The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Category Archives for ‘Favorite Children’

Not Terrorized

Dear Boston Marathon Terrorists,

I don’t want to tell you how to do your job or anything, but I kind of think you picked the wrong crowd for this bombing. I’m not saying I understand the intricacies of your work, but isn’t the whole point to incite terror? To make people so afraid of what you might do next they lock themselves in their homes out of fear and cut themselves off from the world and living life?

Yeah, so let me tell you a little bit about the sort of people you targeted with your senseless violence:

People who run marathons get up every single morning and pick the rough road with the better view. They set a goal and put one foot in front of the other despite screaming bodies and mental exhaustion. These are the types who get knocked down again and again and get back up every time. No one runs a marathon without nearly failing (or actually failing) on a regular basis. These athletes have a special kind of resiliency of spirit that empowers them to keep going past all natural physical and emotional boundaries.

People who support marathon runners are just as tough. Without the support of their family and loved ones runners would have no hope of accomplishing what they do. If a marathon runner is a brick wall, their friends and family are the mortar that fills in the gaps and allows them to be stalwart.

These people give zero fucks about your agenda. They eat pain and adversity for breakfast. They have already proven they will let nothing come between them and sucking the very marrow out of life. The idea that you, and your miserable, pointless, disgusting violence could do anything but cause these people to redouble their efforts to truly enjoy every minute they have, is laughable. You are horrible, but not terrifying.

I’m not even a marathoner, much less a Boston marathoner. I’m barely a runner. But I’m not scared of you either. And I’m certainly not going to let you keep me from getting everything I possibly can out of my short existence on this planet.

You are an ant on the ankle of the human spirit. We might freak out a little bit when we see you, and yes, you’ll leave a mark and some pain, but we’ll brush you off as though you don’t even exist. You have no power against us.

What it all comes down to, is not only are you human filth, but you’re also pretty terrible at your job. You should look into another line of work.


A Sad, But Not Terrorized, Runner

They Should Call Me ‘Sherlock Homes’

Sunday, directly after the house where we didn’t almost get murdered by the teenagers in the garage (but it totally seemed like we were going to), I showed another large, vacant, Gilbert house to the same family. You’d think after being completely freaked out by randos just chilling in a house we’re trying to see, it would be hard to weird us out again, but no, The Universe is super talented at serving up the oddities of life on a platter for those of us paying attention. Also I’m like a goddamn lightening rod for weird (which I enjoy about me, so it’s OK).

So this final house was kind of strange from even the front yard. I was preoccupied with getting the front door open and wondering if this time I should make everyone stay together in a group while touring, but my clients immediately picked up on the fact that it looked like the front yard was landscaped together with the house next door. There was actually a pavered path that led from the front door of each house to the other.

This picture is taken from the house next door.

Because they’re hilarious and awesome, my clients immediately made a Big Love, sister-wives joke. You know, because Bill Paxton had the three houses all next to each other and their backyards were all one big backyard, so he could come and go from each house as he pleased.*

I laughed, but I didn’t really think there was anything strange going on. Maybe the owners had been friends and got some kind of two-for-one discount on the front yard landscaping.

In the backyard, though, the evidence mounted for some kind of ‘group yard’ shenanigans. There was a little decorative wooden bridge that ended two feet from what seemed to be a hastily constructed wall between the yards:

It’s not weird to have a path just abruptly end at a wall, right? Seems completely intentional.

I had to admit it seemed like something odd was up. But I’m generally a skeptic about almost everything (except aliens. I totally believe in those. And unicorns.), so I figured we were probably reading into it a little much.

BUT THEN, because I cannot help but be seduced by a good mystery, I went home after the showing and pulled up the tax records. Just to put the whole thing to rest once and for all. That’s when I got lost down a rabbit hole for a totally ridiculous amount of time. Check this shit out:

House A is the house that was for sale.

House B is the house next door.

In 1995 House A was built new by Victoria and Hinrich Allen (names have been altered because this is like the most obnoxious invasion of privacy and speculative craziness you’ve ever seen).

In 1995 House B was built new by Margaret and Harold Fortwind.

In 2003 Harold Fortwind was removed from the title of House B, leaving Margaret Fortwind the sole owner on title.

In 2006 Hinrich Allen was removed from the title of House A, and the deed was quit claimed to Victoria Allen-Fortwind. (!!! I’m sorry… what? She took the neighbor’s last name as hyphenated?)

In 2007 Victoria Allen-Fortwind was added to the title of House B, so the title was held with Margaret Fortwind and Victoria Allen-Fortwind. (Uh… so… what just happened now?)

In 2008 Victoria Allen-Fortwind was taken back off the title of House B, so the title was held once again only by Margaret Fortwind.

In 2009 Victoria Allen-Fortwind dropped the ‘-Fortwind’ from the title of House A again, so the title was once again only held by Victoria Allen.

In 2010, House A went to foreclosure and seems to have sat empty until 2012 when it was purchased by an investor who added paint, carpet and granite counters and now has the house listed for sale.

So clearly what we have with these two houses is not actually a sister-wife situation, right? It’s obvious Vicky and Peg were housewives and next door neighbors who fell in love while swapping recipes and raising funds for the PTA together. And Peg’s husband, Harold, had an anger problem and he found out about Vicky and Peg’s affair, so Peg ended up killing him one night, almost out of self-defense, but not completely. Vicky helped her cover it up, but then they still had Hinrich to deal with. He took a little longer because they didn’t want it to look suspicious with both of their husbands dying so close to each other, but they eventually ended up poisoning him and making it look like a stroke. But poor Hinrich was actually not a terrible guy, Vicky just didn’t love him anymore. So she always kind of regretted murdering the poor sap. Peg and Vicky lived happily together for a short time, but eventually the guilt ate away at Vicky and she started drinking and stopped making payments on her house. Eventually her family stepped in and sent her to rehab and she lost the house. She moved to Florida to try to forget the whole ordeal. Peg walled up the yard and trolls the neighborhood functions for housewives who remind her of her only true love.

That must be what happened, right? It’s the only explanation.**

*For the record, I think sister-wives kind of make some sense. If I had cancer I would totally be all over picking one out to join our family. I’d much rather die and leave my family with a suitable replacement already trained and vetted than with just an Elizabeth-sized hole. I’m not saying Jason couldn’t handle things, but for reals, who’s going to wash all the laundry and leave it in piles in the master bedroom? Who would take all the pictures of everything we do and leave them completely unorganized in any manner in boxes and files on the computer? And for chrissake, who’s going to drink all the wine? I’m just saying it makes sense to have a back-up for just in case.

**Last night after I got completely entranced by this dramatic story I actually started Googling these peoples’ names looking for evidence of the torrid lesbian affair I was sure had taken place. Instead, I found out that Vicky is actually a 56 year old anesthesiologist and Peg is her 84 year old mother. So probably Vicky and her parents bought next door to each other and then Harold, her father, died, and Vicky got divorced from Hinrich and there was some wackiness with putting different people on title for tax reasons. And then I had to take a hot shower to wash the stalkery nutjob off myself.

Jonas’s Mom Has Also Failed at ‘Stranger Danger’


Me (to my sister on the phone): The doorbell just rang, hold on a sec. It’s probably just one of those neighborhood kids. They’re so annoying. They ring the bell like 10 times a day.

Guy at the door who is totally not a neighborhood kid: Hi… I think I have the right house… Do you have two little boys?

Me: Three actually, but yes. Oh god, what did they do?

Guy: Oh, well, nothing really… I mean, I just wanted to come introduce myself because we live around the corner and your youngest sometimes comes to our house and rings the bell and asks to play in our backyard.

Me: HE WHAT? Like by himself???

Guy: Yeah. And it’s fine with us and everything. We have a two year old, so we have a play structure in the yard you can see above the fence line and he likes it. But I didn’t want your husband to be driving home from work and see your son in our yard or something and think we had kidnapped him. Plus, I thought I could get your number so that when he’s over I could call and tell you so you didn’t wonder where he is.

Me: Oh my god, I had no idea that was happening. I’m so sorry. I will have a talk with him. As soon as I figure out where he is right now…

Guy: No, it’s really OK. He always asks before he goes back there. I just thought we should be introduced so you know your kid is safe.

Me: Well I really appreciate it. Although we don’t worry that much about kidnappers with Jonas because we’re pretty sure they’d eventually regret the choice and bring him back.


20 minutes later when Gray and Jonas wander back in the house from wherever they were –

Me: Guys, we need to have a talk. One the neighbors came over and said Jonas has been knocking on his door and asking to play in his backyard on his kid’s play structure. First of all, if you guys are outside, you are to be outside together. Jonas you need to stay with Gray. Secondly, it is NOT OK to knock on random neighbors’ doors. If you have a friend who lives at the house, you can knock a reasonable amount of times a day and politely ask to play with him but if you don’t know anyone DO NOT APPROACH THE HOUSE.

Jonas: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t go in anyone’s backyard.

Gray: He doesn’t. And we always stay together.

Me: That’s a nice show of solidarity there, boys, but the guy came to our house and told me this has been going on. What motivation could he possibly have to lie?

Gray: Sometimes Jo knocks on this lady’s door because she has a weiner dog named Gretchen he likes to play with, but I don’t even think she has kids, so it couldn’t have been her you’re talking about.

Jonas: *Nods*

Me: WHAT? You guys cannot do that! I don’t care how cute people’s weiner dogs are, there are like a million reasons you can’t knock on random doors!!

Jonas: Like why?

Me: Because the people who live there could be murderers or they could have a baby sleeping or I might have to see them at neighborhood events as some point and they could think of me as that terrible mother with the annoying kids who ring their doorbell all the time! Just don’t do it anymore. It’s not OK.

Jonas: Alright, but I still don’t even know which house you’re talking about. I didn’t go in anyone’s backyard.

Me: OK, we’re going to walk over there and talk to the guy.


10 minutes later after we’ve walked around the block and the kids have pointed out where Gretchen, the weiner dog lives –

Me: It’s that house right there. With the grey truck where you can see the play thing over the fence.

Jonas: Oh yeah. I’ve played there. Their kid wanted me to play with him.

Me: THEIR KID IS TWO. I’m pretty certain he didn’t invite you over. QUIT DOING THAT.

Jonas: OK.

Leggings As Pants – According to Tyler

Tyler just moved from Phoenix to Portland, Oregon (because hates 70 degree weather and sunshine for November-January, apparently). He’s been feeling out the whole Pacific NW vibe and has noticed not only do they have enormous bookstores and enjoy putting birds on things, but they also have some interesting fashion trends. For instance, they’re kind of into leggings as pants.

Tyler has very strong feelings about leggings. He especially has very strong feelings about leggings as pants.

Because I’m a fan of both strong feelings, and fashion in general, I invited Tyler over to Real Estate Tangent today to educate the world (and by ‘world’ I mean ‘my 5 readers’) about how and how not to wear leggings in a (potential) series we’re gonna call: Hey, Tyler, what do you think of my outfit?

Elizabeth: So… Hey, Tyler, what do you think of this outfit?

Tyler: I’m not sure if you’re going for the seasonal elf look or the timeless Link from The Legend Of Zelda cosplay thing, but that is for you to decide. The ruffled (what do you even call boots that aren’t all that structured?) boots make me think you have a thing for Peter Pan, but they match well. 

This would be fantastic maternity wear, no doubt. The look on your face in the second pic is a great “you can’t see the baby bulge, right?” type of thing I’d expect any young mother to have. 

The shirt is great, chest up; I can’t get over the bob thing the ‘flowing’ part is doing, though. I’m sure it’s comfy, but why not try something more fitted? 

Unless you ARE pregnant, and if so, congrats! I can’t even tell.

Elizabeth: OK, that’s sort of valid. I think I bought this shirt when I was pregnant and decided it could be a crossover top. Although this is a moderately humiliating exercise since I wore this out in public today. Can we focus on the leggings as pants for a second? Is this an acceptable length top to wear over leggings?

Tyler: Yep. Just have to cover the butt when standing. Not that I don’t appreciate a too-short top with leggings, but it’s weird because then I try to figure out the exact shape of the legging-wearer’s ass, and it creeps me out. Leaving something to the imagination is good, like you did here with your “am I or am I not pregnant again” outfit.

Elizabeth: Ok, so what about this one? Should I wear this to the mall tomorrow?

Tyler: Yes, but only if you spray tan yourself orange and chew gum with your mouth open. Oh, and if you were 17 and about to go on a ski trip. Or if your family needed cash and you decided that a ski-bunny-themed prostitute thing would be a big money maker.

Also required for this outfit to work: one LARGE ring and blue eyeshadow.

Oh, and so help me if I can see your butt eating your panty line if I walk behind you in that outfit. I would straight up YELL that your ass crack was hungry.

Elizabeth: You’re against VPL, noted. I will make careful underwear choices if I’m going to be in your presence from now on.

This next one I’m thinking of wearing to a holiday party. It seems OK when I’ve got my arms below shoulder height, but as you can see, when I go to ‘raise the roof’ things get a little sketchy. Should I keep my elbows to my side all night to keep out of whoreville?

Tyler: Yeah, that’s a pretty whorish outfit. You either have to OWN that or accept that your ass hangs out every time you’re not standing still.

This may be okay with you; my wife can’t find pants that don’t show off the top of her ass crack whenever she sits down, and I think she’s accepted it. Though I probably shouldn’t try to toss stuff in there.

Anyway, whorish, so if that’s what you’re going for…oh, the prostitute joke was based on a news story today: some former Olympian was busted for being an escort in Las Vegas.

I have no idea if I’m using semicolons or colons correctly right now.

Elizabeth: YOU ARE THE WORST ADVICE-GIVER EVER. Also I’m pretty sure you’re drunk. You told me if my butt is covered with my arms down I’m fine. AND IT TOTALLY WAS. I’m still wearing it. This is the last time I take pictures of my butt and post them on the internet for you.*

Now I’m afraid to ask, but what about this one?

Tyler: I admit I’m a bit jealous of this outfit. No way I can pull if off, but it’s obviously a running or gym outfit, and is in no way gratuitous — but on me? No way do I wanna look like a stuffed sausage moose knuckle. 

Now if you were to go shopping in this, but you weren’t sweaty or anything? I’d think “YEAH WE GET IT. YOU’RE GETTING OLDER AND YOU HAVE SELF ESTEEM ISSUES” and I’d feel bad that you felt that way.

Elizabeth: So I shouldn’t wear it to the grocery store after I go running because I didn’t have time to shower and change like I did last week? (Refrain from referring to me as ‘older’ or so help me I’ll fly to Portland just poke you in the eyeball.)

Tyler: You misunderstood. Basically, the worse you look in them, the more authentic they are.

Oh my god.

I’ve gone Portland.

Elizabeth: Oh I GET IT. If I want to wear leggings I just need to stop bathing. I will remember this for when I come to visit you.

Let’s talk about sequined leggings. If the leggings have a layer of sequins over the top, are they appropriate to wear just as pants? Because I kind of think this is working:

Tyler: Yes, let’s talk about this horrible outfit in the picture. The sequins look like holes from here, so what it really seems like you’re wearing is a dress that’s been ripped half off and runs in your very dark stockings while in some sort of struggle. So…rape survivor? Is that a thing?

Elizabeth: I’ve been having some wine, so I’m thinking what you’re really saying is this outfit is super cute. I mean I think it’s super cute and I just invented it, so it must be true. Orange, sequins, flower necklace and flower shoes, what could possibly be wrong about it? I’m pretty sure that’s what Jason said after he was like So that’s one Tyler’s supposed to hate and think you look terrible in, right? and then I said, Haha, that’s funny because I’m totally wearing it tomorrow night.

(See how I just ignored your gross rape joke because it was gross?)

But I guess the point of all of this is, what do you think I should wear with these leggings? Because I really like them but I can never figure out what I should wear on top:

Tyler: Topless, smoking a bong. Maybe a couple of hemp necklaces.

Wait, are those furry creatures on your legs(not a euphemism!)?

Elizabeth: OK, then, I guess it’s time to wrap this up. I think we’ve all learned so much about how not to wear leggings, old maternity shirts, slouchy boots and rapey sequins. Maybe next time we can learn what Tyler thinks we should wear.

*I told Jason about this blog post idea and I think he was only half listening because later when I asked him if I should actually take pictures from the back to send he said, Well are you and Tyler going to do this publicly or are the pictures just for him?  …no, I don’t understand why he thought it would be OK if I was just sending pictures of my outfits to Tyler for his personal use, except that sometimes Jason is like, Babe, you just do what you need to do and let me watch The Cooking Channel, alright?

This Post Just Makes Me Sad For Myself

This morning before Jason left for work he asked me, “What are you going to do today?” I’ve grown to dread this question. Real estate has sort of slowed to a crawl, which is pretty normal for me around this time of year, and I usually don’t fight it because I have so much else to deal with (presents, holiday cards, cookie exchanges, binge drinking and embarrassing my husband at various work holiday engagements). The unfortunate part of not having a ton of work-type activities to complete is then it sort of seems like maybe I should be making progress on the holiday/end of year stuff. Which I’m not.

But that’s not to say I don’t have like a really lot to do. Because I do. This morning already I showered and curled my hair, even though there’s a good chance no one but my children and husband will actually see it today. Then I spent 10 minutes trying to find our cat to give her antibiotics and another 10 minutes trying to roll her into a towel like Facebook suggested I do yesterday to avoid getting scratched while I squirt medicine down her throat. It was totally successful in keeping all of my blood inside my body for the actual administration of the medication, but less so for the time when I was trying to get her into the towel. So I’m not sure that was a win. Then I did some laundry, took Jonas to school, sent a few real estate emails and worked up a set of docs.

That all pretty much took me until 9:30 AM.

Then I tried to brainstorm a blog post for today. That went like this:

Maybe I should write about how I’m thinking about dying my hair. I bet there’s a website I could use to see what it would look like if I did. I’ll take a picture of myself and then I can swap out different colors and show everyone it’s sort of a good idea and I should do it.

OK, now I just need to find a site that will do it. There must be one. Ooo, this one does entire makeovers! I should definitely do one of those…

Well that is not pretty. This is harder than it looks. 

Oh, that’s better! Huh. I sort of look like a man in the ‘before’ picture now compared to this. And I’m already wearing makeup just to get to that. I’m kind of a troll. I should probably order all of the makeup on this website because I obviously need it. Oh wait, I see how this works…

I should do one of what I would look like if this was 1987:

And one for if I was a cast member of The Walking Dead:

Ooo, look! I can put an entire star style on me? DONE. I could probably pull off Taylor Swift, don’t you think?

And I definitely need to do Sarah Jessica Parker, because every girl wants to be a Carrie (even though I’m more of a Samantha/Miranda hybrid):

That was a good use of my time. Oh look, here’s the website I was looking for that shows me what my hair would look like!

Huh, it just sort of turned the whole background the color of my hair. That’s not that helpful. Lame.

And now three hours have passed. So… that’s why my children aren’t getting any Christmas presents this year. You’re welcome. (Also? I’m not linking to the haircolor website because I’m pretty sure when I put in my email address it tried to hack my gmail account. Clearly a productive morning.)

Rim-to-Rim: A Tragicomedy

I hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim last Saturday. Today, when I need to pee, I still have to lower myself onto the toilet with the strength of my arms because I’m in too much pain to rely completely on my legs. But it’s ok, because I left my dignity with the park ranger who had to bring my mother to me after I was finished hiking because I was lost, so I don’t really have any problem admitting all of this to you.

So, yes, in case you’re wondering, it went how things typically go in my world: chock full of ridiculousness, with a dash pain and misery, generally amazing and above all an experience I do not regret.

I feel like I could write an entire book about the almost ten hour, 22 mile, more than a mile elevation change both down and then back up trek, but I’ll try to keep it concise.

The start looked like this:

It was not warm. I don’t know why Todd (to the left of me) is dressed like he’s going to play tennis.

The beginning was a lot like The Blair Witch Project; an excessive amount of stumbling around in the wooded darkness save for a the shaky illumination of a headlamp, plus utter terror. Only instead of being afraid of some woods-ghost, we were terrified a single misstep would propel us off a cliff to our deaths in the canyon below. I did actually bite it at one point and end up on my ass. I’m just lucky I fell away from the canyon edge of the trail. My point is, if you’re thinking of doing this hike, wait until after first light. It’s just not worth the extra time you’ll spend slowly inching your way forward in the dark trying not to die.

Once the sun began to rise and we dropped below the wind at the very top of the canyon, things got a lot more pleasant. My group spread out and I found myself hiking mostly alone for several hours. The scenery was stunning and I’m not gonna lie, I spent long periods of time internally pontificating on the beauty of my surroundings in comparison to life. I took pictures of cliffs and old-fashioned power lines. I took a detour to a waterfall and got choked up at its majesty. It’s possible at one point I decided I should definitely be a motivational speaker or write a self-help book on how marriage is like hiking the Grand Canyon. I’m pretty sure the endorphins down there are laced with something wacky.

Oo! Take my picture on this bridge! I’m sure there won’t be 17 more of these over the next 9 hours…

Adorable old fashioned power lines.

Amazing, tear-inducing Ribbon Falls.

My euphoria lasted through lunch at Phantom Ranch and just across Black Bridge:

Whoever named the landmarks in the Grand Canyon was kind of a literal guy.

After that, the landscape took an upward turn and I abruptly cancelled my world-wide motivational tour on the beauty of life and joy of challenging oneself. Turns out I only enjoy downhill challenges. The uphill ones kind of suck.

By hour 8, I was beyond exhausted, in pain, angry and still alone. I hadn’t seen anyone from my group in more than two hours and I was growing increasingly surly. I started taking up the whole trail and glaring the carefree people descending in the eye, daring them not to move over and let me pass. I thought about writing, “Hikers going up have the right of way” on my tanktop, but instead took this series of pictures to vent my aggression:

Fuck you, Grand Canyon.

Fuck you, stupid fucking switchbacks.

Fuck you, sign warning of the dangers of severe illness or death from attempting to hike the canyon rim to rim in one day. Where were YOU when I signed up for this shit?

Once the anger had boiled away, misery and profound sadness set in. During the beginning of the hike I got several, Cute top! comments from people passing (because, let’s face it, my outfit was the best), but by the end, the most common words out of peoples’ mouths were, Are you ok? It took everything I had not to shake my head, burst into tears and beg some of them to hold me and pet my hair until I felt better.

Eventually, though, after at least one session of pondering how long I would have to park myself on a rock before someone who loves me would worry and send help, I crested the rim of the canyon and made it to the top.

Sadly, however, it was not the end of my ordeal. After I looked around fruitlessly for a minute for the bar I was promised would be extremely close to the end of the trail, I called my mother and had this conversation:

Me: Mom, I don’t know where to go. Where are you guys?

My mother: Oh you’re out! Stay right where you are, I’ll walk out and get you… OK, I don’t see you. Where are you?

Me (starting to cry): I’m at the top. This has to be the top. There’s a parking lot and everything. I even asked a lady who was looking at a map if this was the top and she said it was. I can’t hike any more. There’s no where else to go!

My mother: OK, calm down. What do you see? 

Me: I see… horses. And a parking lot.

My mother: Horses? There aren’t horses here. Do you see any construction?

Me: No. 

My mother: I don’t know where you are.


It turned out I had taken a wrong turn just after Phantom Ranch and had hiked out the (shorter, but steeper and not-recommended for ascent) South Kaibab trail instead of the Bright Angel trail like I was supposed to. And in order for my mother to drive over and find me, she and I had to have several more non-sensical, almost hysterical on both of our parts phone conversations, plus she eventually flagged down a ranger who gave her an escort to pick me up. I think from how she described the situation he was expecting her lost daughter to either be 7 years old or grievously injured and was slightly miffed when they got to me and I was just mostly tired and upset I hadn’t yet been served my celebratory cocktail.

I did, however, eventually make it to the bar. And once I had rested and consumed roughly 11 cocktails, I decided the hike was ultimately a great experience. I am going to have to do it again, though, just so I can do the route everyone else actually takes.

If you look close, you can see two margaritas in this picture. Both are mine. After the first one I decided it made more sense to just order two at once so I had to walk to the bar half as many times. It’s math, people.

Why anyone lets me do anything without a safety buddy, I will never understand.

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Boxed Wine

If you’re my Facebook friend you’ve probably noticed that anytime anyone I’m friends with sees anything wine-related on the internet he or she pastes it to my wall with a ‘This made me think of you.” comment. Someone else might be concerned that everyone thinks she’s an alcoholic, but I choose just to be happy my Facebook friends understand my wants and needs so well. It makes me feel loved, is what I’m saying.

Last week, one of my readers (do you like how I just pretended it was one of my legions of followers and not my sister’s friend/coworker who happens to read my blog?) asked me about boxed wine. She said she was interested. She suggested I write a post about it. And I thought, Damn it, that’s not a bad idea!

I’m an expert in lots of things: making friendship bracelets, talking people into doing stuff with me, having a big mouth, things that are delicious with butter and salt on them, how to make your outfit way cuter with the right necklace or scarf, sweet-talking another agent into trusting me even though he shouldn’t, winning at holiday work parties, I mean lots of really important things. But hello, a completely untapped market in which I am an expert; something the public should truly be educated on, is obviously boxed wine. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. How could I have kept my genius in this field a secret for so long? It’s really a tragedy.

So the point is, I’m remedying that right now. I’m here today to impart my wisdom about the amazingness that is boxed wine.

First of all, if you’ve never made the foray into boxed wine before, I know what you’re thinking:

We’re not talking the wall of Franzia, here people. There are generally two sections of boxed wine in any grocery or liquor store: the one that consists mostly of white zinfandel or non-specific ‘white wine’ in enormous boxes that look like they were designed by people who still have floral wallpaper in their homes and like it, and a section of slightly more expensive boxed wines with hipper packaging and actual varietals and vintages.

I’m not judging those of you who love your ‘crisp white’ for $5.99 for 3 liters, but just me, personally, I tend to stay away from the former section and gravitate toward the latter. (See how I just made boxed wine into like a snotty elitist thing? That’s how I live with myself when I pour my wine from a spout every night. I only drink the fancy boxed wine, is what I tell myself.)

I’ll drink almost any type of wine handed to me, but if I’m buying for me, I usually stick with the Pinot Grigios, because they are delicious and don’t turn my tongue and teeth purple. I don’t need any more glaring reminders of how much I like to drink; I  already have my Facebook status updates from the night before for that. Thus, here is a rundown of the brands of boxed Pinot Grigio (or the like) I’ve tried and my general thoughts:

Box 1 – Target Cubes

I began my boxed wine journey a few years ago with these adorable Target cubes. They’re actually a really decent value at $18 (which, since each box holds the equivalent of 4 bottles, equates to $4.5/bottle), and I like the taste just fine. It’s not sweet and not too acidic. Also important to note is that the boxes are super cute and the alcoholic content of the wine is a fairly robust 13.5%.

Isn’t it adorable how it says it will stay fresh ‘up to 4 weeks’? Aw, thanks boxed wine people, but it won’t last nearly that long in my fridge. Sweet of you to assume, though.

Box 2 – Big House 

This one violates my ‘it has an actual varietal’ rule a little bit. It’s a white blend. But it’s got super cute packaging and it’s one of my favorites taste-wise. I used to be able to get it at Albertson’s and they still carry the brand, but the one by my house has only been stocking the Chardonnay and the Cabernet Sauvignon lately, so I have to drive over to Total Wine to get the ‘House White’. Luckily, it’s considerably cheaper at Total Wine, so it’s worth the drive. You’ll pay $24/box at the grocery store for this one, but only $16/box at Total Wine. The alcohol content is 13%; which is not too terrible.

Box 3 – Black Box

This one is a brand one of my clients just recently gave me as a thank you gift at her house closing (how nice is that, right?). I hadn’t tried it before (probably because I totally judge books by their covers and the packaging isn’t that cute), but it’s actually really good (that’s really the extent of the sophistication of my palate: good or icky). It can be purchased at most grocery stores (I definitely saw it at Albertson’s) and Total Wine. It’s a pricier $26/box at the grocery store and $19/box at Total Wine. (That means it’s more delicious, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.) The alcohol content is again an acceptable 13%.

Box 4 – Fish Eye

With Fish Eye we head into the low-end side of the fancy boxed wines. The packaging is cute, but even though this box is only $15 in the grocery store, I expected more. It tastes grody, is what I’m saying. I opened it and choked down a glass and a half a couple of weeks ago, but I actually poured out the second half of my second glass. I wasted wine, that’s how bad it is. And I haven’t even gone back to it. PLUS the alcohol content is a pathetic 12%! A Facebook friend suggested I use it to make sangria and I’m thinking that might be the only way to salvage it.

Box 5 – Bota Box

This cutie is my current favorite. It can be purchased at Bashas for around $22/box (or Total Wine for $16). It tastes light and crisp, has 13% alcohol content and I love the box. I’m partial to the color orange. Plus I liked them on Facebook and they have cute social media advertising which totally makes them seem more respectable to me (because I’m a sucker like that).

AND, as a bonus, they have teeny boxed versions that hold three glasses and are perfect for sneaking into movie theaters in your purse:

How fricking adorable is that? Dear Bota Box, I <3 You.

Box(ish) 6 – The Climber

Last, and while maybe not least, definitely down there on the list, is The Climber Chardonnay. I bought this one awhile back because I liked the idea that it’s marketed toward campers. Not that I camp. But if I did, I would totally appreciate having a bag of wine with a handle I could park next to my chair near the fire. Sadly, I hated the taste. It has a sharp aftertaste I did not care for. But, since it only holds two bottles (instead of the normal 4) and the alcohol content is an astounding 14.1%, I managed to get through it without having it go to waste. But I probably wouldn’t buy it again. Unless I was actually going camping.

That’s my experience to date with boxed wine. While I was ‘researching’ and photographing this blog post (yes, this is sometimes what I do with my day) I saw a new pretty box at Total Wine I just couldn’t resist picking up:

So cute, right? I haven’t tried it yet because I still have an open Bota Box AND the gross Fish Eye I can’t make myself finish, so it seemed excessive to open a third box, but I’ll let you know when I do. It was $18 and has a 13% alcohol content, so I have high hopes for it.

Tennis Skirts vs. Running Skirts

Did you know tennis skirts and running skirts are confusingly similar apparel (yes, today’s topic is fairly important on a global scale)? No, it’s true. They’re practically the same garment. Shocking, right? In fact, it’s actually possible to think you’re getting an awesome deal on a super fashion forward running skirt at Marshall’s when in fact you’re only getting a sort of OK deal on two year’s ago’s tennis skirt.

Looks like a running skirt, right? Compare:

OK, don’t compare the central region of the two models. Those are radically different. But otherwise pretty much the same, right? It’s a skirt you can run in.

Want to know the big difference between a running skirt and a tennis skirt?

Apparently a tennis skirt has a big, upside down pocket under the skirt part that I guess you’re supposed to hold a tennis ball in while you’re playing. Which I did not notice while I was trying it on in the store.

It’s OK, though. My tennisy running skirt cost me $12 and I’m keeping it. I actually think that little pocket in the front could also be super useful for running. You can put all kinds of stuff in there you might want to have while taking a run.

For instance, pepper spray:

Look how perfectly that sucker fits! No scary potential murderers out trolling the suburban neighborhoods of Northeast Mesa will mess with me while I’m packing easily accessible heat like that.

Or, how about my eyelash curler:

Because jogging is no excuse to be caught with straight eyelashes.

Or, for those times when a child on a tricycle passes me while I’m ‘running’ along and the kid says, “Hey lady, you OK? You’re moving really slowly and you kinda look like my grandpa did just before he had that heart attack last month…”:

I can reach up into my thigh pocket and whip out my Ragnar medal and say to the kid, “Listen here, sonny, I’m a runner! I ran a Ragnar! It’s a thing! Move along, I’m doing just fine!”

Or what about on long runs when I’m craving a snack?

It’s the perfect place to stash a mostly eaten bag of Honey BBQ Fritos. I mean, right?

And who, doesn’t, from time to time, crave a tiny bottle of peppermint schnapps during a really tough, hot run? I know I do!

And what about, in the evenings when you’re jogging around the neighborhood and your kindly neighbor steps out onto his front porch and says, “Hey, neighbor! You look like you’ve been working really hard! Want to come in an carb-up?” If you have the perfect running skirt with a perfect versatile pocket, you can whip out the pasta spoon you’ve been carrying and offer to help with dinner.

The options are limitless. Athletic apparel designers should probably consider affixing upside down stretchy pockets to all running skirts. Or at the very least a holder for tiny bottles of booze.

Bonus photo of me pretending to run and then pretending to trip over my kid’s toy for no reason but that this stupid, ridiculous, pointless post, I thought of last night after two (who am I kidding, three), glasses of wine took me all goddamn day and I’d like to use as many of the photos as possible:

I know, I’m incredibly theatrically talented. Please send all movie offers to my agent.


The 4 Hardest Things About Marriage

Can we talk about marriage for a few minutes? No, I mean really talk about it? It seems like there are only two socially acceptable avenues of discussion about one’s spouse that we all generally stick to:

1.    Gushy endearments about how much we adore our spouse when he or she has done something impressive or kind to us. Example Facebook update:  My schmoopie is just the nicest, sweetest, best looking husband with the highest IQ and largest penis ever! He came home tonight with the same flowers he brought me on our first date just for no reason at all. Feel free to be insanely jealous because your husband obviously doesn’t measure up.  

2.    General proclamations and piling-on regarding the entire gender of your spouse when he or she is pissing you off. Example passive-aggressive tweet: Dear Women, How about we have an emotional discussion about changing the cat litter during Teen Mom & NOT The Game next time? (Retweeted 7 times and favorited 13.)

The grit and grime about being with one person for three quarters of your life tend to get swept under the rug, until someone is getting a divorce. Once the relationship is over and done with, what went wrong and how it made everyone feel is exhibited for the masses to observe and digest. The still-marrieds seesaw between relief (Oh, we’ve never been as bad as that) and anxiety (Really, in the end that was it? It was just that one little straw that broke the camel’s back?) as they listen to the post-mortem and take notes about what not to do.

Before something catastrophic occurs the mutual marital bond of silence is pretty universally observed. It’s all about how great she is and how lucky you feel, or only occasionally, how slightly irritating they can be in a super normal-for-their-gender-role manner. Hee hee, in a funny way! Not really a bad way. We’re not getting divorced, everything is fine and dandy!

I have almost no filter and a desire to share every emotion I’ve ever felt with the universe, and I am not immune to this unwritten gag order regarding the daily strife of being married. I feel frustrated, angry, hurt and annoyed, but do I shout it to the internet world like I would about anything else? No. I keep it bottled up, because… well, I guess because I worry if I say my husband and I are fighting or ‘having troubles’ people will think we’re getting a divorce. That’s what I would wonder if someone else mentioned issues in their marriage.

Here’s my problem with all of this: Marriage is fucking hard. I know that’s not really a shocking statement (except to my dad because I used the f word). It’s not like I’m announcing The Statue of Liberty was actually modeled after a cross-dressing hooker and sent over to the US from France as a gag-gift. We’ve all heard old-marrieds admit with a knowing shake of the head, “It’s hard. Being married 50 years is really hard.” But without hearing the details and the confession of specifically why being married is hard, it’s easy to dismiss this statement as a compliment fish. Oh yes, being married this long was really difficult. Can I please have my cookie now?

But it’s not an over-statement. If anything, to say marriage is ‘hard’, and tolerating one person you may have chosen when you were young and naïve for the rest of your life is ‘tough’ might be akin to saying the Grand Canyon is ‘kind of a big hole’. That said, that comparison is really just another non-specific way of skirting the issue.

I propose we do away with this taboo and stop assuming married people who fight and have issues publicly are getting a divorce. I propose we, for the good of those who are considering marriage and even for those marrieds who feel alone in their fighting and working through of issues, be more specific about the difficulties normal, generally happy and satisfied couples experience on a regular and on-going basis. I say we be a little bit more honest about the imperfections in the way we treat each other so we can learn from each other and our own mistakes.

Thus, from my perspective, here are the top four hardest things about being married:

1.    Not taking out the stress of life on my husband. It’s hard not to look for a scapegoat when things are going wrong, even when it’s no one’s fault. Jason and I have been known to scream obscenities at each other over a sick or hurt child because we’re both just so worried and without control in the situation. When life is difficult and ugly, it’s tough not to want to punch the nearest person in the balls. I should probably work on standing next to people I already hate when the shit is hitting the fan.

2.    Understanding each other’s communication style. We don’t always even speak the same language and neither of us is particularly comfortable with genuine sentiment. I struggle to interpret his thoughts and feelings from silence and one word answers. He has to translate my exaggerations and dramatics (Expressed: You’re an asshole and I just kind of hate you a lot right now.) into statements he can work with (Translation: I am frustrated with how things have been going between us lately and I think we need to work on our relationship.).

3.    Loving my husband as he is without attempting to change him. There are things about my husband that always have and always will make me insane. I’m sure if he wanted to, he could write a book about my flaws, too. Heck, I could write a book about my flaws. I think as a sentient human being, constantly interacting with other human beings, it’s impossible not to wonder if someone else would be more perfectly matched for you than the person you ended up with. Jason doesn’t like to read and refuses to eat tomatoes, two of my very favorite things on the planet. He bottles up his feelings and they regularly explode, quickly and in a loud rush like a shaken up pop. What if I had found someone who loves tomatoes and was not emotionally constipated? Ah, but this verbal, feeling, lover of tomatoes, would he also be a child-whisperer who kids of all ages adore? Would he be creatively talented and mechanically brilliant? Would he make me laugh and laugh with me at exactly the things I find funny? Would he put up with me and my insanity like no man ever has before? Because all of those things are a yes with Jason. You can’t Frankenstein a spouse. You take the good with the bad, otherwise you end up with a butterfly-effect and a whole other reality. In that new reality I’m afraid my husband wouldn’t have that gorgeous head of hair and it’s just not worth the trade. This is occasionally difficult to remember.

4.    Not allowing resentment to build up. This is the big, bad one. Little, almost insignificant issues glom together over time to create a big horrible, relationship-stomping resentment monster. He looks like The Blob, smells like boogers and kills your desire to make up with your partner. You have to battle this bad guy regularly, forever, or he will grow too big to defeat. It’s the resentment monster I fear the most.

So… where am I going with all of this? I guess I’m just trying to say: I think everyone fights. And everyone struggles. I cannot imagine living with another human for years and not hating him or her a little bit for short-to-medium periods of time. We are flawed, selfish creatures, so to exist together is inevitably a battle. I’m tired of feeling ashamed of admitting this. Instead, I choose to feel valiant that so far I’m winning. I don’t know for sure what will happen in the future, but for now, I’m so happy to have a partner who’s willing to fight for me even as he fights with me.

Take Me Home Or I Will Happily Humiliate You

We discovered this weekend that Jonas has a genetic condition. Yes, I know; it’s very sad. I don’t think a charitable foundation has been established for his specific ailment, but until it has, you can feel free to send donations to me. Cash and cute outfits are equally appreciated.

What is the condition, you ask?

Well, it’s called Overtired Asshole Behavior Syndrome (OABS). It’s fairly rare in the population as a whole, but it runs rampant in my genetic pool, so it’s not a complete shock that Jonas has it. I’m a sufferer of OABS, as is my brother, and we both inherited it from my father.

OABS is undetectable as long as the person with the condition is properly rested. The difficulty comes when the subject becomes exhausted in a social situation and is not in an appropriate setting to immediately lie down and go to sleep. Rather than yawning, grabbing a cup of coffee and sucking it up like any other normal, functioning human, a person with OABS will immediately begin to exhibit anti-social and just generally inappropriate behavior.

For instance, when I’m experiencing an OABS outbreak, I literally cannot concentrate anything but the idea of going home from wherever I am. If I’m at a wedding and the clock has flipped to 10:30PM, I start to twitch with the thought of exactly how long it will take to say goodbye to the necessary people, walk to our car, drive to pick up the kids from whoever is watching them, drive home and get the kids carried up to their beds before I can pass out myself. I stop being able to smile, converse or even make eye contact. The only words I can manage to squeak out are, “I… need to go home.” In my head I’ve got a precise tally that’s counting backwards by the second of when I need to get up in the morning and exactly how much sleep I’m going to get depending on if I leave NOW… or NOW… or NOW…

My father turns from the cheerful, super social, life of the party to a solemn, stone-faced grouch who nudges my mother every 15 seconds with an abrupt, “It’s time to go.” My brother has been known to walk out of the room like he’s going to the bathroom and just not reappear for the rest of the night, even if the party is at his own house. His wife will eventually admit to the remaining guests that he’s gone to bed.

This weekend was the first time it was very clear to me Jonas has inherited the OABS gene. I took the boys to see the end of session trapeze show at Trapeze U Saturday night. The show is a chance for the people who have taken the 8 week trapeze class to showcase the tricks they learned and it’s open to the public. It’s sort of like a free circus where you bring your own camping chair.

Unfortunately, the show started at 7PM, which is dangerously close to bedtime. Jonas was apparently exhausted.

It started like this:

Jonas: Mom, I need to go potty.
Me: OK, can you hold it until we get home? There really isn’t a good bathroom option out here and this won’t last that much longer.
Jonas: No, I need to go potty NOW.
Me: Well… I mean, how long have you had to go potty? Because you just went when we stopped at Subway…
(People turn and glare.)
Me: OK, OK, I’ll figure something out. Just let this girl finish.

At that point a girl was climbing the tiny ladder to the top platform to perform her trick. She was wearing a costume/uniform that consisted of a gold leotard and a maroon pair of bike shorts. The look was unflattering on everyone, but had a way of specifically highlighting extra weight around the mid-section on anyone who had any. The crowd was hushed in anticipation of whatever exciting trick she was about to perform. To my horror, Jonas chose that moment to loudly and clearly proclaim, “She’s FAT.”

No one even turned around and glared at us after that, even though everyone must have heard him. I think they were all too shocked. Or maybe they were gathering their pitchforks.

It was obviously time to go. I instructed the boys to pick their camping chairs up and follow me quietly to just inside the entrance so we could fold everything up and make our exit. Apparently the folding and exiting was all moving too slowly for Mr. Crankypants, however. Jonas finished off the night by dumping the remaining couple of ounces from his milk container into the dirt, creating a milky mud puddle and shouting, “I’m over this!” as loud as he could.

We didn’t stay to see if he’d distracted the poor trapezist enough to ruin her trick. The difficult thing about OABS is that it’s almost always ultimately successful for the sufferer. Bad behavior is generally reinforced. If you act like enough of an asshole, eventually someone is going to take you home and put you to bed.