Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clean House

I have three shows I really like. One of them I catch when I can on the Style Network; it's called Clean House. I love it. It's very formulaic but fun (for me) too, cheesy jokes and all. Here's the formula:
1. A messy family is introduced.
2. The Clean House cast comes to the house to meet the family and check out the mayhem.
3. They begin trying to get the family to let go of the clutter they don't need. (You'd be surprised at the emotional connection people make with the strangest things.)The hostess sits the family down to discover what is causing all of the foolishness and gives them straight talk counsel.
4. They have a huge yard sale. Whatever they don't sell goes to charity. The money they make from the yard sale is matched by the show for the first thousand dollars. This is the money they will use to organize and redecorate 2-3 rooms in the house.
5. The family is sent to a hotel for a couple days while the entire Clean House crew proceeds to clean, organize, and decorate the home.
6. The family comes back for reveal day. Most love the transformation, and hopefully they are motivated to not be clutter slobs anymore.

So, with that said... Sometimes when I watch the show and it gets to the family in the hotel part, the owners of the home will start expressing how nervous they are about how the house is going to be decorated. What if they don't like it? They have picky tastes, etc.

This is where my confusion comes into play. If your home is so packed with trash and clutter that you've got cat poop tucked away for years or a massive ant problem in your kitchen or an overwhelming stench of garbage or you can't sleep on your own bed because there are too many things on top and no where else to put it or the list goes on..... and people are willing to step in and clean up your nasty mess, wouldn't you just be grateful? Who cares if the paint color is one you wouldn't choose yourself? ANYTHING would be an improvement from the pile that it was before. Most of the people on the show are very grateful for the help even before they see the transformation, but a few of them... I tell you. I think that you've lost any credibility as far as your own home design goes once you can't tell what type of flooring you have because there is too much junk covering it.
Sidenote: Why do so many of the people on this show have doll collections? Interesting coincidence, don't you think?
Also, if you ever have a chance to watch one of the 2 messiest home in the country episodes, do it. It will make you feel like your home is a shining beacon of clean.

Husband Tag

Erica tagged me a couple weeks ago...sorry it takes me forever to get to things. (Insert Maren-is-always-late joke here.) I started to answer the tag questions and then remembered that I'd done this one before, or one similar to it. Jake is 32 now, but other than that...

By the way, Jake started his official 12 week training for a half marathon in February this week. If you see him, give him some encouragement or a nerdy thumbs up or something. Gooooooo, Jake!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pictures taken

If you remember my rant about last year's picture taking fun you'll understand why I was looking for an alternative this year. We hired my friend Elizabeth at to take Tessa's two year pictures and some family shots. I'm so pleased that we did. How nice to spend time with a patient photographer --one who wants to take our picture.
We are in the process of picking out which pictures we want, but I did want to share a couple with you that she had posted for us to see. (Uh, if this isn't legal for me to post these yet, Liz, please tell me.) There are several that I love that I will get to show you when I have them in my possession. I'd send you over to the whole client gallery of us, but I will be completely and embarassingly honest in this-- I am too selfish and vain. It turns out I look like a hungry rabid heyena when I laugh sometimes. I laugh a lot. I shouldn't laugh around a camera. Vain, I tell you. I just can't do that to you or myself. (Keep quiet, Jake.) I'll wait until I can pick and choose which ones to show you. Sorry. My blog.

Seasonal Help

I worked with this company off and on for three years while I was attending SUU. I would come home during summer and other breaks and work in good ol' Fashion Place Mall. It was a good set up to have. Then life continued, I moved, was a server at Tony Roma's for a year while finishing college, taught insane but loveable Jr. High Students for 5 years, then retired at the ripe age of 27 to stay home with the kid. I have a couple of small random side jobs that fit into life that I do right now, but Jake's current schedule has been more open during evenings this semester than any of the others. I talked to him about possibly applying for nighttime seasonal help somewhere, just because I could......and because I want the AC in my car fixed.
So I marched into the mall one day and presented my extremely limited schedule to TR wondering how they would weigh previous experience with it. Turns out it wasn't a problem, and I was hired. What I'm getting to is that this was the easiest first day of a job I've had in my life. It was so nice not being completely clueless and overwhelmed and just having things come back to me. No problem. Strut-ting. I've also found that I'm not as terrified to approach people as I once was. Hooray for working on a lifetime of awkwardness! still working on it. I once swore I would never work retail during Christmas again (or ever) because it made me hate people. I lied. I'm tougher this time around. I think it'll be kind of fun and then over before I know it.... and then I'll have made, what?, like 34 bucks or something.
And don't worry to those of you related to me. I will not be Christmas shopping there at all. I will not be finding every possible piece of metal in my possession to engrave like I did last time. I'm just seasonal. I don't get to engrave this time around.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Can you believe this?!

Fox goes for a jogger
The Associated Press

Prescott, Arizona --With a rabid fox locked onto her arm, an Arizona jogger ran a mile to her car and drove to a hospital.

The fox attacked the woman, whose identity was not released, while she was running Monday, biting her foot, then latching onto her arm. She ran to her car, pulled the fox off her arm, wrapped it in a sweat shirt and tossed it into the trunk.
Second Attack
When an animal control officer opened the trunk, the fox attacked him, too.
Both victims are receiving rabies vaccinations.

CAN YOU IMAGINE running a mile with a fox hanging onto your arm by its teeth?!?!?!?!

(This beats the raccoon who still escaped after being tasered by a Texas cop.)

What would YOU have done?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Days leading up to the end o' the month

I know it's about time I posted this stuff. I tried to get a slideshow together so I could put all the pics up at the same time, but I can't figure out what is going wrong --I'm going with collages instead.
We had a celebration with costumes on for Tiny Tots Tunes class.
The kids love to line themselves up by the door when class is done (and sometimes during class). I don't know why. But, it was the easiest picture of a bunch of toddlers I've ever been able to get.
The spider arrived just in time for Halloween decorations. Jake found him right outside the backdoor, killed him, and then decided he wanted a Vogue photoshoot. Creeeeepy. You can kinda see the web through the clouds, and the hair on that thing?! Ew.
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Turn them out knaves all three

We had a very happy Halloween. Gma and Gpa McBride were able to be with us for the weekend. Tessa was beyond happy, and she sobbed when they finally had to leave.
So, we were the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker at our ward's trunk or treat. I thought it was fairly easy to figure out our cotumes (or "coscomes" to Tessa). Apparently to some, it wasn't. I would like to make fun of all those people at this time. Jake has a butcher knife, an apron, and a hat that says "Joe's Butcher shop", Tessa's costume is beyond obvious, and, yes, I'm usually the more obscure one, but considering the company I was keeping plus the candles strung on me and in my apron, it's possible to figure out. Oooooooh, NOW you see. ;) Too funny.
Few understood my crazy cat lady costume from last year either.
I still love dressing up.
Jake and I have almost finished all of Tessa's trunk or treat candy. Uhhhhhh.....sorry, kid.
For Halloween lunch we ate at a place called Matito's. Mmmmmmm. My first time there.There is a dip called the Bob Armstrong that is not on the menu. I wanted a straw and a 32 oz. cup filled with the stuff so I could drink it down in record time. Heaven for my tastebuds.
I would recommend the place.
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Fort Worth Zoo

Happy Birthday, Jake!

We love the Fort Worth Zoo. The trek is well worth it. We were happy that the Ereksons could join us --and, of course, Gma and Gpa McB.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Just thoughts

1. I call Tessa "baby" quite often. She has taken to calling me "baby" right back. It was funny at first, and, well, it's still funny --but I'm starting to feel like a truck stop waitress. "I want more food, baby." "I want watch movie, baby." "I want book, baby." I've been explaining to her that she needs to call me mommy and not baby. So, for the last two days I've been "baby mommy," which works too, I guess.
2. I don't listen to AC/DC, but I'm aware of their music style. They just had like their 112th album come out, and it is being sold exclusively through Walmart. I know if I were in a well known metal rock group, I'd want my face sold right next to the yellow happy face and no where else.
...I'm easily amused.
3. Something has occurred to me the last couple days. A big chunk of personal happiness in life is about other people. The more your thoughts turn to other people and how you can serve them, the more joy you have in your life. I know this isn't new information, but sometimes concepts hit me harder than they would at other times. Selfishness, in whichever form, really drags you down.
4. For Christmas a few years ago Jake bought an acoustic guitar for me. I love the sound of an acoustic guitar, and I'd really love to be able to play. But, um, like I said, I've had it for a few years, and nada. I thought I'd have the self discipline to teach myself. Nope. I should have learned that after I bought the harmonica. Maybe I can take a class someday.
Jake has been picking up that guitar more and more lately. He has been learning songs from some of my favorite artists, and I love it when he plays. There is something about acoustic guitar music that lowers my blood pressure or something. Hopefully I can get some use out of that guitar someday, but I'll enjoy Jake's talents until then.
5. We went to our city's downtown Trick Art Treat evening this last weekend. Many of the shops are open later and there are a few art galleries set up for people to walk through. While walking through the main gallery I was thinking about how personal art really is. The pieces that pull me in don't affect everyone the same way, and the ones I think are better off left in a dark closet, could very well take someone else's breath away.
When I was dancing and performing at SUU, I had the wonderful opportunity to be in all kinds of dance pieces. It was alway so interesting to see what different types of people thought about them. I connected to all of them in some way, but looking back, I am sure that there were some people thinking, "What in the world was THAT one all about?"
There was a painting on Friday night that I termed uncomfortable. Never in a million years would I hang that in my home. Then I remembered a dance I was in that was supposed to make people uncomfortable (including the dancers...white lycra on your thighs with a big spotlight doesn't do much for the ol' self esteem, right Ash?). I think it was theraputic for the choreographer. So there was my connection. I'd rather die than put that particular painting on my wall, but if it worked as some kind of therapy for the artist, or if it sings to an individual who loves it, more power to it. I can appreciate that.
And now I'm missing the art form I kind of get -dance. Sigh.
6. Why is it that pretzels in Pepperidge Farms fish form are tastier than your run of the mill sticks or twisted pretzels? It's the same thing.
7. Isn't it nice when an event you've been planning for a couple of months goes off even better than you thought it would and you don't have the stress of it hanging over you anymore? I think so too.
8. There was a house around the corner that had a drunk driver run his car into the side of it Saturday night before last. On our way home from church we saw the huge hole in the brick and thought there was no way a car could have fit there to do that much damage. It did. Jake went over to see if there was anything he could do to help the home owner. She told Jake that her little boys, whose room the car smashed into, wanted to have a sleepover in the living room that night. She let them all. Thank heavens. Talk about divine intervention. Who knows what would have happened to those boys in that room? The homeowner said the noise the crash made was incredibly scary and that she hadn't slept all night. The wall is sealed up now; you would never know it happened. Oh yeah, turns out the driver got out of the car, ran home, and passed out cold on the floor until the cops came to get him. Strangely enough, there was a similar incident that same night -another drunk crashing into a home. Nice. Can you imagine?
9. I haven't been reading as much as I like to lately, but when I can, I'm reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I really like it so far, much more than I thought I would. So, sorry to those of you who have been suggesting it for years. You were right.
10. Happy Sunday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My Cooking Buddy

*Thanks to the dad for noticing and capturing.

More of October...

Owen's farm was a fun outing for pumpkins and animals. It was also a nice outing for three moms. The little blonde is one of Tessa's favorite friends. You wouldn't think by looking at them that they fight half the time they are together. That said, they get so excited to see each other. Tessa calls it an Anna Day whenever they get to play. I'm glad they are both so forgiving. I don't know if I could personally still be friends with someone who took MY rock at the park which resulted in a meltdown.
Gma McB made and sent a couple of Halloween pillowcases. Awesome.
Anybody ready for Halloween?
I am.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

$ Pressure $

About 10 years ago I was approached at my job in the mall. Some guy was selling magazines for some college deal. Even though he wasn't supposed to be bothering mall workers, he did it anyway. He was loud and a fast talker. Before I knew what I was doing, I was signing a check for a stupid magazine I didn't want, just to get him out of my face. I swore that day that I would never again buy a product under pressure or to shut someone up. Buyer's remorse is not for me. Here's the problem, though: Turning people down is difficult. It's a form of confrontation. I've gotten a ton better, but I'm still working on my confrontation skills. I can disagree with people I've known for 10+ years, no problem, but it gets situational from there.

So now the story connects to an experience from last week. Jake got a call from a lady asking if it would be alright if someone came to our home to test our water. In return we would get a free two night stay at a nice resort. She had our number from when Jake decided to enter to win $1000 dollars from Home Depot... Anyway, Jake asked the lady what they were selling. She said that there was no pressure to buy anything, they really just want to come out and test our water and then give us the two free nights for our time. (And tell us how nice the water is and leave? Suuuuuure.) Jake set an appointment and discussed with me the fact that certainly they were going to try to sell us something, but that 45 minutes with a water testing/soft water salesman would totally be worth a free stay at a nice hotel. I rolled my eyes and asked if I could set the egg timer when he came. Jake said I could and got excited about a resort weekend.

So, Salesman arrived a couple nights later with his water testing chemistry set. He was very amiable. He joked and laughed with us until the fateful time came to show us just how gross our water really is. Of course it's gross. It comes from a recycled man made lake. We weren't surprised by anything he told us, but I think he was hoping for gasps. I really do believe the benefits of what he was selling. It's a reputable company that has been in business for decades --which is usually a good sign. But truth be told, we don't have money for something like that right now. I said to him, "I have to be straight up with you. This is something that interests us, but there is no way we can do this right now. It will have to be later." The mood changed instantly.

He said he appreciated the straightforwardness. I don't think he did.

Jacob agreed with me that it was a home improvement that would have to wait, but we sincerely wanted a brochure and information to keep on file. Please note that we were being sincere about this. It had nothing to do with the stupid two night stay in Randomtown, USA. Mr. Salesman went off about how people who tell him that they will call in a year NEVER do and that he and his buddies at work have bets going about it. Besides, who knows if the price will go up one or two thousand in a year? Are you kidding me? (Also, I didn't tell him I'd call in a year. I was thinking more like two years.) He went off about how much money we are wasting by spending $40 a month on cleaners. I don't know where he got that number. Jake explained to him that we don't have 5 grand just to drop right now, especially in our current schooling condition. Salesman went on to ask personal questions and then explain the one year no interest, no pay plan. Um, but then we have to pay money we don't have at the end of a year. Yes, but, and here is where the red flag really started waving, "you can transfer the balance to a 0% credit card at that point and pay lower interest. I can give you the name of at least 5 different credit card companies who will give you that. Anybody will take your money." Including you. His you-two-are-complete-idiots tone shut me down completely. I wanted him out of my house. He started saying that he would buy the system for us and we could pay him 40 dollars a month. He'd at least make money on the deal.


He said some things that were ridiculous and bordered on offensive during the Mr. Hyde portion of the evening. Finally, right before he left with the obvious attitude that we'd wasted his time, he said, "Well, I guess they promised you something," and flopped the envelope with the resort info on the counter after Jake replied in the affirmative. Jake and I were respectful during his rants, but I was angry after he left. I kept thinking about what I should have said --especially in letting him know that I thought his behavior was out of line and doing no favors for his company. Baby steps. At least I could say no and not budge.

No pressure, indeed. I told Jake that NO prize is worth having to go through that (he agreed) and that this had better be the best two night vacation I've ever been on.

...On Sunday our ward had an adult financial fireside. Jake and I kept joking with each other about how the soft water system could fit in to it. Turns out, it doesn't fit into our budget. Go figure. :)

Our bishop showed us this SNL skit . Funny stuff.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Texas State Fair

We came, we saw, we even cheered a pig race. This is a series of posts to walk you through our trip to the state fair. If you'd like to check it out, great. If not, well, I'm sure that back button on your computer is working just fine, too. ;)
Tessa and I took the train to meet Jake, have a quick picnic dinner, and get a move on. Since I showcase some of the bigger things we did in lower posts, here are some other sights we caught along the way:

Car show.

Why bother with fried food when there is ice cream to be had?

The butter sculpture was Egyptian themed in honor of King Tut's current showing in Dallas. What a great way to welcome the ol' pharoah.
We didn't stay at the pig races very long because the announcer would not shut up. He wouldn't shut up and he kept laughing at himself.

Petting Zoo

I have never been to a petting zoo with a giraffe, kangaroos, or ostriches. In fact, even though I've seen them in the wild and at the zoo, I've never been so close to zebras or ostriches before. It's fair to say that Tessa loved this part of our evening the very best.

This mama pig had seven piglets. I'd be sleeping too if I were her.
Llama with a skater do


I want to turn something in to a state fair one day and win a big
blue ribbon. What makes a fair a fair for me are the competitions. They are easy to look over with all the other big attractions fighting for attention, but I'm so glad we found the handicraft building so we could check out this year's winners. I wanted to share a few:

There were incredible quilts.

Um, these are some seriously stitched up bunnies... ...

I thought the knit/crocheted baby clothes were cool, not so much for Barbie in the corner, but overall I was impressed. I would love to learn to knit, or know how to crochet more than a rectangle. By the way, what is that crocheted tube thing for? It won a second place, but what is it?

Freestyle Dog Dancing

According to the fair announcer, it's "one of the fastest growing sports." The training that goes into it is impressive, certainly, but that statement made me laugh.
Jake told me about a King of the Hill episode where both Hank and Bobby Hill end up competing against one another in dog dancing at the fair. Click here for some quotes from that episode. Two of my favorites:

SKETCH RANDALL: I wish everyone who denies the pure athleticism of dog dancing could see what I'm seeing right now.
DON: We are witnessing a dream. I hope I never wake up and this dream lasts forever. A boy, a dog, a dance.

We didn't want to miss the opportunity to see it live, and we weren't disappointed.

Light parade to end the night

We happened upon a light parade on our way to see Big Tex. Tessa thought it was great. I thought some of it was great and some of it was creepy. Of course I found more entertainment in the creepy parts.

Creepy: Kitchen Craft was apparently the sponsor of the parade. However, I thought the chef moving his arm up and down with a knife in his hand was more Psycho themed.

I told Jake to look genuinely excited that the light parade was coming. Not bad.

Another of my favorite floats featured cute sea creatures with a huge death hook hanging next to them.

Interesting costume, freaky bug mask. At least he got a costume. There were fair workers who only had glow in the dark garbage bag ponchos.

See you next year, Tex!