Things That Make Me Cold

When I married Josh, I conceded bed space to a ridiculous little black dog since I still wasn't entirely convinced that he wasn't just kidding about having married me. After a few months, I either stopped wondering, or didn't care, and vetoed the ménage a trois in favor of less contortionist sleeping positions. Enter Dagny, and my confounded guilt issues. It didn't seem fair to let the baby wiener dog cuddle in between Josh and I when the poodle had been so cruelly evicted. I rescinded my former mandate and Emmy relocated her position of Bliss between Josh and I at about knee level. By no coincidence about this same time I started finding myself wide awake at ungodly hours, like 5 AM, for no perceptible reason. At first I blamed the pain that was always there, waiting to greet me like a mean 2 year old wanting breakfast. But then, through chattering teeth, in my early morning dysfunctional state, I realized that I was in a constant struggle to keep the edge of the king sized comforter wrapped around 80% of my body. Let me add that by this time in Dagny's youthful evolution she has decided that sleeping with mom and dad is hot and claustrophobic and she'd much rather be pooping under the table and eating Christmas presents. Emmy was hoping we wouldn't notice that she was the only canine remaining nestled in the blankets, but my chronic hyperthermia has revealed her secret. Emmy has a special tactic of rolling and twisting and wriggling so that the covers all spin up underneath and around her in the middle and there is about a foot remaining on either side for Josh and I to contend with. Josh has craftily adopted a whole different blanket which he keeps stealthily on hand on his side of the bed, offering the excuse that our big blanket is too hot for him. Uh huh. How did it take me so long to uncover this sneaky plot between them to freeze me to death? At any rate, I've been awake since five, pulling covers from underneath a 12 lb. poodle an inch at a time and plotting her near-future eviction to the dog bed lying unattended on the floor next to us. How 12 pounds can be so difficult to move is beyond me.

Things That We Are Good At

We have done a really good job potty training Dagny. She is very smart, and has already learned that right after she pees on the carpet she needs to go outside for a second or she will get yelled at. She dashes right out the dog door as soon as she is done pottying now, whether there is anyone yelling or not. It's a pretty cool set up. We have also succeeded in teaching the girls how to keep their wads of long hair out of the shower drain, by sticking said wads to the shower walls and then throwing them away after. Somehow the throwing away part got lost in translation, so now our upstairs shower is decorated with multicolored wads of hair. It's pretty awesome, I am not gonna lie. Another great success story for me is the personal record I hold for most unfinished cups of coffee in random spots around the house. I have just barely edged out February of 2010 and I would like to credit the over sized wonderfulness of my new Pendleton mugs for this triumph. In my own defense, I will say that I actually found a half finished cup the other day and reheated it. Twice. And still never finished it. It reminds me of Grandma Schiffman and the perpetual cup of coffee in the microwave.

In other news, and in the interest of honesty, I would like to issue a revision to the facts set forth in my Holiday Poem: three out of four girls are rocking straight A's, and I will leave it to you to wonder who could be the slacker. Obviously this information wouldn't fit the smooth-flowing format of my poem, so I took a little creative license. And was guilt racked for two days. But now I have made my confession.

If my ramblings seem disjointed and incongruent lately, or even unedited, I would like to cast sole responsibility on a very small hairball who is constantly either eating Christmas Presents or running outside to celebrate her most recent urination, and the fact that I am forced to claw my way out of my Pendletony nest on the couch to save gifts and rugs. I might as well give up because I am mostly succeeding in forgetting about my coffee and I think the carpet is past saving. This would be cause for distress except I know that there is beautiful hardwood underneath that we are intending to convince the landlords to let us uncover as soon as Dagny is potty trained, but since the world may come to an end before then, I am not holding my breath. And no, that is not a reference to December 21.

Today is my day off. Yesterday I thought I didn't work until 12, but luckily I called in to double check, and found out that I actually worked at 10, which was precisely 20 minutes from the time that I called. Somehow I still got almost everything done that I had wanted to, except showering, but I just threw some jingle bells in my dirty hair and called it good. I have another long list today, at the top of which is finishing my coffee, and then beginning to pack the smallish things that need to go North with us for Christmas. -- Stand by, Dagny is eating the area rug.--  Anyway, I have been losing sleep over the thought that I will forget things like Mom's turkey roaster rack, or Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas (an absolute holiday requisite viewing, in case you haven't yet), or the stuff for Josh's tactical stocking that I have hidden in such an obscure place that I am not sure even I can find it. And by the way, yes, Josh has a tactical stocking, complete with molle strips and carabiner hooks. Obviously it will be filled with tactical tools. Like shot glasses. I have already conferred with Santa about this.

I also need to spend some time working on my eBay junk, shipping, measuring, messaging. One last push before Christmas, and every penny in the Paypal account means non-accountable spending for me! Or not. But I am doing quite well selling Victoria's Secret panties that I buy on clearance and sell for slightly over retail because somehow people who have figured out how to navigate eBay and set up a Paypal account haven't stumbled across the Victoria's Secret website. Hmmm. I am not complaining. --- Dagny is now UNDER the area rug. Trying to decide if it's worth unnesting to save her. Probably not. She can just chew her way out. ---

One major non-success in our life right now is that I taught Natalee and Aspen how to sew. How cute, you say. How mother-of-the-yearish of you and all that. It would be, but for the random misplaced needles I am finding on the rug, hanging off the coffee table, sticking out of the couch cushion just millimeters from Truck's elbow. I mean come on! Who leaves a needle on Truck's side of the couch! That's just mean! Apparently Josh lived as a child in a rental that had previously been inhabited by seamstresses of some nature who had a habit of dropping needles in the carpet. Several of these were relocated by various members of the Weston Family who would then have to remove them from metatarsal bones with pliers. This will not happen in my house. --- Dagny has weaseled her way on to the couch and is now chewing on the corner of my MacBook. --- So tonight we are going to have a needle safety debriefing, wherein I will pull gruesome pictures off of the internet of needle related accidents and strike a fear so deep in the girls that they will have to be sedated for Tetanus shots.

Well, I think it's time for me to go unpack the dog's stocking and dole out all of the chew toys we got for Dagny before she eats my technology. We are currently accepting donations of anything that you would like chewed up. And if you'd like a cold cup of coffee - stop on by!!

Things That Are In The Mail

I asked Josh for help on the holiday poem. His started off something like this:

“Jingle bells ringing while puppy dogs itch,
Kizzie is in the back room being a witch…”

Anyway, needless to say, I took over. The Holidays are a
magical time in the Weston house, so many cheerful voices
and happy puppies – at least that’s what I am going to read
into the shouting and jingle bells.

Hope you enjoy the censored version of our Holiday story,
and feel free to drop by anytime. The rum is always buttered
and the cookies haven’t gotten stale yet!

Much love,

Josh, Liv, Halle, Kiz, Nat and Aspen (and Truck, Emmy, Dagny and Rascal)

PS: Be warned, it's terrible. 

My Favorite Every-Things

(you know the tune)

Football on TV and soup in the crockpot
Dogs dressed like reindeer and
Movies with weak plots
Blubbery teenagers locked in their rooms
These are the things that cause parental swoons

3rd grader homework and 12 year old cello
Tuba sounds echo from attic to cellar
Backpacks with contraband high heeled shoes
This is why mom and dad feel abused

We have four girls
And three weird dogs One ridiculous bunny
Who thought that this was a brilliant idea?
It’s nothing short of funny

Girls all get moody and puppies like chewing
Rabbits don’t potty train
Carpets gets ruined
Nine year olds seldom take showers at will
Kizzie is lucky if she don’t get killed

Halle’s skiing
Aspen’s dancing
Josh is hiding downstairs
Truck he just sleeps all the day long and night
And Emmy is losing her hair

Kizzie takes pictures
Aspen takes long walks
Natalee plays with the rabbit and dogs
Even with trouble the kids get straight A’s
This means that somehow their parents are great?

Josh and Liv take turns working and whining
The bills are all paid
So there’s really no pining
Natalee plans to make all of us rich
Being a track star and concert cellist

Liv is shopping
Josh is cursing
All the girls do their chores (mostly)
If we survive through at least one more month
We’ll party on Waikiki shores!

Things That I Should Say

It's The Holidays, right? So now is the perfect time to bellow out long refrains about peace on earth and goodwill toward man, blah blah blah. I know. With so much happening in this crazy world, dozens of children slaughtered senselessly, random crazies shooting up malls - I can't even imagine where to start spewing my Noels and Night Divines. How my heart breaks for the parents who waited outside of that school. Waited, and waited, watching children pour through the doors - but not their child. How do you ever get past that? What can you ever do to recover. Aspen is 9 years old. She is almost an angelic child. She is smart, adorable, funny - all the promise of an amazing adult. I can only pray that she gets there. What kind of a world do we live in where this is even a thought? Just a century ago parents lived in the constant knowledge that a simple virus could be the undoing of their young child. The only virus that we have no defense against now are the unfathomable selfishness of a generation raised to be served. Every time I hear my teenagers yell at me that is is not their fault, I realize I am guilty of raising them with the same presumption and expectancy for a fair world and an equalized treatment. My 15 year old would like to tell me that she is "a good person" and she shouldn't be disrespected by me or Josh. When did discipline and parental directive become disrespect? My god. How far we have come. How much I have failed. The ultimate extreme of this victimized, self-absorbed mentality, is the kid who shoots up an elementary school because his mommy wasn't nice to him. I cannot fathom it. If there is anything I thank my parents for, it is raising me with the understanding that life isn't fair. It is about sowing and reaping, action and consequence, and developing the knowledge that everyone around me is at least as important as I am myself, if not more. Apparently Adam Lanza never got that memo. I understand mental illness can be a real thing, but so is a spoiled child - Real, and deathly. God forgive my laxity, and my willingness to spare my children from the natural consequences of their actions. I would rather lose all four of my kids to a random flu bug, or scarlet fever, than to have them wind up on either side of an unaccountable gun. I won't even bother with the gun control issue - as if someone crazy enough to kill a 9 year old would really let gun laws get in his way. For god's sake. Get real.

I am so thankful that there is still time, that I can still try to instill in my kids the understanding that only they will be accountable for their actions. That no amount of whining can remove the blood from the hands of a killer. I don't understand what has happened to our culture that makes these massacres so common that we expect them. Somewhere, somehow, some punk kid started a rumor about a shooting at Mt View high school on the 21st. While the cops are chasing down the smart ass who thought this would be a cool prank, we are taking a snow day that day. Is it really important enough to be at school that we will send the message that we don't care? I don't believe there will be any shots fired at Mt. View, but I also don't believe in ignoring even the most stupid warning signs. So my kids will get an extra day of Christmas break. Besides, we still have cookies to make.

My holiday rush has de-volved to the point of almost melancholy. It doesn't help that I've been in a lot more pain lately. I need to re-orient myself and get happy again. There is so much to be thankful for. I love the snow that we finally got, and the cold days, and the Christmas songs and wrapping paper. I love that Dagny the Puppy has unwrapped almost every present I have wrapped and chewed the corners off of every gift box. I am happy that I somehow pulled off all of my holiday shopping and Josh hasn't filed for divorce yet. I am excited for a road trip back to good old Northport and sledding and MIMOSAS!!! with my buddies. I am stoked to break in the new snowboard boots that we got a killer deal on yesterday, even though the experience promises loads of pain. Sometimes, it's just worth it. I am thrilled that I am finally getting some Christmas cards sent, even though the poem is AWFUL this year. Even Josh said so. There are so many reasons to be happy, to be thankful, to make it better. And I will. I am gonna take off my sweatpants, chase my delicious breakfast beet juice cocktail with a sugar cookie and don one of my merry holiday outfits so I can go sell amazing Pendleton presents to excited Christmas Shoppers. How could I not be happy with this ridiculously cute puppy around?

Things That I Hate

You know, I was having a kind of crappy week already. But then my period started. I'd like to revoke all of my previous complaints and start over: being a girl SUCKS. Being a girl with adenomyosis is even more awesomely horrible. Thank god I don't have something really serious or terrible. Turns out I'm a great big baby.

Things That Hurt

My  head. I woke up with a pounding headache that I blame entirely on a horrible dream wherein I was married to my ex-husband once again and we were moving into a giant weird house full of spiders. I was trying to run away with the kids but nobody could understand why I was so upset. I hate dreams like that. I wonder what causes them? I refuse to blame the peppermint candy ice cream I ate before bed. It has enough guilt to bear for the stomach ache that I fell asleep to.

I haven't had much to say lately, partly because I have been somewhat busy, making picturesquely imperfect (leave me my fantasies) gingerbread houses and homemade dinners, and starting loads of laundry which my Adorable Husband ends up following through to the fold an put away stage. And then when I sit down with my computer and contemplate something deep and profound to say, websites like Urban Outfitters and Victoria's Secret and Amazon all scream out to me with their amazing Holiday deals and I have difficulty focusing on anything except boots and things like that. And then there is the issue of the Very Cute, but Very Bad puppy who at this moment is shaking an unwrapped Christmas Present like a dead kitten in her little needle teeth. If I catch her chewing on something I can possibly live without, like an empty cardboard box or the car microfiber duster I paid $1 for, I let her be, since it's going to be that or something else. This morning she brought me first one, and when that was confiscated, the other red velvet shoe from my closet. At least she has good taste. And I will say the jingle bell collar was a wise investment since she is easily located now, wherever she is tearing up something that she should not be.

Right now The Avett Brothers are playing on 101.7, and sometimes I forget how much I love them. But the first strains of I & Love & You reverberate along with a chill down my spine and the warm fuzzy feeling of KNOWING not only them, but their songs, and their people, and the ideals that they champion in their music. Christmas Music is a nice little break from routine for us, other than Josh, who is already sick of everything except the California Raisins' version of We Three Kings, but I am secretly excited for January and making up for all this lost time with my boys.

This last few days, or week, or maybe even half of a month has been a little tough for me, on several levels. I've already done enough whining about the physical stuff, so I think I will delve into some internal stew that has been simmering since my Loving Husband, ever so tenderly, called me out on my bad attitude. Just when I was feeling all smug for my positivity and happy spirit, and self righteously condemning the pharisees who couldn't just catch the contagious joy that probably had something to do with an unbridled Holiday Shopping binge and endless espressos and parties and an excuse for a Whole New Wardrobe, I run face to face with the ugly truth of my selfishness. Why Josh couldn't just "get happy" was beyond my grasp, since the world is perfect and I have new skirt. When he finally got tired enough of tolerating me, he was able to articulate quite well, my self absorbed approach to life. The unfortunate thing about being married to Josh is that he is almost always right. He is graciously learning to allow me to be wrong from time to time without needing to crusade against my erroneous views, but in this instance, he was dead on and I was out of excuses. I was being shallow and judgemental and all of the things that I professed to loathed. So, in true contrition, I begged him for the grace to allow my little binge of selfish misbehavior continue until after Christmas, at which time I would become absolvent and depressed in response to the dire conditions we face in this life. No, but seriously, I needed a kick in the butt and I am thankful for a guy who can do it, even if clumsily, at least faithfully to me.

So I am still working through some of this inner process, which loosely translates to a mild slow-down in spending and more cautious approach to spousal reprimands and arbitrary judgements.

On another note - I just got called for an interview as an Emergency Room tech at the hospital. This is something that I will have to carefully consider. A grown up job with grown up side effects - like giving up fire season? But something that I would enjoy and would keep my mind and body active, and helping people... Pondering.

Things That I Concede

I have earned $2.86 so far from this blog. That makes me a professional writer, no? It is also the harbinger of wild financial successes in the future when somebody that has a lot of friends stumbles upon my incomparable writing skills and I become semi-famous. Because of this future success, it's ok for me to spend more money, right? Perhaps even money that I can write off as an "investment" in my writing? A certain loving husband chastised me when I used some perfectly edible food to stage some pictures that I took for a certain blog. The idea that perfectly edible food wasn't going to be perfectly eaten was more than he could handle, and he ended up picking the food off of the display to eat himself, lest it be wasted. Totally normal behavior for a husband, you say? Yes, unless that husband has a self-professed disdain for food in general and believes it is a "waste of time". Better to waste the time than the cheese garnish, I guess.

In addition to my impressive literary earnings, I accidentally picked up two hours of work yesterday when I showed up at the store on a day for which I wasn't scheduled at all. My wonderful boss let me stay and do some markdowns, which is one of my favorite things, since I can see all the amazing deals that I need to get, with the additional $4.00 that I was earning accidentally. Since Josh doesn't have any "big" or "steady" jobs right now, which means he half fills his days with hanging Christmas Lights everywhere except OUR house, and repairing 100 year old rocking chairs, I asked my marvelous boss if she could dish out some more hours to me. This was slightly puzzling to Josh since he knew even the part time work on my feet was making my pain worse, and cutting into my cooking time, but it all sounded very noble so he let it fly. Really the extra hours are my way of justifying my financial support of the store by purchasing pretty much every cool thing that is a good deal that we carry. I think Josh is getting wise to my ploy and I believe it is only a matter of time before he starts bribing said employer to write me out of the schedule. What he doesn't know is that I will probably just start hanging out there on my days off.

I guess if I was working less I could pay more attention to the ornaments disappearing gradually from the lower half of the Christmas tree that somehow magically wind up in tiny pieces on the dog bed. I could also spend more time on the couch, watching daytime TV since we got a set of rabbit ears, and maybe even vacuuming once in awhile, even though I swore I wouldn't vacuum since Josh won the battle and purchased an upright instead of a canister this time. I told him I wouldn't be caught dead using an upright, so he agreed to make the kids do all of the vacuuming. I guess that's a win for everyone, except the kids. I have to admit that the little vacuum we got seems to be pretty handy - down the road I will give you more feedback, once it has survived the Christmas Tree season and is still holding it's own. Other than the fact that is is navy blue and has a boring same like: Sanitaire System_Pro, I could almost like it. The handle folds down to make it highly portable and easier to park on the lower bunk bed of a 15 year old as a gentle reminder that she forgot her chore. After years of cleaning houses and using every upright vacuum that WalMart sells, I have a root of bitterness toward the gross smelling, ineffective machines. As if the broken down old Kenmore Canister with the electrical shorts and smoking powerhead was so much better, but for the first five years it was a good little beast. And at least IT was red. Really the question comes down to which machine disperses the smell of pine needles after vacuuming under the Christmas Tree the most efficiently. Someday when I am a wealthy author, I will have one of those gorgeous little Miele canisters that come in lovely colors with names like Nautilus and Olympus and almost make you think that vacuuming is sexy. But for now, Josh can win. I really have to choose my battles wisely, and I'd rather have a boring vacuum than one less Pendleton Blanket. I mean really.

Things That Trouble Me

So here's the thing. I got my self in trouble with that last little gem I wrote, and have decided henceforth and forevermore that I will only write about myself. Ok, myself and my boy. And maybe my kids. Especially my kids, since they will always be mad at me no matter what, and my boy, since if he is mad at me the only person that really cares is not even a person, but the puppy Dagny, who will be distressed that she can not reach both of us at night when he is sleeping on the couch. Any way, I need to limit myself to poking fun only at people within my immediate circle since theirs are the only responses I can reverse manipulate and control.

So about myself. This is actually an excellent time to say something about myself, and that is this: I am in a TREMENDOUS amount of pain these days. Like, take the pain I was at last year around this time, twist it, bend it in half and stomp on it and you'd almost be there. Sometimes I think I must be faking how much pain I am in to myself, since I still manage to muddle through work, but then I realize that I haven't made my family a decent meal in Many Days and I know it must be for real. I try not to whine, but this usually results in me glaring angrily at people who have no idea what they did to piss me off. I have discovered, in this last 14 months of almost constant pain, that being crabby and snappy doesn't solicit me much sympathy, but people are much more likely to do nice things for me, like heat up my rice pack, or get me an ice water or a shot of whiskey, if I am very sweet in spite of my pain. Especially Josh seems to respond ever so much more gently when I whisper sweetly that I love him but I am hurting like a son of a chukar. Another indicator that my pain is not pretend is the impulse I have had in the last several days to actually post a prayer request on Facebook. I mean, who does that, other than... oh wait, only talking about me. Luckily I have enough pride and dignity to not admit my need for intercession and so I just go on suffering. Mostly I was concerned about religiously discriminating against my wildly varied list of friends, since I don't have any idea how to ask a Buddhist to intercede, or a Hindu to Hind or A Zenist to Zen, and I was concerned that the responses on any such status would cause the next religious crusade and it would be all my fault. I have enough guilt to deal with, like for never cooking decent food for my family anymore. I just don't need that additional burden.

Another thing that would, at any other time in my life be kind of a big deal, but since I am in pretty much a steady 8/10 on the pain scale is somewhat muted in importance, is the fact that I married the Grinch. This is huge cause for concern when one realizes that the entire point of living for 365 days a year is that 20some of these days in December are jam-packed with warm fuzzies and ginger bread and wrapping paper and all kinds of wonderful, superficial things that remind me that I AM LOVED. I understand the crisis of commercialism in our culture, and the perversion of the true meaning of Christmas, which was actually some fertility ritual... but for me, every bit of the Christmas that we celebrate here in the good old, spoiled rotten USofA, represents the people that I love and that Love me. Family, Friends, Present, Past, even Future. I cannot get enough of the feeling that every silly Christmas carol and Jingle Bell connects us all to a common theme of WANTING happiness for each other. I do go a little overboard on presents, because I FINALLY have an excuse to give Everyone In the Whole World something that I just know that they will love. And I know that every time they see it, even if it is to put it in a yard sale box, they will think of me (hopefully with some guilt in the yard sale scenario). Josh is insistent that none of this is the true meaning of Christmas and that we should be ashamed of our superficiality. Technically, he is correct, as usual. But I can't help but thinking I am somehow failing in communicating the depth of my desire to just love on every body this time of year. In a nasty turn of events, it happens that my love language is gift giving, and somebody gave me an excuse. This is quite unfortunate for my honorary Jew of a husband (he has been legitimately dubbed this by our close Jewish friend) who prefers to make layaway payments on our monthly groceries so we don't have to spend over $50 at one time, regardless of what we have in the bank. I appreciate his budgety sense of propriety, and the balance he brings to me, most of the year, but come Christmas, I have run into the ironic coincidence that he has more or less run out of work, and every present I buy becomes the incarnation of a power bill or a tank of gas. It's a perpetual conflict for me as I look longingly at my online shopping carts and frantically search for coupons for my favorite websites to somehow justify the piles of boxes on our porch. We tend to find ourselves at odds every so often these days, and if he could only be human for a moment and figure out how much fun The Holidays are, presents and all, we would get along ever so much better. :) It doesn't help that both of our older kids are on an ungratefulness campaign to become Snottiest Offspring of the Year, and he is desperately tired of being argued with and chastised by two know-it-alls in Converse and Bobby Pins. I get that. I really do. They really deserve coal and switches these days, but I am fairly certain that at 15 and 16, I didn't deserve much more, and it was about that time that I was surprised with a green leather coat that was the answer to all of my childish prayers. Obviously since my Wonderful Husband was the picture of a perfect youth, he not only was never mouthy and insolent, but he also never got a Christmas Present after he was 10, which resulted in his pragmatic approach to a giftless holiday. Maybe I will get him counseling sessions disguised as golf lessons for Christmas. That might be the greatest idea I've ever had. Other than rolling the gingersnaps in sugar AND cinnamon before baking (this turned out to be delicious).

So, back to myself, my earnest goal is to have a real dinner in the crockpot before I leave for a long day of work, and to spend all 8 hours brainstorming a way to pay for more and more Christmas presents that will have no ramifications on our heating bill. Obviously I need a raise. Or to take up knitting. I had great intentions to make most of my holiday gifts this year, but all of my creative fantasies were dashed with the onset of a nearly full time job and the allure of a couch that has been sitting lonely without me all day long. Oh yeah, and finally finishing Battlestar Gallactica. Fantasizing myself as Starbuck is a nice switch up from Angelina Jolie, and also makes me feel less guilty for drinking and acting insanely.

I would like to add, lest I frighten off even more friends than my last spew did, that in spite of my pain, I am still quite happy, and intend to stay that way, in spite of my status as Mrs. Grinch and the stress of hiding online purchases. I love this time of year, and not even snotty teenagers or fiscally responsible husbands can steal away the giddiness of waking up to a glowing christmas tree, the smell of pine needles in the vacuum, and a puppy chewing on ornaments that date back to the late 1970s. I love my family, my friends, my puppies, my job, my whole life. If I have to hurt a little to pay the bill for having this good then I guess that's ok. This is heaven. All we're missing is snow. And some home cooked food. And more presents.

Things That I Miss

It's The Holidays. There's pretty much nothing about The Holidays that I don't love, unless you count little squabbles with a "somewhat petty" husband about the cost of Christmas Gifts and Holiday Feasts, or not having enough leftover stuffing to really feel quenched. But overall, I just adore this time of year. This year is nice, because for whatever variety of unjustified reasons, and a healthy dose of prozac, I am overall, as happy as I can remember being. Maybe it's the ridiculous puppy that wakes me up in the morning chewing on my arm - or was that my husband doing a zombie impression? Or maybe it's the smell of Peppermint Dreams, which may be my newest Scentsy favorite (call me shallow). Or maybe it's sorting out 17 boxes of glorious Pendleton Blankets and being able to tell the story behind each one because I am totally geeking out and reading the blanket books in lieu of Wisdom Searches every day. Sorry Dad, but Proverbs got worn out. Anyway, I am content, but not in a things-are-ok way, more content in a things-are-warm-and-fuzzy-and-even-if-you-are-a-little-bit-of-a-jerk-it's-nothing-a-gingersnap-latte-won't-fix kind of way. The one pang of sadness I have is for the friends, and the family that I haven't or won't see this season. I miss my besties from back home, even though back home is really here, now, I miss lunch (and breakfast) at the Mustang Grill, Karaoke and crispy chicken salad at the Whitebird. I miss sledding with 20 people and hot chocolate and snowplowing down sheep creek road in a pickup. I miss dark nights on friends couches with cheesy movies and doing dishes in hot sudsy water with my best friend. I miss BBQed turkey and Backwoods Cigars. I miss hockey practices, hockey games, expensive Canadian Lattes that have some magical ingredient I still haven't found anywhere else. I miss my kids still thinking everything was cool, instead of nothing is cool. I miss making chai lattes every morning to be picked up en route to work by only the most privileged of friends, who probably didn't even like chai but liked the excuse to stop by. I miss so many things, but look forward to recreating some memories with new friends, like smashing together Gingerbread Hovels and stacks of hundreds of puffy sugar cookies in indeterminate shapes. I can't wait to cruise Bend looking for the BEST Christmas Lights and fight with my teenagers over who gets to wear the cool snow pants. I am excited to go snow shoeing at night, in the dark, seeking out a bonfire with the aid of a warm thermos full of hot cocoa and schnapps. And I am excited to go home and visit at least some of my old friends. Some places you can never really go back to, and that's ok, I've still got the smells and sounds and warm fuzzies in my head. But dropping in at Christmas for a hug and a frantic download of community gossip is enough for now. I can say that my Auld Acquaintances haven't been forgot - but I'll still raise a cup of kindness for Auld Lang Syne.

Things That Make The Holidays

At the risk of offending my family and some of my very best friends, I have to tell you about my Thanksgiving. I hope that by offering an early disclaimer, in which I protest that I have nothing but the best of intentions in entertainment and humor, it is my deepest desire that the caricatures I paint with my words will be taken as lightly as possible, and with the understanding that I enjoyed this holiday immensely, and EVERYONE that came to my house. I have hurt very dear friends with my careless words before, and sincerely try to not repeat that offense, having learned my lesson, but understand that not everyone enjoys being lampooned. I, conversely, will take attention in any form. Anyway, in an effort to avoid offense, I think I will just avoid naming names in my story. Y'all know who you are anyway.

Somebody, several weeks back, had the great idea that since there was a possibility of work conflicts, we should stay home and invite the Entire Universe to our house for Thanksgiving dinner. Honestly it started out more innocently than that, when the hope was that an incredibly awesome job offer would compel a certain fire fighter to start academy the day after thanksgiving, precluding us from leaving town, but what really went down was that a somewhat underpaid retail employee had to work all Thanksgiving night and into Black Friday morning, even against her ethical opposition to the shopping frenzy. And initially it wasn't the Entire World that was invited, but a few very dear friends and a limited assortment of family. Of course some of these invitations were issued in the confidence that some of the friends and relations would not travel so far to visit Bend and our messy little house, but what happened was they did, and they brought their cousins and uncles and sisters and definitely their dogs. It was a happy little group that we projected, and even as it gradually evolved to somewhere around 27 people, 5 canines and a rabbit that somehow kept sneaking back into the house to fool the puppy and the three year olds into thinking his turds were coco puffs, it was still going to be fun. How can a group NOT be fun when you are mixing four generations of Jews, Evangelicals, Nazarenes (or whatever it is my parents are), Heathens and Cult Members (sorry Em), in a 12x24 room? Oh yeah, and the unaffiliated that showed up from Mexico at the last second. I will leave it to you to assign religious preferences to the remaining groups.

As people started trickling in, it was all crazy and fun and chaotic. The number 10 can of olives was barely enough, even though 4 of my siblings were unaccounted for, I guess between my dad and my own offspring they compensated. Long before dinner was served we were all stuffed from the beef stick and potato chip potluck that perfectly complemented the perpetual football game that was provided by a Brand New set of Rabbit Ears. Turns out that inviting the Single and Lonely dude from Ace Hardware to your Thanksgiving has it's perks. God bless employee discounts. I even got to watch some of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which makes the holiday more or less complete for me, even if Justin Beiber didn't show this year. I really can't give enough credit to a certain set of parents who basically did everything, including buying most of the groceries at Costco, stuffing the turkey, peeling the apples, tasting the stuffing and expertly sprinkling the Apple Salad with red and green sparkles which mark the official kick off of the Christmas Season. Taking one's parents shopping at Costco is ever so much more fun than taking one's husband, especially when he likes to argue about how many pieces of bread and bowls of cereal each visiting cousin would be allowed to have, and whether Tangerines should be split between children or each really needed his own Cutie. Seriously. We were somewhat lucky to have a big enough turkey when aforementioned husband was nigh unto insistent that 11 lbs was more than enough for 27 people since one of them was a vegan. Again I think part of the ultimate break down here, other than this husband fiercely clinging to his honorary Jew status, is his basic disdain for gravy and the misconception that Everyone Else in the World can also live without seconds.

By the time we all circled up to say grace, we had more food laid out than we had room for, and as an interesting side note, I would like to point out that a certain Jewish family is the one that brought the ham. Irony, anyone? I was a bit curious as to how the traditional Christian grace would come off in such mixed company, but was pleasantly surprised that everyone joined in heartily except for the vegan (I think that is his religion as well as his dietary preference) who refused to hold hands. The heathens (that were not me) were especially moved by a certain patriarch who issued his obligatory thankfulness speech, and even the non-messianic Jews chimed into the Amen that was in the name of a Jesus they don't particularly care for. It was remarkable for me to see the tolerance, even fascination of several sets of people for the other religion, without the ugliness of judgement, except for when one mother mentioned that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday and not a biblical celebration and another mother took offense that Baby Jesus was being mocked... But I think the gist of it all was that The Holidays are all about family and friends, and like a certain dad said, if family is the foundation of life, and friends are the siding and roofing and all that jazz, and if you follow the analogy out, I think he's pretty darn right, considering a house wouldn't be much good without one or the other, and even if one of the walls is a little crooked, or you have a crumbly spot in your foundation, it's way easier to fix it than to start all over. Somebody get that vegan some cement patch! What was so beautiful to me was watching people make choices all day to respond with grace to things that would normally make them uncomfortable, like a certain mom not staring at giant ear gauges, and a certain husband eating gravy in spite of himself. Not that there weren't moments of shock and horror, like the atrocity of cold mashed potatoes when dinner got bumped back, reactions and overreactions and little unspoken trifles that maybe went home and bloomed into full blown family discord, but for the sake of the holiday, we all pulled it together. It was crazy. It was crowded. It was beyond chaotic, but for this one year, I wouldn't do it differently. I might not do it the same ever again either, but that's only because I am ready for the next Holiday Adventure. Hopefully by then we will have a bigger house.

Also, I have to mention: The girls killed the boys in a neck-and-neck game of Trivial Pursuit.

Things That Make Us Different

Because I am a woman full of good ideas and intentions that rarely come to fruition since I generally forget my ideas before I get out of bed in the morning, I posed my family a semi-challenge to come up with something each day this month that they were thankful for. Really it wasn't my good idea at all but something I stole from someone much more awesome than me on Facebook, and it was only a semi challenge because I forgot to interrogate my offspring daily to find out what thing had truly blessed them that day. Probably my forgetting was somewhat intentional, since I didn't want to hear Kizzie say how she would be thankful if she was allowed to see her friends, or have Aspen give me an I-don't-know-what-you-are-asking-me-can-I-have-a-snack look, or have Halle use the opportunity of my undivided attention to describe the plot of a movie that she is thankful that she really really wants to see in graphic detail. To be fair, Halle did post thankful things on her Facebook, and once even mentioned her sisters, which I have a sneaking suspicion was a hack job by her younger sibling.

In spite of losing track of this project on the family side, I have been trying to keep up with daily mentions of things I am thankful for, and generally speaking, they are frivolous and superficial, like peppermint lattes and Dagny's whiskers. When I really consider what I am thankful for, it seems so general and overarching to dwell on four healthy children, all the bills paid, and a warm house to sleep in, although I am overwhelmingly grateful for those things. I guess I have been trying to focus on the small, specific things from day to day that make me happy. Puppy cheeks and festive coffees definitely do this for me, as much as the peace of mind that being taken care of does. While I haven't kept up with the kids about their thankfulness, I have brought this issue up repeatedly in discussions with Josh, when it seems valid to point out my newly acquired grateful perfection that he clearly isn't equaling. These discussions have opened my eyes to a couple of things: namely, that I might be a kind of frivolous and superficial person, and also, that different things make different people happy. When I ask Josh what (and throw in a meaningful "if anything" jab) he is thankful for, his responses are precisely the ones that I feel go without saying. A healthy family, no major financial concerns, blah blah blah. When I accuse him of being vague and non-specific, he points out that his gratefulness is quite specific in that he is thankful for OUR healthy kids and not the general population of healthy kids, and it's definitely more meaningful than a peppermint latte. Touche. While my basic instinct (which of course I follow up on) is to berate him for "not valuing the little things" and letting life pass him by, which is CLEARLY happening, it begins to dawn on me that for a caretaker personality like Josh, nothing makes him happier than the security of being able to provide for his family and know that we are all ok, even if that means providing puppy kiss experiences and peppermint lattes. As I realize this about him, it also occurs to me that the recent defeat of job rejections for him is a showcase of his potential failure to provide, even though we have no worries for financial survival and he always finds a way to take care of us. For me, I am happy, I am grateful. I am not worried because I know that Josh is not capable of failing us, whether he gets his dream job or not. But for him, it is a dark and looming possibility. The amazing thing about this is that I realize, suddenly, that I have faith in him, and THAT makes me happy. If you had asked me two years ago to have faith in anything, or anyone, I would have scoffed at you. But here I am, trusting, happy, believing. If you had asked Josh two years ago if he wanted a family of 5 girls, 3 dogs and a rabbit to be responsible for, he would have probably scoffed at you and then beat you up. But here he is, struggling, stressing, surviving. How easy it is for me to sit on my couch-like throne and cast judgement on him for not appreciating the "simple joys" of hot coffee and sweatpants and sunshine in the windows, while he is out in the not-so-warm sunshine shoveling thousands of pounds of rocks to make sure the phone bill is paid, the cars aren't repossessed, and I can have my darn lattes. Shame on me. That Josh, in spite of all he has gone through with his quest for a job, and the disrespect of snotty teenagers that he supports with no credit given, and the opposition of 5 women to his sense of manly organization and functionality, is still thankful for our health and security and survival, is somewhat remarkable. It isn't that Josh doesn't have things to be thankful for, it's that his view of life right now is so different than mine that we are made happy by very different things, and while we both have valid points, I am somewhat ashamed for demanding his thankfulness for the silly things that make me happy. In short, I guess I have come to the realization that his thankfulness is something to be thankful for, and him in general, beyond his strong arms and even stronger opinions, the man behind my happiness is pretty amazing. But don't tell him I said that.

Things That Flatter Me

Really this title is somewhat inappropriate, since I have only one "thing" to write about that can be in any way considered flattering. I have several unflattering things I would like to comment on, including intelligent husbands who are still as dense as rocks, sewing and menstruation. Let's begin with the flattery though.

 Back when I was a tiny young mother and still gleaning a sense of fashion, which by now is as well rounded as my seamstress skills, I bought very few items of clothing in which I would be caught dead today. This is partially due to the fact that I couldn't squeeze one calf into a size two now, and also because they are just not that cool. Maybe for 1997, but not 2012. I did buy one thing, back in the olden days, that I still have. One of the reasons I have kept it is because my little sister has hounded me for years to give it to her, which equals cool status regardless of current trends. This stand alone item is also still cool because Robin Wright wore it in Unbreakable with Bruce Willis, and as we all know, there is nothing in an M Knight Shyamalan movie, or that the Princess Bride would wear, that goes out of style. Ever. Anyway, this specific article of clothing is a tan leather jacket from the Gap, and just yesterday, I received this picture from my sister, of the identical jacket that she bought off of eBay. 

Buttercup, er, Robin Wright in my jacket
And I was flattered. Slightly deflated since I no longer have that One Thing that she wants, as I already gave her the smaller size (loathe) of my favorite belt, and she adopted her own collection of (also smaller, also loathe) Liv Jeans and we even have the same Frye boots (ok, these I copied from her, but I still feel like I should get credit for her over all sense of style). We could be twins on pretty much any given day, as these items are pretty much the only things we both wear constantly, except I would be the ginormous twin and she would be the little cute one that makes all my favorite clothes look good. (super loathe). How did I turn the ONE flattering thing into a non-flattery. The heck. Maybe the unflattering things will also reverse on me. Let's try:

About super-smart husbands that say really dumb things: I have an amazing husband. Like, bring me coffee at work, take the puppy potty in the middle of the night, rub one foot while we watch zombie shows, awesome husband that every girl should be jealous of. One of his rare flaws is his aptitude for saying EXACTLY the worst thing ever to a girl. Like this for instance: "Don't give that jacket to your sister. It will fit you again eventually." What the poor man doesn't understand is that the jacket still DOES fit me, and I can even squeeze a hoodie under it if I don't want to bend my arms at all. Which I frequently don't. Just because I can't button it doesn't mean it doesn't fit. It's a jacket after all. Meant to be left open all carelessly with a scarf and sleeveless shirt that allows at least some movement. Doesn't this man realize that I have lost 13 pounds this year? Collectively of course, over the last 12 months or so. And I may or may not have gained a few back, but that doesn't take away the loosing part. Really.

Another unflattering thing is sewing. At least for me. I can work with words. I kind of like to mess with them and bend them around to say something that at least somewhat resembles the abstract mess that is my head. But fabric? Especially dollar-a-yard, laugh-in-your-face, deny-your-dreams fabric. That's the thing about dollar-a-yard fabric that I found out. It's soul purpose in existing is to make an utter fool out of you when you try to translate some totally awesome thing in your head into a totally awesome thing out of your head. Today I was mocked repeatedly by some pretty vintagey fabric that worked well as table cloths for my wedding party, largely because my sister was the one handling it. But I put one finger to the stuff and it's like it wanted to punish me for thinking I could sew. So today, since my bean soup turned out ok and I am still feeling domesticish, I tackled this vision of a bed skirt I have had in my head for the last several nights as I lie awake missing my Tylenol PM. It only took me 6 hours to find out that I have not the slightest idea how to make a bed skirt, but by then I had resorted to using safety pins to FORCE the stupid cloth, in assorted pieces, to do what I wanted. I ended up with this:

It is still mocking me. But to make sure it didn't think it had won the battle, I also made a cover for an ugly couch pillow and patched a queen size fitted sheet. Which is no small feat, especially when the hole is dead center and you have to feed like 100,000 feet of flannel under the pressure foot on the sewing machine to find the spot. I won the battle, and if mom and dad complain about a ferocious amount of thick stitches that I used to attach the patch, I will  probably just pull the bed apart and point out the safety pins in the bed skirt. Sewing is definitely not my most flattering skill.

Perhaps all of these things are particularly unflattering today because it's That Time of The Month, and pretty much everything in the world is ungracious right now. Except sweatpants. It's that glorious moment in time when sweatpants become the Sexiest Thing Ever. And if you say they aren't, you know that you have taken a huge gamble with your life and will probably find yourself categorized with the smart but dumber-than-poop husband. Today was probably not the best day to decide to sew away all of my hopes and dreams. It was probably a terrible day to try on the new skinny slacks I bought at Old Navy yesterday. I found myself chuckling sardonically that I had actually been concerned that a 10 would be too big as I forced my enormous rear end into them. Refusing to admit defeat, I got them on. And since I had worked up a sweat to get into them I decided to wear them for awhile, until I lost feeling in both of my legs and nearly passed out trying to get them off. I'm thinking they run small. After I had escaped the skinny pants, I was so exhausted that I just put on the pair of jeans on top of the pile, which turned out to be another bad idea since they were the smaller size that fit me for like 5 minutes last week, before I re found some of that 13 pounds. I guess it was a really good time to sit down in my super hott sweatpants for a good cry. Another thing to NOT do at this time of the month is clean the kids bathroom, or even consider it, for that matter. All I did was think about it, and I got so irritated that I actually looked up reform schools on the internet.

The salvation of this unflattering day came in the unexpected form of a text from my little brother, asking for my fashion input on a pair of golf shorts. Obviously my first advice was just don't. Golf shorts are rarely a good idea, unless you're putting together a geek costume for Halloween, or you need a gift for an effeminate cousin that you hate. But if he MUST wear golf shorts, I helped him select between the lesser of two evil plaids. Gabe is lucky that he's cute enough to pull off golf shorts and a psycho-stalker mustache. If he stays in his room. But it was flattering that he reached out to ME for my opinion, unless he was inferring that I was the only one un-cool enough to speak golf short etiquette. That concerns me greatly.

Things That Are Warm

Ok, so, some days I am overwhelmed with this fantastical desire to be a grassroots domestic goddess, cooking everything from scratch and blowing my family's collective mind with my awesomeness. I have discovered that such mind blowing is usually better achieved with a Papa Murphy's Pizza and Root Beer. In spite of this well earned knowledge, sometimes I still endeavor to appease my down-home urges, and in the instance of this frosty morning, once I found out I was out of canned beans all together, I decided to make this awesome soup recipe with dry beans, which are cheaper, but ultimately, maybe just as unhealthy since they are not organic, blah blah blah. Anyway, I didn't soak the beans over night, and since I am still recovering from the two failed pots of pinto beans, I decided to try something new and actually read the directions on the package. Weird. Apparently there is a quick soak method that involves boiling the beans for a few minutes and letting them stand for an hour, after which I will crock pot the heck out of all of them until dinner time. I will let you know how it goes, and even if it tastes crappy, I will probably dress a bowl up and tell you how awesome it was because I have already experienced more than my share of humility this week. 

I am sharing this recipe with you, cut and paste from a Facebook Chat with my cousin (the one who likes low quality Thai Food), because it's much quicker than transcribing, and y'all know how I like to cut corners. I have made the recipe (as it follows) before and it is darn good. Especially with corn bread (because obviously, I am cool) on a frosty night when the leaves smell sweet and are crunchy under your feet. I am pretty excited about eating it tonight because I remembered that I bought a bag of Fritos in a weak moment the other day, which will be fabulous all crunched up in it. If the dry beans work out good, I will be pretty happy. If not, well, there's always Papa Murphy's. 

Taco Soup

This is totally Aunt Anna's recipe.
In a crock pot, combine:
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 sm onion, diced
2 cans Mexican Style stewed tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 can corn
1 can olives
1 packet taco seasoning
Simmer all day on low. Or, just cook in a pot if your crock-less.
Serve with corn chips, sour cream, and grated cheese. And corn bread, if you're cool.

My Very Industrious Morning, which consisted of pouring unmeasured amounts of various beans into a pot and adding water, is fueled by a very large, very awesome cup (newly acquired from my workplace) of coffee that I was forced to embellish with Irish Cream since I forgot to buy regular cream last night. There is something almost naughty about drinking this early in the morning, but since it was forced upon me, I guess I won't wallow in the guilt for too long. Besides, it was supposed to be my day off, but I talked my boss into working me in for a few hours so I can afford the Super Adorable snow globe we're selling at the store. At this point Josh keeps asking how many hours he needs to put in to pay for my job, which is kind of silly, since he really only has to work like a half a day to keep me in business there. I mean really, it's a small price to pay for all the cool stuff I am getting.

Tomorrow I am closing at work again, and since I came home to such rousing appreciation (read: no leftovers for mom) for the delicious enchiladas I made them last night for dinner, I will probably make something equally as sumptuous tomorrow. Or I might make my sister's Tortilla Soup, which is a recipe that everyone should have. I have had it several times, and lost it repeatedly, so this morning when I asked her for it again, she just texted me photos of the recipe card. She's getting smart. But now I have to look harder at the little pictures. Maybe I will do her soup next week. Is one soup night a week enough? Maybe tomorrow is a roast night. Or maybe it's a kids-eat-chicken-nuggets and I maneuver my way into another $9.95 prime rib dinner at Timbers, which, second to their happy hour finger steaks, might be the best deal in town. The last time I engineered that set up, Josh got creative and fed the kids one of the frozen "manicotti" that he bought at Costco, which they will only eat if we call it lasagna, since it in no way resembles "real" manicotti, which is a long held Stecker family tradition and I am sure I will share with you at some point. In the mean time, I need to go finish this Irish Cream and check my pot of beans. 

Things That Make Me Feel Old

This post is loaded with TMI. I am just letting you know up front. But I have to get it out. Now that it's been two weeks and the shame has subsided. I have to come clean.

I wet the bed. I did. The horror of it took several days to wear off, but when I finally admitted it to my sister, she reassured me that everybody does, so I came here, to find affirmation that I am not the only one. Tell me, please, even if you have to lie.

My sister also guessed the weird thing about this particular bed-wetting. "were you dreaming about peeing?" "um, actually, yes." "yeah, I've totally done that." "Thank God." Really, my dream was a bizarrely real visitation of my triumphant return to stage in a reprise of The Music Man, except this time I was playing the lead, and I really did dream that I was in that tiny ladies restroom in The Woodland Theater that we painted periwinkle blue in 1993. I told my sister that since the heinous event, I have decided to never take Tylenol PM again, which I had tried in lieu of a half of a hydrocodone to keep the pain at bay long enough to fall asleep. Turns out it also keeps bladder urges at bay, and then you go and dream about actually sitting on a toilet, and you wet the bed. Yes, I will forgo the sleep aids so that I can lie awake in paranoia of my newly acquired bed-wetting skill. In my own defense, I will tell you that I was so completely shocked, that I actually woke up mid stream and caught myself. I know, TMI, but I warned you! The trick was hiding the evidence from my husband, who of course woke up to me changing clothes (THE SHAME!!!) and wanted to cuddle. Gross. Who cuddles with bed wetters? Seriously. I had to endure at least 5 days of self-flagellation, which also involved investing in $50 in cranberry juice and capsules so I could blame an imaginary bladder infection on the incident if anyone (namely Josh) found out about it, even though I washed my wet pants First Thing the next morning. It seems like after being married for almost two years, a little bed wetting wouldn't be a big deal. Kind of like the time you threw up on his shoes, or when you had a really unfortunate case of diarrhea after a trip to Mexico (also a closely guarded secret)... just one of those things, right? The problem is, I married Mr. Clean. To my knowledge, in the two years since I have known Josh, he has never taken a crap. On the toilet or otherwise. God bless my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chronic Diarrhea, my pooping habits have become a mystery long discovered. I blew any fantasies he had of a crapless wife right out of the (toilet) water. I feel bad about this, but have to live with the shame. Having a husband who doesn't even break wind is a very far cry from the boyfriends of old who could win a county wide farting contest with a single bowl of chili. The last man I lived with taught my girls to compliment each other on the tone of their passing gas, and the push behind manly belches. Fast forward to the immaculate Mr. Weston, and nary a toilet seat is left up. In fact, Josh puts the lid down, on every toilet in the house, compulsively. This has become a marital issue between us (interesting switch up on the toilet seat debate, no?) due to an incident when I was about 7 years old and in a Very Big Hurry to use the toilet and somebody had put the lid down. All I remember is my Great Grandmother on her hands and knees mopping it up. There is a good chance my Great Grandmother had actually passed away long before that, and all I can assume is that her ghost returned to shame me from the grave. So toilet lids remain UP in my house. Now and For All of Time. Considering he doesn't even use toilets, I don't know why he has to go around closing them all for the rest of us.

While I am making confession, I would feel bereft to leave out the culmination of All Embarrassments (at least up until two weeks ago), when our family was staying at a Pastor's house and I got to sleep in the bedroom of the slightly older and reverently idolized daughter, just so I could wake up with a frantic need to pee in the wee hours and wet my pants all. over. the. floor. with my hand on the door knob of her room, standing parallel to her once slumbering head. She moaned and rolled over. I have hated her ever since. Interestingly enough, this same girl became my arch nemesis later on when I lived in the cult. But that's another story.

Now that I have gotten all of that off of my chest and on to your victimized mind, I almost feel better. I hope the rest of you get the chance to wet the bed and feel as human as I did. And as old. And as ashamed. I spent the entire next morning texting friends about bladder incontinence and whether I should rush to the ER or buy stock in Depends first. I even checked into reserving a grave plot, now that the inevitable is rushing up at me and I'd like to spare my kids that worry. Alas, now you know my deepest, darkest shame. If you keep reading, I hope to never trouble you with my bladder troubles again. (But you can bet if Josh ever cuts the cheese you're gonna hear about it!)

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