Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Donna Reed I ain’t


Every time I have that moment of trying to be That Mom – you the know the one that kids fondly remember for making things fun and special – it goes off the rails. I just have to laugh. The girls came in and piled on the bed this morning. I told them about there was 2 hour delay for school. (Around these parts, we call school off or start late just because something is possible. The forecast said we *might* have ice this morning. We didn’t.) I asked them if they wanted pancakes for breakfast!?! What a fun weekday treat! And, and…I could make banana pancakes. They requested the addition of chocolate chips (barf) and were quite excited about a morning of TV and bad for them breakfast food.

I knew I had 2 bananas that were past their prime. I didn’t think beyond that. I waltzed into my pantry feeling a little smug – what a good momma. Then I discovered I was almost out of pancake mix AND syrup. The refrigerator told me there wasn’t much milk left either. Suddenly wasn’t feeling so smug. I managed to MacGyver them together with a little regular Bisquick and a little gluten free Bisquick (kept around for my MIL’s visits) and a few other things. And I topped them with part syrup and part honey. Everyone was happy. Well except Tessa who discovered she doesn’t like chocolate chip banana pancakes. I made her a plain banana pancake so the day was saved. And thanks to a little improvisation, I still had enough milk left for my coffee.  Because let’s face it – without the coffee I might turn into Mommy Dearest.

I really need to check out my supplies before I try to be Donna Reed.

And just as an aside if anyone is interested, I can finally use my flash now and then! I hate the flash on my Canon Rebel – it is so harsh. But for Christmas, I got this very reasonably priced diffuser by Gary Fong for my pop up flash. (I am not pro enough to invest in a professional flash.) It isn’t perfect but it is so much better than the flash without it. Just a little tidbit for my amateur photog friends out there. (I mention it because I used the flash on both of these photos.)

posted under parenting | 2 Comments »

Things learned while working retail


1. People suck. Some folks feel they can say anything to a service worker they feel is beneath them. One person, angry over the denied use of expired coupons, told a co-worker that her sweater would look better on someone who wasn’t so fat. Another person commented that a co-worker, who was in a horrific car accident several years ago that required complete reconstruction of her face, would be pretty if she would just fix her wonky eye. A customer told me, after I couldn’t give her a teacher discount card because she had no proof of employment as a teacher, that maybe if I had stayed in school and listened to my teachers I wouldn’t be working at SchmoAnn’s at my age. (Me with my 19+ years of education who is still paying off my student loans – I laughed.) Who says those kinds of things?

2. People are awesome. I’ve seen folks share coupons, advice, and stories in the long Christmas line. I’ve been on the receiving end of heart felt thank yous and smiles that made my day brighter.

3. There is a special place in hell for people who don’t put things back on the shelf where they found them. I used to be headed there but I like to think this experience has paid up my karmatic debt. We literally spend HOURS daily putting things back because someone couldn’t be bothered to put it back where they found it. You want to know why prices are high? The payroll required for putting stuff back is part of it.

4. A smile and honest attempt to be helpful really does go a long way. I already knew that because it is what I want when I go into a store but it is amazing how most (rational) folks can be calmed by someone just stopping and listening to what they want and then making an honest effort to help. Even if ultimately we can’t help, they were heard and someone cared.

5. Coupons rock. Seriously. Check for apps for all of the stores you shop in. It is worth downloading that app at SchmoAnn’s.

6. Stores put shit on sale a tiny bit so that you can’t use the big value coupons. That expensive thingy you want? It is on sale 10% off so that you can’t use that 50% off any non sale item coupon. Yes, it is done on purpose. They plot that shit out carefully.

7. They also price shit high just so they can put it on sale. The day the spring inventory came in, it was marked 30% off. It will never be full price.

8. Employee discounts are pretty puny. I can do better with coupons.

9. Women can be more disgusting than men. It blows my mind the things I see in our public restroom. It also makes me retch sometimes. I can’t wrap my brain around anyone doing that in public.

10. Pinterest was started by one of the crafty store corporations. I can not tell you the number of times in the past 3 months someone has said to me “I saw this thing on Pinterest…”

11. I’m a chatty cashier. Who knew? I don’t particularly like chatty cashiers. I want you to ring up my stuff then let me go home. I don’t want to bond. But being a cashier if pretty freaking dull so chatting with people is really the only way to entertain myself. Plus, I’m always curious what they are doing with that strange assortment of items. So I chit chat while ringing people up. If they don’t respond, I stop but I’ve had some great conversations.

12. The amount of money women in my town spend on purses and wallets exceeds the GDP of most third world countries. The coaches and dooney’s and prada and louis vuitton and michael kors and fendi and chanel and kate spade. It is ridiculous what we ladies spend on purses. (Yes, I include myself because I love me a classic coach or dooney and bourke…I can’t help it.) And women carrying a $2000 Louis Vuitton and wearing $20K in diamonds will fight HARD over saving $2 with her coupons.

13. Comfortable shoes are the secret to a happy life if you work retail.

14. Glitter really IS the herpes of the craft world.

15. Mommy guilt SUCKS. Tessa cries when I go to work and asks me not to go. Sabrina says she has bad dreams when I’m not here when she goes to bed. While it has been nice to have days where I am not a human kleenex, it isn’t worth the tiny amount they are paying me to miss out on so much. I have worked every Saturday and Sunday (except those we traveled north) since I was hired. That is so much time away from the girls and Steve. I just can’t justify it. So, my short career at SchmoAnn’s will be ending in the coming weeks.

16. Boys buying fabric for a toga party are hilarious. And clueless. And full of hair product.

17. It is hard to curb my smart ass ways for 8 hours. Do you know how many times I’ve had to bite my tongue and nod when someone has looked at me stocking a shelf, wearing my SchmoAnn’s apron and name tag and asked “Do you work here?”

18. Working retail at 40 is way different than working retail at 18. Nothing a customer says bothers me. Nothing (bad) that happens sticks with me. I’ve never had a bad day at work. I do my job to the best of my ability but then I go home.

19. Be nice to a cashier. We can be A LOT more helpful (and sometimes have extra coupons tucked away) for those folks who are kind. I never give bad service but I am not inclined to go the extra mile if you are growling at me.

posted under Misc. | 3 Comments »

Well lookie there…it’s 2013


Disappeared again but this time I have a really good excuse. I got jobs. And suddenly I didn’t have time to have dinner with my family let alone update my lovely little piece of the interwebs. My jobs are nothing exciting. I do call screening for a radio talk show one night a week and I work at a crafty store that rhymes with SchmoAnn’s. SchmoAnn’s was scheduling me entirely too many hours during the holidays but has now backed off 2 what looks like 2 shifts a week which is perfect. I mostly took it to help over the holidays so I’m not sure how long I will keep it now that the holidays are done. We’ll see how much they schedule me and how they treat me. Not nearly as much fun as it sounds to work in a crafty store by the way. And there is a special place in hell for people who pick up a bunch of stuff and then abandon it in random places around the store. I used to do that sometimes. Karma is a bitch but I believe my debt is paid.

So since we last talked, Thanksgiving (never picked up the camera) and Christmas (picked up the camera briefly) and New Years (we had the plague) and Steve’s birthday (same as new years) happened. I have little to show you from those events. I’ve done very little cooking so no recipes. The only crafty thing I had time for was a little gift for a secret santa exchange.

And another chicken as a gift for a friend’s mother as well as a couple of ornaments for teacher gifts. Which I don’t have a photo of on my computer. It has been frustrating to be surrounded by crafty stuff and not have time to actually play with any of it. I plan to rectify that soon. The girls go back to school next Tuesday (longest. break. ever.) so maybe next week.

I have a confession to make. I’ve grown to dislike Christmas. It is too stuff driven. I love Thanksgiving because I get all of the warm fuzzies without the pressure to buy stuff. I like going north and spending time with family it is just all of the lead up that I dislike. So each year it feels like a relief when it is over. We went light on Christmas this year and had a nice holiday.  So fun to have a baby in the family again (nephew = 10 months old now).  Neither of the girls had any toy that they HAD to have this year but they had fun with all of the things they received. They still have gift cards to spend from one grandma so I’m curious to see what they choose for themselves.

A rare photo of the 4 of us and all of us looking toward the camera.

Hope you all had a great end to 2012 and a good start to 2013. I’ve spent 2013 trying to get both of the girls healthy. Still losing that battle so far but we are working on it. Some ugly bugs going around out there so keep they clorox wipes handy!

posted under family | 2 Comments »