A Story and a Stern Reminder

December 31, 2009

First, a little story for you.

Last night I was clocking a couple miles on the treadmill. Maggie was happily swinging away, and I was watching full episodes of A&E's Hoarders on my laptop. I was plodding along, gasping at the conditions of these peoples' homes, blatetly judging their character based upon the height of their shiz piles.

Heaven bless any of my readers who might be struggling with a moderate to severe hoarding issue, I hope to not offend you, but I absolutely have to tell it like it is:

These people were over the top.

Allow me to grace you with an example. One of the families, a family that lives in super cold Boston of all places, moved out of their house and in to a tent in their backyard. You see, they had crap up to the rafters and kept losing their children in the piles. The solution? Uhhhhh, du-uh! Obviously a tent. In November. In New England.

Or how 'bout the guy who built an entire barn to house his collection of 300,000+ not rare and not valuable beer cans? I've got a place for those Budweiser cans, sir--it's called Bea's Recycling shack, and you'll walk away rich.

Another family, a really sweet bunch, lived in a teeny little trailer with a postage stamp yard and somehow managed to squeeze twenty-nine cats and seventeen dogs into their nooks and crannies. There was a lot of love in that house. Perhaps a little too much love.

Then, as if the messes weren't enough, these people would do things like jump on Dr. Dianne (the clinical psychologist who specializes in obsessive behavior) from behind when she'd toss an empty soup can into the dumpster. They'd be like, "I THINK MY WEDDING RING WAS IN THAT SOUP CAN!" or "I WAS EATING THAT SOUP THE FIRST TIME MY BABY ROLLED OVER IN 1979. YOU CAN'T THROW IT AWAY! IT'S VERY SPECIAL TO ME!"

Like I said, my judgement was flowing like the rain--a real self righteous byotch if I do say so myself.

I was running along, every once in a while saying things to my baby like, "Take this as a lesson Maggie, hoarding problems start at Target's dollar display. When you see it, do not veer over. Trust me on this one. It starts with a furry pen, and before you know it, you're sitting on a four-foot mountain of holiday-themed dog sweaters."

This side of me? This evil non-compassion? I never said it was cute.

So there I was, running along, judging and condemning, when my greyhound made her way down the stairs. She casually walked across the basement playroom, stopped next to an enormous pile of clean, unfolded laundry--by that point I believe it had been sitting there for at least nine days. She let out one of those super cute dog hmmphs, climbed into the pile, and fell asleep.

When I finished my workout I literally had to wake my dog in order to find a clean towel. And that my friends, is the moment I vowed to shut my mouth and let the hoarders hoard in peace.

And now, a very stern reminder.

If no one sends me their butt photos, then The Fantastic, Asstastic Photo Challenge of 2010 will have to be cancelled.

That was almost too sad to type.

My husband and I sat down to address the lack of entrants, and we came up with three solutions:

1. Everyone should become a fan of The Fantastic, Asstastic Photo Challenge of 2010 on Facebook. Right now I only have two followers--me and my mom. Just type it into the search box, click the "become a fan" icon, and you're set to go.

2. Everyone should grab the asstastic button in my sidebar and put it on their blog. I mean really now, how fun is that? For some reason, Blogger isn't letting me paste anything into this post. So you can either take it from over there --->, or copy the HTML code from the Facebook fan page. (Are you starting to see how this all fits together?)

3. Everyone should join in on the fun. Remember, even if you opt for anonymity, you're still eligible to win one of three fabulous prizes. Details for entering can be found in the next post, and thanks to Jared's encouragement, the deadline for submitting pictures has been extended to Tuesday, January 5th at 11:59pm. Jared says that allows enough time for the guilt and poor self-esteem to set in.

Well that's that. Happy New Year's Eve, everyone!

And please, don't drink and drive--drink and dial!

The Fantastic, Asstastic Photo Challenge of 2010

December 29, 2009

Things are about to get really, really, realllllly fun over here in this crazy little corner of the internet.

Seriously. Fun.

The holidays are over, and I feel very safe in wagering a guess that nine-tenths of the people reading this blog are feeling super-nasty fat. And guess what? On New Year's Day, when you wake up with forty-two Lil' Smoky cocktail weenies, a bottle of wine, and a hairball in your belly (how'd that get in there?), you'll feel even grosser.

I'm just telling it like it is, people. Telling it like it is.

Sure we could do a 'Ring in the New Year Weight Loss Challenge' over here at the Lawsons did Dallas--but really now, how unbelievably boring is that? Everyone hosts a weight loss challenge on their blog...everyone. Even a well trained pomegranate could host a plain-old, no frills weight loss challenge.

And cue the fun.

Over here, on my blog, I'm planning to shake this up a bit with the....wait for it....this'll be good....


Please friends, hold your applause until the end of the post.

Here's how it works: By Sunday, January 3rd at 11:59pm, you will email me a high resolution photograph of your clothed butt. I don't care if it's wearing a Gucci skirt, some high-waisted mom jeans, or a burlap sack--but it absolutely, positively, must be covered in something.

When you send me the picture, please let me know how you'd like to be identified in the contest. You can have:

a) Your name with a link to your blog,
b) Your name with no link to your blog, or
c) A top-secret code name with absolutely no hint or trace of your real identity.

DISCLAIMER: If you chose option c, please understand that my husband Jared will know who the ass is attached to. I'm not that good at keeping things to myself. But don't worry, he's a professional. Jared touches butts all day long--it's the best part of his job--and I promise that he'll view your bottom through professional, sensitive, and medical eyes only.

I'll post the bum pictures in the Fantastic, Asstastic Gallery on Monday.

Then, the contestants will have one week to improve the look of their rears. Walk, run, count points, find a better camera angle, squeeze yourself into a new set of Spanks--it doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that you send a follow-up picture one week later. I'll post the new pictures in the Fantastic, Asstastic Gallery, and we'll let the voters decide...Who's ass is the most improved?

The votes will be tallied with technological precision, and the bums that fall in the bottom fourth will be eliminated.

We'll repeat this process on January 11th, January 18th, January 25th and February 1st--when the Grand Champion will be revealed.

Got it? If not, you can ask questions in the comment section.

But first, just to clear up a few of the details:

1. Send your photos to LawsonAmyB@yahoo.com by 11:59pm, this Sunday.

2. Pictures cannot be doctored in any way, shape, or form--so all you photoshop wizards can sit on your hands. I want untouched photos of the bum you were born with.

3. There will be prizes. Three fabulous prizes to be exact. They'll be revealed week by week.

4. Reasonable cheating practices will be accepted. For example, asking everyone in your email address book to vote for your ass is reasonable. Finding a new can-for-a-day in Google Images is not.

5. I wasn't joking about the 'must be wearing clothing' thing. And while we're on the topic, these photos have to be easy on the eyes, tasteful, and G-rated. I reserve the right to remove you from the contest if I think you're being all gross and whatnot.

6. I'd like to extend an extremely thankful heart to my super talented reader, Jennifer. She created the logo that will continue to grace our presence throughout the competition. Is it a butt? Is it boobs? Who cares! It's fabulous! Jennifer, together, you and I can shrink some asses.

So there you have it--all the motivation you'll ever need to shape up and slim down. Now grab your camera, grab your friends, snap some pictures, and whip that ass into shape!

(...but not until January 5th, you'll have a better chance of winning if your butt looks absolutely horrendous during week one.)

After-Holiday Aftermath

December 28, 2009

Wow. I haven't posted in an entire week? I guess the holidays'll do that to a girl.

I hope everyone out there had an excellent Christmas. I know I sure did. Between the ridiculous amounts of food, the presents (I'll never outgrow my love of presents), a garbage bag filled with those wire toy ties, and a four-year-old who buys the Santa story hook, line, and sinker, I couldn't have asked for more.

You may or may not know that I have a brother-in-law who's serving a two-year mission for our church. He's in the Seattle area and he's been gone since the beginning of this past April. Because our church tends to have crazy strict guidelines for everything from coffee drinking to skirt length, it's no surprise that missionaries have some tight rules about calling home. To be more specific, they can call home on Mother's Day, Christmas, and....oh yeah, only Mother's Day and Christmas.

Insane? Mmm hmm, I'll second that.

Anyhoo, Bryan called home around 7 o'clock on Christmas night and everyone in the family took turns passing the phone around, taking five-or-so minutes to chat. And do you know what the first words out of every single persons' mouth were?

No...not, "BRYAN!!!!!"

No...not, "I miss you SOOOO much!"

And nope...not, "Merry Christmas!" either.

It never failed. Every single time anyone got hold of the phone, they'd immediately say, "Bryan! You're so fat!"

And then five seconds later they'd be like, "No, dude, you're huge! You look mega fat!"

And then five more seconds later they'd say something like, "Honestly, how much weight have you gained? I never thought you could get that fat!"

The truth it, Bryan's not fat. He was the size of a twist-tie when he left for his mission, he's gained thirty-five-or-so pounds, and now the kid is normal. He looks older, he looks fuller, and like I said, he looks like an average person instead of a pipe cleaner with a face.

Now the diamonds on his argyle sweaters? I'll admit, they're looking very, very stressed. And his suit coat? Well, it's become more of a shrug. And his European Carry-All (read: man-purse)? It's found a new life as a fanny pack. But the guy looks great. Really, really great.

Unlike me, I don't think Bryan has a single ounce of holiday weight to lose. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think I look bad or anything, it's just that this barrel with suspenders is really hard to get comfortable in.

The sweets go in the trash TODAY.

Anyone else?

A Heavenly Choir of Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Singers

December 21, 2009

I'm not a singer by any stretch of the imagination, but for some reason, probably because of the holidays, I've got choirs on the mind. We've been listening to a lot of Mormon Tabernacle Choir lately, or MoTab, as my people like to call it--kind of like JayZ, but a lot more wholesome.

Last night, as Jared and I were hucking dirty laundry at each other, saying things like, "Get your skanky underoos off my side of the bed!" he suddenly changed the subject and said, "I bet your church had an awesome choir when you were growing up."

That's when I froze, dropped the underpants on the hardwood, and said, "I'm sorry, but we can't stay married for another moment, Jared. You know nothing about my childhood. It's like I'm sleeping with a stranger."

In other words, St. Brigid's choir was horrendous.

Actually, it was beyond horrendous.

Every single Sunday, I'd quietly pray for a miracle. More specifically, I'd pray that Jesus would show his face to the choir and say, "Please, my brothers and sisters, please stop singing. Sing no more. I command ye to stoppeth your singing. Fill your mouths with these loaves and fishes so that ye may stoppest your voices."

And when that never worked, I prayed for an invisible walkman.

And when that never worked, I thought about bagels.

See, my church was tricky. It had a huge vaulted ceiling, dark wood, red carpets, super intricate stained-glass. There were fancy statues, and a beautiful, booming organ. All signs pointed to a heavenly chorus of voices--and all signs were horribly, terribly misleading. If there had been a literal sign, it should have been a big, yellow arrow, pointed straight up to choir loft saying, "CAUTION: VERY ELDERLY PEOPLE ARE SINGING UP THERE, AND THEY'RE DOING IT WITH GUSTO."

I still remember one Christmas Eve service in particular--I must have been nine or ten years old. The choir was belting out their rendition of Oh, Holy Night, and I was squirming around in the pew, trying to will my ear canals to collapse shut.

Finally, when I couldn't handle it for another second, I leaned my head into my mom's ear and whispered, "Mom, it's like I'm chewing on a tin-foil ball."

And she was like, "Amy! Shhhhh! That's rude!"

So I turned to my father and said, "Hey Dad, remember that time you made me lick that 9-volt battery?"

He nodded.

"It feels like it's still on my tongue."

He nodded again and said, "I hear ya, Squirt."

These days, we live far away from St. Brigid Church, and have settled on a street with moderate-to-severe drainage issues. It's funny, but every time my neighbor's cat gets lodged in the underground drainage pipe, its hissing and screaming brings me right back to my childhood days, and I just can't help but look up at the sky and say, "Really? You could part the Red Sea but you couldn't give a girl an invisible walkman?"

Some things will always be a mystery...

Score One for Team Jared

December 16, 2009

Jared got home approximately six minutes ago and that man has had nothing but not-nice things to say about by homemaking tendencies since the moment he stepped through the door.

I swear, if I had the option, there are days where I'd return my husband to Big Lots for nothing but a store credit.

I made him dinner--homemade sweet potato soup, pictured above--and I was like, "Say nothing about the salad bowl, Jared. Don't say a thing."

And do you know what he did? He said it. Of course he said it. He was all, "Why's my soup in a gigantic salad bowl, woman?!"

To which I calmly replied, "It's in a salad bowl for two reasons. First, all of the soup bowls are dirty, and second, I'm not convinced that I love you enough to wash one."

In response, Jared decided to kick it up a notch and hit me where it really hurts--the laundry department. He reached into his back pocket, pulled out a very crumpled receipt and said, "Do you have any idea when this receipt is from?"

I remained silent, offering nothing but my patented biz-natch glare as an answer.

"October 15th. These pants haven't been washed since October 15th. It might be time, Amy."

I laughed and laughed and laughed some more. "October 15th? That's nothing, Jared. Last fall I put a sweater on and found a movie ticket stub from when I went to see 'Flubber' in 1996."

(I'm very sorry to say that I'm not making that up.)

At that point, Jared gave me a super disgusted look and goes, "You went to see Flubber when you were in high school? What were the cool kids doing?"



(...in case you missed it, there's another new post down there)

Vanity Sizing

December 16, 2009

Banana Republic has the most ridiculous vanity sizing I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing.

Clearly I am a size 10 (size 8 after a nine-day stomach flu), and clearly I'm okay with that. But when I go to Banana Republic? Size 6.

Size. 6.

I'm 5'8" and weigh 150 at my hottest. I weight 155 when I'm going through a donut phase, and when I happen to weigh in at 145 I can often be heard saying things like, "Dude, Cindy Crawford has totally let herself go," and "I think I'll take a trip back to the old Alma Mater and slut around the cafeteria for a little while."

In other words, 145 is my knock-em-dead-I'm-too-hot-for-my-own-good weight. 145 is when I whip out my favorite skirt from my college days--you know, the one my mom put through the wash, hung on the clothes line and said, "That's a really cute neck warmer, Amy."

And I said, "That's not a neck warmer, it's a skirt."

And she said, "You're grounded."

And I said, "You're jealous."

And she said, "You're still grounded."

And guess what size that skirt is. That's right! I don't remember what size that skirt is. But I can abslo-friggin-lutely guarentee that it's not a size 6, and that was never a problem for me. Back in the day the boys didn't care what size that little number was, all they wanted to do was pull that skirt off my bum, poke a couple of eye holes, and wrap it around the exposed skin on their faces so they could go snowmobiling.

I know, Maine is weird.

All I'm saying is this: Girls who are 68 inches tall and weigh 150 pounds are not a size 6, they're a size 10. And dude, that's cool.

But at Banana Republic? Size. 6.



And that is why I will continue to pay obscene amounts of money to purchase my jeans from that fine institution. When I'm above my donut weight, nine weeks post-partum, and comfortably wearing a size 6 jean? Well that's just priceless.
Haven't met a girl yet who isn't a sucker for a size 6--even if it just an illusion.

Weekend Review

Deceber 14, 2009

I had a really eventful weekend.

On Saturday morning I walked into the downstairs bathroom without knocking. That's when I caught Jared, standing in front of the gigantic mirror, naked, posing like he was in some sort of a fitness competition. The only thing missing was a sequin-studded banana-hammock. But the best part? He was saying, "Man I look good! I look so good!" It was a full second or two before he realized that he had company, and those my friends, were the greatest seconds of my entire life.

On Saturday afternoon, Jared and I went Christmas shopping. In the true spirit of giving (to myself), I bought a half-priced sweater from the Gap. Nothing funny happened. Sorry.

On Saturday night, Gracie ran away. It was pitch black, fifteen degrees outside, and that dog was not wearing her coat. After two hours of driving around with my windows rolled down, calling her name, and looking behind every dumpster in town, she came back home. When I saw her, I was like, "You suck." And she was like, "No. You suck." And I was like, "Nooo. You suck." I'm just kidding, Gracie doesn't talk. But she does suck. I have an eaten up Advent calendar, a new anti-trash electric-shock-collar on my Visa, and more than five-hundred dollars in vet bills to prove her moderate to severe suckage. You know, it's funny--I would never deal with that type of crap from my husband. But then again, he's not striped, and that's why I picked her.

On Sunday morning we went to church. James decided to lip-sync the words to 'Away in a Manger' instead of actually singing them. Due to the fact that my son is the second worst lip syncer on planet Earth (Who's the first? It's Brittany, b!+@#), he called a great deal of attention to himself. What can I say? I was really proud.

And then, on Sunday afternoon I went for a run around the neighborhood. I absolutely wasn't thinking when I picked a pair of mittens to wear during my jaunt. You see, when some dirty-old-pervert offered me some dirty-old-advice, it was completely impossible to give the guy the finger. So I gave him four mitten-covered fingers, and my message wasn't nearly as clear. He thought I was waving. I was not.

How was your weekend?

Strengths and Weaknesses: Cake Decoration

December 10, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, when I was work-free and feeling unusually domestic, I decided to bake a cake for my husband. There was no reason, really--I was just feeling particularly appreciative of his all-around efforts, so James and I planned a "Daddy Appreciation Surprise Party."

The event had all the essential elements that any bash should have--games, prizes, food, speeches, but the crowning jewel of the party was indisputable. It was the cake.

You see, before my brother-in-law left for his two-year mission back in April, we used to Tivo Ace of Cakes and watch it on Friday nights. You know, because I'm awesome.

Somehow, watching all of those episodes puffed me up with a very strong, but very false sense of confidence. I'd seen those television bakers apply a crumb coat a zillion times! I was more than familiar with the internal architecture of a wedding cake. And good heavens, if any lay person had the ability to sculpt with sugar, it had to be me.

Not to mention the fact that I worked at a bakery for two years during high school.

Yes, it's true. I was only there to fill the jelly donuts. But this baking thing? It's running through my freaking veins.

So I gathered my tools, rounded up my four-year-old assistant, and channelled my inner pastry chef. Twenty-dollars, three hours, and two buckets of sweat later, I had created this:

It's a trout.

A rainbow trout to be exact.

What? You couldn't tell? You must be grossly unfamiliar with freshwater fish species, because I swear on all things holy, it's like you could reach out, touch that thing and be surprised that you had frosting on your finger. In other words, it's incredibly lifelike.

Or so I thought.

I was proud of this fish. So proud that I posted the pictures on Facebook for all the world to see. So proud that I chose to interpret Jared's laughing as "Whoa! Ha ha ha! How did a man like me end up with a woman of such talent? Ha ha ha! It blows my mind! Ha ha!" as opposed to, "Ha ha ha! This is, hands down, the sh!++*&t cake I've ever seen in my life! Ha ha!"

The smartie candy for the eye? The chocolate sprinkles for the spots? The anatomically accurate hook jaw? I tell you what, I was about to sign my ass up for culinary school.

And then this morning, as I wiped the sleep from my eyes and checked my Google Reader, my world came crashing downaround me. And it crashed down hard.

I clicked on my friend's blog, and was greeted by a picture of this:

Yes, it's a cake. Yes, it's a trout. And yes, believe it or not, it's also a rainbow trout. Just like my cake.

(I know, she totally didn't put enough spots on the tail or the belly--it confused me, too.)

Oh these novices. She'll get the hang of it eventually. And in the mean time, I'll be the one whimpering in my closet.

Getting the Hang of It

December 8, 2009

Thanks guys, you have no idea how much I needed those comments and emails yesterday.

Honestly, it turned out to be one of the craziest days I've had in a long, loooong time. It ended with my dog eating the chocolate advent calendar (she sucks), and James throwing down the tantrum of the century. Seriously, this meltdown was epic. So epic, that I pulled an old running trophy out of the basement, slammed it on his dresser and yelled, "CONGRATULATIONS! INMATES AROUND THE WORLD ARE PROUD OF YOUR BEHAVIOR!"

He stopped on a dime and was like, "Weally?"

I was like, "Really."

And he was all, "Sanks, Mom! I do love dat twophy!"

And I was thinking, "Damn. I should've thought that through. I really like that trophy, too...."


Anyway, some of your suggestions for managing my work-from-home situation were really, really great--much better than the ideas I had for coping. Namely wine, beer, vodka, moonshine, or pursuing a younger man.

It dawned on me this morning that my neighbor--you know, the 75 year-old woman who lives 50 feet to my left--absolutely adores babies. She stops by to see Maggie a couple of times a week and is constantly dropping hints that she'd love to babysit. Well guess what, Marion? If we can work around your water aerobics schedule, I'd looooove to have you save my sanity. (and get my trophy back if you could manage it)

Thanks again, you guys.

Things that Make Me Want to Hurl

December 7, 2009

In theory it sounded awesome, but to be quite honest with you, this work-at-home-mom thing isn't really coming together so well for me.

Now, instead of sitting in my office, not doing much work and feeling semi-guilty about it, I'm sitting in my den, not doing any professional work (because old habits die hard) or housework (because I'm on the clock) and feeling just about as useful as one of those infomercial 'set it and forget it' rotisserie ovens--you know...not nearly as efficient as the salesman said it would be, and dude, it takes up way too much counter space.

I sit around all morning, with my boob hanging out of my shirt, pretending (key word there) to sound useful during conference calls, all the while wondering, "Can't she just stop crying for a second???" Consequently, my self-esteem is lying somewhere in the depths of my very uncleaned toilet.

Crappy employee? Check!

Crappy housekeeper? Double check!

Crappy friend? Would be if I had any! (Didn't that sound dramatic?)

Wallowing in self pity? You bet your big, fat bottom I am!

Objectively speaking, I have precisely nothing to show for my first two weeks back at work, and honestly, it makes me want to hurl. But worst of all, I sound like a nasty little, self-entitled whiner (e.g. "Working from home and getting paid well for it is sooooo hard!" and "Why is my beautiful, healthy baby just a little bit fussy every once in a while?")--and that makes me want to hurl all over again.

I have a work contract through April, so I'll give myself at least that long to adjust to the new circumstances--so that's good.

But I have even better news. This ridiculous need to vent and complain? I'll recover from that momentarily.

An Update on My Condition

December 1, 2009

I've read the parenting books, and believe-you-me, I know that it's never okay to compare your children against one another. After all, they're individuals, with their own strengths, weaknesses, personalities, and interests. Comparison is pointless, unfair, and nothing but harmful.

But wait, hold the phone. I'm Amy Lawson, so watch me do it anyway.

James was a fantastic sleeper. At six weeks old, that boy started sleeping through the night from 10pm to 5am without so much as a whisper or a grunt. By the time he was 18 months, James was sleeping from 8pm to 8am and taking a four hour nap every single day. The kid slept so much that I barely even knew him. And that was cool with me, because sometimes strangers can have a very special and unexplainable connection to one another.

James was fat, James was happy, and James was tired. Very, very tired.

And me? Well I felt like a fresh little flower who sneezed out sunshine and farted out fairy dust.

Then there's Maggie. Miss Cutie-Cuteness-Crappy-Dappy-Sorry-Excuse-for-a-Sleeper Maggie. Thank goodness that girl is adorable, because if it weren't for those perfect, little facial features, that child would be headed to an obscure Swiss boarding school at the sweet, young age of seven weeks.

I'm sure, that in the grand scheme of things, Maggie is a pretty normal baby. But compared to her brother, this child is a straight-up insomniac.

Maggie eats at 10.

Maggie eats at midnight.

Maggie eats at 2:15.

Maggie eats at 4:45ish.

Maggie eats at 7.

Maggie is hungry.

And then, when the sun peeks up over the horizon, I wander around town looking remarkably similar to this:

Remember her? I'll give you a clue: Tell 'em Large Marge sent ya.

That's right, it's the very same truck driver who scared the pants off of Pee Wee Herman when he was on his cross country adventure, trying like heck to find his bike. If you were born in the 70's or 80's then you definitely remember how shaken Pee Wee became when Large Marge made her eyes bulge out of her head--now take a minute to think about how you'd feel if you bumped into Marge in the stacks at your local library and she gave you that same whacked out look.

And that is why I'd like to apologize to all of my fellow community members. I look like hell. I am a spitting image of Large Marge. Someone have mercy upon my weak and wretched soul.

So there you have it. My son left me looking all airy and bright, and Maggie? Well Maggie just leaves me looking like really sh!%%y 80's claymation.

I wonder how long this will last.