Oct. 31: Jen’s Halloween playlist

halloweenmisc3 A few years ago I gathered all the Halloween-appropriate music I could find and made a playlist, set it to “random,” and pushed PLAY. Then we had a party. And because the music was so awesome and took me way too many hours to put together, I’m going to share the list with you. Halloween brings out the largesse in me.

My criteria: all songs must have a scary-ish word in the title or have something to do with death or sweets or insanity or costumes or supernatural kinds of things. Some songs are from scary movies. Some just sound scary. Scary scary scary scary scary.

  • Spooky (Dusty Springfield or Santana)
  • You Can Do Magic (America)
  • Love Song for a Vampire (Annie Lennox)
  • Bad Moon Rising (CCR)
  • Stayin’ Alive (BeeGees)
  • Bewitched TV show theme
  • In the Midnight Hour (Billy Idol)
  • Only the Good Die Young (Billy Joel)
  • Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
  • I Want Candy (Bow Wow Wow)
  • Werewolf in London (Warren Zevon)
  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band or Johnny Cash)
  • Freak Out (Le Chic)
  • Ding Dong the Witch is Dead (from The Wizard of Oz)
  • Do You Believe in Magic (Shaun Cassidy—heh heh—or The Lovin’ Spoonful)
  • She’s Freaky (Pitbull)
  • Spirit in the Sky (The Eagles or Norman Greenbaum or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
  • Devil in Disguise (Elvis Presley)
  • That Old Black Magic (Frank Sinatra)
  • Midnight Train to Georgia (Gladys Knight & the Pips)
  • I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor)
  • Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Guns ‘n Roses)
  • I’m Your Boogie Man (K.C. & the Sunshine Band)
  • Beetlejuice theme (Danny Elfman)
  • Munsters TV show theme
  • Supernatural (Raven)
  • The World is a Vampire (Smashing Pumpkins)
  • Addams Family TV/movie theme
  • One-Eyed, One-Horned Flying Purple People Eater (Dr. Demento)
  • I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight (Cutting Crew)
  • Jaws movie music
  • Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin)
  • Dead Man’s Curve (Jan & Dean)
  • Devil with a Blue Dress (Little Richard)
  • Little Shop of Horrors theme
  • Die Another Day (Madonna)
  • Men in Black (Will Smith)
  • Thriller (Michael Jackson)
  • Sugar Sugar (The Archies)
  • Love Potion #9 (The Drifters)
  • Monster Mash (Big Bopper)
  • I Put a Spell on You (Nina Simone or Ray Charles or CCR)
  • Magic (Olivia Newton John)
  • Friend of the Devil (Counting Crows)
  • Ooogie Boogie Song (Danny Elfman, from The Nightmare Before Christmas)
  • Psycho movie music
  • Vampire Heart (HIM—funniest drummer name: Gas Lipstick)
  • Crazy (Patsy Cline)
  • Live & Let Die (Paul McCartney & Wings)
  • Candy Girl (Jackson 5)
  • Toccata & Fugue in D (Bach, used in Phantom of the Opera and every creepy movie ever made)
  • Let’s Go Crazy (Prince)
  • Some Call it Magic (Raven)
  • Witch Doctor (Ray Stevens)
  • Superfreak (Rick James)
  • Somebody’s Watchin’ Me (Rockwell & Michael Jackson)
  • This Magic Moment (Roy Orbison)
  • The Candy Man (Sammy Davis, Jr.)
  • King Tut (Steve Martin)
  • Strangers in the Night (Frank Sinatra)
  • Tainted Love (Soft Cell)
  • Magic (The Cars)
  • The X-Files TV show theme
  • Ghostbusters (Ray Parker, Jr.)
  • They’re Coming to Take me Away, Ha Ha (Dr. Demento)
  • Get Your Freak On (Missy Elliott)
  • Very Superstitious (Stevie Wonder)
  • Weird Science (Oingo Boingo)
  • Go Away Little Girl (Donny Osmond)
  • Witchy Woman (The Eagles)
  • YMCA (The Village People—best costumes EVAR!)
  • Nightmare on My Street (DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince)
  • Halloween (Dave Matthews Band)
  • Jeepers Creepers (Billie Holiday)
  • Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)

Have a great Halloween! Boo!


Oct. 30: Manullang Monster Mash

+ Mother Mary too!

Stupid embed code won’t work. Follow this link to watch the video.


Oct. 30: Halloween dessert

Candy Corn Pudding Parfait I mentioned last week that I’d found a fun, festive dessert to make for the teachers’ conference dinner, which was last night. Here’s the picture and the recipe that accompanied it.

There were several things about the recipe that I wasn’t thrilled about, the biggest of which was the candy corn flavored Hershey’s Kisses that were supposed to be melted and added to the orange layer. Everything I found on the Internet about these seasonal candies is that they taste totally nasty. I LOVE candy corn, but I know not everyone does, so I certainly didn’t want to make a candy corn flavored dessert. Secondly, I did a trial run of a candy corn flavored Hershey’s Kisses-less version and it was pretty blah. I mean, how much vanilla pudding does a person want to eat at one sitting, no matter how cute it might be?

I spent approximately one week waking in the middle of the night with ideas of things that could be added to the pudding to make it taste good and look right. Because really, it was the look of this dessert I liked best, but I knew I couldn’t make the dang thing out of Play-Doh. The last dinner in which I served Play-Doh did NOT go well. I haven’t seen those guests in years.

I’m not sure if it occurred to me in the middle of the night or during a more sane hour, but finally I decided to make the dessert as a cheesecake. I have a good recipe for an easy, yummy key lime pie that I figured I would modify a bit. Here’s what I ended up making:

Jen’s Halloween Cheesecake Treats

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • icing color paste (yellow and orange)
  • Cool Whip
  • Hershey’s Kisses Candy Corn
  • Dessert cups, 4-8 ounces

  1. This is how mine looked.Mix cream cheese, milk, and orange juice concentrate in a blender. Add small amounts of yellow icing color and continue to blend until mixture is desired color and smooth.
  2. Pour a small amount of yellow cheesecake mixture into each dessert cup. Let chill.
  3. Add orange icing color into the remainder of the cheesecake mixture and blend until desired shade of orange.
  4. Pour a larger layer of orange cheesecake mixture over the yellow in each dessert cup. Let chill.
  5. Before serving, top with Cool Whip and a Hershey’s Kisses candy corn.

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on the size of dessert cups.

Misc. comments and what I would do differently next time:

  • I prefer real whipped cream over Cool Whip. It was impractical for this event, but I would definitely use real cream if I was making this to be served at home.
  • The Hershey’s candy corns were cute, but ridiculously expensive and really no better than regular candy corn for this dessert.
  • I used 9-oz. punch cups. They were way too big. This is a dense and VERY sweet dessert; I think servings anywhere from 4-oz. to 6-oz. or so would be a much better size.
  • I look forward to experimenting with different flavors. In the past, I’ve always used this recipe with key lime juice instead of orange juice concentrate; I think it’d be fun to try lemon. Not sure if peppermint would taste very good, but I think it’d be cute and Christmas-y if it were red and green—what flavor would work with that?
  • Another option would be to make the different colored layers different flavors. Maybe lemon for the yellow, and orange for the orange? Or you could really freak people out and do lemon for the orange and orange for the yellow. Did I just blow your mind?

Easy and fun. I liked. smiley


Oct. 30: New girl group

If you watched The Office last night, you might have seen a promotion at the end for a webisode starring Subtle Sexuality, a new girl group comprised of Kelly and Erin. The video isn’t embedding correctly, so here’s a link to the first of three parts. The second and third should follow.

I’m liking Erin, the new girl; she seems to fit in well with the insanity of the ensemble, and I love how she takes the music video so seriously. But Andy? Nobody beats Andy these days. The thing last night with him and the birthing coaches and all that? Hilarious. And his cameo in the music video is priceless. Love him.


Oct. 29: Happy birthday, Sherilee!

Best wishes to my dear friend Sher, who’s celebrating her birthday today. A beautiful song in honor of your special day:

Much love, sweet girl, today and always!


Oct. 27: Wherein I freak out a little

Previously, on What’s Causing Jen’s Back Pain?

(Not actually Jen) Jen’s evil doctor, thinking her back pain can be fixed with chiropractic adjustments, decides to pass off the mystery of her continuing pain to her rheumatologist. Rheumatologist’s next appointment is two months away. Whatever will Jen do in the meantime?

Tonight, on What’s Causing Jen’s Back Pain?

The latest in the continuing saga.

I’ve had way too many sleepless nights in the past few weeks. For several months I’ve had to sleep sitting up, but recently it’s been painful even to do that. I take four Advil at midnight and am up again at 3 a.m. in excruciating pain. I can’t live like this. I have three more weeks before my date with the rheumatologist, and that’s much too long to go without sleep. I went back to see my regular doctor today.

He asked me to remind him when all this started, what possibly caused it, all that stuff we’ve gone through a thousand times. But it seems he had forgotten about my great fall in June. Suddenly he had all sorts of questions about the location of my pain, how severe it gets, what relieves it, and what makes it worse—again, things we’ve gone over before. But this time, he suggested that I might-possibly-maybe-could have a compression fracture.

Do you know what a compression fracture is? It’s a broken friggin’ back.

The doctor ordered x-rays, and I had them taken immediately at the hospital. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait for the radiologist to send my doctor the report and then wait for my doctor to contact me. Victor got the radiologist’s report this afternoon because he’s sleeping with the radiologist. Or maybe he just works with him. I don’t know. I don’t pay attention to that kind of stuff.

I spent much of the afternoon in an oh-my-god state. On the one hand, I was concerned about what it would mean if my back actually IS broken. Surgery? Wheelchair? Would I have to move in with Nana, horror of horrors? On the other hand, I was so glad to actually be doing something to solve this painful mystery, I almost felt cheery. Almost.

My new best friend? The radiologist found some mild lumbar disc degeneration at L4-5. No spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis. Pedicles appear intact. (I have pedicles! I have no idea what those are, but they sound like genitalia! Hee hee!) The only remarkable part of the report: “The patient appears to have six nonrib-bearing vertebral bodies.” Most people have five vertebrae. I have six. This means I am a mutant freak, and I have no choice but to join the circus. It’s been lovely knowing you all. Please see me when I visit your town.

The good news is that the radiologist didn’t see a compression fracture; my back is most likely not broken. I expect I’ll hear from my doctor soon and we’ll see what the next step will be—we’re guessing it’ll involve either an MRI or euthanasia. Until then, I’ve been OK’d to take more Advil and some potent sleeping pills. I don’t want to do this for the long term, but I think it’ll be alright until I start traveling with the freak show crowd.

More later, I hope.


Oct. 26: Fancy Clifford™

Look who got to wear the Big Red Fart Suit at school today! Yes, it was Fancy Lori!

She tried to hug me as I walked into the building. It was all I could do not to kick her in the neuticles.


Oct. 25: Bond movie revelation (I’m so ashamed)

My first memory of James Bond is from seeing the commercial for For Your Eyes Only in 1981. I remember the guy with the weird glasses in the car on the side of the mountain, and Bond kicks the car and it falls down the cliff. Bad. Ass. Of course, the Sheena Easton theme song was huge at the time, too. I didn’t see the movie until I was in high school, but it quickly became one of my favorites. Roger Moore was my preferred Bond (this was before I had any sense at all), and I rented and watched it over and over.

I’ve always known that Topol was in For Your Eyes Only, but never paid much attention to who he played. Besides Lynn-Holly Johnson—still riding high from Ice Castles—this film wasn’t exactly star-studded. After we saw Fiddler on the Roof on stage in August, I’ve watched for For Your Eyes Only to air again, just to see Topol in another one of his well-known roles. I didn’t remember his character, but Vic said he played a good guy. Seems like every time it’s been on, I miss his scenes.

For Your Eyes Only was on Bravo this morning, and I watched as I v-e-r-y slowly drank my coffee. I kept waiting and waiting for a recognizable Topol. I was checking email on my phone when I heard a recognizable voice… and I looked up to see it was coming out of a very UNrecognizable Topol. And then I started yelling like a fool for Vic to GET IN HERE RIGHT NOW!

This is the Topol I’ve known all my life:
And this is how he looks in For Your Eyes Only:
Tevye, a poor Russian milkman Milos, a rich Greek playboy with pinky rings

Vic just laughed at me. He couldn’t believe I’ve been watching this movie for 25+ years and never knew this character—this kind of major character, who happens to be in many scenes in the last two-thirds of the movie—was Topol.

But come ON! The pinky rings! You can see how they’ve thrown me off all these years, right?


Oct. 24: Things that bum me right out

What a rotten week. Seriously.

My friend Sherilee posts a Friday Night Grateful Moment on her blog every week, and it’s always inspiring and reminds me to appreciate the good things in my life. And I do appreciate them, I do. It’s just that the really sucky parts of this week are what stand out most right now. Sorry, Sher—I know you try to bring some beauty into the world, and then I muck it all up with my grouchy, complain-y posts.

  • Many people from school are sick right now, so we PTO babes decided to cancel tonight’s Movie Night in the gym. Katie and Jack are disappointed, and promising to reschedule doesn’t make it any better. We might have to try to make it up to them by doing movie night at the theater—which will undoubtedly end up being ridiculously expensive and ultimately not really make everything all better because tomorrow they’ll still be talking about how sad it is that Movie Night was cancelled.
  • Almost everyone who had committed to help with the book fair setup yesterday had to cancel due to illness. The people who did show up worked extra-hard, and the Scholastic rep was shocked we got done in an hour so I guess we kicked ass at book fair setup. However, I lifted a lot of boxes and later realized I shouldn’t have…
  • … because I spent most of the night walking around the family room whining and cursing at my back pain. It certainly doesn’t take much to make it unbearable nowadays. I’m tellin’ ya, the spine-ectomy is totally happening.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me is on the Bravo network right now. Katie saw the title and said, “That reminds me of The Spy Who Shoved Me,” which is an episode of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody or Suite Life on Deck or one of those Disney Channel shows. I love when current TV shows parody old stuff. I do not love that my kids don’t get it.
  • Which reminds me, there are so many shows that parody The Flintstones, Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch… and my kids don’t catch the hilarity of it. And I have to explain what the show is making fun of, and it makes me sound like a big fat moron because you can’t quite convey the COOLNESS of those shows when you describe them to kids of this generation. Those shows weren’t really as stupid as I make them sound, were they? I don’t think I want to hear the answer. I can’t handle the truth. Pffft.
  • I didn’t write about this as it was happening (you’re welcome), but the other night I woke up nauseous and couldn’t keep food down for 24 hours. It was sooo not cool. I wasn’t running a fever or sick in any other way, so I’m guessing all the ibuprofen I’ve needed finally ate through my stomach lining. Or it might have been food poisoning. Either way, it was not one of my grateful-est moments of the week. Saltines became my best friend and I’m still taking it easy food-wise. Yesterday afternoon I thought I was feeling flu-ish but this morning I’m okay, THANK BUDDHA.
  • Since I was still woozy Thursday evening, we opted not to go out to August: Osage County. Dang.

OK, fine; not everything sucked.

  • I finalized the menu and delegated duties for the conference dinner on Thursday. And I found that cute little dessert—which I’m doing a trial run of this weekend; I’ll let you know the outcome—and made decisions about decor, etc. I’m looking forward to it.
  • It’s shocking, but it’s true: I remembered to wear a bra to the PTO meeting this week. Yay me.
  • I was able to give away our August: Osage County tickets on Facebook. A friend jumped at the offer, and he said the show was excellent. Although I wish I’d been able to see it for myself, I’m glad the tickets didn’t go to waste.
  • This afternoon we’re going to Darlene and Wellington’s for lunch. Darlene’s making cottage cheese loaf. I loooove cottage cheese loaf. I hope I can work up an appetite between now and then—maybe when I catch a whiff of it, I’ll feel ready to dive right in. Yum.
  • Our big PTO fundraiser ended yesterday. Next week we’ll see how we did. Cross your fingers, please.
  • Prizes for selling fundraiser items were cute little necklaces. We grown-ups wore a few at school every day to show how cool they were and encourage the kids to sell a lot of stuff to get some necklaces for themselves. Jack added the necklaces I wore all week to those he rightfully earned, and went around this morning looking like a mini-BeeGee—if a BeeGee wore Star Wars jammie pants and didn’t know how to make proper gang gestures.

    Jack and his bling-bling
    This is one funny little dude.
  • There was much fun to be had on Facebook this week—my friends make me LOL. Katie and Jack are always saying, “What? What’s so funny?” when I get on Facebook, but most of the stuff that makes me LOL is stuff I don’t really want them to see, so I try to LOTI.
  • Thank you to all who comment on my blog posts. I love comments, and there were some doozies this week. I don’t reply very often because you’re all so witty and charming, I don’t want to take away from that with more of my own blather. Just know that I appreciate you very, very much.


Oct. 23: Big red freak

clifford The book fair at our school starts next week. If you haven’t volunteered for at least one shift of cash register duty, why not? I don’t care if you’re not affiliated with the school—that’s how many blanks I have in the volunteer schedule right now. Just get your arse in here and work. Thanks.

Clifford (as in The Big Red Dog, as in the thing in the photo on the right, dummy) was making rounds this morning to get kids excited about the book fair. It did not get me excited about the book fair. I’m not a fan of people in mascot-like costumes—although I do love watching a good mascot fight; I think that might be one of my favorite things, like, EVER. Otherwise, people in full-body costumes creep me out. Even Mickey Mouse is a little sketchy, and you know I loves me some Mickey Mouse. The anonymity is mostly what’s so weird about it, like did you know that the person inside the Mickey Mouse costume is usually a female? While that certainly doesn’t bother me in theory, it goes right along with that things-are-not-what-they-seem factor that gives me the willies. Not being able to see the person’s face, of course, means that I don’t know if he or she is smiling or frowning or crying or whatever; I don’t know why, but I assume he or she is being a giant passive-aggressive asshole and making mean faces at me. Also, you know those costumes have got to be so hot and uncomfortable, and what kind of skank would voluntarily climb into a sweaty, smelly, furry suit? Do I want that person close enough to me to pose for a picture? I don’t think so.

Clearly, I’ve got issues with mascots.

The librarian—we’ll call her Emily Elizabeth—was on double-duty this morning; she escorted Clifford to each classroom AND pooper-scooped. Clifford is a BIG dog, remember; he can leave a real wake behind him. I’m guessing she was also on the lookout for excessive leg-humping—that would explain the rolled up newspaper she was carrying.

After their school tour was done, I saw the librarian carrying a large box that said “Clifford costume.” That was my first clue that the person inside wasn’t a book fair rep. The second was when she whispered to me, “Oh yeah, he’s having a great time in there.” And then I remembered that a few minutes before I saw Clifford, I saw the principal talking to the librarian. Could it have been him inside that costume? If so, I’d like to take back that skank comment, and probably should say I didn’t mean the leg-humping one either.


Oct. 21: Celebrating the Voss way

balloons My sister posted a photo on her blog the other day and I stole the high-res version to print and then made a low-res version to put on my blog. Why? Because I’m a bad little sister who never learned not to steal from her big sis but she always let me get away with it so really the fault lies with her, don’t you think?

Ron’s 50th birthday was Monday and I let it go by without even a single mention. Shame on me! I’m a bad baby sis and a bad sister-in-law. I doubt Ron cares, but I still feel kinda bad. This week was hectic the minute it started, and that’s my excuse for failing to post a birthday message or cake or picture of a balloon or anything festive. If we had had a party like we should have, here’s what it would look by now… dead, sad balloons hanging from the ceiling.

By the way, a Google image search for “deflated balloon” actually brings up pictures of a lot of things that LOOK like deflated balloons. Ye be warned. You can’t un-see that stuff, people.

Also, that balloon photo is not the one I stole the high-res version of to print. I’m not a weirdo.

Ron’s real birthday celebration happened in Colorado with Kathy, Sean and Stephen. They did all sorts of fun stuff in honor of the old man, including dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Denver. And that’s where the afore-mentioned photo was taken:


That’s the birthday boy, my brother-in-law; my fab seester Kath; and nephews Sean (22) and Stephen (21). I like seeing them all together, having fun, and being a family. I mean, they’re like this pretty often, but not always when cameras are around, and certainly not when one of them is turning 50. But mostly, it makes me happy to share this photo because these are people I really, truly love.


Oct. 21: Potty mouth

One of my Facebook friends said that while on her son’s computer, she tried to get to my blog and the parental controls set on his account wouldn’t let her in. I had no idea that Stuff Jen Says is profane enough to be caught by naughty-filters. Big apologies to anyone who ends up here on an innocent Google search and is shocked at what they find. I’m pretty sure there’s a lot worse stuff out there, though.

I ran my blog URL through a film rating tester. I haven’t done this in a while and am too lazy to try to find the results of the last one. This time, the results were a big, fat ‘R’ rating. Honestly? I’m not surprised at all by the rating, but very surprised it didn’t list a lot more of the profanity I’ve recently used.

Click here to find the rating for YOUR blog!

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • piss (2x)
  • cocaine (1x)

Don’t judge me.


Oct. 21: All H1N1-y

The swine flu has hit our house. It might not be the swine variety, actually, but it’s definitely the flu. Katie started feeling crappy on Monday; yesterday she had a fever of 101° so I kept her home again today. It’s just a matter of time before the rest of us get to feeling swiney. This makes me not one bit happy.

Last night I had a back spasm that could not be relieved. I know, because I tried everything and nothing worked. Not even tears. Not even whining. Not even cursing loudly at the heavens, and just to make sure all my bases were covered, at hell. I was awake way too much during the night, which meant Vic was awake too, and because Insecure Dog Casey will not let me go to another room without her, she was awake as well. What this all means is that Casey is NOT the most snarly one in the house today. Although the spasm is finally gone-ish this morning, I’m exhausted and am going to use Katie’s sick day as mine, too.

Jack said 13 out of 23 students in his class were out sick yesterday. Attendance at last night’s PTO meeting was especially low—I think there were only eight people there besides the board and principal. The good thing about that was MORE BROWNIES FOR US! Fancy Lori brought a platter of delicious chewy brownies that I probably could have devoured. I kinda wish I had—it’s hard to imagine that it would’ve made me feel any worse than I do now. Plus, y’know, BROWNIES. Brownie overdose is one of the best kinds of overdoses, wouldn’t you agree? Brownie hangover? Not so much.

Tomorrow night is another one of our Broadway in Portland shows, AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. Heard of it? Me neither. After reading the very good review from The New York Times when the play opened on Broadway, I’m looking forward to seeing it. (I love the title of the review: “Mama Doesn’t Feel Well, but Everyone Else Will Feel Much Worse”—sounds like a normal day in our house. Heh heh heh…) The tour cast has a few actors I’ve heard of, and nearly every one of them has been in at least one Law & Order, so there ought to be some familiar faces, for sure.

Saturday night is PTO’s first Movie Night of the school year. We’re showing Monsters vs. Aliens, in which fun will be had by all.

I led three volunteer training sessions yesterday, and have another one Friday. Next week is crazy busy with even more PTO duties/doodies. I’m coordinating the book fair that runs all week, as well as a teachers’ dinner on one day of conferences. Most of my PTO peeps are helping me with these events, and there are lots of volunteers to work the book fair. Those things are the only way I can face the week without first curling up in a fetal position under my desk.

Yesterday I found a festive, easy dessert to make for the teachers’ dinner. Is this the cutest?


Those aren’t regular candy corns on top; they’re seasonal Hershey’s Kisses that—according to many reviews I read on message boards across the ‘net—taste like diaper-flavored jelly beans. But they look adorable, right? And cute food is fun food. If I’m not able to find the Hershey’s variety, I’ll just use regular candy corn. Or maybe I’ll use regular candy corn anyway, because I don’t want to set off a diaper-scented puke-fest at the teachers’ dinner.

I’m going back to bed.


Oct. 18: Oh, the randomness of it all

My bloggy friend Jen E over at Momma Blogs a Lot started a new blog that she uses just for memes, leaving her regular blog for regular stuff. Smart girl. I guess I don’t care as much about my readers as she does.

  1. Is there anybody you just wish would fall off the planet?
    Sure. Who that person is changes on a pretty regular basis.
  2. How do you flush the toilet in public?
    I avoid public restrooms as much as possible. When I have to use them, I do whatever’s necessary to avoid touching anything with my hands.
  3. Name one thing you worry about running out of.
  4. What are your super powers?
    My typing speed is incredibly frightening to my enemies
  5. Where are your car keys?
    Where they belong—in my purse
  6. Last song you listened to?
    I’m watching “Rent” right now, so pretty much every song on the soundtrack
  7. What’s your most annoying habit?
    I have no annoying habits whatsoever
  8. Where did you last go on vacation?
    Sunriver, Oregon
  9. What is your best physical feature?
    I think my ear lobes are kinda nice—well, they’re clean, anyway
  10. What CD is closest to you right now?
    Can’t be more specific than to say “Christmas music”
  11. What three things can always be found in your refrigerator?
    Shredded cheese, butter, milk
  12. What superstition do you believe/practice?
    Can’t think of any
  13. What color are your bed sheets?
  14. Would you rather be a fish or a bird?
    A bird, because I would totally poop on people who deserve it
  15. Last thing you broke?
    Our Internet connection
  16. Do security cameras make you nervous?
  17. If you wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?
    “Today I shall be witty, charming and elegant. Or maybe I’ll say ‘um’ a lot and trip over things.” (What, you can think of something that better describes my life?)
  18. Last time you went to a cemetery?
    Three years ago—Jacksonville
  19. Last concert you went to?
    Spinal Tap, “Unwigged and Unplugged”
  20. Favorite musician(s)/bands you’ve seen in concert?
    Most memorable was probably Billy Joel
  21. Next concert you’re planning to attend?
    Don’t know
  22. Do you talk to yourself?
  23. Have you ever adopted or purchased a pet?
  24. Have you ever been present when an animal is being born?
    Yes, my cat L.C. had babies when I was in college. It was amazing. Apparently I saw a cat give birth when I was young, but I don’t remember it at all, much to Mother Mary’s dismay.

Please play along on your own blog or in a comment.


Oct. 18: The Office musical

Random Sunshine posted this to Facebook this morning and I’m stealing it because if you enjoy The Office, you’ll love it and that makes stealing okay. So I’ve heard.


Oct. 17: Scaredy Cat

One of this week’s “viral videos,” according to The Daily Beast. I it.


Oct. 17: School portraits

The kids’ school pictures arrived yesterday.

Katie Jack
Katie, 4th grade ~ Jack, 2nd grade

Time for comparisons for the past three years:

 Katie 2nd grade Katie 3rd grade Katie 4th grade

Jack kindergarten Jack 1st grade Jack 2nd grade

Yeah, I’m a little biased because I’m their mom, but I say they’re growing up just fine.


Oct. 16: Major inconvenience

We’ve been without Internet access at home the past few days and I cannot believe how little time it took me to feel insane without it. Sure, I have my iPhone and can check email, but it’s a pain to type out replies on that teeny touch keyboard. And yes, I can get on the Internet with the phone, but not enough web sites have mobile versions to make browsing quick enough to make it worthwhile. It got old very fast.

And blogging! Blogging is virtually impossible. The other day, when I had to vent a little over the Lunchlady Doris incident, I typed up my blog post in Word, then copied it into an Outlook note, synced my iPhone using iTunes, copied the note, and pasted it into the Blogger editor window. It wouldn’t let me change anything once I got it in there, so I couldn’t format the text or add images of a nasty lookin’ wart-faced hunchbacked lunchlady like I wanted to. But at least I got the post published. It took so much effort that I haven’t tried it again since.

Hopefully the Internet access thing will be resolved soon and life at the House of Manullang will return to its lovely always-online self.

Tonight Victor’s parents are out of town, and he suggested I go over to their house to catch up on emails and blogging, etc. It’s peaceful and dark here, with a trouble-free Internet connection, but I gotta say that I’m actually a little freaked out. I mean, there’s all this creaking and unfamiliar outside noise, and I can’t figure out what switch turns on the dang overhead light in the family room, and I think I might go home soon because now that I’m typing all this out I’m suddenly super-scared. I thought I felt better when I found the chocolate stash, but ultimately it really only made me want potato chips.

Alright, so quickly quickly quickly with the rest, and then I’ll publish and head home.

‘Twas a big day for the family because three of the four of us were up front for this morning’s school assembly. We PTO babes made an announcement about our current fundraiser and I played the part of Vanna with the prize poster. Jack’s class performed a song with some marimba things. And Katie—I can’t believe this—KATIE played a piano solo! In front of her whole school! This girl definitely is braver than I was at that age. She did a really good job.

I think my favorite part of assembly was when another girl sang The Hoedown Throwdown (or whatever it’s called) and my gal Cassie sang along out in the hallway—she knew every word and every dance step and it was a little bit pathetic but also so, so funny. Oh, and I touched Cassie’s tramp stamp, but I didn’t really mean to. Well, I meant to, but I didn’t realize how totally inappropriate it was until I had already done it and then I was so embarrassed that I told everyone I touched it. Goodness, I need help.

Victor’s going to a Seahawks game on Sunday with his dad and brother. Katie’s going up to Seattle with them, but she’ll hang out with Grandma and Abby while the boys are at the game. It’ll be a Mom-and-Jack day at home, I guess. He’ll probably celebrate the specialness of our time together by playing outside with his friends all day.

That’s it, I guess.


Oct. 14: Donuts and The Evildoer

This morning was our Donuts with Dad event at the school. It was a smash hit—lines out the door—dozens more dads and kids than we expected—ran out of almost everything—and very, very fun. We had 20 dozen donuts, ran to Albertsons and got six more, and still ran out. Three gallons of milk disappeared quickly. Coffee was the only thing that was still left at the end.

We hadn’t expected so many people to show, but I guess free donuts and dads go together well. We’ll try it again in the spring, maybe, with lots more donuts and milk, at least one additional line, and more people to help out.

But, for the most part: Hooray! We done good!

The PTO serves dinner to teachers on the one day of conferences that run through the evening, and that meal falls under my umbrella of responsibility this year. Fortunately, everyone else will chip in to bring the meal components so it’s not as though I have to whip up the whole thing on my own. In a meeting last week, someone suggested I talk to the cafeteria manager about using the ovens so we can have the food nice and hot for serving. Excellent idea!

But today I decided I’m not going to talk to the cafeteria manager about using the ovens. In fact, I’d like to go the rest of my time at this school without ever facing that woman again.

You know how some people enjoy their job, don’t freak out when little unexpected things happen, and are nice to others? This woman—I’m going to call her Lunchlady Doris—is definitely not one of those people. It’s sad, too, because she works in a friggin’ school. How often does a school day go as planned? Isn’t there always a kid who gets hurt or wets his pants or throws up in the hallway or cries because a PTO vice president gave him a wedgie again? Really, we try to structure school days as much as possible, but I don’t care how good you are; there’s only so much a person can do.

We had barely walked in the door of the cafeteria this morning when Lunchlady Doris asked—quite cheerily, actually—“What’s this?” Dina, Random Sunshine™ and I were carrying gallons of milk and a huge box of plates and cups so it was obvious we were up to something. One of us said, “We’re doing ‘Donuts with Dad’ this morning.” Lunchlady Doris said, “Oh, no one told me.”

My first thought was “Oh well!” because we didn’t expect Lunchlady Doris to help with anything, so why did it matter whether she knew about this? We weren’t planning to go into her kitchen. We weren’t even going to be in her way, as we set up our tables at the far end of the cafeteria.

Then her assistant says to her, “You didn’t know ‘Donuts with Dad’ is today? You didn’t see the 3-foot sign out front?”

Heh heh heh. I kinda loved her assistant.

In fact, he was so awesome that even though his shirt said Gabriel, I’m going to call him SuperMegaDude.

SuperMegaDude came out and helped us set up our tables and checked on us a couple times to make sure everything was going OK. He might have just wanted donuts. I don’t care. I would’ve given him a whole box for being such a SuperMegaDude.

At one point there was some conversation between Dina and Lunchlady Doris and I heard Lunchlady Doris yell—YELL!—“I can’t hear you with these fans going!” so Dina yelled back, “OK!” and then gave me a look like she had just been punished for something. I don’t know what that was all about, but as Dina walked toward me she shrugged and said, “Oh, that’s nothing new” as though she’d dealt with Lunchlady Doris before and she was exactly as big a psycho control freak as she seemed.

As we began to open the boxes of donuts I asked if anyone had packed plastic gloves for serving. None of us are food service experts, so we don’t keep a big supply of these on hand. Maybe we should. We had none, and considered using our bare hands, but with all the swine flu precautions going around, that seemed careless. I went up to the kitchen door and (politely, maybe even kinda flirty) asked SuperMegaDude if they might have two or three sets of gloves we could use for serving.

SuperMegaDude said, “Sure! What size?” and went over to a cabinet to get them.

But then Lunchlady Doris looked at me and said, “We don’t have to provide those, you know.”

I stood there for a second, waiting for her to laugh and say she was kidding. Or say she didn’t have to provide them, but would anyway. Or something, anything. But she just stood there and stared right back at me.

So I turned around and walked away.

It’s not like I wanted the gloves to make balloon animals; I wanted them to keep from spreading germs among the kids and their dads. YES, we should’ve been more prepared and had them ourselves. But you would think that a lunchlady might be more concerned with food safety than having to share her 5-cent gloves with idiots who can’t plan a food-related event well.

We got the donuts distributed just fine without the stupid gloves. I licked my fingertip before grabbing each donut, so I stayed nice and clean. Now all the dads have my herpes.

Point of my story: Lunchlady Doris is now in a very elite group, created in her honor by at least one PTO Executive Board member—the Society of Evil Lunchladies Who I Hope Have an Unfortunate Colander Mishap (trust me, that’s waaay better than my Shit List). Come conference dinner time, the teachers will have a warm meal, but probably not piping hot.

Oct. 13: Coffee break post

Yesterday was practically non-stop excitement. Well, busy-ness, anyway. I felt like I barely had a moment to breathe or nap or watch a short SVU marathon. Days like that kinda suck. Actually, it wasn’t awful awful; there was fun stuff going on but it wore me out. That’s why you’re getting a bulleted list today, and FYI, it’s only as long as my coffee mug is deep.

  • I had lunch with my mom yesterday. This time she didn’t climb any fences, but she did get lost trying to find us on the hospital campus EVEN THOUGH WE WERE RIGHT WHERE WE SAID WE’D BE. What are we gonna do with her, people? As Vic said, “She’s teaching our nurses and she can’t find her way down the stairs?” Fortunately, she’s not teaching geography. We had a nice lunch together when we finally connected. Maybe Loveliest Lori will drive up north to join us next time???
  • I went back to work after lunch and there was too much to do so I’m going in again this morning. Another department requested some work too, and I don’t know if I’ll get to all of that today so I’ll probably have to work more tomorrow. Not complaining, not complaining! I didn’t work much last month so this is making up for some of that.
  • Tomorrow the PTO is hosting a “Donuts with Dad” thing at the school. Kids will bring their dads and I betcha can’t guess what they’ll eat! Random Sunshine™ and I are plotting to hide at least one box of Krispy Kremes to devour later on our own, when no one’s around to see. Oink.
  • Last night a bunch of bookstores did launch parties for the newest “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book. Katie and Jack went, and both took their new books to school today to show off. I very, very, very much like to see Jack so excited about books. I haven’t read any of the Wimpy Kids, but they’re awfully popular so I assume they’re full of fart jokes.
  • Over the weekend we planted tulip, daffodil, and crocus bulbs in the front yard. And when I say “we,” I actually mean “Vic,” because I don’t dare injure my back any further by working in the yard. I just pointed and said, “Here’s good” a whole bunch of times. The black-eyed Susans are still flowering wildly, but once they’re gone I think the yard will be bloom-less until the crocuses peek through next winter/spring. Bummer.
  • Here’s a question for you gardening/landscaping types: do you mark where you plant bulbs? And if you do, what do you use for markers?
  • Another one: is cat poop a good fertilizer? I sure hope so, because Millie seemed to think all the holes Vic dug in the yard were just for her.
  • Victor is looking into starting his own blog. I think it’s just to get back at me. Promise me you won’t read it—it’ll be full of lies and things that make me look bad. What do you wanna bet he calls it “Stuff Vic Yells Back”?
  • This Sunday Vic and Ted are taking Wellington to a Seahawks game. I don’t know about Ted, but Vic hasn’t been in the new stadium yet—it’s not even really new anymore—so he’s looking forward to seeing it for himself. As much as I hate football and care not even a little bit for Seattle’s crappy team, I do love the look of Qwest Field, especially how it’s a similar style to Safeco Field right next door, and how it’s changed the skyline. Seattle’s a beautiful city.
  • Birthdays! Two important birthdays are being celebrated today! Jim Jordan, April’s husband, is 40-something, and Erin, my niece(ish) is um, younger. Twenty-eight? I think she’s 28. Best wishes to both of you from all of us! Many smooches.
  • You’ve heard of FML, right? Here’s a new one: My Life is Average, or MLIA. Cute.

Coffee’s gone. Gotta get to work.


Oct. 12: Toy Story 3

This new trailer—more plot-revealing than the teasers we’ve seen until now—makes me happy. Another Pixar movie! Familiar characters! We have to wait until next summer, but still…

The big people in our house have been waiting for a long, long time and are very excited to see Toy Story 3. The little people in our house are (1) “meh” and (2) way too cool to admit he likes kid movies.

It won’t be the first Pixar movie we’ve gone to without them.


Oct. 12: Happy morning, my arse.

I don’t often get so annoyed that I really, truly think I need to kill someone, but any one of these mofos could drive me to it. And you’d all back me up, right? RIGHT???

This ain’t even called “a case of the Mondays.” It’s more like “a case of don’t you friggin’ come near me EVER.” There’s not enough coffee in the world to make me tolerate this. OK, maybe if I’m totally drunk. Then. Maybe.

But HEY! Have yourself a great Monday! smiley



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