Monthly Archives: January 2009

Bubble Gum Upside Down Cake


So, I’m still grumbling over not being able to watch the Superbowl. I am seriously considering taking a small radio and earphones into the Benedum with me. The problem will be keeping from screaming “Wooo!” or (hopefully not) “Motherfucker!” in the middle of Jersey Boys. I asked the boy to text me every time something important happens. Of course, he will probably forget about…oh…two minutes in. And really, his idea of what’s important will consist of, “We won”, whereas mine is more like “Every single play, and also the Polamalu commercial.”

I’m drowning my sorrows in cake, though. I promised the kids we’d make a football shaped cake, and somehow I ended up making a pineapple upside down cake, too. It’s in the oven right now, but I am not sure I will eat it at all because it might very well taste like shit. See, someone went to the store and, instead of buying a yellow cake mix, they bought a pineapple cake mix. And I am saying someone so you’ll think it was mr b when it was actually me. I grabbed it by accident and then saw that it was pineapple. Which then made me think about how much I love pineapple upside down cake and how I haven’t had it for years. And then I thought that I should make it since I don’t really care for chocolate cake that we were using for the football. So then I got all excited and ran to get some pineapple and marchino cherries and completely forgot that I was holding a pineapple cake instead of a yellow one. Damn.

Anyway, I decided to make it regardless, and as I was mixing it, I discovered that it smelled like bubble gum. This is not good. Who the hell wants a bubblegum pineapple upside down cake? Not me. I am hoping that the bubblegum flavor cooks out like alcohol does. Otherwise, I’ll just douse it in rum and have a rum bubblegum pineapple upside down cake and eventually won’t give a shit.

Oh – and to those of you scoffing at the fact that I am using a mix and not baking from scratch, suck it. You know, in the most loving way, of course.


Thursday Thunk


I’ve been crazy busy with work, snow days and sick kids, so it’s a meme day around here.

Thursday Thunk

1. Have you ever felt alone, but yet there are people around you?

Yes – I have even written about it. It’s weird, though – sometimes it’s a very lonely feeling and yet sometimes I really love it. I think the lonely part comes in when I am in a group of people that I know and that know each other. Especially if I am an “outsider” in some way. I went through this a little in the early years with mr b. he comes form a HUGE family – six older sisters, they all have kids, their kids have kids, etc. Don’t get me wrong – they were always nice to me and tried to make me comfortable, but it can be overwhelming. I have pretty big family myself (extended, though – no siblings), which made it a little easier, but there were times that I still felt a little bit on the outside.

What I didn’t realize was that some of it was my own fault. Being an only child, I have always had the tendency to withdraw into my own thoughts, or bury my nose in a book, etc. I always have a book with me and when I would go to his family events, I would pull it out and start reading, which made me seem uninterested and unapproachable. In my defense, I did this at my own family events as well – it wasn’t personal – I just love to read. But admittedly, while it was mostly just that I can’t wait to get back to whatever I am reading, a tiny part of it was a defense mechanism – if I am busy reading, then I can’t feel awkward or left out – I’d rather read anyway.

Eventually, my SIL Weenie brought it up to me. she said that I always seemed like I didn’t want anything to do with them. I was really hurt and offended at first – I did want to be a part of their group, but I sometimes felt like they should make more effort. But I soon realized that she was right – that even though my motives were benign, I can see how they were perceived differently. So I stopped bringing the books and things changed. It’s been 18 years and I am sure glad I did. I no longer have sisters-in-law, but sisters.

On the other end of it, I love being all by myself and yet surrounded by people, like visiting a new city, or going to a restaurant, or a park, or a movie by myself.

2. Do you have any video game consoles? Which ones?

To be technical, my kids have them I don’t. PS2 and Wii. Plus the girl has a v-tech one. And they have PSP and DS.

3. Do you freak out at food warnings/outbreaks, such as the recent peanut butter salmonella scare?

Oh hell no. If I freaked out over that shit, the freakery would never end. Don’t get me wrong – It’s a concern and I will be sure to not give my kids tainted food. But Dear 8 Pound 6 Ounce Newborn Infant Jesus, don’t even know a word yet, I am so sick of the local news teasers about what’s lurking in my bathroom, or what’s in my lunch meat, or which restaurant got a warning, etc. I have enough to stress out about without adding that nonsense to the mix. As for the real stuff (like the PB recall), just use your head and be safe – no freaking out is needed. If you are freaking out over this stuff (unless your kids were eating a recalled product when you heard the news), then you seriously need to think about your need for drama. And maybe get a hobby.

4. What color/pattern is your beds’ comforter/bedspread?

I have beautiful blue and brown set on my bed, which I never get to enjoy. Mr b’s sever apnea/snoring have had me on the couch for years. When we started the never-ending addition/remodel, I found it at Marshall’s for a great price. When I bought it I was so excited about the price that I wasn’t even thinking about never really seeing it. So now I am thinking about taking it off the bed, because mr b lives like an animal back there and does not deserve a beautiful bed.

5. How many windows do you have in your house?

We have (I think) 21 windows, and 2 giant, four panel sliding doors.

6. Name six things that are in your bathroom.

Sink, toilet, bathtub, mr b’s underwear from Monday, mr b’s underwear from Tuesday, mr b’s underwear from Wednesday.

7. How big is your garage? Should it be bigger?

I don’t have a garage, so yes, it should be MUCH bigger.

8. Got your taxes done yet?

Nope. I don’t even have my W-2s yet. But I do like to get them done early. The past few years, we haven’t, though.

9. Think of a mental disorder….. why did you think of that particular one?

Bipolar disorder. Because lately there have been radio ads running for a bi-polar study.

Stupor Sunday


My mom is notoriously hard to buy for. It’s not that she isn’t gracious or appreciative when it comes to gifts – she is. It’s just that it’s hard to find gifts that are special. She’s not a big reader, she isn’t really into knick-knacks. She doesn’t collect anything or isn’t into hobbies. She’s reached a point in her life where if she wants something, she buys it. So there is rarely anything (in my price range, at least) that she is pining for.

She does like clothes and jewelry and purses, but buying her those aren’t easy either. She works for a large department store, so you’d be hard pressed to find anything that she a) hasn’t already seen/bought/decided against buying, and b) can get much cheaper than you can (hello – employee discount).

So this year, having started my Christmas shopping much later than normal, I was a bit frantic about what to get my mom. The night before I had my big shopping day, ti came to me – I would get tickets to a show and her gift would be that we would go together. Perfect – we don’t spend a ton of time together because of our conflicting work schedules and responsibilities taking care of kids (me) and parents (her). She would love it.

First, I was going to get tickets to Jersey Boys, knowing that she would love it. I grew up listening to her listen to Frankie Valli. But it’s a hot ticket, and since I was kind of late to the party, I had a hard time finding seats that were good, together, and not eighty bajillion dollars. I spent a ton of time trying to find something acceptable and affordable. It was getting pretty late and I was getting tired. So I changed up and figured I’d get us some tickets to the cabaret’s My Way and I’d take Aunt Twin, too, since those tickets were a little cheaper. But I wanted a table and couldn’t get one – only regular seating, which defeats the whole purpose of cabaret.

I spent a ton more time checking every show, every night to try and get a table, with no luck. Finally, like a lightbulb going off in my tiny, exhausted, Christmas-addled brain, it occurred to me that perhaps getting three tickets was the problem, since the tables seat four. Sure enough, when I requested two tickets, there wasn’t a problem. So I sadly decided to drop Aunt Twin from the deal and just get the two tickets for my mom and me to go. And just as I pressed the checkout button, I got a message saying that their website would be down for the next 15 minutes (until midnight). While I waited, I noticed that I still had a window open where I was searching for the Jersey Boys tickets, and just for the hell of it decided to give it one last shot. I checked the very last show of the run, and what do you know – success! I ended up with some realty good seats for a really good price. Yay, me!

I couldn’t wait to give my mom her gift and as I expected, she was thrilled.

In the meantime, this season, I bought a subscription to the Byham series for the girl and me. We have seen Cinderella, and we still have High School Musical and Beauty and the Beast (and Godspell, which I think I will take the boy to). And a couple of weeks ago, I decided to check and see when HSM was coming up. Don’t’ you know, it’s the same day as Jersey Boys. Doh!

It’s not at the same time, though, so I have devised a big pain in the as of a plan. At first, I considered having Weenie take the girl, but that presented different logistical problems, so I settled on driving to the burgh to take the girl. That show will run from about 2:00 to 4:00. Then, my dad will drive my mom up to the theater district, drop her off with me, take the girl home with him, and mom and I can have an early dinner before the show (which starts at 6:30). Perfect. Its busy, but it’s worth it to take both my mother and my daughter to do something they love.

Then on Thursday night, I was at Tee’s having my hair done and we were talking about the shows and my busy day. I realized that I had invited my SILs down for a party on Saturday and I told Tee I would have to run them of early so the girl and I would have time to make it to the show. Tee said she didn’t realize that we were going so soon – on January 25th.

Oh, that’s right – it’s not this weekend after all. I’m so glad – I didn’t feel like rushing and having a weekend packed full of stuff. Man, I am so happy that it’s next Sunday…



Game time: 6:00

Show time: 6:30


Now, I know I have listened to a Pens game while at a Pirates game, but something tells me they frown at transistor radios at the Benedum.




Things that make me happy:

It’s Friday!

Going to the bookstore to pick up Inkheart (recall I’m a big geek-reader and generally, when a new movie comes out that was based on a book, I ignore the movie and read the book instead – it’s always better), and walking out with Searching for the Sound for $1.89. Score!

My new Ipod Touch. This was the best kind of Christmas gift. The kind that I had no idea that I even wanted, but as it turns out – I really, really did. It’s awesome having the music I love – the music you never, ever hear on the radio – at my fingertips:

My job. I know I’m a bit of a Pollyanna about Awesome Company, but I swear – they really are awesome. I love what I do, I love what our company does, I love my bosses. I work with a group of really smart, fun, kind, funny, wonderful people and I am well aware of how lucky I am. If I ever feel even slightly jaded about things here, all I have to do is remind myself of my last job and I snap out of it. While I had a few coworkers who were really great, I also worked amid some of the fucked up weirdoes I have ever met (and not the good kind of weird fucked-up-ed-ness, either). There was cattiness, overly competitive bullshit, way too much gossip, way too little money, and the worst boss, ever. He was snobby, cheap, and an asshole. At a Christmas party at his house (which he spent the previous year telling us all what he paid for it “in cash”), he had two different “levels” of liquor. One for him, his wife, and a couple other bigwigs (which included a couple selections of red and white wine and some decent liquor, served in nice glasses), and another for the rest of us (big jugs of low end screw-top wine, and such liquor selections as Popov vodka, served in plastic) Also – don’t get me wrong – if I come to your house and you serve me any of those selections, I will happily and graciously drink them. But if you have better stuff and don’t think I am good enough for it, you’re an asshole. And really, I can sum up the kind of guy he is in one sentence: he has been heard introducing his children as “My biological son and my adopted daughter”.

Snow! I want more!

Having a viola player entertain us on Christmas Eve. So cool.


Weird family:

The fact that this didn’t happen at my house:


Girls with guitars:

New Year’s Eve:

Shortly after this, we serenaded the entire neighborhood with “The Greatest Love of All”, and announced that George Benson is the best and Whitney is a crack whore. So to those residents of South Fayette who got to enjoy our performance: You’re welcome.

Things that make me unhappy:

Traffic during snow season. The normal Pittsburgh nightmare of driving with the Asshole Traffic Brigade reaches new lows of ballsuckery during snow season.

Having one’s “class clown” reputation overshadow ones intelligence or compassion or authority. It sucks. I can be silly and goofy and a little bit of a hothead, and still be smart and kind and in control. And just because I joke around a lot doesn’t mean that I don’t have feelings that can be hurt.

The fact that the fuckbucket dog knocked maple syrup onto my carpet and his brother, the fucknugget cat tracked it all around.

Ending on an unhappy note, so I will go back to things that make me happy:

The fact that my SILs are coming down on Saturday for our monthly drunkover. Yay! I’m so blessed to have these wonderful women in my life. Being an only child, suddenly having sisters means the world to me. I know so many people who dread in-law time and I know how lucky I am. I now have six sisters-on-law, and a whole slew of nieces and nephews who get a huge kick out of being my age or older and calling me Aunt Gina ( I have to keep reminding them that their uncle robbed the cradle). There are even great and great-great nieces and nephews. It’s awesome. Also awesome? My SIL Weenie and niece Scabs, who indulge my nonsense:

I gave them these for Christmas and told them they were appropriate whether we were together or apart.

It’s a Good Day – Grab a Shovel!


It’s a good day. I haven’t had much to say lately, so I was planning on jumping on the “what makes me happy” meme bandwagon. And of course, the first thing is pretty obvious and deserves its own post.

I am happy about a New President. And not just a new president, but a better one. A good man. A historic day. It’s a day where those of us who have been embarrassed of our leader and his decisions can stand up a little taller and be proud once again for what we have done. Instead of reminding the world that “No, sorry – we didn’t even elect him!”, we can shout, “Yes! YES, WE DID!”

And there’s always a little humor to go along with these things:

It’s both funny and sad, really, because while he is being celebrated today, the harsh scrutiny will be starting very soon. He’s got a hell of a job ahead of him, and things aren’t going to change overnight. It’s going to take a whole lot of work, and a whole lot of heartache, and a whole lot of headaches. And we need to remember that he’s the president and not our Fairy Godfather. He doesn’t have a magic wand. And it will take work and time and sacrifice on our part, too. He can’t do it alone.

Think of it this way: Let’s say some guy moved into your backyard 8 years ago. And let’s say this guy brought a shovel and spent every minute of those last 8 years digging a hole back there. That’s a pretty big hole. And then one day that guy moves out and you hire a new guy to fill in the hole. And all he has is the same shovel. That hole isn’t getting filled overnight.

So be patient with him, he’s got a big job ahead of him.

And maybe grab a shovel and give him a hand.

I See Dead People


I see dead people.

Ok no I don’t but sometimes I think I do. Or wish I could.

I haven’t seen much of Grey’s Anatomy this season but I’ve seen enough to know that there is a story arc about Izzy seeing, and talking to (and ick – having sex with) her dead fiancé, Denny. My first though is that this is a stupid storyline. Stoo-Pid. And yet, my second though finds me thinking “if only…”

As far as grandparents were concerned, I was a lucky kid. When I was born, I had 2 grandmothers, a grandfather, a step-grandfather, a great-grandfather, and two great-grandmothers. I lost two of the “greats” when I was really little, so while I remember them a little bit, I don’t remember their passing. So my first real loss was when my great grandma (Nana) died when I was a teenager. I took her death really hard. At the time, I remember feeling like the pain would never go away, that I would never stop crying myself to sleep at night. And it took a long time, but eventually I did. Even after that, it was years before I stopped crying almost every time I thought of her. I still miss her today, but it’s less a sharp stick in the heart and more of a good memory kind of thing.

In my early twenties, my step-grandfather died, and I was sad, but it wasn’t as devastating as losing Nana.

When I got married, I had three grandparents dancing at my wedding. And when the boy was born, I had three grandparents taking care of him for me. He spent three days a week with Grammy and Pap (my paternal grandparents) and two days a week with Baba (my maternal grandmother). When he was about two or so, Baba had a stroke that left her still pretty healthy, and able to live on her own, but unable to care for the boy. But it was OK – she was fine, and he still had her in his life.

Around that same time, Pap died. It was kind of sudden, though not entirely unexpected, as he was in his 90’s. It happened quickly, which was good, because I couldn’t have stood to see him suffer and linger. He died the strong, vital man that he was all his life. He went to the hospital and we arranged to bring the boy in to see him (they adored each other. It took a couple of days and Pap was over the moon when we showed up with him. And then, as if he were waiting for that last chance to see his favorite person in the whole worked, Pap was gone.

I worried about Grammy, but having the boy with her all the time helped her. She was still strong and vital and extremely healthy and happy (if a little clumsy – I come by it naturally). She still watched him for me most days. He started pre-school, so on those days, I would drop him of at my parents’ house and on the others, I would drop him at Grammy’s. One day, I got to my parents house at around 7:00am and my dad’s truck wasn’t there. He could have gone to the store, or to get gas, or to and early appointment, or breakfast with a friend, or to get coffee. But somehow, I knew that he wasn’t doing any of those things. I knew right away that something was wrong. I sat in the car for a few minutes, dreading what I was about to hear. When I walked in the house, my mom pulled me aside and told me that my dad went to Grammy’s and that they were heading to the hospital.

I got to the hospital and found them in the ER. It turned out that my beautiful, vital. Healthy grandma had a stroke. She was feeling terrible, but she was lucid and was glad to see me. Being Grammy, she apologized for not being able to take care of the boy that afternoon. I told her don’t be silly. I hugged her and kissed her and told her she was going to be fine. I held her hand and held the basin while she threw up. And all the while, I knew she would be fine. After a while, I left to go grab a drink and while I was in the snack bar, she had another stroke. When I came back she was gone. She was still alive – her body was alive. But she was gone. She lingered for about a week and a half while we grieved and cried and made terrible, agonizing decisions. It was the worst time of my life. When she died, I was terribly sad, but I was ready. We all were, because we lost our sweet Grammy about 10 days before.

Years have passed since I have lost these two wonderful people, but they are always with me. In my thoughts, my memories. Sometimes I feel like they are just at the edge of my vision. I don’t dream about them though. I wish I could, because it would be like having them back again, if only for a few moments as I sleep. I dreamed about Pap once. He was standing right over my shoulder and he told me he was right here, that he always had been. And he told me in his own voice, and not in the electronic voice that he had used for years due to a laryngectomy.

Sometimes, when I am out, I will hear someone speaking with the electric voice and it takes my breath away. Because even thought they mainly all sound alike, to me, that was his voice and I swear I am hearing him, in the post office, or just one aisle over in wal-mart.

And sometimes I see Grammy, or I think I do. She had beautiful white hair, and sometimes, as I am walking down the street, or in the grocery store, or in the airport, I catch a glimpse of snow white hair and it stops me in my tracks. I’ll find myself thinking “Turn around”, because for a second it’s her and I want to see her face. And then I find myself thinking “Don’t turn around” because I know it’s not and I can’t bear losing her again.

Sometimes, I will follow behind, allowing myself to pretend that it is her and that I’m just walking a bit behind her, perhaps having stopped to wait for one of the kids, or tie someone’s shoe, but with confidence that I will catch up and it will be her. That she’ll smile at me and call me a slowpoke for getting behind, and we’ll laugh. And she’ll take each child by the hand and we’ll walk off together. Two women and two children, and not simply one woman with a little piece of her heart missing, a memory of white hair, and a bittersweet wish she knows can’t come true.


I’ll resume my Christmas: Fail giveaways next post. This didn’t really feel like a giveaway type story.