Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's a Small Cramped World After All

When my mother in law inquired about gifts to get the kids and I for Christmas I was all: Disneyland! She's the type of person who likes to give THE gift and since the cost of admission for a family equals one arm and a couple of legs; this was something I knew she'd be on board with. That woman came though. With "park hoppers". For those of you who don't live in California or aren't familiar with this term, it means the tickets can be used for Disneyland and its next door neighbor, Disney California Adventure.

So yesterday I threw the kids into the car then swung by my parents house and grabbed my sisters...

(Everyone say hi to Tootsie's sisters) their cute, stylish hair and shoved them in; and off we went to the most crowded happiest place on Earth. Living in southern California, I've been to Disneyland countless times. And I know I've been when it ISN'T jammed with huddled masses. I also have learned the best kept secret to avoid this and I'll share it with you: go on Super Bowl Sunday. But I rarely listen to myself. And yesterday was not February 1st, 2009. Yesterday was apparently the day everyone on the planet went to Disneyland. And two-thirds of those people brought a stroller [and a quarter of them decided to skip deodorant altogether]. Seriously, there should be some kind of park restriction regarding the number of strollers allowed. If I were in charge of Disneyland that rule would be as follows:

  • Only strollers provided by the park are permitted
  • Keep the number of strollers on the low side
  • Once they've been allocated that's all there is
  • The end.
Utilizing a stroller does not necessarily signify that the person actually has an infant or child to fit the need of having such. It often means that they just have a lot of crap they like to wheel around and keep handy. And muck up the traffic flow.

Did I mention everyone in the world was at Disneyland yesterday?

We had a brief reprieve when half the park lined Main Street for the parade. We took advantage and ate dinner in peace [Editor's note: Mr. Farklepants drove out and bought an admission ticket just to have dinner with us at Disneyland. That's right. You heard me. What you've just witnessed here, people, is a Christmas miracle] But then the parade ended and it was like someone opened another dimention - filled with people - that arrived wearing more people surrounded by walls of people and apparently held mating seminars producing more strollers people.

We spent the majority of our time waiting in line. [for you East coasters: waiting ON line] In line for:
  • The tram from the parking garage to the park
  • The security checkpoint
  • To buy tickets for my sisters because I currently hold the title of Dumbest Person Ever because I didn't buy them online
  • To enter the park
  • To eat breakfast
  • 40 minutes for Pirates of the Caribbean
  • For snacks and drinks
  • 40-60 minutes, respectively, for Peter Pan, Big Thunder Mountain, Alice in Wonderland, Matterhorn, and something else I forget
  • To eat dinner
  • For ice cream
  • 75 minutes for Space Mountain that was abruptly aborted about an hour in because, tired.
  • To catch the tram back to the car
Fun fact: Disneyland has a first aid center that will happily dole out aspirin if you walk in and ask for it. They will inquire if you have a headache and you will have to exercise restraint and refrain from saying, no, I was just wondering.

Know this: Tuesday, December 30th 2008 was the last time Tootsie would ever ride the Teacups. Holy Queasy Batman!
  • Know this sub-category: If you are in Tomorrowland during the Main Street Parade you are stuck there until it ends.
Not seen: Any of the Disney Princesses. They were probably crushed to death smothered by all those strollers people.

What this post doesn't tell you: A great time was had by all despite the strollers carbon based herd. Because Disneyland equals: Magic.

P.S. We're going back next week for stroller wars Disneyland California Adventure.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Flattery Can Get You a Review

I've never done a book review on this blog. Or any review of any kind, for that matter, unless it was a product that I already use myself; like tampons, pancake mix, or various beauty products. In other words, stuff you'd find lying around my house. I've never done a review when solicited and I've had my fair share of offers over the last few months. The reason for that is two-fold [and really I just wanted to say two-fold because I like to sound important]:

  1. This just isn't that kind of blog. If you're looking for product reviews, there are literally thousands of blogs already dedicated to that.
  2. What if I accept and am disappointed in whatever it is that was to be reviewed? Do I go ahead and exercise brutal honesty? Am I obligated to write the review regardless? Or do I act as if I never received the product and then stonewall whomever it is that sent it by not answering? Or do I notify the solicitor and say, look, it kinda sucked, should I say that or should we pretend this never happened?
  3. It has to be worth my while: I'm not opposed to doing a review for a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas for a family of five.
As far as number one goes: I use this blog for my entertainment and yours. And who needs the kind of stress that number two offers? I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and no one wants to be hurt. And number three? A PlayStation 3 would be nice too. So I've declined. Or flat out ignored [which is rude, I know, but again with the hurt feelings thing].

A few of weeks ago I received an email from author and teacher, Phillip Done.
Dear Tootsie,
Congratulations on being chosen for All Top's Mom Bloggers! Three of my mommy blogging friends told me to not even bother e-mailing you because your blog is on the All Top's List. But I decided to write to you anyway. My name is Phil Done. I'm an award-winning elementary school teacher in Palo Alto, CA ( and author of 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching. Since you are a mother of three, I thought that you might get a kick out of this glimpse into the elementary classroom. The book, which is very popular with parents, is a humorous and poignant collection of essays covering a year in third grade. May I send you a copy? Ideally, I'd love a review on Vintage Thirty. Even if you don't want a book, could you e-mail back so I can tell my three friends they were wrong. :o) Thanks so much! I look forward to hearing from you.
Phil Done

You see that? That's a triple dog dare! And I am a mother of three, one of whom is a third grader, and? Bonus points for incorporating the smiley face emoticon. So I answered him, he sent me a book, and his friends bought him dinner. Everybody wins.

The book is a collection of observations and experiences in the third grade classroom from a twenty year teaching veteran. I volunteer in Boy-Child#2's third grade classroom every week and this book is pretty spot on. It's 288 pages of everything your child does in class. Or doesn't do. It shows how valuable a good teacher is and how that teacher can make a difference in a child's life. Or visa versa.

The chapter that had me laughing out loud is dedicated to those parents [we all know at least one] and is the main reason I never became a teacher. That and I'm not that crazy about other people's kids which is kind of a drawback if one wishes to teach. Children. I mean, I have to visit my tremendous place of courage just to tolerate my own some days. So moderate amounts of cash thrown in my general direction to spend the day with thirty non-blood related kids does not sweeten the pot.

If you're the parent of a third grader or older, you'll appreciate this book. If your children are still too young or are approaching third grade, use it as a guide and heed the warnings. For instance, did you know that your child's teachers know way too much about you? Kids talk. About everything.

P.s. Disney, call me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Exhibit A for Argument in Favor of a Cuss Jar

My dog. Ain't she sweet? Fortunately she's cute. And we love her. Because this dog? Is trying to kill me. She does this thing were she has to be exactly where I am at all times. If I'm bringing the groceries in from the garage, she will lay down about three steps in from where I'd come through the door. So that I don't see her until I've taken one giant step forward and have to do this little side step, jump, hop, skip to keep from stomping her. If I'm unloading the dryer, she will sit directly behind me so that when I open the dryer door, pull out the contents and step back, I will have to pull some pretty impressive maneuvers to keep from squashing her. If I'm in the shower she will lay in front of the door. And I basically have to yell at her to move so I can get out [personally, I think she likes to see me naked because sometimes I catch her and she does this thing like she's pretending she's not looking].

If I'm walking down the stairs she will walk ahead of me. And I'll be going along at a pretty good clip and she will suddenly stop. Just BAM! Stop. And I have to grab onto the wall to keep from going ass over tea kettle over her and down the stairs.

[Speaking of stairs, you know how walking down the stairs is kind of just something you do and not something you have to actually think about; like breathing? Have you ever thought about it while you're descending the staircase? Well, don't. Once you start picturing left foot, right foot, next step; it will jack your shit up. And you look kind of dumb when it becomes obvious you've forgotten how to walk down stairs. Not that I would know anything about that.]

She's a heavy breather and she follows me around doing this hhhhhh hhhhhh hhhhhh thing. Which comes from the pit of her bowels and smells like death. I keep thinking she needs a bath but that odor is from the inside. She's old and apparently rotting. A breath mint won't cut it and I'm pretty sure that even the Tidy Bowl Man isn't brave enough for that adventure.

Sometime during the night on Christmas Eve she was either mad at me, or us, or Jesus, or Santa. Or she wanted coffee in a bad way. And we were met with the contents of our kitchen garbage strewn about the floor. Why don't dogs get in the trash when there aren't coffee grounds in there?

Plus it rained the last two days and I'm pretty sure that she's intentionally going outside just to bring in extra mud followed by more mud. And who's bright idea was it to put cream colored carpet in this house? Oh. Right.

Fricken dog.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Keeping With the Christmas Theme

The holiday season is about tradition. For some it's religion and others, Santa Claus. For some it's about celebration and spending time with extended family. For others it's the presents. And some are in it for the snacks. And for many it's all of the above. Tradition means different things for different people. So Bill O'Reilly and his war on Christmas can suck it. If I want to celebrate Jesus Christ's birthday by giving my dad an OralB Pulsonic and wish him a happy holidays in the process; well, I think Jesus would be chill with that. But I digress, ridiculous.

Tradition. Note the following:

We are the Farklepants women. And when it comes to Christmas in our family, we run the show. We are dieting large and in charge. [We've also, collectively, produced FOURTEEN CHILDREN -soon to be fifteen - please take a moment to chew on that. The idea, not the children, nom-nomable as they are] Many years ago, let's say twelve-ish, one of my sisters in law and I held the first of many annual Farklepants Christmas parties. Actually, that's a fat lie [do you smell burning pants?]. The first was held by a beloved aunt who has since passed away, but when it became evident that because of - how do I say this? certain complications - my sister in law and I took the reigns. Eventually we threatened with bodily harm recruited the other sisters in law and cousins in host rotation.

It's a beautiful arrangement. As I mentioned in yesterday's post: Mr. Farklepants has a huge family. And hosting this annual event is akin to organizing a large family reunion. The planning involved should not rest on the shoulders of one super terrific lady. Every. Single. Year. See, the last time I had to host was in 2005. It won't be my turn again until I turn forty 2011.

We choose an arbitrary Saturday in December to have the party. This way, the whole family is able to get together and not have to feel guilty about whom they do or don't spend Christmas day with. That's the theory anyway. Guilt often knows no bounds.

What is one of your holiday traditions?

Monday, December 22, 2008

After Twelve Years, I Finally Got My Crap Together

Every year I say I'm going to scale back on gifts for the kids and every year, I fail. Because I do this thing. I try to make the number of gifts each child receives even. So I put them in their little designated piles [the presents, not the kids - although, I may be on to something there] and start comparing. And inevitably, I'm off. One will have too many amount-wise or one will have the coolest thing that belittles all the others. I try to figure all this out long enough before Christmas so that I'm not out scrambling at the last know, with all the men.

[Observational aside: Single ladies! If you want to know where to find men, forget the bar and hit the mall on Christmas Eve. Just sayin']

So while I'm failing at being able to count while I'm shopping; the gift piles grow. Too large.

[Observational aside, part deux: I know the economy is FUBAR right now and those out there that are being hit the hardest by it are all, gee I wish I had your problems. And you know what? I wish you did too.]

And every year I stress that I may have screwed it up and every year I apparently forget that Mr. Farklepants has a huge Christmas fund financial hemorrhage family.

(Farklepants annual Christmas party. And this isn't all of them. I know what you're thinking: there are enough children there to start our own school. Believe me, we know. We're a fertile bunch. In fact, there's a bun in a Farklepants oven hidden in that picture. Hint: not me. It's comforting to know that the family has not dropped the ball on our quest for world domination.)

And those people buy gifts for my children. Usually more than one each. And by the time Christmas Eve rolls around the scene around our tree looks like a Macy's window display. A very gaudy, over-indulgent window display. In other words, it looks like Christmas exploded in our house.

This year I remembered and reeled it in. And this still happened:

Ninety percent of those gifts were not bought by us. Not pictured: gifts from MY family. You didn't actually want to enter this room did you? Because there's only one way to do it and that won't happen until Christmas morning.

P.s. This photo does not do the situation any justice whatsoever. I cannot get an angle on it that really captures the essence of extravagance.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Oh, Right. I Have a Blog!

Well, hi! Why didn't someone tell me that Christmas is next week? Who did I put in charge of that and who is getting fired?

I totally picked the wrong month to take a week off from the living to fall head first into a book. Correction: four books. Which, you already know because that post (the previous) has been up for nearly a week. I finished the final one on Monday, however, it would have been Sunday night except I took some Comtrex PM for this sort of cold that I have. It's not even powerful enough to earn the title of "common cold". It wants to be a cold. It's kind of this post nasal drip thingy coupled with a tickley [not a word but totally acurate description] throat that causes a cough but not a serious cough but enough to make my eyes tear and feels like I need a glass of water to relieve it but that doesn't do anything whatsoever. So, Comtrex PM. That's a powerful elixir and will knock you out. Like a ninja. A very dehydrated, suck all the moisture out of your body, ninja. Makes Nyquil look like cooking sherry. Or Zima.

After my day of mourning over reading the final book and knowing that there isn't another one ready to follow; some things occurred to me. Stuff like, oh yeah, Christmas is next week! And that I need to send out my Christmas cards but, durr, first I have to, ya know, buy them. And if I'd like my nephew, on the other side of the continental US, have a little something to open from his aunt and uncle, then someone had better get herself down to the UPS and make with the shipping. Of course, it needed wrapping first. Naturally.

Speaking of wrapping, we'll be seeing Mr. Farklepants' family this Saturday. All of them. Which means all of their gifts need to be wrapped and ready to go. Did I mention the SIZE of his family? They account for three quarters of our Christmas debt the unwrapped and neglected gifts. The good news there is that once that retail mountain is gone I'll have like eight things to wrap.

And I guess the kids are doing without the Advent Calenders this year. Because someone never bought any. Because someone was selfish and sucks a little bit.

**I apologize for the stellar craptasticness of this post but I'm under self imposed stress and am trying like the dickens not to take it out on my family because it's Christmastime and that requires that I keep my bitch level way down here [for those playing along at home that means I'm keeping it at waist level. Like when someone has had it up to here meaning they can't tolerate a level of stress or aggravation above their forehead as indicated by their pointing to it...same thing only kicking it down a few notches]. You know, for the kids.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Something Bit Me

I apologize for my severe case of blog neglect. It's just that...well...

Saturday afternoon and Monday night I had a rendezvous with this:

Then Tuesday afternoon, um, until 2:30am and large chunks of Wednesday were spent with my nose in this:

Now we're here:

Soon to be there:

Be back soon.

*photos Google Images

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trials and Tribulations of Picture Taking

Anyone who is a parent to more than one child knows how difficult it is to capture that perfect picture. Of all of them. Together. One on their own is hard enough, but when you throw three of them into the mix, well - one will blink, two will smile, one will move, one will crack up, the other two won't smile, one will look in the opposite direction, two will look in separate directions, all three will be looking at anything other than the camera - you get my point. Or need I say more?

First there are the test shots of the test shots. Aaaannd...she's looking at the wrong camera.

(photo by Dorothy Z. and her Nikon D40)

Here Boy-Child#1 cooperates while his brother and sister are too busy watching their crazy mother try to coax an authentic smile from them. [we won't say the mother's name out loud but it rhymes with footsie] All parents know that at some point in your career raising small children you will be required to act a fool IN PUBLIC on more than one occasion. And the antics are limitless. And while Girl-Child thinks her mother is a riot; it's clear that Boy-Child#2 thinks she's ridiculous and should knock it off.

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

Sigh. Girl-Child just can't let it go.

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

Even though I really love how Boy-Child#2 is looking at his sister, he's not - ya know - looking at the camera.

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

Here someone was caught in a blink and someone else wants you all to know that she lost a tooth.

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

Better. A little oddly spaced and a My Little Pony happy meal toy has been smuggled in, but anytime all three sets of eyes are looking in the same direction and everyone is smiling it's a possibility.

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

Clearly they weren't ready. Boy-Child#1 ponders the meaning of life. Girl-Child looks like she just heard a Werewolf howl and might have to pee a little bit, and Boy-Child#2 does look a little constipated. But happy about it.

(photo by Mr. Farklepants)

Boys? You're great! Girl? WTH? And is it just me or has Boy-Child#2 nailed the Sears Catalog pose? Again, too far apart but at this point we'd been at it a while.

(photo by Mr. Farklepants and his Canon EOS 40D)

We have a winner! Smiles? Check. Looking at camera? Check. Proper subject placement? Good enough check. No one fell in the water? Check. [No, seriously, we put them right on the edge. On a downward slope. Cause we're smart like that. And when I say we I mean: Mr. Farklepants]

(photo by Dorothy Z.)

There were over one hundred shots and trust me, although there were a few to choose from, this was the best one. Join us again [date to be determined] for another installment of the Nikon v Canon wars. Where there is always bloodshed. And tears. And hurled insults. And memory card theft.

P.s. Yes, Jason, we were in your neighborhood and you'll be happy to know that it is a very popular location for picture taking. We like totally had to wait our turn. And about the parking...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Year McDonalds Ruined Christmas

We have a tradition here in the Farklepants household. Every year when we buy our Christmas tree we pick up McDonalds for dinner. Actually, I hate McDonalds but that's not the point. The Christmas tree lot that we have been frequenting for the last, oh, eight or so years, is adjacent to McDonalds. Or at least, it was. Because this year McDonalds is closed for remodeling. And when they say remodeling they mean tearing the sucker down and digging up the asphalt with a herring a backhoe. Which creates all kinds of safety hazards for Christmas tree shopping. For instance, if the tree lot were actually there, we'd have to scale the Andy Gump chain link fence to get in. Because, all access denied.

This meant having to scout out a new location to shop. And I don't know if you've met my paranoia when it comes to all things: my car? In case you hadn't heard, it is epic. Strapping seven feet of sticks and needles to the top of my SUV causes panic attacks where you'll find me cowering in the passenger seat and covering my ears going lalalalalalalala every time we turn a corner and I can hear movement on the roof. So when finding a new Christmas tree lot it is imperative that it be as close to our home as is possible. Because I would like that thing to spend five minutes or less riding my automobile.

In all our years of Christmas tree purchases, we've yet to lose one on the ride home. But that doesn't stop us from, every year, watching it like a hawk and going is it moving? Is it sliding? Does it seem to be much farther right than it was when we started? Should I open the sunroof and hold on? Can you reach it if you stick your hand out the window? Drive sloooowwwwer. Stop smooooother. Oh shit! Speed bump! It'll bounce! It'll scratch my car! [okay, the last part was just me]

You can see the kind of stress this creates. Hey kids! Isn't Christmas tree shopping just so much fun with mommy and daddy? I'm sorry, I didn't hear you. What was that?

Eventually a lot was found. And so was a tree. About that: each year in the Farklepants house you will hear this exchange: I think this is the best tree we've ever had (followed by) I concur. This year? Well, we found a tree that met most of our criteria. Decent height, although a bit shorter that we like. A Noble Fir, but a little too full for practical ornament hanging purposes. And there does seem to be a higher rate of needle loss.

Because it's tradition, a trip to McDonalds was in order. Although, no where near the tree lot. So the tree went home first and then the car was free to pick up dinner.

In the drive-through at McDonalds:

Me: What do you guys want?
Boy-Child#1: Big Mac
Boy-Child#2: Cheeseburger and fries
Girl-Child: A pony.

And wouldn't you freakin' know it? The Happy Meal toy was a My Little Pony figurine. That Girl. She's magic.

**Hat tip to Mr. Farklepants for the title and idea for this blog post when I told him that I didn't know what to write about and he's all, how about how McDonalds ruined Christmas? He's helpful like that.

***Construction Photos by Dorothy Z. and a thank you to the family for allowing to be schlepped over to the construction zone since we were already out taking pictures of the kids for Christmas cards. And also for their patience while we hit up the Starbucks too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Did I Ever Tell You About the Time I Put My Arm Around a Lion?

Doesn't everyone have one of these photos?

Some facts:

  • Lion: de-clawed
  • Lion: de-toothed
  • Lion: very large
  • Lion: very alive
  • Lion: very sleepy
  • Girl: Tootsie, and very much wanted to keep the lion
  • Lion: at first attempted to sit on Tootsie
  • Lion: would have crushed her
  • Girl's Mother: had second thoughts about having her daughter's picture taken with an exotic creature when the lion tried to sit on said daughter.
  • Girl's Mother: figured, eh, what the heck.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Hid it in the Fridge. The Rest of the Family Never Had a Chance.

This Thanksgiving my cousin drove down from northern California to spend a couple of days with the family. One of her contributions to the dinner were her homemade biscuits. Also now known as the Best Biscuits Ever. Fortunately she made 750 a whole bunch. So we had them with dinner. Then for breakfast with honey and butter. Then at lunch with gravy. Then at dinner the next night she's all, oh hey! I have a friend who made some jam so, here ya go!

Over the next two days I single-handedly polished off the remaining biscuits. And an entire jar of wild plum jam. And half a jar of strawberry. And when I ran out of biscuits I resorted to bread. Sourdough toast to be precise. Although, once the biscuits were gone the type of bread became inconsequential.

Now if I tried to make homemade jam the end result would be: botulism. And hospital visits. And IV fluids, antitoxins, ventilators, vomiting and enemas. Who's hungry? Making jam sounds like a lot of work. Especially with sterilizing the jars, and sealing, and how do you do that? It doesn't matter I've already lost interest....zzzzz...see?

Clearly the bread is merely a vehicle to move the jam from one location (i.e. the jar) to another (i.e. my gaping maw). I know what you're saying, and you're right. There are other less calorie heavy vehicles that will accomplish the same end result. For instance this mode of transportation:

Sporty and sleek and 100% carb-free! It is also easier to lick a spoon than a piece of bread. While bread tends to be notoriously flimsy (or easily broken when toasted) a spoon has super strength sturdy technology for the eager tongue. Stop it. Stop it right now.

Once you've tried homemade you realize the stuff they're selling in the store is not jam. What it is, is a lie.

So basically I'm disappointed the biscuits are gone. Confidentially, so will the rest of that strawberry jam by the time you read this.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Somewhere Out There The Ramones Sense a Disturbance in the Force

Remember waaaaaaaay back in November when Mr. Farklepants snapped that lovely photo of me sleeping on the couch? And how I accepted his obvious challenge of: bring it?

I present to you: the bringing of it...

Well, hello there Midlife Crisis. I see you've met my husband.

This is Mr. Farklepants stuffed into an antique his US Festival t-shirt. Which he brought home after spending three days at our generation's version of Woodstock. In 1982. I was nowhere near the event considering I was, oh, ya know...just finishing fifth grade and perfecting my cursive handwriting skills. [An aside: I always thought the cursive capital letter "Q" was dumb. End aside.] This shirt winds up in the I'll never part with this pile when we're purging our closets. With good reason; it's authentic vintage shit, yo.

The pose really just sets the whole thing. Hey Honey! You got your chocolate in my peanut butter Your pose says 70's and your clothes say 80's. See kids? This is why you should never drink and combine decades. You could end up with a PWI - Posing While Intoxicated. And you're unaware that a PWI checkpoint is up ahead disguised as a: Canon 20D.

Back off ladies. This one's aaaallll mine.

P.s. Can I have the shirt?

P.p.s. No, really. I mean it. Can I?

Monday, December 1, 2008

Armed With a List and a Piping Hot Venti Caramel Macchiato

We're just going to skip Thanksgiving altogether because really - turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, various pies - we all did the same thing, right? Right. And what goes great with 4am heartburn and last night's dinner that you can still taste? Shopping.

Little known fact: The term "Black Friday" was originated by the Philadelphia police department in 1966 because of the sidewalk and street traffic the first official shopping day brings. So says my Wikipedia search.

I call it "Black Friday" because it's black outside when you leave the house. On Friday. badum-CHING! [Editor's note: Vintage Thirty apologizes for that lame remark] Thank you, thank many of you flew in from out of town? Are your arms tired? badum-CHING! [Editor's note: Vintage Thirty would like whomever it is that's providing the rimshot to please stop, it just encourages Tootsie]

In my whole life I had never shopped the Friday following Thanksgiving, or that whole weekend, for that matter. Because A) I hate crowds, and B) Especially crowds of people hell bent on a deal and running on insufficient sleep. That's a recipe for cranky and rude and really, is that worth the savings? But in 2006, the year I believe I entered perimenopause and lost some of my marbles, I decided to go see what all the fuss was about.

So, blah blah blah, 4:30am, Starbucks, mall, 8am home, kids and Mr. Farklepants still asleep, three quarters of my Christmas list complete. The mall RAWKS on black Friday. Well, I can't speak for YOUR mall but ours does. So since that went so smoothly and I was telling my sisters ohmahgah it was so awesome and they were like ohmahgah we're totally going with you next time, and they totally did. Except in 2007 we made the poor POOR choice to go to Kohl's, not the mall. [please insert the sound of a needle scraping across an album on the record player here] THAT? Was the most HORRIBLE, AWFUL, WASTE OF TIME shopping trip of my life. Ever. Ever in forever. Ever. If there was a deal I don't know what it was. I spent almost $300 and didn't even get that much stuff and the line to pay wrapped around the store and people were opening up instant credit for an additional savings, the heat was stifling and ohmyhell someone totally farted. Audibly.

I still have nightmares.

So this year my sisters were all, so are we going to the mall or what? If there's one thing I like, it's teenagers with moxie. And a willingness to get up at 3:45am.

Everyone say hi to Tootsie's sisters!

By 8am we had turned the mall inside out and also Target and refrained from coming home with a pet store Cocker Spaniel puppy. There was nothing left to do but breakfast.

These bags represent just a portion of the booty. The rest of my booty is still in the back of my car hiding from the kids. And there is a "Yo Mama is So Fat" joke in there somewhere, I just know it.

This book How to Traumatize Your Children is a great gift for a sister in law who can take an effing joke.

I have four nephews and four nieces. I often get them the same gifts, with slight variations, so that no one feels like they've been shafted. Especially the girls. Because girls? Oy vey. This year it's jackets!

Two of them were originally $35, one was $55, and the other (not pictured) a whopping $140.

But I got all four for just over one hundred dollars. Two words: Door Busters.