Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Barbie Christmas

This is a story that ran about 2-3 years ago. But since it's Christmas, I thought I'd post it again. I'll post the boy version of the story, in case you also happen to posses a male type!

Is it just me, or was Christmas easier when the kids were young?  When my girls were little, I only had to keep two things in mind when buying toys – pink and Barbie.  Generally, they were one and the same and the only thing on my daughters' list.  I'd head to the toy store and follow the pink rainbow that ended in an overflowing Barbie pot of gold.  

            I'm amazed at the staggering amount of Barbie paraphernalia that's out there to be purchased, and how much of it was purchased by ME.  You'd think that a small, eleven and a half inch plastic doll would be easy on the pocket book, but nothing could be further from the truth.

            First, there was Barbie and her clothes, which included, but wasn't limited to, bathing suits, business suits, pants suits, mini skirts, halter dresses, t-shirts, shorts and a wide array of pajamas.  Every designer worth their salt designed evening wear for the perky Princess. 
            Barbie also needed shoes, purses, necklaces, and even hairbrushes.  All of these items were in miniature form, making them the first things to get lost on Christmas morning, only to be found in the middle of the night – embedded in your foot.  The day after Christmas, Barbie's myriad of clothes and accessories are strewn about the house and like the proverbial sock lost in the dryer, the odds of a pair of Barbie shoes meeting up again are slim to none.  Most Barbies are doomed to hobble the Earth, wearing only one pump.

            Along with a larger wardrobe and jewelry collection than most royal families, Barbie needed homes to house her accoutrement.  But not just any house; she needed a "Dream House".  Not content with a house that dreams were made of, Barbie also seemed to need a Vacation house.  Apparently, she also needed a three story "Dream Town House", a "My House", a "Totally Real" house, and a "Pink World" house (which I find pretty redundant – all things Barbie are pink; you wouldn't think it was necessary to point that out).

            Barbie had rapidly grown into a Trump-esque bastion of real estate.   I believe the most recent, modest number of homes available to her is nineteen.  I don't know if I've ever owned nineteen of anything! 

            Just in case you thought you were done housing Barbie, you have to furnish her vast empire; with actual furniture.   The first in waves and waves of furniture was labeled "dream"; of course it was.  The problem was for parents, those dreams turned into costly nightmares.  There was a Dream Sofa and living room set, Dream Bedrooms, Dream Kitchens, and yes, even a Pink Dream Bathroom.  I kid you not – Barbie even has her own Dream Hot Tub. 

            It turns out that Barbie needed a boyfriend, who came in the person of the perfect Ken doll.  Ken is a must have for Barbie fans, even though after he's purchased, he spends most of his time out in the Barbie garage.  And just when you thought the outlay of money would stop after Barbie had a closet full of clothes, shoes, accessories and the perfect All American boyfriend, you find out that Barbie needs friends.  Lots and lots of friends.

            First came Midge, who, frankly, got the short end of the stick.  She wasn't nearly as curvy (read sexy) or attractive as her best friend and of course, there wasn't a specific boy doll made for poor Midge.  Next came Skipper, Stacey, PJ, Christie, Francie, Tutti, Kelly and on and on and on it went.  Plastic dolls were occupying every nook and cranny of the house, in between couch cushions, in wash machines and bathing in sinks full of sudsy water.  Oddly, they never seemed to be content in their dream home.  

            But if a girl has a house, then she needs transportation to get to and from the grocery store, clothes store, and friend's houses; the Barbie convertible was born.  The first generation was cheap plastic, and getting Barbie and her friends in and out of said vehicle was a pretty exhausting endeavor.  Often times, hair, shoes and articles of clothing were snagged on the cheap plastic.

            Never one to settle for less than everything, Barbie added a Glam VW Beetle, Glam Corvette, Glam Boat, and even a glam RV.  I guess even when you own several large homes, you need to get away in a small one.  The one thing I don't think that Barbie has ever owned was a tent; but I could be wrong.  There's probably even a Survivor Barbie by now.

            I can't complain, since I fed the growing Barbie giant.  Little girls were addicted to all things "B" and beginning in October, Mattel trotted out all kinds of things that our gal just can't be without.  I'm fairly certain that even The Donald acknowledges her supremacy in the toy dominion.  And like The Donald, Barbie even had her own jumbo jet. 

            On the bright side, my girls would play with Barbie for hours.  Their friends would come over, toting their very own plethora of Pink Princesses, but I barely heard a peep out of them.  Even though all of Barbie's earthly physical needs had been met, the girls used their imaginations to create the world she lived in.  And thankfully, that world was usually peaceful and tastefully decorated. 

            That is, until their brother brought GI Joe, his army buddies, tanks, flame throwers and combat helicopters over. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Crafts for Christmas; or, the making of The Beast

I often tease about being crafty; I’m being facetious. Martha Stewart would have a heart attack at my house. The only thing we have in common is cooking. Crafting is for people with patience.

I was watching her show the other day, and she was showing off obvious labor intensive homemade Christmas presents. I’m sure if one of my kids had made one of them for me, I’d be thrilled. However, these were produced to be gifted upon your children. All I could think of, though was what 16 year old wants a set of coasters made out of gift wrap? As an adult, I’d think they were adorable. My kids, however, would be unwrapping them as they searched for the real present.

And if I’m being honest, I don’t own coasters – a magazine or newspaper works just fine, if we use anything. Plus, we have “kid friendly” furniture (translation: really cheap, easily replaceable, and with no sentimental value whatsoever.). A hole in a sock can easily be fixed with a safety pin, super glue, or just thrown away. At my house, a sewing machine would be purely decorative. But, we would get a good laugh if someone remarked that they didn’t know I sewed.

All that being said, I have to admit I actually did something really, really crafty one year. I’d been out shopping at a mall, and fell in love with those huge, bushy garlands, dripping with ornaments. I went everywhere in a quest to buy one for my banister. Sadly, I had no luck.

Well, I’ll just make one myself, I thought.

That should have been my first clue – that I was thinking about crafting anything - ever. But, once I get an idea, it’s pretty much a done deal.

Don’t judge me.

I realized that I was going to have to buy several artificial garlands and figure out a way to secure them together. I was determined to imitate the lush decorations that I’d envied at the mall. After several failed attempts, I knew what I was afraid would be the case. I needed to use wire; and even sharper wire cutters.

You know, you’d think I’d have stopped when I had that revelation. Take sharp wire, sharper cutters, then add me to the mix and you’ve got the recipe for guaranteed disaster. And unfortunately, this wasn’t going to be any different.

I began the difficult task of cutting the wire, then wrapping the sharp wire around the garland. The week after my fingers healed, I set about stringing the lights.

At this point, I should add that one of the few things I’d never experienced in my life was an electrical shock. That has now been rectified.

Two weeks, several trips to the craft store, countless bloody finger pricks and a few glue gun burns later, I stood back and congratulated myself on a massively bushy garland fit for any mall. It was time to light her up and gloat.

I probably should have considered making it closer to the banister, though – all 15 feet of it. I had to call the girls, a bunch of times. They had pretty much avoided me during this project; it was probably better that way. I’ve never been one to curse, but that, too, was rectified during the project.

We began to lug what was now being called, “The Beast”, to its’ resting place. It took a few hours and we broke several ornaments, but we finally had The Beast up.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t half bad. And after we’d vacuumed up the mess all over my living room floor, the hall, and down the stairs, it actually looked pretty. We were ready to light it up.

And the cursing began anew.

I’d thought ahead enough to check the strings of light to be sure that they were working before I began. What I didn’t think about was connecting them together. Turns out, there are “male” and “female” plugs. I’m trying to think of a way to put this delicately, so let’s just say my poor garland was celibate.

I’m fairly sure my scream could be heard two towns over. That, and the torrent of curse words that seemed to flow from my mouth as if a damn had burst. Words I didn’t even know I knew spewed forth like molten lava, rolling gleefully and with utter abandon from my mouth.

Aubrie and Elyse were laughing so hard, tears were streaming down their eyes. Then they realized that I was looking at them with steam coming out of my ears. They ran faster than Frosty from a greenhouse.

Yep, I’d proven again that I was no Martha Stewart.

I stood there glaring at The Beast. Then, I fumed, fussed, plotted, planned and even cajoled. There was NO WAY I was taking all those ornaments off that stupid garland to start over. Finally, a decision was made. I squared my shoulders, lifted my chin, grabbed my purse and went to the store for more lights. I planned to drape them over, under, and around the decorations, making a chain that would link them all together.

By the time I was done, I lit that bad boy up – and, boy did it ever LIGHT UP!  If I’d known Morse code, I could have signaled a space invasion from opposite sides of the planet. Fortunately – for the family – no one said a word about the brief interruption in power, or the fact that their eyes were burning as surely as if they had been staring at the sun.

They oohed and ahhed, and told me what a lovely job I’d done (after they’d pilfered through their rooms to find sunglasses). They didn’t think I’d noticed that they occasionally glanced nervously at the sky in the event an errant plane thought it had found its runway.

But it was done, it was up, and I was finished! I’d had my fill of crafts for Christmas for, well, ever. My new motto is if I can’t buy it, we don’t need it. And if I want it badly enough, I can usually whine and annoy someone else to do it for me.

To me, THAT’S a good thing.

It’s been a few years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two. Dogs and the beast don’t get along well. As they bound up the stairs, their tails inevitably break a few ornaments or take out a string of lights. By the time we take it down, the beast looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. The next year, we tie it to the banister first and then replace broken or tattered ornaments. We don’t even bother re-doing the lights. We just drape new strings on top of the old ones. Once it’s lit, though, you can barely notice (that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it).

So, if you come to my house at Christmas time, feel free to admire the Beast. Word of advice, however; don’t look too closely or allow a body part to come into contact with it. Electric shocks are not normally part of the Christmas spirit. Let's keep it that way.


The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy

The Curious Case of the Brunette Lucy
She was pretty dumb.