One Classy Christmas Letter – A Year in Crappy Pics 2015

One Classy Holiday Letter - Our 2015 in Crappy Pics

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you’ve had a wonderful year. While we didn’t take as many trips as we did in 2014, our shared moments and experiences have been just as special.


January – On New Year’s Eve, we came across a Basset Hound standing in the center of a snowy PA back road. After exhaustively riding around to look for his owner, we took him home, placed internet ads everywhere, then named him Scout. Unlike our ungrateful dogs, Scout LOVED the kids, and the kids LOVED Scout. And then the owner called to claim “Sparky”…Sparky? Who names a slow moving,  droopy-eyed Basset Hound, Sparky?


After the alleged owner submitted the required vet records, pictures of him & Sparky together, and a preliminary DNA sample, I reluctantly handed him over asking, “Are you sure he wouldn’t be happier with us? I mean, he did try to run away from you.” But he couldn’t hear me over the wails of our children.

That was Day 1 of 2015.

February – After a 12 year maternity leave, I finally returned to work at my family’s tire & auto business. Because I’m gone from 7:30am-6pm each day, Brian has taken on some of my family responsibilities, like getting Ana on and off the bus everyday and staying home with her when she’s sick. As for Collin, he’s 12, we gave him the garage code and a copy of Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival by Denise Long.

March – We went sledding once, on a hill by our house. After peeling off our wet clothes with burning red hands and mopping up the laundry room floor, we took a vote and agreed it wasn’t worth it. So we bought one of those clear acrylic birdfeeders with suction cups and placed it high up on our sunroom window.

We then spent the rest of March watching two squirrels desperately flinging their bodies at the feeder. We named them Dumb Squirrel (he had zero street smarts) and Smart Squirrel.  Smart Squirrel was clever, quick, and stealthy. He was superior to Dumb Squirrel, and us, in every way- we were annoyed by his greed and put off by his confidence. But Dumb Squirrel…now there was a rodent we could root for. Oh how we loved to watch him! He’d circle under the window, staking out potential launching points, usually all poor choices. Then he’d momentarily give up, looking on the ground, perhaps for fallen seeds or an elevator. We’d cheer him on “You can do it!” “Believe in yourself!” “You got this!” And he did believe in himself until {{smack}} he didn’t. By the end of March, we had removed the bird feeder out of concern for Dumb Squirrel’s safety

Not so coincidentally, this was also the month that Brian’s obsession with bourbon based craft brews really took off.

April – Having just started horseback riding lessons, Ana decided she wanted her birthday party to be held at the stable. So naturally I spent most of April on planning for this glorious event. It wasn’t until I yelled at Brian for blocking the monitor while I was trying to read user reviews on two competing disposable fork manufacturers, that I realized I was drowning in the details. But in the end, I think we can all agree it was worth it.

Ana cake

We spent Easter with family at Brian’s parent’s house. A wonderful dinner that ended with an impromptu Easter Egg fight. We pelted each other with plastic eggs for over 30 minutes, and proudly ended it before anyone lost an eye.


May – Our family decided to try something outdoorsy again. We received a flyer that our neighborhood lake was having a fishing contest in an attempt to thin out the overwhelming Carp population. So I got the kids all excited (Brian remained appropriately pessimistic), called my brother to join us, then went down to Walmart where I bought 4 fishing rods, bait, and an honest-to-god fishing license.

June 2015 264

Despite the association’s “we have too many Carp in our lake” claim, Collin and Brian caught nada, I got my line tied in a tree, and Ana hooked a snapping turtle…twice.

June 2015 267

We repacked our tackle box for the first and last time, and went home. My brother stayed behind to enjoy the peace and quiet. It was a fun time, just one we won’t soon be repeating.

June – This was the end of Kindergarten for Ana, and Collin’s last year of Elementary school. Collin made us so proud by winning The Principal’s Award at school, which represents a well-rounded student, both academically and socially. And Ana made us proud by finally working out a window-seat rotation plan with her bus nemesis, Julianna. Never mind it was the last week of school.

July – Brain, myself, Collin, Ana, and my mother-in-law Pat, packed the car with vodka and board games and set off on a 1,500 mile trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Chicago and Wisconsin. Seeing aunts, uncles and cousins was definitely the highlight of our summer! While there, we went tubing, paddle boarding, jet-skiing, visited Millennium Park, saw the U2 concert at the United Center, and ate at a really good “I’m surprised a health inspector hasn’t shut this place down” dive restaurant.

august 2015 015 august 2015 031

Shout out to “BIG & LITTLE’S” where the tacos are worth the risk!


August – Ana participated in several day camps and Collin started tackle football with practices four nights a week. We also finally met our new next-door neighbors when Ana sent their 8 year old daughter home with a ziplock bag full of dead hamster meant for burial. “What’s wrong with that?” she asked, “Her parents probably want to see it.”

Needless to say, they came over pretty quickly to see US.

September – The kids went back to school, Ana in 1st grade and Collin in 6th grade. Our lazy Saturdays were now replaced with travel football games, which I wasn’t crazy about until Brian introduced the idea of checking out local pubs or BYOB restaurants after each game. GO, TEAM, GO!

October –  For Collin’s birthday, we took a bunch of kids downtown to Exodus Escape Rooms. That’s where each rooms has its own specific escape plan that requires puzzle solving, clue finding, and teamwork to find your way out. It’s the newest trend in team-building. When we pulled up, I was dismayed to find that the business occupies the once residential house I partied in during my college days. I looked down at the brochure in my hand “Every room provides the most entertaining experience.” Sounds about right.

SEPT-AUG 2015 157

Brian began playing pick-up basketball at the gym twice a week. It’s a bunch of kinda in shape 40 year olds trying to compete with a bunch of really in shape 18 year olds. As a result, his ankles killed him all month.

Also in October, sadly, Mr. Bojangles passed away. He wasn’t the best dog or even the almost best dog. He was a food thief, a chewer of Barbie doll heads, and he’d tear the eyeballs out of a stuffed animal just for looking at him. But his love for his family was unwavering and true. He was quite a character and we miss him dearly.

2015 123

November – With Mr. Bojangles’ weak bladder no longer a concern, we replaced our living room carpet and area rug. Then we all laid on the floor and rolled around appreciating both the presence of DuPont Stainmaster chemicals and the absence of urine.

On Black Friday, Brian’s beer obsession hit its peak when he bundled Ana up and they headed off to Liquor World at 7:30 in the morning to be the first in line for the 2015 release of Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. While I was at work, I received the text “I’m the only one here with a kid. Strange.”        Is it?

Brian was still playing basketball. The pain now extended to his shins.

December –  This month has been a bit of a blur as we try to get ready for the holidays. We saw “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Everett Theatre. Brian’s brother, Kevin, played Sawyer, and he was awesome! The kids loved it! In fact, our Christmas Card picture was taken there. And the Santa in the picture actually played Santa in the play! And speaking of this Christmas card, I think we all know it’s not my most photogenic moment, but everyone else looked so nice I decided to use it. Talk about being selfless around the holidays!

And Brian’s still playing basketball. He just sat down and placed a bag of frozen peas across his kneecaps.


As this year is coming to a close , we want to say thank you for being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2016 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.


Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana








How Pinterest took my party planning from “Blah” to “Please take this hammer out of my hand.”


When I asked Ana where she wanted to have her 6th birthday party, she didn’t hesitate. She started jumping up and down, and chanting, “Chuck E Cheese! Chuck E Cheese! Chuck E Cheese!”  I immediately dropped to both knees, took her cute cherub cheeks between my hands and whispered, “Darling, that will never happen.”  And the way I drew out the word “neeeverrrrrr” was awful but necessary. There was NO WAY I was holding a birthday party inside a dirty hamster cage with feces filled tubes.



Wanting her to be excited about her birthday party venue, but drawing a line at the rat trap, I set out to come up with an awesome idea. So for the next two weeks I threw every possibility at her. Bowling? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE! A dance party? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE! Spa day? NO! CHUCK E CHEESE!

But then one day, while I sat eating a family-sized bag of potato chips, I had a brilliant idea, “A pony riding party?!…silence…she was thinking…lock this shit down, Kim. “On a real farm!”

Ana -“But will there be pizza?” scrunching up her face like the thought of compromising with me repulsed her.

Me – “Unlimited!”

Ana – “And we can do Chuck E Cheese next year?” Producing a “Chuck E. Cheese Next Year” document for me to sign.

Me- “Sure!” Signing the “Chuck E. Cheese Next Year” document and hoping her long-term memory continues to be a lot like swiss cheese.

Ana – “YAY! A pony party!”

Me- “YAY! A pony party!”

I collapsed, tears of relief to mingling with the Herr’s sour cream & onion flavoring. Mmmm, life was good again.


But because I still felt shitty about denying her Chuck E Cheese, I was determined to make this the best party ever. And so, after bottoming out on the chips, I opened my laptop, ordered her purple cowboy boots, then went to Pinterest and got to work.

Note: Any and all links in this post are because I assume you’re as nosy as I am, and want to know what I used or selected. These are not advertisements.

How Pinterest took my party planning from "Blah" to "Please take this hammer out of my hand."

First, I created an Ana’s Pony Party board, then I spent HOURS looking through pins, websites, and online magazines. I wanted to streamline this board, not junk it up with any and all ideas like my other useless boards. My intent was to fill it with everything I needed to create an adorable Vintage Pony Party.  And I mean everything. I found invitations, banners, water bottle wraps, signs, thank you cards, cupcake toppers, etc, etc. Then, hoping to get her excited, I presented it all to the birthday girl. Big mistake.

It seems that somewhere along the line she’s developed opinions, strong opinions, mostly of the “I don’t give a shit how much time you’ve invested in this, I don’t like it.” variety. (*note to self: next year will be a surprise party)

Unfortunately, her ideas were the complete opposite from mine. I wanted soft pinks, browns, and rustic chic.



She wanted neon, in your face, and can be seen from space.

neon pony

So I spent MORE hours on Pinterest until I found something in the middle.



Cute, right? And the entire kit was only $40! You can get it here.

But I forgot to factor in the cost of quality printing on stock paper ($70)…or the 35 pages of intricate cutting ($150 in Carpal Tunnel medical co-pays).

Now that the theme was established, I could continue on…

Food Presentation

Pinterest made me believe that I had to have the most clever food presentation ever.

party setting


OMG! I could do stuff like that, couldn’t I? I must.

Over the next week, I ignored my family and spent every available moment hunting for containers, bows, paper straws, baskets, favor bags, custom stickers, anything that screamed “Pinterest worthy!”

It wasn’t until I yelled at my husband for blocking the monitor while I was trying to read user reviews on two competing wooden fork manufacturers, that I realized I was drowning in the details. But I soldiered on.

FYI, theses are the forks I selected:


Party favors

Oh, the party favors on Pinterest! I think I lost my mind once or twice on those. Here’s what I decided to make (yeah, make):

Stick Horses

felt horses

Tell me these aren’t the most adorable things ever! They’re super simple to make and you can get the pattern here.

As soon as I saw this Pin, I grabbed my keys and rushed right to the craft store to buy enough wool felt for 15 horses. Unfortunately, I had to take Ana and her opinions with me.

Three hours and two meltdowns later (both mine), we returned, not with the nice, neutral, classy felt I wanted, but with this…


For six nights, I donned sunglasses and diligently worked on my ‘Horses on Acid’ project. And on the seventh morning, I woke up to see their neon heads scattered across my kitchen island like some mass Pinterest protest, and I couldn’t help but to cry at their beautifully ugly existence.


Favor number 2…

Painted Horse Shoes

So I was speaking with Ana’s horseback riding instructor – oh, did I forget to mention that we signed her up for lessons because suddenly she was all about horses? Fifty bucks a pop. I should have stuck with Chuck E Cheese, the medication to clear up any bacterial infections she most definitely would have acquired, would’ve been cheaper.  Anyway, her instructor said that they’d provide a horseshoe for each kid if I wanted to buy fabric paint for them to decorate while they’re waiting for their turn to ride a pony.

“Oh yes, I saw that on Pinterest! That’s an awesome idea!”

And then she asked me if I was handy, and sent me home with a bucket full of dirty, nail filled horseshoes. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t.

Day 1 of horseshoe refurbishing:

Day one began with me out in my driveway trying to remove old rusty nails from shit-packed horseshoes. After several experimental methods, I settled on holding down the horseshoe with my right foot while I twisted and pulled those bastard nails out with a hammer.

I had just put a winter boot on my right foot, to protect my ankle from contracting tetanus, when the pizza man pulled up.

Hobbling towards him, flip flop on my left foot, furry boot on my right foot, hammer in my hand.

“Heyyy there!” I waved, the weight of the hammer exaggerating the movement. “Hahaha, I bet you’re wondering what I’m doing.”

“No, I’m good.”

He extended the pizza towards me and curved his torso inward. An obvious attempt to protect his vital organs, no doubt.

“I was just pulling some nails out of those horseshoes over there.” gesturing to a bucket stained with red rust and swarming with flies.

I had a feeling he was thinking, or human head.

He just got in his car and left.


Day 2 of horseshoe refurbishing

The horseshoes were finally nail free, shit free, and dry, and it was time to paint them black. 


 About a 1/4 of the way into the job, I ran out of spray paint so I had to run to our local hardware store.  Ana was home from school with a slight tummy ache so I had to take her with me.

Once in the store,  she looked at me and said, “I don’t feel so good”. Oh shit. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Oh shit. Then she did this lurching thing, like my cat does just before she coughs up a hairball, and I knew we didn’t have time to find a bathroom. The speed at which my mind processed and reacted to the impending horror still amazes me. Have you ever seen the game show Supermarket Sweep?

Dropping my purse, I ran down the paint aisle, grabbed 3 cans of black spray paint meant for metal surfaces, a box of latex gloves, and a stack of buckets (I had no time to separate them), and returned just in time to catch her vomit.

My exit strategy took a little more thought.

I made Ana hold her vomit bucket and stay 5 paces behind me. Once we got to the register, I gestured to her, and told the cashier that she loved the bucket so much she simply refused to part with it. I then handed him the other buckets and told him to use the sku. “Kids!” I said shaking my head.

When I looked back, some smiley college kid had appeared behind her. I watched as he peeked over her head and into the bucket. Then I watched his smile fade.



After I finished spray painting, I set the horseshoes next to our door to dry. Then I ordered a pizza. Again.

Thankfully a different pizza guy arrived.  He looked at the horseshoes next to the door and said, “So, do you have horses?”

I looked around our .33 acre lot before responding,”Yes, and they have to take their shoes off before they come in.”

The Cake

The cake was a battle.

I was still holding on to my Vintage Pony dream when I practically begged/bridbed Ana to let me make this:


But she wasn’t having it.

Instead, she grabbed my computer and spent an hour browsing Pinterest until finally settling on this:


She insisted I try my hand at cutting horse silhouettes out of black fondant.

“I can’t make that!” I said, acknowledging my limitations for once. “Can’t I make the one I picked out? It’s easier.”

Looking sad, “You keep having all the ideas and want to do everything you like. Whose party is this anyway?”

Bending down on my knees and taking her sweet face into my hands, “Oh darling, this party belongs to Pinterest.”

And that’s when I knew I had to unplug the computer. It was time to respect what she wanted, to embrace her neon…and to order a cake from the grocery store.


 I should have written “SCREW YOU, PINTEREST!” on the side and outlined it with poorly shaped rosettes. 

And the party was wonderful! Our family and friends made the the afternoon special and awesome…not the Pinterest inspired details.

*I should mention…remember when Ana threw up at the hardware store? Well Brian got Ana’s stomach bug and had to miss her birthday party:(

Here are some pics from the party, if you care.








Ana candles

Ana cake

Happy Birthday, Ana! We love you!

The Weekend in Crappy Pics! 10/9-10/12



Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re super interested in my life and just can’t get enough. Ok? Good, because I’m about to start this weekend review on a Thursday.

Thursday, I organized a Ladies Bunko Night at the neighborhood clubhouse. It was well attended by almost 30 desperate-to-get-out-of-the-bedtime-routine women, and all of them in their pajamas! The pajamas thing was my idea because avoiding zippered pants is my newest hobby.

So as we’re playing, I receive this text from Brian:



My friend Lisa, who’s sitting next to me, says, “Is that Brian?”

Me: “Yeah, he wants to know when I’ll be home and where his charger is.”

Lisa: “Doesn’t he know we’re trying to have fun here? Give me the phone.”


I hand it to her and she replies to him:



and here’s his reply…



oh, shit. It was Collin.

Lucky for me, I’m well adept at dealing with horribly uncomfortable parental situations.


How to respond:

Step 1: Ignore it

Step 2: Repeat step 1, like this…


Hello, indeed. Welcome to a whole new level of awkward.

On Friday night, we went to a restaurant where my Aunt Charline gave Collin an early birthday card. Here’s the front:

photo 3 (9)My mother says she helped pick out “the cute little robot”.

Here’s the inside:


Hmm…I’m guessing this didn’t come from the Kid’s section of Hallmark.

So, after learning the phrase “she’s my bitch” and receiving a birthday card suggesting that his penis and nuts will fall off with age, Collin felt he was now a man and commemorated the moment by ordering his first cup of coffee- hold the cream.

photo 3 (10)

Meanwhile, Ana’s been drinking coffee for years.

Saturday, Brian and I hired a babysitter and went to a Brew Fest. That’s where I found my new favorite beer:

photo 4 (6)

On Sunday, we had Collin’s 11th birthday party, inviting 10 children to our house. It was a completely unstructured party, partly because I believe children should use their imaginations and create their own fun, but mostly because I’m lazy.

How did that go? Well…

Flickin’ Chickens were flung onto my ceiling

photo 2 (11)

mustaches were applied to family photos and television screens

photo 5 (5)

a rousing game of Ebola Tag was invented


Can you blame me for opening a bottle of wine?

And an impromptu game of Charades was played.

Ahh, charades, good old fashion fun. Sounds harmless enough, right? WRONG.

Ease dropping, I heard the guesses, “Illuminati” and “cleaning up after your drunk husband”. That’s when I stepped in and supplied them with my own clues. And, not coincidentally, that’s when children started going home.

On Monday, I thought I stepped in dog shit and nearly threw my hip out trying to wipe the gushiness off my shoe.  Turns out it was a damn Flickin’ Chicken.

photo 2 (13)

How was your weekend?

The Weekend in Crappy Pics: Football and Birthdays

The Weekend in Crappy Pics!


Friday night, I took Collin to his football practice, but I couldn’t tell you how he did because I spent the entire two hours wondering who our Jesse Pinkman was texting and if there was meth in that backpack.



On Saturday, Brian had a cigar event starting a noon,



which meant I had to take Collin to his football game….with Ana. Can I just say that even with the helmet, shoulder pads, water bottle, cleats, etc., Collin requires waaay less shit for a football game than Ana.

Here, I’ve taken the liberty of emptying her “game bag” for you:


After plopping down her pink princess chair, she got to work displaying her goods in an attempt to capture potential playmates, not unlike the clever alligator snapping turtle who uses its worm-shaped tongue to lure unsuspecting prey.

Collin’s game ending up being a deee-saster, with his team losing 21-6. The other team was all business…all brutal business.

At one point, five players were sitting on the bench with injuries.

football bench

After football, we drove to the area’s largest indoor Farmer’s Market to shop and grab some lunch.

We weren’t in the building 5 minutes when I saw something so horrific that it caused me to simultaneously clutch my chest and shit my pants….Ana was about to enter a ceramics shop!

Wanting to stop her, but realizing that my typical “DON’T DO IT!” might startle her, making the shelves to go down like dominoes, I quickly adopted an approach one might use to talk a would-be jumper down from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Me: (in a sing-songy voice) Oh, Ana, You don’t want to go in there, it’s so dusty.

Ana: Yes I do.

Me: Well, how’s about we first take a picture of you in front of the beautiful ceramics?

Ana: Ok. Then we go in?

Me: Of course we do, silly!

photo 3 (5)


Me: Ok, now move a little to your left…a little more…one more step…GRAB HER, COLLIN!


On Sunday, I dropped Ana off at birthday party over at my friend’s house. I would have stayed, but the forethought she put into the adorable DIY decorations and activities was making me extremely nauseous. So I left and had sushi while Ana designed a 100% certified organic cotton tie-dye t-shirt and created a modernistic painting on canvas depicting the evolution of idealistic love existing within the vacuum of the My Little Pony social hierarchy.



After the party, I took her fishing…fishing for compliments. She showed that painting off in every store we went into:

the wine store (sounds classier than “liquor store”)

photo 1 (5)

the craft store (this is where she expected the compliments to really fly)

photo 2 (6)

and Staples, where the cashier failed to recognize the not-so-subtle way she was waving the painting around, forcing her to throw it on the conveyor belt and ask, “Do you like it?” She was disgusted by his ignorance, but took the compliment anyway.

How was your weekend?

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