexy as I could get away with (which was not very). I wanted a dress they guys would notice, so they would not see the giant “L” glaring from my forehead. I scoured stores in probably six to ten malls in four counties until I found the one.

Dress #2
A little black sequence cocktail dress. Classic. Chic. Sparkly. Different. It was rather rebellious at the time. I freaking loved it.

(The snippet of neon satin, lace, and crinoline on the left was much more the norm still in 1992.)

So I went to prom stag. I don’t remember much: dancing with some popular girl’s boyfriend, trying to entertain my self by rating boys attempting the African Anteater Dance in their matching pink bowties and cumberbunds, sitting in a South Beach cafe after we escaped the cheesy prom venue, swinging on a sandy beach playground under the stars….

But I still have that dress.  
And I can still fit into it 19 years later without Spanx
(although a stronger bra might be beneficial).
So all those smug girls whispered about my lack of a date can just bite me.
I do mean that in the nicest way, of course.

Join in my moment of embarrassing female bonding. Do you have an ugly prom gown story to share?

Thanks to Mama Kat for inspiring this moment of weakness I shall most likely soon regret.

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