Thursday, March 31, 2011

Craft Attack!!!

Julia: Baaaaaaaaaaabaaaaaaaay! Look what I maaaaaade for the tiny dude's roooooooooooooooooom!
Sloan: Stop yelling in my ear. You're sitting right next to me.
Julia: I did these ON MY OWN! No help from you, Jessica the neighbor, or our apartment's maintenance man this time!


Sloan: Cuuuute pictures, sweetheart. What, um, part did you make?
Julia: Weeeeeeeell, I didn't cut the paper, it already came like that. That CUT my working time in half! GET IT???
Sloan: *ignoring* Ah, and you didn't make the frames...did you?
Julia: Whaaaaaaaa? No! You so cray-cray! I stole these from Walmart!
Sloan: ....
Julia: Not literally. I chose my words poorly.
Sloan: *phew* Good. Because remember, you told me the "staplers from Office Max" incident was an isolated thing. So...did you draw those animals?
Julia: No! This was the most intense part, though. *dramatic pause* I cut these animals out of a swatch of animal birthday fabric. *wide eyes* It took me about 2 hours. 
Sloan: Ahhhh, we both know how difficult cutting along the lines can be for you. Good work! *puts arm around Julia* Eh...you're sweaty.
Julia: *sigh* Another day of hard work! *mops forehead with bandanna* This baby is the luckiest baby in the world!!! Hey! Do we have anymore of those chocolate muffins?

I have no segue into the next part of this post, so let's just get going:

Remember YarnFest2K10? Of course you don't. You have better things to worry about. Well, I realized I never posted a follow up. I made yarn garland! YARNLAND! I strung it everywhere. Like here:


And heeeeeeeeeeere:


Whenever people come to my house, they ask me what I'm celebrating by having up such festive garland. WHAT AM I CELEBRATING? I'M CELEBRATING YARN, YOU IDIOTS. 

YARN! 

YOU IDIOTS!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Epic Childhood Tale of Love, Sacrifice and Courage

As you might remember from this post, when I was a kid, I was as delicate as I was beautiful...

In other words, extremely delicate.
And when I was tiny, probably like two or three years old, I LOVED GOING TO KROGER (grocery store) because it meant I GOT MY OWN CART!!!!!!!

They were this exact model! I am an internet sleuth!!!
Thinking back, I can't believe a grocery store would ever encourage little kids to push tiny carts around the store next to their parents...parents who were actually at the store trying to complete task "Buy important food items for the survival of family" and not task "Watch child ram plastic shopping cart into Oreo's display" on their list.

My mom put the most important items in my cart, she said. But come to think of it, I realize that important was synonymous with heavy (a gallon of milk, frozen turkey, laundry detergent). I also observed that all of the other little kids had the same important stuff in their carts, too. That slowed a kid down, alright. But man, those ten pound loads gave us so much purpose, and dare I say, dignity. The way we struggled, we must have looked more like the pioneers than suburban babies in jellies.

I was a good little girl, perpetually terrified of getting in any type of trouble from anyone, even my saint-like mother. I was a steadfast co-shopper. I'd carefully follow mom from to aisle to aisle, white knuckles on my cart, be-glassesed eyes wide and darting like a war veteran. I had two missions and OH HO HO you BET I knew them: 1. Do not knock anything over, and 2. Do not clip anyone's heels.

In my short time as co-captain, I was good at navigating my vessel.

Damn good.

Except for one incident...that which ended my career as a Kroger Kidz Junior Shopper.

To be honest, I don't remember much from that day. Partly because it was so much to take in, but mostly because I was only three years old. Was it a hot, muggy day? Were mother and I giggling as we walked from the parking lot? Was I wearing my favorite pink jumpsuit, the one with the doggy's face on the front that my mom sewed pink glasses onto in order to show me that glasses were so normal, even doggies on sweatshirts wore them sometimes? I can't answer those questions. All I know was that it had been a good trip, and things were nearing the end when, suddenly, I had a vital decision to make.

In the canned food aisle, I was pushing my cart of milk directly behind my mother, as I had done a hundred times before. I felt cautiously carefree (for I was always vigilant), watching the shoppers that we walked past. I was behind mother as we passed a woman pushing a cart the opposite way. The contents of her cart were not only intriguing, but they were brightly-colored: six cases of Otter Pops. SIX!!! Does the grocery store even sell that many? I thought to myself. Is she allowed to do that? Should I tell someone what I just saw? I was enchanted, scandalized, and disgusted all at once. But, determined to appear nonchalant, I forged ahead with my cart, eyes at a sidewards glance.

When I finally looked forward again, I panicked. My cart was fast approaching the back of my mother's legs as she now stood still, reading the back of a can of tomato paste. With the gallon of milk in my cart, I had far too much momentum to stop, but was flanked by the Otter Pop cart on one side and the shelves of Ragu 66 ounce glass jars on the other.

As an experienced Kroger Kidz Junior Shopper, I knew this was my moment, whether I wanted it to be or not. All of my self-training had come down to this choice...a crippled mother? An infuriated stranger? Or the loud clank of my cart hitting behemoth jars of spaghetti sauce? I knew what I had to do.

I swung my cart hard to the left, and it tipped over, careening into the row of Ragu Homestyle jars. The sound of jars falling and bursting was shockingly loud. Mother spun around instantly. Otter Pop lady jumped sideways to avoid the sauce splashing. And, when the last jar's cap stopped spinning, my brave face melted into the distorted, goblin face of an upset child.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" I shrieked, throwing my arms across my face, like I was giving myself some sort of  face-hug.

A quick breath.

"GGGGGGGGGGGGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" My shrieks crescendoed, and I wandered blindly, like a frightened and lonely leper, with my elbows still crossed over my eyes. My mother knelt down beside me to comfort me. She grasped me tenderly for a moment, then pulled down my arms and held me gently by the shoulders.

"Baby," she said softly over my heaving breaths, "you broke these jars, so you need to go find someone to clean this up. Go tell that young man right there." She pointed at a bagger nearby.  I almost fainted with dread. My mother knew me too well...this was well beyond the worst punishment she could have ever given me. Walk over there? Ask him to clean up the mess? BY MYSELF?? I dropped my head in shame and let my glasses slide off my face into the puddle of spaghetti sauce.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOONOOOOOOOOOOMAMAMAMAAAAAAAA!!!" *choke* *gurgle*

By this time, I was pretty sure there was snot down the front of my shirt, on my shoe, and...in my hair, somehow, even though I had a bowl cut (I mean, it must have taken some sort of conscious decision on my part to get snot up there, right?) Anyway, I knew deep in my soul that if I tried to approach that bagger, I would die. However, I also knew that if I didn't do what my mother told me, I would die. Either way, I was truly and sincerely resigned to the fact that my life was over.

I trudged slowly toward the checkout where the bagger was standing with his back to me. It was less of a trudge and more of a limp, because in my emotional state I had managed to lose a shoe. I kept my face down, my shoulders slumped. I tapped him on the knee (remember, I was three). He turned around and then peered down at me with a questioning look. I froze. Then I unfroze.

"HEEEEEEELP MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" I bellowed up at him, grabbing at the neck of my shirt and wrenching it in anguish. I put so much power into that shriek that wobbled and fell backward.

"JUUUUUUST HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!!!!!!!!!!" I closed my eyes and clamored to my feet, running back toward my mom, who was still standing at the mess in the aisle.

He came with a mop and cleaned up the mess while my mom hugged me and made me watch. Amazingly, my sobbing managed to become only louder and harder the longer we stood there. I distinctly remember the bag boy smiling and reassuring me several times that it wasn't a big deal. "It happens a lot. See, it's already all cleaned up!" He threw open his arms like he'd just done a magic trick.

My mother placed me in her shopping cart and dragged my tiny cart along as she pushed me to the checkout. I hadn't stopped crying by then...not even close. Not while we loaded the groceries. Not during the car ride. Not while we unloaded the groceries. I cried myself to sleep on the couch in the living room, still wearing my glasses and one shoe.

That same day, I promised myself I'd never push another cart again, as long as I lived. And, though it's been hard, I've kept that promise ever since. Well, not really, because that was probably a little too unrealistic of a promise to make in the first place. I mean, how else can I get all of the stuff I need at the store? It's just not efficient.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

This is Why I'm Hot

When I first learned I was pregnant I was all like Oh crap, what the...and then I was like Hey I'll roll with it and then I was like blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg but now I'm like Ugh my aching back OH HEY WHAT'S FOR DINNER??? which isn't too different from how I was before.

The marked difference, being 5 months pregnant, is now I really find true, unadulterated delight in consuming foodstuffs. Don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I derived quite a bit of satisfaction from my daily bowl of Cheerios, GrapeNuts, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch combined with chocolate syrup and bacon bits, but it wasn't the fulcrum upon which my happiness was balanced. If for some reason I had to just settle for a half of blackberry pie and some Cheetos in the morning, my day was pretty much the same. However, these days I get the same endorphin rush from back-to-back Big Macs that Glenn Beck probably gets from reading about natural disasters in blue states.

Chocolate chip pancakes. Corn dogs. Salt and Vinegar chips. Blocks of cheese smothered in salsa. These are a few of my favorite things. They make me feel like I have meaning and purpose and that I'M IN LOVE AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT. This isn't just going from Aw shucks to Gee whiz! It's more like...on a scale of zero to resplendent, eating food comes in at a solid nine, only to be surpassed by watching a litter of puppies wrestle each other under the arc of a rainbow on the Fourth of July. 

This is why I've gained ten pounds in two months. Okay, twelve...ish.

EDIT: Fourteen.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

J. M. Rehder, Apologist

I like the idea of being an apologist, mainly partly because it's a serious and philosophical-sounding word, like sophomoric or italicized. There are plenty of things that everyone around me finds unacceptable or even abhorrent, when in fact, they haven't really deserved all the haters. Now, I'm not exactly certain what the definition of apologist is, but I'm guessing it's close to being, like, a really innovative and inspiring person who everyone thinks is really pretty and that is really good at making people see that they were thinking dumb things before he or she came around to help them out. Maybe like Moses or Nancy Kerrigan. Anyway, TIME FOR SOME APOLOGIES:

Unliked Things That Should Maybe Get Liked

Snooki: I'm willing to bet that most people who hate Jersey Shore have not, in fact seen it. I believe this for two reasons: 1. If you saw it, you'd love it. 2. Cable is expensive these days, and who seriously wants to pay $80 a month for 40 channels? Snooki is short and non-white, and while that certainly merits some loathing, look beyond those things into her soul. You'll be surprised to find that the Snooks is pretty nice. She goes out of her way to help her friends out, she doesn't pick fights, and she only gets nasty when some upstate trash starts tussling with her friends. And she's sort of an alcoholic, but I don't think it takes much to get drunk when you're 4'9. I'll bet gargling mouthwash alone puts her in dangerous territory, so how can we blame her for being anything but little-sized?

Used Items (this is in no relation to the person mentioned above): It blows my mind how many people are utterly disgusted by used clothes, car seats, blankets, furniture, etc. Do they, um, know that things can be washed? And, more importantly, do people in America know that the vast majority of communicable diseases can't just hang out on a used, inanimate object, laying in wait to sabotage the next human who comes in contact with it? Except for like poison ivy...or AIDS. Juuuust kidding, you can't get AIDS from that stuff! And isn't that, like the worst thing you could get? So good news, folks, if you're frightened that a pillow at the thrift store is waiting to inject its pillow AIDS into you, you're in the clear! I don't want to even estimate how many items are thrown away because no one wants to use used things, it's truly despicable. I'm not saying eat used things, or take them into an operating room with you, and I'm not saying rub used things all over your child's face. I'm just saying USE THEM as they're meant to be USED and God will smile down from above at his humble and industrious people.

Dog shows: I know it may not compare to the masculinity of a good, looooooooong fishing program, but dog shows are crammed with adorable DOGGIES that have interesting haircuts and stand at attention!! Also, who doesn't love to watch their middle-aged owners trying to gracefully trot alongside the dog while dressed in their "special clothes."
Rap/Country Music: When people are asked what sort of music they like (btw, does anyway ask that anymore? Was that just, like, a late nineties thing?) an overwhelming amount say, "Oh I like pretty much everything, except for rap and country." Ah, so you love gospel music? And acid jazz? Viking metal? NO, you don't like everything, you just like Nickelback, Sara Bareilles, and Bruno Mars. FACT: Most people who are musicians/cool/named Julia like lots and loooots of music. In fact, they like so much music, that they'd never dream of excluding an entire genre, especially ones as huge and dynamic as country and rap, which remember, have been around for more than just the past ten years you've been listening to the radio. It may seem a vast and scary place, but step into the lands of Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, Kanye West, and Mike Jones. Enchantment awaits.

McDonald's: I love this place, and I know most other people do despite their outward efforts to distance themselves from America's original fast food chain. I love Big Macs and I love Quarter-Pounders and the McDonald's fry is the industry standard for deliciousness!! Watching Supersize Me doesn't mean you have to now be a closet McDonald's lover. Just don't binge on fast food until you vomit on a daily basis, like Morgan Spurlock did, and you can still enjoy eating the occasional unhealthy meal! Knowing the ingredients is also essential, in case you're accosted by a hater who demands you explain your nutritional choices to them. Also, MCGRIDDLES!!!!!!
Foreign children in America: Some useless political pundits call them "anchor babies" while some useless normal people call them a nuisance. Babies from foreign countries do things that American babies can't, such as speak in adorable non-English, look ethnic, and wear traditional folk baby clothes. They get my vote. And...a sneaky hug from me, if their parents get distracted looking at coats in the mall.

Utah: Utah is one of the most beautiful and diverse places on earth. And the culture may be a bit stale, but it is certainly in no way oppressive. Let me break it down for those of you who think you hate Utah, when in fact, you just hate telling others that you live there. Utah = Mormons = No fun (omg no alcohol??) = Polygamy jokes = More polygamy jokes. Luckily for you, people who assume Utah is all Mormon, and that all Mormons still dress like the pioneers, happen to be the same people who think that there are only about a thousand Muslims in the world, and that they all live in a cave with Osama bin Laden. Just...let them continue to assume that Catholics and Protestants are the only ones whose religion allows them to drive cars and cut their hair. It helps them through their day.
Cloudy days: The sun, to me, is an omen of a fiery death. I have no desire to behold it's demonic glare. And it makes me all kinds of squinty when I'm just trying to mind my own business.
Jessica Simpson: I love her. She's cute. Why do people hate her? Because she gained weight? Because she's dumb? I don't know about you guys, but if being dumb and fat are the only criteria to elicit hatred en masse, then we are ALL in trouble. Especially the population of Mississippi, if we're to believe the statistics.