Buying Underwear (and other things that lead to anger)

I remember when I discovered Victoria’s Secret. I felt as though a veil was lifted and a whole new world of delicate, lacy, beautiful unmentionables were waiting to bridge the gap between my clothes and my lady parts.

From that day forward I swore off the multi-pack of Haynes from Walmart that never fit quite right and went unashamedly with arms wide open to the store men dare not enter. I joined the secret club of women who could dress like a train jumping dumpster diver on the outside knowing that underneath the slouch was a feminine tiger ready to pounce.

Back in the early days of my discovery the process was simple: walk in, sift through the drawers to find my size, make sure no lady juice is on them from someone gross trying them on, take my purchase to the counter, pay for said purchase, get my receipt, walk out. Simple. Straightforward. Anonymous. Now, however, the game has changed.

These days I’m already frustrated by the time I walk in from dodging the super-aggressive (albeit very flattering) mall kiosk guy with the long, greasy black ponytail, black slim-fitted shirt unbuttoned to showcase his nipples asking if I flat iron my hair and the guys demo-ing the bouncy balls that my kids HAVE TO HAVE! I make my way to what I need, get to the counter and then it happens: “What’s your email for rewards?” The lady behind the counter stares at me while I contemplate the consequence of not answering her question. I finally decide it’ll probably be quicker to just give it to her.

Me: “Erica”

Lady behind the counter: “Is that with a ‘c’ or a ‘k’?

Me: “‘c’ And then a ‘d’

Lady: “Did you say ‘v’ or ‘b’?”

Me: “‘d’. As in ‘delta’ and then my last name. From my card. Just copy that.

Lady: “Please verify from the screen.”

Me: “Nope. It’s Erica with an ‘E’ not an ‘A’. That’s not really a thing. And you didn’t get the middle initial.”

Lady: “You can just type it in.”

Me: “So I could have saved the last 10 painful minutes of my life and typed it in all along?”

Lady: “I like to help my guests out. You’re total today is $150.”

Me: “What? I only got 5 pair of underwear. Isn’t it 5 for $25?”

Lady: “You have premium panties that aren’t a part of that. Also, it’s now 5 for $35.”

Me: defeated, walks out. “Kids, let’s go get ice cream. Mommy needs sprinkles.”

So now I hate shopping for underwear. And soaps. Thanks, Bath & Body Works. Can we all agree that stores need to STOP ASKING FOR EMAILS?????????? Listen, if you want my info, put out an app and scan it like Starbucks. Or Chick Fil A. Cuz my mental well-being can’t take it. And I don’t want to kill people. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

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I Didn’t Clean the House Today… but I’m still tired.

Today I woke up 30 minutes later than I should have. I woke my kids up 15 minutes later than I should have. I sat in traffic for an hour and a half in just one leg of my commute. I sat in meetings for most of my day listening to mind-numbing discussions about “innovative” wellness programs for employees. Then I drove home. I worked a little longer. I didn’t even cook dinner. My family had left overs. I drove my daughter to ballet. Sat around waiting on her. We got home, I got the kids to bed, I got myself clean and went to bed myself.

My home is not clean. I’m pretty sure Bella didn’t bathe before bed. Roman’s sheets don’t match. I didn’t wash dishes. My trash cans are full. The only reason there’s no dog hair downstairs is thanks to my husband. I didn’t touch laundry. The only clean pair of socks Roman has are on his feet.

Guess what?! I’m ok with all of this. The sun still rises, my kids still love me, I’m pretty sure my husband still loves me wink, my doggies definitely adore me. It’s all gonna be ok.

My only question: WHY AM I STILL SO TIRED???

Oh well. At least I’m pretty.

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Is Butt-Ebola a Thing?

Today was a fun day. I arrived to work on time for a 9 am meeting. Gross. Could we all agree as one nation under God that meetings should only take place between the hours of 10 am and 11:30 am or 2 pm and 4:30 pm? Can we make that a thing? Ugh. I’m just sayin’ I need time. In the morning I need time to understand where I am and in the afternoon I need time to digest what all just happened. So… just sayin’.

Anyway. Meeting at 9. Blah, blah, blah. It was over around 10. By then I’d finished off a venti vanilla iced coffee and I had to pee. Bad. No problem! My new office has very lovely bathrooms. Coming from a company with shatty bathrooms (literally), I welcome the upgrade in lavatory quality.

As with most restrooms these days (I suspect to keep at bay the mysterious “toilet-seat-to-ass-STD” epidemic that we’ve all been warned of even though I’ve never met anyone who said, “Hi, I’m Gary, I got the clap from a toilet”) my office offers free paper toilet seat covers. I’m positive they’re only free cuz men need them, too. If they didn’t, we’d have to pay a quarter like we do for tampons. “Sorry, Sharon. I can’t give you a tampon for free. Shouldn’t you know your body by now? I mean, you’re 37- What? I don’t know what fibroids are. My dad has hemorrhoids. Same-sies? No? Look, sorry, but we gotta reduce overhead. Can’t you just shove some TP up there or something?”

Now, what you might not know is that I’m at war with these wood-based bastards. (Just to be clear, I’m at war with seat covers, not frugal men who refuse us free feminine hygiene products). Can these covers not stay in place? Is it too much to ask? They have ONE JOB! Just one! By the time I put it down and unlatch my trousers the seat cover has fallen in the toilet, thus not having held up its end of the bargain, and now I have to repeat the process. Time. Wasted. But I have a new process. And today I tried it out for the first time.

Today… wait for it… I unhooked my pants FIRST! Did I just blow your mind? Cuz this was about to revolutionize my bathroom experience. So with my pants around my shins, holding them with one hand so as to keep them from hitting the floor, I used my other hand to carefully yank the paper ass-barrier and awkwardly lay it over the seat, using my elbow to unfold the part that inconveniently overlapped at the very last minute.

And as I turned to blindly back that ass up and simultaneously sit down, the automatic flush sucked the seat cover into the abyss. That’s right. I sat down just as the seat cover said, “bitch, bye” and left me to my own devices. Of which I had none.

You know when you ask for a sweet tea at a restaurant and you get a coke but both liquids are dark and look the same in that red cup and you take a sip and life no longer makes sense? That’s what happened to my ass. It expected paper warmth and protection. It received the cold angst of exposure. So I have Ebola of the Butt now. I’m pretty sure it’s a thing. And I’m pretty sure it’s on my butt. Believe you me, if my organs liquify and fall out of my body holes, someone will receive a very strongly-worded letter.

Anyway. Kinda killed my vibe today. I was sure I won the war. And the toilet said, “Not today, biatch!” I feel so defeated. I was sure to be the victor. Now I know how Hillary Clinton felt on election night. Ugh. At least I’m not wearing that gross pants suit.

On a high note, I ate a turkey burger today.

Stay pretty, my friends.

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What I’ve Learned in Six Years of Marriage

Y’all, Sunday was a special day. It marked the sixth anniversary of the day I said “I do!” to my husband (and he said it back). We had a “unique” start to our marriage. We both came into the marriage with a failed one under our belts, little 3-year-old Bella along for the ride, and I was pregnant with the unsuspecting man-sized baby Roman. The odds haven’t always been in our favor and there have been moments for both of us when we questioned what we’re doing. We don’t always get along. There are some fundamental differences we will always have. But I know I have a loyal partner and devoted dad. He is my best friend and my greatest supporter. Hopefully he feels the same way about me. I’ve learned a lot along the way. Most of the things I’ve learned would have made my marriage easier had I learned them sooner. So, if you’re contemplating marriage, even if you’ve done it before, read these lessons as a heads-up for what might be coming your way. For those veterans out there, let me know what I’ve missed.

Here are the four biggest things I’ve learned throughout my six years of marriage:

  1. Marriage is work. And one person can’t do it all. It takes both people fully committed to the marriage at all times. Even when you’re mad or sad or deflated or exhausted or sleeping or trying to sleep but you can’t cuz “someone” snores like a garbage disposal swallowing a metal spoon so you’re mad, sad, frustrated, and exhausted all at once and you start replaying that episode of Snapped where the woman got away with it, unless you fully expect to tell your kids “I left because I couldn’t take the snoring”, you still have to be committed… all the way to the sleep apnea doctor. I don’t think I really understood this and accepted it until well into our marriage. I was quick to say, “I think you should go.” Unfortunately I didn’t complete that sentence with “to the shooting range” or “buy yourself a TV”. He would have appreciated that more.  Know your boundaries and communicate them. Part of being committed 100% is communication. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You don’t have to say it mean but sometimes that helps 😉 Knowing your boundaries allows you to know when to give in and when to dig in your spiked stiletto heels.
  2. Marriage with babies is exhausting. Know this going in. Now, there’s no way for you to fully comprehend the level of exhaustion that you’ll experience until you are already in it. But know that it’s exhaustion like you can’t fathom. And in that state of exhaustion you have to take care of a little human being who doesn’t give a shat how exhausted you are. Or how sick you are. Or how busy you are. Or what your deadlines are for work. So now we have exhaustion, a demanding little person who can’t communicated in any other way than with super-sonic boom cries at 2:00 am, 2:15 am, 3 am, 3:12 am, 3:30 am, 3:31 am, 3:33 am, 4 am, 5 am… ALARM CLOCK!!! Time to get ready for work! Are you ready? Who’s ready? Oh, and after you work a full day, pick your baby up from daycare, feed the baby, bathe the baby, feed the baby again, put the baby to bed for the 1 hour you’ll get before the next crying sesh, you need to make purposeful time to spend with your partner. Um… what? All I want to do is watch reality TV to make me feel better about myself, drink a glass of wine, and kill some dark chocolate before I fall asleep on the couch in the middle of chewing my food. The trick is to keep it fun. Find a show to binge watch together and have a standing date on the couch. And let him be your face’s pillow when you pass out.
  3. Marriage with toddlers is war. Every minute is a battle. If you aren’t fighting your little person with newly found independence, you’re probably fighting with your spouse over something to do with parenting. Or something to do with how your routine has unexpectedly changed. “Why has the same load of laundry been drying for 3 days?” Well, maybe it’s because I keep forgetting the clothes are there and I have to wash them over again. Six times. Believe me, it’s not optimal for either of us. Know that it’s ok to fight. It’s healthy. And (this one was very important for me to learn) every fight doesn’t mean the end of the relationship. In fact, it can mean the strength of your relationship increases.
  4. Marriage with kids is a rollercoaster. Your kids are finally old enough to communicate when they’re sick, sad, hungry, thirsty, heartbroken, mad at you.  But when your kids crawl into your lap without warning and hug you and tell you how much they love you or when you take them somewhere fun and you hear them say, “THIS IS THE BEST. DAY. EVER!!!!” that’s your reward for passing stages one and two, grabbing the flagpole at the VERY TOP and saving the princess twice without losing any lives. This is the stage when you are probably more aligned strategically with your spouse. It’s probably more often a “parents vs. kids” situation where kids frequently say, “you’re mean! No one here even likes me!” If you hear this at least once a day, you’re probably doing this parenting thing perfectly and should consider writing a book. Also, date nights for us have happened more frequently at this stage than before because 1) it’s much easier to leave them when they’re yelling at you because you said ‘no’ to 3 brownies and 2) they’re vocal enough that you can trust them to tell you anything you may need to know, i.e. a bad babysitter. Marriage, parenting, life can all be scary. And that’s ok.

So I still don’t have it all figured out. Life is uncharted waters. But it’s nice to know I have a sailing partner. Hopefully we’ll still be just as committed to each other and our marriage in 50 years as we are right now. That’s right, I have him til he’s 91. What’s your best marriage advice?

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How Homework Made Me Stupid

Homework. That eight-letter compound word has become synonymous with Hell for me. Growing up I always thought that once I was out of school I’d be done with it. Homework was but a temporary evil to get through so that I could get my degree and move on with my life. Oh how wrong was I.

When I was in school, I don’t remember having homework until maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Maybe I did, I don’t know. But kindergarten for me was half-days. Your parents could sign you up for morning or afternoon. Sprinkled into the strenuous 4 hour day was also naptime and recess. {And we wondered why Japanese students were so much smarter.}

So, you could imagine my confusion when we registered Bella for kindergarten and she was EVALUATED for sight words, math skills, and reading… uh… isn’t this where she learns her alphabet? Cuz that’s what we’ve killed. Test her on that.

Then the HOMEWORK. WHAT??? I naïvely assumed that the homework was something she should be able to complete on her own. I would be there to make sure she was focused (by the way, not my strong point either) but the work was something she could work through. I was wrong. That’s when I came to the realization that homework isn’t for the kids. It’s for the parents. Like some covert CIA program to ensure parents don’t get stupid.

Bella: “Mommy, I don’t know how to do this problem. It’s for math.”

Me: “Oh, heck yes. Math I can do! ‘Deconstruct the number 10’. Deconstruct? What’s that mean, Bella? Did your teacher show you how to do this?

Bella: “Yes, but I don’t really understand. You can help me, right, Mommy?”

Me: “Uh, sure! Yes! I can help you, baby girl. Let me just find my computer.” (As I quickly pull up Google and define ‘deconstruction’ as it relates to math.)

Obviously, homework is created to provide validation to my children that, no, Mommy DOESN’T know everything and should, as a result, be constantly questioned anytime she states anything as fact.

Bella (or Roman at this point): “Can I have a root beer?”

Me: “No, you’ve already had one. You’ve also had a cupcake, rice krispy treat, and 5 Girl Scout cookies. You don’t need that much sugar. It’s bad for you.”

My kid: “Well… you couldn’t even help me deconstruct the number 10 last night so… maybe we should ask Google about the sugar thing, just to be sure.”

Fuq you, homework. Fuq you.

Another thing I want to point out is the strain that homework puts on my marriage. I would love to know how many divorces are attributed to disputes that began related to homework.

Nothing will start a marital spat in my home quicker than either my husband or me incorrectly instructing one of the kids in an effort to help and the other spouse catching the mistake.

“No, that’s not the correct conjugation of the verb.”

“Um, YOU asked me to help.”

And so it begins. Next thing you know it’s World War III in our kitchen. Fuq you, homework. Fuq you. I didn’t know I was supposed to add, “through incorrect homework instruction and correct” to my wedding vows.

By now, Bella’s got the homework thing down for the most part. The biggest issue we have with her is getting her to turn it in. Roman, however, is just getting in the swing. Most days look like this:

 

Hopefully these are growing pains that will get better. All I know is that I didn’t sign up for this shat. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

Anyone have any tricks to make homework easier?

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How to Survive Your First Parental Experience with Stitches

The Incident

I hit the parent jackpot. One beautiful, dainty little girl and one headstrong, full-throttle little boy. Perfect. From the outside it seems like it should be all rainbows and unicorns (with some fart jokes sprinkled in) where everyone is always 100% healthy and happy. But that façade collapsed last week with one phone call.

It was inevitable, the call I received. It was one of the ladies from the after-school program, “Mrs. Benefield, Roman has fallen and hit his head. I wanted to let you know. It’s pretty bad.”

Me, not fully grasping what I’m being told, stupidly ask, “I need to come get him?”

To which she patiently explains, “yes, he has a gash on his head.”

She let me speak to him. He sounded ok. I told him he was my brave little man and I’d be on my way to get him not really knowing what I would see.

Now, let me defend my stupid question by explaining that sometimes we get panicked phone calls that aren’t really emergencies. The ladies that run the after-school program double as the cafeteria workers. They’re super sweet grandmother-types who err on the side of caution. Like if caution were to look at someone and say, “whoa, they’re cautious” it would be describing these women. We’ve had some false alarms. But we’ve also had some situations with Roman that have caused him to have permanent bumps and scars on his forehead. Nothing that has required medical attention aside from my husband (who is a medical professional) putting his skin back together with glue, but still there have been “situations” to give the sweet lunch ladies some credit.

Once I arrived at the school, I walked in to pick him up and saw him sitting on the table with an audience of kids and lunch ladies surrounding him. He had a rag with ice in it against his forehead. He pulled the rag away and immediately my eyes go to the culprit of the drama. The little boy I sent to school perfectly intact now had about a half-inch gash on his forehead above his eye. But, surprisingly, it didn’t seem as bad as the last incident at school that involved the metal part of the door lock going into his head. It wasn’t even bleeding anymore.

Next, I took a picture and sent it to my husband and much to my surprise he told me to take him to urgent care. Like now. He knew it needed stitches. What? I mean, ok. Maybe overreacting a little but he’s the one with a medical degree so…

Roman needs stitches… apparently
The Fix

We pulled into the children’s urgent care and I got him checked in. He and my daughter were running around playing and laughing and- STOP!!!!! His head started to bleed. I grabbed a tissue to wipe away the blood and a clear liquid flowed out of the wound. Ok, stitches, I get it. I totally get it. I will never secretly question my husband’s medical direction ever again. Ever. But for that moment I was just trying not to puke or pass out or provide any indication to my sweet, brave little man that his head was kinda gnarly and he’d need to get stitched up like a teddy bear that fell victim to the family dog.

For Bella’s part, she was the perfect big sister. She was patient and loving and said anything she could think of to help ease his anxiety when he thought he might get a shot or the other dreaded “s” word… STITCHES. Some of her words may have done more damage than help but she was trying so hard to put him at ease.

As a side note, let me just say that taking him to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s urgent care center was the BEST decision. They knew immediately he needed stitches. But instead of saying the “s” word, (which would have flipped him the fuq out) everyone referred to them as “magic thread” that would make his head go back together. I think Bella was intrigued by the possibility of seeing magic thread at work as well. She’d been watching a Netflix show about this very subject of magic with a fairy princess and her pet unicorn sprinkled in so she was pretty sure it was a real thing and played right along, helping to seal the validity in Roman’s mind of the claims of magic being made by these nurses.

The nurse numbed his head with numbing cream and after about 30 minutes we were called back to get the “magic threads”.

A doctor, a nurse, and a medical assistant walk into a bar… just kidding. They all worked on my Roman to sew him back together. The result was beautiful. Five stitches in all. Afterward I asked Roman if he realized he just got stitches. He started to tear up and say that he was scared to get stitches. However, once he understood that it was over and he ALREADY had them, he was proud. The highlight of the situation was this little dialogue:

ME: Roman! You just got stitches, man! Chicks dig men with scars, just sayin’.

Bella: Yeah, Roman! Girls love boys with injuries!

Ever the little momma to her little brother… and he was so brave and proud of his braveness.

Here’s the final result!

All stitched up! Thank God for Dad and his guidance!
So, in conclusion, that was my first (and hopefully last) experience with stitches. Anyone else have a similar experience?

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I Joined My Neighborhood Dinner Club

I joined my neighborhood dinner club

The Great Idea

We moved into a new house in May. Just down the road from where we were currently living but with 100 homes, there were quite a few people we didn’t know. So I was SUPER EXCITED when I saw an email about a neighborhood dinner club called “Gourmet”. I just knew it would be the solution to meeting the neighbors and signed us up (without asking my hubs but I had a sneaky suspicion that he would praise me for it).

Gourmet

The premise behind the Gourmet Club is this: twelve couples signed up so around every other month there are three host homes. Of these 3 host homes there is one who is the Lead Home. These hosts are in charge of setting the theme and menu. After the menu is set, each couple is given recipes that they are responsible for preparing and bringing to the dinner. On D-day (that’s what I call the dinner day cuz I’m terrified) everyone meets at their respective host homes to eat. After dinner everyone meets for dessert and drinks at the Lead Home (or wherever the Lead Home hosts decide, so maybe the clubhouse if they don’t want a bunch of drunk suburbanites getting kah-runkkk at their crib.)

The Problem

I don’t cook. If I DO cook, I want full control of all variables and I’m probably NOT going to be cooking for other people that might judge me for messing up. (Yes, that’s the very point of Gourmet. Shut up.) Now. I AM a very good cook. Most of the time. I have a few nemeses. First up: mashed potatoes. Really, it’s any dish with potatoes because they will NEVER get cooked all the way through. Potatoes hate me. They’ve made that very clear. Because mashed potatoes are arseholes. Pot roast is the other of my arch nemeses. My mom can make a dam pot roast. The kind that make me wanna slap her after taking a bite (IN A GOOD WAY! You know, so good it makes you wanna slap your momma?!) I make an effing stupid pot roast. The kind of pot roast that makes other pot roasts wonder if it was dropped on its head as a baby pot roast. It’s always tough and rubbery. Pot roast hates me. The kind I make don’t make my kids wanna slap me in a good way. And my mashed potatoes make my kids wanna slap some sense into me so that I never make them again. Other than that, I can get shat done in the kitchen.

The First Dinner

The first dinner we had was in October. It was an October (wait- Oktober) Fest theme so I, of course, dressed up in my best lederhosen just in case I needed to distract the group away from the horrible food I brought. Turns out, not everyone is a gourmet cook. Some people were sitting in the same boat I was in the whole time and I had no idea! Yay! The food was delicious, the recipes weren’t quite as difficult as I anticipated, and we were all so tipsy that it didn’t really matter anyway. #winning

The Second Dinner

The second dinner was a few weeks ago. It was a Valentine’s Day theme. I looked for a cupid costume just in case I needed the distraction again but I couldn’t find one… Fuq. It’s ok. I’ll just practice a little bit before the dinner, once I get my recipes. Guess what my dishes were… just guess. Short bread cookies and FUQING MASHED POTATOES! REALLY??!!! Ugh. It’s ok! I’ll follow the directions EXACTLY. It’ll be fine.

I ended up with no time to practice because life was so crazy. The Friday before the dinner I “worked from home” for the last half of the day so I could make the other dish I was assigned: short bread cookies. In the shape of a heart. With a smaller heart cut out in the center. And white chocolate and raspberry jam in the center. As complicated and delicate as they were, they turned out delicious. I ate one to try it out. Ok, I had 3. “I don’t know why the recipe says it makes 14! I only have 11…”

The mashed potatoes needed to be made the day of because I didn’t want to risk them not tasting fresh and delicious. This meant that I only had a short window of time to get them right. If not, I was fully prepared to go to the grocery store, purchase some taters, and pass them off as my own. But I can do this. It was me against the potatoes. Eight of them. Eight stupid potatoes just staring at me. I was terrified.

Game Time

The recipe said to use 8 potatoes. I had 8 MASSIVE potatoes. They were huge (that’s what she said). In the recipe it said to cut them in half if they were large. But I ain’t got time for that. I’ll just cook them longer.

{Now, for those of you reading this, this was my crucial mistake. This is where the other team took the game just like the Patriots took the game from my Falcons. Crucial mistakes. They’re sneaky little donkey holes.}

The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 22 minutes or until you can easily pierce with a fork. I cooked mine for 30 minutes. Should be good. Right?! Pierced easily with a fork. I was so gonna rock this.

At 5:30 pm Eastern Standard Time I drained the potatoes, cut them up, and placed them one by one in my stand mixer as per the instructions. I mashed them up a little and turned the mixer on. Seemed good. I started to add the warmed milk, the salt, the butter, and OH MY GOOD GAWD!!!!!! The potatoes were crawling up the side of the mixer and down the back! I tried to grab them with any utensil I could find. A spoon, a ladle, a knife, a cup, the piping bag in the sink from the cookies I made the day before.

So, not sure if you have ever seen the I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel were working the assembly line? If you haven’t, Google it right now. You need that visual. But be sure to come right back. This is about to get good.

To set the scene, it was now 6:10. The dinner started at 7. At this point there was no time for the grocery store backup option. I was standing in my kitchen with wet hair and my pink fluffy bathrobe on, sleeves pushed up but they kept falling down. I was trying to keep the potatoes from falling all over the place when I realized that there were chunks of raw potatoes mixed in with the smooth, creamy potatoes. All the while, taters were still pouring out of the mixer every time I turned it on. I turned it off, grabbed a fork, and dug out one of the chunks to see if it was edible.

And it was not. Not at all. Ever tried a raw potato? That’s what I was about to serve my neighbors. They were sure to blackball me. I was about to be the girl that brought raw mashed potatoes to the party. Not today. Not. To. Day. I did what any self-respecting southern girl would do. I rolled up my sleeves, washed my hands, and proceeded to pick the chunks out by hand. But the potatoes weren’t as creamy as they looked. They stuck to EVERYTHING.

I was panicked. I had mashed, raw, chunky, sticky potatoes all over my arms, in my freshly washed hair, in my eyebrows, and I had mashed potato hatred in the depths of my soul rising up to meet my husband as he walked into the kitchen. He knew he wasn’t safe. He found somewhere else to go. I don’t even know where he went.

My friend, Laura, sent me a friendly text “I hope you have fun tonight!” She always has it together. I gave her a quick “my mashed potatoes are raw”. Then Laura sent me a message that made me realize just how much I appreciate her. “Drink a little more and they’ll be great.” It was like a Superman comic when you’re sure he’s a gonner but then he rises from the wreckage to defeat Lex Luther. I could do this! I could defeat these stupid, ugly villainous mashed potatoes. I grabbed asiago cheese from the fridge and added that. I tasted them. It was good enough.

At 6:45 I finally started getting ready. I washed the potato carnage from my body, trying to forget the bloody battle that had just taken place in my kitchen, grabbed my pink shirt with leather trim that looks like a vagina in the back (yes, you read that correctly. I mean, it screams Valentine’s Day!), and realized it had a huge grease stain on the front. Ugh. It’s just like you to do this to me, vag shirt. So that wasn’t an option. Red pants and a black shirt. That’s what I went with.

So How Did it Turn Out???

I started the dinner a defeated woman. Defeated by the potatoes, defeated by my vagina shirt, and defeated by time. I hate being late. But it was what it was. We arrived, cookies and mashed potatoes in hand, 20 minutes late.

Our neighbors hosted us with grace and welcomed us as though we had been friends forever. It was a fantastic time. I warned everyone about the potatoes. So we all agreed that more alcohol was the answer. It’s always the answer.

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New Year, New Mariah, New You

It’s 2017. If you’re reading this, you made it! Congratulations. It probably means you aren’t a cracked out rock star, beloved screen actor, or Princess Leia. Maybe it means you’re Betty White! GO BETTY!

Anyway, with each new year comes a renewed effort to start anew and begin again… to become a better person and along with that many of us make goals and some lofty resolutions to keep ourselves on track.   Be our best in 2017. I want you to know that those goals, your goals are all within reach. No matter how lofty or big they are, you can make those goals your biatch.

The difference between goal setters and goal reachers is that goal reachers put one foot in front of the other, even when the fog is too thick to see the end. All it takes is that first step, then the next, then the next. Some people are mistaken by thinking that they have to perfect that first step before they take it. New Year’s Eve proved us wrong.

Did you see it? Mariah Carey’s performance? If not, hold EVERYTHING and Google it. Immediately. But be sure to come back. This shat’s about to make you feel a whole lot better about yourself. Even your 2016 self.

It was pretty crazy, right?

If New Year’s Eve with Mariah taught us anything, it’s that you just gotta get out there. Did she know the words? The words to her OWN SONGS? No. No, she did not. Did that stop her from getting out on that stage in front of millions? Nope. Not only that, she was confident. She stuck both of those legs in that sparkly, high-cut leotard and walked out on that stage like the diva she knows she is. And that, as “THEY” say, is the first step.

Was she there to sing? Yes. Did she? No. But she smiled and held that microphone like she was gonna love it. She owned her suckiness and gave us a show that none of us expected. And there we all were left with our mouths agape wondering what just happened to us.

I don’t know what your goals are. Maybe it’s to be more present. Maybe it’s to get in shape. Maybe it’s to pay off your debt so you can fulfill your dream of becoming a Bikram yoga instructor.   If MC taught us anything, it’s that life won’t stop so you can line everything up for perfection before you take that first step. Sometimes you have to get out on that stage unprepared “without a functioning earpiece” and make the best of it. But as long as you sparkle and own it, that stage is yours.  If you fail, put on your highest heels, slap some mascara on those lashes and get back out there.  At least you’re pretty.

So, what will you do? What’s your first step?

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How to Plan a Party

Y’all, I just threw a housewarming party for about 100 people at my house over the weekend. Gasp! Still seems surreal. I don’t think I’ve had a “party” at my house since my 3rd grade birthday when I had 13 girls over to spend the night and my little sister got locked in the closet. And someone gave me a live rabbit. Without asking my parents. And it wasn’t my house (it was my parents’, so…).  But this weekend was SO FUN! Was it crazy? Yes. Could I have been better prepared? Yes. So if you’re thinking of having a party of any size in the future, keep reading. I learned some things that, I’m hoping, will be helpful for you in being prepared and saving money, regardless of the size of party you’re having.

Now, I’m NOT a Type-A person. I’m more Type-Meh. Not because I don’t want things to be perfect. That’s actually WHY I can’t be Type-A about it. I’m a typical perfectionist. If everything can’t be perfect, I don’t wanna do it. If I can’t workout 7 days a week for an hour, I will throw my hands up in disgust and declare my life a failure. (Dramatic, I know. It’s who I am.) But I’m trying to be more methodical, deliberate, and organized in life so that the world sees I DO have work ethic, lol.

I know that not everything will be perfect for the party so I can’t expect anything to be. Remember how I’m an expert “winger”? It serves me well where it relates to stress. I tend to be pretty laid back in these situations given what’s about to happen and figure, “if something doesn’t get done, it’ll be ok.” No one will die, right? I mean, unless I have some kind of crazy poison out on the cabinet listed as punch, but I don’t make poison any more so…. But I do want my guests to have a fun experience from the moment they walk onto my property until they walk off. Or are carried off. I don’t judge.

I knew Pinterest would be my friend. So I started researching party ideas waaaay ahead of time. I made a list of high-level TO-DO’s in the beginning that I kept with me at all times and added more detail as the planning progressed. Here’s my high-level list:

  1. Theme
  2. Guest List
  3. Food
  4. Drinks
  5. Entertainment
  6. Party Favors

I would take a picture of the ACTUAL list and show you but what ended up happening was that I would be at work and have an epiphany and make a note for my list on my work notes. So instead of having ONE MASTER LIST (cuz I supposedly kept it with me all the times, right? WRONG. I lose stuff sometimes.) I had one mommy list and a litter of baby lists. Don’t do that. Halfway through I realized that one thing I ALWAYS have is my phone. Insert list. By keeping my list on my phone it was all right at my fingertips. Let’s review:
Lesson 1: list your to-dos

Lesson 2: put the list in your phone. Unless you’re Amish. Or lose your phone a lot and don’t back it up. Or you’re in prison. But then you prolly won’t be throwing parties. Maybe, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the latest season of Orange is the New Black so I could be missing something. Anyway, back to party planning.

The theme was easy for me. First of all, I wanted the party to be welcoming and comfortable. Not pretentious or stuffy. Also, I LOVE to dress up in costumes. LOVE IT. It’s Christmas time ‘round these parts so I immediately decided on an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Fun, festive, as unpretentious as you can get. If someone doesn’t wanna dress up or for some reason can’t, no biggie. Let’s do it.  As for decorations that match your theme, Lesson 3: go to Amazon.  Feel free to shop around, but ALWAYS CHECK AMAZON.COM.  Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for at amazing prices.

The guest list. For this party, the guest list was simple. I wanted to have all of our friends, family, and neighbors over as a way to say “Thank You” for their support and help with the move. I wanted everyone who has made a positive impression on our lives in our house so we could celebrate them.  That’s what this was about. I’m positive I didn’t include everyone. As hard as I tried not to leave anyone out, I’m sure I did. You know what that means!!!  ANOTHER PARTY!!!

My hubs and I got married in Vegas with just my bestie and her super-awesome hubs. We always expected to have a reception and celebrate with everyone when we got home and things “settled” down. Breakin’ News: “Settled” doesn’t exist. So, in a way, I saw this as our chance to celebrate everything that’s happened over the past 6 years. Our engagement, our wedding, our first house, our babies, our second house, our friends, our new rescue dog, my new shoes… wait. I’m off track again. Anyway, I figured maybe half of the people we invited would be able to make it. I was wrong. All but about 5 families were able to take time out of their schedules during the holidays to help us celebrate. That’s a reason to celebrate in and of itself.

Next up, FOOD. I severely under budgeted. In my Type-Meh mind I assumed that buying tons of food would some how equate to a cheaper per person rate. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t. I also thought that having heavy hors d’oeuvres would be a good idea. They’re little, they’re filling, and they’re prolly much more economical. Not true on the economical part. So if you’re trying to decide how much to budget for catering a party, Lesson 4: plan on $15 USD per person as an average. Going with hors d’oeuvres can increase that to about $18 per person if you’re using good, quality caterers, which is definitely the way to go. Don’t skimp on the food.

In keeping with the laid back atmosphere I was aiming for, I went with BBQ. It was delicious. The kind of delicious that makes you wonder if there’s crack in it. If you happen to be located in the Atlanta, GA area, ‘Cue BBQ is AH-MAH-ZING. I called them up at the Milton location, got a quote, Julie was extremely helpful and patient, answering all of my questions and giving me time to shop around. She even suggested food amounts given the expected number of guests. In the end, there was plenty of food, some left over, and people are still stopping me to thank me for the delicious food and to tell me how much they love ‘Cue. All in, tip included (that’s what she said), it was just over $12 per person. Not bad at all.

For appetizers, I highly suggest Costco if you’re doing them yourself. If you don’t have a membership, find someone who does, someone who won’t steal your money, and get them to buy frozen appetizers from Costco. For $11 USD per box you can get 48 Mediterranean-style tapas and for the same price, 100 assorted appetizers like pigs in a blanket, chicken and mushroom turnovers, and potato puffs. Just pop them in the oven and voila. Well, it felt like “voila”. Easy and tasty, just like me.

Here’s the next lesson: Lesson 5: You’ll need to bake the appetizers about 45 minutes prior to the guests coming over if you are doing them yourself. Luckily, my mom and aunt showed up early because there is NO WAY I could have done this without them. They totally took care of that for me so I could finish getting ready. Next time, I’ll bake them about an hour ahead of time and prepare to either keep them warm in the oven or have a chafing dish ready to keep them warm. Trying to get ready and finish up the details was not something I could do on my own. And as wonderful as my husband was at getting things done, he was focused on the “man things” like the yard.  Another lesson I learned but won’t number: check the oven before you turn it on. My husband stuck the pizzas for the kids (boxes and all) in the oven to keep them warm and I almost burned down our home. Oops.

Drinks. Ah, drinks. I knew I wanted to serve a drink to the adults as they came in.  I found an apple cider mimosa drink that I thought was festive and fun.  Done.  All I needed were champagne flutes.  Amazon.com had a pack of 48.  Done.  Lesson 5: don’t skimp by purchasing cheep champagne flutes.  The bottoms kept falling off and they were really flimsy.  Get the good ones that arrive assembled in one piece.

I was totally lost about how much alcohol to get. So, I did what any self-respecting unprepared female does… I consulted Pinterest. And Pinterest lied. I thought it would be my friend and it let me down. The chart I found stated that for 30 people, you should have 16 bottles of wine, 3 cases of beer, and 5 bottles of liquor. Done. We were expecting about 55 adults and I’m in charge of the wine. I’m gonna knock this OUT. So I just doubled the suggested amount of wine. AAaaand I had about 20 bottles left over. Good news: just like a good casserole, it’ll stay. (Get the Zoolander reference? No? Dam. Oh, well.) I have enough for several more parties. Several. I also made 2 types of sangria (Pomegranate and Wicked Apple) and a pre-dinner drink, Apple Cider Mimosas. Overboard? Maybe. Necessary? Yes. Lesson 6: Include other cocktails in your drink count and for a party of 55 people, you’ll only need about half of what Pinterest says. Cuz Pinterest lies.

Lesson 7: Set up the non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of water. Cuz I forgot. What had happened wuz that I thought my hubs had grabbed them out of my car. He hadn’t. And I was too preoccupied to realize it until guests started asking for it. Oops. Also, make sure you CLEARLY label what is alcoholic and what isn’t.

Entertainment. One thing we did that I think was well received: we had sitters over to help watch the kids. There were only 2 of them for about 45 kids so I just asked them to try to make sure no one gets hurt or hurts the house. Honestly, we could have used a few more people to help them out because I know it wasn’t an easy job. But the parents didn’t have to worry about finding and paying for a sitter and they could enjoy themselves knowing that their kids were safe and right downstairs. If you’re inviting the kids, include some things that are age appropriate for them to do so that they aren’t released into the wild and left to their own devices. We had coloring books, crafts, and movies to keep them busy. And at some point Nerf guns. So we all felt safe.

As for the adults, football, music/movies, alcohol, and A PHOTOGRAPHER. Y’all, if you’re having a party of significance, I suggest getting a photographer to take good, professional pics. Laura Breese in Atlanta is awesome. She used to take care of my babies so I know she’s trustworthy and she happens to take a damn good picture. You don’t have to worry about carrying around your phone hoping to get pictures of everything. Believe me, she captured moments and images I would never have thought to get. She even offered to take family pics for our guests in front of our tree for anyone who wanted them for cards or whatever.

As guests left, I wanted them to have something useful that they could keep as a way to say “Thank you for coming” (that’s ALSO what she said). Since it was a housewarming party, I was looking for something that brought that to mind. I found an antique skeleton key bottle opener on Amazon. PERFECTION. A simple, small token with a practical use. I ordered a box of 50, a little apprehensive that we might not have enough. We were expecting about 55 adults and I wasn’t sure if each adult would take one or if they would take one per family. My biggest fear throughout this whole planning process was that we wouldn’t have enough of something. I wanted to do this right and not skimp on anything. Turns out, we had a good number left over. I wrote a little note to attach to each and boom. Done.

Overall, I measured success by the number of smiles I saw, laughs I heard, and hugs I received.  It was a great night.  One I hope I never forget.  And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  If you’re reading this and you are one of the ones who came out, I hope you enjoyed it and I can’t wait to do it bigger and better next time. (That’s what she said).  If you’ve read this to get prepared for a party you’re planning, I hope this helps.  Let me know how it goes!

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Comedy Birthday Show with Darren Knight

Two nights ago I took my mom to see Darren Knight (AKA, Southern Momma) for her 21st birthday so she could live my dream of becoming a standup comedian. {Yes, I have a young mom.  We’re from backwoods Mississippi, don’t judge}.
It was just the two of us, which is a treat in and of itself, and the night did NOT disappoint. I even came away with a surprise new girl-crush!

For those of you who don’t know who Darren Knight is, he’s an overnight Facebook comedy sensation who parodies moms from the south and, having a southern momma myself (and being one), I can tell you that his impersonation is spot on. It was an evening full of me elbowing my mom to say, “OH EM GEE, VICKI! It’s like he’s my long lost brother or somethin’!”

If you weren’t raised by a southern mom, you may not realize how “moming” in the south follows a pattern. One I know I’ve picked up along the way.

For example, if you need to talk to your kids, you yell out what you’re gonna say. Sure, you can speak in a normal tone but your kids will ignore you. Then it’ll take a five minute dance of:

Me: Bella, could you please pick your book up off the floor so Georgia doesn’t eat it?

Bella:

Me: BELLA! Did you hear me?

Bella:

Me: CANDY!

Bella: HUH?

Me: OH, SO YOU DO HEAR ME?! I KNOW YOU HEARD ME TELL YOU TO PICK YOUR STUFF UP OFF THE FLOOR! WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO YELL?! DO YOU LIKE IT WHEN I’M CRAZY? NO! NO ONE LIKES ME WHEN I’M CRAZY BUT Y’ALL DON’T LISTEN TO ME WHEN I SPEAK LIKE A NORMAL PERSON! DON’T MAKE ME TELL YOU AGAIN!

Bella: Gosh, mom, you don’t have to yell.

So, instead, and to save us all the pain of living through what you just read, I yell, “BELLA! PICK YOUR SHAT UP OFF THE FLOOR RIGHT NOW OR I TURN OFF THE TV AND THROW AWAY THE REMOTE!” And she picks up her stuff.

Another example:

Clothes. My kids go through clothes like their little bodies are covered in sandpaper. And they love to wear their BEST clothes to play in. Cuz they’re purdy. But then when it’s time for church or a wedding or Thanksgiving dinner or bailin’ Uncle Mikey outta jail for that meth lab again, all their best clothes have holes in them and stains on them and prolly missing a sleeve. So to preemptively solve the problem, I make them take off their “church clothes” as soon as they come in the door. “Putchur play clothes own!” I yell as their sweet little booties walk in the house. Now, of course I have to fish the nice clothes out of the hamper and now they’re all wadded up and wrinkled, but at least I know they aren’t shredded by the rambunctious little honey badgers I call my children.

Darren Knight has observantly captured all of this. And those of us who survived sourthern mommas and those of us who are now southern mommas can all relate beautifully.

The best part of having a southern momma is that she’s always gotchur back. When you’re the child of a southern momma you know that if you’re wronged by someone (even your daddy), your momma will “take care” of the situation, much like Tony Soprano “took care” of his business. Alternatively, if you ain’t actin’ right with the Lord, you know your momma will also “take care” of the situation. Be right with the Lord. That’s all we’re askin’. Mainly that part that says, “Honor thy mother”, AKA do what we say and don’t ask questions.

His standup is different than the videos. If you’re expecting him to stand up on stage and perform an hour of Southern Momma skits, you’ll be disappointed. But if you go in with the expectation of a true stand-up routine, you’ll get lots of laughs.

There were 3 comedians that opened for him. The first one was Gary Cargal. I didn’t really relate to his material but he got a lot of laughs from the crowd. He’s a regular on the Atlanta comedy scene which is great to see. 

The second comedian was a woman who goes by the stage name “Red Squirrel”. Y’all, she’s HILAROUS. I may have laughed more with her than with Darren. She’s little, she’s spunky, and she is crude without you realizing it! She’s my new girl-crush for sure. If you have time to internet stalk anyone today, I highly recommend you waste your time on this chick. The third comedian was Rocky Dale Davis. He’s a young comedian and he’s pretty funny, too. He’s starting to gain traction as a performer so I’d say go see him now.

After the show there was a meet and greet with all of the comedians. Now, y’all need to understand something about my mom. She has this habit of making a bee-line for the door when an event is over. Vicki don’t play. And she walks SUPER FAST. I’m 5’2”. I couldn’t walk fast if I were escaping zombies and into the arms of chocolate wine. So I’m always behind her. She was already out the door and I notice someone smiling at me out of the corner of my eye. Y’ALL, IT WAS RED SQUIRREL!!!!! I geek out, because I’m me, and like a giddy school girl yell out, “OH MY GOD YOU’RE SO FUNNY!” Then I realize I’m being loud and stupid and bring it down a notch to ask, “Can I please get a picture with you?” She was SO nice! So that made my night. As you can see, I was so excited that my hands were shaking. See??

red-squirrelThe selfie will forever commemorate that. #yay. Do y’all geek out over meeting anyone, or is it just me?

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