Friday, December 31, 2010

The last 5QF of 2010!

It's Friday again, YIPEEE! I'm excited about this weekend (as usual). I got all my big work done yesterday, so today should be a walk in the park. Today's five questions focus mainly on the New Year, a holiday I don't really acknowledge, but I went with it. Hope you have a safe and happy New Year! If you haven't read my end-of-the-year blog yet, hop on over there and do so!

1. How long does your Christmas tree stay up?

Usually I take it down a day or two after Christmas. I can't stand to look at it anymore once the magic has dissipated. USUALLY I know I have to get it down before New Year's, because USUALLY I have to go back to work. This year, however, I want a new ornament box. Until I get said box, the tree remains up and lit. Call it my own little protest ;)

2. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?
New Year's Eve comes in right around Valentine's Day for me. I don't care for either of them. Therefore, I do not have any New Year's Eve plans. I will be spending it with the Mister, and we will probably be watching movies. Maybe I can con him into going out to dinner....hmm.....we shall see :)

Oh but guess what? Tomorrow is ring shopping day :)

3. Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
I don't really make New Year's resolutions. I'd like to have another happy, healthy year, and I will try my best to be the very best mommy I can be. I will try to love more, worry less, and fold the laundry in a more timely manner :) But those are more goals than resolutions.

4. How did you spend New Year's Eve when you were younger?
Usually just hung out at home. Lindsey had a party one year, and that was fun, but otherwise I was usually just home, probably asleep by midnight.

5. What was the best way you've ever spent New Year's Eve?
I spent it with my love last year, and it was exciting ringing in a new year with the one I love, the one who makes me a better person, and who loves me even when I'm unlovable. We didn't do much, but it was nice to be together.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I Just Don't Get It.

You know I watch Teen Mom, so let's not pretend you're shocked when I tell you I also watch Sixteen and Pregnant. The finale episode was about a girl named Ashley, who, after an emotional back-and-forth decision, gave her baby girl up for adoption.

On the show, Ashley made reference to her blog several times. I decided to search for her blog and see what it was like. I read through several of her posts from the past year and decided to leave a quick comment on one of them (we like when our readers leave us comments, yes we do...). After I submitted my comment, I read some of the other comments.

Most were positive, but sprinkled among those were hateful, horrible comments from strangers. Strangers who felt they had enough insight from a 90-minute t.v. episode to judge her decision and her life. It hit a nerve because I've experienced that to some degree as well.

I realize that when we use Facebook or blog we put ourselves out there. When we share our lives and our struggles with the world, we are "asking for it" to some degree. However, I have just NEVER felt the need to criticize anyone for their choices or decisions. I never "assume" things about people, and I don't give in to rumors. I certainly have NEVER read or heard about someone's most difficult decision in her entire life and felt that I had the knowledge or the arrogance to presume I knew what was best, or berate them for that decision.

I just. Don't. Get it.

The world needs peace and love. If you don't agree with someone's decision or lifestyle, don't read their blog! Don't be their friend! Don't acknowledge them at all. But for Heaven's sake, don't fuel negativity and judgment. Don't take it upon yourself to "put them in their place." Get a life of your own, and quit worrying about what other people say and do!

I hope this young girl will thrive on the positive feedback she receives and not be burdened with the ignorant people who have nothing better to do than cut down strangers for their life decisions. I know it's not always easy, but unfortunately it's necessary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Critter Drama

Last night was a quiet night here at our house. The Mister was with a buddy testing out new outdoor Christmas gifts, and Chloe and I were watching Toy Story 2 (by watching I mean she was playing in her room, I was on Facebook, and Toy Story 2 was playing a little too loudly on the living room TV).

I finished reading my updates, talked to my mom for a bit, then took my bath. When I got out I peeked into Chloe's room. She was playing with her new "critter" house she got from Santa. Chloe and I do things together. We color, we play games, we watch movies, and we go places. However, she's never really been interested in me "playing" with her, as in making up stories and talking with dolls. She likes to do that alone with her door shut so no one can hear her.

So when she said, "Mama, will you play critters with me?" I was surprised. I told her I would. I had a Calico Critters house when I was little, and the little things intrigue me still. I sat on the floor and she instructed me, "You are over here. Mister and Misses Bunny are baby-sitting Judy, the mouse baby." I took my place and began playing.

We played for probably half an hour, and I noticed it was already after 8:30 (usually we do bath at eight). I said, "I hate to tell you this, sweetie, but it's time to pick up."  I was not prepared for the level of disappointment. Usually she says something like, "Oh man!" then picks up her toys and heads for the bathroom. Last night she looked up at me with her big brown eyes, tears brimming.

"No, Mommy! Please, no!" Tears began to fall.

"What's wrong baby girl?" I asked her, trying not to dismiss her feelings over clean-up time.

"Dat was so much fun playin' critters wif you! I never have dat much fun playin' my games! I don't want it to be over, Mommy please!" It broke my heart, yet made it swell all at once. I admit. I had played half-heartedly. I wasn't "into" the story, and even sometimes started fusses between the bunnies just to see what she'd say or do.

"Don't be sad, sweetie. I'll play with you again tomorrow if you want. We had a fun time playing together today (we also played Cootie and rode her new bike), you should be happy. I'm happy."

"Dat's because I was havin' more fun dan you were. You're happy because you don't mind pickin' up. But I do!"

I hugged her and started picking up with her, since I played, too ;)  I reminded her she had Puppy Swim School Barbie waiting for her in the tub, and she decided to take her bath after all. She made me promise to take her on a wagon ride today and play critters again, which I will definitely do. And I might not even make them fuss today.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just One Question...

Do you figure out your Christmas presents?

I do. Even when I don't mean to. I'm really good at putting things together, and it doesn't take much of a hint to tip me off. All my close family and friends know about my "gift." Sometimes they go to great lengths to trick me. One year my mom and brother traded gifts because I knew what I was getting. When I was a kid my best friend, Lindsey, put a walnut in with my gift so she could stick to her story that it started with a 'w' and throw me off the trail of the troll doll ;)

The Mister learned this all too well last year, when on the way home from Christmas shopping I already figured out what my gift was. In his defense, I DID ask for a hint, and he didn't know about my 'gift' yet, so he was kind of set-up. So this year, he went to greater lengths to surprise me.

I was fooled for a long time. But one night a week or so ago it all clicked together in my head. I put all the clues together from the last month and I KNEW what I was getting. I'd been hinting since he and Chloe got them in November. New boots. Ok, not actual boots, but a PFI gift certificate, or a home-made coupon good for one new pair of boots. Something like that. I boasted about how he'd made a good try at keeping it a secret, but told my friend Jamie how "he just can't keep his mouth shut."

The Clues:
I knew there were three packages under the tree, but only two "gifts."
He made a big deal about looking for a boot box to wrap one of the gifts in.
When I changed the sheets one time, I was missing a pillow case. He said something like, "You'll find it soon and be like, 'so THAT'S where it was!'"
He told me to ask off my birthday weekend because we are going shopping for "something" that I'd understand when Christmas came. (BOOTS!)
He told me he didn't really have much for me under the tree.

See? He talks too much! And all of that was volunteered! Anyway, he also later told me that the shopping trip that had to do with Christmas would also be my birthday present. Boots AND jeans??!!??!!

Christmas Eve came and Chloe went to bed rather quickly. He asked me if I wanted my surprise that night. Of course I did :) He fished around under the tree and pulled out a long, skinny box. What? Not the boot box, no sir-ee. I pulled off the wrapping paper and it was the new silicone cooking utensils I'd asked for (that he told me Wal-Mart no longer carried!). That was a nice gift and all, but I didn't see how that was a big surprise.  I opened the lid to find the box...empty.

Then, way down in the bottom, I found a little love note. Front and back :) I read through the note, tears blurring my vision at the sweet things he expressed about me and about Chloe. Then it said "(now look at me.)" I did, and that's when he said, "Will you marry me?"

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT?!!!!!!!!?????


The utensils turned out to be in the boot box with the missing pillow case on Christmas morning. What a sneaky stinker! I was definitely humbled in my smug "I know what I got" attitude, and it turned out to be the best Christmas ever :)

So I guess ring shopping over my birthday will do...and maybe I'll get new boots with my Christmas money :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Shopping

I don't consider myself a "one-time" shopper when it comes to Christmas. I usually shop different places and for different people at several different times. There is one trip, however, that is a family tradition, and it's always my very favorite.

Every year since I can remember my mom has taken me (or I her) to Springfield to go shopping. For years she, my brother and I would all go shopping together as soon as we were out of school for break. When little Chloe came along, she went too. She went in my belly one year, she went in her carrier the next year, in her stroller the following year, and since then has been afoot with us.

We always leave early and shop all morning. We have lunch together somewhere yummy, then shop until dark, finally surrendering and making the long drive home. We switch things up from year-to-year, but one thing always remains true: we spend too much money have a blast!

In the last few years I have created the tradition of letting Chloe go to Build-A-Bear on this shopping trip. It's the only time she ever gets to indulge in the ridiculously high priced and baited sweet process of making her own stuffed animal. She looks forward to it all year and treasures each one she has created.

So it might be safe to say it was my mistake when I threatened her at lunch today. Yes, I figured if I threatened to take away her most exciting thing, she would eat those bites of protein I insisted upon. She jewed me down to "just one big bite," and without giving the detailed story, we ended our feud in the mall parking lot as she spit the rest of the chicken (she'd had in her mouth since we left Cheddar's) on the ground. The rest, you ask? What happened to the 'non' rest? It was spewed in specks around the car in a sneeze. Yeah.

So we entered the mall, the chicken not having been consumed, mad yet heart-broken Mommy, and bawling Chloe (for having lost her build-a-bear privilege). Oh, and a clearly distraught and traumatized Nana (who would NEVER punish her lol). After letting her grieve for an appropriate amount of time, I had to propose a deal.  I just COULDN'T take this from her. I just couldn't!

In the end, Little Missy ended up with no mall pretzel and having to fold all her clean clothes at home. She is currently snuggled up with her little Rudolph (who says "I'm cute, I'm cute!" and whose nose lights up). She thanked me endlessly for letting her "change her punishment," and vowed not to ask for one single toy all day. She worked long and hard on folding all those clothes, and she did it all by herself with a cheerful heart. She is such a good little girl and always makes me so proud, even when she's not been on her best behavior.

Today 'tradition' got the best of a soft-hearted Mama...and it was worth it :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Grandma

My granny, Mimi as we still call her, was a huge part of my life. She always lived right down the street from us, and all our holidays and summers were filled with days spent at her house. She is a marvelous cook, an excellent seamstress, and I'm pretty sure she was BORN to be a grandma. She's just everything in a granny you could possibly want. This made our holidays with her even more special. There are three things that stand out in my mind when I think of Christmas traditions with my granny, though there are many more I could write about. We won't even mention putting up her tree and nativity, the Christmas morning phone call to see what Santa got us, or going to her house as soon as we were dressed for presents and dinner, because those are a given ;)

Christmas Presents
Every year my granny would take me shopping a couple weeks before Christmas. Not so much when I was a little kid, but once I became interested in clothes (6th grade and on). We would go to Maurices, JCPenney, and Stage and I would shop all afternoon. I'd try on everything for her, and then show her the things I liked best. She'd send me to the car, and she would then purchase some (or all) of the items. She'd bring them to the car, we'd go get ice cream and head home. If there was time in the day she would box them up while I watched t.v. then I would help her wrap all the presents, including my own. I don't really remember many of the things she bought me, but I will always remember our shopping/wrapping extravaganzas!

I think this tradition started when my dad left, though I'm not for sure. Anyway, a few days before Christmas my Mimi would take my brother and me (objective form, folks, so it's not "I") to the grocery store. We would get a cart, and we would go up and down EVERY aisle. We were allowed to get ANYTHING we wanted. She made sure we had plenty of fruit, and she'd suggest lunch meats and practical things. What was the most fun for us, though, was that we were allowed to get things Mom just couldn't buy on a regular basis. We each got our own kind of soda, our own kind of chips, our own cereal, our own ice cream. We got crackers and cookies and Fruit Roll-Ups. Anything we wanted was ours. We never went crazy (like getting ten kinds of ice cream or anything), but we always ended up with several boxes of our favorite foods and treats. It was one of my favorite things about the holidays!

Monster Cookies
When I got older, my granny got the recipe for Monster Cookies. You know, the cookies that use something like a dozen eggs and eight cups of oatmeal? I would go down early one morning (early for me is nine, guys) and we would work our muscles mixing the enormous batch of dough. We would bake (and nibble) all day long, boxing up dozens as they cooled, then went around delivering cookies to our family and her friends. Monster cookie day was one of my favorite days. It was something different, not really "traditional" Christmas baking, that we made into our very own Christmas tradition.

Looking back on the things that became special traditions for me makes me excited to see what traditions will be created for Chloe over the next several years. Sometimes the best traditions aren't the ones you force, but the ones that just happen.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Santa Gets All the Glory...

Happy Friday!!!!!!  And what a happy Friday it is! I have so much to look forward to! Mister mister got Rams vs. Chiefs tickets for his birthday, so we are going on an excursion to St. Louis this weekend! We're also doing a little going out tonight, and I can't wait! Then next week is full of Christmas activity and preparations, including (but not limited to) Chloe's school party, girls shopping with Mom and Chlo, sugar cookie day, and gift wrapping!  WOOH!  Anyway, now that I shared all my excitement with you, let's get to the fun part, Five Question Friday :)

1. Do you regift...and if so, do you have a regifting horror story?

I don't typically re-gift, and the only horror story I have is from receiving a re-gift at a gift exchange, remember? If I get something I won't use or don't like I usually return it if at all possible. When I had my wedding, though, I was pretty guilty of regifting. I got a lot of stuff I would NEVER use (people love to get creative, don't they?). Pair that with being newly married and on our own for the first time (aka broke) and that holiday season and year of birthdays was pretty much funded by my wedding stash :)  I don't really see a problem with regifting, as long as it's done well. If you get something you don't want and you know someone else who would actually like or use it, go for it. If you're just too cheap to buy something and give it without thought, shame on you!

2. Do you know what you are getting for Christmas this year?
I don't, actually. I could probably guess a few things since I gave my mama a pretty concise list, but the Mister has me completely fooled. Usually I figure out exactly what I'm getting. I don't WANT to know, I'm just pretty clever, and usually the slightest hint or misplaced receipt tells on him. I know he is up to something this year, I'm just not sure what. And I'm sure as soon as Chloe has done her shopping with Nana, I will know what I'm getting from her. Bless her soul she can't keep a secret to save her life ;)  Well I take that back. She can keep a pretty good secret. She just can't keep her gifts a secret...

3. Who brings the most gifts in your family, you or Santa?
We probably bring the MOST gifts, but Santa definitely gets the glory for the good stuff (darn you, Santa! I work hard all year and buy gifts then you sweep in here in one night and steal my mother lickin' thunder!). Chloe is to the age where presents with clothes, socks, or shoes don't impress her, and those usually make up half of her loot. I've contemplated doing our family gifts on Christmas Eve so I can get a little appreciation before the big show on Christmas morning, but I just haven't ever done it.

4. What store do you love to by jeans from?
I love to buy jeans from Buckle. But that requires a skinny ass, which I no longer have =/ When I'm not skinny, I won't buy jeans there. When I'm my thicker, happier self, I wear Silvers, usually from Maurices.

5. Christmas meal: Big, All Out Meal or Snacks and Apps?
Mama usually has a big meal, and that's fine with me. However, I wouldn't be offended if she didn't. We do SO MUCH running at Christmas it's unthinkable to have a sit-down meal everywhere we go. If everyone had snacks and apps (and desserts, ok?) I'd be content. We could just snack our way through Christmas :) I do enjoy the ham and mashed taters at Mama's, though. And I bet I'll get another chance at a pumpkin pie!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Traditions: Siblings

I'm sitting here crunching Halloween M&Ms that I stealthily swiped from Chloe's hidden stash. The past twenty four hours have been awful. Nothing catastrophic or blogworthy. Just one of those days when anything that can go wrong does. Are you starting to believe in Andrea's Law yet?

I've been wanting to do some Christmas tradition blogs, so I thought I would start that mini series today and try to lift my (Christmas) spirits a little. If that doesn't work I may have to find some other 'spirits.' Ha ha I kid.

If you have a Christmas tradition with your sibling(s), I hope you'll blog about it and link up :) It will be fun to read the other traditions going on out there! If you don't blog, go ahead and leave a comment. I look forward to reading some more sibling traditions!

It's no secret that I LOVE my bubby. He's pretty much my favorite family member, and without him I couldn't have survived MANY family functions. Ok I could have survived, but it wouldn't have been nearly as bearable.

If you knew me in my younger days, however, you know that this has not always been my feeling toward my brother. I always loved him, yes. But I didn't always like him. Most of the time we were fighting. I was verbal, he was physical. I'd lash at him until I provoked him, then hide in my room while he tried to bust the door off the hinges...ahhh those were the days. :)

Anyway, despite our usual fighting, there were a few occasions on which we called an unspoken truce. Those included visits or family functions on my dad's side, adventures with baby-sitters, and holidays.

The proverbial white flag was waved as the sun set on Christmas Eve. We would exchange our gifts to each other, and realize that maybe we liked each other just a little. A LITTLE. We'd then go about the events of the evening. Usually church service, and sometimes we'd have Christmas with our dad before church started. When church was over we'd come home and get ready to go to bed.

Every year we took turns sleeping in each other's rooms. We'd drag out our sleeping bags and sleep in the same room. Usually one of us had twinkly lights up, and we'd stay up late talking about Santa, about what we wanted to get, and about what to do when we woke up ("if you wake up first, wake me up"). I don't even know how our tradition got started, but we kept it going until I hit my teen years.

I'd nap off and on, never really sleeping, always checking the clock (we weren't allowed up before six). I'd get up to go to the bathroom several times and check to see if Santa had come. Knowing I wasn't allowed in the living room until morning, I'd stand in the hallway and squint, trying to make out any new shapes in the dim tree lights. As soon as six rolled around I'd say, "Hey, are you awake?" He was a heavy sleeper, but in his younger years he always got up for Christmas. We'd get Mom and head to the living room for presents.

By the time we were in the car to go to my grandma's we were probably arguing again, but for a brief time it was fun to get along.

While we didn't always get along, I'm so glad we have great memories scattered throughout our childhood. It was one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Just don't tell him that ;) Do you and your sibling(s) have Christmas traditions, or did you when you were kids? Comment below, or blog about them and link up! Hurry, the Linky closes at midnight Wednesday night!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Want a Hippopotomus for Christmas...kinda

Cue music to "I Want a Hippopotomus for Christmas"

I want a Yorkshire Terrier for Christmas
Only a Yorkshire Terrier will dooooo
I don't want
A dog that is dorky
I just want
A fuzzy little Yorkie

I can see me now on Christmas morning
Creeping down the hall
Well imagine my suprise
When I open up my eyes
And see a Yorkie in my
Stocking on the wall
(with one paw out, cryin')

I wrote this little re-mix in 2003 when I wanted a Yorkie so bad. I got Penney the following fall, and I miss her so much! Maybe Santa will come through for me this year.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Christmas Solo (and 5QF)

Well, the Christmas season is in full swing now! Chloe's little pre-school class sang in the elementary program last night, and I think I was more excited than she was. She complained for two days about being "a bit nervous", but she was great. She was the only child waving at her mother as they lined up, and I even got a "Hi, MOM!"  They sang "Where is Santa" (like where is Thumbkin), and when they finished, Ms. Sue told them to sing louder on the next one.

I think Chloe thought she wanted them to re-do the song. As all the other children sang "S-A-N-T-A" (like Bingo), Chloe was singing "Where is Santa" at the top of her lungs, never noticing the other kids were on another song. As they sang, "...and Santa was his name-o!" finishing the song, Chloe picked up, thinking it was the start of the song. They all stopped singing, and she continued the entire song solo. When she finished the whole audience cheered for her. It was unforgettable. So for everyone who thinks she's my clone, there's proof she's her own person. I NEVER would have been so brave or such a ham!

Ok. Now for five questions. Are you ready? I love these holiday ones!

1. Do you open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?
As long as my brother lived at home, he and I always opened our gifts to each other on Christmas Eve. When we were younger and my dad lived alone, we also always spent Christmas Eve with him. I really loved those Christmas Eves. It started the Christmas celebration for us, and passed the time a little better than sitting at home.

Now days you just never know. It depends how the twenty seven Christmases schedule out. We don't typically open our home presents on Christmas Eve, but I'm thinking about doing so from now on just so we aren't under the tree for four hours on Christmas morning. Plus with such a busy Christmas schedule, it would give little Missy more time to play with her new toys before we tote her off somewhere else.

2. What is your favorite Christmas cookie (or candy)?
I have to go with the traditional sugar cookie. One of my favorite things (still) is making that delicous sugar cookie dough from scratch, cutting out all the festive shapes, baking them (they smell sooooo good!), and decorating them. I also love eating them, but I'm sure you guessed that ;)

My mom used to make fudge and cherry-coconut chocolate candies that were really good. She also makes a red-hot (the candy) cranberry hot punch that is delish!

3. What's the worst Christmas gift you've ever received?
I usually got great gifts. My grandma wasn't one of those "ugly Christmas sweater" people. She always took me shopping a few weeks before (to Maurices, Stage, or Penney's in Sedalia..or all three). I would be allowed to try on everything I wanted, then she would send me out to the car and pick a "few" things (she usually got it all). She would box them up at her house, then I would wrap them (and all her other gifts).

There was one time I got an awful gift, but I attribute it to Andrea's law. We had a gift-exchange at my youth group one night. We all had to bring a gift, probably a fifteen dollar limit. I bought the new Jars of Clay cd, and that was a big deal, because I wanted that cd SO badly! We did one of those games where you open something and then people can steal it. By the end of the game someone had stolen my gift, so I had to open the last present. It was one of those country mix cds. Not a good one. One that had weird artists and old songs. Oh. And it was all scratched up. Yep. A re-gift. It came from a kid in our group who was "exceptional" (is that the PC term now?) so he obviously wasn't scolded, and I, with all the Christmas spirit I could muster, didn't say a word. That's why I don't participate in those type of things anymore, becaues it ALWAYS happens. Always.

4. Christmas song that you love?
SongG as in one? Sorry can't tell you just one! I will tell you my favorites from four distinct categories, though :) I love Christmas music. I just love it. But these here songs, (intentional hickism and stretch of a reference to Christmas Story.."now this here's a tree!") these are the ones I'm STILL not tired of after listening to KGBX for four weeks :)

I LOVE contemporary Baby Jesus/True Meaning songs. Examples?
New Again by Brad Paisley
Strange Way to Save the World by 4Him
While You Were Sleeping by Casting Crowns

In the traditional category?
O Holy Night
Silent Night

Country, you ask?
Let it Be Christmas (Alan Jackson)
Baby It's Cold Outside (Lady A)
The Angels Cried (Alan Jackson with Allison Krauss)----AMAZING.

And upbeat?All Alone on Christmas (Darlene Love)
Baby Please Come Home (Mariah Carey version) (Oddly mentioned in All Alone on Christmas)
All I Want for Christmas is You (Also Mariah Carey)
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Barenaked Ladies)

Also Wintersong and River from Sarah McLachlan

5. How many trees do you put up?
Just one, unless you count the bitty baby one that may be located anywhere from Chloe's room to the bathroom at any given time ;)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's a Blah-g

Blah. That's how I feel about my blog lately. I'm clearly not alone, because hardly anyone on my list has been updating, either. It just seems I never have any good material or happenigns, or when I do, I'm not in a writing mood. Go figure.

I've been really submersed in my novel lately, which may be part of my problem. It's not a bad problem. I've got almost 30,000 words, which puts me possibly half-way, depending on how it all pans out. I've started several projects over the last year, but this is the first one I've felt excited about. It's the first one I can see from start to finish. It's the first one that literally writes itself. I often sit down to write, not sure where I'm even going, and yet the words just pour from my fingers. It's exciting.

However, I realize that putting all my creativity into my novel leaves me nothing on my blog but a bunch'a Five Question Fridays =/

I'll get my blog mojo back soon, I hope. Until then, consider this a boring old blah-g.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is It Chrissy-Mus Yet???

My mom used to have a little Tigger in a box that would tap from inside and say, "HELLOOOO? Is it Chrissy-mus yet?"  He was so cute :)

Did you know it is Friday?? I didn't realize it until I looked at my blog and saw 5QF up and completed! What a wonderful surprise! I have some shopping plans this evening, to help ol' Santa out, and dinner with my love. :) Then it's back to work again. I sure enjoyed having my weekend free and spending it with my love. But for now Santa er uh, Mama needs the money!

1. What's on the top of your holiday wish list and why?!
I really don't have much I need or even want. I don't know if it's pathetic or honorable that I only want some new cooking utensils, new slippers, and a cd. I'd like to have a digital camcorder, but I'm fine without it, too. So, we shall see what Mr. Santa comes up with this year...

2. What is your favorite Christmas gift from the past?
Probably my most memorable gift was our Nintendo and our Super Nintendo. Those gifts were SO magical to me, because I just KNEW my mom couldn't afford them, so there HAD to be a Santa, there just had to! I also loved getting my new Cabbage Patch each year, and my new bike. Oh, and my dad shocked us with a trampoline one year, which was great, too.

3. If you had life to do over, what would you be when you grow up?
Hmmm. If I was forced to do it allllll over, I would either focus my English major more on writing and publishing, or I would have majored in psychology and sociology. Sociology was my favorite class in college, hands down. I loved it. BUT. What I wouldn't change is my opportunity to be a (mostly) stay-at-home mom. I wish I'd had that opportunity from the beginning, because it's what I really truly love the most. That's one of those things you can't really choose for yourself, though.

4. When do you put up your tree?
Usually Thanksgiving weekend. There has been a time or two I put it up late, but almost always right after Thanksgiving. Could be Thanksgiving night, the day after, or anytime that weekend. It's definitely a tradition.

5. What is your favorite Holiday?
Christmas, of course! It's the only holiday that's not just a holiday, it's an event! The season starts more than a month before this blessed holiday, and has so much to offer! There is shopping and wrapping, singing and baking. There is the Nativity, there's Santa Claus, and even a Grinch or Scrooge or two ;) There are Christmas movies, Christmas music, and Christmas goodies! There are wreaths, trees, twinkly lights, and tinkling bells. Family and friends, children, and love. If you can't find magic in Christmas then you probably can't find it anywhere! I love it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In a Year

A year ago today I was unpacking boxes and moving furniture. I was recovering from having pneumonia over Thanksgiving, and was about to leap into a life without looking at the water first. I've never EVER been someone to do something without thinking it through and having a good idea of the outcome before making a move. I'm not a risk-taker.

Yet here I was, moving my belongings into a house I'd never even visited, quitting my reliable job, and putting my life in the hands of someone I'd only been seeing for months. To look at it from the outside people thought I'd lost my mind, but I never had a shred of doubt.

The one thing in my whole life I've ever been sure of is him.

My post "The Plan" pretty much sums up our relationship. I traded in a lot of seemingly "important" things to change my lifestyle completely. People scolded me for "uprooting" my daughter and coming out here, but now I feel I can safely say, "See? I knew what I was doing." She is happy here. We are happy here. And I have the tight-knit family I've always needed. She has more stability and security than she ever has.

There have been days I was crammed in the feeding truck with the boys when it was twelve degrees, or running after a stubborn cow in rubber boots calling it everything in the book, and have laughed at how far I am from where I envisioned myself ten years ago, but I'd never trade it for the world.

Sometimes what "seems" right isn't the right path. I have learned to follow my heart and not worry about fitting into a neat little box. In a year I have learned what it means to be loved, really loved. I've found true happiness, and I'm so thankful for the trials that brought me here, because without the bad, I may have never found the good. If the years to come are even comparable to this past year, I've got a wonderful life ahead of me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Special Gift

I went to the bank this morning and as we were leaving, Chloe stopped to peek in a big Dora-wrapped box.

"Ooh look Mom, can we buy these toys?" she asked as she peered into the box. I explained to her that those were toys people had dropped off for children in need.

"What's children in need?" she asked.

"Well," I started, "Some kids' parents can't afford much for Christmas. They need lots of things, like clothes and food, and they might not get any toys, so the bank is collecting toys from families who have some extra money or extra toys to give. That way the children will have some gifts on Christmas."

She was very quiet.  I drove out of the parking lot and toward the edge of town.

"Mom?" she asked.


"Do you have any extra money in your purse?" I already knew where she was going.

"I have some cash," I told her.

"Can we stop at the Dollar Store and get those children some toys? I won't get anything for me, but it makes me feel sad those kids might not have any toys," she said sincerely. I immediately agreed and told her how proud I was that she knew the true meaning of Christmas.

We went to the store, and she chose a toy for a girl and a toy for a boy. She put a lot of thought into her selections, choosing toys she would like to have for herself, but never asking if she, too, could take home a toy. She asked me to drive her back to the bank right away, and she proudly toted the toys in and dropped them in the box.

I was misty-eyed on the way home. I was so proud of her. I know she has a sensitive heart, but it means so much to me that this girl, who LOVES toys and LOVES getting things for herself, saw a need and was willing to put her own desires aside to give to someone less fortunate.

Today there are women calling each other names, butting in line, and elbowing each other out of the way. Maybe they have a thing or two to learn from a child who has learned the real meaning of Christmas.

A Black Friday Tale

Happy Black Friday! Thanksgiving is over, and if you're my Facebook friend you know I am glad. I was a little grumpy this year, because my little family was all going separate ways. In the end I got to keep my Chloshmo all weekend, and had a good meal with my mama and bubby. I met Mister Mister back here late in the afternoon, and after making the living room "tree-ready", we decided to do some late night door-busters.

I had an e-mail that said if I was among the first 30,000 people to check in to Toys R Us via Facebook starting at 9:30 (but before the doors opened at 10:00) I would receive a special reward. I had my Facebook Places ready to go and clicked in right at 9:30. I was pleasantly surprised with a 15% off coupon that is good starting Monday. That little coupon will save me more than any of their Black Friday deals :)  We had intentions of going in, but when we got in line at ten, and at ten thirty were still out by the highway (in a line that wrapped around the building and wove through the parking lot) we decided NOTHING in that store was worth the wait.

We went over to WalMart to kill time. The midnight sale had lots of things we were interested in. Much to our surprise, WalMart was very quiet, and they had ALLLLLLL their midnight items out already. We filled our carts and were done by eleven. We had to waste time until 12:01, when the deals took effect, and were SO glad we'd arrived early. Most everything we wanted was sold out before midnight, and by eleven thirty the place was buzzing with crazies!

We stood by the checkouts, securing a place at the front of the line. We waited there about thirty minutes. Just before midnight an older lady came through our line from the back side. She told the cashier she had "regular" items she'd like to purchase. She also had Black Friday items, and intended to "waste" enough time ringing up her regular stuff to make it to the special pricing. We were quite irritated that this old biddy cut the line under false pretenses, but we weren't near as irritated as the kind lady behind us :)

Aftetr the CSM told the lady she might as well wait because her items wouldn't be good until midnight (to no avail) the lady behind me approached the cutter.
"Excuse me," she said with a polite smile. "I'm not trying to be a bitch by any means, but it's going to be extremely rude if you cut in front of all these people who've been lined up here for forty-five minutes." The lady said something and pointed to her toilet paper. The patient lady got a little hot, and told her it didn't matter if she picked up one regular item, that she had Black Friday things and should have to go to the end of the line. The lady refused, and Nice Lady came back to tell everyone the story (in a rather loud voice). "Oh she's decided to be a real bitch. She thinks she can just go throw toilet paper in her cart and cut the line because it's not on sale. Guess I'll remember that little trick next year!" she exclaimed.

I giggled, and took Chloe to the car so she wouldn't see the things I'd snuck into my cart. On our way out she exclaimed in her most appalled voice, "MOM! That lady just cutted in front of Bryan! Can you believe that?" The men walking into the store got a great kick out of her enthusiastic berating. "I KNOW!" I said, encouraging her. "That's not bery nice! You shouldn't cut in front of other people," she explianed.  While we waited, Bryan (what a trooper!) checked out all our items. We got some good deals, and we helped Santa out, too ;) We were on our way home by 12:10 and were snug in bed when all the real crazies went out this morning :)

NOW. Did you think we weren't doing questions JUST because it's Black Friday???  Of course we are!!!!!!!!  Here we go!

1. What is your favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal?
My absolute favorite thing about Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie. BUT since we're going to talk about pie on question four, and since it's not technically part of the "meal," I will tell you my next favorite thing.

Mama's noodles. Mmmmmmm she makes them from scratch, cooks them in all those yummy turkey juices, and they are to die for. I love them. Her sister's are amazing as well, and I hope one day I will be able to do the Lusby noodles justice.

2. Are you a host or a guest for Thanksgiving this year?
A guest. I've always been a guest. This year was very low-key, just dinner with my mama and bubby. Next year Bryan and I hope to have Thanksgiving so we will all be together. We will see how it goes :)

3. When you think of one Thanksgiving tradition, what comes to mind?
When I was younger it was always the Macy's parade. I loved watching it. Also, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on TV and, of course, decking the halls. Thanksgiving day/weekend has always been our tree-trimming time (you know I can never pick "just one").

4. You have two pieces of pie in front of you and you HAVE to eat you choose pumpkin or pecan?
PUMPKIN. I don't even LOOK at any other desserts at Thanksgiving. I LOVE pumpkin pie, and always have. I want it ice cold and smothered with Cool-Whip. I eat it for dessert, I eat it for breakfast, and I eat it after (and between) every meal until it's gone. I even had pumpkin pie for my January birthday one year. My mom has always made me my very own pie, and I eat every last bit of it :)

5. Are you a Black Friday Shopper?

I participated this year because the "small" stuff was at WalMart at midnight (I knew the REAL crazy people would be there closer to 5am). I wouldn't have got up at four for any of it. I went hardcore one time, and have never had the desire to do it again. I'm too impatient and too cold-blooded to last through it. Oh and I have that whole people-claustrophobia thing. And intolerance for idiots :)

If you are, in fact one of those "idiots," play fair, have fun, and remember the reason for the season. No amount of money is worth losing your character (if you have any...he he).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Apron Strings: Dream Weaver

I had been at Applebees about a month when I had my first dream about it. I remember in the dream Jodi was yelling at me to do "freezer pull," something I'd heard them talk about, but something I had no idea about. I kept trying to tell her I didn't know how, and she kept yelling. When I worked with her next, I told her the dream.

"Ha! You had your first Applemare," she laughed. Apparently it's not uncommon. Everyone has them. But they were new to me. I hardly ever dreamt about school when I was a teacher, so dreaming about work was foreign to me. It's not anymore.

Do you ever have strange dreams where your brain smooshes everything together and it's completely illogical? I used to have those. But now my random thoughts have a gathering place: Applebees.

Usually I'm dreaming that I have several guests and don't know they are there, or I dream I can't work the computer (which, if you know about dreaming, makes sense, because you usually can't function your hands or fingers in a dream).

Last night, however, my Applebees dream came to life. Last night I had confrontation with family. I saw an old (GOOD) boss for the first time in years and talked with him in tears. I ordered a drink from one of our "friendliest" bartenders. She didn't have what I wanted, so I ordered a Coke and rum (we have Pepsi?). Oh, and when smoke set off the massive sprinkler system, my co-worker Timmy led the whole operation in a sing-along of "Umbrella." It was wild. It was the longest and most detailed dream I've had in a long time.

The WEIRDEST part, though, was that I spent the night drinking and talking with one of my managers. We sat at the bar. I told him I missed my friend, Jaime, and then POOF she appeared at the bar! He rolled his eyes and told me I shouldn't have summoned her! And, after my second "Coke and rum," I pinched his cheeks and talked to him in a baby voice saying, "I used to think you were older than me, oh yes I did, but you're just a baby aren'tcha?"


Pretty glad I have two weeks off to get all this weirdness flushed out of my brain before I have to see these people in person again :) I'm ready to go back to the "Oh crap I can't work my fingers!" dreams.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas on 5QF!!!!

I have skipped out on 5QF lately, so I thought I better get my butt back in gear. Oh I forgot to tell you something....IT'S FRIDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY! Are you as excited as I am? Although, since I went to Springfield for "fun" two days this week, I kinda already let the air out of Friday. But, that's ok :)  Wednesday I met my mama at Toys R Us, and nothing gets me in the Christmas mood like a trip to Toys R Us! I have the bug, now all I need is the cash to feed my bug!  Ok, let's get this show on the road.

1. What Christmas song do you loathe?

I'm not sure I should even mention this song, because if you ask me IT'S NOT A FREAKIN' CHRISTMAS SONG! But. Since it mentions snow and Auld Lang Syne I guess radio America thinks it is. Have you heard "Same Old Lang Syne" by Dan Fogelberg? Ughhhhh. It's so whiny. It's a depressing song, and it's not even "good" depressing (like, say, "Christmas Shoes"). People who are already depressed at Christmas don't need the help of this song, and people (like me) who are cheerful and excited don't need the downer. And what's worse, the sound is so awful and monotonous it will distract you from the lyrics. I just hate it. Plus it's excruciatingly long.

You know what other song I don't like? "Christmas is All in the Heart" by Steven Curtis Chapman. I don't even really know why. It's a pretty song, and it's ALL about the real meaning of Christmas, but it just makes me feel SO sad :( So I don't listen to it, either.  There are others that annoy me mildly, but because they're seasonal and contribute to the holiday spirit, I overlook it.

2. Do you and your significant other cuddle at night or sleep on opposite sides of the bed?
We cudddddddle. Usually we cuddle because that's just how we are- all in love and wanting to be close to each other all the time. BUT. Even when I'm not feeling cuddly and I need my space, we cuddle.

You wanna know why?

Because I sleep by the wall. Which means I scoot scoot scoot until I am having an intimate relationship with the wall, and then Mister Mister scoot scoot scoots until he is against me, leaving a good foot of bed unused. "I have to be touching you," he says in his sleepy voice, and I just can't make him move. 

Then, when I am overcome by sleep, Sleep Andrea comes to life and kicks him until he moves over. She's a heartless wench who only cares about one thing: sleep ;)

3. Have you ever had surgery?
I had a "minor" surgery after Chloe was born because of complications I had during her birth. It may have been "minor" to the doctors, but I sure as Hell would have rather been cut open and sewn back together than to endure the aftermath of that surgery. I'll leave it at that.

4. When do you typically have your holiday shopping done?
I usually start right around Thanksgiving and pretty much shop until Christmas Eve. I get most of my "big" shopping done early if I can, it just depends who is available to shop with me :) Last year I was almost totally done the first week of December, when Jamie and I shopped hardcore one weekend. This year I'm working weekends, so I may be waiting until Mom has Christmas break to do my big dog. Either way, I will undoubtedly be running to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve for a few more stocking stuffers, or one more this or that, or just because I still have a 20.00 bill in my purse :) Shopping is half the fun of Christmas :)

5. If money were not an issue (and you HAD to pick something), what would your ultimate luxury item be?
Hmmmm. Well while it was once a mere staple of life, I no longer have a dishwasher. I miss it sooooo much. I appreciated it, I lived without one for many years, but now I want one again. So. I guess that's what I'd pick. I can't think of anything else, honestly. A big, fancy dishwasher that holds lots of dishes :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Her Story...

A woman sits quietly in a drab office with a knot in her throat. She's worked here twenty years, and has only been called to the office a handful of times, none of which were for positive feedback. She's heard rumors, and she's had that yucky gut feeling, but she still doesn't know why she's here.

The past two years have been Hell. It all started with an upset stomach. She soon had stomach pain she couldn't bear, and when she went to the doctor he told her that her gallbladder must come out immediately. He sent her to the hospital and she prepared for the minor surgery.

Even though she's been at her full-time job for nearly twenty years, she still doesn't have paid health insurance. She doesn't even have the option to buy into the group. She has the surgery, and is bombarded with medical bills and harassment for months.

When she finds a knot in her chest, you can imagine why she hesitates to go to the doctor...

Eventually she finds help at a local health clinic. They send her for tests and find the tumor is malignant and rapidly growing. Her world crumbles. Eventually she is able to obtain state insurance due to her possible long-term disability, and she begins treatment.

Chemo is hard on her, and she stays home for a few days after every treatment, but as soon as she can, she goes back to work, wearing her wig and trying to keep her head up. She endures surgery and radiation, and is still at work every day she possibly can be. The library is a quiet environment, and she is able to be at work a lot of days she probably didn't need to be. She only leaves early for doctors appointments when she has to, and schedules her radiation after school so she won't miss work.

After enduring all this, she doesn't know if she can handle one more upset.

"We're sorry, Terry, but we are eliminating your position. We do need an aide in the elementary special needs class, though, so you will be re-assigned there."

Her mind reels. She's been there longer than any para-professional in the whole district. She'd rather do anything else. Her nerves are frazzled and she is an introverted person anyway. Surely they can give her a better choice of position. She wonders if this is punishment for missing so much work.

"Can't I be a para in the high school at least? It's the only place I've worked since I came here," she pleads.

"You're lucky to have a job at all," he replies coldly. "We have a stack of applications a mile-high. If you don't like it, you can move on," he adds. Tears fill her eyes. She loves her job. She's loved it since she was moved to the library years ago.

"Why can't Mrs. X go there, and I take her spot? I've been here TWENTY years," she offers. He looks at her with a sneer.

"We are not going to take someone else out of their position just so you can have a job you prefer," he says hatefully.

"You wouldn't make a high school teacher move to the elementary," she argues, knowing she just doesn't have it in her to work with elementary kids.

"Take it or leave it," he says.

Defeated, she accepts the news. She shows up for her new job with a cheerful smile, determined to make the best of it. To her dismay, it seems her "reputation" preceeds her. They tell her they know she doesn't want to be there, and that she needs to change her attitude for the sake of the children.

She is put in a room with a certified teacher and two other aides. The teacher gives the aides their lessons, opens up the day, then the aides are left to deal with and teach the unruly children all day. While the teacher goes about her "paperwork," the woman is slapped, pinched, kicked, and hit. She is called a bitch. She is spit on. Still unable to use many of her arm and chest muscles from her surgery, she fights daily to help wrangle the children, spending the day in physical and emotional agony.

At the end of the day she goes home, tired from head to toe and feeling horrible. She misses her library, her books, her older kids. She misses the quiet. Of all the things she's been through in the past two years, this is the icing on her cake. Or her mud-pie. But because she is so close to her retirement, and because it's too late to start-over anywhere else, she endures. She fights yet another battle when what she really needs is a leave of absence from all the turmoil she's endured.

This is the story of my mom and the crappy ass school she works for =/ It breaks my heart. She can retire in two years, but two years is an eternity when you are physically and emotionally abused every day. Of course we must be fair and PC and not punish the children. Afterall, they can't "help" the way they are. And people wonder why I'm not busting the doors to get back in a classroom.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Her Opinion...

I did this once when Chloe was two, and while her answers were great, she didn't "get" a lot of the questions. So we did this again today and I just had to share it. I typed these word-for-word, and tried my best to spell like she talks.

1. What is something mom always says to you? 
Clean up your room, but I don't do it. And, NO, ya say that a lot.

2. What makes mom happy?

3. What makes mom sad?

When she’s hurt.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Doing funny things like saying “Hey I wanna change my job to an architect!” (I never said that?)

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Just like me.

6. How old is your mom?
Twenty nine. No. You’re a hundred.

7. How tall is your mom?
(She’s measuring me) This long! Twenty miles.

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Have me! (isn’t that your favorite thing, mom?)

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Go fast on the four wheeler with Bryan at night.

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mom really good at?
Cooking and coloring

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Hanging the clothes up

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Bring people their food.

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Potatoes! (She knows me too well)

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
Buying me stuff wif her own money

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Ruby (probably because Ruby is bossy just like I am ;)

17. What do you and your mom do together?
We do everything together!

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We have the same hair.

19. How are you and your mom different?
We’re just not the same. We’re new-yeek (unique)

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Cuz I’m cute, I’m smart, and I’m good at everything (holy ego!)

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Home, cause there’s not so many people there.


And finally, I give thanks on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nov. 9 - I'm thankful for Tuesday night TV. Glee. Raising Hope. And....16 and Pregnant. I need not say more.

Nov. 10 - I'm thankful for my mama. She's a really good mama, and an even better Nana. She's always there if I need her, and even though we see things differently sometimes, I love her and appreciate her for all she does. She's the best.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Welllll it's National Novel Writing Month. Did ya know that? I started doing this last year and ended up quitting when I got deathly ill the week before Thanksgiving. I wasn't feeling well enough to even get off the couch for a good two weeks, and that ended that.

This year I thought I wouldn't participate, after my quitting, but the pressure really helps me write more. I'm the WORST about writing 500 words and then poring over it for days, rearranging, re-writing, editing, etc.

So I decided I'd participate at home and not log my progress with the others. I had a little chunk of something I started and figured I could add 50,000 words to it (that's the goal of NaNoWriMo, to write 50,000 words in 30 days) and have it at least close to done.

Today I decided to make my commitment a little more public and log my progress. You can check out my little author page here.  I will update the synopsis as I get more written, and my goal is to change the excerpt weekly if you're interested in what I'm working on. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!!!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Table Tale and Other Things...

I have a few things to update, and Apron Strings to write, so I'm going to squish it all together here :)

First of all, my Thirty Days of Thanks.

November 6th - Do you drive a car (or have you seen one) that has radio controls on the steering wheel? I realize that cars have come a long way since 2008, and there are even cooler features, but I am thankful for the little radio buttons on my steering wheel. A self-proclaimed "flicker," I am constantly looking for something different to listen to. Without taking my hand from the wheel I can change songs on my CD, scan stations, and adjust volume. When my passenger changes my radio, I can flick it back without ever even moving my thumb :)

November 7th - Ohhhh Ben (Franklin, that is). I'm so thankful that this very man (the same one I will curse in April) allowed me to sleep another hour this morning. I like the earlier daylight (I actually wake up earlier now), and while I don't dig the 5:30 darkness, I LOVE setting the clocks back and look forward to it every year.

November 8th - I'm thankful for my washer and dryer. Even though it's not the biggest, or the fastest, it saves me from toting the MONSTROUS pile of laundry down to the crick and scrubbing my clothes out by hand. As I stare at the ridiculous Vesuvius we call a laundry basket, and it's spewed clothes in a lava lake around it, I must be thankful for my washer and dryer. It's the only thing that keeps me from going completely insane looking at it :)

Now, for update number two. Remember how I have a problem? Well I have been working on that. I haven't done anything drastic or crazy, but I admitted my problem and am trying. The first step of my journey was phasing out the grilled cheese. I started this on October 13th by replacing my daily Doritos with a small salad. By the end of that week, I'd cut to half a sandwich and a slightly larger salad, and by October 16th I had switched solely to salad. I have now been grilled-cheese free for 24 days (counting today). I had a minor slip-up one late Friday night and had a sandwich then, but I hadn't had dinner so I didn't count it.  From what I can best calculate, with my real butter and all, each sandwich was about 264 calories, and 12 grams of fat, and that's without Doritos. I haven't seen a huge weight loss, though after day 10 I was down two pounds (I steer clear of my Wii Fit when I'm eating well, because if he tells me I gained, I go on a bread binge ;) So even if I'm not losing weight (yet), I am cutting some calories and fat, and I'm getting a good hearty veggie serving that I was missing before. Yay me.

Finally, Apron Strings :)

I don't have a "generalized" topic today, so I thought I'd entertain you with the tale of one of my tables. This isn't an outrageous table, and one day I will do a "Fly on the Wall" post with some of my favorite quotes, but for today, here is a table tale fresh in my memory.

It was a busy Sunday morning when my 5th table was seated.  It was an older man and woman, and there were four menus. I always like it when a couple of people are waiting on a couple more. I can greet them and know I have some extra time since their party hasn't arrived. I greeted the guests and asked what they'd like to drink.

"Two waters with lemon," the old lady barked. Did you know we are "judged" by how many waters we serve? It prints out on our "stats," so to speak, so waters annoy us a little. Just saying.  Anyway, then the gentleman chimed in.

"Actually, uh, one water with lemon, one without."  Being the "ass" I am, I assumed he was correcting the lady, and I wrote down W and W/L.  I took some food to another table, and took an order from another, then grabbed the two waters.  When I arrived at the table, another guest had arrived.  I placed the drinks, then asked that guest what she'd like.

"Water," was her reply. ".....with lemon." So I scurried away and brought back her drink. By that time the fourth guest had arrived. Apparently the husband of the barker. I set the water in front of guest number three.

Barker immediately barked, "We need one more of those. There are FOUR of us." I then realize that she had ordered two waters with lemon, and Gentleman wasn't correcting her. He was ordering IN ADDITION to her. As I processed that in my brain she said, "I TOLD you two waters with lemon." Cringing on the inside, I similed and returned the fourth water. They were looking at the menus, so I didn't bother them (SIDE NOTE: if you're ready, close your menu. I can usually tell when you're ready, but if you're reading the description of Fiesta Lime Chicken while you wait for me to come over, I might think you're still deciding and give you extra time).

Did I mention I had four other tables? Each of which had 4-7 guests? So in addition to these four grouches, I had 21 other people to please.

I finally made my way back to the grouch table. "Have you decided what you'd like to order?" I asked politely.

"Do you do senior discounts?" Barker barked.
"Yes, we do." I replied.
"Ten percent, right?" Barker.
"Yes." I answered.
"Ok, well we're ALL seniors so we all GET it," she demanded.
"Alright," I replied cheerfully (well, fake cheerful) "what can I get for you?"

Let's not make this any longer than we have to. They ordered their food. Half salads and burgers and such. One lady wanted the Oriental without (86 we say) rice noodles. I ordered it that way, I did. The new cook overlooked it, and while it only took a minute (LITERALLY) to fix, the lady said, not-so-quietly as I walked away, "She's not very good at this." Oooooh you got me lady. That hurt right to the core ;)

Barker demanded more dressing, they wanted water refills, and they wanted me once to stop and listen to their request for more water when I was passing by with three plates of hot food.

Evan discounted the ticket for me, and I split the check, as I was asked barked at to do.  I always drop the check, then come back in a few minutes so you have time to find your card, count your money, or whatever you need to do. I had no more than walked through the kitchen to get drinks for another table when Gentleman was standing in the aisle.

"I can take care of that for you, Sir, I'll be right there," I explained as I balanced two full drinks in one hand, one in the other.

"I want to pay for all of it," he said.

"Ok," I said as I walked away. I came right back and took his card. He had both detailed checks in his hand, added them in his head, then I returned the credit slips. He signed my copy, and I left him with the detailed check (which also showed the exact discount).

I was so glad for them to be done and gone I didn't even care if they stiffed me. I was expecting it. I went back to the kitchen and loaded up with hot plates for another table when Jessi came back.

"Hey, Andrea? There's a guy out here looking for you," she said. I thought maybe Bryan had come to eat. I wondered who had stopped to speak to me. As I emerged from the kitchen, Gentleman was approaching me. GREAT.

"Did you give us the senior discount?" he asked, hatefully.
"I sure did," I replied, not-so-cheerfully.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yes. It was on your checks..." I told him.

He walked back to the table and announced to Barker that I did, in fact, give them the discount. I don't think she believed him.

Note for the day: Be nice to your server unless she is a bitch first.  Oh, and don't turn grouchy when you get old.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Computer Geek in a Cabin

Happy Friday! Wowsa, I'm up and blogging early this morning, huh? Usually I'm just a rollin' outta bed by now :) I guess the excitement of Friday my aching back has got the best of me. It's back to a "regular" Friday, as I have a full weekend of work this week. My wallet is excited, my feet are dreading it. Me, I'm content. Now, let's get this show on the road and answer some questions!  Oh also don't forget to read "Letter to Me" and maybe write one to yourself :)

1. If you could have any talent and turn it into an occupation, what would it be?
I would love to be able to sing, but I don't really have the personality of an entertainer. I'd be all dark and quiet like my love, Jamey Johnson (minus the drug and alcohol and hooker problems!) and probably never be super popular. So, my second choice is (yawn) computer geek. I know, how boring. I just wish I was super computer smart. People could bring their computers to my house, I could work on them on my own time (in my sweats) and steal their passwords and identities make giooood money doing it. (I was just teasin' about that. Don't get your panties in a bundle. Just being ornery. This early morning gig is new to me)

2. Would you rather have a house at the beach or a cabin in the woods?
Ooooooooh can I have BOTH? I can't choose. I want a summer beach house where I can tan and listen to the ocean lap the sand.  I could build castles and collect shells. HEY! Maybe I could learn to make those little shell boxes and sell them to tourists. Yes, what a great idea.

But then when fall comes, I want out of there! I want cool weather, crisp leaves, and a shady little cabin back in the woods. I could watch leaves fall, squirrells scurry, and deer frolic happily through my back yard (until BAM! Bryan would shoot them and they'd no longer frolic...). I could have a toasty fire in the fireplace and wait for winter, when I could watch the snow fall and make hot cocoa and chop my own Christmas tree! Yep. I need both.

If you held a gun to my head and MADE me choose, I'd pick the cabin. Bryan would be happier there, and I couldn't go without my fall and my snow. I'd just have to visit the beach I guess.

3. Is there any meaning or reasoning for the names you chose for your child/children?
I always always always wanted my first born daughter to have the middle name Mae. My grandma Willa (whose actual given name was Willie) died when I was three years old, and I absolutely adored her. I wanted to carry on her name somehow, and since Willa isn't the coolest name around, I stole her middle name and bestowed it upon my unborn child years before she was even a possibility.  Chloe is just a name I chose because I liked it. I originally wanted to name her Michaela, but I had a girl in school named Kayla who wasn't exactly my "favorite" person in the world (she called me a bitch!). Soooo I thought that was too close for comfort, and 3 M names were too many for one little girl. So I went with Chloe, a name I've liked since Chloe came to Days of Our Lives as a teenager :)

4. What is your guilty pleasure? (I know we've done this one before, but I'm guessing people's "guilty pleasures" change frequently. At least, mine do!)

Ok. I made mention of it before, but I will go all out here and tell you. I. Love. Teen Mom. I do. I have seen every episode, and I look forward to Tuesday nights at 9 when it's on (it's over right now). It's SO bad that even Chloe is aware. When we were in the checkout line at Wal-Mart a few weeks ago, she went to the next aisle to look at the crap they lure kids with novelties, and came back toting US Weekly. She handed it to me and said, "Look, Mom, the girl from your show is on this magazine."  It was Amber from Teen Mom. I furrowed my brow as if I didn't know what she was talking about, then hunched over the magazine, reading the article while Mister Mister put the groceries on the belt :)

5. Do you live in a house that is deep cleaned or straightened?
Ummmm. Is cluttered and occasionally clean an option?  :)

I try to keep the house straightened. I constantly remind Mister Mister that we DO have a laundry basket AND a closet. He's lived here much longer than I have, but I guess he was never introduced to those features!  Chloe's room is a lost cause. I just shut the door. I do my best to keep up with the rest of it, deep cleaning one room at a time (by "at a time" I mean every month or so). If you ever come visit, come on a Friday night. I get everything done on Friday to prepare for being at work all weekend. It's usually pretty clean and homey then.

Speaking of which, I need to get busy. I have an extra hour this morning, and I am going to USE it to get my stuff done early. I've got going out to do tonight!  Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Letter to Me

Just as I posted my ho-hum Thanksgiving blog, I saw a post on my dashboard and just HAD to do this! I'm not on Twitter, so I wasn't aware that today is "Tweet Your Sixteen Year-Old Self" day. A blog I subscribe to decided to turn her tweets into a blog, and invited others to link, so I am going to go with it!

Wouldn't you LOVE to be able to talk to your "old" self? Or wouldn't you have loved to hear from your, er, older self when you were sixteen? I've always liked the Brad Paisley song, "Letter to Me" for that reason. Of course, then the "thinky" part of my brain goes all Back to the Future and thinks changing anything would alter the future and end up making everything you said invalid. Yeah. Welcome to my brain. And people wonder why I am anxious and worrysome?  :)

Anyway. If I could relay some messages to my sixteen year-old self, it would be this:

  • None of the boys you're fond of are worth your time or tears. They all turn out to be ordinary shmucks who wouldn't have made you happy anyway. Everyone looks good at sixteen. You'll laugh one day when you see them and remember that you were crazy about them. You are a deep person, and you need someone who will embrace and understand that.

  • Don't be in such a hurry to grow up. You'll be better off if you marry happily at 35 than to settle at 22. You'll be a better mom at 30 than 25. You'll be a better person if you figure out who you are and what you want before you settle down (you think you know now, but you don't).

  • You don't really want five kids. They hurt. They make you fat. They are expensive. And one will be the best thing to ever happen to you anyway.

  • Nothing that happens in high school will matter in ten years. Make some good memories, learn from your mistakes, and move forward, not hanging on too tightly to anything from these years.

  • Sometimes your mom has a point, and even though she'd deny it, she speaks from experience.

  • You are not fat. In ten years you will say you'd do anything to have this body back. Enjoy it. Love it. Flaunt it.

  • Try not to be a people-pleaser. If you learn now not to say what people want to hear, and do what people want you to do, it will save you a LOT of heartache, and it will save you some rebellion when you're oh, say, 27. Just saying.

  • Don't worry about keeping everyone's phone number and current mailing address in that little book. They'll invent this thing called Facebook and you will be able to look them up by name :)

  • Stop trying to fit in and be friends with people who don't accept you. Nourish the friendships with those who accept you the way you are, because those are the ones that matter most.

  • Don't join in when the other Girl Scouts prank Jodi. She will be your boss and very good friend one day ;)

  • Stay true to yourself. Don't put up with anyone who treats you like crap, even if it's family.

  • Finally, you're pretty even though you don't think so. You're strong even if you don't think so, and you will learn to be independent. I'm proud of who you are.

What would you tell your sixteen year-old self?

Chunks of Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving approaching I decided I'm going to try (really hard) to be thankful every day this month. It's not a new concept. Bloggers and social networkers do it every year. I have never really participated, not because I'm not thankful, but because I'm not all that regular in my blogging. BUT. Rather than committing to blog daily, I just figure I will squish them all together in chunks every time I think of it :) So, here are five days worth of thanksgivings.

Nov. 1 - I'm thankful for fall. I know, it's broad, but I love this time of year so much, and November 1st finally FELT like fall. I love the cool breeze, the smell and feel of my hoodies, the crisp leaves, and all the delicious seasonal food. I. Love. Fall.

Nov. 2 - I'm thankful for my right to vote. Even when things don't go exactly as I think they should, I have the right to voice my opinion and make that opinion count. In a world where people die for that right, I feel pretty grateful for what we have.

Nov. 3 - I'm thankful to have a male in my life who is everything I've ever needed in a mate. He is strong, he works hard, he's loving, he's protective, and he's patient. He is attentive, and he treats us girls in a way we deserve. He is what I want Chloe to look for in a mate one day, and he is what I always hoped I could have in a partner. Now when I watch romantic comedies like Sweet Home Alabama, I don't think "I wish a boy would hold me that way," I think, "I'm so lucky to have that." :)

Nov. 4 - I'm thankful for one of my very best friends, Jamie. We've been friends since I was a freshman in high school. We've been through thick and thin, up and down, good and bad, and we still love each other. I've never had a friend who was so supportive and loving, and I don't know what I'd do without her!

And, since tomorrow is Five Question Friday, I will go ahead and be thankful ahead of time. I'm thankful for FRIDAYS! They are and always have been my favorite day. I especially love fall Fridays. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sweet Mother of Abraham Lincoln! The Prospector! He'll Wanna Meet'cha!

Well, I didn't work this weekend, and I had a ridiculous number of apple-mares, so I'm not feeling Apron Strings this week. I was feeling under the weather Saturday, but I was told Weaubleau was trick-or-treating on Saturday night, not Sunday, so we did the whole Halloween hoopla on Saturday. I picked Chloe up at my mom's house that afternoon and she got dressed as Jessie from Toy Story. My phone Internet is tooooo slow to upload right now, but I have pictures on Facebook.

Chloe picked out the character months ago, and as soon as she saw the costume in Wal-Mart, she just had to have it. I wanted to make the costume (a cowgirl isn't that hard), because I hated the foam-esque Wally World hat (even in the picture it looks better than in real-life). It didn't look right, and I wanted to get a flat, felt hat like Jessie's. I looked some, never found one, and gave in to Chloe's incessant begging for the Wal-Mart duds. 

She got her hair cut, and I knew no one would know she was Jessie anyway, without the hair.  So, I found a little spark of creativity and made her Jessie's signature red yarn hair in a long braid. When we were out, we saw other Jessies, and I was asked many times, "Where'd you find one with the hair?" I proudly admitted that I created it myself, and saw the moms faces say, "Why didn't I think of that?" I was proud. We had hat problems (it wouldn't stay on), but other than that, she was a successful Jessie, and we got all the trick-or-treating out of the way a day early. Yodelayheeeeehooooooo!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Question Five of Five Questions Has Five Answers!

Happy Friday!  Woooooohhoooooooooo! Did you know I love Fridays? Oh I sure do. It's been another busy week, but I'm super excited for the Halloween festivities coming up.  Sunday (I think) is trick-or-treat day, and I'm OFF all day!  Today is Chloe's class Halloween party, and I am a room mommy, pleased to help and be a part of her party. Oh yipes! That means I need to get all my stuff done before we leave for school in (gasp!) just over two hours. I have my sweats on and laundry/dishes/bleating goat waiting for me! If you're not my facebook friend, disregard the goat comment.  Anyway, I better type fast!!!!!!  Ok blah blah here we go. I have a party to get to, guys!

1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?
Hmm. I'm a firm believer in the whole "ignorance is bliss" concept. I don't think I'd WANT to know what all goes on in government. I think it would be more information than my nervous system could handle. And other than government or business, there isn't anything or anyone that I feel I need to spy on. Call me crazy. Maybe it would be fun to be a fly on the wall in Chloe's classroom. I'd like to observe her for a whole day without her knowing I'm there, just so I can see how she interacts in the real world.

2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
I usually have money set back, a list of who I need to shop for, and a rough estimate of what I plan to spend on those people. I stick to it with extended family (sometimes shorting them if I find something I just have to get Chloe he he). When it comes to Chloe, though, I am never done. I LOVE shopping for her. I usually spend my budget on her, then spend all my "free spending" money for the month on her as well. I just LOVE Christmas, and I LOVE shopping, so a one-day 500.00 limit for the family just doesn't cut it.

3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?
The ONLY fad diet I did was Suzanne Sommers variation of Atkins. I lost six pounds the first week, and by Wednesday of the second week I had lost ten. I loved it. Looked great. But on that Wednesday my carb deprivation got the best of me. I made a pot of spaghetti like you've never seen and I DEVOURED it. To me that diet was like substituting an alcoholic's alcohol for crack. It didn't work. And I ate more horribly than I ever have. That's where I learned to love real butter. I was eating bacon and buttered green beans in portions that should've put me into cardiac arrest! Crazy.

4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?
Friends, mostly because it's still on all the time. Grey's Anatomy. ER. And please don't laugh at me....Teen Mom. Gah! Did I just admit that? Shhhh. It's now our little world-wide secret.

5. What one song always pulls at your heart?
Just one??? I can't pick just one. So I will tell you my top five, all for different reasons. I have to mention runners up, "How Can I Help You (to Say Goodbye)" by Patty Loveless and "Who's that Man" by Toby Keith. Both came along at a difficult time in my childhood and still bring back haunting memories.

5. "Chances Are" by Bob Seger (preferrably with Martina McBride, as seen on Hope Floats)
This song takes me instantly back to summer 1998. Hope Floats had just come to theaters (I saw it three times I think, and had the soundtrack). That summer I fell hard for, dated, and was heart-broken by the first boy to really break my heart. It reminds me of all the stages of that summer, good and bad, and always pulls at my heart just a little.

4. "I Don't Love You Anymore" by Travis Tritt.
This song has always been heartbreaking to me, even when I was a little girl. It's a very powerful love/loss song that somehow has always really got to me. "I can't hide the way I feel about you, anymore. I can't hold the hurt inside keep the pain out of my eyes anymore..." It's just a great song, lyrically and musically.

3. "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" by Alan Jackson.
I've talked about this one several times. It's such a powerful song with such a striking melody. It always brings up a lot of feelings in regard to 9/11 and mortality in general. It still gives me chills every time.

2. "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman
"She spins and she sways to whatever song plays, without a care in the world. And I'm sitting here wearing the weight of the world on my shoulders..." that first line was me and Chloe (NOT "Chloe and I" because I'm using the objective form, not subjective for the grammar haters who think they know grammar but don't)  for quite some time, and this song always brought me to tears. It's more about a dad watching his daughter grow, but I just related to it so much. It's sound is haunting, and beautiful at the same time. I love it.

1. "Then" by Brad Paisley
It's "our" song. The first time I heard it on the radio I text Bryan and asked if he'd heard it. We both agreed it was us. We had just started seeing each other, but we knew. "...and three weeks later in the front porch light, taking 45 minutes to kiss goodnight; I hadn't told you yet, but I thought I loved you then. Now you're my whole life, now you're my whole world, I just can't believe the way I feel about you [girl]. Like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been, we've come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then..." I love it. It pulls at my heart in a really good way, and makes me feel all warm and happy :)

You should've known if I was asked about music I'd be writing a book ;)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Real in the Night Emotion.

I turned on my digital photo frame last night for the first time in a couple of months. Chloe was watching the pictures roll by of Pensacola, Christmas, and Easter among others. We laughed at how different she looked almost a year and a half ago, and how much her hair changes her appearance.

We were talking about a Christmas present she was opening when the photo changed. It was a picture I snapped of her sitting at the edge of the pond at Bolivar park, watching the ducks. It wasn't posed, I just thought she looked cute sitting there gazing out at the water.

"What's that picture doing on here?" she asked.

"I took it of you at the park, and I liked it," I replied.

"But, Mom, it's not a real in-da-night emotion!"

"Say what?" I asked, trying not to laugh.

"It's not a real in-da-night emotion picture. You know?" she asked, using her explanation gestures.

"A real what?"

"A real in-da-night emotion. You know, a picture of something really important, like Christmas." I accepted what she said although I still wasn't sure what word phrase she was trying to connect. As we looked at the pictures, I realized "real in the night emotion" ones are ones of holidays and special occasions, and are most always posed. FYI.

Her vocabulary and sentence structure are so good these days, I just have to hang on to anything cute or funny that she says, because her toddler logic is becoming a thing of the past. Sometimes I miss fiders (not spiders) and mlilk (not milk), although I'm very proud of her. My baby is growing up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apron Strings: More Food

This was my first full weekend of work in three weeks. It was good to be back on all weekend, but WOW Saturdays are becoming a waste of time if you want my honest opinion. I drive 40 minutes each way, am inside Applebees for 9-11 hours, and when it's deathly slow (as it has been) I come home almost empty-handed. Gr!  But Sundays almost always pay off (and then some), so I can't whine.

Anyway. You're ready for some more juicy insider information aren't you ;)  Here goes.

Food. It's the whole reason you eat out, right? Maybe you don't want to cook, or maybe there's something specific you crave that only your favorite restaurant can give you. Maybe it's just the whole experience, but either way, the food is the star of the show!  That is one area I don't have a lot of control over, and I'm about to tell you about it!

Things you might not know:

I don't cook your food.
A server will order your steak right 99.9% of the time. It's habit. We don't forget. If your steak is not cooked to your liking, it's because the person cooking it misjudged (or doesn't know how to cook steak). I will attempt to fix it the best I can, and I'll tell the manager. I know it makes you angry, because it makes ME angry. When I serve and when I eat out. If you order a steak, you want it right the first time. I get it. I sympathize. When I say I'm sorry, I TRULY am. Please don't walk out and leave no tip, or leave a few pennies to "punish" us for your horrible steak. The guy who cooked it still gets paid the same, and I just lost a good part of my Saturday night wage.

When it comes to food quality, you can pretty much figure out where the infraction occurred. Is the temperatuer wrong? Cook. Is the pasta mushy? Kitchen. Did you ask for ranch and got Caesar? Server. Is there a hair INSIDE your food? Cook. Is there a hair on top of your food (that matches that of YOUR server?) Server. Is there a fly in your salad with dressing on it? Kitchen. No one MEANS to screw up your food, but try to understand that it's not always under my control, so there's no use punishing me for it. Speak to the manager. He or she can make it more right than I can.

Servers screw up.
Aside from the steak screw ups now and then, the cooks almost ALWAYS cook and prepare the food EXACTLY how they are told. They read the screen and they do a really good job of sending your food out correctly. Once in a while they'll overlook something, but not often.

It is your server's responsibility to communicate your order correctly to the kitchen. You want your food a certain way, and we are supposed to be sure you get it. I won't lie, when you ask for thirteen modifications to a plate it DOES irritate me, but I do my best to get it all right. However, the more modifications YOU make, the more chances WE have to screw it up. Just saying.

Anyway, if you asked for no mayo, or you wanted extra chicken and it's not there, don't let your server pull the "the kitchen must have sent it out wrong" bit on you. Chances are she didn't enter it into the computer.

Some servers are honest.
If I made a mistake, I'm going to tell you. I might not think it's my fault (because sometimes people think they said something they didn't say), but I'm going to tell you. I'm so sorry, I didn't get your appetizer entered. I overlooked that modification. I misread my writing. I misunderstood what you said. I got busy and forgot your drink. I don't like doing it, but I do. And most good servers will. We aren't perfect, we do make mistakes, and we don't mean to neglect you (unless you're being an unruly bitch).

So next time your food is awful, think about WHY it is bad. Remember that your server only orders and serves your food, and chewing her out only hurts her feelings (or pisses her off). Rate your server on her service, and if the food isn't worth paying for, talk to a manager about that. Have a great week, and eat something yummy :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Better Late Than Never

I thought I was going to sneak by without my normal "WOOOOO It's FRIDAY" blog this week, but I was wrong. On my Facebook wall late Friday night was a comment asking where my five questions were!  I was away from the computer (GASP!) Thursday AND Friday, so my online communication is falling behind. You didn't even notice, you say? Gr.

Anyway. Here it is. Five Question Friday Sunday.

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

First things first. I have not a spouse. Per say. Anyway, that aside, I do most of the cooking. I wouldn't say I'm a GREAT cook, but I do alright keeping the bellies full around here. I also take great pride in my cookie baking abilities. I make most of the meals, and wouldn't turn the duties over to Mr. Mr. even if I were given the choice. When it comes to taters, though, my man whips me in that area ;)  I'd prefer his mashed or fried potatoes any day. Part of that might be that everything tastes better when you don't have to cook it yourself, but most of it is the fact that he has mad tater cookin' skills :)

2. How often do you talk to your mom?
I'm not a phone talker. I was, once upon a time, but when the good ol' SMS message came onto the scene, I clammed up. Therefore, while I once talked to my mom every day, I now only talk to her when I'm driving or have something too long to text. We do, however, text daily. What? My mom texts? Heck yeah she does. It was rough at first, when she first realized she could communicate her every thought to me...immediately. I will never forget last year when I was snuggling into bed for the night. My phone was buzzing every 5 to 7 minutes. I finally got out of my warm covers and saw the eight Christmas Story quotes from my mama. :) As if I don't know it word for word anyway. But she's leveled out now and I am glad we can send quick messages daily.

3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?
The recipe is my best friend. I even use the recipes I know by heart. Just to be sure. Once in a while I will make something of my own creation that has no recipe (like a few weeks ago when we were hungry and didn't have much to choose from and I made hamburger, egg noodles, and cream of mushroom soup [and used the exact soup recipe on the can ;)]), but mostly I stick to it.  I've never been much of an adventurer.

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?
Nope. My dad's big old toe cloned itself and stuck right to my foot, where it reigns supreme over all the other toes =/

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)
I don't. Haven't since 6th grade (Lindsey and I skipped the Halloween dance to trick-or-treat, then kicked ourselves for choosing candy over boys). Except for Halloween 2008.  I dressed as a former, er, boss. What's weird is that for the costume I needed a blonde wig and four pairs of socks ;) I looked like a cross-dresser in kahki pants...and EVERYONE knew EXACTLY who I was. Mouths dropped at my audacity. Laughs were stifled when I stopped at the church party to see my mom. Oh yes, it was a grand Halloween. If you're friends with the "old" me on facebook, you can see the pics there. Still makes me smile.

Have a good night. See you tomorrow for Apron Strings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Apron Strings: The Big Top

I'm not talking about the circus, here, although sometimes that's just how it feels.  Today I'm talking about big tops. Parties. Anything that requires us to scooch tables together. Yeah, I said scooch :)  If there are more than eight of you, this applies to you!

For the most part, a big top is much like any other table. Usually they are patient because they are not in a hurry, and they understand the added stress they put on a server who is used to dealing with 2-5 guests at a time. However, there are some things you need to consider when you go out to eat with a large party.

Things You NEED to know:

You're not my only table.
When you came in the door, the hostess decided to seat you in my section because that's where there was room. I may already have four other tables seated, or I may have a table who sat down right before you. When I see you coming, I know I need larger chunks of time for you. So I'm probably going to try to settle my other tables first. Please be patient. I'm not avoiding you, I just want to make sure my other table isn't ready to pay and has to wait while I fill twelve drink orders.

There's a REASON places place a mandatory gratutiy on large parties.
I always thought that was stupid. I thought you shouldn't be forced to tip. Now I understand why, and wish our Applebee's did that! We have to work harder, because instead of stacking our guests (getting drinks for table 4, then stopping at 6 to take an order, checking on 7 on our way to place the order, placing the order, grabbing the extra ranch for 7, dropping it off with 4's drinks, etc), we have to get twelve drinks at once, deliver them, and then take twelve orders, etc. Sometimes our other tables suffer, affecting our tip. Sometimes no matter how hard we try, or how fast we are, other things affect the situation and you don't get the perfect service you'd expect if you were only two people instead of twelve. When we put that much time and effort into a table, unless we were complete bitches to you, we deserve a decent tip. You were, after all, occupying our section for two hours and keeping us from having other guests.

Big groups are often loud and chatty. Even at my loudest, I usually only get the attention of a few. If you're one of the few, shut your friends up and tell them to get the show on the road ;) OK that was harsh. Just help me out. When you say you're ready to order, don't make me stand there while four of your finish a conversation. Order your food, preferrably in the order you chose drinks. That way I don't forget anyone. And when I return, be paying attention. That way if you need anything I can get it. Nothing irritates me more than for Chatty Cathy to be cackling while I am serving her food, only to be flagging me down once her gums stop flappin' because she needs extra sauce.

Don't be difficult.
You usually order a 2/20 with your friend Gretchen. You get spinach dip and Fiesta Lime Chicken, but you hate pico, and you want mashed potatoes instead of mexi-rice (people actually do this). She likes the steak medium well, wants steamed potatoes, and a salad instead of veggies with no cucumber and ranch dressing. Ok. So I have five modifications to make on your order. Multiply by 6, assuming there are twelve people. That makes THIRTY extra things I have to enter, most of which require deleting something and adding another, which makes sixty computer entries in addition to all your food. You're asking for trouble! If you can find something that you don't have to modify, please do so. It makes it easier for everyone. Also, please try not to send me to the kitchen twelve separate times for ranch. Think about what you want and need, and communicate that to me from the beginning. Then you don't have to wait, and I don't have to run my legs off. Group night is not the night to be picky, I'm just sayin'.

Stop moving!
When I come to take your drink order, I write everything in order. So if you have a peach tea (2.69) and you trade places with someone who has a water (0.00) then I will write your food on her drink and vice versa. It's just easier on me if you stay where you are, and while we're talking about that, it would be GREAT if you'd sit by the person you want to split a 2/20 with, or the people who will also be on your check.

You don't want separate tickets. You really don't.
You split a 2/20 with someone across the table. I have to find you both in the computer, split your ticket, and then print them and cash them separately. I had a table of 13 yesterday, four of them had 2/20, and everyone wanted her own check. Five paid with credit cards, eight with cash. The girl at the end was saying, "If y'all have cash, use it! It's way faster than payin' with ya' card!" She lied. It's way faster for me to swipe your card and hand you back your card and receipt, than to take eight 20.00 bills and make change for each one (poor Jaime had to make change for me four times during this transaction yesterday!), then return them to the correct guests.

If you can pay in groups or as one big group, I will love you forever.

Don't forget to tip!
You all pay separately, so your checks are around 12.00 each. You leave me a buck and maybe some change, so I end up with 12.00, maybe 13.00, when the entire bill was 144.00. An average tip (15%) would be 21.60 (what I would get if you were required to add that gratuity on), and a gracious tip would be 28.80. See how that works out? If one person got a bill for 144.00, they would leave a more fair tip than twelve people who had small bills. I did bring you at least 24 drinks, I modified all your food (even though now you know I didn't do it happily he he), I brought her extra ranch, then turned around and got him honey mustard, because he didn't like the southern bbq afterall, oh, and I split all your checks correctly. I only make 3.63 an hour, no matter how hard I work. It would be nice to be rewarded for my efforts :)

There ya have it. The gruesome truth on big tops :)

Fly on the wall moment:
I was serving a large group of, er, flamboyant women on Sunday. As I walked by the table, I heard one woman say, "..and jus' pray, that will hep you through anything." The woman next to her immediately interjected, "Yeah. Jesus is yo bess frien' y'all."   :)  Ohhhhhhh Applebees. How I love the characters you bring me :)