GM and Great Wolf Lodge. Two Great Tastes That Tasted Great Together.

A few months ago, we moved to Houston. For reasons I will never understand, this lady called me up and asked me if I wanted to come hang out with her at the auto show.

I did. She had me at Bumblebee*.

Things I Will Never Be Able To Top: The Transformers Edition

That little trip to the auto show turned into a big trip to Dallas about a month later. Well, Grapevine, if you’re going to be persnickety about it.

We don’t know anything about Texas. We’d never set foot anywhere south of Amarillo before we moved here, and we only went to Amarillo to pick up my ex boyfriend who’d decided to drink himself to death in a sketchy road-side hotel room. Fortunately for him, the hotel owner had other plans. Those plans included not having rotten, southern, drunken rock star corpses ruining his good mattresses. ‘Good’ being a very generous term in this case.

By the way, you know your husband loves you when he is willing to drive 12 hours straight to go get your ex boyfriend, then turn right back around and drive 12 more straight hours to get him home. You also know your ex boyfriend is an absolute dick-wad when he never, ever speaks to either of you again. Ever. Not even 7 years later. Not even though he’s totally your friend on Facebook.

Anyway, Donna asked us if we’d like to take a Chevy and drive the 5 hours up to Grapevine to play at Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend. We did. She had me at roadtrip.

Now the Sun's Comin' Up

We didn’t actually get a “Chevy”, because they’d invited several other bloggers and gave them all the Chevy’s, so poor us got stuck with a Buick Enclave. I know, I know; I don’t know how I survived, either.

I Shall Name Her Kaiser Soze

We packed the kids up at set off to see this “Texas” place we’d heard so much about. You know what? TEXAS IS BEAUTIFUL. Maybe they’re not too big on putting pesky ‘facts’ in school-books, and maybe there is an Un-american lack of decent Indian food, but good lordy, it’s like candy for your eyeballs.

Blackbird, Fly

Well, I thought it was beautiful. My kids were plugged into the Matrix Buick. I’m not even sure they’d realized we weren’t in our house. Oh, wait, they had to have noticed. They could see the floors in the car.

Tuned Out

We got to Great Wolf Lodge about noon on a Saturday, and it did not look like this:

Insomnia Pays Off

You know when you’re in your yard or out taking a walk and you suddenly realize that it’s not a bump you’ve stepped on, it’s a fire ant mount, and in less than half a second, you have creepy little red things climbing all over you and you can’t shake your legs fast enough to get them off and you’re pretty sure you’re about to die a slow, painful death at the hands of pint-sized mercenaries? It was exactly like that.

They Came From Under the Waterpark

But in the awesome way. The boys took on the big waterslides and I took the girl to the kiddie pool, where she learned the hard way that no matter how cute you are, I will not, in fact, let you squirt the babies in the eyes with water guns.

Suck on THAT, Babies. I Can't Wike Awl Duh Fun
{Before, and after. Oh how fickle the heart of a four heart old.}

A Very Cool Hotel RoomWe played so hard, for so long, that we were all passed out dead asleep by 9:30. That’s, like, 8 hours before my husband’s bedtime. We staying in the Kid Kamp Suite, which was totally cool except we had three kids, and it sleeps two, so there was an Epic Battle to the Death for bed space. We had plenty of room for a kid on the grown up side of the room, but the grown up side didn’t have anything you could climb up and get stuck on, and did did have grown ups. Ewww, parents.

The next day, we sent to boys off to get their geek on while we took the girl to Vegas. You think I’m kidding.

Do They Have A GA For The Under 5 Crowd?

Score!

I would tell you how much money my husband dumped into slots at the arcade, but I’m only on, like, the 2nd phase of grief over it, and I just don’t want to acknowledge what happened to my wallet that day. Sufficed to say, a good time was had. By all. Especially the house.

Our boys grabbed Jess’ son and they went out with some hard, wand-hitting Magi’s to go to work on the treasure chests in that lodge.

Magi's

The game is called MagiQuest, and it is loosely defined as, ‘You pay something close to $75 for 3 wands, but what you’re really paying for is 4 hours of peace and quiet, because it will p0wn your kids.’ We didn’t see them again until they’d completed every level of the MagiQuest, which takes them up and down 8 levels of staircases in the hotel, which is so not something I’m even brave enough to think about doing with them.

My love, she has limits.

I decided to take my daughter for a pedicure instead. Because I like to instill really expensive obsessions in my children during their tender years, that’s why. Also because the spa is a parent-free zone, so hello 30 minutes totally alone. Which I totally spent outside the door of the spa. Because I’m an idiot.

Ice Cream Pedicures Prepped to Primp

And then we drove home, and I didn’t have to kill my husband even once. Mostly because of the Marriage Saver feature that comes standard on all Buicks. Except the one Tiger drove. Bygones.

This is the "Marriage Saver" feature

And my kids didn’t have to maim each other, not even once. Mostly because of they didn’t have to acknowledge the other ones existed the whole way home. Which, really, just takes the sport out of the whole ‘Family Roadtrip’ thing. I swear…modern technology is denying our children their childhood.

Angst.

Enclave Meets Kids. Kids Win.
That’s not an adaptor. That is the normal old wall plug, right in the console of the car. This? Changed my life.

So, my less-than ten point summary is this:

  • It was really fun.
  • The buffet restaurant is better than the sit-down restaurant.
  • Stay overnight if you can.
  • Bring cash if you do.
  • Do NOT test out a new feminine hygiene product on your trip.
  • The car was wicked awesome.
  • If you tell your husband that driving a car is like fucking the highway, he’s going to look at you a little differently for the rest of your life.
  • It’s totally worth it.
  • So long as you stay on top.

*I made my family stand in line on opening day for the Transformers movie, and then I wept at its awesomeness. And that is not a theological statement.

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What Have I Become?

I’ve been dipping my fingers in the holy water of crafting a lot more lately. I think that’s mostly because I’ve already cooked everything on the planet, and now I need a new hobby.

I used to be very crafty, way back in the 1900′s, but kids and jobs and spouses kind of sucked all my time away. I’m almost not at all ashamed to admit that I am enjoying my born-again craftiness. Yesterday, I learned to sew. SEW, people.

I am very ashamed, however, to admit that I’ve waited almost 365 full days to review this book.

Paper Crafts Gourmet

Paper Crafts Gourmet (by Paper Craft Magazine) showed up on my doorstep about this time last year, and in the hubbub of Christmas with three kids, it got shelved. And then I couldn’t remember who sent it to me. (Still can’t.) This year, I’m trying to be a less sucktastic, and a little more artsy, and that’s where this book review comes in.

I love to cook, and I’m trying to be more creative, and here’s a cookbook with simple recipes AND the recipes for a craft to go with each one. Step by step instructions on how to make EVERYTHING…food, notecards, gift jars, whatever. It’s insane. And I’m almost not totally ashamed to admit that my little suburban heart skips a beat every time I flip through it.

There’s pretty much one recipe & craft for every season, including American Idol season, so there’s something to do all the time. Most of it seems easy enough that with some patience and the right tools, I could do these with my older boys.

American Idol

Some of it is admittedly a little more kitchy than I am capable of getting, but some of it has insanely useful application in my everyday, my-kid-has-7-teachers-and-it’s-Christmas-time life.  Some of it has practical application in my I’m-too-cool-to-carry-a-lunchbag-to-school-mawm life. And some of it makes my holiday-spirit-life kind of explode.

Lunch Box
Christmas Crafts Teacher Gift
{If you click them, they get bigger}

I love it. There, I said it. I love this damn book and everything it stands for that I swore I never would. I love it the way I love that minivan I’m trying to talk my husband into buying, the way I love the wire reindeer in my front lawn and my candy-cane walkway lights. I love it the way I love the cotton-ball Christmas trees I made with my kids last week.

Cotton Ball Christmas Trees

I love it the way I love this new person I was stolen and replaced with one night.

I am not taking my nose ring out, however. I’m not that done being an angsty 20-something just yet.

{Since I blow so much at getting reviews done on time, I’m going to try to buy my way out of this one by sending three of these out as Christmas gifts from me, to you. Leave a comment to enter, maybe tell me your most atrocious crafting fail? and we’ll draw three names next week.}

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

I have never once put hemmoroid cream anywhere even remotely close to my eyeballs. For the record, and all.

I hear it makes the poofiness under one’s eyes disappear faster than Rod Blagojevich’s career goals but there are things in life I am willing to do, and things in life I am not willing to do, and that’s just the way things are. There are precious few items in the “won’t be doing this lifetime” column, but I can without hesitation also add “rubbing monostat all over my face” to it, no matter how gorgeous Renee looks and no matter how much she blames girly-bit* cream for it.

Maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s Monostat. I’ll take the former, and my $35/gram Makeup 4 Ever primer in green, thank you very much.

I do have a penchant for using one thing to do one other thing it’s fully not intended for. Like, I clean my walls with hairspray. I mop my floors with powered Tide and bleach, my super secret acne spot treater is Close Up toothpaste and a bandaid. If that doesn’t work, I bust out the big guns: Aspirin ground up in a spoon all heroin-style made into a paste. And a bandaid. Bandaids can do anything.

I use chalk to keep ants out, I brush my teeth with straight baking soda and gargle with straight peroxide. I wash my blacks in vinegar and use Mr Clean to get out set stains in my clothes. I have put steeped tea bags on both nipples and, well, you know where else. In public. Childbirth robs you of nothing at all except any sense of dignity. I once used a toothbrush to (redacted). I used a pair of panties I was too lazy to take off as a barrier method of birth control, with amazing results.

We're On a Boat, Mother Fucker.

See: Childbirth. Also, tea bags.

I am fully of the opinion that if you can’t find at least two uses for any one thing, it’s not worth your time or money. Because I’m a cheap bitch, that’s why. I typically use the vitamin E oil I keep lying around for burns and scars on my face for wrinkle control, and it totally works and cost $5,000 less that the actual “wrinkle cream” they try get Penelope Cruz to sell you on tv, and lasts 18 times longer, but it doesn’t do jack shit for the poofiness. Which I have. Partly because I have a Sagittarius rising and partly because ohmygod I haven’t been untired in 11 years, 4 months and 1 day.

That one I blame on a diaphragm and a complete and utter lack of understanding about the female anatomy. Which I blame on Judeao-Christian cults. Another story, another day.

Origins GinZing Eye CreamOrigins sent me this new eye de-poofier and de-duller stuff called GinZing** to try out, so I did, and you know what? I actually think it just might work. It feels all tingly when I put it on, and I don’t seem to be so poofy, and I only look like a got a good heat-butt to the nose instead of my normal baseball bat to the eye look I usually sport. But what do I know? I use duct tape to make my kids sit still and shut up so I can paint all the furniture lavender in one afternoon.

Oh, wait. That was my mother. Worse than ‘Nam, those flashbacks.

Anyway, I’ve got 15 samples to send out so you can tell me if you think it works. Want one? (You know you do. The stuff doesn’t even come out for another month.) Tell me something you use in place of something else, something you probably shouldn’t. And for the record, if you tell me you use alpaca spit as a sexual lubricant, I’m going to ask you to produce a prescription for antibiotics. Also, a handmade scarf. It’s cold in Canada.

*I will never, ever be able to think, say or hear “girly bits” again for the rest of my life and not go here with it. Bugones.

**The official press release goes a little something like this: GinZing™ Refreshing eye cream to brighten and depuff offers a natural wake-up call for visibly tired eyes.  An ideal product for use in times of increased mental and physical stress, when the eye area is prone to appear puffy and tired, it also addresses everyday fatigue symptoms with ingredients that increase cellular energy, fortify skin and even skin tone so that eyes appear vibrant and glowing with health.  It can be applied first thing in the morning or throughout the day when you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up.

And you thank thank/bitchslap Randomizer.org for naming these 15 bloggers the recipients of some lovely eye cream:

Janet
Overflowing Brain
Tadpole Drain
Veronica
MN (really, dude, you SO need a blog. I think you’ve put it off long enough.)
Kori
Midlife Mama
Amo
ZDub
Cori
Alison of a Gun
Lorna
Erica Mueller (who is also without blog)
Jenn (and NEITHER does Jenn, and there are 18 million Jenn’s but she’s the first baby wipes comment.)
Kim Prince

GIVE ME YOUR ADDRESSES!

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BlogHer Tattoos

Houston, we have a hook-up.

I did a bunch of research on tattoo shops near the BlogHer 09 conference and found The Tattoo Factory in Uptown Chicago. They’ve been in business since I was one, making them the oldest continually run tattoo studio in Chicago and making me old as fuck.  They have an amazing group of talented and award-winning artists on staff, and they are more than sympathetic to our cause.

They’ve offered us a rather nice deal over the weekend of the conference.

Rather than all of us scheduling work here, there and everywhere, they’ve offered to not only get us all in and done up at their place, they’re giving all BlogHer attendees 20% off all tattoos and piercings over the weekend, from July 22nd to July 26th.  They’ve arranged with the bar next door for us to receive one free drink with any work done, and anyone from BlogHer who shows up at the shop, work or not, gets $1 off drinks and $2 off appetizers on top of that, and a Tattoo Factory t-shirt on the house.

Oh, and he’s given me a $50 gift certificate and two $25 gift certificates to his studio to give away to y’all. Which doesn’t suck.

You can check out all the artists here and then call (773) 989-4077 to book an appointment.  They will accept walk-ins for small tattoos as time is available, but they strongly recommend making appointments in advance, seeings how they’re totally busy on the weekends as it is, without a shitton of bloggers coming by for work.

So, what about you who aren’t coming, or who aren’t planning on getting divorced tattooed?  Yeah, there’s something for you, too.  Meet Lu.  Lu has a shop on Etsy called Below 14th (and she’s got a blog, too) and in her Etsy shop called Below 14th she sells jewelry that is handmade to order, one of a kind, and occasionally fashioned after tattoos.  Like these.

True; Below 14thBad Apple; Below 14th 

And she’s given me one of each of those to give away as well, so that maybe if you’re not getting a tattoo you can still get a tattoo, you know?  She’s giving one person, attendee or not, 30% off any order from her site, and all of us 10% off any order from her site by using the code BlogHer until July 1st.  Her jewelry is custom made, so if you’re hoping to pick up a new set of earrings to wear to the conference, I’d order before July to make sure your stuff gets to you in time.

For the record, my birthday is March 20th and I wouldn’t cry at all if this showed up at my door.  Just sayin’.

So that’s the deal.  There are three tattoo studio gift certificates and three jewelry items being given away, and to win one just leave a comment here.  No silliness, no pimping out necessary, just leave a comment and mention whether you’d like a something from the Tattoo Factory or something from Below 14th.  5 winners will be randomly chosen on July 1st, and the sixth winner, the one who gets to choose first what they’ll win, will be whoever comes up with a design for my tattoo, because god do I need input.  Make this gorgeous, and email it to heymrlady@gmail.com with tattoo in the subject line, and I may just have this lady dig your design into my skin for all eternity:

and the grasses will still be singing

Simple, huh?  You’d think.

The Tattoo Factory can also be found on twitter at @tattoofactory, and the official Twitter hashtag if you absolutely must use one is #BlogHerTat.

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Neighborhood Wishes and Ice Cream Dreams

BlogHer approached me and asked if I had anything to say on the subject of neighbors and ice cream for a BlogHer review for Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Neighborhood Salute. Oh, good lordy, do I ever.

For more, head on over to this review’s new home at Whiskey in My Sippy Cup. All the comments have been moved over as well!

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Charmed, By Karen.

CharmsMy best friend Molly told me one day that a friend of hers was a jewelry maker and that I ought to look at her stuff on Etsy. And I did. Because I love Etsy and Molly has impeccable taste.  And I thought it was very pretty, gorgeous actually, but wasn’t quite sure if it was me. Because I don’t exactly do charms. I hardly do mascara, after all.

So Molly’s friend, Karen, sent me a few to see up close. I asked her to send me her personal favorites, one of her autism awareness ones and one other one that I absolutely had to touch. She sent the two I asked for and two others, both in the picture.

These things are seriously the bomb.  Like, enough that I think I’m a charm person now.  I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do with the two charms with crystals, but when I looked at her site I saw this:

* Add to your cell phone * Add to your key chain * Hang from your rear view mirror
* Hang from a lamp/fan pull cord * Wrap around your purse strap * Hang from your backpack * Hang from a wrapped gift
* Add as a decorative zipper pull on your coat, coin pouch, purse, diaper bag, knitting bag, messenger bag, lap top bag

Um, light pulls? ALL OVER THAT. I’ve got one hanging off the little tiny zipper on my little tiny change purse right this very second. Yes, I have a change purse. I’m trying to be a girl over here, people.

I’m itching to send someone the pair of BFF charms because it would be cute, and I’m dying to send some poor, unsuspecting fool the handcuff charm, because it would be really hard to talk your way out of that with the missus, and would totally make me giggle.  At Christmas, these things are SO going on the ribbons of gifts.  They cost as little as $4 for many of them, and just a few like that purple on in the picture go up to $13, but that is the most expensive one I’ve found on her site so far.

She makes them by hand, they are crazy sturdy and stunningly, ornately detailed.  They are really, really inexpensive and would make a totally rad gift for your mom or your friends daughter’s 9th birthday.  I mean, she sends them to you like this:
Charms in bags
Dude, you had me at metallic pull-string bag.  Her site is on Etsy and it’s called Charmed By Karen.  It’s totally worth a peek.

Oh, and one other thing…if you’re itching to either get your kid into the occult or put a hex on her bedroom, simply request the Ouija board charm, get it, love it with everything you have in you, hang it on your keychain, go vacuum the upstairs while your daughter plays unattended and find your keys under her bed hours later, sans charm.

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DTXTR

For the record, I see the letters ‘DTXTR’ and I think Dexter.  Because I’m ancient.

BlogHer asked me to review LG’s new service called DTXTR (detexter, for all you text-challenged people) and I jumped on the chance because really, I cannot read all that 2 and CUL8R stuff.  I’ve actually posted things on Craigslist and refused to reply to anyone who couldn’t be bothered to type out “too.”  Because I’m ancient.

The problem is that like it or not, that’s how kids write.  If I want to intercept their emails from their friends understand the emails they send me, I’m going to have to learn to speak their language.  Hell, if I’m going to understand what they say to me at the mall, I’m going to have to learn this.  My 9 year old stood up to leave the dinner table the other night, turned to me and said, “Bee Are Bee” which was exactly as laborious as actually saying Be Right Back, but not nearly as cool I guess.

Say hello to Generation Text.

I asked my boys to send me a few texts and of course, they sent me stuff like, “Can I go 2 the store?” which even I can translate into, “Can I borrow $10?”  This does not an interesting review make.  So I called for reinforcements.  I emailed my friend Janet for help, who has a 14 year old daughter who just so happened to be on a bus with 40 14 year olds on her way to a weekend long cheerleading tournament.  THIS an interesting review makes.

Roo Girl and her friends agreed to hit me with their best shot and sent me this:

omg wtf u just totaly fml dont lol @ me its not supa kewl u gave away tmi so wont ttyl bubi

And then I twitched a little.

So I typed the whole thing in the box on the website, and it told me the definition wasn’t found.  Which is a bummer.  But then I typed the words in and translated them one by one and lo and behold…it almost read that whole text back to me.  And told me that Roo Girl said What The F*** to her friend, so she’s grounded.

Busted, Missy.

Still, I’d have liked it if I could type in more than one phrase at a time.  Especially when she sent me this:

wats wit tht gurk shes prlly the biggestt dbag ive eva met i g2g dindin ily ttfn xox

And then my head exploded.

So one by one, I typed THOSE words into the box on the website.  It thinks ‘wit’ means ‘wordsmith in training’, which is not only wrong but quite hilariously wrong.  It didn’t pick up the words like ‘dbag’ and ‘tht’ which just had a letter or two dropped, but it did recognize ‘ily’ which I thought just meant Illy, as in ‘rad’, but really just means I Love You.  It also caught ‘g2g’ which means ‘got to go’ and ‘ttfn’ which means ‘ta ta for now’.  I should have figured those ones out on my own, I know, but I couldn’t.  Because I’m ancient.

What’s nice is that if you find a text word that it doesn’t know, like ‘dbag’, you can add it to the library so some other lucky parent will be able to see that her kid thinks it’s acceptable to call someone a douchebag.  It takes a village, people.

 Doing my civic duty

But then I realized that this isn’t just a tool to help me spy on my kids actively parent my children, it can help me in other, more crucial areas of my life.  Other crucial areas being Twitter.  I can’t be the only one who’s had to ask the collective consciousness what FTW means, or kthnxbai, or half the stuff people say on Twitter for that matter.

noob1
Duh

Rather than look like a noob in front of half the globe, I can just type ‘plzkthx’ in and get a translation in the privacy of my own home.  Or I can type in ‘okay, thanks, bye!’ and it’s tell me how to write that the cool way.  Because I’m ancient, but I don’t want you to know that. 

BlogHer and LG have teamed up to give away 5 LG mobile phones away.  Go check out the LGDTXTR site and enter at to win at BlogHer.com!

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