Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Steph's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

Since tons of people five have requested a gift guide this year, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I too get tired of the "for him for her" gift guides I find in every paper and magazine that all suggest buying my brother a marshmellow shooter or my husband R2D2 salt and pepper shakers (although they would probably both like those items. Moving on).

I haven’t posted a blog in so long I almost forgot how (for realsies). And honestly, I wasn’t even sure I was up for, or into doing a holiday guide this year…that is, until I saw this little ditty.

The Haband Flare Hair Visor. The product description says, “Wait for the laughs at your next golf outing, family reunion or trip to the beach.” I would have to add, “and keep on waiting, because those laughs ain’t comin’ son.” But why let that stop you? (I'm willing to bet that for the type of person who would wear this hat, it hasn't before.) Expect this baby to make an appearance at office holiday parties across the nation.

A perfect gift for: Your uncle who manages a small banking branch, regularly shops for Christmas gifts at Spencer’s, owns the complete collection of Walker Texas Ranger on DVD, and still wears his “I’m with stupid T-shirt” on casual Fridays for back slapping laughs with his employees.

'Tis the Situation

When I think of Christmas, I think of softly falling snow, baking cookies, Santa's elves and also, um, the cast of Jersey Shore? Full disclosure, I haven’t seen more of the show than what’s shown in clips on Talk Soup, but how these people ended up as a cultural phenomenon is beyond my mental grasp. I guess it’s related to our human need to crane our necks for a car wreck or watch disturbing footage of plane crashes over and over again on the news.

Perfect gift for: That someone on your list who not only feels the need to watch the car wreck, but also decorate their Christmas tree with it.

Christmas Bacon!

Bacon: Scent by the Gods

Do you have a special lady in your life? If you would like that special lady to smell like cooked flesh, your quest for the perfect gift has ended. Introducing Bacon by Farginnay, a propietary blend of 11 essential oils (grease and fat being at least two of those and is there anything the ladies love more than grease and fat? No. No there really isn't.) This gives treating women like pieces of meat a whole new meaning.

Perfect gift for: The ladies (the ones who like to smell like meat).


The best thing about this cookie jar, in case you didn’t already know, is that due to ancient Timelord technology, the cookie jar is BIGGER on the inside. So this guy could hold enough cookies to fill the entire Gamma Quadrant (wait, I’m mixing my nerdy sci-fi references). No matter, allons-y and get your wallet! 
Perfect gift for: The sci-fi cookie lover on your list. In other words, my husband, who actually could eat a planet worth of cookies and still be skinny with low cholesterol.

Crapping Christmas Cheer!
Thomas Kincaid Snowman
The Thomas Kincaid lover in your life most likely cannot get enough Thomas Kincaid. These people are going to want glowing cozy cottages painted on their windows, mugs, chair cushions, shower heads, underwear and possibly tattooed on their lower back. This figurine quenches (some) thirst for Kincaid’s work. This friendly Frosty reads a tale of snuggly Christmas cheer, while digesting the Yule Town he ate for breakfast and standing in the glowy christmas village he crapped out after lunch. If you look closely into the fireplace lit houses in Frosty's bowels you will find itty bitty Kincaid mugs and prints for sale in the cozy village market.

A perfect gift for: Everyone. Anyone who wouldn’t love this gift hates Christmas, coziness and Jesus.

The Merry Duke and Duchess
I would be horribly remiss if I didn't include a little Will and Kate memorabilia for the 2011 list. Enter Will and Kate (the finger puppets) available on etsy. With these collectible Mullish Muse puppets you can relive over and over again the morning you got up at 4:30 am to watch a young lady walk into a church a commoner and leave a princess. (or at least the time you checked out the footage on youtube and flipped through the commemorative edition of People in the grocery store line.) Also available, Jay-Z, Hunter S. Thompson and Edgar Allen Poe. Think of the Royal reception scene you could put together!

Perfect gift for: The person who is really popular around the office for their collection of smurf pencil toppers and vintage troll dolls.

Oh-Rangutan! Oh Rangutan!

Realistic Orangutan Toddler Doll

Would I leave you without a fake baby primate? Would I? Of course not. It's Christmas after all! Meet Mollie, the first ever orangutan toddler doll from the Ashton-Drake galleries. According to the website, this collectible toddler doll features a "soft, huggable and poseable body that you won't be able to resist picking up." The gift recipient may also not be able to resist taking her to play dates and library story time but I would strongly discourage that. These babies tend to want to roll around in their own feces.

A perfect gift for: Your friend who's always wanted an orangutan baby.

Thanks for giving me a reason to scour the internet for oddities. Personally, I'll be hoping to see Cowboy Squirrel under my tree this year (fingers crossed.)

Happy shopping to all and to all a good night!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Victory Day

Last year on Mother's Day I landed in Moscow amidst flower wreaths and fireworks. The Russians were celebrating Victory Day, commemorating their triumph over the Nazis in World War Two. The streets were crowded with celebrations, strung with lights and draped in banners declaring VICTORY!

Last Mother's Day I was in the home stretch of a very long, winding, rocky (and scenic) road to becoming a mom. On this road I walked through tears, joys, lessons, roller coasters, volcanoes, physical pain and the kind of all over hurt that can only be a soul aching.

Last Mother's Day, I checked into a hotel with toys and baby food but no baby.

Last Mother's Day I knew that in less than 48 hours we would visit the baby home one last time, this time, there would be no woman in a white coat to come and take him away. This time, we would, finally, walk out with Andre in our arms. It would be our last "visit" to Andre and our first day as a family.

Now, I wake up every morning and rush to the kitchen where Danny is feeding him breakfast. I kiss his neck and cheeks until he giggles and pushes me away. I point out every truck and bus on the road so much so that I continue to do this even when Andre is not in the car with me. I take a deep breath and count to ten when he tries to hit the dog for the thousandth time after I have told him no. I read him book after book after book, doing funny voices and jiggling where the text calls for it. I hide all permanent markers and lipsticks. I melt when he flings his arms around my neck for a hug.

This Mother's Day it has been nearly a year that we've had a mischevious little monkey in our house. I've learned to be more patient (out of necessity), more giving (out of love), more flexible (out of experience) and more forgiving (of myself).

Here's to not knowing what the next year will bring. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Steph's Annual Holiday Shopping Guide

I've been neglecting you. I hope you'll accept my deepest apology (actually I hope you'll accept just a regular apology because I should save the really serious ones in case I do something really dumb.)

Anyway, I wouldn't dream of leaving you on your own to navigate the murky waters of holiday shopping. So I pulled together some stellar products that will delight everyone on your christmas list. You may even want to buy a few for yourself!

Pee and Poo
Products include plush toys, t-shirts, keychains and stationery. I know I've shopped for stationery before and thought, flowers and dots are nice and all, but I wish someone would print stationery featuring feces and urine. And I've been wondering for years why the waste we deposit in the toilet couldn't come in plush toy form. If you ask me, we don't spend nearly enough time thinking about bodily waste.

Feng Shui compass
According to the product description, "it locates and calculates supportive energy fields quickly and easily to align your physical surroundings to help manifest your goals and intentions." For instance, if your goal is to save money, it will be able to figure out a way for you to do that. (On sale for $199.99 plus $49.99 for the carrying case)

The Litter Kwitter
I like this product simply because it might inspire this conversation:
ME: Miso? Are you almost done in there? I really have to pee.
CAT: Meow
ME: Seriously, I've seen you piss in the yard it does NOT take this long.
**(jingle jingle)**
ME: Wait. . . Are you playing with a toy in there?
CAT: Meow
ME: This is ridiculous. I'm using the litter.

Face/Butt Towel
For the friend who doesn't know the difference between the two.

Armadillo Beverage Holder
For the person in your life who needs something to hold their drink besides their hand or a table.

Fart Pads
I spent A LOT of time on airplanes this year. I actually think the airlines should give these out with the headphones.

A Spot in Heaven
Yep, you read right. Is there any possible better gift than a spot on St. Peter's List? Up until now people have had to toil away going to church and treating others as they'd like to be treated. Now there's no need to worry about all the neighbor's wife coveting and taking the Lord's name in vain we do all day. Even if the gift recipient isn't a believer, it can't hurt right? It's like an insurance policy for their soul.
Happy and safe holiday shopping to you all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Swoosh, Smack, Release

Since I haven't posted in a while, I thought I'd share this little ditty I wrote in honor of my grandpa. He's visiting next week from Ohio and I'm very excited because I miss him dearly.

My friends are usually shocked when I tell them I was on the golf team in high school. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, or because I grew up on the government cheese side of the tracks, or because I wear wedge heels to walk my dog. Nevertheless, the reaction is always the same. “Really?!. . .No seriously. Really?" People simply can’t imagine me partaking in a sport associated with well-to-do businessmen.

I spent my childhood in my grandparent’s house. Every Saturday, if I woke up early enough, I’d see Grandpa at the bottom of the stairs arranging drivers in his big leather bag. It was always before dawn, quiet and still dark. I’d watch him carefully pack cleated shoes into a side pocket, and count out wooden tees in his hand before dumping them into a little sac.

My brother and I would spend the morning accompanying my grandmother to her weekly hair appointment, then get doughnuts, then watch about three hours of cartoons. When Bugs Bunny came on we knew it was about time for Grandpa to get home. He’d put his clubs away, settle into his easy chair and make us change the channel to—golf.

I could not understand it. What was so appealing about this sport? The commentators whispered. The crowd stood perfectly still watching another person basically stand perfectly still. A man would swing a big stick and then they’d all walk across a giant lawn, no landscaping, no pretty flowers to look at. It all seemed so boring. I did not get why grandpa devoted an entire Saturday to what seemed like walking across grass.

When I was thirteen he bought me a set of clubs. They came in a navy blue nylon bag. I ran my fingers over the fuzzy covers on the drivers. I didn’t want to hurt grandpa’s feelings, so I acted excited. But inside I thought, Golf? Blech. There’s absolutely no way I’ll be interested in golf.

He took me to a public course. Three par he called it. He showed me how to position my hands on the grip. It felt odd to interlock my fingers in such a way. He showed me how to stand, where to hold my head, and how to keep my arms straight as I pulled the club back.

On my first swing I lost my grip and the club went flying behind me. On my second, I ripped up a giant clump of earth and grass roots. On the third swing I heard nothing but a loud swoosh and looked down to see my pink and purple ball still waiting patiently on the tee.

“That’s okay,” Grandpa said, “Just keep your eye on the ball and try again.”

On the fourth swing there was a loud SMACK. I felt a satisfying reverberation in the club as the ball made a perfect arc through the air.

“There you go!” Grandpa clapped, “That’s how you do it Stephanie Marie.”
The ball hadn’t even gone that far, but the feeling was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. It was like the vibrations from the club had entered my body and created a fizzy little happiness that bubbled all over. I wanted to do it again. For the rest of the afternoon I chased that feeling; that swoosh, smack, release that felt so good. Most of my shots that day (and many days after) were duds, divits and clear misses. But occasionally the ball sailed perfectly straight, up and away, and gracefully skipped down the green. Those shots made it all worth it. That swoosh, smack release was as potent as any drink or drug. There was a calm in it, a swell of happy accomplishment.

I started to think, I could spend an entire Saturday doing this and maybe now understand why my grandfather did. For thirty five years he worked all week in a factory mixing paint. Sometimes I’d visit him and my grandmother there. The building was large and every surface was a variant of the color grey. It was loud and filled with chemical odor. I'm sure he was happy enough there. But on the weekends, I imagine he just wanted to shake off the sounds of whirring machines and noxious fumes and breathe in fresh air. He wanted to walk in the sunshine on freshly clipped grass and sink into the rhythm that can only be found on the green. Swoosh. Smack. Release.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Old MacDonald Had a Drunk Neighbor

So we've been at this gig for almost four months now, and we continue to learn the ins and outs of the little creature we call Andre. We've learned that he likes to climb, laughs at low brow humor, and likes tofu more than hamburger. But one of the most important things we learned is that Andre likes singing. We've yet to encounter a fit of fussies that a round of "Bingo was his name-O" wouldn't cure.

The problem is, the repertoire of songs is short and Danny and I already find ourselves wishing night would fall after four times through "You are my sunshine." (Ever looked up the full lyrics to that song? Seriously, it's like a creepy dude's suicide note.)

While Andre would never get bored with the cow/duck/pig rotation on Old Macdonald's Farm, Danny and I find that we need something a little more than a Moo Moo here and a Moo Moo there. We decided the farm could use some more interesting goings on, so we spruced things up a little.

Here are some things we think may be found lying around Old MacDonald's farm:

Old MacDonald Had a Farm E-I-E-I-O... And on that farm he had a. . .

Drunk Neighbor
Bitch in heat
Mysterious Radioactive substance
An antique gramophone
Studio for making pornographic films
Dental student performing his first extraction
Scooby Doo Gang
Screaming scull
Expert on Scottish Highland history
Hideous mutant
Smaller farm
Frat party
Crack Dealer

Feel free to make up your own. The possibilities are endless. (Old Macdonald has a really, really big farm since he got taken over by ConAgra). Most of the fun lies in coming up with the corresponding sounds. All in all, it makes song time fun for the whole family. At least until he's old enough to realize that no one else's MacDonald has leather whip collection.