January 31, 2012

Retiring Detective Shoes

Yesterday: my last Monday at work, which means that as of this morning, I only have to wake up for work three more times.

(I'm trying to figure out the math of my countdown clock, which certainly says it's counting down until Feb 3rd, but my poor tired brain just can't figure it out.)

Instead, my poor, tired brain wants to give you this. My poor, tired boots:

I've had these boots since 2006, a year into my career at the bank. I love them.

When they started to look scruffy, I pulled out the black Sharpie. When the heel fell off, I took it to a shoe repair guy down the street. He couldn't fix them, but Mr put them back together with a heavy duty drill.

I knew they were getting on in years, and that as a six year old, forty dollar pair of boots they were just around the corner from retirement. Four days, in fact.

What happened this morning? The classic story: four days from retirement, and pfffft. They died.

Will I be buying a new pair of boots? If you have to ask, you don't know me.

I'll be attending the full police funeral ceremony in old shoes that I dig out of my closet. Again.

This time last year: Project Grocery: Oatmeal Time

January 30, 2012

Project Grocery: One Of These Things Just Doesn't Belong

This week, since I don't want anyone to send me a box of dead rodents, Mr went grocery shopping on his own again, while I took the kiddies to get their hair cut.

He spent $80.08 (although the total groceries for this week came to $99.09 what with some extra trips we had to make), and we're eating corn and cod chowder, chicken quesadillas, mini hamburgers, a chicken breast meal that Mr is going to make up on the fly, and on Friday - a totally inconsequential and meaningless day, with nothing much to celebrate - we're going to put the kids to bed and have some kind of red meat (that is already in the freezer) prepared in some fancy way.

It will be awesome.

Now see if you can spot the teeny-tiny $19.99 difference between the first picture and the second picture...

Still buying diapers. Not many, but some. I think I explained about the bag of poop in this post, but expect to be back in cloth diaper land pretty shortly...like four days from now.

Oh boy.

January 28, 2012

Lannis: Kijiji Etiquette

This is a long rant post, but so true. I have my own Kijiji story...but it will wait...

Until I comment.

* * *

I love Kijiji.

Seriously. It’s great. In the year and a half since we’ve moved, we’ve made $323 from selling items the kids have outgrown.

Yes, I keep track.

And I’ve purchased things from Kijiji, too. Seems to me we discovered the online classifieds site about four years ago, and since then it’s been my go-to for specific items.

Our play house is our biggest score. Literally and figuratively. It’s large and awesome. I’ve had three adults in there with a child, and sure, we were squished, but there was still enough elbow room for us all to be served tea.

New, it was listed on the manufacturer’s website for... a lot. With shipping and taxes. On Kijiji we found the same model for... about $500 less. With a custom wooden deck built for the floor, too.

And four years later? Our boys are still playing in it.

And Mr Lannis got a fancy-schmancy punching bag for kickboxing, gently-used, for $35. That’s about $150 less than what it was selling for at Walmart.

So I have plenty of good things to say about Kijiji.

Of course, the pitfall with Kijiji is aimlessly scrolling ads for things you don’t really need and talking yourself into needing them... but that’s why I try to keep my Kijiji interaction to specific items I would otherwise be purchasing new, or posting ads to get rid of useless junk extraneous stuff.

But as with life in general, you must sift through the mud to find the gold.

And dear Lord, I have encountered some random behaviour via Kijiji. Like, “where did these people come from and who gave them Internet access?!” kind of inanity.

Tuesday I received a response from one of my ads, where the potential buyer stated her husband would come by to look at the item for $20, either Wednesday or Thursday.

Erm. Well, that’s tricky, since you haven’t asked if I’m available those days (and at this point of the transaction, she didn’t have my address), but moreover because the item was listed for $35.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for haggling on a price, but telling me you’re buying it for $20 is not how you open good bargaining... something more polite would have been nice... a “would you consider taking $20?” would have received a “sure thing!” from me.

But the way this person worded the email made my hackles rise. Yep. I’m not (entirely) a bitch, but I am stubborn. You push, I push back. My response? “Sorry, it’s $35 firm.”

Well, she might as well figure out if she wants it $35 worth before roping her poor husband into coming to my house...

So yeah. I have a few etiquette beefs with Kijiji.

Please read the ad.

Is this a lot to ask? I’m pretty descriptive in my ads, and I always post pictures. I hate when I show up at someone’s house to discover what they posted as mint condition has scrapes or stains. (Ugh.) If it’s not perfect, take a photo of the imperfection and damn well say what’s what. Nobody’s going to diss you for honesty — actually, you’re probably more likely to make a sale.

In the same vein, please don’t ask me if there are smokers in my house because my ads always read, “smoke free, pet-friendly home.” And it says “pick up only.” So guess what? That means pick up only!

I’ve had one incident of meeting a buyer somewhere, and surprise, surprise — they were a no show! I blame my own Kijiji naïveté at the time, but now? Yeah, if you want what I have, you can come to my house and get it, thanks.

That said, if we’re arranged a pick up time? Please be on time. No, if something’s fallen through, just let me know, I’m cool with that. But I’m not cool with sitting around my house because someone said they were coming at noon and they don’t show up until 3pm.

Not cool, Kijiji-peeps. Not cool.

Another thing that gets me? People who respond to ads with their phone numbers. It kind of looks like this: “I’m interested in [whatever-this-is], please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

Um. Kijiji is set up as a go-between via email. Lord knows I’m a phone-talker under the right circumstances, but I’m not picking up the phone to call a complete stranger to sell something to them.

I don’t like telemarketers, remember? I’m not becoming one because you’re adverse to email. You managed to make it onto the ‘Net to find the ad, you can complete the transaction that way, too.

And guess what? Kijiji is not Twitter.

There’s nothing I hate more than the slapdash reply to an ad, “is this available.....???????”

Hey cowboy, is the ad posted? Then likely it is!

When I see this in my inbox, I want to reply, “yes” and nothing else. But I also realize that if I do, I’m likely to lose a sale, too.

I understand that not everyone studiously deletes ads when they’re no longer current, but you’re likely to look less like an idiot if you tweak your ice-breaking approach with, well, grammar, for one. Full sentences would be a bonus. Is it really that difficult to say, “If this is still available, I was wondering if I could arrange a time to see it?”

And newsflash: Kijiji is not Twitter! Why people scrabble and hold every character hostage is beyond me... using an extra few to say, “hi,” or “thanks,” won’t bloody well kill you!

If responding to an ad, you’re likely to garner a more positive response if you deign to use courtesy. Trust.

Also? Kijiji is not Facebook!

I know, shocker, right? If I post an ad, and you reply, and we get into a discourse about meeting times or price, that’s fine. But I don’t need to know that your husband’s having intestinal problems and has been in the hospital for two days and could I please hold the item for another day until your mother-in-law is back in the country and can come and pick it up...

Seriously. No offense, but I am not your friend. I don’t need to know the petty details of your day to day life. I understand shit happens. A polite, concise email requesting me to hold an item for another couple of days, or saying things fell through and you need to reschedule is fine.

I had a woman once beg me via email to deliver an item to her, because their van broke down, and she had four kids, and could I please-please-please deliver the item to them, she’d pay extra for gas money. It was also implied that I had no heart if I denied her...

This was all over a $5 item.

Not to mention my kid puked the day before and I wasn’t leaving the house to go anywhere any time soon, especially since I’d kept two boys home from school due to said pukage.

Of course I did what any self-respecting defensive mother would do. I replied with a polite email stating child-sickness and sympathy for their vehicle problems, but no, no I wouldn’t be delivering the item. The ad clearly states “pick up only.” It is not an unreasonable expectation!

So... your turn — share, please! Do you have any pet peeves for Kijiji behaviour? Any horror stories to tell? I want NEED to know!

 Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

January 27, 2012

Nothing Much

You may have been able to surmise from the high quality of my posts this week that I've come full pregnancy circle and have landed right back at "finds the lure of the couch irresistible".

Or you might just think I'm lazy. As many people way cooler than me would say: "Whatevs."

I have five days of work left, not including today, which - given the brief glance I had time to spare for my calendar yesterday before I left - should count for three on it's own.

I know who my replacement is going to be, and I LOVE her. It's not New Girl, it's my old boss from the branch I worked in before this one, and she's fantastic. I don't have the same stress to finish some things that are, frankly, unfinishable, because I know she's as capable of taking over the complex files as I am. (Or would be. See above.)

I'm looking forward to two weeks or so of uninterrupted and luxurious bookkeeping and tax preparation (if that reads as sarcastic, I'm not using the right font and you haven't been around here long enough), with periods of baby prep, eyeball appointments (just follow up, it's as fine as it's going to be), house cleaning, and maybe - just maybe - an afternoon of book reading to liven things up. Maybe two, if I'm feeling self-indulgent.

I haven't spent much time thinking about having a newborn again, but every once in a while it dawns on me that I'm going to have one around soon, and I get all mushy and excited (That little bum! Those chewy cheeks! That confused monkey expression! That cry like a trapped kitten!)

There's not much in the way of baby clothes to shop for, although I've never had a winter baby so am probably woefully under-prepared. We have another trip planned to Once Upon A Child during the interpregnum (<--My own. No, you may not use it, unless you pay me six million dollars. Per letter.) and that should take care of any little things I decide we need after wading through the three boxes of baby clothes from when Miss was born.

(Oh, first babies. Remember them? Remember all the stuff you thought you Had To Have, and having enough clothes for the baby to either change her seven times a day or go for three weeks without doing laundry...and not thinking there was anything strange about it?)

All of these words to say: I haven't been thinking about much, and what I do think about is random, disjointed, and mostly irrelevant.

So nothing new then.

This time last year: Word For Word

January 26, 2012

Motherhood Advice From The New Girl

It's almost like a poem. A scary, screwed up poem...

* * *

From: The New Girl
Sent: January 25, 2012 9:35 AM
To: The Mrs

Just wanted to tell you a few facts about being a mom to 3

You will have changed roughly by the time Bean is 3, 78,840 diapers/ pull ups

You will have been puked on at least 30,000 times

And been peed or pooped on 5000

You will have slept, only 49275 minutes

Oh and the number of times your will have to get up off the toilet cause a child needs to go will be over 2000

Hope these facts are helpful

January 25, 2012

How To Budget: Dear Past Me...

Dear Past Me,

For most people, this series of How To Budget posts will be as helpful as a series of recipes for boiling water.

For you, on the other hand, they are necessary. You are functionally illiterate when it comes to money. Sure, you make money. Sure, you have grasped the idea bills need to be paid on time, and you maybe even understand (intellectually, for what that's worth) the concept of spending less money than you bring in.

But - let's face it - you're still an idiot.

So I'm going to be kind to you, Past Me (and by "kind" I mean I'm going to help you out, not stop insulting you.) I'm going to help you set up a budget, tweak it, and - bear with me, I know this one is hard - I'm even going to help you live within it. I might need some help myself with this last part, but I'm still smarter than you, so stop laughing.

Ready? Then put down that jar of Nutella, fire up your online banking (or - gasp! - pull out your last six months to a year of bank statements) and listen up:

How To Budget, Step One: Figure Out How Much Money You Make

For this step (also known as the "fill saucepan with water" step), we need to do some math. Daunting for a graduate of Calculator Use 101-401 classes in high school, I know, but possible.

You need to figure out how much money you can count on going into your account on a monthly basis. For this, you need all of those paystubs you threw away after they spent six weeks or so in your purse, and since I know you don't have those, you need to look at your bank records.

How much money do you bring home, and how often? Does the dollar amount fluctuate, or is it the same every time?

If it's the same every time, figure out what that means per month (because I said so, that's why.). If you're paid weekly, multiply your consistent take home pay by 52, then divide by 12. If you're paid biweekly, multiply by 26 and divide by twelve. Semi-monthly? Multiply by two. Monthly? You shouldn't even be asking, but frankly, I'm not surprised.

If your pay fluctuates, you have two choices: The Safest Way, or The Easier, But Slightly Less Safe Way.

The Safest Way involves finding the lowest paycheque you've ever brought home in the last year and basing your budget on that.

The Easier, But Slightly Less Safe Way involves venturing into the land of averages: adding up every paycheque you've received in the last year, and dividing by the number of paycheques. Now you have to go back three paragraphs and convert this number to a monthly figure.

You're tired, Past Me. I can tell because your eyes are closed and your snoring a little. Why don't you take a break from this incredibly hard work? (But don't spend anything until I come back.)

This time last year: Miss Bedtime

January 24, 2012

Project Grocery: Then, Then, Now, and News

Then One: Sunday morning. Mr volunteers to go grocery shopping himself, because he can see how much I don't want to go.

He actually volunteers a lot, but I always say no. Probably because I have control issues.

Definitely because I have control issues.

Bless the man. He came up with half of the grocery list and - despite having to buy disposable wipes for daycare - brought home everything we needed for $117.60.

Next time he offers and I say no, please mail me a box full of dead rodents. Any kind will do.

Then Two: Last night. I planned on writing up my Monday Project Grocery post like a good little girl, and instead we put the kids to bed and ate chicken wings while watching the Giants game. (Oh yeah, I came in sixth in Fantasy Football, and am at the stage where I don't want to play again next year. I'll get over it by pre-season.)

Then I went to bed, thinking that I'd just post Monday night after work.

Now: I got home from work at 7:30. I forgot that I promised a client I'd meet with them after regular hours because it's pretty tough for them to get in before five. I am a pushover.

When I got to work this morning and realized I'd be staying late, I thought I'd get Mr to upload the picture for me so I could post on my lunch break. I ate on my lunch break instead.

News: Lannis and I had a fabulous time together on Saturday, and spent the time we weren't eating, complaining, or driving the other customers of Montana's away by planning some mischief that we'll share with you sometime soon. Once the mischief in question has been perfected.

More News: New Girl knows about us. She's cool, and I now have enough New Girl stuff to post - including a novella with actual chapters - every week until Bean is seven. I might open up my Sundays and let her have at it.

She didn't find out in some cool, what a funny story kind of way, although I'm sure she could make something up. I told her. It was exactly like having a crush on some guy in grade school and telling him. Except being happy that he made fun of me afterwards, because that's what normal is for me and New Girl.

The end.

This time last year: Must. Accomplish.

January 21, 2012

Lannis: A New Era

Christmas in the Lannis household marked a new era for us. Santa brought a Wii.

Yep. Our first gaming system.

Mr Lannis and I are no strangers to game systems, of course — we were brought up playing classic Nintendo. And when we moved in together, we were those cutting edge people who were thrilled to play sporadically on a hand-me-down Playstation One... this would be at about the same time the Playstation Three was hitting store shelves.

Because of this, I know I have the ability to latch on to a good game with horrifying competitive focus.

Yep. I magically transform into a vidiot.

It doesn’t have to be the latest-newest-best thing... if the story is good, and the worldbuilding solid, I’m in. Sure, I might squeal like I’m being physically attacked and spout obscenities to rival a drunken sailor, but I’m hooked.

I. will. win!

My last addiction was Final Fantasy VII, and since we sold that well-loved little PS One at a garage sale years ago, I’ve steered clear of epic fantasy games.

I simply have too much to do.

Since then, we’ve had nothing we’ve had our laptop. But it’s not used for games (unless you count Scrabble, which is addictive in an entirely different manner).

And other than the six-year-old’s reading program for school, the boys don’t touch the laptop. Oh, and we have a Leapfrog Leapster — a handheld educational game system, but nothing that strictly screams mindless video games!

Knowing how quickly kids latch onto electronic games, and knowing how important the first five years are in terms of formative development, Mr Lannis and I made the conscious decision to keep our kids away from gaming systems as long as possible.

Apparently, “as long as possible” came to an end at Christmas.

Due to play dates and general social interaction, the boys were beginning to notice that our house was a little bit different.

Firstly, because we don’t have cable or satellite — we have plenty of movies and pride ourselves on not having the TV on all day. And secondly, for our lack of a game system.

And our youngest was noticing. Mostly because he went to a friend’s house and became instantly addicted to the Nintendo Wii game Lego Batman.

This was back in the spring, and the Lego Batman game went onto the Christmas wish list.

And. didn’t. come. off.

Mr Lannis and I were planning on getting a system eventually, so over the summer months we decided it was time. But I Santa was determined not to blow a ton of money on the one big ticket item that would be sitting under the tree.

I watched the flyers. I waited. I debated. I logged sales.

Mr Lannis and I decided the best option for our family was the Mario Kart Wii Bundle — the system, the Mario Kart game, one remote, one nunchuk, and a steering wheel. We found the price to beat (Costco, $145, if you’re wondering), and waited.

Then the same bundle went on sale at Walmart for their anniversary week. $118! Seriously!

So, despite it being September at the time, I snatched it up. Then I also found another remote and nunchuk (for complete two-player play), at Costco ($62 together).

I cashed in Mastercard points to get a second steering wheel, and another game (Super Mario Galaxy) for free(!), and of course found a good price on the coveted Lego Batman game ($18).

Then, Mr Lannis discovered that a coworker had doubles of two of the original Wii games (Wii Play and Wii Sports Resort) due to a blended family and duplicate game systems. So we acquired those two games in gently-used condition for the low, low price of a good-old-fashioned baked goods exchange.

Now, though?

Now, halfway into January and faced with snowy, wet, cold days and lonely evenings when Mr Lannis is on afternoon shift (read: not home until after midnight).

Now I’m kind of wishing we hadn’t bothered.

Despite the low, low price of $200 for a complete system and four games...

Despite using game time as leverage to ensure boys listen and help with chores...

Despite having their imaginations sparked with possibilities, their drawings and Lego creations reflecting new characters and adventures...

Despite overhearing them reenact a live versions of Mario Kart in the basement on their plasma cars...

Why? Well, it’s partly because 90% of my kidlets’ conversations EVERYTHING pertains to Mario Kart or Lego Batman, now.

And partly because I’m really tired of collecting star bits to feed Lumas... those little buggers are hungry!

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

This time last year: My Library...And I Do Mean Mine

January 20, 2012

Welcome Home. Bleaaargh!

So I had a story I was going to tell you about when we came home from Michigan, and it went a little something like this:

We got home from Michigan at about five-thirty, and while we were away my Mom had done some tidying up for us (AWESOME). Our kitchen was clean and our floors were vacuumed.

I noticed - with surprise - that the tiny little postage stamp rugs that are THE ONLY CARPET WE HAVE IN THE HOUSE were still clean. As in, not puked on by cats.

"A miracle", I said to myself, and sat down to some very necessary online bragging about how awesome Lindsay had made The Mrs look.

And then Lewis - this one:

- decided to welcome me home. By barfing on the carpet (NOT AWESOME.)

The End.

Today, after having a Kijiji ad up that read "two cats, new baby on the way" since Jr was the new baby on the way, we offloaded the barfer.

Now we just need to con some poor sucker into taking the crazy one.

Don't be fooled. She's trying to decide what seasoning would go best with the flavour of your brain.

This time last year: The Best Time Of The Day

January 18, 2012

Project Grocery: Hideen

So we're really making a go of trying to blow that grocery budget out of the water, eh? Between our emergency trip out on Sunday night for the bare essentials and tonight for the clothed non-essentials, we managed to spend $132.86, $12.86 of which is clearly junk food.

[Pats herself on back]

Well done!

In unrelated commentary, Jr has a new favourite thing to do, and it is "hideen", which is really any activity in which he can cover his face and become invisible.

I have discovered a similar game:

See if you can find me. (Hint: I'm the pregnant one.)

This time last year: Invalidity

January 17, 2012

While I Was Away: Email From The New Girl

Can I just say how much I love this girl, and will be truly sorry to not work with her anymore? Seriously. Except how can you tell someone how cool they are when the only way you've ever communicated is through sarcasm?

Must think.

While I'm thinking (imagine Winnie the Pooh tapping his head and looking confused, except enormously pregnant and more confused.)

* * *

Dearest Sandi,

Since you were absent for the last few days in had to keep an abundance of love to my self.

Now it’s being unleashed.

First show of love:

A poem for Sandi

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I like flowers
And Sandi is preggers

Small token of love:

Knock knock
Whos there
Sandi who
Sandi’s as big as a house

A song for Sandi:

(Hum along to jingle bells)

Sandi’s big Sandi’s big
Sandi’s as big as a house
She can barely walk and barely sit
But boy can she digest

This time last year: It's Sticker Time

January 16, 2012

How The Mrs Got De-Uglified

If you do the Facebook or have eyeballs, you'll know that the blog is looking a little different these days. One of the many highlights of our more-fun-than-I-expected-and-I-expected-a-lot trip to Michigan.

Other highlights: Jungle Java, a new maternity shirt, working companionably on various online projects with Lindsay after the kids went to bed, Jungle Java, trying Manchego for the first time, crock pot monkey bread, Jungle Java, and trying Manchego with Lindsay's strawberry freezer jam slathered all over it. Also, Jungle Java. (WHY DON'T WE HAVE JUNGLE JAVA?)

Lowlights: feeling depressed about not having a Jungle Java, and losing at Sequence to the boys. Twice.

But back to the blog - unless you want to talk about Jungle Java some more? No? Fine.

I'll let Lindsay explain the de-uglification process over at Inklings Paperie. She does it much better than me. 

This time last year: Ice, Wonderful Ice...A Total Rabbit Hole

January 14, 2012

Lannis: Of Nostalgia and Nonsense...

I’m not a pack rat.

Okay, so I’ve squirreled away things from my past as much as anyone, but despite Mr Lannis’ suspicions that the reason for the bigger house is so I don’t have to get rid of anything else (yes, I can read your mind, hon.), that’s not the case.

But a few things I do keep. And I don’t even know why.

Case in point? The pickled bums.


These are my pickled bums. They sit on an open-stud shelf on the stairs to our unfinished basement, proudly, inexplicably, for all the world to see. Well, if the world wanted to see our basement, that is.


Erm... because?

(I can hear my mother saying, “because I said, and that’s all the reason you need.” Ha ha!)

The pickled bums have been around almost as long as I can remember. I say almost, because I remember they were received as a gag gift when one of my parents had a milestone birthday. The details are hazy -- I can’t even remember which one received them.

The bums, however, have remained clear. They’ve always been around, usually on a shelf in an unfinished basement (my father had the habit of finishing basements just before my mother would decide we needed to move. It happened three times. And then he helped finish our basement before my husband and I moved. Hm. Maybe he just likes finishing basements...).

Back to the bums. Not the figurative jerks (though I’m sure they’re around -- I had the pleasure of driving in rush hour to an appointment in the city recently, and trust me, they’re around...), but the jar of tushes on our shelf.

My mom was going to get rid of them at one point, and I’m not entirely certain why, but I couldn’t let that happen. Mildly inappropriate, they’ve always given me a smile, can’t I spare a spot of shelf for them in return?

(There’s probably a metaphor in here about assholes who stay with you, but I’m too scattered to nail it down.)

Actually, I think their original jar smashed at one point, and they’ve been relocated into another mason... it really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that they’re still around to make my kids smile.

Simply a nonsense gag gift, tushes made out of nylon stocking and a little thread. But fun.

A touch of goofiness tucked on a shelf, almost overlooked. But kids certainly notice them, and announce that jar’s presence to their friends, too (“Look at the pickled bums, guys!”).

My youngest is excited about his next sharing day at school, because he’s convinced he’ll remember he wants to bring in the bums. He just might.

And if it’s an object-of-child’s-choice sharing day, I just might let him. Ha!

So, what do you have lying around the house that inexplicably can’t be purged? Anything? Or am I the only nutbar?

 Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.
If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

January 13, 2012

Other People's Dumb Kids

So. Michigan.

We're having a good time - the Misters are all tuckered out, the kids are finally asleep (finally), and right now I'm typing on a Mac with a good internet connection while Lindsay works on de-uglifying this here blog.

These are all good things.

But I have something to say to you - yes, you. You know who you are, but if you don't I'll be very specific: you're the mother at the play area in the mall today. You wore a blue shirt, and you had two kids - probably a three year old and a five year old.

You spent your time on the bench texting.

Your dumb kid kept climbing up the slide and sliding back down again without letting anybody else slide down. He kept lying down at the bottom and would. not. get. up.

He used Jr as a step stool at least twice.

I just want to tell you something, between us mothers:

I let my kid slide down the slide and land on yours. On purpose.


This time last year: All The Boo-Hoos

January 12, 2012

Disappointment With The French: Macarons Just Aren't That Great

As in: the entire nation. And while I'm at it, I'm disappointed with trendy bakeries in New York, food bloggers in general, and the entire population of Pinterest for publishing pictures like this:

(from here),

This (from here),

And this (from here).

"Macarons are the next cupcake", says the food news industry, while the rest of the (sane) world gags and throws up a little in their mouths because they've been subjected (again) to the "Xs are the next Ys" pronouncement.

We don't have macarons in my town. I'm pretty sure we don't even have them in the next town over, which is saying a lot. So I look at pictures of them, and dream about them, and fantasize a little about making my own, and then laugh until I'm hysterical at the idea of having time to make a loaf of bread, let alone a fancy-pants pretty meringue thingy.


Two weeks ago, at a local tea shop, I spotted the ever-elusive macaron, available for purchase. Available for EATING.


Classic case of hype-induced disappointment? Or are macarons just kinda boring? Or were these bad macarons?

Picture me, at home, with dreams dashed. 

(The macaron related ones, anyway.)

January 11, 2012

Me, Mr, And Michigan

We're on the road again, this time to Michigan to spend some quality kitchen-installing time with my dear friend Lindsay (of Inklings Paperie fame, who I may have mentioned once or twice around here...remember the menu board that I totally still use every week because I'm so, so organized? Inspired by her.)

Uh, that would be my Mr and her Mr installing kitchen cabinets. I'm on the keeping-the-kids-out-of-the-mess squad with Lindsay and we're both looking forward to The Kids Are In Bed It's Time For A Big Drink hour.

I guess that will be water for me.


(Does that even count as a thing people are allowed to say anymore? Really? How about "eat my shorts"?)

This time last year: A Day In The Life Of

January 10, 2012

Plan Bean: December Update

Following along in the tradition of September's Plan Bean update, we could also call this (late) report:

Plan Bean: Over In All Categories


Plan Bean: Because Reporting To The World That We Overspent Is So Much Fun

I already knew last Monday that we'd be over in the grocery department, try as I did to keep our last grocery shop of 2011 under $26 (or some odd number I'm too lazy to look up right now), and I suspected that we might be over budget in the other categories, too, but not to this degree.

Speaking of degrees, mine isn't in math. But this is what I budget for:

Groceries: $520
Gas $173.33
Date $40
Other $325

Don't ask me why Gas is so precise and the rest of the categories aren't. Also don't ask me what "other" means. It means other.

In December, the actual spending looked like this:

Groceries: $548.69 (+ 28.69)
Gas: $342.44 (+ 169.11)
Date: $47.99 (+ 7.66)
Other $537.20 (+ 212.20)

The groceries I'm fine with. Same goes for the date, obviously.

The gas I'm a little stymied by. I asked Mr, and he says he didn't accidentally charge work gas on our personal card this time, but we didn't go anywhere unusual.

I'm irritated by the "Other" number, but I know exactly what that is - it's the number of times we bought lunch or supper either because of busyness or sickness - of which there was plenty. It wasn't Christmas-related overspending, thanks to our super-duper Christmas savings account.

As it turns out, I didn't have to pull anything from savings to make up this number, because the overlap of paydays and overdraft usage worked out pretty well in December. If the next paragraph weren't true, I would be pulling at least part of this month's overage from savings to keep us from paying overdraft fees and interest, but - as it happens - the net paragraph IS true.

I have a clever debt restructuring plan that will reduce the interest rate on our total debt AND reduce the payments - by a lot - and this will mean big changes to our budget in February. (Hint: it involves renting out our home to a circus.) As if the maternity leave wasn't enough of a change...

Is anybody else bored? I'm bored.

Money doesn't usually bore me. Somebody call an ambulance.

This time last year: Spilled Milk And The Mrs

January 9, 2012

Project Grocery: Another Year, Another Caramel Icing Fail

But first, the groceries:

To kick of 2012 in groceries with style, we spent  $134.98. YAY! <--Sarcasm. Heavily disguised.

This included two enormous bags of flour from Bulk Barn (using my favourite coupon, of course), 342 teeny-tiny tubs of yogurt (a slight exaggeration. Also, maybe yoghurt?) , and the whole shoulder of a pig for - sit down - $21 dollars. That's one enormous picnic roast (like, leftovers for a week kind of enormous) and two big meals of Root Beer Pulled Pork.

Worth. It.

This week was also Mr's birthday (I know. Again. Greedy man.), and following along in the tradition of making him a completely revolting meal, I once again made pork and sauerkraut and a chocolate cake with caramel icing.

Fortunately, this was only revolting to me, as everyone else at the table seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, including Jr, who asked for - and got - three helpings of "meat and sauce". Bless him.

The cake this year wasn't as much of an abject failure as it was last year, thanks to my friend of high school days Sarah and her very helpful icing tip, and at first glance even looks a little appetizing and beautiful...or would if I had yet figured out our fancy new(ish) camera:

Of course, being me, the way I poured the caramel icing resulted in the Grand Canyon of Cake, which Miss cleverly disguised (accentuated) with her creative candle placement. 

I'm told that - for those who are into tooth-achingly sweet things - the cake tasted as good as it didn't look.

Maybe next year I'll achieve the ultimate in housewifely accomplishments: a birthday cake for my husband that looks edible from all angles.

This time last year: Mrs Cake

January 7, 2012

Lannis: Blackmail: Casanova in Action...

Mr Lannis and I have been blessed with family members who help out when it comes to babysitting and giving us a night off. Grandparents, friends, we’ve been lucky in the free-childcare department.

We’ve somehow managed to make it a whole year and a half in our new town before we’ve needed to pay our local-responsible-teen to come over.

(This also speaks of how rarely we actually get out of the house as adults, but let’s not focus on that, shall we?)

Over the holidays, Mr Lannis kind of snapped -- extra overtime when you’d expected glorious relaxation will do that to you. So on December 30th 2011 Mr Lannis and I got a babysitter and went on a date!


I know, right?

Anyhow, the point of this post is to regale you all of the progress of our little Casanova, because... well... let’s just say it was share-worthy.

3:30pm - waiting for Miss E, the babysitter and our neighbour from across the street:

4.5 year old [practically vibrating with excitement]: When is Miss E gonna be here?
Me: In thirty minutes.
4.5 year old: When the big hand gets to the twelve?
Me: Exactly.
4.5 year old [fist pump]: YES!

[In retrospect, we should have realized this implication.]

10pm - on the drive home from our dinner and movie (the new Sherlock Holmes, if you’re interested. Not bad, but I have issues with the fact that Holmes has been recast as an action figure...)

Me: I wonder if our 4.5 year old told Miss E that she was beautiful?
Mr Lannis: He doesn’t really make the moves on girls, you know.
Me: You didn’t see him chatting up the Toys R Us cashier yesterday...

Later, at home:

Miss E: The 4.5 year old didn’t stop talking all night.
Me [deadpan look]: I have *no idea* where he gets that. Did he by any chance tell you that you’re beautiful, or something about you is beautiful? Your hair, your sweater?
Miss E [laughing]: Yes! When we came in from outside and I took off my glasses because they were fogging up. He asked where they were, then checked them out on the table and told me they were beautiful!
Mr Lannis [to me]: Holy shit, you really called that!
Miss E: He also told me that I was his girlfriend. And when I sent the boys upstairs to get dressed, he came down without any pants on.
Mr Lannis: ... O_o
Me: Well, clearly he’s still working on his finesse...

I think we’ve found a new subject for serial posts...

Occasional poster at The Mrs, I'm Lannis - or Leslie, depending on which circles you're swimming. A while ago I decided that I don't care anymore, hence my general standards for life are lower than The Mrs' (but she still loves me.) [Editor: I do]

I live in a small town with my favourite people: my husband, Mr Lannis, and our two boys, along with two cats and one hamster.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might witness my issues with linear thought, road rage, spending more money on food than books, and potty mouth. Be warned.

This time last year: The Kitchen Stool

January 6, 2012

A Day In The Life Of...Someone One Else

Namely, my cousin Rhonda. We don't live near each other, and in fact only see each other maybe once or twice a year, so when she sent me this a few days ago I was excited - as a nosy , nosy person - to read what her days are like. 

They sound kind of familiar...

Plus, it seems like I might have received the generous gift of strep throat from my dear husband and have nothing clever to say for myself today, especially since I've spending the morning on the couch, watching Buffy reruns on Netflix and skipping all the parts without Spike in them.

(It's your turn next. Don't think I haven't forgotten.)

(For A Day In The Life, not Spike reruns.)

(You knew what I meant.)

* * *
You asked...

January 2, 2011

My day starts at 4:30 am when my 5 month old wakes up for a little snack. When she was only one month old, she was sleeping 12 hours a night. I knew I was extremely lucky. I was enjoying it. So this new habit of crying for snack twice a night is aggravating. And it’s a phase that’s lasted at least a month. I think her 3 year old brother told her she’s crazy to be sleeping through the night at her age. Unfortunately she listened.

Moving on.... she goes back to sleep and so do I, until I hear her brother in our room at 6:30 am, saying ‘living room?’ in a very high pitched voice which would be adorable if it were not so irritating. As you can tell, I am not a morning person.

Out to the living room we go for another episode of Dora. I can’t believe I watch Dora and Diego. Pre-children, I thought I could avoid those two. Coffee. Thanks for the Tassimo mom-in-law- it’s possibly the best Christmas gift I’ve been given in years! Breakfast time. My 3 year old puts in his custom order each morning. This time it’s mini wheats, four squares, cheerios and yogurt mixed in one bowl, not the blue bowl, the purple one. Another episode of Dora, and I can shower. Get the baby up and changed, and 3 year old changed, and then a friend calls inviting us to her house to play in the fresh snow! Sounds like a great time. I need the fresh air and so do the kids. It’s 8:30 am. Surely we can be at her house at 9:30, right? 

I forgot the baby needs her cereal. What a pain shoveling this stuff into her mouth. It just takes so much time, and her brother acts like an ape around her chair all the while I try to keep her attention. I get the baby’s snow suit on just in time for her to fill her diaper, so I change her. My son wants to go NOW, but won’t help with his boots, coat mitts, hat, etc. At EVERY turn he decides to do something unhelpful. Including hit me with the fishing pole toy. Time out. Hitting me is never allowed - why is he always so surprised when he’s disciplined for it? If I were inconsistent, I could understand, but I’m really not. Maybe I block out parts of my day, and I am inconsistent, just don’t remember it?

We’re pulling out the lane at 9:55am. Unbelieveable. But, we’re all happy to be on our way, and the snow is gorgeous on the ground, and it’s falling so heavily from the air. My son is in such an adorable state of awe and asks if it will also be snowing at his friend’s house (in the same city). Love those moments and questions when you realize their innocence. The play date is a lot of fun and we even get invited for lunch. Awesome. Home for rest which goes exceptionally well and I have a little over an hour with a silent house. I LOVE a silent house.

So I do something really special for myself like banking, laundry, and email my boss about returning to work in April.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful except that my son wanted to go out shoveling with his dad, and my ever-understanding husband took him out with a smile, immediately after coming home from work. Supper was the usual fiasco, but we all got to eat. Bedtime was not too bad, although two eye-spy books take almost 45 minutes to read, so I make a note to myself that when two stories are allowed at bedtime, they cannot both be eye-spy books. I sing ‘you are my sunshine’ to my three year old at bedtime, and for the first time, he sings some of the words with me. I’ve sung this to him since he was a newborn. Melts my heart. Why was I losing my patience with him earlier in the day?

The evening was spent on facebook, sorting hand-me-down clothes, and taking down the Christmas tree. Oh, and there was time for a hot bath. I know I need to go to bed early, but it’s adult time, and I don’t want to! I need my own mother here to force me to bed too! Good night!


January 5, 2012

What A Girl Needs

Beware: crappy picture ahead:

But it does contain enough to have made me happy last night: The Best Potatoes Ever Consumed By Me But Made By Mister, an enormous steak, and ice, which is my kind of crack.

That's right, the ice is back. Must be a baby thing.

January 4, 2012

Work Cartoons With The New Girl: She's Discovered Clip Art And Interoffice Email






This time last year: Dancing In Kitchen

January 3, 2012

A Day In The Life Of: 2012

Leslie reminded me a few weeks ago that it's been almost a whole year since the A Day In The Life Of post, and - as you know - my days have changed some. Let's revisit, shall we? Leslie's going to do it too, and guess what?

So are you.

Pick a day, write it down, and send it to me. That's an order. (Don't mess with me, I've had a bad day.)

* * *

Thursday, December 29th
Part One: In which things start out bad, but seem to get better

The alarm clock goes off at six, like it's supposed to, but because someone under three feet tall was playing with it, the volume is too low to wake me up. Mr wakes me up at 6:27 and I stumble to the bathroom.

As I'm sittig on the toilet, I hear Miss come to the door and try to come in (which is why it's locked). I tell her to ask Daddy to take her downstairs if she needs to go. This makes her pound on the door harder until, eventually, she pees her pants, which is obviously way better than going downstairs to pee on the toilet.

Cleaning her up and making her feel better eats up another ten minutes, and when we're all finally showered and downstairs it's already a few minutes after seven, which means cereal instead of oatmeal for breakfast. I change Jr's bum and get both kids dressed while Mr starts the coffee and gets breakfast on the table.

The cereal saves us enough time that we're brushing our teeth about the same time we do every morning, and Mr heads out to clean the snow off the van and get it warmed up by about quarter to eight. I'm thinking that despite the bad beginning, things are back on track.

Part Two: In which I realize I'm very, very wrong

I start to worry a little when Mr isn't back in after five minutes, but start to wrestle the kids into their jackets, boots, mittens, and hats anyway. (I. Hate. Winter.) Mr comes back inside and throws his gloves angrily to the floor.

The van doors - which have been freezing up on us nearly every morning - did not freeze this morning. This is not reason to celebrate, as they have instead chosen not to latch. No big deal, Mr will take the kids to school in the truck, and then come back to drive me to work.

Or not. The truck refuses to start.

I realize that I'm very, very wrong.

We're fortunate to live only three minutes down the road from my parents, and once again we take shameless advantage of our proximity and ask Dad to rescue us. He does.

I finally get to work a half hour late, after a complicated fox/chicken/grain/farmer/boat scenario in which Dad drives us all to school, we drive him home, and Mr drives me to work.

Part Three: In which I work

Part Four: In which I stoop to a level I wasn't quite sure existed

Mr pickes me up at five. I am extremely grateful. It turns out that the van dors WERE frozen. Frozen open. On the way home, we discuss what we're having for dinner, since the pork tenderloin sandwiches we were going to have require some afternoon work that Mr didn't have time to do, what with driving all over creation in assorted vehicles in various states of deep freeze. Just as we get to the point where we realize that we're going to have to buy something, we drive past this sign:

Against all reason we listen to the Colonel, and after picking the kids up from school we swing back to KFC and buy the infernal bowls.

Part Five: In which we have a few moments of normal

We finally get in the door, wrestle the kids out of their jackets, boots, mittens and hats (did I mention that I. Hate. Winter?) and sit down to "supper" by six. The kids eat their "food" - Miss is excited by the discovery of corn in her bowl, and Jr eats only the "chicken".

We decide that the kids need we need the kids to go to bed early, so by quarter to seven they're in their jammies, teeth brushed, all storied up, and ready to be tucked in. Jr hands out sloppy kisses and tight sqeezes (no, the "u" was not omitted by accident), and is zipped up into his sleeping bag and put down. He cries for his nimmie about the same amount of time as it takes to close his door behind him and walk down the hall.

Miss has a slightly more complicated bedtime routine. Mr is already halfway down the list of twenty required questions (with answers that never change): "Do you want your ladybug on or off?", "Do you want your blankie tucked in or beside you?", "tucked in Grammy way or Mommy way?". The last bit is my favourite, and I get to her room just in time for it. We stand at the door, turn out the lights, and as I start to close the door (it's always Mommy's turn, for some reason), she sits back up in bed and lets loose with the following string of instructions:


It's expanded a little in the past year.

Part Six: In which I am punished and want to die

I spend the evening lying on the couch, most decidedly NOT writing a blog post (sorry), and regretting the bowl decision most sincerely. Mr makes me the perfect evening snack: Gravol and ice cubes, and I figure if I'm going to suffer, I'd like to do it in my sleep. I spend the next two hours in bed but not asleep, enjoying the pleasures of acid reflux and trying not to throw up in my mouth.

January 2, 2012

Project Grocery: Happy Old Year - 2011 In Groceries

Because of our Christmas meat excesses, I was hoping to keep our last grocery bill of 2011 down arount $25.96. I failed.


But I didn't fail by much.

On this, we spent $54.64, mostly because this week we're eating out of the freezer inventory that we did for the first time in about six months, speaking of surprises. We're eating fried fish and coleslaw sandwiches, pork tenderloin sandwiches, french onion soup, leftover tikka masala, shepherd's pie, and (yet another surprise, I'm sure) ribeyes with The Best Potatoes Ever Consumed By Me But Made By Mister for date night. Again. Thank you, freezer.

I haven't done the rest of my Plan Bean numbers for December, but we're over on groceries by $28.69.

For all of 2011, we've spent $6,463.30 out of a budget of $6,240.00. I know we'll do better once I'm home again and have more time to bake bread and plan better meals, but all in all, 2011 was a good year for food.

Who am I kidding? Every year is a good year for food. I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but if I did, mine for 2012 would probably sound a little like this:

"Eat good food. Enjoy making it. Take a few pictures."