Who Knew?

Slap me silly and call me a fool because, clearly, I am an ignoramus.  Who knew?

I promise that given the apparent value of show ferrets, I only tailgated long enough to snap this picture as a public service announcement.  The show ferrets were never in danger.  In fact, if ever the situation arises, I’m sideswiping the K-9 police cruiser to avoid taking out a show ferret.  I’d ask that you do the same.

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Creative Last Minute Halloween Costume for Kids

We were all set for Halloween until this morning.  Jeffrey was going to be a chicken for Halloween, he’s been practicing his clucking for weeks.  Then we heard on the morning news that Allegheny County was under a code orange air quality alert from the National Weather Service due to high air pollution concentration levels, and were promptly forced back to the drawing board.  Given that children are considered a vulnerable population we’ve decided to go in a new direction, one that is equally healthy and hip.  Once again, Michael, you were ahead of your time.

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Taking Back Tuesday: Protecting Our Family’s Financial Future

For my new readers, “Taking Back Tuesday” is my personal, one woman crusade to give meaning and purpose to Tuesdays, by far the lowliest of the sept jours (That’s French for “seven days.”  Figured it makes me sound high society.)  Here’s how I will be making the most of this Tuesday, October 23, 2012.

Last night Jeff and I watched the Presidential debate together, and though I won’t be using “Taking Back Tuesday” to pontificate on our political stances, I thought I’d share with you our strategy for securing and growing the economy of our household.  I hope that our creativity and entrepreneurial spirit might help to inspire you to find your own solutions to the current economic crisis, and carve yourself a little piece of the proverbial American pie in the sky.

After taking a discriminating look at our current work/life balance, we both agreed that though some additional income would be desirable, we just couldn’t justify sacrificing the priceless time we spend as a family to increase our financial stability.  We had a little brainstorming session and came up with a solution that may seem a bit out of the box to you; but remember, we just want you, like us, to find a viable financial plan that works for you.  No judgement here.

What we discovered was that our son Jeffrey, who is just shy of his second birthday, is our family cash cow, and a completely underused resource…until “Taking Back Tuesday.”  We really see ourselves in a fortunate spot right now by sheer accident.  A few months ago, we showed Jeffrey how to put change into the slot of a big Piggy bank, and he was hooked.

“Money, money, money,”  he repeats on loop to friends and strangers alike with his sticky, little hand outstretched.  Really cute.  Disgustingly cute, at the risk of exposing my parental bias.  Without fail, folks open up their hearts and their wallets to indulge the cherub-faced little lamb. They feverishly dig into their pockets, purses and wallets, showering our little Rockefeller with loose change and an occasional bill, whatever they can spare.

Atta boy, sweet angel.

So I think you can see, we know we’re on to something big and we’re capitalizing.  Panhandle the hell out of Jeffrey while he’s still little and cute, before he becomes an obnoxious, awkward tween; then flip that money into a few rental properties and high yield bonds, and call it the American Dream.

See how great Tuesdays can be.  God bless America.

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Memoirs of a Middle Child: Never Too Early to Celebrate the Birth of the Golden Child

It’s a given of the McClelland family birth order, that I was destined for a life of neglect,  hand-me-downs, and leftovers; the scraps remaining from meeting the every whim of my older brother Matthew, the Golden Child, and my little sister Mindy, the Duchess.  For years I have eaten crusts, longing for a sweet bite of the intersection where peanut butter meets jelly.  My parents had their priorities and clearly the poor, orphan, middle child was not in their top ten.

(Dear Mom and Dad,  It was really tough being raised by that pack of wild wolves you left me with on your family trip to the beach.  I just wanted you to know that I waited next to that trash can in the Arby’s parking lot for a good day and a half before I figured you weren’t coming back, but I’m not mad at you.  Just a little hurt and forever nauseous of the smell of hot grease and ketchup.  There are people far less fortunate than me.)

This year my birthday was overshadowed by elective dental surgery and the honorable birth of my sister’s first child and heir to the throne.  You can, therefore, understand my nose being a bit out of joint when my mom, the Captain, and my dad, Mr. Wonderful, kicked off the Golden Child’s birthday homage an entire month before the blessed date.
Never can start to early, waaaaaaaaaay too much to celebrate with that kid.

My parents put their heads together and sang into the receiver (speaker phone is technologically out of their league), their most heartfelt rendition of Happy Birthday.  It was the song of angels.  The Golden Child wept, and lost in his emotion managed to sob. “But, but, but my birthday isn’t for another m-wwwwwaaaaaaoooooooo-nth.”

So as not to offend the 2nd favorite and youngest, the Duchess, the Captain concocted a real half-assed story about a soon-to-expire coupon and lack of freezer space.  They had to sing because his birthday cake would be served at dinner with the Fluhme’s that evening.   The Captain was not going to lose $5 off, and she had far too many sale pizza to store the sacred sweet until he came home for Thanksgiving.  I call b-s.

While it certainly sounds like a plausible tale given the Captain’s penchant for couponing and a good sale (They’re her choice drugs, you know), I know better.   We just celebrated the Duchess’ birthday a few weeks back, and that girl has a memory like an elephant.  There is no way she’s putting up with a cake purchased for the Golden Child when she got homemade cupcakes.

Oh hell no.

As for me, I’m still waiting for an acknowledgement of my birth…since June.  Until then I’ll weep silently in the Arby’s parking lot and long for their return.  I hope they’ll throw the empty bakery box at me;  I can pick off the crusty, icing remnants and pretend I matter.

Happy birthday, dear Molly.  Happy birthday to you.


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An Update on the Worst Day Ever

Yesterday afternoon I posted a photo of some unsuspecting soul, who was about to return to their car after a tough day taking it from the man and find this….











I felt bad for them, both because of the bird droppings and, more so, the fact that they are from O-HI-o.  After getting over my initial sympathy, I figured that this jackwagon has just gotten what was coming to him or her.  You know what they say about Karma.

I found myself trotting back to my car last evening through a cold, pelting, Pittsburgh rain, anxious to see if Mr. or Mrs. Birdshitcar had returned to the site of the disembowelment.  I hate to say it out loud for fear of appearing unkind to my fellow man, but I was really disappointed to find this…













Same car.  Same parking spot.  Show room clean.

To me, this begs the age old question, “If a flock of birds collectively takes a poo on a car in the South Side, and the rain washes it all away, was there ever any poo there at all?”
Talk amongst yourselves.

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Worst Day Ever

At times when I have been down on my luck, kicked in the shins, feeling like beaten dog; my mom, the Captain, has been quick to remind me that there is always someone in a worse situation than me.  Today I met that person.  Well, I met that person’s car.

I’m not quite sure what this poor bastard did to the avian population, but today they clearly took a stand.  Here’s hoping they’re chock full of wiper fluid, or a bad day becomes a real bad evening.  Suddenly my glass is half full.  Thank you, Captain.


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Innocent Casualties of “Taking Back Tuesday”

I bet you’re on the edge of your seat in anticipation of learning the five articles from my hoard of nostalgia that met their demise on “Taking Back Tuesday.”  The wait is over.  Here they are in no particular order of importance…because they are/were equally as important.  They had feelings.  They were SOOOOOOOMEBOOOODYYYYYYYY:

1.  The Alpha Chi College Honor Society Medallion-On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, my anxiety on this one was about a 7.5.  You never know when you might need to pull the academic medallion out of the bag.  It’s kind of like when you get pulled over by a cop, not that I’ve ever been pulled over by a cop, and you have the Fraternal Order of Police sticker prominently displayed on your windshield.  Not that I have ever displayed a Fraternal Order of Police sticker on my windshield…except maybe in college.

2.  My half of the “Best Friends” locket I shared with Anna Roncone-I’ve had this since our tearful goodbye in the 4th grade, so this one was about an 8.5.  I had a hard time sending this to its final resting place, because Anna will likely show up at my parent’s house today with her half of the locket, “Be Frie,” and want to join with my half, “st nds,”  and I’ll be embarrassed and SOL.  (Maybe I should run out to the curb and grab that last bag of trash.)

3.   One of the 62 bags of shells I have collected on various shorelines on the Eastern seaboard-Anxiety–7 out of 10, 10 being the highest.  I have these earmarked for arts and crafts projects with Jeffrey, but unless we’re going to do a tile mosaic of the Captain’s profile the size of the US Steel Building, I think we may have what some would consider an excess of shells.  I might want to address the bags of rocks I’m stashing as well, but I just don’t feel quite ready for that big leap.

4.  All tops in my closet that leave any portion of my midriff exposed to the innocent public-Hand above my head.  Deep breaths.  9 out of 10.  Eliminating this genre of clothing forces me to admit that I have no business slutting around on Carson Street with the twenty-something’s looking for Mr. Right… or Mr. Somewhere in the Ballpark.  No one wants to see Jeffrey’s mom’s bellybutton.  I hate that.

5.  A one-eyed brass owl-7.5 out of 10 on the anxiety scale.  At one point I had convinced myself that this owl was symbolic of inner knowledge and wisdom, “That which we know and do not see is true wisdom.”  Silly hippy.


As you can see by this list of casualties, this was a traumatic purge that has both served as an emotional catharsis and freed up a few spaces for some new trinkets when needed.

I thought you’d also be interested in some of the treasures that remain in the hoard unscathed:  a Jackson 5 Victory Tour concert program (thank you Aunt Karen); the pencil cup I made in the fifth grade which has the signatures of all my classmates and my school picture in which the Captain had clearly cut my hair the night before; and the balloons from an 8th grade dance where the love of my life (What was his name?) broke my heart by “going with” another girl (We were 13.  Where the hell were we going anyway?).

Clearly these items are going to be worth some cash someday, so I think I’ll hold onto them for a few more years when I finally set for that elusive yard sale.  Until then, look for your girl on the six o’clock news.  I’ll be the lady in the tube top and Homecoming sash strapped to a backboard and being loaded in the back of an ambulance.

Headline, “Hoarder Trapped in Collapse Looking for Her Lucky Underwear.”  Has a nice ring to it.

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Taking Back Tuesday: You Might Be a Hoarder When…

Here’s hoping it never comes to this…

On my first “Taking Back Tuesday” after a lengthy self-imposed exile, I’ve decided to come clean about my hoarding tendencies before footage of my rescue from beneath a collapsed pile airs on the local evening news.

It seems that hoarding has a genetic component, I’m sure not unlike alcohol or drug addition.  My mom, the Captain, will being doing cartwheels knowing that this one gets planted firmly in my dad, Mr. Wonderful’s, pile of blame.  While the Captain sees absolutely no reason to hold on to even a morsel of nostalgia, Mr. Wonderful would surely find himself gasping for his final breath with a box of musty, old catalogs on his windpipe.  Fortunately he has been saved from death by hoarding by his lovely, clutter-busting wife who regularly throws away bits of his past when he pulls out of the driveway in the morning.

I’m sorry for blowing your secret, dear Captain.  Not that being outed will deter you from tossing Mr. Wonderful’s training manuals from his first sales job in 1973.  (Can’t say I blame you on this one.)

There is no doubt that my brother, the Golden Child, and I have inherited the hoarding trait from Mr. Wonderful; while our little sister, the Duchess, much like the Captain is liable to throw away your underwear while they are still on your body.  (Just ask her fiance about the whereabouts of his priceless antler collection; though I think she may have a point here.)  The Golden Child and I are just one traumatic event away from falling off the deep end, forever bound to the leftover crusts of this morning’s toast just in case a colony of bacteria is calling them home.  Just one crisis away.

Anyway, regardless of which of our parents are to blame for our tendency to place nostalgic value on every piece of chutch that has passed through our hands it has become clear by the bowing of my closet doors that the madness has to stop.  I’m feeling inspired and perhaps a shade jealous of the Golden Child who made a small fortune peddling his “treasures” from his driveway.  (He couldn’t call it a “garage sale” per se, as the garage is off limits due to safety concerns.  The hoard hides in the garage.)

Because I realize that there isn’t a large market for my dead grandmother’s “Love That Red” lipstick (found her last tube in a piece of her old furniture), so I’m deciding to devote this week’s “Taking Back Tuesday” to thinning the hoard. (Deep cleansing breath, Molly.  Hands above your head.  On a scale of one to ten, my anxiety’s about a seven.)

I’ve challenged myself to throw out five (gasp) items that I have absolutely no reason to hang on to; and no, Grandma Helen’s lipstick is not one of them.  So far I’ve earmarked my Alpha Chi Honor Society medallion (Don’t figure it holds the same value as the Purple Heart, and I certainly haven’t donned it since the ceremony.  Though it may get me into a couple of VIP rooms in Vegas.  Worked for Michael Phelps.)  I’m also tossing by half of my “Best Friends” locket I shared with my best childhood friend who moved away in the fourth grade.  (Anna, it doesn’t mean I love you any less.  I just think it’s time.)

I’ll be sure to let you know tomorrow what other pieces of my past didn’t make the cut.  For now, Grandpap Pete’s expired driver’s license is safe.


Deep cleansing breath, Molly



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Sign of the Buffalo

ImageThere’s so much about parenting that borders on nauseating.  I really mean that.  In no other social circles is it both permissible and acceptable to lick your thumb and wipe the face of another.  In fact, I can’t think of anyone other than the Captain who has ever groomed me with their saliva, not even my mate.

Dear Jeff, I thank you for that.

Saliva grooming is hardly the vilest of acts committed by the child rearing set.  I’ll cop to catching handfuls of Jeffrey’s puke for the sanctity of the carpet.  (Who wants to smell sour milk in their Berber for a month?)  Dignity, for me, was lost on the birthing table; I snag vomit like an all-star shortstop when nature calls.

I’ll tell you where I have to draw the line.  There is one place that I refuse to go as a parent, and it may come as a bit of a surprise given my willingness to cross boundaries of health and proper hygiene.  You can take this to the bank; you will NEVER, EVER, EVER hear me utter the phrase. “Use your words.”



I’d like to know the etymology of this ridiculous parent lingo, as I certainly don’t remember the Captain laying those pearls of wisdom on us.  It was far more likely we were being tricked into playing “Let’s see who can stay quiet the longest,” rather than receiving any encouragement to rattle on or more clearly explain our position in an argument.   It seems that “use your words” has caught fire in the last few years, coming into fashion alongside scheduled play dates and the “time out.”

Perhaps it is because these innovations in parenting simply were not a part of my upbringing, that they affect me like a high pitched dog whistle.  We played with the kids in the neighborhood, thought about what we were doing, and the hell there would be to pay if we acted like jackasses, embarrassed the Captain or Mr. Wonderful, or brought shame to the family name.  “Use your words?” We got “The Sign of the Buffalo,” the universal McClelland family symbol for, “How about shutting the hell up for a minute cause you’re really getting on my last nerve.”

The rampant use of “use your words” reaches from toddlers to teens.  For grunting toddlers struggling to express their needs, apparently a condescending “use your words” gives them the vocabulary Merriam Webster.  For the older set, “use your words” begs the child to state their case in a bilateral negotiation.  Either way, I’m irritated.

I find myself wanting to crouch down on bended knee to meet these word-using parents on eye level (apparently this posture is a pre-requisite to dropping the line “use your words”), and say in a similar, sing songy tone, “Sign of the Buffalo.”

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Check Me Out at A Hopeful Sign…

One last post before I go….


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