Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Quiz

It's been a busy Christmas season and I have let things lapse here on Cherri's Jubilee. I've been busily cleaning house, shopping, wrapping gifts and addressing Christmas cards. Now, I finally have a moment to catch my breath and thought I would put together a fun little Christmas Quiz.  So, grab a #2 pencil and keep your eyes on your own paper.

Multiple Choice:

1.  What is an acceptable gift for a co-worker?
          a.  Home baked cookies
          b.  A gift card to Starbucks
          c.  Hand lotion
          d.  Racy lingerie

2.  Who invented Santa Claus?
          a.  Thomas Nast
          b.  Clement Clarke Moore
          d.  The Coca Cola Company
          e.  Rankin and Bass

3.  Did you notice there is no option C in question #2?
          a.  No
          b.  Well, I noticed it now that you mentioned it.
          c.  I noticed it right off the bat.
          d.  No, you didn't - you liar

4.  What is your favorite Christmas special?
          a.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
          b.  A Charlie Brown Christmas
          d.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas
          e.  There is no C in this question either
          f.  A Very Brady Christmas

5.  What is the most inappropriate Christmas song?
          a.  Santa Baby
          b.  Baby it's Cold Outside
          c.  Father Christmas by the Kinks
          d.  Last Christmas by Wham

6.  What were the names of the Three Wise Men?
          a.  Magi
          b.  There weren't actually 3 wise men
          c.  Gaspar, Belthasar and Melchior
          d.  Goldie, Frankie and Murray

7.  In the song The Twelve Days of Christmas, what was given on the 11th day?
          a.  Ducks a ducking
          b.  Bobbies bobbing
          c.  Kids a kidding
          d.  A box of cherry cordials

Short Essays:

8.  What is your favorite Christmas movie and why?

9.  Should presents be opened on Christmas morning or on Christmas Eve and why?

10.  Has Christmas become too commercial, as Charlie Brown said 50 years ago in his Christmas special?  If so, what has lead you to this conclusion.  If not, give evidence to support your argument.

Scoring:  Give yourself 10 points for every correct answer.

80 - 100 Points:  You are the Christmas Queen
70 - 80 Points:  You are Miss Columbia
65 - 70:  Getting a little Scroogey
50-65:  You're Mister Heat Miser
0-50:  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mall Scavenger Hunt

This year and last year, for Cissy's birthday, she and her friends did a Mall Scavenger Hunt.  Last year it was at the Galleria in Houston.  This year, we just went to our local mall. 

I had an elaborate plan for a scavenger hunt at our local outdoor shopping complex.  This place is beautiful, with fountains and statues and a duck pond and even a red British phone booth.  A local movie theater was even planning an outdoor showing of Despicable Me in the green space under the stars.  We were going to get pizza for the girls.  It was going to be perfect!
And then the rains came...  All day long on Saturday it alternately poured and misted and sprinkled and just flat out rained.  Our spirits were considerably dampened but, this is Houston so we're used to getting rained out.  I hastily formulated a Plan B, and tweaked the list for our new indoor location. 
Last year I found several scavenger hunt lists on the internet.  But you can't just print up any old list and call it done.  You have to make a homemade list taking into account the location, the age of the girls and how much time you will give them.  Will they be chaperoned?  Also remember, these are teenagers.  They go to the mall all the time, so it's got to be different, interesting and take them a little outside of their comfort zone - but in a fun way. 
When we got to the food court (the universal meeting place in any mall) I discovered that ours was not the only birthday party/scavenger hunt going on at that same moment in that same place.  Our tables were not far from a party that must have included 30 girls, about 10 or 11 years old.  Cissy is an older teen so, luckily for me and my Honey Bunch, they did not require a chaperone to go with them.  In fact, some of the things on the list might have gotten them kicked out of Bass Pro Shop or Bed, Bath and Beyond but I didn't care.  I'm not the most rule abiding mom in town. 
So, here for your enjoyment is an amalgam of all three of my lists (the Galleria list, the one for the outdoor complex and the local mall).  Feel free to use some of these ideas when you create your own scavenger hunt list for your tween or teen.

Mall Crawl Scavenger Hunt

Stuff to Get
  •            One food item not purchased or stolen (place in baggie)
  •            One piece of ice not melted (place in baggie)
  •       A make-up or bath product sample
  •       A piece of trash found on ground or table (place in baggie)
  •            A brochure or advertisement from any store
  •       A set of chopsticks
  •             A takeout menu from any restaurant
  •             A spray of perfume on card (inside baggie)
  •       The strangest item you can purchase for under $2

Stuff to Try On
  •              All team members must be wearing blue eye shadow tried on at makeup counter or store
  •             Take a group selfie of the team wearing a total of 16 tried-on items (scarves, gloves etc.)
  •             Take a picture of a mannequin with 1 team member dressed like the mannequin
  •             Take a picture of a team member dressed in men's clothing including a tie
  •             Take a group selfie of everyone wearing caps from your favorite team

Pics and Selfies
  • Take a group selfie of everyone in one dressing room
  • Take a secret picture of the other team
  •  Take a group selfie of everyone in an elevator
  • A piece of jewelry with a skull or mustache on it
  • All team members reading books (must be a book they have actually read)
  •  Take a picture of 2 team members looking over the railing from one level above
  •  Take a secret picture of Cissy’s parents
  •  Take a picture of 1 team member posing next to a new car like a car show model
  • All team members, except the photographer, having a pillow fight
  •  All team members (except the photographer) posing with an animal statue and acting like the statue
  •   Build a lego structure taller than Cissy's head and take a picture of it next to her head
  •   Take a picture of a live animal that starts with the letter "D"
  •   Take a group selfie where everyone is holding an item showing their favorite Disney character
  •  Take a picture of a price tag for an item costing over $100
  •   Take a picture of an item shaped like Texas
  •  Take a group selfie where everyone has some part of their body in the red phone phone booth (or a tent at Bass Pro Shop)
  •  Take a picture of a Christmas item
  • Group selfie with an employee from a store or restaurant
  • Take a photo of 2 team members “fighting” over a pair of lacy red panties, each pulling one side.
  • Take a picture of something your grandma does not want for Christmas
  • 1 team member standing out in the rain
  • 1 team member talking with a kiosk person
  •       Ask a stranger to take a group photo of everyone
  • Take a picture of 1 team member lying on a bench like they’re asleep
  • 2 Team members on a boat looking down at 1 team member reaching up like they have fallen overboard (with realistic shocked and worried looks)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Grievances & Candy Hacks

No, this is not a blog about how to eat Halloween candy and not gain weight.  That, unfortunately, is just not possible.  Actually, this is a blog about Trick-or-Treating etiquette and also, the best ways to enjoy your huge sack of candy.

Firstly, the question that comes around every year:  How old is too old for trick or treating?  I say 12 or 13 should be the stopping point.  If your child is reluctant to give up this tradition of accepting free candy from strangers, set a limit.  Tell them, 13 is the cut-off or 8th grade is the cut-off.  If they have younger siblings, neighbors, cousins, etc. they could take the younger kids trick-or-treating and dress up themselves but not ask for any candy.  When offered, they may graciously accept but they should not demand candy.  Of course that's just my opinion.

When my oldest, Buffy, was in High School she and her friends would still trick-or-treat for canned food items to donate to the local Food Pantry.  I thought that was a great idea to continue the fun of dressing up and going out on Halloween night but not to be that annoying teenager who is still trick-or-treating in a lame costume (or no costume) and a pillowcase for a treat bag.  Put in some effort, Dude!

Since we're on the subject, I believe that every kid, no matter what age, should be in costume if they are going to trick or treat. Jeans and a T-shirt do not cut it unless the jeans are ripped up and covered in fake blood or in some way part of their costume.

And how late is too late?  Easy - 9pm is the absolute latest time anyone should be out trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  Try to knock off around 8:30pm if possible.  Do not ring the bell after 9pm.  Also, do not go up to a house that isn't lit.  This should be common sense but we had an incident a few Halloweens ago.  It was 10pm.  Our porch light was off.  Buffy and Cissy were little then and safely in bed after their exhausting night of trick or treating.  The Honey Bunch and I were eye-balling the remains of the candy bowl.  The doorbell rang.  I crept up to the peephole and there, in the dark stood a very tall murderer from the movie Scream with the black hood and the white ghost face.  I wasn't sure whether to open the door and offer candy or perhaps, call the police.  We took a chance and opened the door and in a deep, teenage boy voice from beneath the mask we heard, "Trick or Treat."  He got his candy and went on his way but Yikes! 

The following Halloween I implemented the two bowl system.  One bowl contains the good candy, fun-size chocolate bars, mini packs of M&Ms etc.  This bowl is for the kids in cute or clever costumes (or any costume really) and are of an appropriate trick-or-treating age, ie - the little kids.  The other bowl has the crappy candy that comes in a huge sack for $2.  It's the off-brand smarties and wanna-be Jolly Ranchers.  No chocolate in this bowl.  The candy in this bowl is for the kids taller than me with no discernible costume.  Sorry, not sorry.

Another disturbing trend I've seen is groups of people trolling the neighborhood, driving slow with van-loads full of kiddos.  They don't even live in my neighborhood!  This baffles me because, we're not in a posh area, just normal middle-class.  If you watch the show The Middle, that's exactly like my house and all the other houses in this area.  Nobody should be bringing in car-loads of kids from the projects to get the good candy from me - go to the ritzier suburbs folks.  And - sometimes they have an extra bag for, "my friend who couldn't come."  Oh Hell No - let them get their own damn candy.  That kid is probably trick or treating one street over with an extra bag himself. 

Okay - one more complaint and then I'll stop airing my Halloween grievances.  People who give out religious pamphlets instead of candy.  If your religion is one that does not participate in Halloween, then that is your right.  If so, just cut off the lights and lock the doors.  Go to the back room and watch TV and forget that the neighborhood is full of little heathens wandering the streets.  DO NOT - hand my precious baby girl, who is dressed as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books, a religious tract telling her that Halloween is evil and stories like Harry Potter are evil.  Can you tell that this actually happened to us a few years back?  I know who did it too and I have not forgotten.

Okay, enough griping.  Here are some Halloween Candy strategies from my friends, family and co-workers:
  1. Eat candy corn with peanuts and it tastes just like a PayDay candy bar.
  2. Eat a green apple with caramels and you get the flavor of a caramel apple without the hassle of making them. 
  3. Take a bite of a marshmallow peep ghost and a bite of a mini Hershey bar.  Delicious.
  4. Dip your Cheetos into chocolate pudding.  (actually this sounds kind of gross, also it's not technically candy)
  5. My Mom and a few of my colleagues agree:  If it ain't chocolate, it ain't real candy, don't waste your time and your calories.
Lastly, here is some advice from Cissy on how to savor your Halloween haul:

" After you get home, trade with your friends for the candies you like best.  Then, mix it up, don't eat all the good stuff right off the bat, have a few chocolate bars and then try some smarties or starburst.  In fact, save a few of your favorite candy bars until the end, that way you won't get stuck with nothing but Mike & Ike's.

Happy Halloween!  Be safe, be smart, have fun!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hoarder Confessions

Cleaning out the bedroom closet is never a fun prospect.  This time I'm taking it in short bursts of about 2 or 3 hours each weekend.  I've finally found the floor and the back wall.  Along the way I've come across several dust-covered items we've been hoarding for a number of years for NO GOOD REASON.

Here, in no particular order, are my top closet finds which are now firmly placed in the trash or the give-away box:

  1. Tote Bags - I found about 50 tote bags from various places we have worked, clubs we've been in and vacations we've taken.  I donated them but, honestly, if I don't want a tote bag from the M.T. Packaging Company, why would a stranger pick that up in the thrift store and say, "it's just the thing I've been looking for!"
  2. Empty Shoe Boxes - Around 30 empty shoe boxes, some small enough for the little-tiny shoes worn by a 5-year-old.  My kiddos are in their late teens now.  What on earth was I saving them for?  Shoe box dioramas? 
  3. Worn out handbags - There were only 10 of these.  I guess I thought I would decide to use them again someday, despite the frayed straps. Donated, but again, who's going to want them?
  4. An old broken guitar - The Honey-Bunch collects guitars.  This one, however, was a broken garage-sale find from over 20 years ago.  He originally intended to have his Pete Townshend moment by smashing it on stage back when he was in a band.  Another missed opportunity. (sigh)
  5. Stuffed animals from the 1980s - Some have been donated.  Others I'm thinking about selling on E-Bay, if there's a market for Opus and Garfield.  
  6. A Cat Calendar dated 1991 - I just could not part with those cute little kitties... until now.  
  7. Old Shoes - too many to count, some without mates, many crumbling from old age.  One pair was at least 50 years old.  It had belonged to Honey-Bunch's father back in the 1960s.  Was I saving them for a shoe bonfire?  I remember reading that burning shoes was a good way to get rid of ghosts. 
  8. Coat Hangers - We have not heeded the words of Faye Dunaway as Mommie Dearest, "No wire hangers ever!"  Instead, we have been hoarding the world's supply of wire hangers.  Some I put in a box to donate.  Some I will return to the dry cleaners.  
I think I better stop now before somebody stages an intervention.  I'm getting better.  I've let go of a lot of baggage this week, literally.  I only saved about 10 tote bags.  You never know, I might need them someday.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have a Good Time for a Good Cause

So, you bought a costume for the office Halloween party and maybe you’re looking for more opportunities to wear the thing.  Or, maybe you’re just looking for something fun and different to do this weekend.  Well, if you live in the Houston or Katy area, you are in luck. The rockin’ist Halloween party in town is the 4th Annual Charity Boo Bash, this Saturday, October 24, at 6:00pm.  The location is the Mason Creek Community Center at 20201 Kingsland Blvd in Katy.  Tickets for the Boo Bash are $75 if purchased in advance and $100 at the door. Register online at www.mikshiddenhearts.org.  All proceeds benefit Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance (MHHA) for teens with Dysautonomia and other Hidden Illnesses (more about that later).

I’ve been to the Boo Bash the last couple of years and, let me tell you, it is an amazingly fun party. The costumes are top-notch so be prepared to dress up. There’s even a costume contest with some pretty awesome prizes so make an effort – or don’t – you’ll still have fun.  My Honey Bunch always wears a suit.  Last year he “stabbed” a box of Frosted Flakes with a huge plastic knife and went as a Cereal Killer….  get it?  But I’ve seen it all at the Boo Bash, witches, ghosts, zombies and then there’s the non-traditional but very creative costumes, such as Fred and Wilma Flintstone, superheroes, Beetlejuice, or even a Refrigerator.

The Boo Bash is an exciting evening for adults, with a delectable dinner from the Saltgrass Steak House, yummy deserts provided by an award winning baker, beer and wine and some fantastic prizes.  DJ Johnny Bravo will be there, so you can dance the night away.  There’s even going to be a totally awesome band, 80 Proof, so we can rock out to the hits of the 80s!

 And then, there’s the PRIZES!!  I’ve never been to a charity event with so many ways to score fabulous prizes. There’s a silent auction, a live auction, a raffle, a prize pull (ahem, wine pull), a 50/50 cash give-away, and the aforementioned costume contest.  You could walk away with more swag than you can fit in your car.  Last year the Honey Bunch and I almost won the bidding for a week’s stay in a swanky condo in Destin Florida.  Almost.  We did, however, get a lot of our Christmas shopping out of the way with some of the gorgeous silent auction items – jewelry, Aggie memorabilia, and some top-of-the-line bath products. This year, there are even more fantastic prizes at the Boo Bash including, the getaway in Destin, a Messina Hof wine tour, a tricked-out barbecue grill, a craft beer kit, a year of coffee (that one's mine), a year of date-nights, a family membership to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a gift basket from the No Label Brewery. There's a lot more that I don't have room to mention. Checks and credit cards are accepted.

All of this is for Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance, a charity I feel strongly about. MHHA is a non-profit organization that reaches out to homebound and hospitalized teens with dysautonomia and other hidden, life changing illnesses. It was founded in 2011 by a remarkable teenager, Mikaela Aschoff. She fell ill with dysautonomia in her freshman year of high school and her life has never been the same. You can read her incredible story at the website above. MHHA provides gifts, hope kits, and monthly socials for these chronically ill young people as well as the annual Anti-PROM, a formal dinner and casino-night party for teens affected by hidden illnesses. These kids often don’t have the chance to get-together with friends and just hang-out and be a teenager. The social events and the Anti-Prom provide a much needed break from doctors, treatments and hospital visits. The smiles I’ve seen on these kids at the Anti-PROM are so joyful.

MHHA also works to spread awareness of Dysautonomia, which is considered a “hidden illness” because the sufferers often look healthy to the casual observer. It’s a complex condition caused by a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system and can affect the cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic and gastrointestinal systems. Dysautonomia can cause very painful and debilitating symptoms.

I hope you’ll join me at this year’s Boo Bash. It’s the most fun you’ll have in a costume this year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Know-It-Alls Love the Internet

Know-It-Alls love the internet, especially Google, Wikipedia and IMDB.  As a recovering Know-It-All myself I find it gratifying to finally be able to win an argument by having the proof at hand, literally.

Before the internet and smart phones existed, people just had to argue it out until somebody got tired of it, or it was time to go, but the argument never really got resolved.  The hopelessly misinformed went along their merry, blissfully ignorant way, believing themselves to be right when in fact, they were dead wrong. The know-it-alls were left to ponder where they could get their hands on some proof of what they knew to be true, and how to bring up the subject again at some future time. It was frustrating.

Now, however, the proof is at your fingertips. In any disagreement you can simply whip out your phone, key in a few details and voila - instant factual corroboration. Like magic.  The misinformed are now left humbled, speechless and feeling rather foolish as you bask in the victory of your superior knowledge.

Of course, some people find us know-it-alls annoying, though I can't think why?  Here are some recent misconceptions that I was able to correct, and no one even thanked me.
  1. Kate Middleton is a Duchess, not a Princess.
  2. There never was a Ura Hogg.  Ima Hogg did not have a sister, only brothers.
  3. If you are being pretentious, you are highfalutin, not high pollutin'.
  4. If you would rather stay home and skip the party, you are acting like a hermit, not a kermit.
  5. When you write, "he does not want to be apart of their group," you have pretty much said he does not want to be away from their group when what you meant was, he does not want to be in their group.  
  6. The movie Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand had a sequel called Funny Lady, which was released in 1975, also starring Barbra Streisand.
  7. People who correct your grammar are not Nazis.  They are helpful friends who should be thanked. 
I will close with a quote from Ricky Gervais, "Some of you are really smart.  You know who you are.  Some of you are really thick.  Unfortunately, you don't know who you are."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keeping Away from the Kardashians

Keeping away from the Kardashians is impossible.

I Kould not Kare less about the Kardashians, or as I like to call them, the KKK family.  (Because all the kids have names that start with K, get it? .... oh, never mind.)

Anyway, I am frequently annoyed by the constant bombardment of news about, pictures of, and general incessant coverage of these people.  I know their so-called reality show has been on the air since before we all had mobile phones.  They are inescapable, believe me, I've tried. If you own a television, a computer or go to the grocery store you will have seen and heard about the Kardashians in much more detail than you would like.

In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the U.S. who has not been exposed to naked pictures of Kim Kardashian's butt. It was on the cover of a magazine, for cripes sake.  Get your butt out of my face, Kim!!

I've had my fill of the Kardashians and I've never even watched their program. I don't care about their marriages, their divorces, their babies, their clothing or lack thereof. I don't care about any of it!  I long for the day when the word "Kardashian" leaves our lexicon and we are all blissfully ignorant of their on-going drama.

And yes, that goes for Caitlyn too. 

Don't get me wrong, I support the LGBT and sometimes Y community.  Not financially or anything, but I'm all in favor of people being true to who they are and wearing what they want and feeling comfortable in their sparkly ball gowns and 5-inch-heels.  After all, what woman doesn't feel comfortable in 5-inch-heels?  If you "identify" as a hot-young super-model then more power to you, Caitlyn. If you can afford all manner of plastic surgeries to make your body fit who you are on the inside, then that is your right. 

But enough already.  In 2015 it seemed like Bruce Jenner was on the cover of People magazine every other week, more often than the royal family.  Then he became Caitlyn and there was another slew of cover stories about that.  For somebody who claims to be a private person, Caitlyn sure does put herself out there.  There was the prime time Diane Sawyer interview, the cover of Vanity Fair, and now Cait has her own reality show.  How private is that?

I'm not a hater.  I'm just not interested in this he-said/she-said bitch fest.  I would love it if I could have a day free of Jenners and Kardashians.  Is that too much to ask?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Miley Cyrus' Tongue

As a long time subscriber to People Magazine, I consider it to be a cut above the trashy tabloids. The reporting is accurate and attributed to reputable sources; they don't print rumors or speculate about cheating scandals or possible baby bumps. Even so, it must be a sign that I'm getting old or out of touch when I've never even heard of many of the "celebrities" they report on.

Then there are the really annoying "stars" that grace the cover and the pages of People all too often. The overabundance of coverage they give to some so-called celebs gets on my nerves. I'm sick of seeing them in People or anywhere else for that matter. The winner for most annoying, over exposed media darling is......

Miley Cyrus' Tongue:  With her money-making Disney persona, Hannah Montana, long dead, Miley wants to show off her body parts so everyone can see just exactly how grown up she is. None of her parts are more irritating than her tongue. Not even the twerking is as off-putting. For a self-professed grown-up, Miley sure does stick out her tongue a lot.

I for one am sick of seeing this tongue in photos. You can't open an issue of People without being subjected to Miley's pink appendage.  Keep it in your mouth, Miley!!

(Sidebar - if I ever did meet Miley, I would totally call her Hannah Montana just to mess with her)
Being that I am not a fan or a follower of Miley, I had no idea about the scope of this tongue problem. It's not just her go-to pose, it's a big deal.

She's in a short film called Tongue Tied which you can watch on-line, although I don't recommend it. Surprisingly, it doesn't feature her tongue as much as her other nearly naked body parts. Perv warning - it's not erotic, just weird. But then, if you're a perv you've already seen it and you're not reading this so.... never mind.

In her last world tour she even rode down a huge tongue slide protruding from a massive cartoon of her face. A tongue slide?  I had no idea.

Sticking her tongue out is Hannah's, I mean Miley's, signature move. A couple of year's ago Barbara Walters asked her, "why the tongue?" (I'm paraphrasing.)  She replied that she felt so embarrassed having her picture taken by so many paparazzi that she felt awkward and didn't know how to smile. Yeah, right.  Her name is a mispronunciation of Smiley (if memory serves). The most photographed woman of the 21st century and she feels awkward and embarrassed. Puh-leeze.

Now, the tongue has T-shirts and copycat selfies and an artist in Britain has painted a portrait of Miley using his own tongue as the brush. This tongue thing is bigger than all of us.  It's madness!

I envision a huge tongue coursing down the streets of New York, knocking over sky-scrapers, crushing cars and leaving a river of slobber in its wake. Innocent citizens will be running for their lives while the Avengers shake their fists at it and say, "We're not licked yet!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Journey of 1000 Miles

You may have heard this inspirational phrase or seen it on a poster or a meme or on Pinterest:

 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ~ Laozi

You may think it's a quote from Confucius but, you would be wrong.  It's Laozi.  I know, I Googled it.
I have never found this quote to be inspiring.  What is the thinking here?  Oh, it's only one step.  I thought it was a whole lot more.  Well, sign me up for that 1000 mile journey then because the next 9,999,999 steps will be easy peasy. 
You heard right, it takes 10 million steps to go 1000 miles.  I did the math.  Why are we walking that distance anyway?  It's too far.  Let's take a plane. 
I think we should change the phrase to: 
A journey across the room begins with a single step

I realize this phrase is supposed to encourage people to try something new, to take that first step.  I however have always thought about the rest of the process - because I'm looking at the big picture.  How many false starts have you had?  I've had quite a few.  I take the first step and several more and find that I can not complete the journey so, this phrase does not do it for me.

People are always saying, "start something new." I say, "finish what you already started."

Speaking of 1000 miles, remember that song by the Proclaimers?  Those Scottish twins? 
I would walk 500 miles and
I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door

That's a lot of walking.  And, if you now have that song stuck in your head, then my work here is done.  This will all have been worth it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

You're Being Anal

My friends and I were having lunch in the break room the other day.  For the sake of protecting their identity, let's call my friends Frick and Frack.

Discussing the incorrect behavior of others is a fun group activity which we all enjoy and today was no exception.  Frack was complaining about someone, I forget who it was, but she was going into some detail about this person's transgressions against her.  Then, Frack said, "He was being anal, you know what I mean?"

Well, I thought I did.  It's the 2nd in Freud's stages of development.  Having majored in Psychology, at least I know that much.  People who have an "Anal" personality are usually compulsive and overly controlling, they like things just so.

Also, being a long-time fan of Saturday Night Live, I remember Phil Hartman's Anal Retentive Chef, obsessively wrapping and sealing every piece of trash.

I also remember the many times I watched the movie Annie Hall, in which Diane Keaton says to Woody Allen, "Anal is a nice word for what you are."  So yeah, I knew what being "anal" meant.  Or so I thought.

Frack kept on asking if I knew what she meant.  I kept on replying in the affirmative as did Frick.  But Frack was suspicious that we were clueless.

She kept saying, "you know what "anal" means, don't you?"

I said, "it means someone who's a control freak and very fastidious."

"No," Frack replied, "it means they're being an asshole."

Frick and I were quick to correct her.  "That's not what it means," I said.

Frick chimed in, "It's like Anal Retentative, someone who's a neat freak - haven't you ever heard of Anal Retentative?"

That's right, folks, there's an extra syllable in there.  Re-ten-TA-tive.

By now I was pretty annoyed with both of them.  "It's not pronounced Re-ten-TA-tive, it's just retentive and it does not mean being an asshole, it's one of Freud's stages of development."

Frack would not be corrected, "No, it means you're an asshole, don't you know that?"

I said, "Don't talk to me about Anal, I majored in Psychology, I have a bachelors degree in Anal!"

That did not come out right.  There was a moment of silence....  followed by a fit of giggles.  Yep, we may be a bunch of middle-aged women but we have the sense of humor of 12-year-old boys.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Open Mouth, Insert Foot - Conversational Dead-Ends

We've all done it, said something we regret. Something that brings the conversation to a screeching halt, followed by awkward silence and the sound of crickets chirping. It's a conversational dead-end.
I frequently find myself saying the wrong thing.  My very wise father-in-law once said, "don't open your mouth unless you're changing feet."  While I can't offer a cure for foot-in-mouth disease, there are a few common phrases that are almost never a good idea.

  1. Lighten up - It may seem like a good idea to say this when you're friend is getting all hot and bothered about something.  They're raging and you want to calm them down.  You say, "lighten up, buddy, it's okay."  But think about it, does this ever work?  Do they ever just calm down and get over it?  No.  Instead they now direct some of their anger at you.  Here's why.  They are upset - whatever they're griping about is important to them.  You have essentially said, "your problem is not important, you're just making a big deal out of nothing." That's never a message people take kindly to.  A better response - get on board.  Agree with them.  Say, "You're right, I can't believe those jerks, how can they be so stupid, I HATE them and I hope they DIE."  (okay, maybe that's going a little bit too far but you get the idea)
  2. Welcome to my world - think about the times you've had this said to you and how it made you feel.  Did you feel welcome?  Didn't think so.  Typically, this comes after a complaint has been lodged.  Your friend airs her/his grievances and you say, "welcome to my world."  Basically, this translates as, "you think you've got it bad, hah! I deal with that kind of crap all the time."   It's never a welcome phrase.  What your friend really wants is commiseration and empathy.  You still get to join in the complaining but drop the one-upmanship. Say, "Oh I know, that really sucks, I hate it when that happens."
  3. It is what it is - who's the genius that came up with this one?  We know it wasn't Bill Clinton.  People say this all the time in reference to their friend's or even their own complaints.  I may be alone in this opinion (a common occurrence). This phrase usually comes after someone discusses a bad situation.  For example, "the boss is making us work on Saturday this week, I hate working on Saturday, it's not fair!"  Then the friend/co-worker/stranger on the street will shrug their shoulders, throw up their hands in defeat and say, "It is what it is."  Brilliant!  This means, "yeah, it sucks but there's nothing you can do about it so just accept it."  For some reason, this always grates on my nerves.  I want to say, "NO - it's not okay - I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"  But maybe that's just me. 
So, let's hear it.  What are some phrases that get on your nerves?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Women Over 50 - I'm in Good Company

My uncle told me yesterday, "You know you're getting old when people start saying, You're looking good rather than you're good-looking."

One way to feel better about getting older is to list some good-looking celebrities who are the same age or older than you.  It's hard to find some that will actually admit their advanced years but they are out there.  Back when I turned 40 I began noticing celebs who I thought were my age were now suddenly only 35.  I don't know how they got away with that, having played high school students in the 80s but hey, I'm not here to judge...  Okay, I'm totally here to judge but that's not the point.

I'm taking a cue from Steve Martin in Father of the Bride, who had his secretary research celebs who were older than him, such as Mick Jagger.  We don't need a secretary though, because we have IMDB.

So here are some talented women who are either turning 50 this year or have passed that milestone in the last few years but still manage to look amazing:

1.  Viola Davis - on the cover of AARP - she owns it
2.  Shania Twain - with whom I share a Birthday
3.  Elle McPherson - still drop-dead gorgeous at 51
4.  Sandra Bullock - People Magazine's Most Beautiful Woman 2015 at the age of 51
5.  Courteney Cox - Your friend and mine, born in 1964
6.  Sheryl Crow - At 53 she still has a golden voice to go with her golden tresses
7.  J.K. Rowling - One month older than me, and not bad looking for a writer
8.  Brooke Sheilds - Like me, born in 1965, I feel like we grew up together
9.  Vanessa Williams - Fabulous at 52
10.  Mary-Louise Parker - One year older than me and my favorite suburban pot dealer
11.  Sarah Jessica Parker - Also born in 1965, she will always be a square peg to me

Yes, my list goes to eleven.  There are many more famous women over 50 but these are several I admire.  I was hoping to put Salma Hayek and Halle Berry on the list but, alas, they are only spring chickens at just 49.  We'll get you next year, my pretties.

Now, I can't fool myself into thinking I look as good as these ladies.  But, maybe I could look that good if I had piles of money and a team of experts at my beck and call. Let's compare:

  • They have personal trainers ~ I have Aqua Zumba
  • They have make-up artists ~ I have Maybelline 
  • They have hair stylists ~ I have Loreal
  • They have designer clothes ~ I have mom-jeans from Walmart
  • They have personal chefs ~ I have Lean Cuisine

All in all, not too shabby.  I can work with it.  I've heard that comparison is the thief of joy but not if you have good excuses. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 Hard Truths About Dieting

Disclaimer:  This is not dieting or weight loss advice. I am the last person to be giving anyone advice on how to lose weight.  I am not an expert.  I am not a doctor.  I don't even play a doctor on TV.

However, as a chronic dieter, I have found these truths to be self-evident to me, if not to the general public.

Additional Disclaimer:  For the purposes of this post I will refer to overweight humans as "fat." This is not meant to offend anyone.  If you think it's wrong for a fat person to be called fat by anyone, including themselves, then we are just going to have to agree to disagree on that. "Fat" is not a dirty word.  It does not denote self-loathing.  It's just a word which, in this context, means excess poundage upon one’s frame.  I'm not going to sugar coat it, ahem, Splenda coat it, by coming up with seemingly non-offensive terms such as pleasantly plump or plus-size or she's got a great personality.  If the word “fat” hurts your precious little self-esteem then, go have a cookie and you’ll feel better.

Hard Truth #1:  There is no “Ah Ha” Moment

I have often heard people ask a dieter, usually a dieter who has had some success, "What was your Ah Ha moment?"  You may hear this on TV, perhaps in an infomercial for a weight-loss plan in which some D-List celebrity is asking some "regular person like yourselves" what spurred them to try (insert whatever miraculous diet plan they are selling).

They are asking for that one and only, bright-shining, pivotal, life-changing, split second in time when the dieter had an epiphany, if you will.  The fat person suddenly and without warning came to the realization that, “Holy cow, I’m Fat.!!!”  As if it had never occurred to them before.

You will hear the successful dieter give answers like:
·        I saw my reflection in a shop window and couldn’t believe how fat I was
·        I saw myself in some holiday photos and couldn’t believe how fat I was
·        I got on a scale at the doctor’s office and couldn’t believe how fat I was

You get the picture. The thing is – there is no Ah Ha moment.  Fat people know they are fat.  It didn’t sneak up on them and then suddenly, “who’s that fat person in the mirror?”  They know they should lose weight.  They’ve known it for some time now. 

There are actually several moments when the fat person is reminded of the fact that they are, indeed, fat.  But there is no one moment that changes everything. Just like there is no one and only decision to lose weight. (but that’s another story)

Hard Truth #2:  You WILL Feel Hungry

I don’t know of any diet out there that doesn’t make the claim that you won’t feel hungry.  It’s a lie.

You will most assuredly feel hungry.  If you are reducing the volume of food you put in your stomach, it will retaliate with hunger pains (or is it pangs?).  That’s just basic science, ya’ll.

Don’t panic.  It’s not the end of the world.  Think of those hunger pains as pounds vacating the premises.  Ignore them.  You’re a grown-up.  You can take it.  If it’s really too much for you, eat a banana and move on.

Bottom line is, do not go into a diet plan thinking that you will never feel hungry.  You will feel hungry every day, especially for the first two weeks of a new diet plan.  After that, it gets easier.  Also, the hunger may make you grouchy.  You, and those around you, will just have to put up with it.

Hard Truth #3:  There are No Shortcuts

Sticking to a diet is not easy. We all want it to be easy. We all want someone or something to do it for us. That’s why the weight loss industry makes billions of dollars. Our hard-earned dollars! 

Nothing will do it for you.  No weight loss plan, no diet pill, no drink mix, no packaged meals, and no weekly meetings will do it for you.  Some of these things may help you but, in the long-run it’s all down to you. Weight watchers will give you plenty of tips and support but YOU are the one who has to do the work, the shopping and the chopping.  YOU have to go to the grocery store and bypass the Hostess cupcakes to get to the produce.  YOU have to drag yourself to the gym when you don’t have time or energy or motivation to do so.  YOU have to deny yourself cheetoes in favor of iced water.  It’s all down to you.

There you have it.  My 3 Hard Truths.  I hope I haven’t discouraged anyone.  Perhaps you have a hard truth of your own to share.

Monday, August 31, 2015

50 x 50 Bucket List Revisited

Well, my Big 5 - 0 has come and gone.  It was awesome!  My celebrations were many and various including:  a scrapbooking convention, a pizza party, a spa day and a trip to the theatre to see a melodrama.  Yeah, I mostly planned my own celebrations, which is totally the way to do things ya'll.  I mean, who else knows exactly what you want as well as you do?  This is why I purchased several of my own presents as well.

Now, it's time to take stock.  Remember my 50 x 50 Bucket List?  It was 50 things to do before I turn 50.  Here is a quick review:

50 Things to do Before I Turn 50

  1. Buy myself 5 Presents 
  2. Do 5 Fun Things 
  3. Organize for 5 Hours 
  4. Scrapbooking for 5 Hours
  5. Writing for 5 Hours 
  6. Try 5 New Things
  7. Re-Connect with 5 Old Friends 
  8. Pampering - 5 Things 
  9. 5 Health Goals 
  10. 5 Spiritual Self-Improvement Goals 

So, how did I do?  Well, unlike my advancing years, I didn't quite make it to 50.  Let's do the math, shall we?

10 points for #1 and #2 - I was all over the presents and the fun.  In fact, I did 5 fun things just this past weekend.  

Only 2 points for #3.  2 months ago I spent 2 hours organizing some of the stuff in my bedroom.  That was it, I never got back to it.  FAIL!
I managed to knock out items #4-8 for a total of 25 points!  Again, I am all over the fun stuff.  Totally nailed it.  I tried new things, I scrapbooked at the convention, I got together with old friends and then there was the spa day.  

My wonderful Mom got us both spa packages and it was A-MAH-ZING!  Why have I not been getting facials all my life?  We went to Highland Spa in Katy, TX so, next time you want to treat yourself, that is the place to go.  

Writing for 5 hours happened basically every week.  I did not find the time to work on my novel, though.  So that will have to be a goal for my next bucket list.  Yes, I've been working on a novel, not recently but I do have several chapters written.  It's a murder mystery set in a small Texas town.  Thanks for asking.  

Then we come to number 9 - total FAIL, zero points.  (insert frowny face here).  I did not manage to meet my weight loss goal but I get partial credit for losing 23 pounds.  If any of you are curious about how I managed to lose 23 pounds in only 4 short months (that is not rapid weight loss people) then I will reveal my amazing weight loss secret.

Drum roll please.........

The secret to slow and steady weight loss is.......

               Diet and exercise!

Kind of anti-climactic, right?

Anyway, it wasn't as much as I was hoping for.  Also, I had hoped to accomplish a few other feats of physical fitness which did not happen.  The best that could be said is that I did attend water aerobics classes as often as I could.  Every so often the pool at the YMCA was closed because of thunder storms.  I took this as a sign from God that I was not meant to exercise on that day.

And finally, #10 - I give myself 3 points - 1 for Bible study, 1 for a daily devotional and 1 for daily prayer.  I fell short in journaling and actually reading the Bible.  

So, where does that leave me?  40 points - only 10 points shy of my goal.  So, my areas of improvement are in cleaning house, losing weight and being a good Christian who journals also.  

Hmmm,  I feel another bucket list coming on.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

10 Things I Hate About Back to School

One more week until school starts.  Teachers go back Monday though so Summer is essentially over, despite the high temperatures.

Whereas many stay-at-home Mommies are celebrating the fact that their days will now be free of kiddos and they will have the house all to themselves again, us stay-at-work Mommies are dreading all the hassle that comes with the school year.  I actually had a friend that would throw a little party for the Moms every year on the first day of school. After the first-day-pics had been taken and all the backpacks zipped and everybody safely ensconced inside the schoolhouse, she would invite everyone over to her house and serve cocktails.  I was quite jealous that I had to be at work and missed out on the festivities.

Those Moms did not seem at all bothered by all the frenzied hustle and bustle of back to school. As for me, I hate it.  Here is why I am dreading Back-to-School:

1.  Back to School sales start in early July - This ruins the second half of the Summer.  Just seeing the displays in the stores causes a wave of dread for my girls. They moan and groan and carry on like it's the end of the world. Retailers:  How about instead of "Back to School" run an "It's Still Summer!" campaign with even more swimsuits, flip flops and tote bags?

2.  My oldest is going back to college - It's been really nice having Buffy home for the Summer and I will miss her.I'm not as much of a basket case as I was last year, when she was leaving for the first time. This year I am simply a blubbering idiot, alternating between kissing her on the forehead and nagging her to pack her stuff.

3.  Buying School Supplies - This is actually no longer a hassle now that Buffy is in college and Cissy is in High School, but for all of you with elementary age kids, I feel your pain.  You are given a ridiculous list of hard to find, very specific items.  Your options are, buy the pre-packaged supplies from the PTA which cost around $80, or drive all over town in a scavenger hunt for the supplies. My advice to you is this - shell out the $80 and forget about it. It's not worth the aggravation of checking every Walmart and Target in a 30 mile radius. Also, don't let your precious angel pick out the perfect super-hero pencil box because she (or he) will not get to keep that box.  The teacher just takes up all the supplies and redistributes them anyway. It's an early lesson in communism.
We learned not to buy the package deal in Jr. High when Buffy told me they didn't need all that stuff, just a few notebooks and folders.  Since then, we wait until after the first day to go get what they really need.

4.  Schedule Problems - In High School, this can be a nightmare. If your kid is doing more than one activity, fine arts program or sports, their schedule will always have problems. Just once I would like to have the start of the school year without a phone call from the counselor asking me, "does Cissy really have to play the cello?"

5.  After School Activities - Out here in the suburbs, after school activities are a status thing. If your kid isn't in at least one activity every night then you feel like an inadequate parent. Logistically, this is the real scheduling nightmare:  How are you going to drop Buffy off at gymnastics, take Cissy to piano lessons, pick up a "healthy" dinner at the drive through, then get Buffy back home so she can finish building the Alamo out of popsicle sticks and take Cissy to soccer practice while listening to her whine that she doesn't have the socks that go with her uniform. You have to be a criminal mastermind to pull this all together, let alone pay for it. My husband and I were run ragged carting kids and the appropriate equipment all over the place.  Luckily, by high-school age they quit doing a lot of this extra crap and focus on only one or two major things (see #4)

6.  Forms to fill out - lots of them.  In the computer age you would think there wouldn't be so much paper brought home on the first day.  You would be wrong.  What gets me is, we have lived in the same house the entire time my kids have been in school.  The address is exactly the same as last year and every year before that.  They already have all this information.  One form I had to fill out had me writing my address and phone number on the same sheet of  paper in four different places.  I got snarky with that one - I kept writing "same as above" and drawing big arrows.  Yeah, that'll show 'em.

7.  Building the Alamo out of Popsicle sticks - Who came up with this stupid idea?  What does this teach anybody?  Elementary school teachers:  stop assigning our kids to build solar systems or shoebox dioramas or replicas of Notre Dame.  It's a huge, frustrating chore necessitating another trip to Hobby Lobby for $40 of materials and an all-nighter trying to construct the thing.  A better idea would be... oh, I don't know....  ANYTHING ELSE!  (so glad my girls are over this stage)

8. Bad traffic -  I mean seriously bad.  Like adding an hour to my commute. And then there's the school zones. Be careful out there.

9.  Fundraisers - I always hated that elementary school class time was used in pumping the kids up to sell crap for fundraisers, in the hopes of earning cheap prizes that would break before we even got them home.  I also hated bothering friends, family and co-workers with pleas to buy cookie dough, gift wrap or barbecue sauce at ridiculously jacked up prices.  Who can afford it anyway?  We're all broke from buying school supplies and popsicle sticks.  So, sometime around Jr. High age, I quit doing it.  The world kept turning so I think I made the right choice.

10.  Fees - Be prepared to get out that checkbook because there will be fees - fees for uniforms, mandatory t-shirt orders, dues for this club or that club.  If your kid is in sports or drill team, you may have to take out a loan.  Orchestra has nearly $300 in fees, including an extra $100 cello fee.  What is that?! Violins don't have to pay extra.  It's unfair discrimination against larger instruments!  The extra cost for cello storage should be absorbed by the entire orchestra in my opinion.  What happened to all that communism we learned in Elementary school?

11.  Open House - Do not make me go to another open house!  This was actually so much easier in Elementary. You went in, met the teacher, saw your kids desk, took some pictures and you were home again in 20 minutes. Now, it's a 3 hour ordeal in which you follow your high-school kids daily schedule by traipsing from classroom to classroom and listening to each of their 8 or 9 different teachers give a little spiel, pass out some reading material and forms to fill out (more forms?) and then it's off to the next classroom. You better put on your running shoes for this one and....  you know what, just forget it, I'm not going.

12. Requests for volunteers - Every PTA, every Booster Club, every church group and the Girl Scouts will hunt you down and ask you to volunteer.  They NEED you.  They will apply a thick layer of guilt.  They will call, send emails and send home requests in the backpacks.  They are always surprised to hear that I am a working Mom.  Once they learn that, they will text me and ask, "are you working today?" as if coming to work 5 days a week is optional.  Yep, it's an everyday type of job, full time, sorry.  But then, they want volunteers on the weekend - all day Saturday and Sunday too.  "Are you doing anything this weekend?" they will say.  Yes, I'm resting up from the hellish week I've had filling out forms, driving all over town, and building the Alamo, (remember the Alamo?)
In truth, I do try to fit in some volunteering when I can. I have been on several committees and booster clubs, been a booster club officer, been a girl scout leader, and all while working so it can be done. But, it aint easy.

So, there you have it.  I got carried away, so it's actually a list of 12 grievances, not 10.  Ooops.  So, what are your Back-to-School pet peeves?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What a Drag it is Getting Old

Things are different today.

Note:  I am frequently annoyed by 30-somethings who complain about how old they are getting, as in, "OMG - I can't believe I'm going to be 33 next week!!! I am sooooo OLD!!!" I just want to tell them to SHUT UP!
So, if you are a person who is older than me - I apologize in advance for this blog.  I am going to complain about being almost 50.  Also, I would like to thank you for making me feel younger.  Go ahead and tell me to shut up.  It won't work but I might like hearing it.

This past week I had three conversations with friends about what kind of arthritis medication they are taking.  I wrote them all down.  I looked them up on WebMD.  I printed stuff out so I could ask my doctor about them.  How did this happen to me?  We used to talk about where we bought cute outfits or good movies to see.  Now it's all about our aches and pains.

Last week I wore contact lenses to work.  I used to wear them all the time.  I thought I looked better with contacts.  Well, not any more. Here is an exchange between me and a friend at work that morning.

     Ethel:  (not her real name) You look tired

     Me:  No, I got plenty of sleep last night.  I feel great.

     Ethel:  I don't know what it is, you just look exhausted!

     Me:  Really?  Why?

     Ethel:  I mean, you look seriously EXHAUSTED!  (huge emphasis on "EXHAUSTED")

     Me:  (realizing it's because she's never seen me without glasses) Oh, it's just the first
              time you've actually seen the bags under my eyes.

     Ethel:  (giggling)  That must be it.

     Me:  (perturbed)  Just get out of here!

As if that weren't bad enough, the young whipper snapper who works in accounting, we'll call him Jeffrey, recently came across an ancient relic in the world of office supplies.  One of the more mature new-hires brought with her an actual steno pad.  You can still buy these at Walgreens so they're not that ancient.  Jeffrey had never seen one though.

For the uneducated, a steno pad is a 6" x 9" notebook with a spiral at the top.  Secretaries used them to take dictation from their bosses back in the old days. My grandmother always had one laying around for grocery lists or whatever. So, in his confusion, Jeffrey came to me.

     Jeffrey:   Hey, Sherry, you ever seen anything like this? (showing me the notebook)

     Me:  Yes, it's a steno pad.  And my name's Cherry not Sherry.

     Jeffrey:  Right, sorry.  So, a steno pad?  ...  Hey, when you were younger, did you used
                   to write in shorthand?

     Me:  (Oh, Hell No!  He did not just ask me that!)  No, Jeffrey, I'm not THAT old!  You've
               been watching too much Mad Men.

     Jeffrey:  What?  Oh, yeah.  Actually, I never watched that show.

     Me:  Just get out of here!

I'm beginning to understand why the elderly are always so grouchy.

Recently, I watched an excellent movie on this very subject.  If you haven't already seen it, get the DVD for While We're Young starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts. It perfectly depicts the reluctance to accept what we call middle-age.