Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brandi's Tips for a Super Fun Summer!

You want to know the biggest reason I'm really disappointed that the end of the world has been postponed until October? Because that means I still have to get through the entire summer break with my kids, by myself. Honestly, dodging brimstone and earthquakes sounds slightly more pleasant to me.

So, since today is the last day of school here, I thought I'd share my tips for having a Super Fun Summer while being forced to spend time with your children.

1. This one is the most important. Ship your biggest troublemaker off for the summer. Between camps and grandparents who live far away, you should be able to arrange for at least one of your children to be gone for the entire vacation.

2. Buy a good pair of headphones and never take them off. If you can't hear the whining and fighting, it's a lot easier to pretend your children don't exist. Bonus: Once your kids realize you can't hear them bugging you for stuff like dinner, they eventually stop talking to you altogether.

3. Invest in a large bottle of melatonin. Slip five or six tablets into their Cheerios in the morning, and you're guaranteed to have a quiet, restful day!

4. Fake a drug problem and check yourself into rehab. That should buy you several weeks of being able to use the bathroom without children wandering in to tattle on a sibling. Have a "relapse" if you need more time.

5. Rent Swiss Family Robinson and have your kids watch it. Make a big deal of it and how "fun" it would be to be stranded on a deserted island. Then suggest your kids play Swiss Family Robinson in the playhouse in the back yard all Summer long! Give them each a sleeping bag and box of snacks, and tell them you'll see them when school starts again. Remind them that the real Swiss Family Robinson didn't come in the house for bathroom breaks or to watch Sponge Bob or to eat dinner.

6. Play lots of games with your kids, like The First One Who Makes a Single Sound Has to Scrub the Toilet. Or, Mommy's Really Sick and if you Whine it Might Make Her Die. Or, Hide and Go Seek (in which the children hide, and you seek...when you get around to it).

7. Lemonade stands are always a fun Summer activity. Set your kids up at the end of the driveway and tell them they're not allowed back in the house until they've made at least $500. It will teach them invaluable lessons about entrepreneurship and innovation. And should keep them out of the house for at least a week.

8. Use the summer as an opportunity to meet your neighbors, and then send your kids over to play in their yard. Every day.

9. Kids love crafts. Teach them to create "vintage" jewelry, and have them work on it for 8-10 hours a day in an inhome sweatshop a quiet, tucked away room, far from outside distractions. Open an Etsy store and use the proceeds to send them away to camp next Summer.

10. Play "Spa" every day. They think you're playing with them, but you get a massage and foot rub out of the deal.

Happy Summer Vacation!

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it. And I feel fine.

In case you haven't heard, the world is ending tomorrow evening. I wish I'd known sooner. I wouldn't have bothered cleaning my bathrooms or shaving my legs.

Since we'll all either be taken up in The Rapture or destroyed in the apocalypse in the next 30-ish hours, I'd like to take this opportunity to say a few things. Clear the air...maybe burn some bridges.

1. I don't really give a flying crap what annoys you about people's Facebook posts. If I annoy you, unfriend me. I'm writing what I want. You know what annoys me? Rants about what you find annoying about Facebook posts.

2. Compete in triathlons, marathons, etc... because you enjoy it, not because it's what the "cool" people are doing.

3. Teaching primary at church is my own personal weekly hell.

4. You're not saving any money with that coupon if it's for something you wouldn't have bought in the first place.

5. I'll judge you for your dirty kitchen. Clutter and messes are totally excusable-- they happen to everyone except me, but there's no excuse for filth. It's gross. Get off the computer and clean it up.

6. Bennett--I volunteer to be your third if the whole church thing doesn't work out.

7. I've had two doctors suggest that I likely have a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome. I haven't really discussed it much because I lead a (mostly) normal life. Knowing that I may have it hasn't changed anything about me or how I live (I'm just as socially inept and likely to miss sarcasm as always). Also, I see parents with children who have it and the daily struggle they face. I don't want to diminish what they deal with by blathering on about how I have it when I don't have the same struggle. It would be like the Americans living on military installations in Japan that I've been hearing putting themselves in the same category as the Japanese people who lost everything, including loved ones. Sure, they lived through the same disaster, but the experiences can't be compared.

8. I still think that gays should be allowed to marry, and that as long as churches aren't forced to perform the marriages against their will, then churches need to keep their noses (and tax exempt money) out of the legal battle. I think that if you think a gay couple getting married somehow diminishes your heterosexual marriage, you're an idiot. Personally, I think Liza Minnelli's marriage to David Guest was an abomination, but it didn't affect the sanctity of the vows I personally made.

9. Speaking of being gay, Ryan Seacrest: It's time to stop living a lie.

10. Friends don't let friends wear hipster glasses.

Happy Rapture, internets. More than likely I'll be struck down by brimstone (see number eight). It's been nice knowing you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Every gym has its freaks.

Just like at regular theaters, the pervs hang out in the back row.

So, I finally joined a gym a few weeks ago.

When we first moved here, I went to one of the free gyms on the military post. The gym was nice, but it was a long drive and I found myself making excuses not to go.

"I can't go to the gym today. Who will take care of these jalapeno chips if I'm gone? I have a responsibility to their spicy goodness!"

Then I found a sweet treadmill for $70 at a yard sale. I set it up in the garage, and with my weights and stability ball, I had myself a little home gym. Which was great until it got hot. Ninety degrees in a garage in the South is highly unpleasant. I lost my motivation to exercise when I was drenched in sweat before I even started. Also, the family room is directly above the garage, and even with the roar of the treadmill and ear buds in my ears, all I could hear was my kids screaming and jumping like they were holding a rave up there.

So I joined a gym. Air conditioning, pools, TVs, and a kids' program to keep them occupied for a couple of hours a day all summer.

I've been kind of disappointed because everyone has been normal. Half the fun of my two years at the Y in Georgia was the daily freak show that took place there. I miss the crazy parade.

But last week I finally discovered the freaks at my new gym.

One of the fun things about this new gym is a cardio theater. It's just like a regular movie theater, but instead of stadium seating, it has stadium cardio machines. It's where I do the majority of my cardio. Not because of the movies--those are just a bonus. I love it because I can exercise in the dark.

I can wiggle and jiggle and sweat and mouth-breathe all I want and no one can see me!

But I discovered there are some others at the gym who also enjoy having a dark room at their disposal.

On Friday I had to go all the way to the top row to find an empty machine. I usually never go further than the second row.

Apparently that's where all the freaks have been.

The woman next to me had stripped down to her bra and panties to run on the treadmill. I realize that it's a gym and women are in booty shorts and sports bras all the time. That's not what this was. Her bra was most definitely not a sports bra, and her panties were high waisted Hanes straight out of the 6 pack from Wal-Mart. And there was some serious butt crack sweat going on.

And at the end of the row was a couple was on a stationary bike. A couple. As in two people. On one bike. And they were very...happy. Have you ever seen Like Water for Chocolate? You know that scene where they're on the horse? Yeah. It was kind of like that.

That's not the kind of crazy I enjoy at the gym. All that does is make me even more vigilant about wiping down machines before I use them.

It kind of makes me long for the days of getting screamed at in the pool.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Nerd Olympics

Not my team.
These guys are a thousand times cooler than our team was.

So, I know I'm about a year and a half late to the party, but I started watching Glee this weekend. I'm eleven or twelve episodes in and I'm definitely hooked.

If you take away the great singing voices, good hair and fabulous wardrobe, it kind of reminds me of my own high school experience.

No, I wasn't in a glee club. And even though I was in band and we went to competitions, that's not what it reminds me of either.

It reminds me of my senior year, when I was on the Academic Decathlon team.

Yeah that's right. I was in a competition of brains. A synapse to synapse battle to the death. You think band geeks are the bottom of the social barrel? Think again, my friends. Kids on competitive academic teams are as low on the social food chain as you can get.

Our school didn't have an academic team before my senior year. My AP English teacher decided we needed one. He resented the fact that he'd somehow ended up in Podunksville, Wyoming at a school that only valued football and pick up trucks. So, he decided to start one.

And just like in Glee, this dedicated teacher recruited a rag tag bunch of brainiacs. Mostly misfits (like me), a couple of smart popular kids and even a football player thrown in for good measure (and because the rules stated that we had to have at least one C student). And also like Glee, we had no budget because, well, we weren't the football team.

We even had our own Sue Sylvester. The American history teacher/football coach disliked our "hippie East coast" English teacher (who was from Michigan, by the way, but I guess that's why the guy taught American history rather than geography) and took the opportunity to belittle the academic team members whenever possible.

For months we met every morning, studying, practicing and doing drills until our abnormally large brains were ready to explode. The essence of nerd was palpable in that room.

And finally the time came for the state competition. If we won state, we'd be able to go to Phoenix for nationals. Which is basically a nerd's wet dream.

Like I said, we didn't have a budget, but luckily our English teacher had a giant, early eighties child molester van and we were able to fit in the entire team for the hours and hours long trek across Wyoming.

I'd like to say that the Glee similarity continued and we, the underdogs, won the state championship. But we didn't. We came in second. By five measly points.

There may have been nerd tears shed in the halls of the hosting community college that day.

There's nothing sadder than nerd tears.

But I consoled myself with the fact that I took home the gold medal in the essay, creative writing, and technical writing portions. So, gosh darn it, I was a winner after all. It was proof that I was the best writer out of all the high school-aged nerds in the entire state of Wyoming!

So, I may still be have been a nerd, but for a brief and shining moment at a community college in The Middle of Nowhere, Wyoming, I was queen of the nerds.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday Morning Confessions

I make this look good.

1. I put the kids to bed early on Wednesday nights so I can watch America's Next Top Model in peace.

2. I seriously considered shaving the cats for a minute or two yesterday.

3. I also thought about vacuuming them.

4. I prayed with all my heart that it would rain all morning so that field day would be canceled and I wouldn't have to go eat lunch--not once but TWICE--with a bunch of hyped up 5 and 6 years olds.

5. It didn't work.

6. I wear a fanny pack at the gym. Don't you judge me. I have keys and water and my note book and my phone to keep track of. It makes life easier.

7. I can feel you judging me.

8. I'm a little bit worried that Amelia may suffer from Trichotillomania. For real.

9. I may need to take out a large loan just to pay for all the crap that Ben is required to have for Scout camp.

10. I really, really, really hope there are no more tornado warnings in the near future, because our safe room is currently where the litter box resides.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Well groomed pussies.

So, We have cats now. Cats. As in, plural.

A couple of friends found themselves in a situation where they couldn't have their two beloved kitties live with them anymore. So, I said I'd take them. They arrived on Saturday. Or as my kids referred to it all last week, Caturday.

I know some of you are probably confused right now. I have made it clear here time and time again that I'm not really an animal lover. Honestly, animal hater is really a more accurate description.

But, cats are an exception. We always had cats when I was growing up, and I'm willing to forgive things from cats that I'm not willing to forgive in other animals. Kind of like my relationship with Ricky Martin. (Call me Ricky. I've got your Cup of Life right here.)

So anyway, we've been adjusting to life with cats.

The first couple of days, the kids were insane. They followed those poor cats around relentlessly, and drove me crazy with their constant running commentary on just exactly what the cats were doing at each moment. "Mom! Mom! MOM! She's sleeping on the couch!" Five minutes later, "Mom! Mom! MOM! She's still sleeping on the couch!"
They've finally mellowed out a little.

Last night we got some catnip.

Reenie, the Siamese, was all over that stuff like a sorority girl at a kegger. Stripes, a gray tabby, wasn't interested. She just kept eying Reenie with a disdainful look that seemed to say, "Just say no! You know this can only end with a picture of you topless and high on Facebook."

High on the 'nip.

So, if nothing else, they're entertaining. And it's nice to come home from the gym and have someone glad I'm home. Even if it is just because I'm keeper of the treats.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Validation. Almost.

So, my body issues have been rearing their ugly little heads lately.

I'll be content for awhile, and then for whatever reason I'll feel fat and disgusting and worse than I did when I weighed over 300 pounds.

I decided that I really needed to get back to a gym (which will be a whole other post, but spoiler alert: there are no naked Asian ladies). As much as I enjoy my solitary garage workouts, I knew I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I used to when I practically lived at the Y. I feel like if I can get these 20-ish pounds I gained over the last year off again, maybe I'll hate my body less. Maybe I won't. But it's worth a try.

Anyway, one of the perks of my gym is a session with a personal trainer every four weeks. So, I met with mine and she wanted to get some baseline measurements, including my body fat percentage. As she was pinching away with the calipers, she was shaking her head and looking perplexed.

And she told me what I already knew. "I don't think these are very accurate because I can tell what I'm pinching is loose skin and not fat."

Welcome to my world.

So, she decided I'd get to use their fancy schmancy hydrostatic body fat measurement system that they normally charge $100 for. Basically, it uses the principle that fat floats while lean mass sinks to get a far more accurate measurement. So anyway, I had to strip down and climb into what looked (and felt) an awful lot like a Mormon baptismal font.

The verdict? 17% body fat. Yeah, I nearly fainted from shock. The measurement she got with the taping and pinching method was 23%, which still isn't bad. But 17%? That's kind of crazy. In a good way. Also, she told me I was built like a short Venus Williams. I still haven't decided if that's a compliment or not. And I'm not delusional enough to believe for one second that I'm built like Venus Williams. I'm not built like her at all, except for the fact that neither of us were blessed with hips. Or boobs.

I wish I was built like her.

So anyway, I was starting to feel better, thinking that maybe I'm not a fat cow after all. Just a cow with rolls of excess skin that only look like fat!

But then she burst what small bubble of self esteem I had when she said, "But I can tell that most of that 17% lives right here," as she grabbed the fistful of flabby flesh that resides between my (non-existent) boobs and belly button.


Oooh! And speaking of belly buttons, close your eyes and touch your belly button. Go ahead, I'll wait.

See? You totally know exactly where it is even though you can't see it.

Guess what? I don't. Since the tummy tuck, I don't have a freaking clue where it is unless I feel around for it or look at it.

Just thought you might want to know.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Parenting Fail #2673

So, I came out of my room early this morning to find Liam already awake and furiously writing something. The intensity with which he was doing so made me wonder if maybe he was writing a manifesto of some sort.

But no. He was writing this.

I fail at parenting once again.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The battle, not the war.

So, unless you've been in a coma for the past 12 hours, you've probably heard that Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden sometime yesterday.

He was an evil man, and I'm not sorry he's gone.

His death was necessary for us to ever claim success in Afghanistan, but this is not the end of the war.

Last night as the news broke, a lot of people, including myself, half joked on Facebook about how maybe now our troops could come home. But all of us who made statements like that who are connected with the military in any way knew that it was just a hope and not reality.

But this morning I awoke to an inbox full of notes from people telling me how great it was that Will can probably come home sooner because the war is over now.

Guys, the war is not over. It's not even close. No one will be coming home early.

And while there was celebrating in the streets last night (including my street--thanks for keeping me up half the night with your cheering and fireworks, neighbors), those who are actually fighting this war were a little less jubilant.

Don't get me wrong--I don't think there's a military member out there who doesn't wish they were the one who got to put the bullet in his head. But they also know the reality that his death is going to make things a lot more dangerous for awhile.

On the radio this morning they were taking calls from locals about their reactions to the news. One soldier who leaves for Afghanistan in the coming weeks summed it up best:

"I'm glad he's dead, but I'm scared sh#%tless about the retaliation we're going to face."

Military installations at home and abroad are under heightened security as of yesterday. No ID card and installation sticker, no entry. Al Qaeda isn't just a presence in the Middle East. There are sympathizers all over, and they're going to be angry, and they will likely try to strike back.

So, be glad he's dead--I certainly am. But keep in mind that our loved ones in Afghanistan are likely going to pay the price for this in the coming year.

Don't stop being vigilant. Don't stop praying. And don't think this is over.