Nov. 30: November in review

novemberBarely finished before the month was over! Here’s my review of November 2012.

Special days I celebrated this month and how:

  • Jack’s birthday was the big November holiday in our house. He turned 11 and proved it by giving us a wish list with one thing on it; that kid has gotten so choosy about stuff lately! If his friends don’t have it, he doesn’t want it either. Grrr. His gifts were video games, several gift cards, overpriced Nike socks, and a Kindle Fire HD. He was one happy boy.
  • Vic had to work on Thanksgiving (boo) so our dinner wasn’t until evening. Darlene and Wellington hosted this year, and Mother Mary joined us. It was great fun, even though I had laryngitis and no one could hear me speak. Pretty sure they were all thankful for that. Meanies.
  • I guess the outcome of Election Day made me feel pretty celebratory. Smile

Gifts I gave and/or received this month:

  • Gave: Jack’s birthday stuff.
  • Received: goodies from my mom. She’s the best.
  • I started Christmas shopping. I LOVE Christmas shopping! Actually, I love Amazon. Amazon is what makes me love Christmas shopping.

Books I read this month:

  • I finally finished The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. It was really hard for me to get into, but once I did, the story was lovely. Sad, but lovely.
  • I decided to re-read the Tales of the City series, by Armistead Maupin. I’ve read too many dark and depressing books lately; I need something lighter and these books are perfect.
  • We had a moms’ book exchange the other night. I love those! I think we should have them more often, and not just because it’s an excuse for me and Tina to eat that banana cake at New Seasons.

Movies and TV shows worth mentioning:

  • The new James Bond movie came out. I haven’t seen it yet.
  • A lot of other movies came out and I also have not seen them. It seems to be really hard for me to make the effort to see a movie these days. I don’t know why.
  • Downton Abbey returns to American television on January 6!
  • Smash returns February 5!

New recipes or restaurants I tried:

Tonight I combined a few recipes to make a guacamole that turned out quite tasty. The key is avocadoes, people. You must have avocadoes.

Special or unusual purchases I made:

  • Beekeeping supplies for some cool Christmas gifts and that’s all I’m sayin’.
  • Way too many Miche shells—couldn’t resist their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.
  • Furnace parts (see below).

This month’s disappointments:

  • Being sick has certainly been no fun. Although I have my voice back, the ickiness in my sinuses lingers.
  • Jack’s football team made the playoffs, but lost their game.
  • Our furnace tried to die, but our neighbor saved its life. For the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that the furnace hasn’t been responding to thermostat changes like it should. I made fun of Mother Mary for walking around my house in a coat, but now I feel bad because I think maybe it really WAS cold (I was sick and couldn’t be relied upon for such accurate information). Rob looked at it, immediately saw what was wrong, and put a temporary fix on it until the parts we need arrive. Thanks, Rob!
  • Now our refrigerator is being kind of an asshole.

My accomplishments:

  • At school, we rewarded the kids for their fundraising efforts at Jogathon. I love seeing them get so excited about making their school better! It feels good to have that project out of the way.
  • Mom and I completed our project with the beekeeping supplies—huge task, but lots of fun. That’s all I’m sayin’ about it. Smile
  • I finally got the kids’ Christmas gifts decided (and mostly purchased). I did my best to stick to the “something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read” rule, but there are several gifts that don’t fit into any of those categories. Where’s the part that says “something Mom geeked out over and just had to buy them”???
  • Victor and I survived chaperoning the fifth grade field trip to the state capitol. Never. Again. Them kids are turds. It was fun to be in the Capitol building again, though; I think it had been about 30 years since I was last there.

Anything else noteworthy:

  • I learned two disturbing things at Jack’s parent-teacher conference: he’s totally two-faced and he hears voices in his head.
  • A few of us got together to play poker last week. Mother Mary was kicking our arses for a little while there—beginner’s luck—and now my friends kinda hate her. I won the “first out” AND “bad beat” prizes, and Vic got third place—probably our best $$ wins ever. Ready for Vegas!
  • There’s a new baby elephant at the Oregon Zoo! She’s so cute.
  • Here are silly pics I’ve been collecting:











That’s it, doods. Happy December!


Nov. 13: Post-election laughs

jonstewartI know, I know. I already blogged about the election. I don’t want to be like the political ads that got lost in the mail and are finally arriving, too late to matter and not really that important anyway… I really am not planning on continuing talk of the election. But this? This I could not resist sharing.

A fundraiser for the Bob Woodruff Foundation, Stand Up for Heroes, was held in New York City last Thursday and was quite the star-studded event: Mike Birbiglia, Ricky Gervais, John Maher, Patton Oswalt, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart, Robin Williams, and Roger Waters performed. Here’s a bit from Jon Stewart’s turn, which, not surprisingly, was about the election results:

Poor Mitt Romney. How do you f— that up? …You’ve got a president $16 trillion in debt, you’ve got 8 percent unemployment, you’ve got a vice president that’s the kind of guy that seems like he’s trying to bang chicks at funerals.

Even worse, said Stewart, Romney couldn’t even beat someone with a dubious moniker like Barack Hussein Obama

It’d be like Franklin Roosevelt losing to a guy named Gaydolf Shitler.

I suppose this wouldn’t be nearly as amusing coming out of, say, Ann Coulter’s mouth. But Jon Stewart? Well, he’s a genius AND adorkable.

Heh heh heh… Gaydolf Shitler. I need to get a really despicable pet or Cabbage Patch Kid so I have something I can call Gaydolf Shitler.



Nov. 10: Jen’s Christmas shopping tips

xmas-shopping-girlNow that we’re past Halloween, there’s no denying it: Christmas is coming! Isn’t it exciting? I looooove the Christmas season, and not just because of presents under the tree with my name on them. I also love gravy.

Here are a few things that might help you with your shopping, or at least your planning:

  1. Real Simple suggests this printable gift list. It’s great for the early stages of shopping when you’re getting ideas.
  2. Amazon wish lists. These are the best—very helpful to the people who are shopping for you (hint hint…).
  3. My Registry is supposed to be a good way to make gift lists too. I haven’t tried it out for myself.
  4. If you have a lot of people to buy for, or if you’re trying to stay within a budget, or if you just can’t remember anything, I recommend a gift planning app to keep it all straight. This is the one I’ve been using lately (I’m trying a new one because the one I loved last year is no longer being updated—boooo). I like the new one so far, though. It’s a 99¢ app on iTunes.
  5. Do you have a dumbphone? Then maybe you’ll like this gift planner worksheet. Also, I’m sad for you that you have a dumbphone. You should totally ask Santa to bring you a smart one.
  6. I love this idea; my kids, not so much:
  7. Personally, I have no desire to shop the Black Friday sales at the mall. Many of the good buys can be found online anyway, and that means I don’t have to get up early, fight traffic or crowds, or deal with any of the horribleness that goes with Black Friday shopping. So, my suggestion is to avoid the mall as much as possible. When you’re shopping online, always check out coupon code web sites like Flamingo World, Retail Me Not, or Promotional Codes to make sure you’re getting good deals.
  8. Want to give gifts that are unique and/or handmade and personal? Shop at etsy. I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed in anything I’ve purchased there.
  9. My cousin Dana posted this idea on Facebook, and it’s my favorite shopping tip of all:

Let’s buy Christmas presents from small local businesses and self-employed people. For example, from your neighbor who sells online, a local craftsperson who makes jewelry, the stunning local florist’s shop, the local bakers that sell homemade cakes, buns, and chocolates, the guys that run a café or a salon. Let’s make sure our money goes to individual people and not multinational companies. This way, more local people will have a better Christmas. Support real people.

Have fun!


Nov. 7: Parents and politics

election-resultsWow. Facebook sure was angry as the election results came in last night. I finally had to stop reading, not because of my frustration at people’s dissatisfaction with Obama being re-elected, but because of the ridiculous things they were saying—my brain couldn’t decide whether to laugh derisively or click “unfriend.” It took everything in me not to comment on these things:

Well, that’s it. In a month I won’t have a job anymore.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: Do you have a negative IQ? I mean, you don’t honestly believe that, do you? Do you really think that the results of this election will have an immediate and negative effect like that? Have you never lived through an election before? They really don’t change our day-to-day life that quickly.

I hate my country.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: Just because a few more than half the people in this country elected someone you hate doesn’t mean your country sucks; it means you live in America where we have the right to vote for our leaders.

(Hey, I was disgusted when Bush was re-elected in 2004. I know how you must feel, and yet... I believe the words you used back then were “democratic process!” I’m not even going to bring up the 2000 election—because if you think you’re angry now, just imagine all the people who thought that election was stolen!)

In other words, shut up. Just… shut up.

I will not support this administration.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: That’s just fine. You don’t have to agree with how the country is being led, but what kind of good will come from bitching about it for the next four years? None. Don’t get me wrong; I hated Bush as president and it was hard for me to keep my mouth shut while he was in office. But here’s what my mom always told me when I didn’t want to do something: if you decide RIGHT NOW that you will be unhappy, you will be VERY unhappy. So yeah, go ahead and hate everything Obama does and stands for—commit right now to being a disgruntled American citizen for another four years. Mother Mary was right: Guess who it hurts?

Fine, I’m just gonna quit my job and go on welfare.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: Is that really all you think Democrats do—make it easy-peasy for the lazy to live comfortably on your dime? How ‘bout you read up on American political party platforms? Educate yourself, please, because you sound like a moron.

Obama’s going to kill my grandpa with his health care plan.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: Oh my goodness, I was right. You definitely have a negative IQ. Health care needs a lot of fixin’. Please check out the facts about Obamacare before you decide it’s worthless. You’ll find out that your grandpa *probably* will not be killed by Obama. And maybe try watching something that isn’t FOX News.

My 7-year-old is in tears because Obama was re-elected and there’s no hope for our future.

WHAT I WANTED TO SAY: The only reason your little kid is in tears is because you have fed him a bunch of bullshit “facts” and he believes them because he trusts you. You are soooo underestimating the impact of your words.

And by the end of the night, that’s really what stood out to me: some people don’t have any idea what they’re doing to their kids. They share their political beliefs (nothing wrong with that!), but instead of allowing the children to form opinions of their own, the parent only wants little copycats of themselves. Are we supposed to teach our kids to think, or just WHAT to think?

Parents: sometimes we can be extraordinary assholes!

liarliarI remember years ago, probably around the 1992 election, my sister was furious because one of her boys came home from a friend’s house saying, “Clinton is bad because he sucks babies’ brains out before they’re born.” It wasn’t that Kathy was a Clinton fan, but she certainly didn’t like that another mom made it her duty to feed her kid that kind of nonsense. First of all, it was highly inappropriate for the mom to tell 5-year-olds that kind of thing. Secondly, the mom made it sound like Clinton himself performed these procedures. And finally, the mom basically formed her entire political platform based on ONE issue, one for which she clearly did not have the facts straight, and then taught it to her kids AND her kids’ friends. Yikes.

Is what that mom did any different than telling kids, “Republicans don’t care about women” or “Romney is a dog-hater” or “George W. Bush was responsible for 9/11” ???


I have been sickened by pictures of kids holding Romney (or Obama) signs at rallies around the country. It’s all kinds of adorable when kids are for the candidate I support, but when they’re supporting the other one, I’m all YOUR PARENTS ARE BRAINWASHING YOU, KID. If you have firm political opinions, you know you think the same thing. You know it.

Jack’s fifth grade class has been learning about the election process over the past couple weeks. From what he’s told me, they’ve been sticking to the facts, and I gotta hand it to his teacher; in the school system, with what seems like constant cuts to funding, it can’t be easy not to favor one candidate over another. Of course, conversation has continued outside the learning environment… As Jack watched election returns last night, he said, “My friend’s parents will lose their jobs if Romney wins.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA.

[Cut to the Clinton-performs-abortions thing back in ‘92. Gah!]

Poor Jack got an earful at that point, from both me and Victor, about making extreme statements or paying any attention to them. We reminded him that no matter who won the election, tomorrow wouldn’t be any different from today. Any changes that would come with a new (or continuing) president would not be immediate. His friend’s parents would still have their jobs if Romney won. Unless they were Obama campaign staffers, I suppose.

And, again, I was shocked and sickened by the things some parents tell their kids.

Growing up, I had a very conservative Republican for a dad and a then-closeted liberal for a mom (who has since admitted that she quietly cancelled out her husband’s vote in most elections—if you knew both my parents, how can you not love that???). I remember knowing who my parents hoped would win the presidency, but not really why. We watched election returns, sure. My dad was no good at keeping his opinion to himself, but I really can’t remember having political discussions at the dinner table. It could be because we were too young, or more likely it was because we were girls (Dad didn’t think much of girls-and-politics—which is how my mom got away with her voting; he assumed her opinion was his).

(Dad also didn’t think much of girls-and-lawn-mowers, which is why, to this day, I have never mowed a lawn. This distresses Victor greatly.)

The first time I remember my dad expressing a real political view was after Dan Rather, his favorite news anchor, interviewed George H.W. Bush in an especially awkward exchange. Dad was so mad about it. I was home from college one evening and turned to CBS, assuming Dad would want the news on as usual, and he said, “No, go to ABC. I won’t watch Dan Rather anymore.” He didn’t go into details (I was older but still a girl, after all); he was just “done” with Dan Rather.

thinking-capAs I got older and more opinionated, Dad and I would occasionally get into political arguments. He was NOT happy to discover that I was a liberal—a word he spoke with a dripping combination of sarcasm and disgust. But even when we disagreed, both of us had logical arguments; he didn’t say stupid things like “Democrats are unshowered hippies” and I didn’t say “Republicans are warmongers.”

So maybe my dad was more sensible and responsible as a parent than I thought. Hm.

Over the past few weeks, our kids have asked questions about the two major political parties and their candidates. I’ve done my best to answer honestly, and when I’ve expressed a personal opinion, I’ve made that clear. For instance—and this is just ONE ‘for instance’—I said that marriage equality is a very important issue to me. This is pretty much what I’ve told them:

A lot of Republicans don’t support gay marriage because they think only men and women should be married. *I* believe that if two people love each other and want to be married, they should be able to get married.

I can’t help but add this:

It doesn’t change anyone else’s lives if two women get married. A lot of the people who say marriage is holy and that’s why it should be between men and women only, like they think the Bible says, have been married many times, or cheat on their spouses. And a lot of them really just don’t like the idea of people being gay so they don’t want gay people to have nice things.

I emphasize with that last part that THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE. NOT EVERYONE AGREES WITH ME. And I don’t say (but I do think) THESE PEOPLE ARE ASSHOLES. Sure, I’d love for my kids to grow up believing the same way I do, but I think I’d be more proud of them for standing up for the things they believe in because they know WHY they believe them. I want my kids to be thinkers, not mini-Jens. They’re welcome to be both, obvy.

Winking smile

badparentalarmI’m proud of the fact that my kids aren’t doing a happy dance over Obama’s re-election (like I am), because they wouldn’t even know why they were dancing. That would me look like a rotten parent—like someone whose kid cries because a guy they don’t know anything about was voted into an office they know even less about.

Before Jack went to bed last night, I told him to be kind to others at school today, and not to be cocky about the election results. He gets that there’s a lot he doesn’t understand about politics and not everyone is going to be happy about the way our country voted yesterday, so I think he’ll do okay. I’m eager to hear about today’s class discussion. If I get an email from his teacher that tells me Jack was a smarmy shit-head, I’ll be very upset with that boy.

My closing statements: Parents, be careful what you say to your kids. They’re sponges. They watch you. They want to be like you. Make sure you’re sharing THE truth, not just YOUR truth. Someday they’ll respect you for it, and that can only make our world a better place.

Enough with politics! We now return to our regular programming of silly images, tales of clumsiness, and the worst haiku ever.


Nov. 6: Stuff Jen Haikus

Is “haiku” a verb? I’m pretty sure it’s not. I haven’t done haiku in a while, and I, for one, think it’s long past due. Ahem.


oh, republicans!
why do I love so many?
must. ignore. facebook.

electoral votes
two hundred seventy wins
go, obama, go!

legalized pot vote
what’s the big deal? picture it:
we’d all be so chill

today is the day 
i cancel out neighbor’s vote
yay! we’re a blue state!

election returns?
i’d rather not watch tonight
stop guessing, news dudes

we’re done with football—
jack’s team lost their playoff game
pffft (glad it’s over)

i post on facebook
“i’m at westview” and guess what?
scary stalker time!

Lisa shows up there
we chat, loud, while the boys lose
(i think they blame us)

lucy eats our house
more disappears all the time
pieces in the yard

i sweep ev’ry day
so much hair falls off that dog
why isn’t she bald?

christmas is coming
jen chooses tunes for CD
you might not hate them

make your requests now
otherwise only classics:
frank, bing, nat, andy

ginormous spider
hanging off our house last week
oh, so many screams

victor (my hero)
pretended to rescue me
he lost the spider

damn him all to hell!
i could have smashed air NEAR it!
he gets no man points

too much to get done
overwhelmed, and sleepy too 
i opt for a nap


Enjoy the rest of the day, friends!



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