What exactly is wrong with me?

Saturday did not exactly go as planned.

My plan was to attend my friend's 80s Prom Party in Seattle. I was psyched. Mostly, because I had the best outfit available. I mean, really, I do the 80s right. I would have thrived in a more "not matching" culture. The whole matchy thing, "does this go together", mmm...not me. I have literally no understanding of what goes and what doesn't and what's too much. Shelley has dressed me for years.

But the 80s? I could get on board with the whole "more is more" philosophy. Gloves (good). Bracelets (good). Faux-hawk (good). It all goes.

I was decked out.
I was ready to par-tay.
Because that dress, it's just such a holy pink nightmare. It makes living possible.

I was psyched. Chuck. Not so much. There was really nothing about this party that said "Oooh, Chuck, you'd have a blast, come with." I know my husband. Dressing him in 80s attire would not go very well, when (as you know) 2010 clothing is hard enough for him to grasp. Let's not confuse him.

So, I was set to go alone and meet my friend and her friends. Simple enough.

Dressed. Ready. Awesome.

And then: fail. Because I'm Susie and things are just a little more complicated for me.

See, about the time I saw the party venue in downtown Seattle, the "Sweet Mother, I'm Out of Suburbia" panic attacks started. Where am I? Why am I here? Where am I going to park? How am I going to park?

I understand that parallel parking is the natural option for most people who've been driving more than, oh, I don't know, 3 months. Not this girl. I liken parallel parking to me climbing Everest. It ain't gonna happen. In 11 years of driving, I've never successfully parallel parked. Unless you count parking 6 feet from the curb with my trunk in the arterial, in that case, I'm bomb.

There was some light sweating at this point as I saw all the cool Seattle people parallel parking like champs and waving the ease of it all in my face. If I try, it ends in embarrassment and a youtube video.

Ok. So I'll park in the nearest "lot". And hoof it in.
Or not, because the nearest lot was three city blocks up, around a corner, and sans a light. At twilight (giggle, sigh, Edward), no problem -- it was bright enough still for me to safely walk to the party. But leaving alone after midnight? No way. Me and my pink nightmare dress would be sitting ducks, I can feel it. Because I firmly believe that everyone is out to get me. I know this because Forensic Files, Dateline Investigates, and CSI: NY told me so.

I circled the block a few times. Sweating. Panicked breathing. Wondering how I got here. Why I was in Seattle? What was I thinking? Was I going to get murdered? Or worse, was the pink dress in danger? I tried playing Tony Robins with myself. You can do it. I tried everything:
I tried to get up my nerve to try a parallel like a normal person. I tried to justify the safety of a parking lot that was in a high traffic, very people friendly, totally fine part of Seattle. I tried to look for someone normal looking to just park for me (which I've done before), but normal+Seattle = nice dream.

I got honked at three times during my circling.
4 taxis and a bus tried to hit me (because those darn things do not understand that I need a 200 foot bubble around me at all times).
And I got cat called.


I turned my car around.
Called Chuck (he's never been less surprised).
And texted my friend that I wasn't fit for an evening out.

Because let's be honest.
I'm not a Saturday night out kind of person. I rarely leave the house after dark unless absolutely necessary because I'm that lazy. So, at what point would I have ever thought that going to Seattle, alone, at night, in a pink prom dress, would be a good idea.

Chuck would like it noted that he did offer to drive and pick me up. "Nope, I don't want to be that girl." Good call Suz. Because being the girl that CAN'T EVEN GET OUT OF HER CAR BECAUSE OF FEAR AND MISSES THE WHOLE PARTY is much better. I make good decisions.

So. Saturday night didn't actually go as planned.
But, it did go as would be expected once I returned home and declared sanctuary:
Sitting on the couch, eating an Otter Pop, watching a 3 hour documentary on the Monetary System.

In the prom dress, of course. I couldn't let it go to waste.

It's about time we set some goals.

We're setting goals. Basically, we're trying to be more responsible around here with our time.

Let's break that second sentence down for maximum clarity (apparently, I should have done this breakdown sentence thing when I took the SATs and maybe, just maybe, my score senior year would have beaten the score Chuck got when he took the SATs for fun in 7th grade. Yup.) Ok, breakdown: Trying is a key word. And we need to remember that "more responsible" from our starting place of "zero responsible" makes us shooting for like a 5 on a scale of zero to 100% responsible. Glad we cleared that up.

We've decided to make a Summer To-Do list to focus our thoughts, our goals, and to try and avoid the Labor Day "I can't believe we didn't" blues. Since the Summer season spans Memorial Day to Labor Day, I found this to be a timely over share with you. Consider yourself bless-ed.

The List.
It comes with the [empty] promise of keeping you apprised on when we accomplish the goals and "x" them off the ol'list. Never forget: we are givers.

We have 10 goals. We're keeping it simple. Because anything more than 10 would just be overwhelming. We scare easy.
1. We would like to go to Emerald Downs, dress traditionally (which means, of course, that I will look like Julia Roberts from The Steaming Divets scene and Chuck will look like Colonel Sanders), and take it all very seriously. I will be betting based on prettiest names.
2. Not sure on your familiarity with this, BUT court houses are a pretty good show. We will bring popcorn and come back with stories. Laugh now, but remember that we also made a day out of an estate auction. Do not question or judge us. We know funny.

3. We would like to grow something that we can eat. Anything will work. Cutting corners will not. Gagging down a rose for principle of crossing this one off the list will not be allowed. It will be considered, I'm sure, when we forget to plant in a timely manner, but we will not resort to dramatics.
4. Divorce Chuck.
Marry Rob.
Simple. And probable.
5. True story, this picture is actually what we're going for. Two tone cabinets. Colors are perfect. Bets can be placed on how long this will take. It took us 6 months to hang a few lights and 58 days to paint the exterior. Place the bets high.
6. Random, I know. But college roommate Josh lives in Missoula which is where my Grandparents are from. We'd like to go, hang out, and visit a little Susie family history (it seems like a fun little road trip). Oh, and I will be visiting you too, Blog Stalker Jenna. Consider yourself warned.
7. It's not technically a to-do, but it could be should the fence fall. Should it fall, the to-do will be to put it back up because I will never, ever fix that fence. Ever.
8. The purity, the sanctity of garage sitting. It's exactly as it sound: Sit (in the garage) at the exact point where garage meets driveway. Try it.

9. We might need to invest in some new friends for this one. Anyone? Friendship for sale: One fairly annoying, kinda neurotic female and one nerdy, extra slim male seek boating companions.
10. Organize the garage from current Hoarders state to something less likely to be featured on A&E. OR shove everything up against the wall and call it good. I'm betting on the latter.

The List is set.
You'll hold us accountable.
I know you will.

I know, I get it.

Shocker. Chuck took this picture today.

I'm gonna break it down for you because I appreciate it for multiple reasons:
(throat clear)
1. I see this picture as a goal because I need to get my ducks in a row. We're 17 days to Summer Vacation and I'm about 170 days away from ready. And my blog sucks lately, let's call a spade a spade. The blog needs Summer Susie. Sigh, I love Summer Susie. I would be friends with her. It's the only Me I would be friends with, for the record.

2. I think it's adorable. Mom Duck and Baby Ducks. Hard to top.

3. I think it's even more adorable that Chuck took 15 pictures of it this morning because he is an even bigger fan of Mom Ducks and Baby Ducks.

And there you have it.
I can't give you anything else.

Just a little awkward, that's all.

Nothing like throwing together two toddlers and hoping for magic.
Magic, as we all know, is an illusion. And Rome certainly wasn't built on hopes.
So the vision may have been flawed.

Cousin Kyle and Sister Shelley had the brilliant idea to throw their daughters together, make me take pictures of it, and assume fabulous would result and we'd have something to give our grandfather for Father's Day.

Great plan.
Not such a great product.
Or execution.

See. The lesson we learned is that we should:
A. Hang out more often so the children actually know each other.
B. Actually, it's all "A". The kids need to know each other for "photo shoots" to work. That's the lesson we learned. I've written it down.

At 2 1/2 and 15 months, hanging out, playing, and posing was a nice dream.
What we got was awkward standing, fuss faces that stood a mile apart, and photos like this:
Isabela was asked to please share flowers with Lucy.
Lucy did not appreciate this gesture.

And standing around like this:
Let's just say Best Friend necklaces ordered last week were put on hold. AWK-ward.

We'll try and get these two babes together more often to try.
Not so much for friendship reasons as for photo reasons because they are stinking cute.
Stinking. Cute.

This one may not be photo genius or "aesthetically pleasing", but it is Susie-pleasing. I love everything about this picture. EVERYTHING. Face. Stance. Rake.

In an hour and a half of picture taking, we have these last two photos. Two. Two of those two that can be salvaged for Grandpa's Father's Day.
At least next time can't be nearly as awkward as this time was.
I think.

May is the new June.

Hi Summer.

Just an FYI that I am done with Spring and moving on with my life. Full steam into Summer I think it's better this way. I've drafted a Dear John letter for Spring to let it down gently because that's the kind of person I am.

We held opening Summer ceremonies over the weekend. Which basically consists of Chuck, Me, and the ritual making of our s'more sticks by bending coat hangers to the sweet sound of Boys of Summer. It's all very touching. Especially when Chuck releases the marshmallow doves. Jack cried, like, three times.

Obviously, the menu for opening ceremonies is simple: Hamburgers and s'mores. I think you can handle making s'mores on your own, so I'll clue you into my burger recipe because it is bomb. Bomb.

I'll give my beloved PW credit for the sauteed onions and the melted blue cheese. The rest, well, follow it and then send me a Thank You email. I can't even fake humility. These are so good. I have references that can back me on this.

Round up the gang and do a head count before moving on. I did not and I forgot to pull out the Tabasco. His fault, not mine. Nothing is ever my fault.
Grab the onions. Usually it's one normal sized onion, but mine are so wittle. And precious. I named them Eenie, Meenie, and Mine-e-Mo. I had to use three. Slice them into thin rounds without cutting off your finger. Thin is good, but not horse shoe.

Wear sunglasses if you can't handle the pressure.
Or man up.

We're about to saute them into submission.
It's about 3 tablespoons brown sugar and one tablespoon butter for the saute process. OR you can use the butter-sugar ratio as an outward representation of how your day went. The day I made these we upped it to a 1/4 cup of sugar and an unholy amount of butter. I've done worse.

Interesting fact: I have never had anyone complain about something having too much sugar or butter.
Begin the saute-ing process. Medium-low for about 20 minutes or so. Stir when you can. They are babies. Tend to their needs and they will tend to yours.
On an aside, Chuck isn't such a big fan of me leaving my cutting boards on the oven. I can't figure out why he's so touchy about me leaving them there.
Oh. That's why. I forgot.
Next, we will work with the meat and get it burger ready. I love mashing all the seasoning into the meat because I get to ditch The Rings and play "Susie: Single and Ready to Mingle". I am swingin', hott (with two t's), and a catch. It's pretty much the highlight of my nights.

Someone pray for me. Pray hard.
Here's what I put in with the hambooger: Pepper, seasoning salt, garlic powder, Worcestershire (which must be read phonetically for full effect), blue cheese, and Tabasco - who got his act together for this picture.

I hate to do this to you, but this has to be by taste. Be generous. My goal is always to take away as much of the icky meat taste as possible. The more the merrier. Sprinkle the blue cheese in last. Not a ton. Just a smidgen.
Make your patties. 1/3 pound burgers is best. Add another round of pepper to the top of the burgers for good measure and an extra step at eliminating the meat taste.
The onions looks like this by now.
Told you. Submission.
Burger cooking skillz are almost as important as the de-meat tasting part. Chuck's pretty specific. Set the grill to high and sear the patties for 1 minute a side. Grill them the rest of the time on medium for 4 minutes a side. Add the cheese when you have about 2 minutes left. I'm classy. I add blue cheese. Chuck has low class and adds American Cheese. From the plastic packet. He is 5.
Mayo the heck out of the toasted buns and put on a terrifying amount of onions.

And that is how we do burgers, my friend.

I encourage you to also put Spring to bed.
Summer is way better and Spring is so last April.

Those people.

I had a little wake up call tonight. We headed outside for BBQ chicken and I realized we have "that backyard".
That backyard.

That one.


Am I making myself clear enough or did you need more?

BAM. Emril Lagasse style.

I know we had this issue last year but last year it wasn't our fault. We bought the house that way. And I fixed it. I did a really good job. Not really wanting to toot my own horn, but toot.

This year. My fault. I, Susan Elise, did a pathetic (really non-existent) job at keeping up with the backyard growth. In my defense, the backyard was the site of much of the painting nightmare last year and it's a bit like 'Nam to me. I get the shakes back there. I've just seen too much. You'll understand if you ever try to paint your house. The horror. The horror.

Also in that backyard is our AMAZING fence. It all goes really well together. Maybe I shouldn't have pulled the weeds. It really all compliments nicely.

Now, the fence, it needs help. Lots of it. When we moved into this place, we made a mental to-do list. Painting. Fence. Kitchen. On and on and on. The fence was number 2. Emphasis on was. Now, it's not so high.

Why? A couple of reasons and they all have to do with the people who share that piece of the fence with us. I will now compile a list of evidence to help you see our point and explain how the fence suddenly became a "live-able" part of our life.

1. The first thing (first thing) that neighbor said to us was that she wanted us to help them convince the other 5 neighbors they share fence with to get it all replaced. Literally. "Hi, my name is Neighbor. Let's talk about the fence." We had lived in the house one week. I smiled and nodded when she told me they'd be trying to get their fence replaced for 6 years but could never get anyone to go in with them. I thought that was a little weird at first that no one was on board. Now, I get it.

2. The next time I met Neighbor she didn't open her front door for a minute because she thought I was one of her clients and she hates when they track her down. "What do you do for work?" "I work in a psychiatric hospital". Ok.

3. That same time, while I was explaining that we were beginning to paint our house, she jumped all over me about the fence. And the work she was going to hiring a pricey translator to speak to a neighbor about it (she wanted to split that cost, naturally). And how she had a contractor all lined up but still none of the neighbors would commit. I said it wasn't in the budget cards for us that summer because the house painting was of critical importance (our siding wasn't doing so hot). She then gave me an impressive lecture about how being a home owner means spending money and we should have thought about that when we bought. Maybe we weren't ready to buy. Then she explained that we live in a "convergence zone" making our weather different than others in Western Washington so the fence will come down because of this convergence zone wind. I hadn't had a basic weather lesson in a while so it was nice to brush up on facts that were completely WRONG.

4. And finally, she can't remember my name and calls me Sue. That's enough for me to NEVER want to replace the fence EVER.

We are not spiteful people. We are not mean people. For the record, I have never been rude to her. I am smiles and laughs. But that kind of behavior has kind of made it a game and we will kind of not be giving in until we are the last neighbors in the domino chain. Or the fence falls down. Which I am going to bet happens a heckuva lot sooner than the other neighbors giving in. They've held out 6 years. We've barely put in a year and a half.

That's all I've got for tonight.
I have no results pictures on how the backyard looks. I'm working on it. A few hours tonight. More later. I just wanted to share that we are officially those people.

With that backyard. And problems with those neighbors.

Just a little scoop of happiness.

If this photo doesn't make you smile, check on your soul because you may have lost it.
Nothing says "Happy Monday" like a little PK and his gal Lu sharing a cone.

Happy Fe Day.

I remember being 4 years old and being not-so-thrilled with having a 1 year old sister and a 7 year old brother. I felt they were time hogs. And I remember that Fe knew this. I remember her bringing hot chocolate for two down to my room (which had been moved to the basement because Colic Shelley was zero fun) and shutting the door. We laid on my bed and leaned against the wall and we just talked it. Even at 4, I knew I'd remember it forever, and looky looky, I did.

I remember being 7 and squished in the red Subaru on a Griswold style family vacation. Money was tight and Mom had pack oodles and oodles of sandwich meat and fixin's to avoid restaurants. She was a master of budgets. We were mid-car picnic when Shelley wanted more milk. Fe did the classic Mom "turn, talk, pour" move, missed Shelley's cup completely, and covered me head to toe in 2 gallons of 2%. I'm pretty sure a little pee came out. I'll mark it as the first time we giggled 'til we wee'd. The first of many.

I remember being 10 and getting dressed for my birthday party. Fe had bought me a denim jumper from Lamonts that I really wanted. It tied in the front like a corset and had a layered ruffle mini-skirt. I loved it. Fe came in to check on me, bent to my level, and started crying. She kept saying, "I can't believe you're 10. I can't believe it." I didn't understand why she was crying and she said maybe someday I'd understand why. I think I do.

I remember being 15 and needing to learn how to drive. My winter birthday meant I learned to drive in winter weather which is fan-tab-ulous is Seattle. Rain. Wind. More rain. And dark. Very dark. I remember opening the yellow pages on "drive nights", closing our eyes, and picking the first Starbucks we landed on. Brilliant lesson plan. "Looks like we're driving to the Tukwilla Starbucks." They were the best nights. The best drives. The best teacher for my life.

I remember being 18 and being ready for college. Very ready. And very vocal about being ready. The morning I left, Fe gave me a little piece of art. It said "There has never been a day that I haven't been proud of you, I said to my daughter. Though some days I'm a lot louder about other stuff so it's easy to miss that." I said thank you, and then cried every time I read it when I was a freshman because I missed her terribly but didn't want to admit it.

I feel the same way as the art said, Fe.
There has never been a day when I wasn't proud to have you as my Mom. Even if I was louder about other stuff. Like buying jeans. Or driving to Seattle alone. Or chair covers at my wedding.

Happy Mother's Day to all the fabulous Moms out there.

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