From the category archives:


When Mother In Laws Attack

by Mary Anne on April 13, 2009

This is my Step Mother In Law.

She is small.

She is French.

She is vicious.

Not really. She is very small and French but she’s about as vicious as a teddy bear. I know it looks like we got into some type of backyard brawl here but in reality, it was the annual “Battle of the Confetti” eggs and she pretty much kicked my butt.

Teams were chosen.

Children were attacked.

There was the thrill of victory….

…and the agony of defeat.

Consolation came in the form of Peeps…

…and everyone was happy again.


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by Mary Anne on March 11, 2009

..and you thought this was going to be a recipe post. Sorry, it’s not.

Have you ever noticed how certain smells or tastes take you back in time? Could be anything. The smell of a candle, a certain perfume, an Easter ham….so many things can trigger memories from childhood.

For me? It’s Chop-Suey.

My Mom used to make Chop-Suey for all important family events. It is important to note here that we are not even a little bit Asian, I am only a only a third generation American on my Mother’s side…and very, very Irish. But my Mom? She loved her some Chop-Suey and so she found a way to make a slightly Irish version of it. Beef and Pork combined, it was the stuff of the Gods when I grew up. She made it in an electric skillet (remember those?) and I swear it melted in my mouth.

In the 17 years since she died, I have missed this dish more than I can say. To me, it symbolized family gatherings and jokes about how innapropriate it was for some holidays. (July 4th? Maybe not the most representative dinner choice.)

The thing was, it was always there. And when she was no longer among us…it vanished and I missed it so much. To me, it represented comfort…being with her and my Dad, family surrounding us. The fact that she was no longer cooking that dish was a small death in and of itself. Because to me, it was like a hug from her.

After she died, I waited a very long time before I opened the avacado green tin that held her recipes, most of which were written by hand lovingly from her family and friends. Not categorized like us mommies do now, just stuffed in a little box. When I finally did open it, the flood of emotions that came from it almost flattened me. You see, they smelled like the house I grew up in. All captured in a tiny tin, just waiting for me to open it like Pandora’s Box and let loose a flood of painful tears.

I dug for that recipe for hours while still leaving everything in tact. Look at the note card pulled out with the words “Spinich Balls” from a friend of hers. That stuff? Plus the smell? Is PRICELESS.

But the one recipe I wanted was not there. Because that was the one dish she made from her heart. For me. Because I was the one who demanded it at every possible turn.

So for some reason the other night, after not having thought about it for a few years, I dreamed about it. And I dreamed I was cooking it for a bloggy friend of mine that has gone missing for a while. For the first time ever, I remembered the ingredients which I could not before. I remembered that she sauteed the meat, and the ingredients she added. All of this before has been a loss to me…I’ve struggled for years to remember it.

After the kids got on the bus to go to school, The Man asked me what might be a great rainy day dinner for us to which I answered, “Chop-Suey…I really, really want Chop-Suey today.”

I have to say, I may have married the most amazing man on the planet because after I told him what I remembered he researched the recipe on the internet and he found almost an exact duplicate and cooked it for me last night. I smiled through the entire meal as memories of happy gatherings with friends and family rushed back to me, all the while feeling like somehow my Mother was sitting there with us, creating laughter with her jokes and making guests feel like they were at home. My Mother was amazing, and last night, for just a moment, my husband brought her back to me.

So tell me…what’s your memory trigger and when is the last time you experienced it?

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More Than You Ever Wanted To Know…My 100th Post

by Mary Anne on January 4, 2009

I can’t believe it’s already here…my 100th post! Being the rule breaker I normally am, I am surprised that I wanted to do the whole 100 list. I thought about it a lot and then realized I owe you guys a look into the real deal that is me. You read me, you think you know me, but you don’t really. I give you snarky looks into my thoughts, my kids, my relationship with my husband…but nothing about what makes me tick…the stuff that has happened to me in my life that makes me who I am today. I also realized that I am doing this as much for me as I am just to share with you, I needed to categorize my life into points to examine it from a distance and in doing so, appreciate every moment of it. It’s not all happy, it’s not all good…but some of it gave me such joy and love. It’s truly been a rollercoaster…so here it is…

  1. In my life, I have been bone crushing poor, fairly wealthy and now live somewhere in the middle….which is the best and most comfortable place to be. And I am thankful for every step of the way because I learned so much. I have been blessed with a family straight out of a Leave It To Beaver episode and friends that I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to find, let alone keep.
  2. I was born in Dallas more years ago than I care to mention
  3. My parents were the most happily married people I ever met.
  4. I have not one complaint about my up-bringing.
  5. My greatest success in life will be if I can be half the Mom my Mother was.
  6. I am an only child.
  7. In grade school, I was considered obese.
  8. Kids used to jump out of their chairs when I sat down like there was an earthquake.
  9. I hated most of the kids that did that until my 20th reunion.
  10. I have since forgiven because there is so much more to be worried about.
  11. In high school I was in Drill Team.
  12. I tried out for cheerleader and didn’t make it.
  13. I am now thankful for not making cheerleader because it taught me a valuable lesson in life…it won’t always go your way, no matter how much you want it.
  14. When I didn’t make cheerleader, my Mother gave me a little present to try and make me feel better.
  15. I acted like a total bitch.
  16. I wish more than anything I could take that moment back.
  17. I was not a total bitch however, to a skinny little popular girl named Lisa, who 27 years later is still one of my best friends and lives only a few streets over….because even if we don’t talk every day, it feels good to be near each other. I love you Weezie.
  18. I fell in love for the first time with a boy named John Mark Griffin. John Mark, if you were to by some odd consequence to come across my blog? Thank you for being a gentleman and never asking me to compromise my values…because I probably would have…and to this day, I hope the first love of my daughters life is as respectful as you.
  19. I went to college at Stephen F Austin in Nacodoches, Texas.
  20. I made a ton of great friends that I didn’t keep up with. I wish I had.
  21. I never finished college. I had to come home because my Father was dying.
  22. I regret not finishing college.
  23. But I don’t regret the reasons why I didn’t.
  24. My Dad died in my arms and it haunts me to this day.
  25. I never went back to college because I had to take care of my Mother.
  26. I will never regret that decision either.
  27. After my Dad died and I came home I made some VERY. BAD. DECISIONS. Not a point of my life I am proud of.
  28. My Mother fell apart when my dad died and I had to grow up and pick up the tiny little pieces left behind.
  29. I don’t regret that part either, although at the time it was….not fun.
  30. She never really bounced back even though depressed she was still the funniest person I ever met…and such a good friend.
  31. She was my very best friend of all.
  32. She introduced me to another best friend…Gretchen…who some 20 odd years later, still makes me laugh every time I talk to her…Gotchy, thank you for being a great friend and a good example to my son…I love you.
  33. I, um, shall we say “kissed a lot of frogs” in the 80′s. A LOT. Again, not proud.
  34. I dated one guy for four and a half years that was the most verbally abusive human I have ever met. After him I dated a slew of losers that made me doubt my self worth and damaged any hope I had for ever becoming successful.
  35. But then I met a guy who changed my life forever.
  36. I met my future husband in a bar. He proposed about 300 times before I accepted…and I am not kidding.
  37. I am thankful he met my Mom…because she loved him more than any guy I ever brought home before him.
  38. She died 6 weeks after we got engaged.
  39. I still lived with her because I was picking up the tiny pieces still from my Dad dying and I wasn’t home the night she had a fatal heart attack.
  40. I think if I had been home I could have saved her. I will NEVER forgive myself for that night EVER.
  41. To this day, I think it’s my fault she died…and I punish myself for it a little bit each day…so many years later.
  42. I still cry at least once a week when I think of her, almost 17 years later…that wound will never heal.
  43. I still think to this day she was waiting to make sure there was someone in the wings that would love me the way she did. Thank you Mom….he does.
  44. The Man and I got engaged six weeks after the first day we kissed…well, that and other stuff.
  45. Sometimes you know when right is right and you just go for it.
  46. We didn’t tell anyone for six months. SIX MONTHS!!!!!
  47. When The Man proposed to me formally so we could tell my Mom, he broke out in hives, even though we had been secretly engaged for six months and I’m pretty sure he knew what the answer was.
  48. We couldn’t afford an engagement ring at the time so his Mom gave us a cocktail ring his Dad gave her a long time ago when they were still married.
  49. We got married on a ski slope two years later.
  50. My entire family was late.
  51. His, was not.
  52. Thankfully so was the JP (a woman) who married us as well.
  53. After we got married, we lived in the house I had grown up in and it fell down around our ears. And by this, I mean the roof was falling in…really.
  54. He worked three jobs trying to support us while trying to literally put the roof back on the house by himself before it fell in completely.
  55. I worship him for that to this day.
  56. We finally bought our first (non falling down) house in Carrolton, Texas. It was great. And we were very proud of it.
  57. We had next door neighbors that we would sit in the front yard with and get totally smashed on Halloween…I wish I knew where they are now because they were awesome.
  58. We dreamed of starting a family but we couldn’t afford it.
  59. And then I got a job at a start up called Yahoo.
  60. My job at Yahoo came courtesy of my third best friend Traci….who has had to put up with my craziness perhaps more than all the other BFF crowd. Traci, you are my apex and I don’t have to tell you how much I love you….we say it to each other all the time, not with words but with the bond we share and the bond our children are forming.
  61. And I got pregnant.
  62. My favorite movie in the entire world is, “It’s a Wonderful Life” so when I found out I was pregnant, I came home and said, “Mr Man Lasoos Stork!” and he almost fell over.
  63. I still remember exactly where he was standing when I told him.
  64. We moved to a bigger house in Coppell, Texas a few months before Mr. C was born.
  65. We had the most awesome neighbors there as well.
  66. I went into labor with Mr. C at work and refused to leave.
  67. It was a Monday.
  68. I got home and started making a lot of noise during Monday Night Football.
  69. The Man did not like that.
  70. 21 hours later…and only two of those with drugs, Mr. C made his entry into the world…and my whole life changed.
  71. I love my son more than life itself.
  72. And my job was crazy….i traveled all the time and missed his first steps.
  73. And then I got pregnant again and quit when I was six months along and took four years off..
  74. We moved to again two weeks before Miss G was born.
  75. The house we moved into was designed from the ground up by me….architecture, knobs on cabinets….everything….and it was magnificent.
  76. I unpacked the entire house during my nesting phase.
  77. And then 9/11 happened. And the world changed.
  78. I delivered Miss G three days later on 9/14…but I had gestational diabetes and they took her away for six hours…but when they brought her to me, she looked like the most perfect girl I had ever seen.
  79. My heart split in two and I learned as much as you love the first baby, you love the second one just as much.
  80. And your husband even more than you already did.
  81. After Miss G was past her first year, I went to cooking school.
  82. Before that I couldn’t boil an egg.
  83. I am now an excellent cook when I choose to be.
  84. Miss G started pre-school and Mr. C started elementary school.
  85. I joined the PTA.
  86. That was a bad decision.
  87. After a year of listening to bickering and taking slack from a woman who wore a t-shirt to school that said “Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy” I actually said “Fuck y’all” and walked the hell out.
  88. Best decision I ever made.
  89. Love the women there now, I think I just lucked into an extremely dysfunctional year.
  90. We moved out of the house I built and into another one because the area we lived in was not exactly kid friendly and we found that the house, as grand as it was, no longer made us happy.
  91. Through the process of living in that grand house and then moving out of it and the speculation that went on in our neighborhood, I realized I had a fourth best friend…the fourth horseman actually…in the form of a woman named Korey who made me realize that I could balance my life and a big career because she has been the master of that for many, many years. Korean sister…I love you and you know it.
  92. I went back to work for CBS Digital.
  93. I worked for a guy that I would kill for to this day….Chris Fix? You hear me? You gave me all of my confidence back and for that? I am forever grateful and in your debt. I mean that my friend.
  94. A couple of jobs later I am at another company whose name I will not say, but I’m happy.
  95. My children are now 10 and 7.
  96. Mr. C is the most thoughtful child I have ever met. His heart breaks at the thought of hurting someones feelings and he gives the best snuggles ever.
  97. Miss G is a life force unto itself. She is thoughtful as well, but will not think for a minute before shutting you down in the most public manner possible.
  98. The apple, it would seem, does not fall far from the tree.
  99. And I am still….almost 15 years later, married to The Man.
  100. We have had more than our fair share of ups and downs and to this day, I am so thankful for that very fateful day when I met him in a bar and acted every inch not the lady…and he fell in love with me anyway.

So to all of those that read me, first of all….THANK YOU. You have made my day as I have gotten to know all of you. My life is forever changed for having the pleasure of getting to know you, in real life or just in cyber space…I am so very thankful for each and every one of you.

And to each and every member of my family and friends, whether mentioned or not, I am the luckiest girl in the world for having the support system around me that I do…I love you all!

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Baby Punk’d

by Mary Anne on December 10, 2008

I promised a while back, I’d share another embarrassing story about what a total disappointment I can be as a Mother. This one’s a biggie so go grab a coffee, take a bio break or whatever you need to do, because I cannot be responsible for your reaction, mental or physical, to this one when you read it.

Seven years ago, I was out shopping for Christmas wrapping paper at my favorite place on earth, The Container Store. It’s an annual excursion that The Man and I will probably be making this weekend. That year however, I was on my own though as The Man was at work and so I ventured out with one six week old infant and one potty training almost three year old in tow. I thanked numerous customers as they ooo’d and awe’d over Miss G…she looked adorable, no doubt about it. Sorta like this:

My Christmas papers and their bows at that time were a work of art. First a main “theme” paper would be chosen. Then, about five different selections that compliment the winner of the main “theme” would need to be found. Meticulous precision was applied to this process and the time involved was nothing short of legendary. (BTW, this was way back when I had the time to think it through, in the years since, I’ve seriously looked at trying a brown paper bag theme, and bows would be optional) Papers were examined carefully, auditioned against other papers for their ability to blend, yet leave the main theme paper dominant. The Container Store was the only place this could happen because they have the best selection and the best quality. And yes, I am aware that all of this collectively makes me a huge pain in the ass. But you already knew that, right?

After making my final starring and supporting cast wrapping paper selections, the three of us proceeded to checkout. That’s when Mr. C sounded the bell that it was time to make a side trip to the restroom. When you are in the middle of potty training there really is no time to waste and so we high tailed it to the bathroom. Thankfully, the extra big stall with the diaper changing station was open and we ran in.

I decided to go for a two for one and while Mr. C did his bidness, I woke up my perfectly behaved, well dressed little angel to change her diaper. Miss G complied by opening her enormous blue eyes and flashing me the most adorable cherubic toofless grin.

Mr. C, however, decided compliance was not in order that day. He finished his bidness and summarily ran out of the stall and much to my horror continued on through the open door of the restroom and into the general population just as I was finishing her diaper up. In my mind, in this highly civilized store, there was the one person lurking immediately beyond the door who would grab him and take him away from me forever as he ran out by himself. And I freaked. Big Time. I snapped her onsie shut threw her pants over my shoulder, put her in her carrier and picked it up full steam ahead.

Only I forgot something.

In my madness, I had not fastened the seat belt in her carrier and as I lunged forward, the handle locked and tiny Miss G became a baby projectile. She sailed through the air silently as I dropped the carrier and tried to catch her all the while yelling, “SOMEBODY STOP HIM!!!!”. I realized at that moment my catching skills suck and she landed, face down, on the floor of the bathroom with the most sickening THUD I have ever heard. For what seemed like eternity, but was probably about 2 seconds she didn’t move…because let’s face it, at six weeks she couldn’t lift her head and was more than likely as stunned as I was and wondering…”What the hell, Mommy???” I reached down and grabbed her up, she looked confused and there was a little blood coming out of her nose.

Convinced I had killed or at least limited her ability to ever have a cohesive thought in all of her life, I ran screaming from the bathroom only to be greeted by a woman who worked there and had heard all the commotion. She had grabbed Mr. C and had him in hand as I sobbed and put Miss G back into her carrier, carefully snapping the seatbelt this time. She even helped me to the car where she gave me a hug as I started to get in my car. (More reasons I love The Container Store…their employees are happier than those at Disney)

I called The Man at work and told him through my sobs how I had tried to kill our daughter as we raced to the emergency room. Miss G had dozed back to sleep at this point which I interpreted as a sign of a concussion. The Man was rushing to meet us at the ER and the whole way there I told Mr. C to do the things he normally loved to do, namely poke her and throw things at her to wake her up. Blood still seeping out of her nose and not waking up, we practically flew to the emergency room, Mr. C enjoying the ride of his life where he was allowed to torture this frilly little thing that had invaded his turf so recently and taken the spotlight off him.

We got there, and I ran in with both kids, still sobbing and basically telling them to go ahead and call CPS because I was the most horrible mother EVER and should not be entrusted with my own children. On and on I went, giving a graphic description of everything that had happened…I was almost hyperventilating.

Guess what they did?

They laughed at me. Yes, laughed. Because while I was busy telling them how I had tried to kill my beautiful baby by throwing her on the nasty floor of the bathroom, she had opened her eyes behind my back and was smiling at the receptionist. Like this:

After assuring me that this type of thing happens all the time and I was not in fact the very worst mother on the planet, they said she should be checked out just to be safe. The Man raced in, freaking out, just as a really hot Doctor came in to examine her. That’s when our daughter made her first big move….she blew a spit bubble at him and giggled for the first time in her life. Little bloody nose, freaked out mom, hospital scene in full force…this was Miss G’s first attempt at flirting.

Dr. McDreamy (because in my memory now he totally looks like Patrick Dempsey) laughed and flirted back at her at which point she pulled her utlimate “come hither” move and wiggled her toes at him. She checked out just fine but I think I knew at that moment, this little thing, this prissy girl I wanted all my life, had just Baby Punk’d me and would be doing so for a long time to come.

You know what? Seven years later, she still Punks us and she wins….EVERY TIME.

On the next edition of “Who On Earth Thought It Was A Good Idea To Let These Two Have Children” I’ll tell you how The Man and I taught Mr. C to cuss like a sailor before he was two. As far as parents go, we really are impressive.

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I don’t know who these children are but they certainly aren’t mine. Yesterday, two children I have never met joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. Perfectly behaved, joyful even….and causing zero property destruction. I mentioned to a few of you that my in-laws house is decorated entirely in white.

Yeah, I wasn’t kidding. Guess what? Not a single paw print on that furniture yesterday.

We got through dinner without a single fight. Thoughtful blessings were said, napkins placed in laps and not once were the words, “THAT’S DISGUSTING!” yelled about food. Best manners were out in full force. I was so proud.

After dinner, Miss G played with her Grandaddy…

…while Mr. C morphed into a real estate mogul during a game of Monopoly.

They even let me and The Man relax for a few minutes.

See that suspicious look on The Man’s face? He totally wasn’t believing that this good behavior could last for any meaningful amount of time.

But it did. They are still on their best behavior today. Either they want something or they are secretly plotting against us….could go either way. Whoever these well behaved children are, they are welcome to stay in my house for as long as they would like.

And they can even keep calling me Mom.

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