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I’m a nerd.  Check.

I asked for a cross cut paper shredder for Christmas.  Yea, that kind of super special nerd.  I am in love with this black beauty and its 10 sheet capacity … be still, fluttering heart.

My office hides hundreds of pounds of filed away paper.  Some of it’s useful.  Some of it’s necessary.  A lot of it is related to my nerdy job.  The rest, though, has just been hanging out because I didn’t have a proper way to dispose of it.  We used to pretend that That Boy would use this identifying and private information to stoke the garage wood stove, but … well, he didn’t.  It just kept adding up.

Today is a big day.

The piles have been transformed into heaps of colorful confetti, hiding away years of memories I don’t want to have anymore.  Most of it is completely benign … old electric bills here, financial aid documents from a degree completed almost 5 years ago, old car registrations and since renewed driver’s licenses.  Some, though, is more emotionally charged.

Among the mess are three year’s worth of paper trail for That Boy’s workman’s compensation claim, an injury that changed and challenged everything about our lives, our livelihoods, and our relationship.  Then there’s the pile of credit card statements, a dusty history of my fall into Consumer Debt Hell … a  battle since won that completely turned topsy turvy the way I handle money, consumption, and the place my intense need to simplify probably comes from.

It’s all in tiny pieces now, headed for a new life as compost.  I feel 100 pounds lighter already.

Goodbye.  Good riddance.





Um, crap.

No, let me put a little more real emotion in that.

Uh … shit.

I’m 34 weeks pregnant today.  That seems like an awful high number.  Scarier than that?  It means I officially (I say officially because … well, no one really knows anything, do they?) have 6 weeks left.  That is most certainly not so high a number.  Six.  S-I-X!

Let me reiterate.  Uh … shit.

Do you have a solid grasp yet on how my overactive OCD brain works?  You know I have a list of 2,938,302 things to do before The Squishy (that’s what we call it because we have no name or sex for it … how profoundly adorable, right? Ick.) makes an external appearance.  You know that all of 8 of those things are done, right?  I keep telling myself I have “plenty of time”.

Translation: I am delusional.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Today I went to the doctor’s office for my (presumably) last ultrasound.  The report says the measurements estimate it weighs 6 damn pounds already.  Six.  S-I-X.  Now, I’m the first to tell people that ultrasound weight estimates are largely one part voodoo and one part guesswork, but still.  That’s a much more eye opening number than say … 2 pounds.  6lbs implies that it’s like Real Baby sized.  That means it’s going to show up sooner rather than later … you know, later … like June when I’ll have all of this To Do List crap done.  Maybe.


I think this means I might have to get my self in gear.  There’s bedroom furniture to rearrange, a crib to assemble, more laundry than I’d like to admit, and oh, you know, CHRISTMAS to have in the middle of the whole operation.

My OCD is going to have a stroke.  Possibly today.


“Hey, um … are we ever going to have … uh, dinner again?”

Dearest parasite that I am incubating, please stop taking every last ounce of my energy away.  Sure, use what you need to grow into a normally functioning and otherwise adorable mini-human, but me thinks you’re getting greedy and power hungry these days.  You exhaust me.  I can barely move sometimes.  There are breaks of clarity where I think, “I should clean this living room! Now!”, but within a few moments of effort I am compelled by the couch monster to return to lounging.  If I had more couch monster fighting juice stored up, I could win that battle, but you keep taking it.

Not that I don’t love you and all that mushy perfect mother to be crap.

But seriously, kid, you’re killing me here.

Your soon to be uncle told me he is going to mutiny soon if I don’t start feeding this family again.  I don’t cook dinner.  I don’t even think up things other people should cook for dinner.  I clearly don’t go to the grocery store.  Reasons?  You.

I also don’t clean things.  My desk is a disaster.  The office is trashed.  There are so many finger prints on the glass coffee table panels that CSI would have a hard time deciding who murdered who in this place.  The dust.  Ugh.  I don’t even want to talk about dust.

I want to change all of these things.  I want to be up and moving and planning and cooking and shopping and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning.  I want to.

And you don’t.


Come on, wee little fetus, make a deal with me.  I’ll lounge around most (I know, how tragic and difficult) of the time if you’ll give me the occasional break from esophagus searing heartburn, dry heaves, and the inability to keep my eyes open through an entire rerun of Deadliest Catch so I can feed your soon to be family something other than … well, whatever it is they’ve been eating … I clearly have no idea and perhaps take a Swiffer to the entertainment center.

I think that’s fair.

Pretty please?


Photo: vizzual

It’s Friday night (well, not anymore, but dream with me).

Dinner is almost ready.  The boys have burgers on the grill, which is a rare treat here (things that make meat a solo main course and can’t easily be filled and cut by non-meat inherently terrify my wallet).  Everyone is helping out and cheerful and friendly (because, duh, it’s the weekend!).

We share a meal, the five of us.  We chat quietly.  We joke about a certain person not wanting to eat their salad portion (I am slowly converting them one by one …).  There is laughter.  Most of it is probably regarding some awful frat house bathroom humor.  If you were here, you might laugh too.  If you were my grandmother or That Boy’s mom, it’d be a much quieter meal (while we all tried to not say highly inappropriate-for-meal-times things).

After dinner, we clean up together.  This isn’t always the case here, but we’re getting better.  It used to be that after dinner everyone would scatter leaving a certain someone to clean the kitchen alone.  We don’t do that anymore (most of the time). Hallelujah for that.

We all move to the glassed in front porch after clean up.  There are exactly five seats, so if you’re coming over, please bring a chair.  We listen to the neighborhood’s evening cacophony of hammers and screaming children and birds.  We linger in the fresh air, enjoying time together.

After that, it’s game time.  This is not a regular occurrence in this Big House, but it should be.  We stumble our way through a round of Monopoly Deal (which we’ve heard it cool but never played) then another, then another.  As it goes, there’s much less stumbling and much more slyly stealing shit from each other and no-holds-barred strategy.  We laugh.  We eat candy.

2 hours fly by and the family game night has to end because the real game is about to begin.  The Red Wings are playing in Game 2 in Phoenix (which they go on to win, snotty ass blog predictor guy).  We watch intently.  We laugh at the hilarious old announcer man.  We cheer the Wings as the goals rack up.  If you were hanging out, we’d expect you to be rooting for the Wings as well … or not saying anything, an acceptable alternative one household member chooses to employ.  We drink Oberon.  We make popcorn.  We yell  obscenities over stupid penalties.

We really know how to party, eh?


I don’t know why I’m particularly nostalgic this morning.  We really did all those things I said we did yesterday.  It really was a good time.  So many times we’re too busy to be together, to share life.  Sometimes, though, we have a sweet chance to enjoy each others’ company.

Now that, is a finer thing.


Hi there.  I’m Em.

(if you’re a regular reader, you’re probably concerned that this is about to turn into the bloggy version of an AA meeting …)

If you’re stumbling here from The Ultimate Blog Party 2010, welcome welcome welcome!  I’d love for you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite Irish whiskey … an an Oberon …), and hang out in my little corner of the ever growing blogosphere with me.  But … no one likes to party with a stranger, especially a creepy stranger, so let’s talk facts first.

I’m a 20something.  I started saying 20something when I could no longer say “early 20s”.  I have a whole bunch of quarter life angst about that whole aging thing, and so you’ll have to bear with the non-specifics.  I live in community with my adorable husband (a term that even after the forever we’ve been together makes me both ridiculously joyful and squeamish), my mother, my little brother and little brother’s girlfriend.  We all live in one big old farmhouse like the sandal wearing hippie I am (and they really aren’t …).

Em is not my real name, and I refer to the husband (Ah! Twice in two sentences!) as That Boy … just so you don’t get confused.  That Boy and I have been together just over 9.5 years. The looming decade anniversary makes me nervous … more nervous than 30 … maybe.  We don’t have small people yet, but we wouldn’t necessarily mind some showing up soon (That Boy would not admit to saying that outloud, I’m positive).

I work with high school kids for a living.  They entertain the snot out of me.  I wear sandals from snowmelt to snowfall.  I’m a big fan of sustainable living, recycling (because it saves money and the planet), and real food.  I’m one of those coupon clipping frugal girls, and I spend a lot of the summer pretending to be a farmer.  You should be stoked for all the inane pictures of my little green garden that are coming this summer … brace yourself.  I really like ice cream and complaining about things I don’t like on the internet.  I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and occasionally a little too lazy to do anything about it.

Average Radical started as a place for me to tell the world stories about the (sometimes bizarre, sometimes hilarious) goings on of my life, rant about what’s wrong with the world, and occasionally complain about my on again off again relationship with GLUTEN (booooo).  It’s become a sweet place for me to love on people, talk religion, share the occasional dollar stretching trick or recipe, and trash talk the infamous Britt about our ongoing head to head Battle of the Scales.

I kind of like it here.

I’m hoping you do too.  I’m giddy as a school girl when people hang out and comment, so if you’re digging what you’re reading, I’d love for you to party with me anytime.  I’m game if you are.

Now, back to that Oberon …



Did you know the UBP involved prizes?!  I totally didn’t at first.  Yea, I’m that brilliant sometimes.  Anywho, you can check out the full list of prizes on 5 Minutes for Mom.  Not that I think I’m the luckiest girl in the world, but if I were to go about picking winners, I’d love the Toshiba laptop (um, duh, who wouldn’t?!), the NIV 90 Day Bible, the Jillian Michaels Get Fit Pack (oooooh The Shred, how you scare me), or any of the retail store/Amazon gift cards.  Heck, I’d love to win just about anything (I’m not a contest winner historically), but mostly, I’m just happy to party along with the UBP’10.  Thanks again for stopping by!

Let me start this with, we are not Irish.

At all.

We are Scottish, though, which is … close (just don’t tell my very Scottish husband I said that, ok?).  Close enough for me at least.  We love the St. Patrick’s Day season, and because Irish cultural traditions are similar to Scottish cultural traditions (kilts, pub food, stout, pride, etc), it all kind of fits together for us.  Great food, great music, great friends, dancing in the streets, and an excuse to drink great beer in the middle of the day … who doesn’t want to love that?

Here’s the montage …

In the few days before St. Patrick’s, I got the best. news. ever.  My el favorito local Irish rock band, great friends who we thought had broken up for good in September (after 7 awesome years) was going to get back together to play a pre-St. Patrick’s show at a country club.  A country club?!  This is a rowdy band with an even rowdier group of die-hard fans.  We are dancing on chairs kinds of people, and we were highly skeptical of the ‘country club crowd‘ being entertained by that.

Do I have to tell you it was an amazing time, or does the picture prove it?  (Sidebar: We are not all wasted.  We’re trying to be funny.  Or something.)  The country club crowd wound up being great.  They were dancing and clapping and getting rowdy with us.  The band played fabulously, including two special additions that I’m still super stoked about.  We danced.  We sang.  We laughed.  We broke a glass … on accident.  Great times (until the drive thru guy dumped an entire large Sprite into the lap of That Boy on the way home … ).

On St. Patrick’s itself, I woke up my family with a giant pancake breakfast (because, um, pancakes soak up alcohol pretty nicely …), after which we put on all of the green we could find and headed down to the parade.  We live in this town with the State’s or the Country’s or the World’s (I don’t know what they claim exactly …) Longest Running Unfinished St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  The route goes from one end of main to the other.

The parade is great fun.  There’s a marching band.  The residents of this town all participate.  People who don’t live here show up and stand on the sidewalks and wave at us like we’re important.  We throw things like any good parade.  And, of course, we dress our dogs up in hilarious outfits.  That isn’t my dog above, but he’s still really freakin’ cute.

So that parade route I was talking about, the one that no one ever makes it to the end of?  Well, there might be a reason.  That place above is half way in between.  The parade never makes it past the front door.  It’s a 20 or some such year running joke.  See all the people milling about?  Yea, we’ve tried in previous years to make our way into the pub after the parade, but … it’s kind of not worth it.  The people inside are shoulder to shoulder, it’s hot, there’s a giant line outside to get in.  Eww.

Instead, we throw a party in our front yard.  We drag out the grill.  We invite a bunch of friends.  Hell, we invite a bunch of strangers sometimes.  We wear a bunch of green.  We stand around toasting people that drive by.  We laugh. A lot.  We drink beer.  We dance in the street.  We have a blast.  Every. Single. Year.

I love St. Patrick’s.  Mostly, I love the people I spend the day with.  Do you have any great St. Patrick’s traditions?  I want to hear about them.


Today there’s a birthday in our house.  In general, we prefer to make birthday cakes around here based on the birthday celebrant’s preferences.  Two years ago, for example, I crafted a half cake/half brownie chocolate craziness to satisfy someone’s sugared up birthday wish.  This year, however, we opted for the store bought cake you see above.

Lesson 1: Planning is the key to every budget.

Birthdays are the same day every year.  I’m known for complaining about people rushing around on holiday eves filling grocery stores with chaos and tension when the holiday they’re trying to plan for is on the calendar the same time every year.  Somehow this year I became one of those crazy calendar-impaired people (a huge no-no for this live-or-die-by-the-list OCD chick), finding myself in the middle of the afternoon without a birthday cake for tonight’s early evening celebration.  Crap.  Had I paid better attention to the week’s schedule, I would have known to plan ahead.  Everything about your frugal or budget-conscious life works like that.  If you don’t know what’s coming, you don’t know to investigate money saving options.

Lesson 2: Convenience costs mucho money.

How much does it cost to bake a cake from scratch?  How much do flour, sugar, and cocoa powder really cost?   I’ve never done the math, but I have to guess it’s not anywhere near the $14.99 I paid for that fluorescent dragon covered chocolate wonder.  Convenience is awesome, sure, but it comes at a significant premium.  Even a boxed cake mix paired with a tub of frosting would have set me back $4 on a bad day without a sale or coupons.  That means I paid at least $10.99 for the bakery to mix this cake, bake it, and slap the frosting on, a task that probably wouldn’t have set me back more than an hour (with some time inserted for cooking and cooling) … an hour I didn’t have (refer back to #1).

Lesson 3: The frugal option is (almost) always better.

Honestly, after a piece of this terribly expensive birthday cake (which I most certainly should not have eaten), I must confess it wasn’t that great.  The cake was dry, probably from being frozen by the grocery store’s main bakery for transport to the regional location.  The frosting was overly sweet and not so chocolatey.  It wasn’t the best cake I’ve ever had.  It wasn’t even the best mediocre cake.  A boxed cake would have been better.  A scratch cake would have been divine.

Sure, I can try to convince myself that the store’s bakery people are the best cake bakers of all time, but … well, they aren’t.  There are some bakeries, however, that create amazing creations I can’t even dream of replicating (like these people from my hometown … seriouly, amaaaazing cake).  In those instances, a splurge for great product isn’t a terrible idea.  When the extra cost is associated with less than stellar product, the deal just isn’t so sweet.  This idea works for just about everything.  If you love great cheese, for example, splurging on an artisan raw milk is far more fulfilling than overpaying for terrible string cheese because you forgot it was “National Eat Cheese Day”.

Lesson 4: Screwed up?  Move on.

If you’re trying to keep your money in your pocket rather than someone else’s, planning for future needs, erring on the side of avoiding ‘convenience items’ (and their costly premiums), and saving your splurges for things that are worth it should be on your to do list.  They’re usually on mine.  I slipped up this time, and boy am I reminded of why I generally try to avoid debacles like this.  My personality makes me inclined to worry about the things I’ve screwed up, but looking backward is a great way to keep missing the point of what’s in front of you.  There will be bumps in the road to keeping your expenses lower than the average bear.  Moving forward rather than lingering over them is your best plan.


I am a night owl.  I can go through an entire day with almost zero motivation only to get the urge to clean my closet or scrub gunk out of the washing machine with Q-tips ’round about the time normal people should be headed to bed.  Tonight was no different.  It went a little something like this …

“Hey, we should put those new shelves in the kitchen.”

(at 1030pm, of course)

“And, hey, since we have to clean everything off the old shelves to move them out of the way, why not reorganize half the kitchen cupboards to make things fit more efficiently?”

(sometime around midnight, probably …)

“Oh! How about we move all the appliances, clean behind them, and then realign them to fit better with the new shelves?”

(say, 2am …)

We are the secret agents of home remodel.  We scrub and sort and build under the cover of darkness.  We need a secret handshake.

Are you a night owl too?  I’d love to hear about the crazy stuff you do while everyone else sleeps.


Past Tense