Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

If They Only Had a Brain...

Dear Lady Who Lives Across the Street,

Hi! This is Missie. Your neighbor. The one who lives in the house directly across the street from you, you know, with the really cute toddler and the handsome son and the smokin hot husband? Yeah, that's me. Thought I better jog your memory seeing as how you have probably only laid eyes on me about five times in the TWO YEARS you have lived on our street. Which is kind of weird since I am home all the freaking time and am outside alot talking to all of our other neighbors. Who don't even know your name. And who couldn't pick you or your husband out of a lineup. Because you never come outside.

Now, you not coming outside is kind of strange enough, but whatever. To each his own. But what is kind of troubling is that your daughter? You know, the eight year old who hangs around your house alot? Is ALWAYS OUTSIDE. WITH.NO.PARENTAL.SUPERVISION. This is also really none of my business except...well, I am kinda all weird about little kids staying outside way after dark when absolutely no one who shares DNA with them is out there too. Case in point, the other night, all the kids were playing out in the street riding their scooters and bikes. As night began to fall, so did the number of children in the street, cuz us other parents? Called our kids in. In to our house. For the night. Because that's where kids belong when it gets dark. Is in the house. See how that works? And what was kinda strange too was that after EVERY OTHER CHILD WAS INSIDE, your daughter was still out in the street, riding her scooter all by herself. At 8:45pm.

My husband and I were in our garage with the main door open, so I had a good view of your daughter. After my husband decided to go inside, I stood in our garage and watched her. You know why? Because you didn't. You left her out there another 15 minutes after every other kid went in. You didn't even come out to check on her in the previous 2 hours at all. When you finally did come out, you just stood right at the door and called for her. I stayed and watched her because I knew I would never forgive myself if something happened to your kid between me going in and you finally coming out.

Not trying to insult your intelligence here, but I was just wondering...Have you heard of a segment of our society called, oh what is that term again? Oh, yeah..sexual predators? Child molesters? Kidnappers? Yeah, them guys. See, the way they work is that they look for little kids who are alone and try to abduct them for their own nefarious purposes. And the result usually ain't good. And, and, and know what else? All that noise you hear by our houses? That's called a highway. That busy street that your yard backs up against? Yeah, that's the one. See, it wouldn't be hard for a bad guy to nab your kid and hightail it out to that busy street and be long gone before you even knew she was missing. Because you never come out to check on her.

You don't know who she's playing with. You don't know anything about any of the other parents on the street. You don't know if my husband and I torture small animals or if all of us are involved in a cult where we bite the heads off of live rats. Yet you send your daughter out to play every day in our street. You don't care if she comes into any of our houses. In fact, you don't even know if she does, because YOU NEVER CHECK. You don't pay attention to your own kid, so the rest of us parents have to. (also, did you know that she plays chicken with the cars? Yeah, you might want to look into that.)

I bet you would be the kind of mom who would appear on television after something horrendous has happened to your child saying dumb things like, "I only looked away for a minute" and "She was never left by herself ever!" Just so you know, none of the other moms on the street respect you. Because you don't care enough to watch your own kid. I hope upon hope that nothing ever happens to her because of your negligence.

Now please excuse me. My kids are calling.

Dear People Who Take Their Sick Kids to Church Nursery,

Don't take this the wrong way or anything, but you suck.

If your kid is sick, or has been sick, or you think may become sick, keep Snotella at home. The church will go on without you for a Sunday. Trust me.


Dear Realtors Who Have Called My House Today,

Um, hi. Yes, this is Missie. No, this is not a good time. Especially when you call at 8:01 this morning. Yes, I am aware that the MLS listing on my house expired yesterday. (Cuz know what? It's my house. I have all that information. We're all kinda crazy like dat.) I already have a real estate agent. I am not interested in letting you list my house, Mr. and Miss Person I Don't Know. And because you all nine of you that have been calling me all day and keeping me from getting stuff done? I will not be listing my house with any of you ever.

Thanks so much. Buh-bye.

Dear Terrell Owens' Publicist,

Take this anyway you want, but you suck, too.

Regardless of whatever actually happened the other night with your overpaid, egomaniac, mentally unstable, overblown client, for you to make the comment that he has "25 million reasons to live" is about the most heartless, classless thing I have ever heard. Does he have 25 million children? Does he have 25 million wives? Has he done 25 million good deeds? Does he have 25 million friends? No? Oooooh, you were talking about his monnnnney. Ohhhhhh. See, here for a minute, I was thinking that you meant that money is a good reason for living. But you didn't really mean that, did ya? Of course, if he dies, that would put an end to your commission for representing him, wouldn't it?

Well, anyway, you still suck, whatever you meant.

Dear Terri Irwin,

I just want to say thank you.

I watched your interview with Barbara Walters last night. I cried my eyes out with you. I ached for you. I ached for your children. I am so sorry for your loss. But when you answered one of BW's stupid questions about how you were doing now or how you were feeling with, "I lost my prince," you broke my heart.

When my husband walked in from work, he found me sobbing on the floor in front of the tv. I hugged him, told him how much I loved him and thanked him for giving me our kids. Your comment made me appreciate my man so much more.

So thank you. I hope God's healing power is at work in the lives of you and your children.

Crocs Rule.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Are We Allowed To Snark The Great Roberts?

Surely the rabid, zealot fangurl contingent will come after us with torches and pitchforks, no?

Seriously, though- just finished Morrigan's Cross by Romancelandia's dearly beloved queen, Nora Roberts. I won't to go into too much detail; it is brand new and I don't want to spoil it for everyone. But I have to admit to you now- and this sounds weird coming from someone who hopes to sell a few of these things we call books someday- I stood there in Barnes & Noble staring at the price on the back of the book and...I just couldn't do it. My brain is stuck in the eighties as far as paperback prices, and something in me rebels at paying $7.99 for one. Hardbacks are mostly still $25, just like they were back then. Why did paperbacks get so expensive? So I left B&N, bookless.

And went to WalMart and bought it for $5.99. Somehow two dollars just makes all the difference, you know?

On to the story. Basic premise: Hoyt McKenna (I won't even make a stab at the Irish spellings here) is a sorcerer in the Ireland of 1128. His brother Cian has a few magical talents but likes fighting and drinking and wenching better. This comes back to bite him-literally- when he shags the wrong woman and winds up becoming a vampire. Hoyt swears eternal revenge on her, hoping to also get his brother back somehow. He can't, since the vamp who bit Cian is Lillith, the beautiful, seductive, all-powerful queen of the vampires. Can I just take a moment to say I'm getting a bit tired of this character? Whether it's Morgan leFey in all her manifestations, or the vamp queen, I could describe her before any author has a chance. She's always drop dead gorgeous, incredibly alluring (even gay men and straight women want to nail her) magnificently talented at crumpet-making, cruel, sadistic, and all-powerful. And she'll have an army at her disposal. And uncommonly obsessed with the hero. Lillith did have one good bit near the end of the book: she tells an underling that she's hungry. "Bring me someone to eat. Make sure it's fresh." If I saw more evidence of snarky humor in these queens, I'd be much happier sitting through the traditional portrayal.

Hoyt is charged with a quest by the goddess Morrigan. He must travel through time, to the present, to go to war with Lillith and her army who want to wipe out mankind. (You have to ask why. I mean, if we all die, her food source is gone, right?) Anyway, Hoyt is one of the Circle of Six. He needs the witch, the warrior, the scholar, the one of many forms, and the one he lost. So along the way he gains Glenna the Good Witch (Nora doesn't call her that but I sure did) and two people from an Irish fairy tale land. The scholar, Moira, is a princess whose mother has been killed by the vamps. Her cousin, Larkin, is a shapeshifter. The warrior is a spoiler I won't go into, but yes, Cian comes along to teach the others about his kind and joins in the fight to defeat them. I love how authors get around the whole vampire thing to make a hero of one of them- he hasn't fed on humans in 700 years and gets his blood from pouches in the refrigerator.

The story started kind of slow but picked up once the Six were together and training for the fight. It is mostly Hoyt and Glenna's story; the two magicians fall in love and find their powers are stronger when used together. I generally liked the characters; particularly the twist with the warrior. I didn't see it coming and I love it when authors throw me a curve. The story's pure Nora- Glenna the Good Witch is a tall gorgeous independent redhead who does her thing skyclad. And gad. More rhyming spells. When I read her witchy books I brace for it: "Fast as fast can be, you can never catch me. As I will, so mote it be." Arrrrgh. So imagine my delight when Glenna rhymes and Hoyt has the Hades reaction. (You know, from Disney's Hercules? The fates start rhyming and Hades rolls his eyes. "Unh. Verse. Oy.")

Morrigan's Cross (so named for the protective crosses she makes for Hoyt's family so he can go fight the good fight and not worry) ends with the Six solidified as a unit. The fight will go on in the next book, which I think we can safely assume will focus on the warrior and Larkin. I expect the last book will be about our poor tortured vamp Cian. If he doesn't get restored to humanhood somehow and get to live HEA with little scholar Moira I'm gonna be TICKED. It was a good read. Didn't blow me away; too many characters I'd seen before to do that. I imagine I'll buy the next two in the series, partly because I can't stand having only one part.

But I'll probably buy it at WalMart.

Friday, September 22, 2006

And the winner is....

First off, let me thank everyone who played our first ever Really Obscure Movie Lines Trivia Game. Some of your guesses were way off, but pretty funny. We will be doing another contest in the next few months (no, I am not sure when, who are you, my mom? Gosh!) The quotes for particular game were chosen mainly because I either own these movies or have seen them 456,000 times, so I pretty much have them memorized.

The winner of our contest is....Nessili! She was the first one to get 12 right. Our first runner up is Ozz at Large, aka Terry, husband of one of my best buds. In the event that Nessili cannot fulfill her obligations as the ROMLTG Queen, Terry will be allowed to fulfill her term. Nessili, please send me your snail mail address at, and I will get your prize out to you right away.

The two quotes that everyone kept guessing but getting wrong were #12 and #14. Number twelve was "I do not know something about cars, I know everything about cars" which comes from Inspector Clouseau. The original, as in Alan Arkin in the title role, released in 1968. I really didn't expect anyone to know this one, and only put it in because my husband quotes this all the time. It is one of his favorite movies. Yeah, no accounting for taste.

Number 14 is from "A Mighty Wind" and is found in a deleted scene. If you have never seen this movie, RENT.IT. You will not laugh constantly, and may even need to see it twice before getting some of the jokes, but it is truly hilarious. The deleted scenes are especially funny.

My husband and I had a conversation the other day that went like this:
Me: You know, we have a weird collection of movies.
Hub: Yes, we do.
Me: What's even weirder is that we know so many lines from these movies.
Hub: Yeah. Scary. We're nerds.
Me: How long do ya think before the kids figure out their parents are a couple of geeks with bad taste in movies?
Hub: I think Z is already aware of that. We've got a few more years before Ali knows. She still eats dirt.
Me: Good point.

Anyway, said all that to say, next movie trivia game may have some of the same titles in it, or maybe not. Just depends on what I feel like, GOSH! (and yes, the family has the whole Napoleon Dynamite movie memorized. My kid can't remember that I said to clean up his room, but he can run around quoting Uncle Rico. Lucky me.)

Monday, September 18, 2006

I'll Take Movie Quotes for $500, Alex

In an effort to provide you with high quality entertainment as well as intellectual stimulation, we here at the SC Contest Department proudly present:

(Drumroll please)


The following are a list of quotes from movies both old and new, both popular and eh, notsomuch. The first person to correctly identify all the movies will be crowned the winner and be presented with a $5 Starbucks gift card and our sincere wishes to get a life (and possibly a book if I find one I like enough to send it out). If no one correctly names all the movies, then the person with the closest number of correct answers wins. In the event of a tie, the winner will be determined by the highly scientific method of eeny-meeny-miney-mo or perhaps me writing your names on pieces of paper and throwing them in the air and whichever lands with the name facing up wins. Or maybe just whichever piece of paper my daughter chooses to eat. (She eats paper. And she now eats dirt. Did I tell you? The child eats dirt. I do not serve dirt. I have never served dirt. I do not know where she got her taste for dirt. But that is another entry.)

Please list your answers with the corresponding numbers, like so:

1. Gone With the Wind
2. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Because otherwise little minds like mine won’t be sure which quote you are referring to and I will get all confused and not award a winner and just take myself to Starbucks for a Mocha Lite Frappuccino and nannynanny on all y’all.

So get ready, get set....NAME THAT MOVIE!

1. Save the neck for me, Clark.

2. Do you guys even watch the show?

3. You’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying!

4. You cook good rabbit, pilgrim.

5. Hairy legs are your only link to reality.

6. This is pretty much the worst video ever made.

7. Your brain has a thick candy shell.

8. It’s like living with a six year old.

9. A man in a really nice camper wants to put our song on the radio.

10. Don’t they have dogs in Sweden?

11. Not now, Arctic Puffin!

12. I do not know something about cars, I know everything about cars.

13. I'm askin' ya with my brain.

14. You funny joke man!

Good luck, and may the Force be with you.

Employees and family members of SnarklingClean staff are not eligible for entry. Children, get your parents permission to play if you are under 18. Results overseen by the accounting firm of Tinky Winky, Dipsy, LaLa and Po. People with heart conditions, sleep apnea, warts, and pregnant women/women who may become pregnant are encouraged to talk to their doctors before playing this or any other trivia game. Side effects may include dizziness and/or carpal tunnel like symptoms from desperately typing away on Google trying to find the answers. About ten adults will enter, only one adult will win. Remember, play responsibly. Life is not a game.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blood Shot From My Eyeballs

Finally! Blogger's been a pissy witch this weekend. And apparently, so have I.

Mind if I rant for a little while? I’ve just seen two interviews, NOT on Jerry Springer, about man-stealers. That’s right. This here hussy’s out to steal my man, and I ain’t gonna let her type thing. The “man” in question sits between the two women like a quiet remorseful lump, but you know he’s trying not to grin. Hey, after all, he’s got two women fighting over him, right?

The second interview featured a supposedly intelligent, successful woman who found out that her fiancé was already married (but it was a quickie Vegas marriage, honey, we just never got around to a quickie Reno divorce) and had a girlfriend to fill in his extra time during the week. He acknowledged that scheduling was getting difficult. Her question was: am I wrong not to trust him, and is marriage a good idea right now?

I thought I would have a hemorrhage. She demanded that he get the divorce and drop the girlfriend, which he did, and now he felt she was being mean not to trust him. Jigga what? How has this woman lived all these years without a spine? Not only would I have kicked him to the curb, I would’ve thrown his stuff in the yard and set it afire. He would be extremely fortunate if I didn’t go Lorena Bobbitt on him. “But aside from the trust issue, we have a phenomenal relationship,” she whined. Honey, I hope you went and got tested just in case his side trips gave you a phenomenal case of the clap.

And the first interview had the little vein in my forehead throbbing. When did we buy into this idiotic notion that a man can be stolen? I’ve seen this played out a hundred times, in romancelandia and in real life, and it never fails to make me a lobster-faced McFurious rage monkey. Women always tend to get mad at the 'other woman'. Why do we never blame the one who deserves it? And don't even bring up the well-honey-get-a-makeover-and-take-him-back argument. The whole notion that I have to stand up and fight for my man? Got news for you. If I’ve gone through the nerve-wracking first date, the will-he-call-will-he-call first week, the rosy courtship and the first fight, the wedding and babies and job changes and money troubles and disappointments and I’m still there, still loving him, still supporting him, and still sleeping with him, I’VE ALREADY FOUGHT FOR HIM. If, at this point, some trollop who can’t understand the word taken wants to shake her cootchie at him, I can’t stop that. And if he wants to take her up on her offer, I can’t stop that either, because then he’s stopped fighting for me. And if that happens? Curb, meet lying cheating skanky mantush. Thank you, and goodnight.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sweet Sweet Slumber

Happy Tuesday to all! I am in a glorious mood and ready to share my happiness with the world. Why, you ask? Well sit back, grab a cuppa Joe, and lemme tell ya a story.

Ten years ago, I gave birth to a baby boy. A happy baby boy with dimples and big brown eyes and the happiest personality. After only about 2 months, Little Man was sleeping through the night, from about 8pm to 7:30am, with nary a peep from his lips. This alone earned him the title Easiest Baby in the World and gave me the mistaken impression that I had all kinds of mothering skillz.

Fast forward nine years. I gave birth to a baby girl. A sweet baby girl with big blue eyes, chubby wubba cheeks and a more, shall we say, difficult personality. Who never slept. NE-HEH-VER-HER SLEPT. So much for my mad mothering skillz. I was totally not prepared for Miss Par-tay staying up all night long and only falling asleep when I held her. What was wrong with her? Didn't she know she comes from a long line of Olympic Sleepers? Keep in mind she is now 14 months old. I have not slept for FOURTEEN MONTHS. THAT IS ONE YEAR PLUS TWO MONTHS. WITH.NO.SLEEP. INOLIKEITNOTSLEEPING!

Rewind to last Tuesday. I reached my breaking point. Chickita woke me up 5 times on Monday night. Crying. Hungry. Whining. Not going back to sleep unless I held her a certain way and all the planets were in alignment. I was an emotional wreck. I cried. I whined. I was hungry. I couldn't take a nap when she did because I had a buttload of work to do for my actual paying job. I decided it was time for help.
Sleep? I don't need no stinkin' sleep. I am powered by cuteness.

I called my pediatrician and spoke with the nurse. She told me what to do, what she had done months earlier with her son. "It's hard," she said. "It's hell on the parents for a few nights," she said. "But it's worth it in the end." Did I have to do this? Couldn't I just slip her a Nyquil mickey and call it good? I called the Sleep Disorders Center at the local hospital and begged for whatever tips they could give me. They pretty much seconded what the nurse said. Oh, crap. This means I have to do this thing. Waah. I even googled "sleeping through the night" and came up with a website and the name of a doctor who wrote a book on sleep disorders in young children and how to get them to sleep through the night. I went online and requested the book from our library. My neighbor came over. I spilled the whole story to her and asked what she thought. "I have a book at home you may want to read. I haven't read it, but maybe it will help you." Guess what book it was? The same one I had requested from the library.

Okay, Lord, I guess you are answering my prayers by telling me from three different sources what to do. Fine, I'll do it. But you will have to give me the strength to make it through the next few days, because it's gonna get ugly 'round here.

I started this program last Tuesday night. My daughter? She was not happy with the program. She hated the program. She cussed me in baby language about the program, and I am pretty sure she made some derogatory remarks about our heritage and her grandmother, too. But last night? The daughter, she slept 12 hours straight with no crying, whining, or any other sound emanating from her bedroom. She is happier now than she has been because of all this uninterrupted sleep. She takes killer naps that actually give me time enough to work, and clean, and blog. (I was going to add exercise, too, but let's not get all carried away here.)

And Mommy? Has gotten more sleep in the past week than I have gotten in the last 3 weeks combined. In fact, I am getting so much sleep that I am groggy half the time. My body was so used to operating on very little sleep that now that it's getting normal sleep, it doesn't know how to handle it. But it's a nice problem to have.

So to make a long story even longer...I said all that to tell you that now that I am sleeping regularly and my daughter is sleeping regularly and I might actually be able to budget and manage my time, you should be hearing more from me. I am going to try to post at least once a week (shut up, Robyn, I can hear you laughing)and maybe, just maybe, it will actually make sense when I do.

But now, I am off to make more coffee. Mommy needs a jolt.

I like sleep. And using rolls of tape as bracelets.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Seems Like Yesterday, Seems Like Forever

I'm watching the coverage of the ceremonies for 9/11, and remembering where I was five years ago. Although I do recall those details, mostly I remember the fear. The bewilderment. The sense of impending danger. All you could do was look at the skies and ask helplessly, "What next?"

It was a nightmarish time. I live near Oklahoma City, and the bombing there is part of our state psyche. But as horrible as that day was, 9/11 seemed different because it never seemed to end. For awhile, every time you saw a plane, you wondered. Especially if they looked as if they were getting too low in the sky. I don't know how frequent fliers got back on planes, I really don't. And even after the planes were back up, there was a new threat that could come in your own mail box. Many cities even cancelled door-to-door Halloween activities for fear that kids would get anthrax-laced candy. Or that some kid would spill a pixie stick and the adults around them would see the white powder and push the panic button.

The amazing thing to me is that even five years later, about 1,000 remains are as yet unidentified. There are still families who have no closure, who live with the desperate knowledge that their loved ones are most likely dead, but...

I grieve for the families, and for our country and the world. But most of all, I grieve that the wonderful sense of unity that sprung up in America seems gone. Back in 2001, no one cared if you were from a blue state or a red state. We were all Americans. Yes, I know there were some whose terror got the best of them, and others who used 9/11 as a rationale for hate that already hid in their hearts. Working on a college campus at the time, I knew several good young men who were Islamic Saudis who knew they had targets painted on their backs. But for the most part, we were together. You could see Republicans side by side with Democrats. Christians and Jews and Muslims holding fast to each other. We still disagreed on various things, but could still stay unified while we did it.

Why have we forgotten those lessons in only five years? Civil discourse is apparently not possible today. Almost every dissenting discussion, whether political or not, is filled with rancor. We don't just disagree, we hate. Does it take another 9/11 to make us realize that we need each other? Whatever political affiliation, whatever faith, conservative or liberal, it doesn't matter. You are my neighbors, my friends, my countrymen. I need you. And you need me.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hot Old Bald Guys

We had a discussion sometime ago about unconventionally attractive heroes. I maintained that Miguel Ferrer's character on Crossing Jordan and Terry O'Quinn's Locke on Lost would be fabulous heroes. The comments wandered in the direction of, specifically, bald guys. And just a week or so ago Missie joked about how Christopher Meloni was hot in spite of male pattern baldness.

Why do we never read about bald or balding heroes, and the age it connotes? The rebels all have angsty curls falling on their foreheads, the historical warriors usually have the Fabio mane, and the military guys have the buzzcut, but they all have hair. I have to admit, the heroes I've written all have hair. Can a bald guy be considered a romantic hero? Traditional romance aesthetics say no, but I have my doubts. Case in point:

Now, Sean Connery is in a class by himself. Bald or not, he will always be sexy. Women the world over still want crumpets with Connery even though he's 187. (By the way- Crumpets with Connery will probably be a title for me someday, so don't nobody steal it.)

Our friend Anna mentioned Admiral Chegwidden from JAG, and I have to agree. Alpha male to the core. But then again, you guys know how much I love a man in uniform, oh boy, and how.

I'm not sure if I should include this next one- black men shave their heads on purpose and they are entitled. Don't get all weird on me, I'm just saying that generally African American men just have prettier heads than white guys. But I couldn't let a post on bald guys go by without mentioning my favorite.

Avery Brooks was good enough on Star Trek, but his big impression on me was from Spenser for Hire. Remember Hawk? Oh, I lived for the moment he'd growl-whisper "Spen-sahh!" Why is it I tend to think the sidekicks are way more compelling than the leads?

TV Guide did a poll years ago on the sexiest man and woman on television. You could write in any candidate you wanted- the men voted for women, and vice-versa. The sexiest woman? Cindy Crawford. Pretty typical. But with all the hunks and cuties to choose from, who won sexiest man? Go here for the answer. (Gad, I hate Blogger.)

That's right. The hottest old bald guy I know, Patrick Stewart. Sakes alive, we all just shivered when he commanded, "ENGAGE!" And if women specifically wrote in that he was the sexiest man, why don't we see more of that in novels? Do you think we've been cheating ourselves? Ignoring a whole group of potential heroes?

Monday, September 04, 2006


Testing, one, two, three. tap, tap, tap. Is this thing working? Hello, anyone out there? Oh, there you are. Okay, um hi! It’s me...Missie. Missie who, you say? Now that’s not very nice. I realize that I haven’t posted in a few weeks. Okay, a few months. Okay, quite a stinking long time, get off my back! I know you probably feel a little neglected by me and for that, I am sorry. I could give you a load about how busy my work and home life have been and with one thing after another, something had to give, and that something was my blog-entry-writing, but I won’t do that. You guys are just as busy as I am, and yet you still make time to come over here and check out what we (and by we, I mean Robyn) have written, so I won’t insult your intelligence by trying to make myself look busier or more harried than you. But just so ya know, I am busy and harried. So there. Waah.

Anyhoooo, I have been meaning to post for awhile now, as I have had oh so many ideas for pithy postings running to and fro through my brain. However, as many of you authors know, the journey from idea to writing to making it make sense and sound like it does in your head can be a long one. And frankly, after I am done doing what I do at the end of the day, I just don’t have it in me to take that journey. So today, you are getting bits and pieces of the morass of craziness that has been on my mind lately. No need to thank me.

First off, let me say how sorry I was to hear of the passing of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin. For those of you who may not know, he was killed when the barb of a stingray lodged right beneath his heart while he was swimming in the Great Barrier Reef this weekend. While I find it sad when anyone dies, what particularly grieves me about Steve’s death is that he leaves behind two little kids who will now face life without the daddy who loved them so much. Be your opinion of him good, bad, or indifferent, there can really be no doubt that he loved his family. If you have a chance, say a prayer for them during this difficult time.

And speaking of kids and family, I ran across a post on a blog I read very regularly that summed up what I have been feeling lately. It was written by Rebecca Jordan over at on her blog called Just a Normal Day. In it, she introduces what will be her main topic for the month of September, and that is marriage. Her first post is very thought provoking in that she addresses how hard marriage can be. And how no one tells you how hard it can be before you get married. Robyn and I have discussed this at some length during our we-could-totally-solve-the-problems-of-the-world-if-they-would-just-listen-to-us-duhhh phone marathons. Marriage is hard. No matter what type of personality you are and what type you married, marriage can be a difficult row to hoe sometimes. It’s not all flowers and sunshine and cute little hearts flying out your butt. It can be difficult and draining and ugggh! Between kids and jobs and bills and the everyday everydayness, many marriages suffer because the parties weren’t aware that this is it. This is what marriage is. It is the bills and the kids and the jobs and the soccer practice and the dentist appointments and the anger and the frustration and the ohmygoodness does he even know me at all? This is why I think so many marriages fail. Because those involved don’t know what to do when the luster wears off and they are left with this daunting task of building a life with this person day by day, challenge by challenge.

Now, please understand me. I love my husband. I am crazy in love with my husband. In my opinion, he is the most handsome man to have ever walked the face of this earth, and I feel very blessed that it’s my bed he crawls into at night. There is not anyone else I want to be with, nor is there anyone else I can picture myself with. He is it. He is my it. But when we first got married, I was not prepared for the amount of effort marriage took. I thought that since he was in love with me, and I was in love with him, and miracle of all miracles we found each other and got married, that everything would be hunky-dory and our days would be spent in a bubble of love floating high above the mere mortals we knew who were in "regular marriages". Our marriage was not regular! Oh, no! We were young and enlightened and blessed and happy and ready to take the world by storm! I was everything he ever needed in a woman and he was my ideal man! What could be more perfect? (Anyone else need a barf bag?)

So imagine my surprise when he was not thrilled with every little thing I did. Was he not supposed to think my foibles were adorable? You mean he actually was going to get angry with me and yell if I made him mad? Who did he think he was, anyway? And all his idiosyncracies that were just so cute? Yeah, after awhile, they rubbed me the wrong way. He had flaws? Since when? I saw none of those while we dated! I demand a recount! Or a review of the vows! There has to be something somewhere that says I am always right except for when I am wrong and if I am wrong it was most assuredly his fault.

He was not like the hero of a romance novel. He did not always know when to bring me flowers and when to compliment my hair and when to wine and dine me or when to just hold me. He didn’t know exactly when I wanted him to be all Alpha Male and sweep me off my feet. What was wrong with him? Hadn’t he ever read Cosmo? He was supposed to anticipate my every need and be ready, willing, and able to meet it with nary a word of dissent. Geez. Who taught him how to be a husband? And when he realized the full extent of my lack of food preparation experience and knowledge? Well, he should have just been satisfied with Kraft Mac and Cheese forever, and not asked that I learn how to cook. Pig. Didn’t he say I was perfect when we dated? Then that means I shouldn’t have to change anything ever, no way. So there. Get used to crappy meals, buddy.

I look back on our first few years of marriage and shudder. I cannot believe how selfish and immature I was. I cannot believe that I thought that just by getting married, the hard part was over. I still had sooo much growing up to do. I had no idea that this growing and changing and learning to be a wife business was a life long process. I regret how I treated my husband when we were first married. I wish I could go back and change from a stupid little girl who had nothing more important to do than her hair into the type of wife he deserved.

Marriage wasn’t all about me. It was all about us. And the making of an us. That’s what it really boils down to. The making of an us. And it is in this making of an us that I have found a love beyond what I ever dreamed was possible. I have found fulfillment and joy and peace and a sense of purpose. In the making of our us, we’ve faced storms and trials. We’ve also found happiness, contentment, and completion. And we added to our us with two little "us-es" who bring light and life and indescribable joy to our hearts.

But this us-making isn’t easy.

If you are part of an us, then you know of what I speak. And if you are not yet part of an us, but hope to someday be, let me give you a word of advice. Choose wisely. Choose carefully. If that means you have to wait longer for Mr. Right, then that’s okay. Because in choosing the other half of your us, you are making the most important decision of your life. This is the person you will be in the trenches with, day in and day out. This is the person who will be there for you when all the dust settles and everyone else has gone home. This is the person who will pick up the milk you forgot from the store, pick up the kids from the sitter, and pick up the pieces of your broken heart when life gets too much.

So be very selective. Don’t settle. You’re making an us here.