It looks like I’m rotting from the inside out, Lily Chin.

When I was in high school, my skin was highly imperfect.

Sadly, when you take a girl who is already a bit of a social disaster (me! I was the piano playing introvert who always kept the words Boy and Friend separate!) and you tap her with a Yucky Skin stick, you end up with someone who spends entirely too much time staring at her own feet as she walks down the hall. (This might explain my current fascination with shoes! I would look so CUTE falling down in these!)

Anyway, my mom knew that I was bummed out about my skin, so she took me to see a dermatologist. After shining bright lights on me for what seemed like hours, the doctor removed his glasses and said, “So, your skin’s imperfect. You’re not going to kill yourself, are you?!” I had no idea how to respond, so I simply apologized for setting up the appointment. (Quick news flash: The last I heard, this dermatologist was in prison! Catch a painted pony and so forth!)

Fast forward entirely too many years to January 2010. Last month I noticed that my skin was starting to look like crap again. Dry, oily, irritated, sensitive, scary, spicy, posh, etc. I visited my primary care physician last week (you know, because My Dermatologist is in PRISON) and am now washing my face with a benzoyl peroxide soap and using something called Metro Gel, which I believe brings me one step closer to my goal of Urban Cowboy status. I have no idea why I’m telling you this. I suppose I really just want to say: Stop looking at my chin. I have no idea what’s going on down there, but I’ve been assured that Metro Gel is on the case.

I’m pleased to report that I’ve just finished my final freelance chapter.

I’m terrified to report that I’ve just finished my final freelance chapter.

(I realize it’s only a matter of time until I accept my next job, so all is well. I’m very lucky to be able to live like this.)

The UPS man just delivered the Adult Makeup I ordered last week. Have I mentioned that I’ll be forty soon? I really should start adding more fiber to my diet or Sensitive Skin products to my makeup drawer or money to my kids’ college funds or something.

I’ve spent the entire weekend listening to Mumford and Sons. They’re exactly what I need right now.

Time is running out!
Tonight I’m giving away a $200 Visa gift card, and it’s all about pizza.

I spent a week driving a Lincoln, and if you check out my review you could win a $500 Visa gift card! (And more!) This is a really great giveaway! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

I need help getting out of my dress pickle!

Okay, internet. You helped me before. Will you help me again?

It looks as if the Pudding Family will be embarking on a situation that will require us to stand in front of over 100 people in church tomorrow morning.

(We’re going to be singing “Eye of the Tiger.”) (Not really.)

Anyway, because I rarely leave the house, I don’t really have any dress-up clothes that carry the style I’m currently striving for. Do you want three adjectives? Vintage, French, Quirky. (I know. Shut up.)

Last night I went to the store I tend to rely on entirely too much. Kohl’s. I’m never happy with what I purchase there. In fact, whenever I leave, I feel as if I have Settled. This morning I went to Target (for Valentines and tights), and ended up falling in silly love with a goofy little dress.

Internet, here are your choices:

Option Number One is a Chaps dress purchased at Kohl’s. As you can see, it is short sleeved and it sort of sashays a bit. You’ll also notice that we own the Fat Albert box set, and we keep it on the floor by the fireplace. To me, Option Number One says, “Hey, Hey, Hey! I’m prosaic!”


Option Number Two (shown here in a very unflattering photo) is the Target dress. It also has short sleeves, but in the photo I’m wearing it with a super-cute sweater, which I also found at Target. To me, Option Number Two sort of says, “I’m a (insert adjective here) flight attendant!”


Help me?

(I feel like I need to add a parenthetical aside telling you that I KNOW I look ultra tired and that I have no idea how to stand for photos. I really am super-awkward. And sleepy.)

Thank you in advance for your wisdom. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Internet? You’re going to think I’m crazy.

Okay. Do you remember me telling you that I knitted hats and mittens for a few of the teachers at school? If you follow that link, pay special attention to the part about the coach who gets Meredith out of the car every morning with a smile and a “Good morning, Meredith!”

Anyway, I made this hat for the coach, and we gave it to him two days before Christmas break began.

On the day before Christmas break, I saw him in the hall, and he (wearing the hat) came up and said, “My wife told me today is the last day I get to wear this hat, because she’s taking it for herself!”

I told this story to a good friend of mine, and her first response was, “Don’t do it. Don’t tell me you’re actually thinking about knitting a hat for his wife.”

Oh, people. Because I’m so “La la laaaah! Everyone should get what they want for Christmas! Benevolence!”, I DID knit the hat—the same hat, only black. I also gave it a lavender rinse, and it’s currently drying on my dining room table.

This morning when I took Meredith to school, the coach was not wearing his hat. And suddenly, I was struck with hesitance. What if that whole story about the wife taking the hat was his (very clever) way of telling me not to expect him to wear that stinking hat to school every morning?! He covered himself the same exact way I often cover MYSELF. But maybe he wasn’t covering. Maybe he really did dig the hat.

Wait a second. Can we take time out for me to sing that Paul Simon song with the “Maybe I Think Too Much” lyrics? No? You have no time for that? Well, okay then.

My question for  you: Should I give him the extra hat, or will he then feel like he HAS to wear the first hat to school?

Do you torture yourself like this? (And don’t even tell me how ridiculous I’m being, because I know! Believe me, I already know! I have a Xanax prescription for this very reason!)

Oh! A few of you asked about the recipe for the warm salad I mentioned earlier in the week. It was the Insalata Toscano from Brio. Hooray for Christmas gift cards! ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Vanilla Long John Love with a Side of Fiona Apple

This morning I dropped Meredith off at school, returned home with Harper, made coffee, started a load of laundry, plopped down onto the couch, and remembered that I haven’t pulled up Fluid Pudding in over a week.

Whiny Paragraph: I barely made it through the evening of Meet the Teacher last week. Argh. I’m not sure if it’s my general lack of adult interaction or the fact that I’ve always been socially awkward, but any time I spoke to someone that evening, my lip got all quivery and my eyes twitched and I’m sure I looked palsy bound. I have no idea why I get so rattled. Is this why people take Xanax? Is this why people drink wine throughout the day? Is this why some people (namely, Angela Pudding) should choose to stay home and watch crap television instead of attempting to exchange a simple round of small talk? I really thought throwing on a cute skirt would give me at least an hour of sparkling confidence. The spooky trees failed me.

In Which I Attempt to Turn my Frown Upside Down (And, I Fail!): But enough about that! School is now in session! Meredith adores first grade! Harper is in love with Pre-K! I had sushi for lunch yesterday and Gokul for dinner! On a semi-related note, I’m back on Weight Watchers and am six pounds into my fourteen pound goal. (As much as I complain about Weight Watchers, it really does work for me. You know, when I actually do it instead of simply talking about it.) Jeff’s class reunion is coming up in a few months, and I already know that the room will be filled to the brim with Lovelies, and I also already know that there’s not nearly enough time for me to get the adequate amount of therapy that will allow me to be a social butterfly that evening. SO, at least I can try to fit into one of my favorite “sit in a corner and eat toasted ravioli” dresses. Also, spunky shoes might help. Yes, I said Spunky.

Something happened last Friday that has never happened before. As a woman from the lab took a bunch of blood out of my arm, she told me that I have super cute feet. And because I generally am not a foot person and always feel awkward in sandals (Wait. I truly AM a disaster, aren’t I?!), I decided to ramble a bit too much about how the color I’m wearing is OPI’s “Over the Taupe” and that Alison Sweeney wears it on Days of Our Lives and the more I talked The More I Talked. So, yeah. Over the Taupe. I love it in the same way that I love buying a new pen and a new notebook. It’s that GOOD kind of love. Vanilla Long John Love. (Although, I tend to prefer mine unfilled.)

(I bought fresh ginger yesterday! And the kind folks on Facebook taught me how to prepare it! Balance! Can you tell that I’m scowling more than usual today?! Meredith kicked the cat last night, and I’m still not really over it. Also, Seasonique? Yeah. It failed me this week. I will not elaborate. Ginger in my bok choy tonight!)

In about three weeks I’ll be making my annual trip to Chicago to buy yarn. My goal is to buy a silk/wool blend to make a black one of these and perhaps something neutral with a lot of drape to make one of these. I’m also keeping my eyes open for something black and shiny to make another one of these. Also, there will be grits. And two nights in a hotel. The possibility of a martini. And because it’s a road trip? Nutter Butters and coffee—the perfect road trip snack.

Two hours have passed since I first sat down at the computer. I just dropped Harper off at school, meaning I now have 2.5 hours to myself before I pick everyone up.

I love this song, and am now on a quest to find an audio file and some decaf Earl Grey. Enjoy your afternoon.

‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Which wert and art and evermore shall be!

One of my goals for the remainder of 2009 is to incorporate Wert into my vocabulary. Any advice would be appreciated.

On a similar note, I apparently created the word Morticum to replace Moratorium and have been using it incorrectly for at least a decade. No one has corrected me, and I’m mortified. Morticumified, even. With that said, I LIKE morticum. It has a Latin smell to it, no?

Confession: I slept through the first half of Up. It seems to be a nice movie, but I have no idea why the dogs speak, nor do I know why the bird’s name is Kevin. (I hope I didn’t just ruin the movie for anyone.)

This afternoon after I flashed Jeff (as I tend to do during the Strawberry Moon), he climbed (clombed? wert?) into the closet. He was looking for Murphy’s Oil Soap at the time, but still. Wait. It JUST occurred to me why one uses Murphy’s Oil Soap. Suddenly, I can barely type. (The laughter and all.)

About a month ago, a little girl in Meredith’s class pulled Meredith’s glasses off of her face and destroyed them. (I’m not exaggerating. We had to order new frames. Yeesh! Luckily, the frames were covered under warranty for three more weeks. Have I ever mentioned just how lucky we are? $200 lucky!) Anyway, all parents were notified and the little girl was actually sent to a counselor which sort of boggled my mind, but who am I? A few weeks after the Incident, I met the girl’s mom, and she never even acknowledged The Breaking of The Glasses, and I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, but I knew better than to bring it up, because, come on. I hate confrontation, and I’m not living in a world where My Kid Is Perfect, and I know it takes two to fight (although Meredith still swears the entire scene was unprovoked). So, the mom talked to me for about two minutes (You’re Meredith’s mom, right?) and then handed me an invitation to the girl’s birthday party. (It’s a pool party, and I was encouraged to simply drop Meredith off at the pool, which is something I would never do at this age—especially since Meredith is not a particularly strong swimmer.) Anyway, I know that I tend to apologize to the point of annoyance when I feel like I or anyone in my family has done something to hurt or offend. I hate that I’m hesitant to send Meredith to the party because I’M feeling a bit miffed over the lack of recognition about the glasses thing. I know that I’m no better than anyone else out there. We’re all just trying to do our best, right? Ugh. I’m struggling with this one. (Meredith has stated that she doesn’t really want to go to the party, because the girl “can be mean sometimes.”) I’m holding grudges from when I was in the third grade. That, along with the wert thing, is something I definitely need to work on.

This morning at church, my thumb busted open (recent knitting injury involving a tiny crochet hook) and actually squirted blood onto my other thumb as we sang Holy, Holy, Holy. That, along with watching a fly buzzing around upside down on the floor last year, goes down as My Craziest Church Experience Ever. (Sadly, as the fly buzzed around on his backside, I found myself doing that ridiculous thing where I laugh so hard that I’m crying and my face is all contorted, and I begin to pray for a morticum on buzzing flies.)

(I’ve been encouraged to remind you that only a few more days remain for both the Snapfish giveaway and the Max Factor giveaway.) ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Monroe or Manson. Take your pick.

As you know, I got a new camera. And just like anyone who finds a new friend, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time getting to know her. The camera has been attached to me for the past seven days, and has clicked through quite a few car rides, cat jumps, bees on flowers, donuts dipped in chocolate, etc.

This morning was my annual gynecological visit. (Wait. You’re suddenly nervous about that camera paragraph, aren’t you?) Because I’m absolutely terrible when it comes to anticipating morning traffic, I left my house an hour early and ended up being 38 minutes early for the appointment. I considered treating myself to a coffee and I toyed with the thought of indulging in a fast food egg biscuit, but ultimately I decided to sit in the parking lot with a half-knitted scarf and my camera.

My camera has a self-portrait setting, so I decided to take some photos of myself in an effort to document what I look like before receiving (receiving? is that right?!) my annual pap smear. It turns out that I look not completely unlike this:
Gyno Chillin'
So, I’m sitting. I’m clicking photos. I’m wondering why the shadows on my face make it look like I’m wearing orange foundation. I’m posing with string cheese. I’m turning up the music and getting into this self-portrait thing. And unfortunately, I’m being watched. By my gynecologist. Yeah. She walked by and smiled as I was blasting Metric and getting goofy with my camera. So, that’s not really what I wanted to happen, but that’s what you get when you choose Gynecologist Parking Lot as a photo shoot location.

After about fifteen minutes, I entered the building feeling nervous and sheepish and self-conscious and all of the other things you tend to feel before participating in a pap smear. I had my blood pressure taken (it was returned shortly thereafter), I placed my pee in a cup, and I wrote my mailing address on a card that will be delivered to me next year on May 18th to remind me that it’s time for my annual pap smear. All ends nicely tied.

I was then led back to a room where I traded cotton and denim for paper and was given ten minutes to nervously sit in that paper while filling up on pap smear dread. (Am I the only one who gets worked up like this?)

My gynecologist (I really do love her) entered the room and asked what’s new.

Me: Nothing.

Dr. C: Nothing?

Me: Not really.

Dr. C: Well, I guess that’s a good thing.

We then discussed the weirdness under my arm and my Dermatologist Incarcerated (I get you, Amy Winehouse). We discussed my birth control pills and how I do believe I’ll stay on them forever. And then I put my feet up and all of the blood rushed out of my head.

Dr. C (pushing metal things into my own private Idaho): So, how old are your kids now?

Me: Four and six.

Dr. C (swabbing and swabbing): Four and six. That’s so hard to believe. Wait. I can’t remember your oldest daughter’s name.

Me: Marilyn.

Dr. C: Meredith?

Me: Yes. That’s correct. Wow.

Marilyn. God only knows where my head goes when I’m trying to escape from the moment.

As the doctor was getting ready to leave the room, I somehow found a way to bring up turkey basters.

Seriously. Don’t ask. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

The woman had bad roots, but I didn’t call her on it.

Yesterday morning I was a bit bummed out because Meredith has been having stomachaches that are a bit more like STOMACHACHES(!!!) and they hit her quickly and she immediately starts to cry and sometimes she throws up, and I would do just about anything to suffer through them for her. So anyway, she had a bad one yesterday morning and the doctor couldn’t get her in before 10:15, and I had to be at work at 10:00, so Jeff had to take her in, and well, I wanted to be there, but I couldn’t.

Since I was running about five minutes early to work, I stopped by Starbucks for a coffee. As I left the building with my drink and started walking to the car, a woman (who was unbuckling her child’s car seat) backed away from her car, looked at me, and yelled, “What an ugly haircut! What ARE you?!?!” Since I was the only other person in the parking lot and she was looking right at me, I couldn’t really pretend that she wasn’t talking to me. SO, I pretended that perhaps she thought she knew me and that she was being all jokey. I sort of smiled and continued to walk to the car.

“No! Seriously!!! What ARE you?!?!”

She continued to scream out at me until I was feeling the adrenalin rushing behind my eyeballs. I jumped into my car, quickly locked the door behind me, started my car, and drove away as she stood and watched me with a crazy angry look on her face.

Who does that? Who singles a stranger out on a parking lot and starts screaming insults at 9:50 on a Saturday morning? Part of me is sort of proud that I didn’t say anything back to her. But, seriously, I know myself better than that. I would NEVER say anything back. (I talk a good “I Should’ve Said”, but I think we all know that I’m much more flight than fight.) Part of me is a bit disappointed that I DIDN’T respond in some way. But what would I have said without compromising a bit of dignity?

“Seriously!!! What ARE you?!?!” I think I’m still bothered by the whole thing not only because of my tendency to be a bit on the self-conscious side (I have looked at my hair several times today, and I do believe that it’s Just Fine), but because her child was sitting right there in the car seat watching the whole thing.

May I ask what you would have done?

Also, so I don’t leave you hanging, Meredith has been diagnosed with GERD. We dealt with it when she was a baby, and it seems that it’s back, and it’s stirring up all sorts of anxiety because she doesn’t want to get sick at school, and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that school’s almost out. Three more weeks. That’s it. Less than twenty days. But anyway. Today we had to leave church less than twenty minutes in because her stomach started hurting and she freaked out, and she has been crying on and off all day, and any reflux advice would be appreciated, too.

‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

Even doves have pride.

The sound of children singing has always given me the creeps. Even when I WAS a kid, my flesh often crawled during the elementary concerts when I had to stand on the risers and sing with the other kids my age. Those scary movies that feature kids warbling hymns as the final credits roll? Yeah. The guy in charge of that decision nailed it.

This scene from Kids Incorporated was actually based on one of my many recurring nightmares.

Last week during my kindergarten volunteer time, I found myself walking down the third grade hall as the kids were taking a break from their MAP testing. During my stroll toward the kindergarten classrooms, I noticed at least five signs in the hallway reminding the kids to always do their best, eat a good breakfast every day (the cafeteria provides a free breakfast for every student, believe it or not), and stay silent while in the halls.

I couldn’t help but notice that the kids looked a bit stressed out. A few were yawning as they waited to use the drinking fountain. Three or four were releasing some energy by doing jumping jacks. Some were simply staring at the floor—waiting to be corralled back into the classroom to fill in more squares with a No. 2 pencil.

Seeing the kids looking so worried affected me. In my world, third graders are not supposed to be stressed. They’re supposed to be cheery! Everyone is happy! We’re all friends! No war! No plastic toys! No peanut allergies!

And then I heard it. As I continued down the hall to Meredith’s classroom (believe me, it’s a really long walk), I heard a tiny voice singing Lovebug by the Jonas Brothers. (Parenthetical Confession: I don’t hate that song. iTunes can back me up on that. I know.) As I passed the next drinking fountain, I saw that the voice was coming from a tiny little girl who looked to be about Meredith’s age. As I walked past her, she smiled at me and the voices in her head told her to start skipping down the hall as she continued to sing. Yes. She was skipping.

Anyway, seeing the third graders looking a bit distressed and then hearing this little happy voice and the sound of her feet as she skipped away from me coupled with the smell of pencils and crayons and, well, kids? My eyes welled up and I got a lump the size of a (freakishly large) potato in my throat. (Actually, I have the lump and the eye thing right now! I can’t even tell the story without puking Velveeta!!)

Something has shifted within me, Internet. I’ve gone soft.

And the worst news of all? Tonight is Meredith’s kindergarten spring concert. While the other parents kick back and check their watches as the kids sing songs about fairy tales, I’m going to be the lady in the third row who suffers facial spasms as she tries to fight the urge to weep. I’ll surely lose the battle if they sing anything that even remotely resembles The Second Star to the Right. In fact, I can’t promise that I won’t sink to the floor and reenact the Glenn Close shower scene from The Big Chill. (Obviously, I’ll keep my clothes on, because I’m sort of classy.)

I’m hoping to share a bit of the video with you tomorrow. If nothing else, you’ll find out what it sounds like when Pudding cries. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

‘Cause I’ve Got a Hand for You, Darius.

This morning I took a break from the freelance madness and ran to Sephora to stock up on the stuff that has run out. I had about fifteen minutes to spare, so I decided to go to the book store. However, I never made it there, because I tripped and nearly fell down, and then I started feeling sorry for myself for being all awkward and unable to carry a Sephora bag and walk in regular shoes at the same time. (By the way, I was wearing these shoes, and I’m still in love with the fact that Heather B. shot a photo of my shoes, so now I’m shouting “La la laaah! Heather B. shot a photo of my shoes! Look at it!” And I should probably start another parenthetical aside for this thought, but since we’re already here: I’m most likely going to be name dropping a lot in the coming months. I’m once again doing that all-too-predictable “I’m Not Going” salty-teared dance, so my mind has been spending quite a bit of time hopping back to July 2008. Close parens here? Yes. Here.)

Anyway. I almost fell. And it suddenly occurred to me that I’m in a really awkward phase of life right now. (Bear with me. I sometimes get a little drippy. Do you have a napkin?) I’m not quite to the age where I really need to consider covering my knees, but I’m beyond the age of arm warmers with short-sleeved shirts. (At least I think I am. Am I? I think I am.) I’m no longer comfortable in social situations that involve hoards of teenagers standing in line to see their favorite band, yet I’m willing to bite the bullet (and look like everyone’s mother) if Ben Folds comes to town. I still sing really loudly when I’m in the car alone, but do you know that I’m singing along to the soundtrack from Chess?! (Okay. I’m stretching the truth a bit. But still. That stretchy bit is barely stretched.)

The other day I was indulging in a bit of self-pity browsing when I saw these. I often say, “You really have to know yourself before choosing a ring tone or committing to a favorite flavor of ice cream or espousing a spouse etc.” I’ve once again reached a point where I’m not sure I know myself enough to say, “I can definitely carry off the big shiny earring thing.”

I need your help. When I wear these earrings, am I pulling it off? OR, am I everyone’s Aunt Marie who wears globby lipstick and big silver balls of yarn on her ears because she works part-time at a yarn store?! (And I already know that at least one person will say, “No. Do Not Wear Those.” And immediately, I’ll doubt the people who say, “Yes! Wear those!” (I’m nothing if not a bungling blend of Fragile + Impressionable.)

I tried for nearly twenty minutes to get a photo of myself wearing the earrings. When I pulled out my camera, I kept coming up with photos of my shoulder or the top of my head with no earrings in sight. When I pulled up Photo Booth, the earrings became lost against my (very cluttered) refrigerator. Solution? Put my hands behind my ears in the style of a really awkward blowfish. (I refuse to make a Hootie joke, although this would be the perfect spot for one.)

Photo 229

Blackbird, I’m counting on you to talk some sense into me.

And I’m also counting on you.

Help a sister out? ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.

When I pick Harper up at pre-school each day at 11:30, I sometimes get there early enough to see Meredith at recess. (One of my very favorite things to do is park the car, listen to a little This American Life, and watch Meredith running around with her friends. Sometimes I have hot tea with me. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?)

This morning as the kindergarten kids lined up for the walk back to the building, I noticed a plastic bag blowing around on the sidewalk. As the kids passed the bag, many of them jumped over it. A few kicked it. Meredith picked it up and tried to hand it to the recess monitor.

Before I go any further, please know that although her room is a complete disaster, Meredith is very sensitive to litter. Together, we’ve picked up quite a few discarded cups and cans out of parking lots. I stop short at the scraping up of dead birds, but it’s only because I never have a spatula handy, and I’m a big believer in the circle of life and whatnot. (I’m also a big believer in Avian Influenza, so the No Spatula thing is really more of a decision than an inconvenience. Don’t tell Meredith.)

I’m not sure what Meredith said as she tried to hand the bag over to the recess monitor, but I could hear the monitor’s yell through my closed car window. “Throw that down!”

Meredith said something else.

“No! Just let go of it!”

Meredith looked crushed as she put the bag back down onto the sidewalk—being “forced” to litter by an authority figure.

After Meredith entered the building, I got out of the car, picked up the bag, and walked it over to the trash can—the trash can that the recess monitor had to pass by in order to enter the building with the kindergarten kids.

Tonight I’ll be teaching Meredith about civil disobedience and the importance of doing the right thing—even at the cost of respectfully disobeying an authority figure.

Sometimes the mom thing is really hard.

With that said, sometimes it’s really easy. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>