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October 2008
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January 2009

The Christmas Card Story

Once upon a time, when I had no kids, 9,852 rubber stamps and nothing better to do, I would hand-stamp all my Christmas cards AND envelopes for their delivery to the loving recipients, most of whom tossed them in the trash on December 26th. And this was no assembly-line process - they were all original cards. Nary a match in the bunch. You couldn't play "Go Fish" with them. You dig?

But wait, there's more.

I didn't send store-bought cards for ANY occasion. In fact, if someone (*cough*John*cough*) were to suggest that I purchase a card, my hands would fly to my chest in an "I might need CPR!" fashion and my face would scrunch up into a foul "smell-a-fart" look, and I'd convey visually my displeasure at the suggestion while simultaneously attempting to regain the ability to breathe and speak.

She says, all exaggeratingly and pretty darn thesaurus-ey, too!

And then the little lovelies were born.

For the last 10 years it's been a good year if I manage to send a card at all. It's an extremely good year if the cards contain a family photo or school photos of the kids. It's an unheard-of year if the cards also contain a letter. It's time to look for pigs flying by if the cards are hand-made, on-time, contain pictures and a letter.

No need to look for pigs this year. Or letters. Or photos unless you're an aunt/uncle or grandparent. Lifetouch is expensive and the economy is bad, yo!

But I did hand-make 50 Christmas cards and they are addressed, stuffed, stamped and ready to go to the post office as soon as I finish this blog post, put away the Frito's, shower, dress and go to the post office.

But the cards smell bad.

Like, really bad.

Because I went shopping with Bonnie, that's why!

Have you met Bonnie? (To be said in the voice of Barney Stinson)

Bonnie stitch I am convinced that Bonnie is Experiment 627, the much cuter, creative and productive younger sister of Stitch. She must have four hands because I'm not sure how else she could manage all the decorating, baking, hand-made items and volunteering that she manages to cram into (supposedly) the same 24-hour-day that I have.  

It's like she doesn't even realize her super-hero status when she calls me (like she did last night) and apologizes for not returning my call earlier but she had been helping a friend's daughter re-decorate her room Parisienne style, but on a budget, so they'd been painting, sewing and altering all day! A week before Christmas, mind you! 

Please. Could I make that up?

On my first lunch/shopping day with Bonnie I had to watch uncomfortably as she purchased craft supplies to make button trees and other handmade gifts for friends and family. (While I, in contrast, checked out the KOYDNMAA) (Kiosks Of You Don't Know Me At All) In a moment of guilt-by-association (which means I felt guilty for being a lazy Pizza-Palace-playing, kiosk-gift-buying sloth while associating with Martha Crocker over there) I purchased a Quickutz die of a Christmas tree and announced with ridiculous certainty that I was going to make some Christmas cards this year!!!

That evening, with the Bonnie-juju still flowing, I hauled up my die-cutter and a healthy stack of Christmas patterned papers to the kitchen island, and prepared to start my cards.


The Quickutz tree was in 4 pieces, yo!

Like I was going to have to squeeze out a couple hundred pieces just to make 50 trees and they would all have to be glued individually. And I'm really good at math, so . . .

Oh hayull no!

And just at that moment, with desperation mounting, Emma startled me from behind, causing me to jump, drop my scissors, topple over a drinking glass, which hit my die-cutter, which was ridiculously close to the edge of the island, and in true Rube Goldberg style, it went crashing to the floor, making a huge gash in the wood.


I put away the supplies and vowed not to compare myself to Bonnie anymore. I also vowed to act completely bewildered and innocent if John ever noticed the gash in the floor. (Hope you're not reading, hon!)

But gosh darn if Bonnie's unselfish cheer isn't, like, uber-contagious! On our next shopping trip I found myself, once again, pondering if I could make Christmas cards. It was in the bookstore that I spied the perfect ingredient - a Dover clip-art book of vintage Christmas card images. YES! I could just print them out, mat them with some pretty paper, throw them in an envelope and it would completely count as handmade! And do-able! So do-able! (TWSS)

Look, you've been very patient reading this far to try to find out why my Christmas cards are stinky. And I do plan to tell you, I do. But I need just a small diversion here to explain that TWSS stands for "That's What She Said" - which is what Michael on "The Office" says anytime there's an opportunity to make something sound dirty that wasn't intended to sound dirty. John and I do this all the time with each other and also with our friends, Geoff and Tammy, who love The Office and juvenile humor nearly as much as we do.

Moving on . . .

When I printed the images onto cardstock they looked sort of . . . blah. I probably should have printed them on glossy cardstock but I didn't have any, and if I went back out with Bonnie I was liable to purchase supplies to build my own manger and stable in the front yard, or something. It was just too dangerous.

So instead I rooted through my stash and came up with a spray can of glossy preserving spray. I tried it on one of the images and it perked it right up! (TWSS) Perfect! Except . . . I have the patience of a two-year-old and the spray wasn't drying very quickly. So then I decided to use a piece of transparency for the card itself and let the spray act not only as a glossifier but also as an adhesive. Even more perfect!

But apparently if you spray a highly fumey glossy spray and then immediately cram it under a non-porous piece of plastic you preserve the fumes for eternity.

Because it's several days later and the cards still stink, yo!

Plus I had to go all "overboard" and start adding ribbons and beads and charms, oh my. Many of the cards are a little too bulgy for their envelopes (TWSS) and I'm hoping that the postal machines don't tear them to shreds.

But as long as you get the shards of a handmade card . . . it counts!

Just wear a gas mask when you open it, please.

Merry Christmas!

RKQOTD (Me: I'm tired of you two moping around and bickering. Go find something to do. Karl: Emma, let's go strengthen our relationship by playing a board game!)

Dr. McMeltme's Magic!

Try to say that 5 times fast!

So remember those cool pictures of Karl that I couldn't post a few days ago because my card reader was consumed by a Tasmanian pigsty? (With no offense to Tasmania intended, mates - just painting a cyclonic visual with my words)

Well I did a thorough winter cleaning of my office and found the card reader!

Stop, Karen, stop! My side, my side!

Please. Do you even know me at all?! I recently installed a puppy gate at the top of the basement stairs, which not only keeps Lucy out of the basement, but all of our guests as well! Bonus! It is now a foregone conclusion that my office will remain in it's "Monica's Closet" state until Lucy grows up or we sell our house, whichever comes first. Unless the mess swallows my laptop, of course, which would scare me flylady in a heartbeat.

So no, I didn't find my card reader. I had to haul my camera down here and attach it to my computer with a cable. . . like an animal!

Just so I could show you this . . .

Karl Braces Before After 

His teeth are straight! In, like, 11 months! It's as if they took what they knew about orthodontia when I was a teenager and did, like, some research and technical advancements over two decades and now they can turn a kid from a jack-o-lantern into Donny Osmond in less than a year! Seriously!

Karl will still need "Phase 2" when his permanent molars come in, lest you worry that I will no longer give all my money and most of my ogling to Dr. McMeltme. Plus Emma still has her braces on.

In other news, I've just discovered that I was Liz Lemon in high school! And it's all Facebook's fault!

Apparently I've been living under a rock, or maybe trapped under something heavy, because I didn't know that Facebook was for people old enough to vote! But it totally is for everyone - even tragically unhip moms who sit in messy offices on Saturday nights wearing pink long johns (it's cold, yo!) and a skull shirt from Walmart that she altered to remove a motion-activated light so she could wear it on an overseas flight without waking up fellow passengers. Yes Facebook is for everyone, even the terminally uncool mom who, as she was crawling over a puppy gate in a most unflattering manner, was subjected to ridicule by her husband who called out "I bet I know the color of your underwear . . . black" making her wonder why they even MAKE see-through long johns and also just how many times had she worn said see-through long johns outside to retrieve the paper?

But I've wandered from my point. What was it again? Oh yes, Liz Lemon.

So when you register for Facebook, as I did a couple of days ago, you put in where you went to high school and college and as if by magic, it finds all your long lost friends! It's seriously cool! And you can IM with people, too! I was admiring my new logo yesterday and then there was this little ding and suddenly there's one of my high school friends saying hello! So we chatted for a while, catching up on family and career news, and then he accidentally typed "mind-boogling" instead of "mind-boggling". "Boogling" is funny! If you say it out loud you'll see what I mean. It's like "Oogly Boogly" or "Julia Goolia"! Who can resist making a crack about that? Answer .  . . not me.

So of course I made a crack about it, and then explained that I was just messing with him. It's what I do. I do that!

And then he said . . . "Yeah, you haven't changed much since high school!"

Hey now?! Does that mean that I was a sarcastic messer-wither in high school? Did I do that? OK, yeah, I probably did, but is that a bad thing? Is that frowned on?


Wanna see my new logo? Designed by Lynda, graphic-artist extraordinaire:

Karen logo  

Get it? I wanted a graphic way to say "Open this and magic happens". I think she nailed it! I'm in the very slow process of getting my website updated to reflect not only my new logo but the Europe classes for Home Construction. And I've secured all the supplies to design the February class for Akkefietje, so stay tuned for photos of that project. I know exactly what I'm going to do and if it works - it'll be cool! Soon . . . to quite soon.

RKQOTD Karl: Mom, how many pairs of these jeans did you buy me? Me: Two. Karl: Oh. Well you should have bought more - they like my dungarees at school! Me: Did they actually call them "dungarees"? Karl: No. I got that off the label.

Happy Hallo-Thanks-Holidays!

Yeah, yeah, I suck at blogging. I know! I'm not good about exercising either. In fact, I ran into one of the Girl Scout parents in the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving:

Girl Scout Parent: Hi Karen. Wow. You look like you've lost weight!

ME: Well I've been sick for about 10 days, so I think I've dropped a few pounds from that.

GSP: Oh. I thought maybe you were working out or something.

ME: Oh goodness no! Ha ha ha! No, no, no!

(Although, side note: 10 days of coughing is really good for your abs!)

GSP: (sympathetically) Well if it's just from being sick I suppose you'll gain it back.

ME: You suppose correctly! Can you hand me that whipping cream?

And yes, I've gained it back. Fried turkeys are delicious, yo!

We were all seated at the dining room table, enjoying a feast of Turkey #1 and all the fixin's when I happened to notice that Lucy, who is usually parked at my feet, was not in the room. "Where's Lucy?" I asked. Everyone looked around and then I caught a glance between John and Geoff, who had collaborated on the turkey frying in the backyard.

JOHN: You don't think . . .

GEOFF: We left it to cool on the table out there . . .

And then they jumped up and clamored toward the back door, hauling in the remains of Turkey #2:

Turkey Laugh 

Lucy got her own fried turkey leg feast and was, as near as we could tell, very thankful! And sleepy.

And while I'm in the business of catching up on missed holidays:

Kids Halloween email 

We made Emma's costume out of trash bags stuffed with grocery bags. She also wore a white swim cap, sweats, boots, heavy makeup, a scarf and a top hat. So . . . yeah . . . she pretty much spontaneously combusted an hour into Trick-or-Treating. But on the bright side, she dropped 5 pounds and one of the girl scouts thought she was hitting the gym . . . heh.

Karl was a pirate.

In Europe news, we had a blast! As usual, the students were spectacular, the hosting was spectacular and the classes went well. I am now going to try to stay home more. Yeah, yeah, I've claimed that before, but this time I'm being uber-serious! Or at least somewhat serious. I'm seriously thinking about being serious. Seriously.

But I will be at CHA. So there's that trip.

After that I'm totally staying home.

I might even blog more!

Only probably not.

Because I may be addicted to Pizza Palace, the new game on Webkinz world. If anyone has passed level 10, please tell me your secret.

I'm also addicted to housework.


In fact, I have some cool pictures of Karl to show you, but I can't do it because I can't find my card reader and that's because this office/craft room resembles a garbage dump only less stinky and much less organized.

So my goal for today is to clean up the office.

Did anyone fall for that? Because I was laughing even as I typed it.

I'm off to buy a new card reader, of course.

And actually, in housework news, I've done a much better job. I sort of almost resemble Martha Stewart's second cousin by marriage. Like the main floor is all tidy and festively decorated for Christmas. And the basement (minus my office) is also tidy. And 3/4 of the bathrooms and bedrooms are completey presentable. I'm not even drowning in laundry. More like treading water in laundry, which is a huge improvement!

I even scrubbed the baseboards and dusted the blinds AND the ceiling fans! No joke!

Of course, dusting the blinds really wasn't enough. They need a thorough cleaning. Like I should remove them, take them into the yard, spray them forcefully with the hose, let them dry, and then replace them in the windows.

Baby steps, though. Baby steps.

Don't want to strain anything. Like my pizza-making mouse hand. (That means my hand that controls the mouse, not my hand that's small and furry.)

And now iz ze time on Sprockets ven ve dance! Actually it's the time in the blog post where I type up a funny thing that one of my kids said, but this one requires a whole set-up.

RKQOTD: Karl had his friend Tyler over to play and they were running around the house and yard using Karl's walkie-talkies. I was cleaning the kitchen (suck that, Martha!) and would catch occasional scraps of conversations as one of them would dart through the house. I had to laugh when Tyler burst through the door just in time for me to hear him say to Karl on the walkie talkie:

TYLER: Stop asking if this is Central Marketing!

So then the story gets funnier, because I was in line to return something at WalMart a few weeks later. The line was moving very slowly, mostly because one of the customer service people was having trouble getting a money order to print, and the other one was arguing with a customer over whether he could return a bb gun. Apparently they have a "no return" policy on firearms and she was steadfastly pointing out the fine print on an itty-bitty sign behind the counter as the guy squinted and practically fell over the counter trying to read it. And then he started arguing with her, saying that he didn't see the sign when he bought the gun, which is completely understandable judging by the tiny print and location of the sign in returns instead of, say, where the guns are sold. But of course none of this changed the fact that I was in line with a legitimate return, in a WalMart bag with a receipt and everything, and nobody was available to assist me.

And then my phone rang.

I didn't recognize the number, but I was bored and it was a necessary diversion from envisioning myself grabbing the bb gun and whacking someone over the head with it. (Yes, I suppose you expected me to say that I would shoot someone with it, but first of all, that's disturbing, and second of all, the bb gun was broken. That's why the guy wanted to return it. Please keep up.)

ME: (into the phone. Please keep up.) Hello?

WOMAN'S VOICE: Is this Central Marketing?

If I'm lying I'm whacking myself in the head with a broken bb gun!