Random Saturdays – Pokemon Birthday

When I told my dad that Lego wanted a Pokemon birthday party, he said, “The only problem with that is you gotta catch ’em all.”  I didn’t even know Pokemon still existed!  Amanda’s little sister loved them when she was about 6, but she’s in her 20s now.  Apparently, kids still love Pokemon, even though they’re harder to find and cost more.

Since we now own our lovely home, I we decided that a birthday party would be the perfect butt-kicker motivation to get unpacked.  We’ve been working really hard and making alot of progress, but the boxes seem to be multiplying.  Still, thanks to the beauty that is Pinterest, I got a lot of great ideas for Lego’s birthday party and I’m hoping he’ll have fun.

One thing Pinterest couldn’t help with is the whole broken home thing.  Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that Lego’s bio-mom moved as far away as legally possible.  The kids had alot of trouble adjusting to the move, the new house, the new school, making new friends, leaving their dad, etc.  They’re finally settling into things, which is great, but school functions, holidays, and birthdays are still a bit weird.  The kids have one birthday party with their bio-mom and one birthday party with us.  I asked Lego if he wanted to invite any friends from school, if he thought anyone might be willing to drive out that far for the party.  The school also has a rule that you cannot bring invitations to school unless you invite everyone in the class.  We’re fine with inviting Lego’s entire class over, but we didn’t want him to feel bad if nobody in the class wanted to come since it’s so far away.

Also, Minecraft is in football this year.  He has a game on Saturday, which would be the normal day that we’d have a birthday party.  So, we talked it over with the kiddos and they decided that we would go to Minecraft’s football game on Saturday, we’d do a family outing Saturday afternoon, we’d have Lego’s birthday party on Sunday afternoon, and Lego would invite two kids who live in his bio-mom’s neighborhood to the party.

It made me sad that it had to be so complicated, but it makes me grateful that our kids are so mature and considerate of each other that Lego didn’t want to overshadow Minecraft’s football game and Minecraft didn’t want to overshadow Lego’s birthday party.  Lego didn’t make a big deal out of who would or wouldn’t be at his birthday party either.  He was just excited to see what I’d do with the cake, decorations, and games and he’s looking forward to seeing any family and friends that do show up.  It warmed my heart and made me feel like a big ol’ Jigglypuff!

Stuff People Say – Princess Ear

I wanna be a princess! I wanna be a princess!  I wanna be a princess!

–sung by Dora repeatedly for 10 minutes straight, until…
*commotion, tears, and yelling*

I don’t wanna be a princess no more ’cause I keeped saying, ‘I wanna be a princess,’ and then I fell and busted my ear and need a bandaid now.

–Dora, our clumsy and logical lil girl

Random Saturdays – Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

FULL DISCLOSURE – Jack and I are blogging buddies.  He gave me an advanced review copy of his eBook, but did not pay me or beat me into the agreement to review the book.  He requested only that I read the book and give an honest opinion of it during the week of its release.  I agreed because I wanted to read the book before everyone else.  Suckers!

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise will be released on Tuesday, October 20th.  This is the third book in a series written by my buddy, Jack Flacco.  I will say right now that this book made me cry.

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise

From reading the previous books, I’m fond of Ranger and his rag tag group of kids.  I call them kids, but by the third book, even Jon, the youngest, has lost all traces of childhood.  I guess you have to grow up pretty quickly during the Zombie Apocalypse.  I wouldn’t know, having never been through one and intending to kill myself immediately upon hearing of at least five dead people who are eating living people.

In this book, Ranger and his crew hear about a place called Paradise where he and the kids might finally be able to live in a world without 24 x 7 adrenaline battles.  Could it be too good to be true?  Before they could figure that out, they’d have to get to Paradise, and travelling anywhere in the Zombie Apocalypse is a trying task.  They meet new people and run into old allies along the way.

As with the others, the book starts out in media res, so it’s hard to get a grip on what’s going on at first.  I assume that’s intended by the author to make the reader as disoriented as the characters must be.    When Ranger’s group stumbles upon another group, they seem to grow close quickly.  There’s a reason, but it was still a bit too quick for me.  It felt like that part of the movie where you see something happen quickly with one line as an explanation and you yell at the screen, “Oh, the book goes into it much more than that!”  Moving through the story, there are some flashbacks that explain a bit more of Ranger’s past than before, which was nice.  Although, I’m not sure that it moved the story forward much at this point.  When the group decides to set out for Paradise, the real action starts.  Jack excels at, “Woo!  That was close!  Oh crap, it’s not over yet?!?!” moments.  It’s quite a battle to get to Paradise, but when I saw how many pages were left before the group could get into Paradise, I knew that I wouldn’t be enjoying a peaceful ending any time soon.

If you like your endings tied up in a pretty package, then you will hate the end of this book.  Initially, I was mad, wondering if there were going to be more books even though this was supposed to be a trilogy.  Then, I let it settle in and came to accept the ending as fitting to the zombie genre in general.  Good zombie books and movies do not have pretty endings.  They always leave you with questions and they always leave you wanting more.  For Ranger Martin and his group of adolescent comrades, it would be unfitting to have the group live happily ever after.  Overall, I’m pleased with the series and this was a pretty exciting read.

I will admit that there are some misspellings and poor grammar sprinkled throughout the book.  Jack wrote and published the book himself, so it’s hard to get everything as sparkling clean as expensive publishing houses require.  Even then, a certain red-headed wizard in a very well-known book series was referred to by the name of the actor who played him in the movie, rather than the book character’s name.  I have read some other self-published works that were just too painful to slog through at all, no matter how much I wanted to like the book or how free the book was.  If’ you’re unsure, go ahead and read the first chapter on Jack’s site.  Then, buy the book.  It’s a relatively quick and easy read that will keep you engaged and excited.  I’m grateful that Jack gave me the opportunity to read and review the book in advance.  I’m still waiting to see how he tackles leprechauns and unicorns, though.

Stuff People Say – Football Diet

Minecraft — I think my butt is shrinking.

Me — Why do you say that?

Minecraft — Or maybe my legs are shrinking.

Ben — Why do you think your butt and legs are shrinking?

Minecraft — Because my pants are falling down.

Ben — Or you could be losing weight from playing football.

Minecraft — Yeah, I probably am shrinking from playing football.

Random Saturdays – Food Love

I recently decided to try subscribing to Love with Food.  Each month, you get a box of snacks sent to you along with coupons and information on that month’s charity.  With every food box sold, the company donates one meal to feed the hungry.  Considering that similar snacks sell in the vending machines at work for around $2, the price and cause make the monthly Love with Food box very reasonable.  Honestly, I liked some of the snacks better than others, but that’s another plus of the food box.  You can try things without committing to jumbo bags of something that you might not like.

September was the Smarty Pants Tasting Box.  Like I said, it was hit and miss, but here’s what I thought:

  • Adult Complete Pack by Smarty Pants – These were gummy vitamins, but since they had gelatin and I don’t really like gummies, I didn’t try them.  I gave one to Dora and one to Lego and they liked them.  You have to eat like, 6 gummies to get your daily dose of vitamins.  So, it might be a better option for kids, who need smaller doses.  For now, I’ll stick to my regular multivitamins and supplements.
  • Sea Salt Caramel Apple by Bear Naked – Delicious!  I tried it alone and stirred into some Chobani Pumpkin Yogurt (bought separately).  Brilliant combination!
  • Mini Peanut Butter Clutter by JimmyBar! – This made me feel like I was eating a very fancy fig bar without the cakey part.  It wasn’t too sweet, not hard, not gloopy.  I was impressed.
  • Cookie Thins (Cake Batter OR Chocolate Chip) by Mrs. Thinsters – I had Cake Batter flavor in my box and they were super delicous!  The cookies were crisp, thin, vanilla-y, and buttery.  They may have been too buttery because they left a bunch of butter on my fingers.  I told myself that made the cookies healthy, since I wasn’t ingesting all of  those calories.
  • Pretzel Crisps® Gluten Free Original Minis by Snack Factory® – I have had these before, but not the gluten free variety.  They were very crunchy, but had a weird aftertaste.  I’ll stick to regular pretzel crisps, but this seems like a good alternative for people with celiac’s disease.
  • Cheddar n’ Stuff SUPER CRACKERS by Funley’s Delicious – The package says the crackers have broccoli in them, but that you won’t be able to tell.  They are yummy and they are cheesy.  I didn’t taste broccoli, but I tasted a deeper flavor than what you’d expect with a cheddar cheese cracker.  I’d buy them in the store, for sure.
  • Harvest Snaps Snapea by Calbee – These were the most surprising item in the box.  They tasted like fancy potato chips.  I don’t mean fancy potato chips with crazy flavors or anything, just the kind of potato chips you find in the organic section of the grocery store, you know, preservative free, “organic”, blah blah blah.  I had no idea that peas could taste like potato chips!
  • Fruit Snacks by YumEarth – These were yummy and cute.  While I don’t like gummies much, I do like fruit snacks, but I don’t eat them.  Dora and Lego are supposed to avoid fruit snacks because they already have tooth problems, so I didn’t feel bad eating these.  They were good and a nice snack, but I don’t think I’ll add them to my regular grocery store trips any time soon.

If you’re looking to try a food subscription, this is a nice one to try.  I’m pretty happy with the results, so I’m going to keep my subscription.  In fact, I think I’ll go ahead and do the year subscription for the biggest discount.

Random Saturdays – 6 Month Anniversary

Ben and I celebrated our six month anniversary by forgetting it.  Once I remembered, I thought about doing a blog post about what I’ve learned over the past six months.  Maybe I could even check in each year.  When I started thinking about what I’d learned, I realized that I hadn’t actually learned anything.

I don’t mean that in a cocky way.  I’m not a teenager, so I don’t think I know it all.  I just paid close attention to all of the crappy marriages around me while growing up and well into adulthood.  I offered a shoulder to cry on and gave advice when requested (and sometimes when not asked, which was a whole other lesson that I had to learn).  I knew that I didn’t feel like dealing with egos and crap for the sake of saving a relationship and not damaging children and not having to fix mortgage stuff and legal stuff, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Then, Ben came along.

Suddenly, my ego wasn’t importantly.  I’d rather be the first to say, “I’m sorry.”  I’d rather be loved than be right.  I’d rather openly communicate and sort through past events while planning future action plans.  Even when my mind is running away with anger and sadness and confusion and frustration, I’d rather go for a walk and burn some calories while reminding myself of all the things I could’ve done to help the situation and all the things that Ben has done in the past that proves that he probably did not spend the past thirty-some years of his life plotting how to hurt me the most at this exact moment in time.  Let me tell you, when your female hormones are crazy, you have slept 16 hours in a week, your joints are burning, and your brain feels like it’s going to burst through your skull, it can be a wee bit difficult to think sensibly.

So, the most important lesson I’ve learned over the past six months is just that I am willing to give up on alot of my ideals in order to have something that’s manageable.  There is how you live when you are making all the calls and there is how you live when you are sharing your life with others.  You have to shift your thinking from, “If this crap doesn’t work, I’m throwing it all away to get into a situation where I can be in charge!” to, “I have to find a way to make this work.”  I’m a big proponent of closing the door on the past and moving on, but I’ve finally learned that closing the door isn’t always the best option.  Dangit!  I totally lied at the beginning of this post.  I did learn something, afterall!

Random Saturdays – Am I an adult?

I think I’m an adult.  As far as my age goes, I’ve been an adult for awhile.  I’m relatively mature and responsible, I guess.  I’ve never felt like I was doing adulty things until recently.  All I ever talk about nowadays is work, the house, and the kids.  I’m so friggin’ adult now and it’s really weird.

Worse than that, I’m an old adult.  My mother-in-law recently had eye surgery and was telling us about all of these treatments she has to use for her eyes and for scars and whatnot.  I have to use those same things just so I can see and so that my skin doesn’t fall off of my face.  I get injured anytime I do anything, and I do mean anything.  I pulled a leg muscle walking around the couch.  A few weeks before that, I pulled the same muscle while walking upstairs.  WALKING!!!  I mean, come on!  I’m always tired and I’m always in pain.  I peek through the blinds when I hear people outside, trying to figure out if they’re messing with my lawn or the mailbox.  I am forgetful and easily confused.  I complain about anyone under the age of 35 who doesn’t have the exact same pop culture knowledge as I do.  I am an old, crotchety, and sickly adult.  I’m grateful that there’s an old folks home at the end of our street.  Ben and the kids have already promised to visit me when they have to admit me to the place in the next 10 years.  They’re so sweet!

Right now, my priorities include not screwing up at work, house training the puppy, working with the puppy on her food aggression, and unpacking the house.

Work – Ugh, work.  It’s killing my soul.  I hate my job so much right now.  Most everyone there does.  The company is just making some terrible decisions that are causing us all to work more for terrible results.  I need a new job, but I have too many other things going on right now.  There will be another round of layoffs before the end of the year, so my schedule might allow for some job searching soon enough.

House Training – She’s a puppy.  She’s about 4 months old.  She’s gotten so much better, but is scared of the new doggie door that we had to install after she broke the first one. Ahem  We’re still trying to get her not to pee out of excitement or submission the first time she sees you each day.

Food Aggression – My god.  She had shown no signs of food aggression other than gobbling her food down so quickly that she often chokes.  As a test, I stuck my hand in the puppy’s food bowl while she was eating, which you should be able to do if your dog has no food aggression.  She started with a growl and it just escalated from there.  The second day, she went absolutely nuts – biting, jumping, and scratching me.  Ben confirmed that she’s more aggressive with me than him.  I’ve read up on it and am going to try some behavioral training.  If there’s no improvement after a couple of months, we might need to consult an expert.  I don’t want to have to worry about the kids looking at her the wrong way while she’s eating and getting their faces chewed off because of some ingrained primal dog instinct.

Unpacking – Yes, we’re still unpacking.  Ben has been focused on getting our internet, cable, and electricity specified to our needs.  I’m focused on setting up the rest of the house.  Between work, injuries, and the Texas heat, I’m usually too exhausted or in too much pain to do much.  We did get the entryway halfway done this weekend.  So, that was pretty exciting.  I wanted to get it set up before the kids went back to school.  You can see my entryway inspirations on my Pinterest page.  I’ll post some photos once it’s all done.

Yeah, so that’s what I’ve been up to.  I also weigh more than I ever have in my life because I bounce between eating nothing and eating everything depending on my levels of stress, exhaustion, and tummy troubles.  The doctor told me she wants me to lose 10 lbs before my next check up.  I told her that I had too many other things to focus on right now and would deal with my weight later.  She told me again to lose 10 lbs before my next check up.  *sigh*  At least my blood pressure is great, right?  The little things do matter!