Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Post-Holiday Stuff

So, to recap, Christmas Eve we ate the traditional Baby Jesus Dogs -

And then Tito spent Christmas Morning throwing up Baby Jesus.

Yeah, my bathroom's gross. Shut up.

Tito's birthday was the 29th, thus signaling the beginning of the six-week period out of every year when both of my sons are the same age, since Pie was born in February of 2002 and Tito was December 2002. We took the kids to Evil Mouse Pizza

where we saw games like this one:

And Pie threw down with some funky dance moves

and I nearly wet myself laughing.

Pie, just as an aside, has apparently reached the age when he's way too cool to be seen with me. I took the Apes to my kickass dentist last week, and when it was Pie's turn to go in, I tried to be all hip and I put my hand out for a high five as he walked past me.

He paused, shook his head ever so slightly and said, "Nnnnoooo."

Anyway, next, my parents came to stay with us for New Years', and it was fun. It was the stress that I couldn't write about because it was going to be a surprise for the Apes, and I know Beeb occasionally reads my blog, so I didn't want to chance it.

Really, my parents are wonderful, fun and laid-back, and the complete antithesis of my Inlaws. My kids adore them the way kids should adore their grandparents, and I don't have to worry about demands of perfection being placed upon me or about my parenting skills being publicly scrutinized.


Sometimes it's harder to make plans when everyone is flexible, you know? When I make a few suggestions and "anything's fine" with everyone, then I feel like I have to make the ultimate decision for the group and it makes me really nervous. Why, I don't know. I get that, in all likelihood, it's totally in my head. Nobody's going to be mad at me, I don't think, but trying to make plans for the Apes and my parents - and keeping track of everyone - is extremely stressful for me.

Anyway, one of the mornings we all (minus R and Tito) went to the mall to see The Blind Side. We stopped at Panera (which around here is called St. Louis Bread Company) to buy a baker's dozen bagels. Our order went something like this:

Ok, can we get ... um ... four, five? Five. Five Cinnamon Crunch bagels, three of those cut in the bread slicer and put into individual bags. Then we need threeeeeee, three Asiago sliced the regular way, no wait, one of them in the bread slicer. How many is that? Seven? Eight? Ok, then, just five more of the Cinnamon Crunch sliced regular. Is that right? Yeah. Yeah, that's good.

The cashier didn't roll her eyes or sigh audibly. Why? Because they deal with people ordering shit like that ALL THE TIME.

She did, however, ring up each bagel individually, which would have come out to a price slightly higher than the Baker's Dozen price listed on the menu. Then she walked over to the bread slicer (still well within earshot, mind you) to slice three Cinnamon Crunch and one Asiago bagel and place them into separate bags.

Mom began to freak out a bit. If you've hung around me for any period of time, you may have seen me in one of these little mini anxiety attacks. Apple doesn't fall far, folks.

Sarah. Sarah, she's overcharging me. She charged me for each bagel.

Mom, chill, she knows what he's doing. There's probably a discount key she hasn't pressed yet, or something.

No, Sarah, she's charging me for each bagel. Should I tell her she's overcharging me? I'm going to tell her she's overcharging me.

Mom, you can't possibly be the first person in the history of Bread Company who's ever ordered a total of thirteen bagels. I'm sure there's a system in place for these situations.

She's going to overcharge me. She's not doing it right. I know she's not doing it right.

Mom, her nametag says ASSISTANT MANAGER. She's been trained. Calm down. Seriously.

Sure enough, she adjusted the price before giving Mom the total, so it was cool, but still, I'm tempted to rent the DVD of Rain Man and check the Deleted Scenes to see if there's one called "The Bagel Incident" that was juuuust barely not Rain Man enough to make the Director's Cut. Wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Another thing my parents do that drives me mental is combine small amounts of different kinds of cereal into one box. I poured myself a bowl of Fruit Loops and got this -

Honey Loop Flakes. GAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!

Back me up, readers. If all cereal was the same, they wouldn't make 200 different kinds, right? Come on. Some days you're feeling Honeycomb, other days you're feeling Frosted Flakes. It takes a lot out of me to determine what Cereal Mood I'm in at 6:45 in the a.m., so when I commit to a cereal, I want it to commit to ME. In other words, when I pour a bowl of Raisin Bran, I better not find no damn Cheerios in it. These things should NOT be tampered with. Can I get an Amen??

Ok, so other than The Bagel Incident and Honey Loop Flakes, my parents' visit was great. The next major event in my life was my 39th birthday, last Wednesday. It really didn't hit me until a few days later, on Dr. King's birthday. He's always looked older to me in pictures, but he was 39 when he died. Of course, not everyone is born to change the world as he did, but it made me think Shit, what have I contributed to the world in the same amount of time on this planet?

Well, I'm working on it.

Meanwhile, I am LOVING my job at Squish. My bathroom looks like a Squish shop. Hey, I need to be able to talk about our products from my personal experience, right?

I even hennaed my hair with Squish hair color.

PLUS, as part of my job, I got to come up with some awesome party ideas for February (finally, I'm getting paid to plan parties!!!) and I'm going to need the local branch of my fan club to help me out because there's a contest involved, and you all know how competitive I get.

(ADD moment - What the fuck is this Karen Walker I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Turn The Tub Around bullshit???)

I was nervous for a while because I was hired as Seasonal and there was some question about which Seasonal folks would get to stay on after Holiday, but I must have charmed them with my wit and the Je Ne Sais Quoi you know and love.

That said, I haven't fully unleashed Penny Karma on them yet. In fact, I am hesitant to let the coworkers in on Behold My Brilliance because it would mean that I couldn't rant freely about work-related drama, should I perhaps want to, someday. I'm still enough of a noob to not have any idea what goes on between the full-timers, and I don't care, but if any fun shit comes up that I think you all might appreciate, I'd like to be able to share it, so I'm kinda torn.

Remember how I struggled with joining my high school alumni on Facebook? It's like that. Somehow I've managed to keep it clean on FB and so far nobody's outed me as a liberal-minded pottymouth blogger, but Jesus Christ, there are days when I'd love to drop an F-bomb and watch the Sh** storm that would undoubtedly ensue. You bitches know how much I hate censoring myself.

I've let the coolest of my co-workers read my previous post because for some reason Inlaws came up as a conversational topic, and Lord knows I've got plenty to contribute to THAT conversation. She dug it.

I've let a different co-worker know that my friends call me Penny, because I realized out loud that it feels weird to me to see Sarah on my name tag. I forget my own name, sometimes, because I'm always addressed Mom or Mrs. Karma or Parent of (insert name of Ape). And I think of myself more as Penny than as Sarah. At least I want to be more Penny than Sarah, especially in social situations. Penny's the one you want to hang out with, trust me. Sarah has interpersonal awkwardness and occasional gut-wrenching social anxiety.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My First Post-Holiday Post

Christmas is over. But the stress isn't.

Christmas morning Tito barfed in my bed. Sure, it was gross and a minor inconvenience, but since it meant I could stay home with a sick kid instead of spending the day you-know-where, I'd say I got the better end of the deal.

Well, scratch that. I missed the fantastic meal MIL made. And I kinda did want to see the reaction to the gifts I put together for the Aldikids.

Remember the not-so-subtle gifting feud I've continued for years? Basically, the Aldis have a history of shitty gift-giving. When I say shitty, I mean their gifts are clearly bought on Super Duper going-out-of-business clearance and are either ridiculously age-inappropriate, discontinued and therefore impossible to find the accessories necessary to make them fun, defective and almost always unreturnable. They've done this to us for years. I've only been paying attention to it since 2001. It's so obnoxious.

When Beeb turned 4, they gave her a train engine that blew bubbles that, according to the box, was for 18 months and up. She's not a two year old boy, geniuses. So we tried to return/exchange it - at every store in the greater metropolitan area. NOBODY had this stupid thing.

Then we remembered that Mrs. Aldi's creepy dumpster-diver brother and his creepy toothless midget wife used to work at a store called Grandpa Pidgeon's that went out of business years ago. They bought up a buttload of 99% off crappy toys on Clearance and stuffed them in a closet, pulling them out as needed to give as gifts. Mystery solved, Scooby.

This comes from a 2005 post, in which I reference the following email I sent to my friend Renee back in 2002:

Well, I'm sure you remember Mr and Mrs Aldi who are notorious for giving us re-gifted, crappy, age-inappropriate and incorrectly sized gifts (remember my Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt from the Juniors department and the Bubble Train for ages 18 months+ for Beeb's 4th birthday?) that were purchased on clearance and put away for a gift-giving occasion that could be months away, rendering the shitty gift unreturnable and worth about 33 cents in store credit if you can even determine which store it was purchased from? And forget a gift receipt since you'd only get what they paid for it back, which probably isn't much more anyway. We end up giving the gifts they give us to Toys for Tots, which means I have to figure out a place to store it for 6 months.

And I'm sure you remember how we attempted to rise above this gift-giving inequity and continued to buy cool gifts for their daughter (Aldigirl), such as a really cute wooden dollhouse and a Rainbow Princess Barbie, both of which were met with Mrs Aldi muttering "oh greeeeeeeeeeeeaaat, more little pieces for me to pick up..."

Well, we decided we're going to beat them at their own game. We look for toys with lots of parts that are completely annoying on clearance and put them away to give to Aldigirl. It's like a sport, and hubby and I are great at it. In fact, it's brought us closer together as a couple. At one point we found the Baskin Robbins mini ice cream maker on clearance at Target, but then we found it at WalMart for 20 bucks, so we returned it to WalMart (hee hee) and made money on the deal.

Then we found Cootie Jitterbug - a battery-operated, noisy and annoying version of the original, and put it away for nearly a year until Aldigirl's birthday. Thank GOD they didn't have a party for her again this year. Every year they try to cram like 12 grownups and 7 kids in their house. No, Reverend Aldi had a conference in LA, so they actually purchased a plane ticket and took Aldigirl to Disneyland for her 4th birthday. Whatever.

Anyway, we presented Aldigirl with her gift at Easter (in a non-reusable slightly torn gift bag, as I had covered every detail) and to my delight, she shrieked "I ALREADY HAVE THIS GAME!!!" Gleefully I imagined the scenario that we had endured so many times before - standing in line at the return counter "um, yeah, I got this as a gift and I need to return it..." "yeah, RIGHT! we haven't had those on the shelves for 6 months! You can have a dollar in store credit, if ya want it..." "no, thanks..."

Well, apparently Mrs. Aldi knew exactly what it was worth since she probably bought it at the same time we did, and her reaction was " love that you can have one upstairs and one downstairs..." Hilarious! And the best part was that I was in the bathroom at the time, where I could hear everything and yet freely snicker without fear of an embarrassing social faux pas. I was so tickled by my triumphant victory, I don't even care if she's onto us. I suspect she is.

Over the years they've presented the Apes with some pretty kooky shit. One year they gave Beeb an uncharacteristically cool gift - an MP3 Player called the Juice Box which played little cartridges with videos and music on them. When we went to look for more cartridges for it, we found it at KMart in a clearance bin, discontinued, and we soon came to the realization that it would be a major pain in the ass to find the cartridges and accessories necessary to do anything with it. Thanks, douchebags.

And then last year, they hit a new low. From my 1-6-09 entry:

I didn't think there was anything lower than giving a kid a shitty gift, but there is. It's giving a kid a really awesome gift that doesn't work. They got the boys cool AirHog helicopters and threw in, as a bonus, these cool-looking guns that shoot nerfball-like things.

At least, that's what they're supposed to do. They don't do shit but collect dust. They don't WORK. The boys were so bummed, it was sad. Who wants to see a sad kid on Christmas?

The Aldis included batteries, which was surprisingly generous. So when we got home (of course I couldn't let the boys open them at Chez Inlaw because they'd shoot them all over and I'd be the worst parent in the world) we put them in, and couldn't get either gun to work. R thought perhaps we should get some NEW batteries, as we wouldn't put it past the Aldis to include some mostly-dead batteries that they'd taken out of one of their kids' toys. New batteries didn't work either.

R did a quick internet search, and found these items on Super Duper Clearance at We kicked ourselves for not opening them at Chez Inlaw so the Aldis could be exposed as the crappy giftgivers they are.

Anyway, finding out what discontinued tchotkes the Aldis gave the kids for Christmas is one of my favorite things to look forward to during the Holidays. And, because I like to make the magic last all through the year, I am constantly on the lookout for shitty clearance rack gifts to give to the Aldibrats. I don't care if I have to hide it in my closet for eleven months, fuck it, I'll smile every time I see it in there.

This year I totally outdid myself.

About four or five years ago I found a huge Thomas the Tank Engine set with miles and miles of blue track. I really don't know why I bought it, other than that it was a really great deal I found at a toy store called Zany Brainy that was going out of business, and Tito already had a million train sets, so I put it away in the garage at the old house (the one we moved out of three years ago), and then when we moved to our new house I once again hid it in the basement inside a garbage bag.

Maybe a year or so later, I found a Whistle and Go Thomas toy on Uberclearance at WalMart, thinking it would make a deliciously annoying gift for Aldiboy, should we be invited to Aldiboy's birthday party. We weren't. Boo fucking hoo.

This year was considerably leaner than last year when R was making phat commission and Santa brought my Dyson, a bigass TV and an Xbox 360, so this year I raided the gift stash (and the yarn stash too, come to think of it - I knitted crappy garter-stitch scarves for the kids' teachers).

Bottom line: Aldiboy got a gift with a whistle in it AND another with a million little parts. Oh, and if the fact that the train set was in a visibly discolored box doesn't clue them in to its age, just wait till they try to find additional parts for it.

Noisy, check. Little pieces, check. Impossible to return, check.

It gave me the same physical sensation of the shamelessly indulgent bliss that you get when you eat too much on Thanksgiving. So totally satisfying you almost feel guilty, but you don't. It was almost like a food coma, except it was more of a Screw You, Asshole coma. I rode that high for days.

And the best part? Out-of-pocket cost? ZERO. It was a muthahfuckin Hat Trick (for those who don't understand sports terminology, it's when a hockey player scores three goals in a game), muthahfuckers!!!

But there's more - I got a $10 gift card in the mail from Kohl's so I thought I'd see if I could find something for Aldigirl. I found a Ralph Lauren purse for $3.74, a wallet for $6.00, and a set of three little rings with pink stones in them for $2.00. I had to spend at least $10 to get the $10 off, so I ended up spending less than $2.00 out of pocket.

But then the purse looked a little bare, so I got a SnowFairy perfume solid from Squish and, the piece de resistance (yeah, I know it's supposed to have accents cuz it's French) - a cute little case from Claire's with four hideous colors of eyeshadow, three lipglosses, and MASCARA. Hee hee!!! I'll bet you anything she puts it on her eyebrows.

I was so bummed that I didn't get to witness Mrs. Aldi's reaction to the makeup, but R said she rolled her eyes or something.

I don't know if it's irony or coincidence, but the Aldis gave Beeb a purse for Christmas too. It's huge. It's zebra print vinyl with a giant pink bedazzled peace symbol on it. It's CRAZY. Beeb loves it.

But because I was home with sick Tito I missed our semi-annual church pilgrimage and the trip to Chez Inlaw, Christmas didn't really feel like Christmas to me. It was just like any other Saturday. I sat in bed next to Tito all day, which, in a way, was a gift to me.

More Post-holiday posts to follow...