The Miranda Doll

Meet Miranda.
She’s my first official guest writer. Yeehaw.
Following the lovely photo of her hands and her offsprings’s feet, there’s a story. And while this is me babbling, her babbling begins there.

So back to Miranda. Besides meeting her, you’re going to meet her grandma. And you’re going to meet her version of Chuckie.
Miranda’s a Machine, so I’m going to call her The Machine. She’s a writer, a mom, a wife, an extreme couponer, a funny person, and 1000 other things. She does all of that, plus the 1000, because of that whole Machine thing. She’s a Machine. But I already said that.

Her baby has lips that you could kiss forever and still not run out of prime real estate. If he were normal, or my girls were, I’d be working on an arranged marriage. But as it is, he’s a little wacky and my girls are a lot wacky, so it’s probably best that all three of these cherubs try to find someone that can ground them.

At any rate, when we started talking about Doll Week, The Machine sent me the following story. I tried to find a real picture of one. You know you’ve got a very VERY unique toy when you can find NO TRACE OF IT online. All she has left is her memories. Before her story, I’ll post a picture of her hands and her baby’s feet, because it’s one of my favorites. After her story, I’ll post my photoshopped attempt of…The Miranda Doll.

Fresh from God

Let me open with this: I heart my grandmother. I didn’t just love her….I hearted her, which carries a meaning unto itself nowadays. She was not the Donna Reed type. Not by a long shot. She smoked for many years, made very large, baubly jewelry to sell at the flea market each weekend, took me out to eat, and played Bingo. She always made sure there were tiny glass bottles of Coke in the fridge and plenty of game shows to watch on her 1000 inch television.

And she loved us so much.

That being said, she was not a natural gift giver. Some people have a talent for that sort of thing. Finding some rare trinket, wrapping it in an emotionally-significant way, and passing it along at just the right moment, with just the right expression.

Nope, not MawMaw. She seemed to really enjoy buying things from infomercials. And no wonder, really. Bad gift ideas just seem better on a 1000-inch television.

And so this is how it came into my possession—“the monstrosity,” as I like to call it. It was Christmas, some year, and we were opening gifts under the lovely tree (one of the greatest things about the holidays at her house). And I pulled out a perfectly wrapped package, tore into the paper, lifted the lid…and froze in terror. This was not a too-small sweater, or too-bold nail polish, or too-old candy.

It was a baby doll screen-printed with my own face.

And not my baby face, either. No…my teenaged smile captured in a senior picture just weeks before.

I like to think of myself as a decent actress when it comes to gifts. Good, bad, mediocre, I can pretty well feign surprise and delight. But in this case, I remember only choking out a “Oh…wow. Thanks,” which was a feat, since every cell in my body was screaming at me to fling the unholy thing from my person.

Somehow we made it through the Christmas Day, with the Baby-Adult Miranda doll grinning from the corner. But you can bet she lived the remainder of her days under my bed.
Behind a bag of clothes.
With a box resting on top of her.

I’ve seen movies. I’m no fool.

And then I moved on to college and she went the way of all old toys (Toy Story 3, all the way). But every now and then, I think about her. Not the doll…my MawMaw. And how she perhaps saw an emotional significance in that gift that I could not.

At least, not until now. Now that I am 30. Now that I am a mother, and a wife, and an employee. Now that there is no baby left in her only baby granddaughter. Perhaps “the monstrosity” was just a reminder to stay young. Stay fresh. Stay sweet and innocent.

Or maybe it just gave her a good laugh.

Oh dear...

One of our faithful readers just sent me a real link to these disturbing dolls. If you are disturbed and want to be further disturbed, visit

Public Restrooms are still for private activities

Not so long ago we were eating out. I was just thinking fondly of restaurants because I am hungry and about to eat an all-white-turkey-meat hotdog of sorts. Mmmmy. Right. So that led my mind to wander to a better food day in my life. My mind wandered right down to our favorite Sonny’s BBQ. We used to go there a lot.

I love their food.
I do not love their restrooms.

But when Sister Tinklepants asks to go to the potty, you don’t say no. So we went.

We’ve all had them: creepy bathroom experiences in public places. Maybe it’s walking in on some sort of aftermath that leads you to wonder if the previous occupant had been raised by wolves. Maybe it’s wandering into a restroom of a dollar theater and being 100% certain that you’ve interrupted an animal sacrifice or a terrorist operation.

I’ve had my public restroom moments. I am not a germophobe, which might account for my kids having had their share of airborne diseases. Still though, I have standards. One of the rules I have for myself in public bathroom stalls –call me crazy– is that I must shut and lock the door when I’m going to disrobe and relieve. There are at least 150 very obvious reasons for this, most basic, of all rules. But there is at least one person in the greater Tampa Bay area that does not share this particular policy. So as I walked into the Ladies’ room in Sonny’s BBQ that day, I was surprised to have to force myself to look away as I walked past an open stall with an oldish woman using the toilet. Oh. I didn’t see a whole lot, as I managed to snap my neck in the other direction very quickly. The girls gawked as long as they could in that second and a half as I rushed them by into a stall of our own. I had just a moment to gaze upon the old woman’s feet as I could see them from the next door stall. Oh, the horror. Feet are inherently ugly. You should have seen these. Words cannot support the task of describing these feet. Sister Tinklepants was marching back and forth inside this stall singing at the top of her lungs. I’m sure everyone in the restaurant knew that I had two toddlers in the bathroom with me. And as I was waiting for Beloved to be done and pass the torch, the hand that accompanied this gnarled set of pantyhosed feet reached under my stall partition and grabbed hold of Tinklepant’s fat baby leg. My eyes immediately humongosized as I grabbed my baby back and moved her away from the Crazy Toilet Troll. Then came the questions from the girls. Who is that? What was she doing? Why does she pee with the door open? Look at those FEET. We waited for her to move on before we did so ourselves. I was out of stock reactions to horribly awkward moments, so I could not risk facing her at the sinks. Sinks? She potties with the door open! She wasn’t going to wash her hands. Well, either way. That was that. It seemed the price we had to pay for sweet sauce and the moist towelette.

We eat in a lot more often now. And when I have to use the restroom–when I absolutely have to–I always check the feet under the next door stall. You just never know, apparently.

A Cure for the Doldrums

Let’s begin with a cheer, shall we?

We’re Number 1, We can’t be Number 2,
Cuz we’re gonna beat the whoopsies outta you,
The Whoopsies outta you.

OK. So are we Number 1 because you are Number 2 already?
Why can we not be Number 2?
Is that BECAUSE we are already Number 1 or because we are beating your Whoopsies?  Also, what is a Whoopsie? I doubt that is the word that would escape someone being bludgeoned by my team.

Here are a few things I learned today that are of very little consequence, but I will pass them on nonetheless.

  1. If you are going to sing “I love you a Bushel and a Peckeroo”, changing the words into a shameful version of wackadoodle, be aware of your surroundings. Ensure that the lady in the Toyota Tercel is not waiting on you to strap in your child so that she can get into her own car 2 feet from you.  Also, do you sing well enough to sing loud in a parking lot?
  2. If you have 34 different documents, programs, or processes running on your laptop, it will take you about 5 minutes to complete a mouse click and 10 solid minutes to close all of those windows. Then, your operating system will begin sending you hate mail about what you have been doing for 3 days without a re-boot.
  3. Apparently, I forgot we still receive mail. My son came in and said, “We got mail. You better come see.” I thought maybe that meant an exciting shaped package was in there. Maybe there was a ferret hiding in the mailbox. There was a package all right. But it was smashed up against the inside of the mailbox with about 82 other unopened items. Coupons, special and meaningful correspondence from banks and credit card agencies telling me how much they’d love to have lunch with me, fliers, 4 thank you notes from real people, and a mouth-watering life sized pamphlet for Smoothie King. Man, I’m hungry.

So to sum up, watch where you sing, run fewer than 5 applications on  your computer at a time, check your mail, and watch your back for Cheer Babies trying to beat your Whoopsies.

Dest Frenbs

I am afraid the Informinator is not happy. Doll Week wasn’t a week. Or even about dolls entirely. Organizers and Informinators do not fly by the seat of their pants. That’s why they have knowledge and order. I do not have knowledge and order. I have a chaotic brain. And four kids. And one with flu. And another one with a fever that I’m watching. And a very ancient body that just wants to sleep ALL the time. I bet I’ve taken 5 hours worth of naps in the last 3 days. And still I am tired. And so, with all of that said…which sounds like a lot of hooey…Doll Week will march on. Randomly. I’ll get better at all of this. I will. I still have at least 3 doll posts in the hatcher. One of them is psychotic and worth a good nightmare.

Yesterday, during some of my waking hours, I took my daughter to the Organizer’s daughter’s birthday party. Watching people with no arm strength try to throw even a 6-lb bowling ball is a hoot in any culture. I fear that, at some grotesque moment, a child may forget to let go and that ball just takes them away. But then I realize that the ball they throw only rolls at 2.5 mph, so it’d be pretty easy to retrieve the child before they hit any pins. And if they did hit pins, at that speed, there’s little hope any of them would fall. My own daughter, who is 4, is spindly at best. She is the teensiest bit of nothing I have ever seen. I must learn how to mask the chortles that inevitably follow when she spikes the ball and it comes to a complete standstill 6 feet down the lane. This is funny to adults.  Not so much to a 4-yr-old. But we had a great time in spite of a total lack of strength and skill.

The best laugh of the day came when all of these tiny people were signing a bowling pin for the Birthday Girl to take home as a forever keepsake. I am posting the picture. You don’t need me to point out the awesomeness of this.

You are my dest frenb

These are kindergartners, most of them. Phonetic spelling comes and goes. Correcting them is unnecessary. If someone had corrected this little angel, I would have missed out on a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. I would have missed an honest glimpse back into childhood, into friendship, into the innocence that children have before the world smacks them around a time or two and takes that part away.  In that one moment, I relived a lifetime of dest frenbs and I still have that fuzzy feeling with me, 30 hours later. I’ve been blessed with the dest frenbs on the planet. Everybody should have one. And if you do, tell them without spell check. It won’t matter.

But don’t tell them on a bowling pin.
They might think that was weird.

Per Se

I am about to call this a day. I wonder where that phrase originated. Elaine, get on that one. If it’s interesting, tell me about it. If it’s dull, I don’t care. I imagine a greasy old dude walking over to his kerosene lantern and saying, “This is a day.” And then he exchanges his overalls for a nighty and climbs into bed.

That’s not exactly how I will do it. I will just announce it on a blog. But the reason I would call it a day is that it is a day. A day that is done, but a day nonetheless. It is what it is called.

This brings me, albeit awkwardly, to things that are called the wrong thing. Or perhaps I should say that they are irresponsibly defined. A baker’s dozen. Why do people DO that? Why do I have to know that a Baker’s Dozen is 13? Why can’t that just be called 13 of something? A dozen is 12. A Baker’s Dozen should be 12 of something that belongs to that particular baker.

Really. I mean this.  This is hard for people like me. People who struggle to read the recipe right are certainly going to be challenged by the cutsie colloquialisms that belong to real cooks, don’t you think? The jargon is staggering.

And not that this is really related, but just walk alongside me for a second. A cake mix.  Wouldn’t you think that is just for cakes?  Is everybody supposed to know that you can use a yellow cake mix for yellow CUPcakes? There aren’t separate mixes for cupcakes?

Well, maybe that just seems really, REALLY obvious to every last person that is over 11 years old. Maybe even to people who are under 11. Or maybe to people who are over 11 but don’t speak a lick of English. Maybe I’m the only English-speaking, over-11 person in the free world that would question whether there’s such a thing as a dedicated cupcake mix.

The answer was as disconcerting as the fact that there are two kinds of dozen.

And so with that, I will call this a day.


A Good Doll is Hard to Find

This post goes out to anyone who has ever had a doll who suffered some gender confusion.

First, let’s talk for just a brief moment about Cabbage Patch Dolls. I never had one. I think I was just barely past the doll phase of life when these dolls hit the local KMarts. So I watched the craze through suspicious, judgmental eyes. Apparently, my meat roll comrade, Kelley, bought in FULL FORCE. In fact, she bought in with such force that, after whipping down a frothy mob of cabbage patch shoppers, all she could get–all that was left–was a boy. Maximillian. Maximillian? Really? Did they want people to buy him? Maximillian is the boy version of the name Dolores. You just can’t snuggle that.

At any rate, Kelley fought for this guy. Then she made him a girl.

“I helped her through a  difficult life decision in her early years.  She decided she was more comfortable as a girl,” Kelley said. “This is Chrissy Marie.” Ah, Chrissy Marie. The fact that one cannot tell you were ever a Maximillian is a testimony to something. I don’t know what that something is, but it’s something.  After you gawk at the picture of Chrissy Marie sitting amongst the flowers of her grandmother’s garden, take a gander at the 1980s Cabbage Patch TV commercial. It stars the original Maximillian, so you’ll be able to better imagine the extreme nature of the transformation from Maxi to Chrissy.

From Max to Chrissy

And then there was my doll. She was a Drowsy doll made by Mattel in the 1960s and  70s. Apparently she was re-released last year. I didn’t know that. When I got her, I think I named her Cindy. Then I decided she didn’t look like a Cindy, so I renamed her Tom and she full-out became a boy who wore a pink jump suit with white polka dots. Tom was awesome. He went everywhere with me. He even took a nasty swim in the toilet one day and I went running and screeching into the kitchen where my mother was on a corded avocado green telephone that was attached to the wall and you had to dial with your index finger. What is this, 1975? Oh, yes. Actually it was. She rescued Tom from the toilet, but his quality of life was gone after that. I don’t actually know what happened to him. I suspect my parents threw him out. I do remember him being layered in dirt and filth. And after that toilet swim, it was layer upon bad layer, if you know what I mean. You do. We’ve all dropped dolls into toilets. You know we all have. So Tom disappeared. And Mom and Dad replaced him with one just like him.

Replacements are usually underwhelming. Unloved. Poorly reviewed. This one began just that way and then found his way into my heart. I named him Thomas. I know. I really stepped out with that one. Thomas, like his predecessor, went everywhere with me. But my fondest memory of Thomas was his speech impediment. He could not say Ls. They came out as a ‘y’. For example, “lullabye” came out “yuh-yuh-by” when Thomas was talking. Thomas talked a lot.

One day, while on our way to Niagara Falls IN A CAR (this takes about 3 years if you are driving from Florida with 2 kids and a doll with poor speech patterns), my brother decided to undertake some speech therapy. He was going to teach that boy to say his Ls.

“OK, Thomas, now say this…Luh,” my brother said. I went along.
“Luh,” Thomas said. Bro lit up. He was making progress!
“OK, good,” he continued. “Luh…”
“Luh,” Thomas said.
“And now ‘Bye,'” he said.
“Bye,” Thomas finished.
“OK. Now all together. Luh-luh-by. Lullaby.”
“Yuh-yuh-by,” Thomas said. My brother dropped his head.
“NO!” he fussed. “Let’s try again.”

And we did. 1843 more times. We did that same sequence all the way to Canada, people. How my parents didn’t turn around and smack the lullaby out of us, I don’t know. I guess they were just glad we weren’t asking how much longer so they wouldn’t have to answer “2 1/2 more years, kids.”

Ah, Thomas. Love you, man. Still.
He still can’t say his Ls. And I won’t have it any other way.


The Meat Roll Revisited

How does a person post with a misspelling in the TITLE? That’s a dumb person. I don’t know anyone that dumb and I’m glad. Since today’s theme is dumbness, here is a story:

There once was a girl,
who loved a meat roll.
Sixteen years passed and she didn’t see that meat roll that whole time.
She missed it.
And one day, she decided that enough time had gone by. So she squinted and frowned over a dingy digital photo of her meat roll recipe, which truthfully she was just thankful to have. And she went to the store without making a list of the things on that recipe photo. Most people would view that as a mistake. She would, too, when she got home and started to brown her ground beef and realized that she didn’t have an ingredient. It was just a small ingredient. Maybe she could get by without it. It was just the french loaf. Just the ROLL portion of the meat roll. Idiot girl. Does she own a pencil and a pad of paper? Yes, she does. She just isn’t a frequent user of such.

So she talked her feverish son into going back to the store, again, for that final, rather important ingredient.

And she made the meat roll. With the right amount of beef. It rolled just fine.
And she blew a tender kiss to her meat roll and said, “See you at dinner!”

The End.

I had to call Todd for a cooking question. There are so many unfortunate things wrapped up in that fact that I have decided not to address any of them. I will make a couple of observations about the meat rolling process:

  1. It is harder to roll a meat roll with a 4-yr-old than it is to do it alone. Though I was not good alone, I am practically disabled with the help of short people.
  2. I do not understand why you have to buy enough flat leaf parsley to sod your front yard just to have one tablespoon for a meat roll. This makes no sense to me. I know it was only 99 cents. But how ’bout let me pay a dime for a smidge, you know? This bushel could have clothed Adam AND Eve.
  3. You know how a 20-yr-old college guy acts when you hand him a naked baby? That’s me with dough. Or spices. Or parsley. I hold it out away from my body like it’s going to wet me. I am completely out of my element. I have sympathy for those frat boy babysitters. But I wouldn’t hire them to sit for my kids any more than I’d hire me to cook for anyone.
  4. Is this Doll Week? You wouldn’t know it by this post.
Doughy Bigness
Spooned and Pressed, evenly and slightly
Annnd, that would be hair...on the meat roll.
What I needed vs. What I had. Slight differential.

Would you like to come over for dinner? It’s a meat roll. We’ll make sure there’s no hair on it. Mmm.

The End. Actually.