The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Yearly Archives for 2011

Because Looking the Part is Half the Battle

I’m 33 and started my ballet training at 32.

My turnout is more of a ‘turn-in’.

I can never remember the position my head is supposed to be in so I’m often looking out at the mirror while everyone else in class is looking demurely toward their hand on the bar.

Doing rond de jambes with the arm feels like rubbing my belly while patting my head and it probably looks pretty similar.

My ballet teacher regularly tells me I have ‘desk job posture’.

I don’t have the ability to follow the weight-loss advice handed down to me by one of the other ballerinas at my studio, “When you’re sitting on the couch and you’re hungry, instead of eating just do two minutes of crunches.”

I almost never have time to take more than one ballet class a week. My teacher says if I really want to get better I should be there 3-4 times a week.

Sometimes when I’m working really hard at having the perfect position and holding every part of my body in exactly the right way during the adagio, I glance into the wall of mirrors and realize the look on my face is the same as the one on my nephew, Colby’s, face when he’s taking a crap.

I will absolutely, undoubtedly, without even the remotest possibility, never be a professional ballet dancer.

None of that means that the very perfect Christmas present I could get from my husband wouldn’t be an awesome, over-priced, utterly impractical, adult tutu:

He just knows me that well. I am going to dance the shit out of that thing in my next class.

Here’s hoping you got the perfect, impractical, dream gift for Christmas, too!

Shit Moms Say

This video has been making the viral internet rounds this week:

And I admit, I LOLed. Because yes. At our house “Can you do me a huge favor?” is synonymous with “Go get Mommy a Diet Coke from the garage fridge, please and thank you.” I like to think in a few years when they’re all a little taller it will come to mean, “Please get Mommy a wine glass from the cabinet and fill it to the brim from the box in the garage fridge, please and thank you.” But for now I’ll take what I can get.

I wish I knew that guy so I could write him another one to film. It would be called ‘Shit Moms Say’ and would go like this:

What did you just eat and where did you get it?

Can you just… not?


Why would you do that to your brother?

I’m going to count to three. One… TWO…

If you don’t come home soon I’m going to stick my head in the oven.

Do we have our listening ears on?

What’s in your mouth?

Come here, you have something on your face.

Are you really going to wear that?

Check again.

I’m going to count to five and I’m not even kidding.

Not helping would be helpful right now.

If you don’t get home soon I might sell your children to the gypsies.

I need you to stop talking for at least 3 minutes.


I’ll get it for you in just a second.

Don’t talk to me while I’m on the phone.

Maybe after dinner.

We’ll see.


I don’t want to hear it.

I think you’re fine.

I’m sure he didn’t mean to.

What is all that noise?

No, you don’t have to eat it, you can go straight to bed if you want.

HOLD MY HAND! That car will squish you flat.

Mommy needs a timeout. With the box of wine.



How to Make an Offer: The Three Things You Need to Know

You’ve seen 87 houses:

53 were horrible, disgusting homes you were fairly certain should be condemned

7 were nice but backed to a major road, giant electrical lines or a Walmart

20 were almost right, except the floorplan wasn’t Feng Shui

5 totally would have worked except you found too many dead scorpions and/or cockroaches for your comfort

1 seemed perfect until you researched the sex offenders in the area and realized a child molester lived next door

But one house was THE HOUSE. One house has everything you’re looking for. The master has his and hers closets. The kitchen has an island with room for four barstools. The downstairs guest room has its own bathroom for the in-laws who can’t make it up the stairs. The backyard has a pool with a margarita table in it. There’s a closet under the stairs that’s totally big enough to house an orphaned magical nephew you would prefer to pretend doesn’t exist, if you needed to. The house is close enough to an elementary school the child molesters can’t legally live within a respectable distance. It’s the house you can see you and the hubby and kids living in for the next 20 years.

So now what?

Now you come to me and say, OK, we want to make an offer. Can we go in $30K low? It’s a buyer’s market, right? I mean no one can afford houses right now, so we should be able to get this for a steal, shouldn’t we?

This is where I cradle my head in my hands and try to decide if wine at lunch is acceptable if I put it in a sippy cup.

I’m not saying I don’t understand where you’re coming from. I remember when Jason and I bought our first house, way before I had even considered diving into the shark tank that is the life of a professional Realtor. I had no idea what the house was ‘worth’; I just knew it seemed like a rip-off to pay asking price. It felt like in Rocky Point when you want to buy a piece of jewelry from the street vendors; only the suckers pay full price, right? And then the locals laugh at you behind your back.

I’m here to tell you: Buying a house is not like bartering for cheap junk in Mexico. I know, it’s a revelation.

There are three things you need to take into consideration when making an offer on a house. That’s right, only three things. It’s not scary and complicated if you can boil it down to three things. And this works in any market. You don’t need to consult a stock broker or a weather girl or even a tarot card reader if you just consider the three following things:

1.    The listing price in comparison to the recent sold comps.

2.    How long the property has been on the market.

3.    How bad you want the house.

Yep, that’s it. That’s all of the information that should go into what offer to make on the house. Let me walk you through an example so you can understand how it works.

Example 1:

Perfect house A is listed at $250,000. The comps show other similar houses in the neighborhood have closed escrow for between $227,000 and $268,000. House A seems to have better upgrades and amenities than most of the sold comps.

Perfect house A went on the market 2 days ago.

Perfect house A is the perfect house! You reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want it!

The analysis of this data shows that you should make an offer at or slightly above list price. House A’s value is supported by the other houses that have sold. House A just went on the market, so they are unlikely to accept a low offer and could potentially have competing offers. You can’t afford to let House A go because you superalot want it. You need to make a strong offer.

OK, you say, I get it that if I really want a house and it hasn’t been on the market long then I need to make a good offer. But you’re a Realtor and you always want me to offer more money so I can get the house because it’s not your money. Show me how this system actually benefits me.

Yes, let’s do another example.

Example 2:

House B is listed at $279,900. Neighborhood comps have closed in the $240,000 to $270,000 range recently, but House B seems to need a lot more work than any of the comps did.

House B has been listed 48 days with no offers yet.

You like House B and it would definitely work, but it needs all new floors and a kitchen remodel, so for it to be worth it you’d need to get it at a really good price. Otherwise you’re OK with moving on.

Ah, so House B is an excellent candidate for a lowball offer. The seller doesn’t have anything else to go with and you’re not going to be devastated if you lose out on the house. The comps support a lower price. In this case, there’s no harm in going in fairly significantly low.

Are we all on the same page now? Alright, I won’t break out the wine yet.

Christmas Bipolarity

I’ve had a post brewing in my brain for about a week. So far I’d held back from unleashing it on the world because I didn’t want to hear all the bitching about how I’m a Scrooge and a Grinch and various other nefarious cartoon characters who eventually turn into saps at the end of the movie. Don’t hold your breath, People, I’m not going to grow a heart anytime soon.

But I think my blogging idea canal is clogged with this post and I just need to write it and get the pathway cleared so the other blog topic ideas can start flowing again. Or possibly I need some fiber. One of those two.

The point is: The Winter Holiday Season, and specifically, Christmas, is the worst. AmIright? Don’t answer it. I don’t want to hear about how you love how this time of year brings out the best in people and makes you feel all cheerful and cozy and loved. It’s THE WORST.

(Edited to add: I started this post last week and I think I must have been in a seriously rotten mood. I’m posting this because I still agree with the general content, but wow. Not maybe quite this strongly. Wouldn’t you love to be married to me? #moodinessrulz)

Top Five Things That Suck About Christmas:

1.    Holiday Card Pictures – You know what I’m talking about. Everyone has to dress up in coordinated outfits, assemble at a specific time and place and smile at the same time. In theory, it should take 10 minutes tops. In reality the outfits you spent an entire day trolling the mall to find only fit 3 of the 5 people you purchased them for. In reality you have to bribe the youngest with enough sugar to fuel a space shuttle to Mars to get him to stand there and attempt a smile. In reality, the only picture where everyone in your family looks halfway reasonable and sort of like they might be smiling, is the picture where your second chin is most visible and you look like you have a lazy eye. And that’s what you end up sending out so the people who haven’t seen you in a year will know how you’re doing. That’s the mental picture they’ll have of you.

2.    Holiday Lights – I’m pretty sure the manufacturers of these stupid things are in a secret alliance with the National Association of Divorce Attorneys. Every year after the holiday ends my husband tests each string of lights and carefully winds them individually and puts them neatly away, but every year when he opens up the box labeled ‘Christmas Lights’ they’ve morphed into a seething, tangled vat of mostly dead bulbs, as if they have a mind of their own. That moment when my husband unearths the holiday lights of horror, is when he turns into a cantankerous, angry, holiday hating beast. I can see in his eyes that I turn into the bossy shrew who forces him to endure the light torture every year. It’s a wonder we’ve stayed married through nine holiday seasons so far. I’m convinced it’s an intentional plot.

3.    That person everyone knows who’s ‘all done!’ with shopping and all other holiday prep the day before ThanksgivingOh really? You’re all done with everything? Wow, good for you! You know, I have a special prize for you for being the first one to finish up the eleventy million tasks associated with this holiday. It’s right here in my kitchen. Did you read The Help? No? Oh, great book. Here it is, Minny’s Chocolate Pie, just for you because you’re so special. I got the recipe from that book. Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go back to freaking the eff out about how I’m never going to get it all done and the holiday will be ruined for everyone in my family.

4.    The tacky – For every beautiful and tasteful holiday decoration there’s a hot pink artificial tree with zebra striped ornaments all over it. For every handmade, meaningful ornament you truly love, there’s a dancing Garfield the Cat wearing a Santa hat statue that plays Jingle Bell Rock my four year old cannot. Stop. Making. Go. Off. For every ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Peace on Earth’ there is an Alvin and The Chipmunks’ version of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. For every Bob and Doug’s ’12 Days of Christmas’ there’s a Justin Beiber ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’. You can’t hide from the tacky. It’s drowning the cool. It’s killing the meaningful. Pretty soon we’re all going to be wearing matching hoodie/footie’s with cartoon Reindeers all over them and exchanging matching florescent purple Shake Weights. Mark my words.

5.     Guilt over the closing of another year and what I didn’t accomplish in it – Face it, even though the closing of another year is just another human construct that doesn’t really mean anything, we all feel the need to reflect on what we have (and have not) accomplished in the last year. The pounds we didn’t lose judge us from our midsections. The money we didn’t make mocks us from just out of reach. The organizational system we implemented last January remains in the corner we pushed it into mid-February, gathering dust. Sure, maybe things will be different next year, but considering your track record, how likely is that?

(OK, my heart grew a little in the last week. These things still suck, but now that the lights are actually on the tree and the presents are almost all purchased, I’m kind of looking forward to the big day. What can I say; I clearly should be medicated.)

Recipe for a Girls Trip


5 Mommies who’ve known each other 20+ years, out of patience with small children and husbands
One huge Suburban, packed to the gills
An Italian feast
A wine bottle-to-person ratio of approximately 3:1
An adorable log cabin in Camp Verde without a correctly functioning heater
Exactly 24 hours without responsibility and not a single small butt to wipe


1.    Drive to Sedona, fueled by the thrilling promise of two hours in the car without listening to a kids movie you’ve heard so many times you have it memorized, in addition to Nutty Bars and Sour Cream and Onion Ruffles you would never let your children eat. Revel in the fact you don’t have to stop once to scoop carsick vomit out of the backseat with your bare hands.

2.    Stop for lunch and large margaritas (less lunch and more large margaritas). Wander up and down the touristy main drag buying fudge and harassing the locals. Buy matching friendship bracelets just like you used to make in elementary school. Consider going into business making friendship bracelets.

3.    Take group photos with the pretty mountains in the background. Hold your legs in the air for no logical reason.

4.    Pile back in the car and seek out the sketchiest looking ‘Psychic Center’ you can find. Feel you’ve made the right choice when you encounter several large wood statues of aliens out front of the shop.

5.    Flip through a large binder of potential psychics you can meet with. Pick the one who looks the weirdest but who doesn’t have the vibe of someone who will kidnap and dismember you. There are surprisingly few options in this category.

6.    Try not to choke on your laughter when your ‘psychic’ tells you your husband will come to you in the next year wanting to adopt one, possibly two more children, the economy will suddenly get significantly better in the spring and that you should go into ‘staging’ to really take your real estate career to the next level.

7.    Consider opening a friendship bracelet/psychic business in Sedona as you pay the woman with pink hair for the wisdom she just provided you.

8.    Head to the cabin you rented for the night. Get nervous as you drive through trailer parks in the woods that look like how you’d always imagined Appalachia does.

9.    Feel relieved as you pull up to a gorgeous modern log cabin. Unload ridiculous amounts of stuff for one night. Realize the cabin is actually colder inside than it is outside. Don winter jackets and beanies as you wait for the heat to kick on.

10.     Prepare Italian feast. Uncork wine. Break out the elementary school yearbook so you can all remember how young and gray-hair-free you once were. Add another layer of socks because the house has only gone from 44 degrees to 51 degrees in an hour and a half.

11.    Eat dinner at the dining room table with placemats and nice silverware, napkins in your laps, because you’ve conditioned your children this is what you do every night. Feel sorry for yourself that finally, at 33 you’ve officially turned into your mother.

12.    Abandon all pretense of civility and begin drinking multiple types of wine out of red cups like a wine suicide. Turn up the music and have an old lady dance party. Turn the oven on and leave the door open with the hope it will warm the house.

13.    Come to the conclusion the house is really not going to get any warmer. Decide to build a fire in the fire pit in the back yard. Realize none of you actually knows how to build a fire or has any matches or lighters. Briefly remember why sometimes it’s good to have men around.

14.    Have a ‘girl power’ moment and convince yourselves you’re just as capable of starting a fire as people who have testicles. Send two girls to gather wood and leave the other three to light pages from a phone book on fire by the gas stove in the kitchen and carefully carry them through the house and out into the back yard to light the kindling. Realize if your husbands or children ever attempted such an idiotic and dangerous stunt you would put them in timeout for a week.

15.    Almost give up on the fire plan after six attempts to carry lit paper out to the fire pit. Try spraying hairspray on the fire because it’s supposed to be flammable. Realize you grabbed the wrong bottle and are actually spraying volumizer on the fire, which is apparently not flammable.

16.    Rally and come up with the new plan of gathering all the decorative candles in the house and lighting those on the gas stove and carrying them out to the fire pit to light the kindling.

17.    Roast marshmallows on the small fire you have finally successfully built out of a phone book and paper towels. When it begins to go out, jump up and run inside for more paper towels and on the way back out slip and fall on the paper towels and bang your old lady knee on the ground. Take a moment to feel relief that the paper towels weren’t on fire that time. Realize you should probably be in timeout for at least a week.

18.    After many marshmallows and drinks, give up on feeling any warmth from the small fire and go back inside. Dutifully pour water on the fire because probably as soon as you turned your back it would become a roaring blaze and burn the neighborhood down.

19.    Realize you let any small amount of heat the house had managed to generate out with all of the running back and forth trying to start the campfire.

20.    Gossip drunkenly until it’s just late enough you don’t feel ridiculously old and sad going to bed. Wear three shirts, two pairs of socks, a jacket and a doubled-up down comforter to sleep. Try not to think about how cabins in the woods are the natural habitat for both ghosts and serial killers and that the trip would make would make an excellent slasher/horror flick premise.

21.    Get up the next morning at 6:30 because you are incapable of sleeping in. Realize the house is still only 61 degrees. Take a hot shower to rinse off the campfire stink. Briefly wonder if your friends will judge you for various drunken admissions the night before. Come to the conclusion that if they were going to judge you, it probably would have been the several hundred other times they’ve seen you embarrass yourself over the last 20 years.

22.    Pile back in the car and immediately feel warmer than you have in the last 16 hours.

23.    Pull back home exactly 24 hours after setting out actually looking forward to seeing the husband and children you’d so quickly abandoned only one day previously. Consider the trip a success.

Lessons From The Other Side of NaNoWriMo

As you may have heard if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I am now a novelist. That’s right, I completed, nay won, National Novel Writing Month, so now I’m officially an accomplished author and I totally use literary words like ‘nay’.

Before NaNoWriMo started, I read several hater blog posts about how NaNoWriMo is a terrible and completely invalid experience that deteriorates the moral fiber of our society and pretty much is the reason horrible things like genocide and bestiality exist. These bloggers claimed you can’t write a high-quality, publishable novel in one month and that creating a contest where you win by writing 50,000 words of fiction on one topic in a month, makes people think they have.

Now that I have won NaNoWriMo, I have to say, I don’t know what those guys were talking about. I totally wrote a cohesive, well-plotted and developed, traditional publishing-quality novel in the 50,008 words I wrote in one month. I mean, I know it was the first time I attempted to write a novel and that occasionally along the way I forgot the last names of my characters, so I just made up new ones, but dude, the girl who wrote The Outsiders was only seventeen when she wrote it and I’m almost twice as old as that, so I know this book is going to be a winner. Just because it took me almost 20,000 words to pick a perspective to write in consistently doesn’t mean that’s not a new style of writing I just invented. And how I ended right in the middle of the action there at 50k words? Completely intentional. Cliff-hanger, people. How are my readers going to want to come back for the rest of the trilogy if I actually resolve the plot in any way in the first book? Duh.

Even though I’m obviously a natural at this novel-writing stuff and I can probably just print the thing out and send it off to publishers right now cause I’m that good, I guess I did learn a few things along the way this month.
Things I learned from NaNoWriMo:

1.    It was both (and equally) much harder and much easier to complete the 50K words than I thought it was going to be. I had really built this up in my mind as soverymuchdifficult that when I really started to write, and just kept writing and just kept writing the words stacked up pretty quickly and I realized it was absolutely doable. That said; it was a huge time commitment every single day. And there were definitely days I was so stuck on where to go next, and yet it was 9PM and I was exhausted from the rest of the normal stuff of the day, that I really considered writing ‘this is stupid and I hate it’ 284 times in a row just to have the correct word count for the day (although I never actually did that even once).

2.    Planning is good. I need to do more of it. People who say they just write and have no plan are a: lying, b: Stephen King and thus have been doing this so long he can write a book in his sleep and it will be rad or c: writing a shitty, pointless book.

3.    I haven’t figured out how to translate the voice I’ve cultivated in my blog into long-form fiction. So… blogging is different from writing a novel, is I guess, what I’m saying. I don’t know why it took me 50,000 words to figure that out, but it did.

4.    Characters are important. Take note, next time you’re watching a show you love or reading a great book, of the different personalities in the characters you love. You know on Psych there’s Shawn and Gus and Lassie and Shawn’s dad and they’re all so wacky, but radically different in super specific ways? That’s hard. And important. You really have to fully evolve all of your characters before you even start or you’re going to end up having five women who are really exactly the same but just have different jobs and husbands. And they’ll all be white and middle class and when you finally figure that out you’ll kind of feel like a racist.

5.    I suck at bad guys. I tend to live my life with the belief that there aren’t really any ‘bad’ people. We all just have wildly different perspectives, experiences and motivations that lead us to make choices and take actions that end up in opposition of each other. Unfortunately, this caused me to feel emotionally invested in the reader understanding and really liking each one of my characters. And that’s kind of dumb and makes for a stupid story. Mental note: it’s OK for my characters to be unlikable, as long as they’re not all unlikable. Also? Stories aren’t real life. Work on that, Me.

6.    I learned to quiet my inner editor. That bitch had me in a headlock with my face down to the mat while she reminded me how I look a little cross-eyed in my senior year pictures. NaNoWriMo taught me this rad move where I karate-chop her in her throat so she shuts the hell up for a minute and I can get some work done.

7.    Writing a novel is ultimately much like running. Every day you have to have your set time that you work on it. Even if you feel crappy and you’re a little hung over or you had a breakfast that wasn’t exactly right, or you have a meeting and your house cleaners are coming that morning, you still need to get your butt on the road and put one foot in front of the other until it’s done. Or you need to put your butt in the chair and write until you’ve got your words. It might not have been the fastest or easiest run, but it’s going to add to your strength and build up your body and you have to do it. Same thing with your writing. It might really suck that day, but if you pushed forward, then eventually you can go back and fix that, but you need to keep moving forward or you’ll never get it done. Additionally, when you’re in the middle of either activity, if every step of the way you’re focused on how difficult it is and how far you have left to go, it will make the entire thing a million times more unpleasant (and you’ll probably convince yourself you’re having an asthma attack even if you’ve never had an asthma attack in your life). If you let your mind go and just stay in that moment, the distance and words will slip right by and you’ll be done in no time. Plus you’ll have run faster and written better than if you’d spent every step plodding along and every word bemoaning how you didn’t want to be writing right then.

8.    I do not need large chunks of time every day to write. I can put in my headphones for 15 minutes while dinner is baking and the kids are finishing homework and get shit done. It won’t be a lot of shit, but it will be some, which is better than the none I get done when I wait for the perfect large block of time.

NaNoWriMo was a good experience for me. I plan to write my story to completion (because Chuck says you need to finish shit), but after that, I’m not sure it’s even revisable. I feel like what I ultimately got out of NaNoWriMo was better understanding of what I don’t know how to do. I feel like I’m ready to learn now. I need to do some reading and some observing and some planning, and then I’m going to start again. I won’t write at quite the breakneck speed of the last month, but I plan to have a good amount of consistency. And I’m going to keep that Inner Editor quiet until I really need her.

How Not To Act During a Tragedy

I have this friend, who told me this story. It’s a pretty good story, so I want to tell you it, but I think it’s one she’s not particularly proud of, so I’m not going to disclose her real identity here. It’s not that she’s a bad person, but occasionally she makes bad choices and I think it’s important that we all remember it’s not nice to judge. So for the purpose of this story, we’re going to call my friend: Tallulah.

Last Wednesday night Tallulah got a call from her friend, who told Tallulah a plane had crashed in the mountains near her and wanted to know if Tallulah could see anything from her house. Tallulah explained she doesn’t have direct mountain views from her house because there are too many other houses around. When she got off the phone, Tallulah had the following conversation with her husband:

Tallulah – Hey, I just heard there was a plane crash in the mountains near here. Maybe we should get in the car and drive up to the front of the subdivision where you can see all of the mountains around and see if we can see anything.

Tallulah’s Husband – I don’t know… everyone’s in PJs already. I was just going to lie on the couch and watch TV…

Tallulah – Oh come on, let’s go. You never want to do anything until I talk you into it. Can we skip the part where I talk you into it and just get in the car really quick? It will take like three minutes, total.

Tallulah’s Husband (seeing the logic in her words) – Oh fine.

So Tallulah and her husband and their three boys all piled into the GOV their blue minivan in jammies and headed toward the front of the subdivision. Her husband didn’t have his wallet and Tallulah had half a glass of wine in her hand.

OK, so let me just pause the story here to tell you that when Tallulah was telling me this, I said to her, “TALLULAH! You brought a glass of wine in the car?! What were you thinking? Not only is that illegal, but it’s also highly dangerous. What if your husband turned a corner a little too fast and the wine flew out of your glass and directly into his mouth and he totally got drunk while he was driving? And what kind of example are you setting for your children?! They could totally be thinking it’s ok to drink wine while riding in the car! Which is not OK and super illegal!”

And Tallulah said, “I know, I know. It was a bad decision, but I was right in the middle of a glass of lovely Pinot Grigio and I hate putting half a glass of wine back in the fridge. It sort of takes on the taste of milk and old leftovers. It’s like baking soda like that. It absorbs fridge odors. And we were only going like ¾ of a mile, to the front of the subdivision where you can see the mountains, so I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.”

I shook my head disapprovingly at Tallulah, but I can almost see her logic. Old leftovers and lovely wine do not mix.

Anyway, Tallulah’s husband pulled their minivan up to the front of the subdivision and the whole family peered in the inky blackness to the northeast of them and saw nothing. There didn’t seem to be anything remotely resembling any kind of a plane crash going on in the mountains near their house.

At this point Tallulah was ready to throw in the towel and head home to watch The Middle and finish her wine, but her husband was now invested in this little adventure. She’d gotten him off the couch and he wanted some kind of payoff. And, well, this whole thing had been Tallulah’s idea, so she didn’t really have room to argue when her husband turned out on to the main road and headed down another mile toward the mountains.

At the next intersection, Tallulah’s husband turned north on a winding, unlit, two lane road that headed up into the wilderness. They still couldn’t see anything plane-crash-like at all and now Tallulah was starting to get nervous. She wasn’t really a fan of winding roads in the day and she really didn’t like them any much at all in the dark. Plus it had started to dawn on her that what they were doing (chasing a potential tragedy to see if they could catch a glimpse) was pretty icky and if anything was a bad example for her children, it was definitely this. When her friend had called asking about the plane crash, Tallulah hadn’t really stopped to think about the fact that any kind of a plane crash probably meant people had died, but that fact was starting to sink in.

Unfortunately, at that point Tallulah and her husband were on a tiny, pitch black road with several cars behind them, so there wasn’t really an easy or safe way to turn around and go back for a few more miles.

Finally they came to a four-way stop that allowed Tallulah’s husband to turn right and pull off to the side so any cars could pass and then he could make a U-turn and head back home.

As they sat there with the van in park, hazard lights on so no one hit them, until it was safe to turn around, a sheriff’s car with his lights on pulled up behind them and the sheriff got out.

In the 7 to 10 seconds it took for the sheriff to amble up to the driver’s window, Tallulah and her husband locked eyes in terror and mentally recounted the issues they were now facing:

1.    Tallulah’s glass of wine, now tucked down in the dark between her feet
2.    Tallulah’s husband’s total lack of a driver’s license
3.    Expired insurance card in the glove compartment, which Tallulah only knew for sure was expired because her husband had been ticketed for it while speeding in the last two weeks
4.    Driving around looking for evidence of a horrible and likely tragic accident
5.    Oh and just for kicks, two of their three sons were shirtless (they probably wouldn’t get arrested or fined for this one, but it still added to the picture of a hillybilly family and was fairly humiliating)

The sheriff walked up to the side of the minivan, stared Tallulah’s husband in the eye, then peered inside first at Tallulah and then the mostly shirtless children, and finally, after several painfully long seconds said, “Did you hit a horse?”

Tallulah and her husband looked at each other again, this time with a bit of giddy relief because, of all of the things they’d done that night, hitting a horse definitely wasn’t one of them.

“Um, no, sir. We didn’t hit a horse,” Tallulah’s husband told the man and tried not to giggle at the ridiculousness of the situation. The sheriff stepped away from the van and examined the front grill.

“No, I guess you didn’t. There was a report someone hit a horse. Was supposed to be right around here. I thought it was you,” the sheriff explained and got back in his car and drove away in search of people who were probably even worse human beings than Tallulah and her husband.

Tallulah and her husband took shaky deep breaths, vowed never again to repeat their crimes (against the law AND good taste) and carefully drove home. They never ended up seeing anything. No plane crash and not even a horse who’d been hit by a car.

Tallulah feels guilty about it the whole experience even today. I mean, I assume. Because I’m not her, so I wouldn’t actually know, is what I’m saying.

Turkeys Who Trot

When I was in the shower this morning Jonas burst into the bathroom looking just like this:

Mom! This is what I’m going to wear to the Chicken Run! he exclaimed.

But by the time we actually left for the ‘Turkey Trot’ at Gray’s elementary school he’d decided that two clip-on ties was embarrassingly inappropriate and he was only going to wear one.

(I had to coax him through his humiliation so he would let me take that picture of him wearing them both by letting him take these pictures of me wearing both ties:


OK, Mom, if you wear them both in a picture then I will wear them both in a picture, he said. The part about how he feels sorry for me because I’m more ridiculous than he could ever be, was implied.)

Of course by halfway through the trotting he didn’t even want the single tie anymore and insisted I wear it on the pocket of my jeans.

He also required me to carry him around the school while we were trotting. Even though he’s four and weighs 35+ pounds. And because he’s my last baby and I’m a sucker, I did.

I hope your Thanksgiving Eve is as fun, fashionable and cardio-intensive as mine has been so far!


A Bitch Slap Regarding Arizona Rooms

One of my favorite business tips bloggers, Erika Napoletano, who writes Redhead Writing, does a regular feature called The Bitch Slap. This is where she gives her readers the hard truth and doesn’t pretty it up to save feelings.

I’ve decided the homeowners of the state of Arizona need a Bitch Slap, and I’m prepared to hand it out this morning.

The topic we need to have a little heart-to-heart about this morning is: Arizona Rooms. You know what these are. In Florida they call them Florida Rooms. They’re the backyard patios that have been turned into sort of outdoor rooms. Like you walk out the sliding glass door from the living room and you’re actually in another room, usually with windows and another exterior door and some kind of modified outdoor flooring. Often there is a little window A/C unit because otherwise the room would turn into a giant oven in the summer.

OK, people, here comes The Bitch Slap: these Arizona rooms are a horrible idea. No one likes them. Not even your Great Aunt Gracie who doesn’t really like to be outside but sort of likes to pretend she’s outside sometimes, actually thinks they make sense. Even Great Aunt Gracie thinks Arizona rooms are hideous, stupid and a giant deterrent to resale.

That’s right. I know you think you saw a well-done Arizona room once, or you knew someone who walled in their patio and it kind of worked, but you’re wrong. Or you’re lying. Or you’re stupid. One of those three. Arizona Rooms are crimes against architecture and good taste.

I guarantee I have not ever, in my almost seven year career as a Realtor, had a client walk into a house, spot the Arizona Room off the back and say, “Wow! Look at that! I have always wanted a poorly constructed homemade room with rancid outdoor carpet instead of a back patio! I love how it cuts off all natural light to the living room and kitchen area and makes the whole place feel more like a cave. And I bet that little wall A/C unit totally keeps this tiny green house nice and cool in the summer and isn’t a complete eyesore from the remaining, although constricted, backyard!”

Not one. I promise.

I almost get why you think it might be a good idea. You’re from some other state where people like to sit on their back porches (because they’re called porches in that state) and admire their backyards and relax. You think you will miss this in the summer because it’s just so hot in Arizona. So you think if you wall in the patio and air-condition it then you’ll be able to enjoy both the backyard and not die of heat exhaustion.

The logic is almost there, I’ll give you that. But just so much a lot of: NO. No one who lives in Arizona wants to sit and look at the heat waves rising off the ground in our backyards in July. We’re happily content to sit outside and enjoy the weather November through March. We prefer the comfort of the true insides of our houses when the weather is brutal. Did people sit on their porches all bundled up to watch the snow fall in the winter in whatever godforsaken part of the country you’re from? No? Well you live in Arizona now; it’s time to adjust.

Also? You’re not a contractor. You don’t have home building skilz. I don’t care how much HGTV you watch, you cannot build your own sort-of-addition and not have it come out as pretty as a steaming pile of poo. No one wants to sit inside DIY rooms that do a poor job of keeping moisture out and an even worse job of keeping the small amount of cool air the ugly ass window A/C unit you bought on sale at Home Depot generates in.

The point is, if you ever had the fleeting thought that it might be nice to turn your patio into an Arizona Room, please immediately reach for the nearest fork and stick it in your own ear. Then go back to enjoying the legitimate inside of your actual house.

The Realtors of Arizona thank you for not totally effing up your resale value.


I ran this morning. It was early. I have a crazy schedule today, so in order to keep my momentum going in both running and writing, I had to carve out time by scraping my raggedy ass out of bed at 4:30 AM. Additionally, this morning I made my first attempt at running with no walking intervals at all. You could say I was a little nervous about the whole thing.

This is how it went:

Mile 0.01 – Huh… It’s really dark out here. No, like really dark. It’s possible I should have worn something other than long black leggings and a long sleeved dark grey shirt. I’m thinking there’s a strong possibility I’m going to get completely run over by a car. Who designed this neighborhood? No sidewalks OR street lights? How is it not coated with pedestrian blood at this point?

Mile 0.02 – I’m not worried enough to go home and change, though.

Mile 0.7 – OK, what is this slow-driving-car doing behind me? Why is it pulling up in front of a house that’s clearly still under construction in the dark? And now it’s meandering down the street just in front of me. Some of these houses are lived in, right? If I run up and ring the doorbell of that house with the lights in the landscaping, will someone come out and save me before the guy in the white sedan jumps out and kidnaps me?

Mile 0.8 – That’s right, buddy, move it along and head out of this neighborhood. I was totally ready to start screaming and banging on doors and you would have been so sorry. That is, if you hadn’t grabbed me and stabbed me in the neck with a syringe of animal tranquilizers first.

Mile 1.2 – Wow, I have totally been running a long time. I’m not going to even look at my stopwatch to see how long I’ve been running because I don’t want to jinx it, but I know it has to have been more than my normal five minutes. I think it’s been at least 10 or 15 minutes. And I feel good. Dude, I am rockin- AAAAAAAAAAAA! Oh holy shit there is a guy with a knife totally coming out of the shadows on the side of the road right at me! I am so getting killed right now and no one will ever know how awesomely long I was running without walking!!! Oh, wait. That was just my shadow in the lights that line the front of the subdivision and the lights of a car coming up the winding road behind me. Dude, that was a messed up trick of the light. It really looked like someone coming at me. Is this what it feels like when you’re having heart attack? Like with the chest all constricted and limbs going numb? I wonder if it was any of my neighbors I know in that car and if they saw me jump and scream like a lunatic. That was moderately humiliating.

Mile 2.0 – Whew, I think I’ve got most of that adrenaline out of my system. And look how pretty it’s starting to get out now. The sky to the east is all lavender-y but there’s still lots of stars up top. Damn I’m lucky to live out here. Even if it does have sketchy cars driving around and streets streaked with human blood. And I’m still running! And it’s not even hard!

Mile 2.5 – I am kicking this run’s ass! I am actually going to get through this entire thing without walking at all. Wait, why did the sidewalk just go away? I should still be on the side-walked part on the exterior master-planned section of the community. But the sidewalk is gone… I feel like I took a wrong turn, but I couldn’t have, I was going straight.

Mile 2.51 – OK, none of this looks familiar. I’m officially lost. I’m lost in the neighborhood I’ve been living in for almost three years and have been running regularly for two months now. I’m running the same loop I did two days ago, but I’m lost. I think I might have slipped into an alternate dimension. Or maybe I did actually have a heart attack and die when I thought I was getting ax-murdered by my own shadow and I’m really lying on the ground at the front of my subdivision and only my ghost kept running. Maybe I was wrong all this time and there really is a heaven and I’m looking for the light right now. I don’t actually see any light, though. Oh… or maybe this is hell. Well that’s awkward.

Mile 2.49 – No wait, I see what I did. I just need to turn around and go back a block. Whew, I’m pretty glad I wasn’t in running hell. Although, I’m still feeling really good, so if this is hell, bring it on, bitches!

Mile 3 – Dude. I am seriously almost done, and I’m still running! I bet I could even run faster than I am. This is so weird. I think I actually feel better than I usually do at this point in the run. I’m energized and I don’t feel like my lungs are really working that hard at all. I never thought I would ever get to that point people always talk about where the act of running doesn’t feel kind of like I’m stabbing myself in the thigh repeatedly with a fork, but here I am. I’m running like a real runner, and dude, I’m writing a novel, too! I can do anything. No really, like anything. I’m totally going to join the circus next.

Mile 3.15 – OK, I’m just rounding the bend to the house, I should probably pull my stopwatch out of the band of my pants so I can get ready to stop it and record my kickass time. I bet I shaved like 10 minutes off, easily. No, I bet I halved it. I mean really, I usually walk one minute for every five and this time I ran the whole thing. I absolutely must have wrecked my personal best so far. I. Am. Awesome.

Mile 3.25 – WHAT. THE. FUCK? I added a minute and a half to my time? No… how can that be possible? I ran the whole time! Why would the universe work like that? Maybe my hipbone accidentally bumped against the buttons and caused it to stop the time I had started at the beginning of this run and then rotate back to the time I had saved from Monday and start that one, but it only happened like a minute and a half before I finished, so it really just added a minute and a half on to my last time. That probably happened. Or I just literally walk faster than I ran that. Christ, no wonder I felt so relaxed while doing it.