Arr Ess Vee Pee

Now, I’m not the most etiquette savvy person I know. In many instances, I’ve had to actually consult Miss Manners (dot) com to find out what people are supposed to do in the matters of weddings that were supposed to be weddings but weren’t actually weddings because no one got married for real, and then they broke up and didn’t give back the gifts and now are getting remarried to different people, do I send a gift?

And when I, myself, am planning some bigger event for myself or others, I often take a sneak peek into Etiquette Hell to see how people react to things done in poor taste. Sometimes, I’m shocked by the audacity of the bride and groom (for example) and other times, I’m completely taken aback that someone would take the time to be offended by such things as “not having a receiving line” at the wedding reception (I didn’t have one and I’m not sorry. I hate those things).

It’s safe to say that without having thrown a baby shower, but after throwing most any other kind of party that you’d send invitations to, I have learned a fair bit about the whole situation.

Namely, how people don’t bother fucking RSVP-ing like proper guests.

(in the interest of full disclosure, I feel that I must tell you that I have been The Bad Guy and not properly RSVP-ed to a wedding or two. But eventually, I always RSVP. Typically when things in my life are so incredibly chaotic that I can barely function to put on a clean shirt, let alone remember to send back that wee little card like a proper guest. It happens, and I do allow for some of that.)

I’ll never forget when I had my own wedding, I got back at least 4 or 5 cards telling me that “They” weren’t coming. Who is this elusive “They,” you ask? I HAVE NO CLUE. I got back some BLANK RSVP cards. Never did figure out who “They” were.

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Since Ben was a baby, I’ve thrown him parties for his birthday. We’ve had the White Trash cook-out/kegger, we’ve done proper parties without the beer, and up until last year, I only invited adults. I don’t have a ton of friends with kids (understatement of the year) so I just invite my friends. Works out well.

But when Ben was turning 6, he decided that what he REALLY wanted was a party with his school friends. Something that I’d been avoiding because I don’t really know WHAT I’d do with a roomful of screamy 6 year olds. It actually sounds like something out of my worst nightmares. So I did the next best thing: I rented out a room at a kid’s museum and had the party there.

Scratched cornea be dammed, I filled out each and every one of those stupid invitations by hand, carefully writing down all the instructions so that there would be no confusion (mental note: have the computer do the work next time). I invited all the kids in Ben’s class (all 19 of them), I did it a month in advance, and I waited.

Of the 19 or so kids (plus about 3 that he knew from outside of school), I heard back from perhaps 6-7 of them. Assuming that some may show even without properly RSVP-ing, I went to that party with the best of intentions. The result? All of the other kids whose parent’s hadn’t called didn’t show.

Charming.

This year, we had Ben’s birthday a full month after his actual birthday since August 20 falls right on the cusp of when kids are going back to school, and how annoying is THAT as a parent to have a party 2 days before school starts? TOTALLY ANNOYING. I expected that many more kids would be able to at least INFORM me that they wouldn’t be coming.

Har-dee-har-har-har.

I’m only annoyed on principle, since the place that Ben’s party is being held (moon bounce, people. How cool is that?) was a package UP to 15 kids, so it’s not a head count kind of place. I’m annoyed on principle, yet I’m still annoyed. It’s not like these parents KNEW that it didn’t really matter if they RSVP-ed or not, they just chose to ignore the invite completely. Which, having dragged my son to all of their kids’ parties, I know that they know EXPLICITLY how annoying this can be.

So, who is in for eating this damn ugly cupcake-cake thing I bought for more than double the kids that will be coming? YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO.

Go Ask Alice (Or The Internet)

It a wee bit over a month, my darling youngest son turns one. It’s been a long and wild year together, and on the one hand, I am amazed at truly how quickly they grow and on the other, I am shocked that it’s only been a year.

All boring trips down glorious memory lane aside, this means exactly one thing in the practical sense: I need to plan a birthday party for him.

Now, I cannot live down the kegger that was Ben’s first birthday, nor would I even attempt to (March doesn’t seem to be Beer Drinkin’ Weather, at least here in Chicago, so that idea is a bust), but planning a first birthday sounds downright fun to me right now. (The older the kid gets, the less fun the parties become to host. Which is why I will pay huge sums of money to allow someone else to clean up after me).

Besides, Ben’s birthday comes at the most annoying part of the year: The Time of Celebrations. See, from July 15 to September 15, we have four birthdays (Mine, Ben’s The Daver’s and my mother’s AND our wedding anniversary), which means I have approximately 1,574 things to plan, orchestrate, then execute. Am I being overly dramatic here? Well, you be the judge: I myself had two birthday parties, Ben had three, Dave had two, my mother had one, and we celebrated our anniversary exactly once.

It’s a busy time of the year.

But March, although like August, one of my least favorite months of the year, has very little save from Easter that I have to plan. So I’m pretty pumped about Alex’s party.

That said, because I am highly doubtful we’ll ever procreate again (any time I mention it hypothetically in passing to The Daver, he quickly begins to look wildly around for the nearest sharp object with which he can perform a vasectomy. If none are available, he will then start punching himself in the nuts. Our chances at having another child are slim to none), and even more doubtful that if we were to do so that we would have a girl, I have decided on a theme for Alex’s party.

Alice in Wonderland.

I want to throw a tea party for Alex.

There’s just one small, eensy, weensy problem: I have no idea how to do this. Unlike Cars, Batman, or The Backyardagains, there exist no “Alice in Wonderland” themed aisles at my party store (and if there were, it would be the Disney variety, which I’m not as interested in).

I’ll probably end up Ebaying it, and dealing with whatever I end up with, but before I do this, I am begging you, The Internet, in all of your beautiful glory to help a sister out.

How can I pull off this party?

Let me give you my (short) list of stipulations:

It will be primarily adults, and since it’s a first birthday gig, games will not be played. The older kids (whomever comes) will probably play with Ben, and therefore not need games.

I am the least creative person on the planet, but I have a Gold Amex. And am not afraid to use it. BUT, I don’t want to spend an insane amount on decorations, as I’m pretty certain The Daver would have my head (get the Alice in Wonderland reference?).

Even though I said “tea party” I have doubts that I’ll be serving tea. But I will be serving cake (I was thinking funky cupcakes, AND I WISH MY FRIEND MELISSA LIVED IN THE STATES SO SHE COULD DESIGN THEM. See, I have a cake fetish. I don’t eat the stuff, but I love, love, love, love really interestingly designed ones.) So, I will be buying a cake/cupcakes from SOMEWHERE. But they have to be cool.

I can’t cook, but I need to provide my guests with SOMETHING to eat. Preferably something that everyone will eat AND doesn’t require a ton of prep.

Internet, Darling, if you can help me, I will be forever in your debt and I might be so inclined to INVITE YOU OVER FOR CAKE. See, THAT is how much I love you.

Wrap This!

Since we happen to do our grocery shopping at the Holy Grail of Awesomeness (read: Target), we always spend the last half of our shopping extravaganza perusing all of the cool stuff Target is trying to convince me that we need. This includes their 8 mile long stretch of wares that I affectionately refer to as Christmas Row. Included in Christmas Row is an aisle I have always blatantly ignored: The Wrapping Paper Aisle.

Now, just as I am neurotic with Christmas Cards, I have always been slightly less so, but still neurotic about my wrapping paper. My brother and sister-in-law have always spent an insane amount of time and money procuring The Right Wrapping Paper, and while I have admired them for it, I simply can’t get behind spending my life’s savings on something that someone may briefly enjoy, then throw away.

I love cheerfully wrapped packages, but so long as the paper doesn’t come in a 6-pack with cheesy looking Santa’s, or stupid messages of holiday cheer, I’m fair game. Although I have admired the really funky textured metallic stuff, I simply cannot get behind spending $6.00 on 10 feet of paper. The volume of gifts that I have to wrap simply precludes this.

But because my family has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, I have notice an alarming trend: I have found myself increasingly excited about thoughtfully wrapping gifts (which you would think would be opposite, especially considering that I alone wrap the Christmas gifts. Even my own. Does that sound depressing to you?).

This year has even FOUND me perusing the Aisle of Wrappy-Goodness. Yes, I am admitting here and now to The Internet that I willingly (cheerfully, even) spent AT LEAST 20 minutes examining all of the cute doo-dads that one can use to wrap gifts with. I’ll probably never be crafty enough (she’s CRAFTY!) to make my own doo-dads out of ordinary household objects, but I may begin to pick them up here and there.

Sometimes, I take a step back, examine myself and wonder who the hell I’ve turned in to. I mean, I used to wrap gifts in newspaper or whatever was lying around (birthday paper at Christmas? WHO CARES?), or better yet, I used to bribe my mother to wrap my gifts for me.

So, it’s YOUR turn, you crafty souls out there. I’ll never scrapbook (although I did get some supplies, before I impotently decided that although I made my wedding invitations, I’m just not that kind of person deep down), knit, or crochet (even platitudes!), but I know that other people do this sort of thing willingly.

Any suggestions?

And Aunt Becky is dying to know what YOU do with your gifts? Are you anal about them (oh, the search terms on this one)? Do you care at all about what your gifts look like, or do you subscribe to Aunt Becky’s School Of Why Waste Money On Something People Will Throw Away?

For Once, *I* Am At A Loss For Words.

I started this blog several months ago as a sort of Mommy Blog, not necessarily because I didn’t like my other blog, because I do, but because I needed somewhere to chronicle what day to day life is like when you’re somewhat outside looking in. I don’t have a ton of Real Life Mommy Friends ™, which can be hard for me sometimes as I don’t have people to reassure my feelings or experiences. Not the end of the world, no doubt, but surely I wanted somewhere where I could really be me, without constant humor or judgement from those who do know me.

I wish I’d started it sooner because it has been a tremendous outlet for me.

Now, to be clear, I am not particularly computer savvy. Wait, scratch that, I am not computer savvy, and the only reason I am able to have a blog is because Dave set them both up for me. I have been known to try and respond to spam email because, hey, I thought it might actually be for me (I don’t get much email). Thankfully, Dave stopped me from being too much of an idiot (to be fair, it wasn’t an email for pen!s enl@rgement or V!@gra or anything of the like), and I have since learned not to be completely stupid.

Today, I noticed that I had a comment from someone who has not been to my house and seen first hand the swirls of dog hair floating in the breeze and he mentioned that I had been nominated for an award. This blew my mind as I had only thought that the people who read this blog were people who knew me!

At this point, I am so freaking flattered that I don’t even CARE if it’s a spam thing (although I don’t believe that it is). I don’t actually expect to win, as I have never won anything in my life, unless you count the Cougar’s tickets I won when I was twelve and the team was just starting out and they were practically giving the tickets away to fill seats. I don’t gamble and I don’t win, but hey, whoever nominated me, I will totally write a post in your honor if you tell me who you are and what you want me to talk about because you have made my day infinately better.

So thank you, whomever you are, thank you.

Suprisingly, I Don’t Yet Qualify For Medicare

I just turned 27, which for some, seems like I’m a mere babe in the woods, but unluckily for me, I am not “some” people and have wondered often why I am not getting the AARP magazine like I should be, and why those damn kids won’t get off my lawn, consarnit!

Things that I have done most recently that I cannot believe that I ever would admit to in public, but am now telling the Internet at large:

*Subscribe to Martha Stewart Living. I fucking love me some Martha, and in some sick way, am hoping to one day emulate her. Without the cooking of meals, of course, but with lots of baking. I guess I’m hoping that I become more of a decorator by osmosis because I can’t make a paper craft out of a coffee filter if my life depended on it (but thankfully I can use it to make coffee, however badly I may do so).

*Bought, in no particular order: Basic Home Maintence for Dummies, How To Clean Practically Anything, and Gardening for Dummies. Because, you know, I need to plan out my garden for next year and start planning. Who am I and what have I done with myself? Seriously now, this is just sick and wrong.

*Researched how to AND THEN ACTUALLY SUCCESSFULLY cleaned out the pee stains from the carpet. Which I had been trying unsucessfully to clean for 9 months. And no, thankfully the stains are not mine. I am (mostly) housebroken.

*Purchased my big son’s birthday gifts ONE month in advance. AND have bought an actual real live Christmas present. I am so incredibly last minute that I usually begin (and complete) my Christmas shopping at about 10 pm on Christmas Eve at Walgreens. You’re welcome for all of the enema kits and crappy glass tchotchkies.

*Have researched endlessly ways to organize the vast multitude of crap that we have (despite my best measures to eliminate it) and am now totally pining for both a wrapping paper organizer AND clear shoe boxes. My obsession with home organization is nearly rivaling my obsession with bleach.

*Coupons used to be something I scoffed at, miffed on and off by people in line ahead of me (usually when a child/ren are screaming like banshees and all that I want to do is GET OUTTA THERE), and now, now hell may be freezing slowly over as I admit that I use them. Not only do I use them, but I have bought a little coupon organizer thingie (again with the organization!) and carry it around with me. I feel gay, lets just leave it at that, mmmmkay?

I barely recognize myself these days.

White Flag!

Unlike the previous owner of our old condo, I had no real beefs with the previous owners of our house. Sure, I hate all of their paint choices, and maybe the fake flowers planted (and thoughtfully left) in the backyard were pretty rank, but overall I couldn’t complain. There were no size 20 skirts in the closet and no spoiling milk in the fridge.

Until I started work on this bathroom. In a word, it’s been a nightmare, the likes of which only someone else who has removed wallpaper can appreciate. Let me give you a mini-primer on wallpaper removal should you ever be cursed with such a chore:

Wallpaper is made of 2 pieces of paper: the vinyl outer layer (in this case, 3 separate flower patterns) and the inner layer which is designed to glue to the wall. Removing the outer layer isn’t hard, but the glue bonds itself to everything in it’s path. Including drywall and the old paint from the walls.

After you scrape the bejesus out of the glue/paper and it comes off, you’re left with patches that weren’t able to be removed (so you have to sand it) AND in this case, bits of chipped wall paint. So now you have 2 choices (somewhat like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, only less awesomely awesome): you can sand off ALL OF THE PAINT from the walls OR you can spackle the living shit out of the patches (because if you don’t, the painted wall will resemble the pockmarked face of a teenager with bad acne).

I chose to spackle, which is somewhat more satisfying but will THEN have to be sanded smooth. Then primed and painted (assuming I haven’t committed myself first)

Here’s hoping that it works, otherwise you may see the only recorded death due to spackling (considering the recent back injury, the tally is now Spackle: 1, Becky: 0).

Which Stunned Her.

For my birthday this year, instead of the earrings that I wanted, I got a newly remodeled bathroom. Wait, let me rephrase that: I got the stuff to remodel the bathroom.

When we moved in here, we did almost nothing to the house save from starting to live here. When I got pregnant with Alex, we painted the previously Disgustingly Pink ™ room a nice shade of yellow, and because we kind of had to (and really, we enjoyed it) we bought furniture to go in there. Then, in a fit of maternal guilt, we bought most of the stuff to decorate Ben’s room, but because I was hugely pregnant, no progress was made on it. This weekend, we finished Ben’s room. This makes 2 (almost) finished rooms (I still have to hang some stuff in Alex’s room).

After we had bought the stuff for the bathroom (read: beginning of July), Dave set on the nasty task of removing the 3 (!!!!) completely different wallpaper + ancient glue. No easy task. He promptly got sick of it (honestly, who could blame him?) and stopped working on it.

Several weeks ago, I decided that I was sick and tired of living with it, and rather than pay someone (read: I’m cheap), that I would finish stripping the glue and paper myself. I knew it would not be an easy or pleasant road.

Yesterday I began work on it and I’m guessing that it will easily be another month before it’s even remotely completed. The old glue has bonded to the drywall in certain spots, which makes me glad as fcuk that we bought the industrial sized can of spackle.

I supose that on the bright side of things, at least my best and worst quality will play a factor in finishing this project: I’m damn determined.

I must correct myself for a moment. The worst job in the world IS NOT taping for painting. It is removing old wallpaper.

The Check Is In The Mail

Phase One is complete, and I must share what I have learned today:

1) ABSOLUTELY WHENEVER I have something of import to complete the following day, Alexander will be up every 1-2 hours the evening before. I shudder to think of what tonight will hold, besides lots of vodka.

2) For some reason, the people who lived here before us loved to use the walls as tissues. For boogies. Yes, that’s right, I spent the morning cleaning old crusty boogers off the damn wall. Damn straight, my life is glamorous.

3) Instead of using the $2 sponge to wash the walls (because it sucked and smeared the dust around without picking it up at all), I used a Swiffer, which I almost never use what with the complete wastefullness of such a device. My parents are hippies, what can I do here (besides use reusable cloths to dust with on any other day).

4) Taping the walls is damn near impossible while hoisting a 14 pound baby in the Baby Bijorn. But wearing said baby in Bijorn while carrying a 25 pound vacuum up a flight of stairs IS possible.

5) Being without music while prepping the walls is torture. Especially since my internal record player has the entire collection of School House Rock on repeat.

6) The dog who neurotically follows me up and down the stairs each and every time I go to grab the screaming baby is actually protecting the baby, not me. He, like the baby, is extremely upset that I am deviating from my daily routine.

7) Taping the walls is possibly the worst job ever.

8) Ben has been living with a crustified cat turd under his bed for I don’t even know how long. This makes me feel very guilty.

9) It is approximately 900 degrees with 100% humidity inside Ben’s room today, which means that I smell horrifying. And I wonder why no one wants to come help me paint this weekend…

I can only imagine what tomorrow with all of it’s prime-y goodness will bring…

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Hardware Store

I’ve spent the last 6-7 months gearing up to redecorate el Benjamin’s room, starting when I realized how much time and energy we had focused on Alex’s room, which made me feel quite guilty. Alex has yet to spend even a single night in his bedroom (and his crib, OH his crib, it cost an insane amount. I’m considering sleeping in there myself, just to get my money’s worth) and Ben, well, he’s stuck in his room every night that he is home. In a toddler bed. With mismatched furniture.

We picked out the theme for his room, which had to be 1) approved by myself and 2) nothing too theme-y because that’s really not how I roll, and finally decided on this. It’s obviously not as awesome from Pottery Barn Kids, but hey, we didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford it, which is a plus and a half in my book.

After purchasing this in oh, I don’t know January, we decided that it was high time to finally do something. Which included buying a bed without a crib mattress, so when we saw the one we’d initially been casting our eyeballs on finally on sale, we sprung into action.

(as an aside here, who the hell knew that beds were so bloody expensive? Apparently, they’re made out of platinum and diamonds and the tears of wee babies.)

So this weekend, we (and by we I mean I) will be painting, which is awesome, aside from the fact that we had no paint.

Off to the happiest place on Earth I know (aside from Target, which ALSO happens to be the happiest place on Earth. How the two co-exist, I have no idea) we trucked. And as we pulled into the lot, we noted how nasty and black the sky was behind the hardware store.

We started to gather our supplies as the rains began to pound down onto the metal roof while remarking on our good fortune not to be outside during the downpour. As I was examining roller covers–something I’d never before cared about–an alarmed employee mentioned that there had been tornadoes seen in the area. Having lived in the Midwest my whole life, I found nothing particularly alarming about the statement.

I mean, there are ALWAYS summer tornadoes. Big deal.

This news set the WHOLE STAFF into a blind panic. We were not allowed to leave the store, and a frightened mass of employees gathered at the front of the store windows (um, duh. Away from the glass, folks. That’s dangerous) all chirping nervously away, occasionally one would sprint wildly–and aimlessly–around the store like Chicken Little causing general unease and out and out fear among the patrons. The power went off as we were looking at lights and when the emergency lights came up we decided that around glass was probably not a great place to hang out. Especially with Alex around.

Languidly, we strolled to the back of the store where a frantic employee had been trying to direct us, because apparently there was ANOTHER BABY BACK THERE, YES ALL OF THE BABIES NEED TO BE TOGETHER. We took a seat on some chairs and began to wait when I heard the unmistakable cry of a child about Alex’s age threatening to drown out the cries of his mother.

I went over and invited the poor woman who was almost hyperventilating to sit down, when I realized that the poor woman had 2 babies with her and she informed me THAT SHE HAD JUST MOVED OUT HERE FROM COLORADO YESTERDAY, where they do not experience weather like this. And of course, with the alarmist attitude of the staff (which was nearly hilarious, because seriously, hadn’t at least some of these people been through this before?), she was undeniably shaken to the core, imagining that the tornado was going to suck us all up.

The Daver and I calmed her down while we compared notes on what having babies was like. Overall, it was a pretty pleasant way to get trapped somewhere, even though the computers were down by the time that we were finally free to go (the light! I can see the light!!) and it took about 29,034 hours to get all of our myriad of stuff coded and priced.

And so the real fun begins: phase one of wiping down grody kid walls begins in the morning. With only one kid (as el Benjamin’s help would not actually be help at all, what with the constant redirection and likely spilling buckets of water onto the white carpet. Oh, white carpet, you are the bane of my existence) in tow.

The Great Taping Project will commence in the afternoon, after the walls dry and I soothe Alexander from what is sure to be hysterics stemming from GOING OUTSIDE THE ROUTINE, MOMMY.

Heh. Wanna come help?

What IS This Place?

If you had asked me 7 years ago what I’d expect my world to look like when I turned 27, I seriously doubt I’d have seen myself as a mother of two (!?!). Growing up, although my mother did stay home, “housewife” was a dirty word and something I’d never have wanted to become. But you know what they say, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Nevertheless, here I am. Degreed in a field I’ve always hated. Staying at home day after excruciating long day. Occasionally I am the person you glare at when you go to Target, complete with squalling baby and snivelling first-grader. Yes, I am aware of how obnoxious this is. Those bags under my eyes have been well earned, I promise. And no, I didn’t look in the mirror before I went out. Sorry about the smell. I’ll shower tomorrow.

Some days are diamonds, some are rocks, and all are unique. Well, almost all of them. Since Alex has been born, my life feels like one four-month long day. Want to expend some of my energy? Ask me what I had for breakfast. I HAVE NO IDEA. But I will die trying to remember.

Damn, I really need to take up a speed habit.