I Have No Privacy Anymore in Baker City

The other day at church someone came up to me and congratulated me for my grades. Since I don’t know this person very well and don’t generally wear t-shirts emblazoned with my current transcript, I was confused. “You were in the paper!” she said by way of explanation. She was starting to look doubtful, like she knew she was about to be sorry for bringing it up. I asked her to confirm my name and the school I attend, then asked her if she was joking, the answer to which I made her repeat maybe 5 or 6 times. This exchange is probably reading as either really mundane or really awkward to you, and let me assure you: it was absolutely both.

I should probably work for the CIA (or at least tell people I do, like this guy) because after only about 24 hours of hard-hitting detective work, I came upon it:

honor roll baker city herald with arrow

Sort of awesome, right? Or maybe just really unsettling and kind-of violating. There is apparently no law against a newspaper printing my legal name, along with my major, which year I am in, a general idea of my grade point average, and which university I attend without mt consent. Not even a quick phone call or email! You could argue that they don’t have my phone number or email, but come on. These people obviously know everything about me.

This kind-of scares me because – what else can be published about me without my consent? How often use a treadmill? How frequently I clean my bathrooms? The pregnancy-and-nursing-induced fluctuations of my bra size? My name is out there now! I feel like if my grades qualify as printable news, nothing is off limits. Perhaps I should call the paper next time I put a meatloaf in the oven.

On top of that, the Baker City Herald has now created a really high expectation of me and whored it all over town. This is bad because it is an expectation that I will in no way be able to maintain. Baby #3 is coming in March, and everyone knows that newborn babies do not care about your academic success. No matter how many textbooks I read aloud to my baby while he’s in the womb (“And now, baby, we are going to cover the triad of epidemiology!”), I don’t think it’s like if you eat carrots while pregnant your baby will come out liking carrots.  I’m pretty sure this baby is going to come out wanting to eat constantly, poop his pants, and, most importantly, fail to be even the least bit supportive of my academic career. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, BABY?

The same person who put my name in the paper in the first place will probably have to do a follow-up story. The headline will be something like: Forget What We Printed Last December: Corinne Allen Actually Sucks. Or maybe it will be a cautionary article: CLOSE YOUR LEGS AMERICA! New Data Confirms: Having Babies Causes Terrible Grades in School.

Finally, printing my GPA with no other information creates a frighteningly incomplete picture. For example, in order to maintain my grades, I had to cut back my work hours and my paychecks got really sad for a few months. I had trouble paying my water bill! So yay GPA, but I almost had to stop taking showers. I could easily have been Baker City’s eccentric genius who is so busy formulating quantum physics that she doesn’t have time to bathe herself. CLOSE CALL, EVERYONE.

My kids also started getting extra time in front of the TV so mama could squeeze out a bit more time for schoolwork. So yay GPA, but my kids may have suffered an enormous deficit of enriching, Pinterest-worthy activities. Oh, yes, Corinne Allen? She’s smart and motivated, but she smells terrible and her children don’t know any vocabulary except what they picked up off Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Yo-ho-ho!

In all honesty, it was such a tough term for me, my first as a full-time student with kids, that I was shocked that I did so well. And I know that printing my name was a nice thing and not as creepy as my instincts try to tell me.  And another thing is that no one pays nearly as much attention to me as I do. I could probably try to explain myself to, say, a checker at Safeway, but it is 99.9% likely that she’s not going to have any idea what I’m talking about. Then I’ll look like an even bigger wierdo for even mentioning it, and behold! We’ve come full circle.

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My Summer of Cryptomagnificence

Last year around this time, I was blogging about giant cookies, B.T.’s love of escalators, and a catching a neighbor secretly weed-wacking our yard while we were out of the house.

One year later, I still love giant cookies, B.T. still gets pumped at the sight of stairs that won’t stop moving, and our neighbor now regularly chops down our weedy embarrassment of a  yard when he thinks we’re not home. I’ll tell you this: to watch this man wack weeds is to watch Charlie the Unicorn finally reach the real Candy Mountain, a land of sweets and joy and joyness.

This particular summer has been quite a bit less eventful. I am pregnant with baby #3, so instead of spending my days creating giant cookies, visiting Idaho-ian shopping centers, or feeling embarrassed by my weed wack lack (“Weed Wack Lack” is going to be the first single on my rap album), I’ve pretty much just been trying to cope with feeling nauseated every second of every day and fighting the constant urge to take a nap.

On top of that, I’ve been super busy boiling water because our tap water got infected with a diarrhea-inducing parasite. This means that some of my summer has been spent filling gallon jugs with clean water from a truck brought in from a neighboring town whose cows are better behaved than ours. The truck had a vat of clean water and a hose to dispense it. The hose weighed roughly 600 pounds which is important because one afternoon I  accumulated a minor back injury  filling a few jugs for an old lady. Everyone knows old ladies have a super hard time managing their hose, you know?

This all started about a month ago, when a few of Baker City’s water-loving citizens got the poops badly enough go see a doctor. Medical suspicions were aroused, stool samples were collected, and eventually Baker City determined that no one should drink/bathe in/look suggestively at the tap water unless they also wanted a nasty case of diarrhea.

The water supply was apparently overrun with a tasty parasite called Cryptosporidium, or “Crypto,” which is like its villainous nickname. Basically what happened is some of the water supply way out in the middle of nowhere (yes, there are places even further into the middle of nowhere than Baker City) got hit up by some cows who had to poop and didn’t realize that some places aren’t socially acceptable toilets. The cows weren’t supposed to be there, but there was a broken fence and, in typical bureaucratic fashion, no one could figure out whose job it was to fix the fence. Which means, of course, that no one fixed it. So the cows released their crypto-laced feces into our water, we drank our water (some of us drank lots and lots of it), and suddenly we’re all glued to our toilets and the town is overrun with signs like the one taped to the water fountain at the gym that said:

“DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!

DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! DO NOT DRINK THE WATER!”

…just in case you have trouble understanding English sentences the first 100 times you read them.

Anyway, fast forward about a month, a couple of visits from the CDC, tests, more tests, and finally we’re approved to drink tap water again without the threat of the evil Crypto demanding we skip church and spend Sunday morning on the toilet.

This post was supposed to be about my first trimester of pregnancy, but it somehow morphed into a Crypto post. Crypto, you have hijacked my blog just like you hijacked my intestinal tract. HOW DARE YOU, YOU SNEAKY PARASITIC BASTARD.

I guess you’ll have to wait for the pregnancy chat. Here’s a quick preview, in the form of FAQs:

FAQs About Pregnancy #3

1. How far along are you? As of August 26, I am 12 weeks pregnant. Due March 9. Having another c-section. I like giving birth in hospitals cause they have doctors and cable TV. I don’t mind one bit if other ladies do it, but I am personally grossed out by the idea of giving birth at my house. I’m not sure I could find someone legit willing to perform a c-section on me in my bedroom anyway.

2. Did you do this on purpose? Ummmm didn’t the 90s ever tell you to MYOB? But because I kind-of admire your douche-y boldness, I’ll tell you: YES. Totally on purpose. Also, this counts as a FAQ because my mother-in-law asked me that when I got knocked up with Baby Ham, so I’m just figuring she’ll ask again. Which makes it more like a FAQ for one specific person.

3. Since you have two boys, are you hoping for a girl? I already feel like having given birth to two healthy, normal, super hilarious boys is a miracle on par with Jesus walking on water. We plan for this to be our last baby, so I am very aware that if it’s a boy I’ll never get the opportunity to raise a daughter. But I still can’t imagine being disappointed with another boy. I’ll be more likely to stand in awe of another healthy pregnancy (everything’s fine so far), another successful c-section, and another healthy baby who never, ever lets me sleep.

Preview over. Till next time!

We Seen Us Some Tractors

Walking my boys to the park the other day, I happened upon a display in front of a local museum that answers the oft-asked question, “Where did all the old tractors go?”

For your viewing pleasure, Baker City.

When I saw this I says to myself, “Corinne. You are in Baker City. Of course there is a line-up of tractors out on the street.”

When B.T. saw these, all park-related desires were immediately replaced with a single, all-consuming desire to hang out with tractors. He was literally jumping up and down as he yelled things to me about their basic features:

“Look, mommy! Tractor have BIG WHEELS!!”

“Ooo, lights on tractor! One, two, TWO LIGHTS!!!”

In addition to watching B.T.’s excitement, I found a couple of delightful gems to enjoy for myself.

It’s like a farming miracle!

It’s a little tractor. Inside a big tractor. A tractor inside a tractor. The big tractor is knocked up, and the little tractor is like in the big tractor’s plastic, cylindrical uterus.

If I looked at that while high, it would probably scare the s^%& out of me. Or if I drank a whole beer, I’d probably look at it and laugh uncontrollably. I’m not a big drinker, so stop picturing me with some 40 of Olde English. I’m talking about 12 delicious ounces of a classy microbrew. ‘Cause I’m such a classy lady. Alcohol, by the way, happens to be the only way most normal people can appreciate the humor of 50s-era farm equipment.

I actually did laugh, though, when I discovered that I could not only feast my eyes on these gorgeous machines, I could go inside the museum and vote for my favorite tractor.

Don’t just love these tractors…take some action!

Which is awesome because I had all these pent-up feelings for the green tractor and like no idea what to do with them. Just another reason to praise the Jesus for democracy!

Oh, but also did you notice anything a little, shall we say, uneducated about that sign?

Oh, yes. The description says, “This tractors were built in England from 1952 to 1964.”

I’m sure this error is not because people who love old tractors also tend to be uneducated. Instead, I like to think that whoever wrote this was, like me with the green one, so overcome with love for the tractors that he (or she!) had no room, emotionally, for base and unimportant things like “proper grammar.” See, I’m totally into giving people the benefit of the doubt. Tooootally not some snobby jerk from Southern California.

In any case, I extend my gratitude to those who decided Baker City was due for some farm machine fun. Or maybe I should say, who decided Baker City were due for some farm machine fun.

Fat Guy in a Little Car

The other morning I was at Sorbenots chatting with Betty Spooner. She told me that in a mere one hour the annual Shriners Parade would begin. Because I have yet to attend a Baker City parade that hasn’t amused me greatly, I says to myself, “Corinne, THE SHRINERS PARADE IS YOUR DESTINY.”

All that stood between me and Shriners bliss was a potty break, changing out of my sports bra, and putting carefully selected crackers into a bowl for B.T. (just to clarify, carefully selected by someone from the Cheez-It company, not me).

Who are the Shriners, you might be wondering, and why do they have a parade? One website (here) calls them “The Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine,” which sounds like something hippies or celebrities would name a child (“but we’ll call him ‘Scott!'”). The Shriners are basically a philanthropic organization that you can only join if you’re at least 65 years old (not an official rule) and like to be seen in public driving cars that are much too small for you. Exhibit A:

Oh, and the hats. They all rock those ridiculous tall hats that look like the felt ‘n tassel version of a Kid ‘N Play hairdo:

The Shriners are, in fact, so serious about the hat situation, they even force their cars to wear them.

As for the parade, I actually have no idea why they have it. If you know, feel free to educate me. But I suspect it’s mainly to amuse me.

When we got to the parade, B.T. was quite good at waiting, for a two year old. He jumped around in the street, stood in front of other children and laughed maniacally (one of his budding social skills), took a rest on the concrete, ate a snack, rolled a Matchbox car around, and barked like a dog.


In that last photo, you can sort-of see the tired moaning on Baby Ham’s face, which is what he did the entirety of the parade. Except when a semi blew its horn, which inspired crying. He then lapsed into a very restful 5 minute nap.

The whole point of going to this parade is, as I mentioned above, the fat guys in little cars. Every time I see this, which has been more than once at this point, I can’t help but think of Tommy Boy.

Despite my extensive research on the Shriners for this blog (and by “extensive” I mean “5 minutes of Googling”), I still am unable to sort out exactly where the fondness for driving tiny vehicles comes from. There’s something completely ridiculous and a bit embarrassing about older men stuffing their guts into tiny cars made out of old bath tubs.

Maybe, in addition to attracting all the right ladies, the bathtubs serve as getaway vehicles from the creepy parade clowns.

That guy seriously stopped in front of me for like a solid 60 seconds when he saw that I was taking his photo. It was to the point where I began to wonder if he was trying to memorize my face so he could murder me later. Then there’s this one, which has to be one of the top ten most offensive parade items ever:

Many of you know how deeply I despise inflatable decor – especially those disgusting blow-up Santas and snowmen people insist on putting on their lawns during Christmas. Actually, I might get on board with them if I could find an inflatable Christmas meal to display. Like a giant inflatable ham with a bowl of mashed potatoes on my lawn. H yes!

I traditionally offer a specific finger to inflatables, but I managed to refrain on this occassion. Two year olds are like little sponges and I didn’t want B.T. to soak up any hand profanity and let it out at the supermarket or in front of my mother in law, when there weren’t even any inflatables around to offend.

Actually, the other day I was watching Say Yes to the Dress during lunch. I was having a stressful day alone with the kids, and looking at ladies trying on exorbitantly expensive wedding gowns was functioning as an alternative to crying. B.T. was silent for the first 20 minutes, then looked at me and said, quite definitively, “People have boobs.” His hand gesture and tone of voice was like what someone might use when making an important point during a business meeting. Meaning he has retained knowledge of both boobs and how to talk like a businessman.

Anyway, thank Jesus I heard about the Shriner’s Parade. It’s tough when you start to yen for fat guys in little cars and your needs just aren’t getting fulfilled. You know? Thank you, Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, for satisfying me for another year.

Curb Appeal: Baker City, The Tonto House

It’s been too long! Who’s ready to indulge once again in the tastiest eye candy Baker City has to offer? This is the second installment in a series I call Curb Appeal: Baker City. If you missed the first post, you can find it here.

The house I present to you today is such a sweet delight it is likely that you will, as my husband says, develop type 2 diabetes of the eyes. Yes! These front yards are like inappropriate amounts of sugar and saturated fat – so, so delicious but totally messing with the insulin levels of Baker City.

Today’s outdoor extravaganza of good taste is a house I call it the Tonto House, for this reason:

One can only speculate the meaning behind that sign. The most logical explanation is that it honors the Lone Ranger character:

Or perhaps Johnny Depp, the new Tonto:

Or maybe Tonto is her last name – Marjorie Tonto? Betty Tonto? Betty Tonto has to be one of my top 20 favorite names of all time. It’s not  as awesome as Corinne Bearman Tuppenhut, though, which is what I used to wish my name was. But it’s close. Very, very close.

Anyway, the Tonto House has more to offer us.

This is a broad view of the side of the house. This house is on a corner, which I expect this thrills the homeowner. So much more space to display her vast collection of vases. Let’s zoom in for a minute on a few things.

The image itself is a bit of a fuzzy mess, since all I did was crop the original image. Then I used my mad photo editing skillz to just zoom right on in. I know! I am the master of the photo crop! I call this figurine the Triplet Pigs. I hate them very much. Total knick-knack fail, Tonto House. This, however, makes me feel the opposite of hate:

Yesssssssssssss. This is where I went from “this homeowner needs someone to show her how to use a trash can” to “this homeowner is a genius and I want her to decorate my master bathroom.” Because I won’t lie, I kind-of want to go back to her house and steal this. And I have named him Jackstraw, for no apparent reason except that it sounds like the name of a buff dude who conquers plastic dragons but is also totally cool about living in Baker City. ALL HAIL JACKSTRAW, MASTER OF ANGRY DRAGONS AND THE SIDEWALKS OF BAKER CITY!

Now let’s go back to the original picture from above:

You will notice that the Triplet Pigs and Jackstraw, as magical as they are, aren’t floating in air but pleasantly sitting on red shelves. It looks like a pretty genius set up, unless there’s a light wind or someone breathes too close to them. It was quite gusty on the day I took these photos, which left me wondering if there were broken vases strewn all over the streets, or if Jackstraw was sprawled out on the street in his metal speedo, crying to dominate his plastic dragon once again. Such a sad mental picture! Maybe I should drive over there and check on him.

In addition to Jackstraw and the Triplet Pigs, this house has a couple of spots dedicated to the ocean (not unlike the house featured in my first Curb Appeal post). Maybe both houses went with ocean themes because we live so far from one. Like a tribute to the sea. And by “tribute,” I mean like an ode or a dedication, not like every figurine in this yard will have to attend the Tonto House’s Reaping with the risk of being entered in the Hunger Games and hoping the odds will be ever in his/her favor. I know that’s what you thought of when I said “tribute.” But I’m not sure people who decorate their lawns like this also read books.

I like how oceanographically correct the homeowner is: of course lobsters are higher up in the ocean than seahorses. And they do usually dwell right next to gigantic spiders. And also, I totally made up the word “oceanographically.” But I bet if you use it in a sentence today people will think you’re suuuper smart. As in, “Well, yes, oceanographically speaking, we are nearly out of copy paper in the printer.” Something like that.

Oh, look! A crab!

Of, course there’s also a kangaroo, right there in the middle. Probably a sea kangaroo, though.

I also like what this homeowner did with her collection of figurines with raised arms. She either collected them this way on purpose, noticed suddenly she had several figurines striking the same pose, or raised some of the arms manually to form a collection. Either way, thank the Jesus her hard work and organized mind gave us this:

Actually, this particular little vignette kind-of creeps me out. Which is saying something because from an objective point of view, all the spots in this yard are equally creepy. But something tells me that if it was dark out and these little raised-armed guys were illuminated and I was walking by unprepared, I’d probably pee myself and put my finger on the speed dial button for the cops. You know, just in case.

Here’s the last photo, of the front door:

And once again, Corinne “Crop Master” Allen zoomed right on in:

I know it’s hard to see. You have to understand what happens when I take these photos. I am not very stealth. The coast generally seems clear, but people with houses like these don’t strike me as 110% sane. So I just try to snappy-snap-snap and get the H out of there. But I think what you’re seeing in this window is a giant pink stuffed bird. Which kind-of seems like a message to me. Like – giant birds can stay the $&*% out of my yard…or else you too will be hanging inside my covered porch. I bet the beheaded pig and goofy are equally sinister threats. No, don’t scroll! Here’s the image again:

See? There they are, bottom left corner. Normally, I love a good figurine beheading. For example, here’s my faithful cooking companion, Headless Praying Doll:

Actually, maybe this house would be more awesome if every figurine was headless.

Well, rest your eyes, America, and don’t forget to let me know your favorites from this house. Did you fall in love with Jackstraw? Felt like you embarked on an ocean voyage of foliage? Me too! It was so refreshing!

Miner’s Jubilee

First of all, major delay in this post due to a vomit party that B.T., Ryan, and myself attended early last week. Then, because I couldn’t eat for over 24 hours, my milk situation got all messed up and I ended up with mastitis. Yes, I’m talking about the milk supplied by my ladies on the “upper floor”. TMI? Maybe. But since writing about the ladies is not strictly against any of my policies, I have published it for the entire www to digest. I’m just trying to treat the ladies right so they don’t give me mastitis again.

Okay, now for the real stuff. I was going to say, “now for the fun stuff”, but I’m going to tell you about Baker City’s biggest annual event, the Miner’s Jubilee, and I was worried that someone would read “fun” and think Disneyland or browsing the home aisles of Target. It’s not a stretch to call Miner’s Jubilee  fun, but it’s more like having a saltine cracker for lunch. Normally, you’d be all like – this lunch sucks. But if you were starving, a saltine cracker would be like the BEST LUNCH EVER. So that’s what Miner’s Jubilee is like. Technically it sucks, but mmmm does it taste good after all that nothing.

The entire point of the Miner’s Jubilee is  to celebrate this town’s Westward Ho-ish heritage. As in, “she’s looking a little Westward Ho-ish today.” Haha! Right? But what really happened is that it occurred to someone like fifty years ago that no one was celebrating the mining industry anymore. And, on top of that, not enough people were properly acknowledging the fact that Clint Eastwood’s Paint Your Wagon was filmed in this area. These two things were crying out for a celebration. Enter the Miner’s Jubilee!

The big event is set up in the park, which is about a 5 minute walk from my house. Here’s one view:

For a little context, there are usually a total of between zero and two people in that area when I take the boys to the park.  Here’s a few more pics to give you the general flavah:

You’ve got your basic food vendors, craft vendors, inflatable slides…you know, everything you’d need to ensure the mining industry and one of the most boring movies made get ever their due. So – instead of giving you every excruciating detail of the weekend, I’ll give you my personal highlights. I’ll even number them for you!

#1. B.T.’s first time in a bouncy house:

I know it looks like he’s alone in there, but I actually snapped the photo at a strange moment when no other kids were in view. B.T. loved this so much he kept reenacting it at home, thudding his little bottom on the living room carpet and squealing with delight, saying “I jump!”

#2. PIONEER MAN!!!

I first wrote about Pioneer Man here. Someone helpfully informed me he is not in fact one of the original pioneers, which is a little disappointing and not surprising in the least. He works at the Interpretive Center, which is the only place in Baker City that houses a ton of creepy mannequins meant to teach you about the Old West. So I was excited to see him in the flesh and let my eyes feast upon his Michael Bolton hair for a second or two. I also saw Pioneer Man’s counterpart, Pioneer Woman, speaking to a man with a confederate flag for a head covering. This counts as like half a highlight. So,

#2 1/2.

I think it’s also worth noting that this man is holding Gatorade. I believe he is trying to preserve his electrolytes while supporting the annex of the Southern United States. Perhaps the South would’ve won the war had Gatorade been invented. Whoa! Did I just say that? I probably remember reading somewhere that the war was lost partially due to rampant electrolyte shortages among the soldiers. Let your mind sponges soak that up, United States of America.

#3. B.T. has to answer a question about matches.

Kids had to answer a fire-related question, spin a wheel, then pick a corresponding prize. A very patient fire lady asked B.T. three or four times whether or not his mommy lets him play with matches. B.T. never sees matches so he was pretty confused.  He knows he’s not allowed to touch the b-b-q while the dragon breathes out of it, so if the question had been about b-b-qs and mythical creatures he probably would have been more on top of things. At any rate, she finally gave up and just let him spin the wheel and claim his rubber bracelet.

#4. The Tiny Carnival

This is not its official name, but there are some rickety rides set up and overpriced tickets and at least 30 minutes of fun for small children like my B.T. He experienced carnival rides for the first time, which was pretty fun to watch.

This is a child who loves motorcycles deeply and refers to them as “Arcie,” the motorcycle character from the cartoon Transformers Prime. He was so excited to ride Arcie it was totally worth the inappropriate amount of money we were charged for this privilege.

#5. The End of Health

After the tiny carnival, we wheeled the boys back home. Ryan was making Baby Ham laugh by tilting the stroller up and shouting, “Hammers!”

B.T. hated this game, but we thought he was just tired and being a pill. Ryan had to push the stroller because I was too busy gnawing on the enormous slab of fried bread covered in cinnamon and sugar we call the Elephant Ear. When we got home and distributed the Elephant Ear, B.T. wasn’t quite himself and refused to eat it. He eventually took a bite, which triggered the first in a series of vomiting episodes that lasted into the night, then passed on to Ryan and I to enjoy. On the upside(s), Baby Ham never got it (he has crawling fever, which is a much healthier illness) and I will now never eat mozzarella sticks again.

After all this celebrating, aren’t you hungry to see another lawn o’ crap? I know I am! Check back here in a few days for another Curb Appeal: Baker City!

Teenagers Don’t Think I’m Cool

Before we get into the sobering realization of my fading coolness, I will throw down a little summer update.

So far this year, along with our first Boise outing (posted about here), we’ve gone on lots of walks around the ‘hood and to the park. Baby Ham had his first experience on an outdoor swing, which he loved.

We’ve also managed to spend plenty of time on the little strip of scrubby grass that passes for our front yard. Because we like to spice things up, we bought the world’s cheapest wading pool. This plastic circle of fun is a product that requires us to rienflate it every single time we wish to use it. Weight Watchers should definitely give me some extra activity points for how many calories I’ve burned pumping this thing up. And by “pumping this thing up,” I am referring to using the bike pump to inflate it, not motivating the pool to inflate itself, which would be vastly more awesome. Oh, look, here we are now:

The things I like most about this photo are Baby Ham’s confused expression and B.T.’s fist of passion.

Also,  my happy summertime smile is hiding the fact that I was in an absolutely awful mood. Baby Ham has been cutting teeth, and B.T. was waking up around 11pm every night for reasons he was too distraught to express. This thankfully ended after a few nights, but it took the wind out of my nighttime sails, so to speak. Which meant that the daytime boat wasn’t sailing so smoothly. Are you digging my oceanic metaphors?

Since there was no way I had time to take a nap on this day, Ryan suggested I neglect work for the rest of the afternoon and verbally motivate the pool to inflate so we could hang out with the kiddos together. A nice thought, but it didn’t work that well.  In fact, the pants you see me wearing in the photo are actually cranky pants masquerading as jeans. This little face did cheer me up a tiny bit, though…

And what’s a summer afternoon by the low-quality pool without ice cream?

Now that I’m wearing my happy pants (which look a lot like blue sweats that fit poorly and have holes in the crotch), I want to tell you about how I finally came to accept that teenagers no longer think I’m cool.

I was at Sorbenots the other day, which is my favorite place to get coffee in Baker City. If your loins are burning for a bit of Baker City trivia, the name “Sorbenots” is “Stone Bros” spelled backwards. Clever, right? Maybe like the Neveah of the coffee world, but slightly less obnoxious. This coffee shop is a hot bed of teenage girl action, and by “action,” I mean “making lattes,” not like “making lattes in bikinis.” Just a little FYI for any local pervs reading this.

I think it’s possible that at one time teenagers might have thought I was a cool chick. Before I married Ryan, I had a super awesome job that allowed me to indulge all the weirdest parts of my personality. I also I lived in a major city, was relatively young, and sometimes made inappropriate jokes. Don’t I sound super cool, and also awesome?

Now, I am often seen with a baby on my hip while trying to keep my two year old verbally corralled. My gray hairs have increased thirty fold, and until people start mistaking me for Ryan’s mother instead of his wife, I refuse to dye it. I often function on some major sleep deficits, so there is some extra, shall we say, artistic shading under my eyes. And since having babies means fluctuating weight (or being too tired to search the drawers for pants that fit), I have many times fallen victim of the dreaded “mom jeans” epidemic.

So a few days ago, I entered Sorbenots with B.T. in tow and ordered Ryan his usual large Americano. But I decided to add some flavah to my visit and joked, “Yeah, my husband wants a huge coffee – like 32 ounces.” So, let’s break this down:

1. Thirty-two ounces. That isn’t even that big of a coffee. Maybe in Japan that joke would’ve been met with appalled gasps, but here in the U.S. of A. people be ordering up enormous servings of just about anything. So 32 ounces isn’t joke-ably big – it’s just mundane and  normal. I probably should’ve used some astronomical number. Like  –  my husband is so tired, he wants to drink SIX HUNDRED OUNCES OF COFFEE! You have a cup that big, right? HAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!!! Totally kidding because I’m so funny!

2. I did indeed have Baby Ham on my hip and was multitasking: ordering drinks while trying to stop B.T. from picking up every single piece of merchandise on the shelves. And trying to keep it low-key, so I wasn’t like, “I want three shots – B.T. PLEASE STOP TOUCHING THOSE CUPS THEY’RE NOT OURS – ummm…what was I saying?…oh yeah….over ice in a 16-oz – I SAID PLEASE DON’T TOUCH THE GLASS WE DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO BREAK…” And so forth. Note to consumers: when customers take 20 minutes to order two beverages, baristas are generally less prone to laughter later in the transaction.

3. I think I may carry some look of caffeine-related desperation on my face when I order coffee. Sometimes I’m pretty sure my smile is fake and I can’t help communicating with my face that I don’t really care how you’re doing just please give me some espresso as soon as possible. Women who order desperately are 37% less likely to have their jokes appreciated. That might be a fake statistic, but you can appreciate the sentiment.

So after my HI-larious 32-ouncer joke, this is what I got:

That’s right. Thirty-two ounces of hot coffee in a cup meant for cold beverages. With a straw. This is how it looks next to my 12 ouncer:

Behemoth. And there’s little B.T. giving me a wave in the background.

Back to the story. Teenage Coffee Girl put the coffee in front of me, and I was like:

“Oh. Haha! I was joking about the 32 oz.”

Teenage Coffee Girl: *doubt/pitying face followed by awkward laugh* “Oh. Well – I can make you another one!”

Me: “No, that’s okay. I was making a horrible joke. It will actually be funny bringing this home to my husband.”

TCG: *another awkward laugh with increased doubt/pity on face* “Are you sure? Well. Um. Okay!” *special customer smile*

This incident made me admit what I’ve been internally denying for some time now: teenagers don’t think I’m cool.

I suppose this is something better to realize now rather than later when I’m fifty and still trying to make sixteen year olds laugh at my middle-aged wit. Or maybe I should embrace the bad jokes. My youth leader growing up always made bad jokes, but he did it proudly. This was actually really smart, because he put himself in a position to make uncool jokes forever and because he was fine with it he just stayed funny.

Or maybe the real solution is to embrace who I really am – 30-plus years old,  so excited about my kids that I don’t really care if they make me lose my comedic edge. I am also a wife, a student, a worker for The Man, and one of awesome things about being an adult is that I CAN MAKE BAD JOKES TO YOU ANY TIME I WANT. So…boo-yah. Make me a damn coffee.

New Schoolventures

See what I did there? I fused the words “school” and “adventures” to create “schoolventures.” Toooootally worth all those school loans, right?

As many know, I am a student. In the school of hard knocks. Ha! ‘Cause I’m so hard core? No? But really, I am a college student, and have been since January of 2009, a mere three months before finding out I was pregnant with B.T. Which means that most of the time I’ve been in school I’ve been either knocked up, nursing, the mother of a toddler, or some combination of those things. I’m on the 8-10 year bachelor’s degree plan which means I’ll probably earn my degree by the time I’m 50. Fingers crossed.

I have been attending the prestigious Blue Mountain Community College (a.k.a BMCC). And since I’m all about  keepin’ it rizz-eal I will go ahead and let you know that the “prestigious” part of that last sentence is a filthy lie. Want to see a picture of the school? Of course you do!

This place is about the size of a small doctor’s office:  two classrooms that won’t fit more than 15 or 20 people, a testing room with four computers, and a couple of offices where some employees like to pretend they’re working while I’m waiting for help in the lobby when they’re really blabbing on the phone with Susan in HR or whoever. So, pretty typical small school.

Now, please note that the image above is my own mad photography skillz on display. I did try to find one floating around on Google images first, though, just to stay as lazy as possible. But I didn’t have much luck. Or maybe I did, you can decide, because when I typed in “blue mountain community college baker city,” this came up:

Which, if you really think about the essence of Baker City, actually makes a lot of sense. In fact, I bet anytime “Baker City” is typed into Google Images, Google is required by law to show this photo. Wait, I think I saw that guy in Safeway the other day! No, just kidding! He’s totally one of the original pioneers. He got here and was all like, “Hark! We have come to a beautiful place we shall call Baker City! And we shall build nothing but gas stations and terrible-quality Asian restaurants and our lawns shall be rich with plastic figurines!”

Pioneer Man up there totally distracted me from my first  point. Which is that I have had some excellent teachers at BMCC, but it’s not exactly Harvard. For example, I took a Spanish class one summer. When I asked my teacher how to say “prenatal” in Spanish, she summoned her most condescending tone and answered, “Oh, you don’t want to know.” Fifteen minutes later, she must have reconsidered my basic intelligence because she revealed the word to me….”prenatal.” Yes, EXACTLY THE SAME WORD. But, you know, pronounced like a Spanish word.

Now, I am not saying my teacher should have understood how incredibly smart I am, even though credit for intelligence greater than the average lamp would’ve been nice. The point more is that she assumed, as an average student of BMCC, I could not grasp a concept that many monkeys could probably understand, given the right conditions. But how often are monkeys given the right conditions? Almost never, I’d say.

one of the few times monkeys have been given a chance to shine.

After so many years of plugging away at my degree, I was a bit shocked a few months ago when I realized that I have a mere one term left before I’m ready to transfer to a university. Now I will express my feelings via  many exclamation points: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have long assumed that I would transfer to the only university within 50 miles of this town, Eastern Oregon University (EOU). If the mere name gets your curiosity going, here is a convenient link to the university’s homepage. I’m sorry Pioneer Man doesn’t appear on the website. I assume he didn’t achieve a college education. He was probably too busy fixing a wagon wheel or trying not to die of the flu to educate himself. Damn, I get so distracted thinking about Pioneer Man! My brain juices just find him so seductive.

Back on the (Oregon) trail: I aim to earn my bachelor’s in social work. EOU offers a social work degree, but there are a few probs. That’s how I say “problems” now. Probs. It’s one of my new policies. Here’s a quick list of the probs:

1. The school is 45 minutes away, and…

2. Ryan and I share a car. There’s a pretty big difference between the length of a class plus an extra 10-12 minutes (what we do here) vs. the length of one or two classes plus an extra 2 hours (what we’d have to do there). And since I can’t complete the degree online, I’d be driving to and from school at least three times a week. This would have to somehow be squished in between jobs and childcare. Maybe B.T. can babysit. Awesome! Three year olds are good babysitters, right? That’s what some heroin users think, anyway.

3. What if I procreate again? Nothing in the works or anything. Baby Ham is, after all, only 7 months old so I still haven’t forgotten how much sleep you do not get when you have a baby. Bearing offspring also tends to demand its own schedule, and it would be pretty tough to figure out how to get to and from classes while giving birth. And not just because both of my birth experiences have involved unintentionally getting high.

So since I am all about solving my probs, I did some research on the degrees EOU offers that I can complete entirely online. I didn’t find much that interested me, and then I had a revelation: what if I look at other Oregon state schools for their online degrees? That’s when I found it!…

That’s a little screenshot-e-doo-da (yes, I speak Computer) of a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences through Oregon State University, Corvallis. I can complete this degree entirely online, which means I have all but solved the above probs! I can also continue to attend classes like I do now, with my children screaming in the background. YAY MEEEEEEE! This is how my emotions feel about it:

Yeah, that’s right. I am totally going to have my bachelor’s degree nekked by the end of this song. Or, you know, by the end of 2021.

And not only can I earn the degree I want, I can even pursue a minor in writing. I’m not sure how I found something so perfect! (Except that one of the ways it that I know how to use the Google.)

I am working on my application so I will keep you posted whether I am accepted and can fulfill my wildest educational dreams, or rejected and have to apply to McDonald’s instead. I plan to transfer in January of 2013, so I will probably be drunk on erotic holiday spirit for my first day of classes. In my mind, there’s no better preparation for university than a little swig off the bottle of erotic holiday spirit. Can I get a witness?

Sexy Meat and a Birds Nest

Some of you recall from Facebook that one of the citizens of Baker City was deeply in need of the lid of a Weber grill, so they took ours:

That’s what we woke up to the other morning. Grill. Cover on the ground. No lid. Whoever swiped the lid also took a moment to throw B.T.’s cute little plastic motorcycle into our trash can. Way to keep it classy, Baker City!

I checked online to see if I could just buy a replacement lid, but it appears the people who live in classier towns are ruining it for the rest of us and there is zero demand for lids-only in the barbeque world. Both Ryan and I are annoyed that we probably have to buy another grill. And I purposely describe out state of mind as annoyed instead of upset or angry for a few important reasons:

1. We live in Trashy Town. We know we live in Trashy Town.

2. We live in an alley in Trashy Town. We have a lot of weeds so our house looks kind-of trashy. This creates a multi-layered trashy situation.

3. We sometimes leave our belongings outside to frolic among the weeds.

4. We often see shady looking individuals walking up and down our street and alley.

All these factors – shady people + weeds + stuff outside, and probably + marijuana – basically creates an equation that will almost always equal something getting stolen from our yard.

But Sunday, we had the last laugh. Ladies and gentlemen I introduce to you the sexiest way to cook your meat…

TOPLESS GRILLING!! That’s right! Ryan totally cooked us up some burgers without the top on. Ooooo! Did I just feel a wave of sex-heat all up in here? No? Okay, it was probably just the heat coming off the grill. Because there’s no lid to block me from it? Okay? Everyone in the same car of the hilarious joke train?

Those bags of charcoal are scattered about for further trashy effect (as is the empty bottle of lighter fluid nestled amongst the weeds). If we don’t turn them upright by sundown, we’ll probably be missing a wheel off the grill when we wake up. Then things are gonna get reeeeeeal sexy. Like, I’ll probably have to spell it “sexxxy.”

And so, fortified by scandalously-grilled meats, we began our week. Today B.T. started something called “Wee Grow” through the YMCA. This is essentially a 2 days a week, for 6 weeks, program where 2-4 year olds spend 45 minutes socializing and/or doing things with art or or riding their bikes or throwing huge fits when they have to wait their turn to use the sink. I’m pretty excited about it because it gives B.T. a chance to hang out with kids his age in a structured environment, and it was reasonably priced. Almost as reasonably priced as my b-b-q lid! Someone give me some Funny Drums!

So today the theme was “explore” and the kiddos got to make bird’s nests. This was accomplished by painting a paper plate blue, then filling it with various things from nature we had collected out in the parking lot (that was the explore part). I have a question: do parking lots, or do parking lots not, have the best nature? Answer: yes. Yes, they do. So obviously with all the paint, the parking lot nature, and the felt birds these nests were looking pretty incredible. And B.T. had a great time, so score.

He’s so proud of himself, he actually willingly posed for a photo. He also seemed very aware of the fact that the nest was built on a plate. When I told him how great his nest looked, he agreed then said, “It not food.” Which I of course agreed with, since we do not eat sticks, felt, or googly eyes in this household. If we did, though, I’d totally grill them the new sexy way.

And don’t mind the bendy yellow paper on the wall in the background there. I created a configuration on the wall to arrange my frames. A part of the weekend almost as awesome as the sexy grilling. I said almost! No one’s getting carried away here.

Thanks for joining me as I recapped the last couple of days. Was it exciting? Sort-of. Was it sexy? Sometimes. Did it leave us wanting more? Oh, yes. I want the damn lid for my b-b-q back.

This One’s for All the L’Adies

This one’s actually for both the L’Adies and any other grammar nerds out there.

I like going to the gym. No really, I do. I get 30-45 minutes without kids where I put on headphones and I don’t have to think about who’s going to need to be fed and when or how much laundry I have to fold. As an added bonus, exercise is supposedly good for you.

My gym choices here in Baker City are the YMCA or another gym with lots of old machines, including one of those things you stand on with the vibrating belt. Oh and also, this gym has lots of animal heads on the walls. The YMCA has no dead animals on display that I’m aware of, so I go there.

A random tidbit about the gym before we start chomping on the ground beef of this post: the childcare at the YMCA gym is called “Childwatch.” I find this creepy. They should’ve stuck with something bland like “daycare” so people would feel like someone would be caring for their children. You know, during the day. “Childwatch” sounds to me like the staff won’t so much be caring for the children as  trying very hard to prevent the occurrence of a crime.

Now back to the beef. Most days, working out is appropriately uneventful. But there’s this door in the basement, where I do my stretches….

who?

Okay, first of all, I realize the quality of this photo is terrible. The lights weren’t on in this part of the room, and I didn’t want to flip a switch because there was a mentally ill dude working out down there, and sometimes startling mentally ill people ends badly. So no light. Second…

WHAT IS THIS? If you’re thinking bathroom, I was with you 100%. That’s what I thought, too. But nope, it’s not a bathroom. To be honest, knowing there’s no toilet I can use behind the door, I really don’t care what’s actually there. I just want someone to fix that terrible apostrophe.

Anyone have any ideas of what happened here? Did someone mistake “ladies” for French? Or did this person just get really, really grammatically out of control? Not that I blame him.  I’ve been known to get pretty grammatically out of control myself from time to time. Especially if I get crazy and go for an entire bottle of beer instead of my usual half. At that point, anything can happen, you know? Like – I could use the wrong “there/their/they’re.” Whoa! I can’t believe I just typed that! See?  That’s why I gotta stay conservative with my likker.

Thankfully, there is some visual relief (along with some sweet inspiration) about 10 feet away from the L’ADIES door:

go, l’adies, go!

This kind-of sums up why I tolerate the L’ADIES door a couple of times a week in the first place: so I when I’m seventy I will still look good in my spandex leotard, sweatband, and slouchy socks. And I will feel good about myself.

Anyone have any theories about the L’ADIES door? Or something that really bugs you about the gym?