Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Memory Wipe


If my own mother's memory is any indication, I doubt that when my kids are grown I'll remember any of the bone-weary tedious days from when they were little. My mom insists that I was an angelic baby sent straight from heaven who never kept her up at night or had gas. So I'm relatively confident that those sleepless nights, and gassy screaming fits, disappear from a mother's memory as surely as the pains of childbirth do. But just in case the memory wipe doesn't kick in in my case, I'll have that picture up there to erase all the memories of nights when he woke up screaming five times for no apparent reason, refusing to be rocked or walked and insisting on being put back in the bed where he would wake up again an hour later, refusing to be rocked or walked, and insisting on being put back in the bed where he would wake up again an hour later . . .


This one never woke me up in the night (see how quickly the memory wipe starts working?). Look -- he's reading his own birthday card! How can he be 6 already? And as you will see in the video below, all that money his father and I have been putting toward his Jedi training is really starting to pay off:

video

I'm pretty certain that Casey could fend off all attackers with those moves, but I think his credibility is weakened by his choice of weapon. Even the puniest of the puny on the Death Star are not likely to be scared off by a Mickey light saber.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Salted Buttercream Icing

As many of you know, Casey was born on December 27th. He's one of those poor unfortunate Christmas birthdays that gets shorted every year. This year is no exception.



These little car cakes were baked with the best of intentions today. I went to Publix and tried really hard to buy a birthday cake for Casey, but I couldn't justify $22.00 for a cake that I could make for $4.00, so I bought flour and headed home. I found the car cake mold that my mom gave me and things were going well until it was time to ice the little suckers. Casey's favorite color is green and I didn't want to have to fiddle with multiple colors of icing, so I only made the green, thinking . . . well I didn't really think it through, actually. I just started putting icing on the cars, saw how things were heading, and eventually called Casey in to put on the sprinkles, the dot thingies, and the blue sugar so that when the cakes got to the table, everybody would say, "Casey -- did you decorate these yourself?" -- and he would say "yes" -- and I would be off the hook for the green icing disaster. And who cares how it looks so long as it tastes good, right? Well, it didn't taste good. The cake part was good, but when the recipe for vanilla buttercream icing calls for unsalted butter, don't think to yourself, "well, all I have is salted butter, so that will have to do; can't make that much of a difference. Maybe I should call in Grandma and ask her what she thinks. Naaah, why bother Grandma?" While I have found that unsalted and salted butter are somewhat interchangeable, that only applies when you are using a tablespoon or so of butter -- it does not apply when you are using 2 sticks of butter. They call it buttercream icing for a reason. It's pretty much all butter. And salty buttercream icing is disgusting. Take my family's word for it -- no one objected when the leftover cars were dumped into the garbage.

We celebrated Casey's birthday tonight because we are taking him to Disneyworld tomorrow. A few weeks ago I asked Casey if he would rather have a party with his friends or go to Disney for the day (please pick Disney, please pick Disney) and he picked Disney (yay!). I hate planning birthday parties for young kids -- it costs a ton of money if you have it somewhere like Pump it Up or Rolly Pollies, but it's so much work to have it at home and then you have all those wild indians in your house for the afternoon. Our party at home tonight was so much calmer. There were no wild indians -- unless you count this one:



And he's not an indian so much as some sort of birthday pixie all hyped up on green icing.

Mace had his first haircut today. He did great -- no screaming fits:



He's holding on to his Hess "goggin" for dear life, though. Speaking of which:



My son did not get enough trucks and tractors for Christmas, could someone please buy him some more?

And look at what my Christmas present can do:



That shot is going to be on the front cover of the brochure for the Hope Springs Eternal Bed & Breakfast -- we'll just crop out the edge of the half-built chicken coop over there on the left, 'cause the HSEB&B is a high class establishment notwithstanding our pants-optional policy.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Santa Sighting


Santa visited our house tonight. Twice. He brought some gifts. Twice. He ate the cookies and drank the milk. Twice. He lost his hat. Only once. But it was during his second visit.

Right before Casey went to bed, we meticulously planned the timing of the visit, the placement of the actors, the contents of the red sack. This afternoon, Joe had Casey help him set up an old security camera in the dining room so that Casey could see Santa (downstairs) from the TV in our bedroom (upstairs). So at bedtime, the plan dictated that I would be in Casey's room reading him The Night Before Christmas; Pop Pop (in the Santa suit) and YaYa would be waiting on the porch, listening for Santa's cue, the reindeer bells; Joe would be on the porch roof outside Casey's room with the bells and whatever it is that he throws on the metal roof to sound like reindeer hooves. The jingling of the bells would set the following into motion: Santa would count to 30 before heading down the hall and then into the living room; Casey and I would leave his bedroom and go into the master bedroom where we could watch Santa on the TV. After jingling the bells, Joe was to come back around to the balcony off our bathroom, let himself into the bathroom and pretend like he was in the shower before coming out into the bedroom, where Casey and I would be watching Santa on the TV via the security camera.

Now, the key to this plan was Casey and I actually hearing the bells. Which we didn't. Casey and I were still sitting in his bedroom when Joe walked in wet, with a towel around his waist. I thought maybe Joe was trying to save himself time by going ahead and looking "showered" before he even went out onto the roof. When he found us in Casey's room, Joe realized that we'd missed the signal and went back out on the roof to do it again. This time, Casey and I heard it and ran into the master bedroom to watch the TV. No Santa. Joe came out of the "shower" and still no Santa appeared on the TV. So I said, "I'll go check around downstairs and see if I hear anything."

Casey screamed, "DON'T let him see you mom!!!"

When I got downstairs, YaYa and Pop Pop weren't waiting on the porch. I found them in Grandpa's room, where Pop Pop had already taken off the Santa suit! They were all grins, and I said, "What happened? Get back in the suit! He didn't see you."

"But we heard the bells! didn't you hear Chance (the dog, who was laying by the tree when Pop Pop went in the first time) barking? It scared Pop Pop to death!"

"I'm sorry. You have to do it again!"

In the meantime, this is what was happening upstairs:

Joe: "Maybe we should turn the camera off. Maybe Santa knows we're watching and he won't leave any presents."

Casey: "Well even if Santa doesn't leave us any presents, I'll still believe in him."

[I'm not sure what bothers me the most about this exchange: the fact that my husband would be so cruel as to tell our 5 year old that Santa is going to pass him by because he helped his dad spy on Santa, or the fact that my 5 year old apparently has more faith in Santa than he does in his own father, who had clearly led him astray by encouraging him to spy].

So Santa re-dresses and comes back in, pretends to put out presents that are already sitting under the tree, loses his hat and almost his hair, and then pretends to eat a cookie he had already eaten ten minutes before.

Pop Pop, having already had a dress rehearsal, was feeling a little too confident in his role, and talked a bit more than usual. The Christmas miracle this year was that Casey, who was hearing Santa talking about his hat and the gifts and the cookies, did not say, "Santa sure sounds a lot like Pop Pop!!"

Casey is sooooo relieved that Santa didn't punish him for spying and is convinced that he saw Santa leave a box large enough that it must contain the Star Wars Millenium Falcon toy that he so desperately wants and we have desperately been trying to talk him out of.

Regardless of whether or not Casey gets his Christmas wish, I hope for your sake that Santa only had to come to your house once this year because otherwise your husband might have been on your roof butt naked and soaking wet, shaking some jingle bells.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feet and Dog Breath

I cleaned my car yesterday. Only the inside, not the outside (isn't that what rain is for?). You know it's time to clean your car when the dog waits for you to drive up in the driveway so that when you open the car door, he can jump in and sniff around for tater tots. That, and I told one of my clients that he could just ride downtown with me today to a meeting. I really don't want my clients to think of me as the lawyer whose car smells like feet. Martindale Hubbell doesn't have a rating for car smells, thankfully, but word gets around fast in our little legal community nonetheless. So I cleaned out the car and it does not look like this anymore:


And I took care of this:


You should be grateful that I'm not showing you pictures of the melted cough drops mixed with coffee, root beer, and pennies that were in the catch-all doohickey in between the front seats. Nasty.

Every time I clean my car out (once every six months or so) I vow never to let it get that dirty again. And for about a week following the thorough cleaning I'm very conscientious about paper, coffee cups, toys, and chocolate milk (not sure if you are aware, but if you leave chocolate milk in a sippy cup in your car in the summertime, it starts seeping out the top within about 24 hours and smells just like you would expect chocolate milk to smell after sitting in a 120 degree car for 24 hours). But then I gradually start relaxing my vigilance and things start piling up, tater tots once again find happy homes under the seats to raise little tiny tot families and that weird smell comes back.

Back when Grits (the dog I brought with me into the marriage) was alive, he developed a cough that persisted for a year and a half before he died. No medicines worked to stop the cough and the vet was as mystified as we were about its cause. Grits also happened to be a very co-dependent dog and had the habit of following me from kitchen to dining room to bathroom to laundry room to bedroom, etc., all the livelong day. If you closed a door and kept him out of the room he would start whining and not let up until you let him in. So when he started coughing, our bedroom was still downstairs and we couldn't keep him out of it -- we tried several things, from dog gates keeping him in the kitchen, to putting him under the house in Joe's Man Space. But I could still hear him coughing and he would whine to get to our room in between coughs. So after several sleepless weeks of moving him around and under the house in an attempt to find someplace where we couldn't hear him, we decided to put him in the car. We didn't want him to be lonely, so we put Chance, our English Setter, in there with him. So every night we took the dog beds out to the car, laid the seat down and the dogs would run out there, jump in, and go to sleep (or they would howl all night long, I don't know, but that's the point, really). The next morning Joe or I would go let them out (this really goes without saying, but I wanted to make it clear that we let them out every morning, even when we weren't going to take the car somewhere; I know some of you already have one hand on the phone to call the Humane Society about me making my dogs sleep in the car). It's been almost two years since the last time we let the dogs sleep in the car and on wet mornings, my car still smells like dog breath.

Regardless, for now the car is clean, so if I offer to drive somewhere, it's safe for you to get in. But if it's raining, you should definitely bring the Febreze.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

We Are Party Pooped



Yes. I know you've seen enough pictures of my lit up house, but this was what it looked like last night for the party. Just ignore those multi-colored lights over there on the right that are intruding into the beauty of this monochromatic moment brought to you by Southern Living Magazine. My husband's trashy trailer display (brought to you by Redneck Living Magazine) only distracted party-goers from the twinkling wonder of the house long enough for them to grab a beer out of the trailer fridge. I would note, however, that the crowd below hung out a little bit longer than customary by the adult beverage trailer:



But if it makes you feel better, they were also the last ones to leave at almost midnight last night, so I'm sure any heightened blood alcohol levels resulting from their close proximity to the trailer had worn off by that time. I had forgotten that the last time these folks were at our house, they helped us catch the roosters, Pete and Repeat. So Cindy (in the Indiana University shirt) and Shane (number 40) were disappointed to learn that since the last time they were here, Pete and Repeat, whose main purpose in life had been to poop all over my porch, had been "lost" in a "storm." Anyway. Back to the party. Here are the Heathen Mothers:



They look sweet, don't they? Don't trust them. There's a reason they're called the Heathen Mothers. Constantly bucking the system, these three -- always wanting to add programs to the church that refuses to add programs; always offering their opinions whether solicited or not; continuing to persistently pray for the church to go in one direction or another. Our (mostly young) church staff is getting some quality training by having to think of nice, creative ways to tell these three "no." I'm pretty sure last night I overheard the HMs come up with a scheme to propose crazy stuff to the church staff, just so they can watch the guys squirm: "Hey Neal, I've really been praying about this and I'm sure God has given me this awesome idea -- wouldn't it be great if we had a ministry that painted rocks for guys who worked in gas stations? It would really spread the love of Jesus. What do you think?" Anyway. Back to the party.

No party is complete without at least one fire, and if my husband is involved, three or more. Last night, there was a small campfire out front by the trailer, a fire in the fireplace on the back porch, one hundred itsy bitsy fires in luminaries lining the driveway, and a bonfire in the back yard:



So I took a lot of pictures last night, but most of them came out blurry, which is a mystery because I was taking the pictures with my new camera. Huh. Weird -- apparently the old camera was fine and the problem was me. Whaddya know. But I do really like the new one. Unfortunately, it does not have a setting for making me look younger:



And that's Dr. Pepper in that cup, mom, I didn't go anywhere near the adult beverage trailer. Except for those couple of times when I had to show people where it was -- when you tell some people something vague like, "if you would like an adult beverage, help yourself to whatever's in that trailer over there with the blue rope light on the antenna and the green glow underneath" sometimes they say, "what? I don't see any trailer over there -- where did you say it was?" And then I had to show them the way over there and help them in the door 'cause those trailer steps can be tricky and then I had to open the bottle of wine for them and then they would say something like, "aren't you having any?" and then, me being such a good hostess, would say, "well I wouldn't want you to feel uncomfortable, so maybe I will have a little." But in that picture up there, that is definitely Dr. Pepper in that cup.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

There is a long long span of years between the last year you believed in Santa and the first year that your own child gazes up at the Christmas tree with that wonderful look on his face and you can hear what he is thinking:

"We have a tree in our house and it has lights on it and I wonder if I can juuuuuust reach that shiny thing with the ribbon on it."

"No Mace. Not a toy. Put it back, please. Put it back. Put it back. No. Put it [BIG CRASH] dang it."

As fun and magical as this time of year is for a parent of young children, it also means certain adjustments in how you do Christmas.

Christmas Past: as you bought gifts, you wrapped them and put them under the tree.

Christmas Present: you stash them in Grandpa's closet (hoping they don't pick up any strange smells) and then only pull them out after the kids go to bed Christmas Eve, wrap like crazy, accuse your husband of not wrapping his fair share and then get irritated because his presents aren't wrapped neatly enough.



Christmas Past: you decorated the tree, taking care to place the ornaments at evenly-spaced intervals to avoid any bare spots, and making sure that each ornament was pretty and in good shape.

Christmas Present: the only ornaments at the bottom of the tree within reach of a 21-month old are "the disposables" -- meaning they were purchased several years ago as gap fillers for the tree and if they are pulled off and used as pavement material for the new road being laid in your hallway with the Tonka dump truck, it's all good and no one gets hurt.



Christmas Past: your favorite ornaments were beautiful ornaments your parents gave you when you first got married or that you bought the first year you were married when you lived in San Diego and got a bunch of Christmas ornaments for seventy percent off the day after Christmas at the San Diego Zoo.



Christmas Present: your favorite ornaments are the ornaments your five year old made the past few years in preschool and kindergarten -- you know, pieces of wrapping ribbon glued to cardboard stars with glitter clumped in the middle -- and the ornaments with pictures of the kids on them. Oh -- and the ornaments that are closest to the top of the tree (away from sticky fingers) are always the 1st Christmas, 2nd Christmas, 3rd Christmas ornaments that your sister-in-law buys for the kids every year. I know that when I'm 60, I'm going to pull those ornaments out and cry every year when I put them on the tree.


Christmas Past: you went to a Christmas Eve service at church, slept late the next morning, had a leisurely breakfast and then at about 10:00, opened the couple of gifts you got from your husband and family.

Christmas Present: you still manage to make it to a Christmas Eve service, but because there is no childcare for Christmas Eve services, you are completely stressed the entire service because you are trying to keep your youngest in your lap and he wants to go up on stage to play with that drum set that's just like daddy's. After the service, you rush home so the kids can eat and you can get PopPop dressed in that Santa suit and daddy out on the roof with the jingle bells, so that you can get the "Santa sighting" over with and the kids in bed before 9:00 and can start wrapping up all those gifts by 10:00. The next morning, everyone's up by 6:30 to unwrap what now appears to be piles and piles of gifts under and around the tree and you barely glance at your own gifts because you're so focused on catching your child's reaction to receiving a red lightsaber on your video camera.

I like Christmas Present better than Christmas Past, even though the clean-up takes three times as long and at least three ornaments die every day the tree is up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Joy of Giving

Casey: "Mom. I don't really get the joy of giving. I get the joy of getting, but not the joy of giving."

Mom: "Hmm, okay -- well, do you remember when you shopped for Mace at your little Christmas Boutique at school this year? Do you remember how you felt when you saw the truck you bought him and knew that it was a toy that he would really like? Did that make you feel happy?"

Casey: "No."

Mom: "Let's try this again. Think about Christmas morning and how you are going to feel when Mace opens up his present from you and how excited he will be -- won't that make you happy?"

Casey: "Well. I guess."

Mom: "We'll work on this again next year. At least you understand it's a concept."

Monday, December 15, 2008

P(arty) Minus 6 and Counting

So we're at P minus 6 and counting. 6 days until the 2nd Annual Flamingo Christmas Frolic and we're diligently ignoring all that needs to be done before Saturday. I've got all those dead plants to take care of, windows to clean, and piles of telephone books, CDs, random computer cables, and other miscellany piled up on the desk in the front room that has to be put away in the proper place (i.e., hidden in the hall closet on top of the pile I hid in there last year). Not to mention all those paper bags I have to fill 1/3 full with sand for the luminaries. At this very moment, Joe is finishing putting up the lights on the second story -- but I promised Winnie I would not post any more pictures of the lights on the house so that she could be surprised when she gets here on Saturday.

Aside from the fast approaching festivities, this is a really big week in the Flamingo house. Grandma Elsie came home tonight -- she's been gone since October 1st for a hip replacement in Idaho (all the best hip doctors are in Idaho, in case you didn't know). And Friday is Casey's big debut in his Kindergarten Christmas play. Casey treated me and a complete stranger to a preview of the entire performance yesterday afternoon in the front yard. He started off with his line in the play and then sang all three verses of Away in the Manger (do you know all three verses?), Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Gift Goes On. The complete stranger was somewhat taken aback by all this spontaneous performance, but Casey comes from a long line of (melo)dramatic people (on my side of the family).

In the meantime, we are business as usual here at Casa Flamingo. The children are eating super healthy dinners:


(Don't you love the irony of the disposable placemat here?)

Performing routine Goggin maintenance:


(That's right, baby, you show 'em who the tough tractor repair guy is! It's you baby!)

And reading scary dinosaur books to impressionable young children:


I know she doesn't look scared, but that book scares me.

So as you are wrapping up your Christmas shopping this week, or just getting started, as the case may be, please keep in mind that if you need to pause for a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, there is at least one Flamingo in the house who can sing you all three verses about the reason for the season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Disintegrating Toilets, Part 2: Fixit Flamingo and his Proteges

video

Well, I finally figured out how to post a video. Or maybe Heidi figured it out. Neither one of us are sure because we did it the same way today that I did yesterday and for some reason it worked today. Shortly after getting the video posted, however, Heidi and I managed to delete the video editing software from my computer and it refuses to reinstall. Apparently the version of Ulead VideoStudio I was using isn't really compatible with Vista. So, long story short, enjoy the video 'cause it might be the only one you ever see here.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Disintegrating Toilets

So I spent the afternoon trying to figure out how to post a video onto my blog and I never got it to work. I suspect that the root of the problem lies along a spectrum that has my impatience at one end and dinner at the other. I'm sure Joe could figure it out but he's busy putting lights up, trying to get the water filtration system working like it should, and generally being a handy husband. Last night he fixed the upstairs toilet. Twice. And then he fixed it again this morning.

Now that it's out in the open I don't mind telling you that our toilets break all the time. You may think that's something to be ashamed of ("Geez, what are they eating over there?"), but it's because of the nasty water we have that can eat through stainless steel. The inside parts of the toilets just disintegrate every few months. Our water is like a weapon of mass destruction -- you could just spray it over the enemy and all their guns, bombs, tanks, and humvees would evaporate, while the stink of it would make enemy soldiers fall over dead. All of our brand new faucets, our dishwasher, and now, I suspect, our washing machine, have fallen victim to Satan's water. Don't worry, I'm not going to post a photo of the inside of one of our toilets.

I was reading someone else's blog today and she referred to her husband as HWSBBA (He Who Shan't Be Blogged About). I'm pretty sure Joe wishes I had adopted that policy when I started this blog, but now it's too late. Cat's out of the bag and all that. Really. No going back. Sorry honey.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Blocks, Bubbles, and Live Bands


I know moms everywhere wonder how their toddler can look like that up there one second, and that down there the next. I wonder that, too.


I don't know why he started playing inside the block bin. I would like to tell you that there is a perfectly rational explanation for it, but the best I can come up with is that he just really likes to immerse himself in his toy experiences. You know, become one with the toys, as it were. But that's not what this post is about.

I'm not sure what this post is about, actually, aside from me trying to bust through a little writer's block. So here are some thoughts I have about bubbles. I used to like bubbles, before I had children. Don't get me wrong, the kids look awfully cute blowing bubbles:



Look at his little eyes all crossed up -- adorable. Those two photos were taken about 20 seconds before I left the boys on the porch to go inside and figure out what gourmet delicacy I was going to make for dinner ("hmmm, rice from a pouch or potatoes from a box . . . which should it be, which, which, which?"). When I stepped back outside three minutes later Mace was soaked in bubble juice from head to toe and the table was covered as well.

My first issue with bubbles: it always ends in a mess. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "Do you seriously have such bad writer's block that all you can think of to write about is how bubbles are messy when by definition bubbles are, you know, clean?" Well, you try cleaning up an entire bottle of bubbles off your porch and then you can leave me a comment about how I'm right and you are so wrong.

Now when your toddler is covered from head to toe in bubbles, he naturally does only one thing -- rubs his eyes. Which leads to my second issue with bubbles: any bubble session ends with my toddler screaming bloody murder. Now if Johnson & Johnson can figure out how to make tear-free shampoo, why can't Magic Bubble figure out how to make tear-free bubbles? The conspicuous absence of tear-free bubbles from Wal-Mart leads me to assume that tear-free bubbles wouldn't actually make bubbles -- cause haven't you noticed that the tear-free shampoo doesn't really bubble up in the bathtub? And doesn't that make you think that maybe tear-free shampoo doesn't actually work? Seems like to really work, shampoo should lather up. When Joe is channeling Monty Python, he likes to say he doesn't want to use sham-poo, he wants to use real-poo. I have to agree with him. [And every time he cracks that joke, I laugh.]

But that's not what this post is about.


This post is about Alexis, one of my church friends who is a first-rate musician with a fantastic voice. And this is about Dez, sitting down behind Alexis in the striped shirt. Dez is also a first-rate musician with a fantastic voice. Alexis and Dez and several other of our church friends attended an event tonight where there was live music. Alexis and Dez really had it rough tonight, however, because the live music (using the term loosely as you'll discover) had actually lost half of their group (and apparently their instruments and mikes) the week before. Here's the band:


The guy with the drumsticks played a skateboard and a hubcap. I can't explain the guy dressed like a banana. But the band sure tried, didn't they Alexis? Didn't they Dez? They really, really tried. Bless their hearts.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This is The Last Lighting Post, I Promise

Let me get this over with, because it's painful. Here is a photo of the pretty twinkly lights on our house -- all one color, tastefully done, worthy of Martha Stewart:


Here is Joe, feeling proud of his handiwork, basking in the glow of his wife's approval for a monochromatic job well done:


Wait a sec. What's he looking at? What is that evil sneer? Do I smell a passive aggressive traitor in our midst?


Join with me now in a moment of silence for the Martha Stewart lighting extravganza that we all should have known was never really possible.
And seriously, look at the green rope lighting underneath the trailer. The blue rope lighting on the antenna wasn't enough?

Let's move on.

This week I received alerts from half of my readers (two of them, that is) regarding a wardrobe change for trashy angel (if I could figure out how to put in a link to my November 17th post, it would be here, cause that's where I alerted you all to trashy angel's presence in our midst this holiday season). Here is her bra-less brazen hussy self in November:


And here she is today:


Though she appears to have only one pose, she clearly has a hairdresser. If she can afford a hairdresser, why can't she afford a bra? Joe insists that bras are for women who need them (the non-perky types) and according to him, Trashy Angel/Trashy Mrs. Claus doesn't need one so it's okay for her not to be wearing one. Um . . . .no. See, only after they have children do women with cup sizes C and below really need a bra. Prior to having children, women with cup sizes C and below wear bras for modesty's sake. I think we all understand what I'm saying here. No need to be graphic. Don't be too hard on Joe -- sometimes his most firmly held beliefs are only oral expressions of his wishful thinking.

But none of this rambling on about a brazen hussy's tendency to chain herself to a flagpole in front of an apartment complex explains Trashy Angel's sudden wardrobe change. I have a few guesses:

1) Those rainstorms we had last weekend created a, shall we say, "see-through" situation and traffic became snarled along Hillsborough Avenue, as (male) drivers could not keep from slowing down to see if they could assist this poor naked woman chained to a flagpole.

2) The non-Christian residents in the apartment complex complained to management about the obvious religious bias being displayed at the entrance -- a bias toward brazen hussy angels.

3) Someone really wanted to use the french maid's apron that came with their halloween costume, but it didn't go with the angel costume.

Regardless of the costume change, I love it that Trashy Angel/Trashy Mrs. Claus has to actually be chained to the flagpole, lest she run away to a "gentleman's club" on Dale Mabry Avenue or Vegas, where, at least by Joe's estimation, she would have a bright career.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Toenatopsis: A Meditation on Toes


The toes of my feet make my life so complete.
Not the hairs of my head nor my nose so neat.
I have ten little darlings to wallow in mud,
to wiggle and scream when upon them they're trud.
And what would I do without all ten of my toes?
Would I walk like a pigeon or caw like a crow?
Oh woe is me if ever I lose the ten little piggies I hide in my shoes.

(I thought it was high time I introduced you savages to some real literature. [You should be thankful I didn't post "There's a Bagel in My Backpack."] That, and I had to post something or you would email me and complain.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Everest the Elf

Last year I bought the book, The Elf on the Shelf, along with the elf. The idea behind the book is that every year Santa sends an elf to every child's house to spy on the child. Every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, the elf shows up at your house in the morning and then leaves at night while you are sleeping to report back to Santa on the child's behavior. A couple of rules come with the elf: 1) you have to name him (our elf is Everest); 2) you should talk to him (plead your case if need be); and 3) you cannot touch him. For the grown-ups, the elf comes with a duty to move him every morning to a new spot so that the children think he's really going to the North Pole and coming back every night. Quite frankly, it's a lot of pressure. A couple of times last year I had to make up outlandish stories about blizzards and flu outbreaks in the North Pole to explain why the elf was still in the same spot in the morning as he had been the day before:

Casey: "Mom, Everest didn't go to the North Pole last night!"

Mom: "Well you must have been so bad yesterday that Everest couldn't bear to go report on you to Santa. You are breaking that poor little elf's heart. He must be giving you a second chance today -- so you better be doubly good. Come in here and help me scrub this toilet."

Casey: "Yes Ma'am!!"

Here's where Everest was this morning:


Here's where he was yesterday:


(Joe thinks it's funny to put Everest in clearly uncomfortable positions -- and no, Everest is not anatomically correct; that's an elephant's trunk -- though he'd be a hit among the lady elves, I grant you that. Not that Everest is a player, mind you. I'm sure he and Mrs. Everest are very happy together. It was just a ridiculously-inappropriate-for-a-family-friendly-blog turn of speech.)

And the day before:


And the day before that:


Joe and I are doing our part in moving Everest around the house as you can see. But I think Casey is starting to catch on. Today in the car on the way to school, Casey said, "Hey Mom, have you ever noticed that Everest never blinks?" Once he starts doubting the elf, it's all downhill. Next thing you know he'll be asking me why Santa sounds so much like Pop Pop and then he'll want to know how the tooth fairy gets through the window and then he'll be wanting to know where babies come from. It's too soon. I can't take it. I have to think of a reason why Everest never blinks.

Monday, December 1, 2008


This picture says so much about my day. Just in case your mind cannot process everything happening in this one photo, please note the following: 1) car seat is not in the car; 2) car seat fabric covering is missing; 3) Mace is sans pants; 4) annoying play electric guitar is clenched tightly in his hands.

Do you ever have days when you think maybe God is trying to tell you something but you really can't put your finger on what it is? I was getting a gist of it and then the day started unraveling. The highlights: 1) our nanny put a swim diaper on Mace thinking it was a pull-up, so by the time we got home from picking Casey up from school and going by the uniform store he was soaking wet and the car seat was, too; Mace being soaked was not a big deal -- cause he can be changed -- it was the car seat cover that presented a problem and took me thirty minutes to get off the plastic base so that I could throw it in the wash; 2) Casey took off his glasses at the uniform store to look through a pair of toy binoculars and left them there, but by the time I realized it I had already dismantled the car seat so we couldn't go back to get them; 3) the rest of the day involved chili cheese hamburger helper and a very nice German couple, but if I went into all that I wouldn't have the strength to post this photo of the house:


Ooooh --- ahhhh. Sooooo prettty. I'm thinking we need to put the icicle lights up on the second story roof too, though. Joe is still insulted about the car washing comment from yesterday's post, so it looks like I'll be doing the second story lights myself.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Flamingo on Marriage

We are all feeling puny at our house today. Casey is getting over his week-long chest cold. Mace is right in the middle of his. Though it's hard to say where I am in the process, I think I'm somewhere near the beginning and Joe is about a day and a half behind me. But in spite of our fight with the green gremlins, Joe made superhuman efforts today to get the lights finished on the house:


Mace desperately wanted to help, but if I showed you the picture of him halfway up the 20 foot ladder, one of you would certainly call DCF, so I have to tell you that we didn't let him help. I took this picture right before the cold front with the driving rain and 20 mile an hour winds came through.


And I took this next picture right after it came through:


Notice anything? Yep -- Joe is still up on that ladder hanging those lights. That's my man, taking one for the team. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor whiny baby, nor slippery ladder . . .


See, I was going to hang those (white) icicle lights myself, but I've tried climbing up that ladder before and I don't even get halfway up before I start shaking and crying and Joe has to rescue me, so me hanging the lights myself was out of the question. I did the girlie job of untangling the light strands and handing them to Joe and Joe acted like he actually needed me to do it for him. That's what marriage is all about, really; two people pretending like they need each other. Only in this case I really needed him to get the lights up and he didn't need me at all. So maybe that little nugget of matrimonial wisdom doesn't play out so well. No wait -- I can make this work -- I pretend I need him to pull the ticks off the dog because I'm too grossed out to do it when really --- no, that doesn't work either, cause I really am too grossed out to pull the ticks off the dog. How about this -- I pretend I really need him to wash my car because I can't get it clean like he can -- no, that doesn't work either. I mean it really doesn't work. He never washes my car even if I pretend I need him to. So perhaps we can all agree I have no real nuggets of wisdom to offer on marriage. No surprise there.

What's wrong? Oh right. No. I don't have a picture of the house all lit up and twinkly for you tonight. So sorry -- it's still raining. I might melt if I go out there in the rain to take a picture. But if it stops raining tomorrow, I promise I'll post a picture for you.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Your Invitation to the Flamingo Family's 2nd Annual Christmas Party

Thanksgiving is over, which means it is time to kick the party preparations into high gear. What this means for you -- block out December 20th from 6-ish to 11-ish with a red magic marker as a day you may not book any other parties, illness, or out-of-town trips, as your charming and delightful presence is requested at my home that evening (if you cannot be charming and delightful, you should feel free to come, but please stop at the adult beverage trailer on your way in). You should also begin practicing singing any 80's song you happen to know and alert your in-laws that if they are already in town by then their presence will also be required (as they will be singing back-up for you).

What this means for me -- lots of cleaning, throwing away, touching up paint, annoying Joe with requests to fix the loose banister rail on the back steps and fix the kitchen faucet and finish the master bathroom and finish the trim. It also means transforming the outside of the house into a twinkly fairytale Christmas wonderland. As you recall from my previous post, this year's twinkly fairytale Christmas wonderland will be white lights only. We had to buy several new sets of white lights yesterday and today at Wal-Mart to replace the (trashy) colored lights that I let slip through the cracks last year. So this was as far as we got with the lights today:


I know -- I'm a little disappointed in our efforts today, too. But if it makes you feel better, that strand of lights goes all the way around the right side of the house and down the back steps, too. And note that the kids and I managed to get the mini-trees up by the front door(s). They were excellent helpers:


(No. I'm not pregnant, but thanks for asking.)

Nothwithstanding our rather dismal progress today, by the time you arrive on the 20th, I promise the house will be fully lit (no adult beverage trailer pun intended).

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Was Going to Post Last Night, But . . .

I was too full. Here are a few photos of our day yesterday:


I think Casey is still in those same clothes. We had a pants-optional Thanksgiving, so boxers were perfectly acceptable attire at the dinner table (I know -- you'll all be coming to my house next year). Can you see what Mace is clutching? He's been so obsessed with our keys lately that we had to give him his own set. I can't really explain why there is still a pack of toilet tissue sitting in the kitchen, though I can tell you that Mace is still playing with it (right this minute actually). We are definitely getting by with Christmas on the cheap for Mace this year: keys, toilet paper, toothbrushes and a haircut.


Here is a photo of Big Bird before he went into the oven, while he was coming to room temperature. He's still in the brine and very happy -- it reminded him of when he was in the egg as a wee bird. My solemn promise to you -- I'll never cook a turkey again without brining it. It was so very yummy. So were all of these tasty dishes:


From left to right: fresh corn with wild rice, butternut squash puree, mashed potatoes, whiskey-glazed carrots (y'all were still wondering what I used the whiskey for, weren't you? I also used it in the whiskey cream sauce for the pumpkin cake and as a cleansing agent for the keyboard of my laptop (oops!)). And I know you are waiting for a picture of Big Bird, all brown and plump and lucious and ready to eat -- and I know you Thanksgiving purists will look down on me for not having carved Big Bird at the table, but short of having three ovens, it will always be a challenge for me to get everything hot and to the table at the same time, so Big Bird was carved up about an hour earlier. Look at that -- I even polished up the silver to use!

I have to go now, because I only have an hour or so before the light sabers at Wal-Mart aren't $10 anymore. Attention Wal-Mart shoppers: Frolicking Flamingo is about to arrive not having showered -- govern yourself accordingly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

T Minus 1 and Counting

Today was the day before Thanksgiving, so there was lots to do. I made mashed potatoes, bought whiskey, made a pumpkin cake, and brined a turkey. I've never brined a turkey before, but this is how it starts:


It ended with a turkey, the brining solution, a gallon of icewater, and 6 cups of apple cider in a big plastic bag, sitting in the fridge. But what happened in the middle is the part you should be glad you missed. In spite of the fact that I had taken the turkey out of the freezer on Monday and moved it to the refrigerator, the turkey was still mostly frozen. The brining directions tell you to remove the bag of giblets from one end of the turkey, and the bag with the neck in it from the other end. Well if the darn bird is still frozen he doesn't want to give up his giblets or his neck and in this case, the neck wasn't actually in a bag, it was frozen to the inside cavity of the bird. I ran the bird under water to loosen up the bag of giblets and finally managed to work it out of the beast, but it took me a while to realize that the foot-long round disgusting thing inside the bird was actualy the neck and that I had to get it out. So I ran the water through the cavity for several minutes with my arm in the bird up to my elbow trying to get a good enough grip on the neck to pull it out. As I was doing this, I kept thinking about what a turkey neck looks like when it is still on a living turkey and not chopped off the body (and headless) and stuck to the inside of itself (yes Winnie, it would have been worse if it had still had its head). I was thoroughly grossing myself out thinking about how I was yanking on an actual turkey neck when the neck came loose with a suuuuuuuck-POP (why was there suction? why?) and I was standing there holding the neck with no turkey attached. Aack. I was so traumatized I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of the turkey sitting in the bag so that you could see that I really was channeling the Pioneer Woman today.

But I did take a picture of Mace playing with his Pop-Pop:


Apparently, Mace had gotten tired of pushing the dump truck around and around and around the house and decided to sit in it instead. What happened next is anybody's guess -- though I think tomorrow morning I will try to nail down whether Mace approached Pop-Pop with the broom and the idea or whether Pop-Pop wanted to push and just happened to have a broom in his hand (YaYa will tell you that this is unlikely).

Happy Thanksgiving!