Monday, December 27, 2010

A Not so Little "Crack" in the Veneer

So we had a dee-lightful Christmas.

A fun present scavenger hunt that included all of us in our pj's heading down the street as Jake used a GPS to locate a gift hidden in the mailbox. A rare but toasty use of the fireplace. My eating everything in the house that wasn't nailed down. The four of us playing a board game without Molly freaking out and upsetting the board. Bonus: I won!

Good times.

By Sunday I reflected on other small victories:

1. We survived the Christmas Eve Nativity play that Tom and I forced our budding thespians to take part in. They felt they were "above" being in a production (Hello! It's a worship service!) with such "young" children.

Oy vey.

After it was over, Joseph, AKA Jake, handed me his balled-up costume stating, "I'm glad the worst mistake of my life is over with..." May it be so, young one. May it be so.

2. I managed to serve Communion at the 10:30 pm service without a) falling asleep b) spilling on anyone.

3. We made it to church again on the 26th, were even early, and my hair wasn't wet! I felt pretty full of myself knowing that I'd managed to get the family to multiple church services in the span of just 2 days, and from the looks of our not-very-packed sanctuary, I know that was no small feat.

My smugness dissipated as soon as we left the building and I felt a blast of frigid air hit my nether-regions. Yeah, my "new-to-me" suede skirt was completely unzipped. By the time we reached the crosswalk, it had slid almost completely off.

And I thought all of those friendly greetings were just standard Christmas cheer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas from the See Family

The See family would like to say Happy Holidays and a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to you for reading An Inch of Gray this past year!

Anna: Thank you for reading, and for your wonderful comments throughout the past year. I feel like I have new friends from all over. I am so grateful I can write down some of the randomness in my head and that you'll be there to share it with! May 2011 be full of love, peace, and bloggy fun for all of you.

Jake and Molly: Thanks for giving our mom a welcome distraction. We've gotten away with a whole lot more since she started blogging. Just kidding, Mom! Ha Ha! Oh, and if you read any embarrassing stuff about us on here, it's probably not true.

Tom: Thanks for reading Anna's blog. I am glad she has someone else to talk to about pantiliners and kitchen renovations. I owe you big-time.

And yes, I was snapping at everyone by the end of this photo shoot.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Party Like it's 1985

From 15 year old Anna See:

It's almost Christmas and I still have a TON of presents to buy. Thinking perfume for the girls at school. "Beautiful" for Jamie, "Opium" for Lori and "White Shoulders" for Karen. Not sure about "Georgio." Liz wears it and it gets all up in my nose. Barfs me out.

I have Mom's new VISA with MY NAME on it so I am SET. She got if for us when she couldn't stand taking us to the mall one more time. Seriously, I thought she was gonna cry the last time we went together. Or kill us big time.

Not sure how much all of this is going to cost but, hello, I am NOT going to be the only one not giving presents on the last day of school before break. Nobody even pays attention to teachers that day, it's all about the PRESENTS. I don't think Mom and Dad look too close at the bill anyway.

This year is weird friend-wise. I mean for Valentine's I can buy all my friends (guys too!) a carnation in homeroom for a buck a piece and put a nice note on it, but for Christmas I don't want to be all like, I love you-- hug hug hug here's a gift and then make someone feel weird if they don't have one for me. There's always balloon boquets but the last time we went in together and did that for Jodi M's birthday, I don't think the office ladies liked it. A guy in a gorilla suit showed up to deliver them. Weird.

No presents for guys this year. No way. Things are looking up guy-wise since I'm a sophomore now, but who would I give one to ANYWAY? I mean a few guys ARE paying attention to me, which is good FOR A CHANGE, but it's not like I have a boyfriend or anything. I pretty much know I will NEVER, EVER learn how to kiss. I mean at this point it's too late. I should be totally broken in with the kissing thing. But if I try it NOW, it will be totally obvious that I've never done it before, so that really rots.

Too bad I never got invited to a boy/girl party in junior high. Then I wouldn't even have this problem. I know they did spin the bottle AND 7 minutes in Heaven. I kid you not. Of course, that would have totally freaked me out. I mean, what if I ran off crying? I cry about everything and I wish I DIDN'T! That would have been just as bad as when I threw up on Mrs. Compton's desk in the middle of French class in 7th grade. What a popularity-disaster!

Totally know I'm gonna turn out to be a nun, even though I'm not a Catholic. There are a couple Seniors who have been paying attention to me this year. Unbelievable, I know! I guess it's 'cause I'm not as fat this year or maybe it's because I have semi-cool older brother and sister. I don't know. I'll take what I can get. One thing I know: NO KISSING EVER.

I did figure out a great way to flirt a little with these guys. Just walk down Senior Hall like you're going somewhere important. Do this on a day when you are wearing EITHER: long straight black skirt, white blouse, black pumps and long fake pearls OR: Britches Rugby shirt, tight jeans (zip ankle or pegged) and Reebocks. Sweater vest okay, too.

Do NOT make eye contact, but if one of the guys says, "Hi Anna," look surprised. Open eyes wide like you suddenly remember something and say, "Oh my gosh, (put name here) you were in my DREAM last night! Isn't that so weird??!" Give no details and keep walking. Maybe smile ONCE over your shoulder. Not sure why this works, but I'm having good luck with it. This is almost as good as asking a guy to teach you how to drive stick shift on his parents' car.

Okay, so I have NOOO idea of what to get Lisa. I mean she is my BEST, BEST, BEST friend and she has those super long nails and does that thing where they are white underneath the tip and clear-ish on top. I mean, really, what does she want/need? Yikes! I hope she gives me a good hint!

NO ONE gets teachers presents in high school. Only brown-nosers.

I know I won't get anything on MY list anyway. It's not like my parents even care what I ask for. I feel like we are always the last family on earth to get or do anything. Can any of us SKI???? Of course not. You don't learn to ski while visiting your GRANDPARENTS for New Years and banging pots and pans with a spoon at midnight. Other families go on SKI VACATIONS and even fly on a plane to get there. Pisses me off.

Maybe, maybe we'll get a new VHS tape, but who knows? I do want to go by Erols and see if I can buy "It's a Wonderful Life" on Video. None of my friends have heard of it. I've seen it a million times on TV, but I want the rest of the family to get to see it, too! I cry every time, of course.

And this year, I want to stay in town for New Year's. I hear Tommy E. (not our school!) is having a party and I WANT TO BE THERE! Last year I missed it because my mom and I got lost on the way and we had no number to call, and there was no phone booth around anyway, so I spent midnight crying on my bed in the attic thinking about how miserable my life is/was. This year has got to be different!!!!!

There's always a Youth Group party. I LOVE LOVE LOVE having youth group friends AND school friends. It is totally fine not going to the same school as the youth group friends. I mean, each Sunday night it's like a little party with catching up and awesome music and skits that crack me up! I heard that James and Steve are skipping youth group and going to 7-11 to buy sodas, or smoke, or something WORSE. Man oh man. Do I believe it?

One thing I DO believe but am seriously SHOCKED about is what happened in gym class last week. We had a sub and didn't even have to dress out. We just sat on the bleachers in the little gym and talked. Heidi and Marie came in late with Big Gulps. They kept singing this song: "Jose Quervo you are a Friend of Mine" and laughing their heads off. I asked someone what "Jose Quervo" was and they said ALCOHOL. Do you think they had ALCOHOL in the Big Gulps? They were acting so weird the whole time. What if they become big-time druggies?

Well, I gotta go. We have a sock hop Friday night after the basketball game and I have to figure out an outfit. I could where my Forenza sweater Craig gave me for my birthday (yeah, I didn't kiss him, either!!) but the whole outfit has to be something: 1)that can get sweaty 2)that won't ride up/look stupid when we get on the floor to gator during that song "SHOUT."


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Balls, Balls, and More Balls!

Get your minds out of the gutter.

Here are some pictures Blogger didn't seem to want me to add to my last post.

Kitchen: (Yes, there are fake pears hiding under there)

Living Room: (HUGE wreath on window above couch)

Some of these silver balls are 47 years old.
Dining Room

So now you have what the See house is looking like this Christmas.

What is YOUR go-to look for Holiday Decorating?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Enough Decorating

You've heard what I think about "Good Enough Mothering."

Today I thought I'd write about "Good Enough Decorating" for the holidays.

I love a pretty house for the holidays. I love the ritual of getting out the ornaments and remembering where they came from and what they mean. I love the sparkle and the magic of a decorated house. The look of a darkened room with a sparkling Christmas tree in it? Aaaaaaaah.

The thing is, I really LOVE taking decorations down again in January. Why? My house suddenly feels more spacious and I can breathe more easily again.

I have realized that being surrounded by STUFF irritates me. You see, I would love for my house to look like a magazine spread, with artfully arranged throw blankets and a mudroom with cubbies. But the reality is that blankets aren't what's being "thrown" around here, and I feel like I will one day be overtaken by shoes and backpacks and PAPERS, oh the papers!

I know know know that within the next decade I'll be missing the days of little muddy shoes on the kitchen floor. I know I'll be pining for family to come and share an over-the-top Christmas display with, but for now, I'm just trying to contain the chaos and stay calm.

As a result, when it comes to my holiday decorating, I make a plan that is soothing, festive and inspiring and doesn't make me feel ovewhelmed.

Here's what works for me:

1. Keeping the Colors Calm.

I stick to a color palette that compliments what I already have going on in the house. This doesn't mean chucking all of my sentimental childhood decorations, but it might mean I tweak them, changing a bow here or there. For example, for the past few years I have used all silver ribbons and bows. Before that they were green velvet, and before that red. I find that I am less stressed when my decorations go well with whatever is happening in my everyday decor.

At your house, Christmas may be a rainbow of bright colors or a slew of jolly Santas, and that is perfect! Subdued colors: whites, silver, pearls and blues work for me.

2. Editing:

I also don't put everything out. I might just enjoy something for a little while when I get it out of the storage tub, and then put it back in. Just as my poor mom's sense of style got frozen in the 1980's, because that's when she died, some of my decor did, too. I keep it to enjoy and reminisce over, but I never feel guilty if I don't put it out.

3. Working with what's already there.

I also like to work with what I have, so I don't have to move my everyday items into storage.

Lemons in glass jars on the mantel?

I just take out the lemons and replace them with blue and silver balls.

Hurricanes filled with seashells Jan-November? I (gently!) throw Christmas balls right on top.

Even my fake pears in the kitchen get livened up by Christmas balls. When January comes, I just skim the balls off (sounds gross!) and leave the rest where it is.

Also, I don't decorate the kitchen much, because that room is the center of most of my clutter-based anxiety. It is where the papers pile up, the shoes are stored, and the backpacks hang. It is the only way we get in and out of our (garage-less) house.

Adding an Advent wreath and these 3 PB magnolia wreaths is about all the holiday cheer I can handle in there. I save most of my decorating for the more serene areas of the house.

Having 2 Christmas Trees:

This started when, as a control freak I wanted to separate the kids' ornaments from "MY" more "matchy" ornaments. I have relaxed a bit and now some of my favorite ornaments on the "grown up" tree are my kids' paper, glitter and yarn "Names of Jesus" ornaments-- all 24 of them. They are treasures.

Still, having a full-sized artificial tree in our upstairs hallway allows us to hang ALL of the kids' treasures. And the collection is growing. Macaroni creations? Santa? Yoda? Ariel? Yankee Stadium? (Oh yeah, that's Tom's)-- Bring 'em on! The more the merrier.

Before, I felt we had too many ornaments; now, when I see something cute for the kids during the year I buy it for them knowing there is a place for it, but necessarily on my, I mean THE, downstairs tree.

Knowing When to Bag It:

Take our electric white candles in the windows. I got tired of the suction cups releasing and sending them crashing to the ground. This year, our "outdoor" lights will consist of our 2 Christmas trees glowing through the windows.

Also, this year I just didn't feel like hanging a garland on the bannister. It is one of my FAVES.... evergreen, little white lights with sterling baby cups and spoons hooked on with silver bows. Trust me on this, it is sentimental and lovely!

But right now the stairs are a way station for everyone's crap, and I just didn't feel up to it. Kind of like putting lipstick on a pig, you know?

Today this is how our stairs are decorated, and this is a VERY GOOD day:

Who knows? Maybe Tic Tacs and Army men are the next light blue and brown in the world of decor.

Going Deeper:

Lest you think I'm going to say it's all about reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas and not getting caught up in the hoopla of over-the-top decorating, let me disabuse you of that notion.

Would a woman who blogs about her hair roots really be talking about "going deeper" in that way? Well, maybe, but not in this post. The best decorating tip is one I learned from my mother a long time ago. It makes any Christmas tree more beautiful and therefore any house more lovely.

When hanging ornaments, I go deep into the branches. Each branch is laden with ornaments with plenty of gold and silver balls to reflect the light. Some of these glass balls date back to my parents' first Christmas as a married couple 47 years ago. Hanging ornmanents deep within the tree gives a tree sparkle and dimension.

And to me, a well-dressed tree is the most special decoration of all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tender Snuggle-Time Conversation

11 yr old son: Mom, why aren't you funny in real life like you are on your blog?


Holy Crap, he reads my blog!? With Pubic hair? Potty talk? Perimenopause galore? Quickly ascertains he has read only the few posts I've shared with him. Whew.

What do you mean? Auntie (my sister) thinks I'm hilarious. Other people think I'm funny.

11 yr old son: Ehhh...I don't think so, Mom. I've never heard you say one funny thing in my entire life.

Sheesh. Tough Crowd.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trash Talk: Mars and Venus Style

Tom asked yesterday: "What days do the trash guys come?"

We've lived in our house 8 years, people! 8 years! Don't you think this is information he should have?

Lest you think he makes me do all the trash duty at our house, let me explain that we have a really cushy refuse situation. The trash guys come all the way to the top of our driveway, so our trash and recycling cans stay in the same place at all times. We just drop our trash in at anytime. So I guess Tom wouldn't really NEED to know when trash day is, but still.

FYI: He doesn't know how to check our home voice mail either. If I die, the messages from all the single ladies out there will just have to pile up. Sorry, girls.

Speaking of trash, we have a difference of opinions when it comes to car trash, too.

Last Christmas when we were looking for my sweet new ride, I said I loved the car but couldn't see where I'd be able to hang my trash bag.

Tom: "What do you need a trash bag in the car for? Won't that just encourage you to have a trashy car?"

Me: "Huh?"

"I need a bag to put our paper towels in when we're done with them," pointing out that I like to keep a roll of paper towels in the glove box.

Tom: "Why do you need to keep paper towels in the car?"

Me: " case we spill our food or drinks, Sherlock."

Tom: With great flourish, "Well then maybe we shouldn't eat or drink in the new car!"

Wow. Not sure what planet he is from, but it's certainly not mine.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Fashion Photo Shoot, Take 563

So I was thinking about starting to post photos of some thrift store outfits and get feedback from readers.

I'd be all: "brown boots-- $7.50, sweater-- $4.00, Ann Taylor Loft jeans-- 6.00, Bracelet-- 50 cents" and you'd be all: "Looks great! Don't feel bad that you spend $28.00 on jeans for your nine year old daughter but buy used clothes for yourself. You're looking f-i-n-e."

But I couldn't quite master the whole "taking a picture into a mirror thing," so I asked my 11 year old if he could pry himself from the computer for 5 seconds to take a picture. Whine. Complain. Huff. Puff.

He took this pretty much from Siberia, so if you want to get out a magnifying glass you can see my outfit. Fortunately the distance also shrinks the laundry piled up on the couch.

Then I decided to try what every woman aged 7 and up is doing these days-- and tuck my boots into my jeans.

My jeans aren't "skinny jeans" and the boots have an unconventional zipper situation, so this was harder than it might seem. To gain leverage, I had the audacity to sit on the couch.

THIS did not sit well with Shadow the Dog. Notice the glowing red eyes of the Devil's Spawn:

You see it was 4:18 and she eats dinner at 5. If I dare sit down between the hours of 4 and 5, she torments me by climbing on me and barking until I feed her. Yes, this is the dog we got instead of having a 3rd child. Waah.

So as I tried to shove my boot-cut jeans INSIDE the boot, I had a stinky fish-breath dog all up in my business.

My son, The Reluctant Photographer, suddenly got the undeniable urge to document:

While she may look semi-innocent standing on the floor in the rest of these photos, please KNOW that when my son pressed the button on the camera for each picture, the dog was on my lap. By the time the pictures took, I had shoved her ungently to the floor. BTW, who put my mother's hands in these pictures? Tail wagging. Happy to torment:

Looks can be deceiving:
Going in for the next lunge:

Get out of my crotch! How long does it take to put on a stinking boot?
This smile is fake. I am not amused.
Losing my will to go on. Does the dog look guilty?

I have an idea. Maybe if I just drink my tea she'll go away.


FINE! I give up. I will never sit down again. You win. Why don't you just eat yourself into a vomitous stupor?!

Here's the final pic, with one boot on and blurry.

Not that you can see the boot anyway. Sheesh.

Oh what we endure for the sake of fashion.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Say it Ain't So, Joe!

We did some holiday decorating this weekend. I'd love to share it with you if I can figure out how to take a decent picture.

If you look at our nativity set, which sits on the same mirrored shelf that it sat on each year in my home growing up, you would see that Joseph has been replaced by some greenery and a silver ball.

Seems that the book wreath I spent 5+ hours making (!) fell, sending Joseph crashing down on our ugly tile floor.

Am I terrible to be inwardly glad it was Joseph, not Mary or Jesus? I mean now I feel like I can leave it up there as-is, but it would be just too weird to have only Joseph and Jesus there, or Mary and Joseph. By the way, I realize Jesus is missing a foot. That was a pre-existing condition.

Poor Joe. Seems like he has always had it rough. Can you imagine what it was like for him down at the local bar when he had to explain that his fiancee had been impregnated... by GOD?


And now people like me act like he's a disposable part of the nativity. I shouldn't let my son Jake read this post because he just landed the part of Joseph in this year's church nativity play-- a non-speaking role, of course, in keeping with Joseph's quiet stoicism. Meanwhile, Molly gets to be the star of the play. No, really, the STAR, all twinkly and speaking-party and everything.

Oh well. I guess I could keep what's left of Joseph-- a head and two hands-- but the head looks a little too John the Baptist-y for Christmastime, don't you think?

If you didn't have a chance to read my last post, on 10 of my favorite things, check it out here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Well, Gag Me With a Candy Cane

In the event that typical dog barf has lost its allure for you, I have a solution.

Leave 125 plastic-wrapped candy canes (intended for the homeless shelter) on the kitchen counter when you go to work. Come home to a naughty dog and 8 piles of barf spread thoughtfully throughout your home.

I can assure you that peppermint-scented dog barf is more tolerable than standard grade.

Bah Humbug!

Okay, so I'm a little amused/annoyed that my son wants me to buy him a $39 LEGO Advent Calendar "so the family will be able to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas," but he doesn't want to fork over his own money to buy a present (at .50 each!) for his mom, dad and sister at the school Christmas Shop.

Oh yeah, this same kid just dropped $30 PLUS SHIPPING on another LEGO set that will arrive today.

BTW, the Christmas Shop is called, "The Spirit of Giving."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Okay, so I'm no Oprah, but I'd love to do what a lot of other bloggers are doing and share some of my FAVORITE things with you.

1. Gummy Vitamins for Adults

All that throwing up I did while pregnant may not have been morning sickness. It could have been my prenatals. Vitamins make me barf. These don't. Yay.

2 Spray Paint. Oil Rubbed Bronze, Heirloom White, Blue Ocean Breeze

I just want to kiss my spray paint. Is that weird?

3. Frozen Chopped Onions

Did you know you can buy frozen chopped onions at the grocery store for about $1 a bag? I haven't chopped an onion in 10 years. They are always on hand and you don't have to worry about them getting all sprouty and weird in the pantry. Or are those potatoes? Whatev.

4. Clairol Root touch up.

It's cheap, it blends perfectly, and it saves me big bucks. Tom did if for me last night, oh yes he did, and it looks fabulous!

5. Melatonin.

I have a child who has a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. A friend who has a child with ADHD recommended melatonin and my child loves it. 3 mgs a night and it's so much easier to drift off. Please check with your doctor if you want to try this.

6. Moroccan Miracle Oil. My hairdresser calls my "hair coarse and unruly." Waaaah. This oil helps smooth things down. The oilier the better.

7. Modern Family. What's not to love? Cameron in bike shorts? Gloria's accent? There's something for everyone on this show. Anyone have a spare Season One DVD sitting around?

8. Jane Austen. My fave author by far. Strong heroines, witty banter, idiotic relatives-- kind of like Modern Family without the modern. Great movie adaptations, too!

9. Craigslist. I don't think I'm smart enough to do eBay, but I have been trying to earn some Christmas money by selling things on Craigslist. Purging makes me happy.

I'm excited to try Craigs Easy, a new bookmark that organizes photos of what you have searched.

10. Used Clothes. Inexpensive AND good for the environment (especially since I've been depleting the ozone with all that spray paint). And if I start to look out of style or shabby you will tell me, right? RIGHT?
I hope you've enjoyed my list.

What are a few of YOUR favorite things?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Car is About You

Okay, so I did something wild and wacky... and got personalized license plates. I put them on today but haven't driven anywhere yet.

Vanity plates amuse and delight me on other cars, but I've never imagined having them on mine. And instead of choosing something clever or cryptic, I've just identified myself in a semi-cute way on mine. Eeek.

Short of telling the blogosphere exactly what's on my plates, let's just say I'm readily identifiable. Sooo, if I ever want to do any on-the-go nasal excavation, run red lights, or yell at my kids, there will be people in my town who will know it's me. Eeek.

I've never been one for flashy displays. Perhaps this stemmed from my utter misery when my boyfriend Steve brought back a heart-shaped lapel pin for me from the high school church choir trip. I really liked Steve, who was a hot-tamale senior to my awkward sophomore self. Alas, we never kissed. You can read more about my thrilling teen dating history here.

Oh how I missed him during those 3 days while he strummed his guitar and sang with the church girls who could actually carry a tune. But even my ardor for Steve could NOT compel me to wear a "Steve's Girl" pin on my jean jacket. No sirree. I guess I didn't want to be labeled. You know,"Nobody puts Baby in a corner," or on a lapel for that matter.

But maybe I've been looking for a little flash. After all, my beloved red car was out of stock when I went car shopping. Maybe personalized plates are my version of red.

In truth, I did not care for my old plates and couldn't bear to keep them for the next dozen years. They prominently displayed the letters "MF" on them. I may be a "M" but I've never considered myself to be an "MF."

I just hope I can get up the nerve to leave the house at some point.

If I do, you can bet I'll be on my best behavior.