Friday, December 23, 2011

We, incidentally, have one, solitary penguin.

We went for a drive this evening to look at Christmas lights in our neighborhood.  Well, not only our neighborhood.  We tried the higher-rent areas immediately adjacent to us first.  They had some funny stuff in Sterling Heights, and some brightly-lit weirdness in Fairway Estates.  Then we drove to where the real money lives, down by the water front on Santa Barbara Drive.  What a disappointment.  These are huge, multi-million dollar homes, and there were about 6  houses in as many blocks with any kind of holiday display.

We went down there in search of the mother-load of light-up Frosty the Snowman figures.  Hannah had started counting them, and was up to 40 by the time we drove down by the water.  Most disheartening.  We found only two Snowmen, and one of those was a ply-wood cut out that didn't light up at all.

Me: Forget these lazy rich people.  Let's go back to our neighborhood.  Poor people have something to prove with their Christmas light displays.

That plan was a success.  We were able to make it to 50 snowmen before we got to our street.  There were easily ten houses in those last 6 or 8 blocks going home with light displays that must double their typical electricity usage. Nothing says "Happy Birthday, Jesus!" like a $300 bill from Progress Energy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Today's post, in which a nasty idea takes on a life of its own.

I had lunch with a friend today, and was sharing with her my aunt's plan for buying chickens and llamas in all our names for Christmas this year instead of killing herself with shopping and shipping.  My friend thought this sounded interesting and asked:
     Can you get other kinds of animals?  ...I'd like to send my sister-in-law a badger.
Me: It's not that kind of thing.  We don't actually get the animals. It's a non-profit that gives livestock to people in developing nations to supplement their diet and provide saleable goods for income.
Friend: (visibly disappointed) Oh.
Me: You're thinking of our new internet business, Hell in a Box, where, for a considerable fee, we will ship ugly and hateful animals to your unloved ones.  We'll start with badgers, skunks and worms.  We may add other items in the future.
Friend: Ooh!  And for an additional fee, we can infect your shipment with rabies!
Me: You may be on to something.
Friend: For $3, we'll shake the box, so it's angry.  For $10, we'll include rabies.
Me: This is going to be completely separate from our bakery, Tasty Business, right?
Friend: Oh, of course.

I'm not really sure how we'll get the CDC to stay off our backs with the rabies accessory.  There must be some way around those guys, right?

If I was really cool, like JRose, there'd be a kick-ass picture here of a badger popping out of a festively-wrapped box.  Let's all close our eyes and pretend it's here, okay?  Because I have no actual artistic talent, and I don't even know how to draw a stick-figure on my computer.  I'm a cretin when it comes to that stuff.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

pfffft to that.

So. Upon reflection, lasting about 12.5 seconds, I find that the whole November is NaBloPoMo thing to have been a real flop.  I don't think it did anything to improve my writing style, which remains scattered and pedantic, if grammatically precise.  I don't think it made me funnier; I'm only consistently funny to myself, anyway.  And my sister. She digs me.  I was so relieved when the month was over, that I've written relatively few posts this month, although I continue to check my blog-stalking victims pretty regularly for their humor-y goodness.

I think next November I'll actually opt for some of that adoption stuff.  Or even the diabetes.

See, now I'm going to get hate mail or lose followers or something because I'm having a tantrum about doing stuff that no one remotely required me to do, and being flippant about things that are important to other people.

This leads me to my next personal issue: the need for no one important to me to ever be angry at me.  It's a hard life, and I compensate for that by usually having a job wherein I piss of relative strangers on a daily basis.  I'm sublimating my personal needs in that way.  I think.  Maybe I just enjoy tormenting recent acquaintances to see if they keep coming back for more.

There must be a certification board for that somewhere.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sing along if you know the words.

Here's Hannah's Christmas carol:

Deck the halls with bells of holly
Bla-ah bla-ah bla, bla bla bla bla.
'Tis the season to be jolly.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Now I give the gift of apples.
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Deck the halls with bells of holly.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

After a few repetitions, the gift turned into "tadpoles," which I thought would just be a mess to wrap, but it's not my party, after all.

I told her the real words to the song, but she prefers her own version. And why wouldn't she?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's hear it for the geniuses at Mattel and Universal Home Video.

We went to the library yesterday.  Whenever we go, I let Hannah choose one video as well as all the books she wants.  Yesterday she selected a Barbie sing-along video. This one is worse than the other Barbie videos I've had to endure, because it's recycled clips of the musical numbers from a bunch of other videos. No, you read that right. Barbie has musical numbers. The one I watched included her singing with a miniature elephant, a small simian of some sort, and a peacock.  I pointed out the implausibility of the whole story line to Hannah, but she was too distracted by Barbie's duet with the handsome sailor, who was probably a prince, and was single-handedly sailing a tall ship that looked to be at least 125 feet in length.  I don't know a thing about sailing, so this might be possible, but I'm pretty sure that schooner-thingy wouldn't comfortably accommodate the miniature elephant. But Hannah's just not that into realism.

As we were driving home from the library, Hannah asked me for the one-millionth time why I don't like Barbie.
Me: (sigh) Because Barbie's primary skill is looking pretty, and she doesn't seem to have any other lasting interests.  I don't think that's a good thing to teach little girls.
Hannah: But I like Barbie.
Me: That's fine.  I'm not going to tell you what to like.  Incidentally, why do you like Barbie?
Hannah: I don't know. I just do.  She always wears sparkly clothes.
Me: (sigh again) Yep.  That seems to be what's most important to Barbie.  And that's why I don't care for her.
Hannah: Looking pretty is nice. But it's not the most important thing, right?
Me: I don't know. What do you think is the most important thing?
Hannah: (thinking) Following rules.  And being nice.
Me: (sigh of relief)

So. The score stands as follows:
Barbie: 1
Mom: 1

I don't know what they put in the water that makes little girls gravitate to Barbie and lip gloss and sparkly crap, but I'm only one person, and if I've managed, in defiance of this covert and pernicious marketing culture, to teach my daughter that being considerate of others is more important than looking cute, I feel pretty good about that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This is how I do it.

It's December now.  I can tell because, although it's 80 degrees outside, I just drank an Eggnog Milkshake from Steak 'n' Shake.  And because clients I haven't seen for months have started dropping in again.  We all know the platitudes about the holiday season being fraught with anxiety, stress, and depression.  For me, it's also fraught with full schedules.  I don't mind.  I get to say nice things to people who are being entirely too hard on themselves about whether their holidays look and feel enough like a Norman Rockwell painting.

I've had pretty bad Decembers, myself, for the past couple years.  Who am I kidding?  They've been bad years.  I wallowed in acute grief symptoms for most of 2010, then dragged around my personal baggage like Jacob Marley for the next year.  I only recently have started really feeling like a human being again.  By comparison, I feel like some kind of super hero!

So here are my coping strategies for this month.  I'll give you a hint: they're the same ones I've used for the past year, and they bake at 375º.

You guessed it!  Gingerbread boys, Linzer torte cookies, and Cranberry-Ginger Shortbread.

Try it! Everyone loves cookies; you can share them if you want, but it's not required, and they make your house smell happy, even if you're not feeling particularly so, yourself.

Then: Sing.  Really.  Just try it; singing makes you feel better.  Have you ever tried to be grumpy while you're singing?  You can't do it.  It's physiologically impossible, I think.  I mean, it is for me.  Try singing in the car, or in your basement with the door shut if you want.  But I really recommend the backyard.  So does Hannah.  It's her favorite venue.

Also, read fairy tales, write on your patio with sidewalk chalk, or blow bubbles. Talk gently to yourself.  Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say out loud to a friend who is close to tears.  Try to remember that no one else notices when you aren't perfect; they still think you're pretty great.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rewriting the rules as I go.

You may have noticed that I skipped a day.  It was Friday. I wrote a post, feeling duty-bound to post each day this month.  I read the post back later, and decided it was definitely something the world could live without.  Really, isn't there enough drivel on the Internet without my adding junk just because I said I would?  There was no admonition about the nature or quality of posts for NaBloPoMo, but I would hope that people (read: Jennifer) would edit themselves according to some reasonable standards.

So, after I'd decided that the original post was virtual bird-cage liner, I proceeded to have one of these awesome migraine variant thingeys.  I had one a couple years ago, when I'd had a couple hours where I couldn't see out of my right eye, couldn't remember anyone's name, and couldn't read.  I then spent 2 days in the hospital, so they could monitor me and tell me there was nothing appreciably wrong with my brain, but my resting heart rate was sloth-like.  While I was in the ER, some tattletale told the doctor it hit a low of 33bpm, which I don't believe; it was before they hooked me up to the monitor that keeps a log, so they couldn't really verify it either.  But it was enough to admit me.  They finally realized that I had been lying around for 2 days (!), so why didn't I get up and move around some and try to elevate my heart rate.  They very helpfully sent up a physical therapist to walk down the hall with me, at a billable rate of $180/hr.  Geeze.  All they could diagnose, in the end, was a Migraine Variant, so they let me go home. Finally. Punks.

So, Friday night while we were watching reruns of Frasier I noticed a "floater" in my right eye.  It was the shape of a Rubik's Snake, and made my eyes swim.
I went and sat in a dark room for a while, then tried to read Hannah some bedtime stories.  She kept correcting my reading of "The Poky Little Puppy."  This should be a diagnostic tool.  I've read that stupid story approximately 7, 352 times, starting when my brothers were little, in the late '80s, and I couldn't get through a single page without my 6-year-old helping me with the syntax.  I gave up and went to bed. 

Anyway.  All that to say I was then too confused to come up with another idea for a post after that mess, and I don't feel bad about it.  It did get me thinking about those Rubik's Snake toys.  I wonder if you can still get them.  If I find one in my Christmas stocking, I won't be disappointed...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Do you know what I mean?

It's been fourteen hours since I don't know when...

Actually, I know when, what I'm wondering is why? I don't know why I unpacked the little kicking monster that sings Ma-na-ma-na and a scat-version of Deck the Halls in the voice of Dr. Teeth.  My daughter already thinks Ma-na-ma-nah is a good song. Now we have an instant-play short version of it sitting on a shelf.  My sister gave it to me a couple years ago at Christmas when Hannah was small enough to get all freaked out by the kicking monster.  I judiciously packed it away and forgot about it.  Until Saturday, for some stupid reason.

Dave asked Hannah, after about an hour, whether she knew what "defenestrate" means.  She, naturally, answered in the negative, and he, graciously, offered to demonstrate.  I almost let him.  Except the windows weren't open, and I've done all the home-improvement I'm in the market for this year.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hold the wrecking ball

Hannah awakened her dad, and by dint of proximity, me, at 7:13 this morning to request he put up the Christmas tree.  A price was negotiated (Taco Bell for lunch), and the job was contracted.  Hannah was supposed to help arrange the branches on the artificial tree, but there were always at least two reasons she couldn't quite manage.

Hannah: My hands hurt...
     I think it looks good just the way it is...
     (fake yawn) I need a break...
Me: You know what I have to say about two excuses, don't you?
Hannah: What?
Me: They're both nonsense.  Get busy.

Eventually Dave and I got it done. And Hannah commenced to hanging ornaments, with regular repetitions of "You know, I'd like someone to help me..."

Are you kidding?  The irony was lost on her.

I let her choose a new Christmas tree ornament yesterday while we were out.  It's a plastic ballerina with gangly legs and a net tutu.  I specifically instructed her that it is not a toy, and the legs will not, under any circumstances, move so much as a fraction of an inch without breaking, and when she breaks it I will not, under any circumstances, replace it.  I would not let her keep it in her hand while we were in the mall, wouldn't even let her hold the tissue-wrapped package, other than by the handles of the shopping bag.  I knew what was going to happen.  Sure enough, one of the legs was gone before dinner time.  She did not, by the way, tell me. She approached her Dad with a face full of contrition, saying how sorry she was.  He replied that it's not his decoration, so she needn't apologize to him, but he doesn't understand why she can't figure out the difference between Decorations and Toys.  Fast forward to this morning, Hannah was given the box of fabric and wood ornaments, suitable for a one-girl wrecking crew.  Of course, she jumped on the boxes of things wrapped in tissue like there was a prize at the bottom, and I'm sure I told her to cool it at least 25 times.  We then lovingly reminisced about all the past ornaments she's broken: Woody and Jessie that we got at Disney World last year, the paper-m åché angel she broke the wing off. She also proceeded to tear the little red bow off the top of the sterling silver cradle engraved with her name and birth date.  I encouraged her to assume that if it looked like a piece would come off an ornament, it would, don't test it.  We'll see how long she keeps that in mind.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today, in Hannah's personal opera...

Actually, it was yesterday on the way down to her grandparents' house to spend the night.  We started at 5:00, so it was dark long before we arrived, and Hannah was convinced it was the longest car trip she'd ever been on.  Mind you, she's driven to Chicago, to Roanoke, and to St. Augustine, and she thought the trip from Dunedin to Punta Gorda was interminable.

(sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)
Oh, my goodness
this is not so fun
When we get there
I will be-ee stunned.

Oh, my goodness,
this is the longest ride.
How I wish that I could play outside.

We've been to the east, and we've been to the west
We can't find Grandma and Grandpa's house
So we can rest

Oh, my goodness,
I don't like this at all
When we get there
I'll run down the hall.

There were half a dozen other verses, but I couldn't remember them all. She sang that song for the final ten minutes of our trip, and it was all my husband and I could do to keep from laughing out loud.  I was actually sorry when we arrived, because the song ended.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I really shouldn't mess around with classics.

Over the Skyway and down I-75
To Grandmother's house we go.... 

We're heading down to my in-laws' house this evening after work; they live 2 hours south of us, so plenty of time for Muppets on DVD in the car.  I'll be singing something annoying over and over by the time we get to Punta Gorda. Maybe Ma-Nah-Ma-Nah?   We'll spend the night there so we can have less road time on Thanksgiving.  We'll get to see Great-Grandma as well, eat too much everything, and generally be thankful.  I hope to watch the Macy's Parade, I know there will be Lions' football on all afternoon, and maybe we'll fit in "A Miracle on 34th Street."   Actually, I think the scene from the end of the original Miracle, where Natalie Wood sits in the back of the car chanting "I believe... I believe... It's silly, but I believe" dovetails nicely with the football game.

And there will be pie.  Although it was not provided by my Minions, it's still pretty good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You don't mind, do you?

If I call you Minions?  Because I was messing around on my Blogger Dashboard, and saw that I can change the names of stuff I thought was Standard Issue.

I'm not sure why I think having Minions is better than Followers.  Maybe because then I feel like a super-villain, rather than some prophet.  Should I be Evil or Sacrilegious?  Hmm. Tough choice.

Now if I only had some Bidding to send you all out to do...  It would probably involve the procurement of pie.  I'm pretty solid on that point.  Or cupcakes.   I can see it now: me, holed up in my Fortress of Baked Goods, with my swarming 11 Minions ready to leap at my every command.

Never mind. That sounds like a lot of pressure.  And really, how many cupcakes can I get through in a day?  Ok, probably a lot on the first day, maybe the first 3 days, but after that I think I might start to lose some steam.

Maybe I should change the heading to Ducklings.  It would be pretty cute having 11 ducklings around. As long as they're at least paper-trained.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Representational art

Pretty soon everyone in this house will be bald, judging from the state of my vacuum cleaner and shower drain trap.  Geeze.  I don't see how it's not yet noticeable on my head, judging from the giant fists-full of hair I pull out every day.  I guess I just want to feel closer to my husband.  Here's how Hannah pictures him:
She forgot the beard.  But she always gets the little hairs that stick up on his mostly-bare pate.
He has no embarrassment about it. He's known since he was 18 that this was inevitable.  Here's his self-portrait:
It's drawn on the underside of Hannah's new bed.  For some reason, it was decided while I was at work one day that the support slats and the subsequently-added sheet of plywood needed some sprucing up.

Every slat and every space, save one, are written on in black marker.  I was not in agreement that the bare wood needed any augmentation.  You may recall my 20 minute battle to get the warning label off this thing in the first place so it doesn't look like I picked it up at an eviction sale or a police auction.  I just fear that, even at almost-seven it is a slippery slope from Hannah's writing on the (traditionally) unexposed surfaces of furniture to General Home Graffiti, and eventually scrawling obscenities on one's bedroom walls while having a teen-aged tantrum.  Big leaps, I admit, but I'm a big-picture kind of gal.

Never mind that Hannah has never written on a wall in her life.  The flyleaf of my Bible, yes.  The video camera, sure.  The caulk that holds in her bedroom window, for some reason, that, too.   But never a wall.  But that's just me: trying to anticipate all eventualities.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Don't let the door hit me on my way out.

There are a few stories that I have collected over the years that I think  summarize my life experience succinctly.  I worry that once I've shared all of them with people I know, I'll never have anything else funny or interesting to say to them.  Interestingly, I've had that fear in my professional life as well.  I had a job once where I had to teach a didactic group once a week in the evening to up to 60 convicted felons.  Every week I would worry that this was the last good idea that I would have, and now everyone would see that I was a fraud and not fit to do this job.  Did I mention the convicted felons.  I was worried that felons would think I was a hack.  But I would have been afraid of that no matter who my audience was.

Regarding those stories, there is one that is not remotely funny, but it defines who I try to be.
In high school I was mostly on the outskirts of the groups that outside observers would have called the popular kids.  I had wonderful friends, who shared my interests and valued me despite my apparent uncoolness, so I wasn't unhappy with my social standing or my high school experience in general.  I didn't really embrace the whole angst-ridden Smiths-Ministry-Cure emotional experience.  I was pretty happy most of the time.  But there were occasions when I got the very clear message that I was not welcome in a given setting or conversation.  Maybe you've experienced it yourself; you comment on a conversation and receive a look of pity or surprise that you have the nerve to be standing there.  It's not a good feeling, but I primarily avoided it by sticking with people who I knew were actual friends.

I was terrified, 15 years later, to find myself having given one of those looks to a co-worker.  I assumed I'd given her that look, because the expression I saw on her face was a pretty accurate reflection of how I remember feeling sometimes in High School.  I resolved at that point that I never again wanted to make someone feel that way, and have tried to behave in a way that makes people happier to see me arrive than to see me leave.  I don't want to contribute to the pointless, hateful competition that seems to crop up among women in any way.  I've made it my goal to point out to others the reasons they shine and encourage them to name their own worth.  I believe it's my job to help girls and women to realize that they are, by nature, fabulous.  Not because of what they wear, or the shape of their bodies; because they say they are fabulous.

We are fabulous. You can take our word for it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Work it out.

Hannah: Can I watch TV
Me: No. Daddy will be home in 15 minutes and we're going out to eat.
Hannah: Can I play a computer game.
Me: No. Entertain yourself for 15 minutes.
Hannah: I have no idea what you mean.

Me: You're going to have to work it out for yourself.

This is my child, who can play by herself in her room for hours at a time.  Any abandoned shoe serves as an airplane or car for her doll house people. No small, flat object is safe from being used as a cookie for her stuffed animals' tea parties.  And any loose ribbon or sash from a bathrobe is instantly re-purposed as a lasso, leash, or long hair for whatever doll or critter she's playing with at the moment.  This kid has no trouble entertaining herself.

But her most recent social language acquisition is the ubiquitous "I don't get it."  She uses it when she just doesn't want to figure something out.  

Me (reading homework instructions): Choose the word that starts like Top, but sounds like Bent.
Hannah: I don't get it.

Me (reading again): How many more than 7 is 10?
Hannah: I don't get it.

Me (jut bossing her around about penmanship): The straight line on your "n" should be shorter than the one on your "h."
Hannah: I don't get it.

I could go on.  I've told her to stop saying that because it only makes her sound lazy and foolish.  I avoid the word "stupid," although it's what I'm thinking, because I don't want her repeating it to children at school.  For some reason, I think Foolish is less insulting than Stupid.  Don't question the logic. It will only confuse us both.

My new tack is to walk away when she says "I don't get it."  If she asks an actual question, demonstrating what part of the instruction doesn't make sense to her, I'm happy to elucidate.  But lazy people at my kitchen table just have to figure it out for themselves.  To my chagrin, smart girls find a more complicated way to say "I don't get it."  But I'm still not buying it. 

I might be a jerk.  But my kid will be able to do her own algebra homework when she's 14.  Or at least ask some sensible questions about it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

And one more thing

P.S., Typically Awesome Elementary School.
This D'Nealian printing is stupid.  The little hooks on the end of the letters are not a good addition to a 6-year-old's handwriting, which is already lacking in subtlety.

Also, I dig the practice of encouraging of phonetic make-your-best-guess spelling.

We'll work on the spatial orientation issues later.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm still hungry.

Dear Typically Awesome Elementary School,

Thanks so much for hosting both the Great American Teach In AND the school's Family Thanksgiving Luncheon on the same day.  Next year, do you think you could possibly open up the teachers' lot for additional parking?  I realize it's some sort of security feature to have that lot closed to public traffic, as then all visitors  have to park near the office, and are more likely to check in.  But when you are expecting that many visitors, does it really make sense to have a half-empty teachers' parking lot?  While we're on the subject of security, you know people can still walk around the gate, and get on property from that entrance, right?  There's no ha-ha or moat or anything over there.  Did I miss the patrolling Hounds of the Baskervilles?  I'm pretty sure it's just a normal sidewalk that any old person could walk up and start peeking into classroom windows before checking in at the office. Dastardly!

But thanks for the little extra walk, after I drove to every entrance in the neighborhood and finally parked in front of the Tricky Dogs guy's house.  It would have been as efficient for me to drive home in the first place and walk the whole way.  The end result was that I arrived too late to actually eat lunch, but did get to sit with my daughter while she ate hers.  So I also saved the $1.75, and, presumably two days' worth of sodium from the pressed turkey roll and canned mashed potatoes and gravy.

So, keep up the good work.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Self pity and gummy worms

Today is my Dad's birthday.  It makes me sad.  I wrote a whole post about it already, and decided it was too mopey.  So I'll just recap the cheerful part:

We'll eat as much gummy candy as we can today to celebrate my Dad's birthday.  He loved that junk.  Our party menu for the day includes gummy butterflies, gummy worms, and gummy letters.

More  fun facts about my dad:
He never wore shorts.  That's him at the beach.  Yes. The beach. In April.  It's warm here, then.

And this is him at Christmas in 1999.  Gifts are very serious business. It was probably sweatshirts. He loved sweatshirts.  I can't even remember how many he had when we cleaned out his dresser drawers.

That picture above may have been the only one, ever, where he was being serious.
Usually it was more like this:
And those glasses.  They were literally as thick as the bottom of coke bottles.  My mom convinced him to buy a different style once, with light-weight plastic lenses, but he just kept wearing these.  I think it's because they weighed him down a little, and he might otherwise have blown away in a strong breeze.

And he loved babies.  All babies. But especially mine.  

And they all loved him.  Babies and old ladies.  Dad was quite a charmer.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I missed it by that much.

I love my little digital camera, because I can shove it in my pocket and take it with me whenever I want.  What I don't love is the fact that it doesn't capture the picture simultaneously when I press the button.  It's  not a shutter, after all, it's some tiny computerized command that takes a fraction of a second to execute.  So I get the back of Hannah's head as often as not. 

This seems sort of appropriate, though, when I think of how much I might be missing by trying to record everything. For a lot of things I've given up and decided to just enjoy the event, rather than try to document it to the point of not seeing what's going on other than through the view screen on my camera.  But here is a collection of stuff I've almost missed.  Some of these were intentionally shot from behind, so as not to get the cheesy mug face. But for most of them, I think the late-firing shot turned out better than what I was aiming for in the first place.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This is what I'll be doing this morning.

Grocery shopping.  We're out of everything. Which is strange, because I stockpile stuff like I was raised during the depression.  There are typically 5 pounds of dried pasta and 10 cans of tomatoes around, and  I have enough canned pumpkin to outfit then neighborhood in pies for next week. My husband recently commented that he couldn't swing a cat around here without hitting a can of beans.  I only wanted to know where he got the cat, and why he was swinging it around.  Doesn't sound like authorized use of a cat.

So now I'm out of beans.  Well, black beans.  I still have canellini beans, black-eyed peas, and chickpeas.  I  have some dried pintos and Anasazi beans.  And there may still be a can of kidney beans somewhere.

The second half of the cat-bean statement was that he couldn't find a can of Spaghetti-Os to save his life.  That part is intentional.  I think Spaghetti-Os are the single grossest food product that the United States has churned out in the last 100 years.  And there's some stiff competition out there.  Blue yogurt in a plastic tube. Margerine, which used to be pink.  And don't forget Velveeta.  But none of those things taste like you've already puked them back up.  Which is exactly what Spaghetti-Os taste like to me.  I don't care if the noodles are shaped like princesses or Cars characters. The sauce tastes like someone's used it already.  At one point I almost had him convinced that his reflux problems were caused primarily by Spaghetti-Os, but then he had a really bad episode with no Spaghetti-Os in a 500-foot radius.  Curses, foiled again!

So it's off to Publix for me.  Then I'll go and take lunch to school for Hannah.  I'm so out of food I couldn't even make her lunch. Frozen, pre-made PB&J, anyone?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Have you seen my wig around?

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by clutter. Then I just start throwing stuff away.  My husband has had to learn to put things away in self defense.  There have been many times that I have thrown something away, only to have him ask me within a week where that item was. Once in a while I find that, although I thought I'd tossed something, I just moved it to what I thought was a more suitable storage place at the time, but usually the item is really and permanently gone.  I learned this from my Dad.  He would walk over stuff and shift piles only so many times before he started muttering loudly to himself and throwing away everything that wasn't nailed down.

I can recall as a child getting upset when I would return to the precise spot on the dining room floor where I'd seen a pony-tail holder, and find that my Dad had moved it.  I'd left it there for the express purpose of being able to find it later when I needed it.  This would make more sense if I could adequately convey to you the disastrous state in which I kept my room most of the time.  To try to find something as small as a pony-tail holder in that scene would have been hopeless.  There was no system of bins or baskets in which I might have sorted and stored items of that nature.  There was a pile on the dresser, a layer on the floor, and a jumble in the closet.  Come to think of it, that's what Hannah's room looks like in its natural state.

Earlier this week I swept up and threw away a small article of doll clothing.  I had seen it on the floor for five days running, picked it up and put it somewhere nearby, only to find it under the dining room table again. And again.  
This is clearly not important enough for Hannah to put away, and I'm tired of seeing it. 
Out it went with a pile of dog hair and cracker crumbs.  She hasn't asked about it. Yet. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Limited attention span and literary criticism do not mix.

I was really excited when I finally finished graduate school.  I was already working in the field in which I planned to continue, and I had a job I loved; although if they could have paid us in actual peanuts they would have. What really thrilled me was the idea of reading things I wanted to read.  I hadn't picked up a book for pleasure or personal interest for four years.  I did enjoy a lot of the reading for my coursework, but by no means all of it.

So I embarked on a glut of Harry Potter books and the Series of Unfortunate Events (nowhere near as interesting), but also read things like Beowulf and whatever Shakespeare I could find at the library.  I re-read Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and then set about reading everything I could find by those two authors.  More recently I've been reading some non-fiction writers, like Lynn Peril and Brené Brown, as well as a lot of fiction I hear discussed on NPR in the mornings.  My most recent choice is by Chris Bohjalian; not the one I heard discussed on the radio, but another one that sounded interesting when I read the plot synopsis.

I started reading it last night and got 20 pages in, had no idea what was going on, and didn't think I cared.  I'd also run across three examples of what I considered to be clumsy word usage, so I was probably feeling a little hypercritical in the first place.  When I threw out the question on Facebook asking how long other people stick it out before they give up on a book, I got responses of page numbers well over 100.

What a lazy thing I must be.  Also, maybe I shouldn't start a book at 10:00pm.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Vassal of the Road?

My sister and I have this ongoing rant about hipsters that boils down to this:  Anyone who is trying that hard to look like he doesn't care what anyone thinks clearly does care.  Just admit it and move on. And we all know that beer tastes bad, quit pretending you like it.

I can spare you the other details of the rant, you pretty much get the gist from that.  Forced irony is not ironic. It's pretty much what it purports to be: dorky and pretentious.

Today my husband and I made a completely un-ironic trip to the RV show in Tampa.  I try to be stylish, not a complete dweeb, and at least know what people are talking about in terms of fashion. But I like camping. And hiking. And sometimes bicycling. And definitely vacationing. But I hate hotels.  I hate unpacking and repacking multiple times in a tour-type vacation, which we usually take. I really hate lugging a bunch of kid-stuff around, in and out of hotels.  It was particularly embarrassing to me when Hannah was really small and I basically brought a whole kitchen cabinet worth of food with me when we travelled. I don't know why I was embarrassed, I know other people do it too.  I just felt like a vagrant checking in with an armload of Publix bags.

So we have been talking for a couple of years about getting a travel trailer.  We went to the RV show first thing in the morning, so we could wander into as many of the Units as we wanted without having to wait for other people to get out first.  We started out in the enormous motor coaches, because, why not?  Now we are not remotely in the market for something of that size; they cost more than the value of my house if you buy them new.  They're ridiculous. There were some that were nearly as big as my house. They certainly had better appointed kitchens than I do. Some had actual ovens. Outdoor kitchens with flat screen TV, in addition to the inside kitchen. A couple had washer-dryer units. One had shoe cubbies in the bedroom closet.  These things are not for camping, of that I am sure.  Who takes 8 pair of shoes camping?

The ones I like are more of this nature

I like that every little space is utilized, I like that everything fastens down so it doesn't roll around while you're driving.  I I like that you don't have to have a 2-ton pickup to tow it.  There was one there that was so small I'm pretty sure you could tow it with the bicycle they had strapped to the top of it.  These little ones would allow for actual camping, not just living in travel parks.

Maybe I could get something like this.

It's probably in my budget.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

So today I went with maudlin.

So about that new bedroom furniture for Hannah: I'm not going to actually write about how it's going.  Mostly because there has been no difference in her bedtime behavior, so it is really uninteresting.

Sometimes I get tired of my own blathering on.  Of course, just because I'm tired of it doesn't mean I stop.  I sometimes find myself still talking several seconds after I realized I'm not actually saying anything.  I'm like a machine that has to complete the articulation of the task it's built to do, whether or not that task has any value.

I recently read The Invention of Hugo Cabret.   I heard a story about it on NPR, and figured I could just about manage some children's fiction, as long as nothing too traumatic happens in it.  It looks really long, but there are a lot of pictures, so I figure it actually took about 4 hours to read, all told. Hugo Cabret is a boy who is trying to repair an automaton that his father found in the attic of a museum before he died.  At the end of the book, there are some acknowledgements that reference some actual automata, give some web addresses that are cool, and variously talk about the factual elements of the story.  So I looked them up.  There are several videos of the restored automata, and a discussion of how when one was found, the pen it was built to hold was missing.

(here's where I segue back to what I was talking about)

I sometimes find that I'm working really hard to get to a point that doesn't exist. I'm like that automaton with the missing pen: endlessly executing a sequence of motions, with nothing to interpret them.  Somewhere in my head, I think what I'm doing makes sense, but there is no outward expression of whatever it is that I'm trying to express.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I've just read through the stock pile of saved posts in my drafts folders.  Mind you, the pile is only two-deep, so it didn't take long.  But they're both lame.  It seems that I can either be completely sarcastic or a little maudlin.  When I try to ride the fence between those two, well, the mental image is not good.

So. Back to snark. Unfortunately, no one has irritated me today.  It's my day off. That's not to say that I couldn't get entirely irritated with myself for something. I do it frequently. But I haven't done enough to be irritating today.  Mostly I spent the past half hour watching the little one-minute videos of Hannah when she was 2 or 3 that are peppered throughout my iPhoto library.  I love munchkin talk.  And not just my munchkin. I like anyone's munchkin talk.  Preschoolers are the most reasonable and concrete thinkers.  A friend recently posted on her Facebook that her son told her that since she does so many things for him, it's like he has a lot of mommies.  Perfectly logical: how could just one mommy do all that stuff? There must be a team hidden away.  Did you check the garage?  I know they're around here somewhere.

If I had one of those teams of mommies, it would be more like that Michael Keaton movie where each subsequent copy of himself was more stupid and clumsy than the last.  Yep. That'd be me.  I'd be bumping into myself and dropping stuff and spilling stuff even more than I do now.  I don't recommend a team of Jennifers.

The other way that could go is that each one would have a decreasingly effective self-monitoring system, and by the time you got to Copy 4 she'd be correcting everyone's grammar and pointing out to people how they didn't dry the glasses completely before putting them into the cabinet.  No one really wants to be around her.  It's actually kind of funny to think about what Copy 4 would say if she slipped into my office at work:

Okay, so you're telling me that you only hit your wife when she deserved it? And that time you threw her out of the moving car into a ditch she REALLY deserved it? Because she laughed at you in the convenience store.  And you don't know why she left you, huh?  Really?

Oh. Wait. That conversation actually happened once.  Maybe I am Copy 4.  Geeze.  That would explain a lot of the dropsey stuff.  

Where's the original version of me, anyway?  She must be unbelievably graceful and tactful.  I need to find that chic.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

And now I'm a liar.

I'm rethinking this blog-a-day business already.  Not because I have run out of ideas.  I mean, I have, but I haven't run out of previously-recorded-before-a-live-studio-audience blog posts yet.  As a matter of fact, I probably wrote this one 3 or 4 days ago.  You'd never know.  There's no freshness date on it.

But the fact is that I'm not funny every day.  Or even interesting, probably.  Some days I'm funny about 2 or 3 different things, so I save up my stuff under Drafts and post it later.  I started doing that because I wanted to keep my posts short so people wouldn't get annoyed and close the window.  I know Mimi Smartypants can get away with a rambling post with 12 different topics, but I'm not her. But now I'm obsessively saving up quippy little thoughts for fear that one day I'll run out of things to say for realsies.  I'm a blog-hoarder.  Fortunately, the health department and the Humane Society haven't been alerted to my behavior.  "I can't throw it away; I might need it some day!"

I also sometimes save posts for a few days and read them over (and over and over) again before I post them to make sure they're not too insensitive or embarrassing to post.  I'm not sorry for that practice; I think the immediacy of text messages and social networking is one of the biggest problems with human relationships at this point. People routinely send text messages that they'd never have the nerve to say to someone's face.  I frequently tell clients who come in for relationship counseling that they have to stop sending text messages to each other. Write a letter, for God's sake.  It makes you think about the garbage you say to people you claim to love.

Ooh. Unrelated rant.  Sorry.

I really just wanted to unburden myself about this NaBloPoMo nonsense: It's manufactured. I write several in one day, and nothing for several days.  I feel dirty and bad for pretending I'm able to come up with something interesting every day.

I hope someone still loves me, even though I am a dirty, filthy liar.
Maybe because I have good grammar and varied punctuation. Yes? Maybe?

Monday, November 7, 2011

This is where my 19th Century housekeeping skills pay off.

Dear Joy-Sucking Risk Management Department,

Thank you for your comprehensive list of prohbited activities to be conducted in, on, or around a loft bed.  I realize some people may be dense, and need to be told that it is unsafe to hang oneself from said loft bed, and that it is wise to indicate age restrictions for use, as well as extremely  handy to know the maximum weight-bearing capacity of this piece of furniture.

What I'm not sure you recognize is the unsightly nature of the 4x6 inch sticker placed centrally on the headboard of the bed, and not on the side designed to face the wall.  You may also be unaware that there are available low-tack adhesives that make good decals for products that are not aesthetically enhanced by price tags and warning labels.  If you've ever bought a book, you're probably familiar with these.  On second thought, this might be too esoteric an example.

Fortunately, I learned my housekeeping skills from people who were born before Billy Mays or Goo-Gone were household names, and know that mineral oil and 20 minutes of patient scraping with the blunt side of a razor blade will remove most traces of your industrial strength adhesive.  But thanks for nothing, anyway.


Slightly Annoyed Customer

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Because Guilt is the most valuable super power of all, children.

Ahh.  So. I posted that bit about "Maryanne" on Friday, and the first person to make a comment about it on my Facebook page was the actual Maryanne.  Her comment sounded like she realized it was her.  So I asked about her goldfish, and then she was all like "OMG, That was me?!?!" and I was all like "Um. Yeah?"

She laughed at me, rightly so, and the next thing I knew, I have 10 followers again.

Followers?  Like some kind of a cult leader?  That's kind of cool. How do I get some more?

Now I see that, as mothers all over the world have shown us for centuries, guilt can be your friend, if you are smart enough to employ it on others before they pitch it at you.

What have we learned today, class?
That not everyone assumes that veiled messages are directed at them.
It's okay to repeat things until people do what you want.
It's perfectly acceptable to make vaguely self-deprecating jokes in an effort to gain sympathy attention.

Good work, everyone. Let's go out for recess!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bed Time: The Next Generation

We bought Hannah a new bed.  Really, what I wanted were some big, white stackable storage bins from Company Kids to try to control the growing pile of stuffed animals in the corner of her room.  Dave suggested something a little more radical. We got a loft bed with a matching cabinet for underneath.  It will quickly be augmented by a matching dresser, because I just noticed yesterday the track on one of the drawers of her dresser is broken.

I had a little thing going: bright colors with white chair rail, and a white bed to go with it.  The other furniture is not white, but I figured I'd eventually get it matched up.  However, at the rate I've been going, she'd be a junior in high school before I got a white book case or dresser in there. Just as well to start over.

The bonus reason for this new bed is that it is not sturdy enough to handle the weight of a full grown parent as well as Hannah.  So no more snuggle-to-sleep nights.  This may be as difficult for me as it is for her.  I've been thinking recently that she's a little old for this business, but Hannah doesn't give up any fight willingly.  It's a good sign for the future, I'm sure, but it's a little irritating when your 6 year old isn't willing to just cede a point without every possible attempt at swaying your opinion.  My husband has said recently that we ought to "wean her off" the whole can-I-have-some-snuggles thing.  Psht.  Not my daughter. She doesn't take well to weaning.  I remember what happened when I tried to wean her off breast feeding  She won, and that continued for another mrphl-mrphl months. It's cold turkey, a week of screaming, and be done with it with this child.

So beginning tonight, there's a new plan afoot: bedtime stories on the floor together, then Hannah, on her own, climbs up the ladder and goes to sleep.  Stay tuned for the excruciatingly explicit account of the drama that follows.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Should I start eating worms yet?

I was going to welcome my good friend Maryanne* to my blog today, but she's already un-followed me.  I'm not sure what that means. Or how that happened.  Yesterday: 10 followers. Today: 9.  Is it that bad, people?  I'm sorry, I guess I can't be funny every day. Or even two days in a row.  I'm pathetic.

Admittedly, I haven't asked her about it, or even investigated it further than to see that her name is no longer on the tiny little list. So I am certainly engaging in what I like to call Random Negative Projection.  I hassle my clients about this all the time.  You take a little fact, run it through your worst fears, and make some crazy assumptions which only torment you, and may not even approach reality.  Why would you do that?  It's all fiction, so why not make up some stuff that makes you happy?

So I'll follow my own advice:

Maryanne*, who still loves me just as much as always, loaned her computer to her, um, goldfish, who flopped around on the keyboard and managed to close out her Blogspot account. Now she has no way to find out about what silliness I'm posting other than to link to it when I post it on Facebook, which I always do.  So she won't really miss anything.  Unless her goldfish also deleted her Facebook account...

I'm not as good at this as I let on to my clients. Don't tell them, okay?

* Names changed because I don't want to be a total jerk-face in case there's something actually wrong.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

what is it with November?

November is, it would seem, National Do Some Stuff Month.  I've seen bloggers I follow talking about two different NaSome-SomethingMo so far this month, and I'd like to say that I'll participate, but I'm sure to get distracted by something shiny or cookie-like along the way.

There is a National Novel Writing Month pledge of writing 50,000 words on your very own novel.  Not that I'd try to write a novel.  I have some snarky and some soothing things to say sometimes, but that doesn't amount to a story other than my own.  And really, other than in these little snapshots I post, who wants to read that. There's a hell of a lot of folding laundry in there, and that does NOT make for good literature, as far as I'm concerned.

Much more reasonably, there is also a National Blog Post Month pledge of posting every day in November. Except for the fact that I already missed a day, I guess I could probably do that. Unless someone wants me to make cookies. Because I'll drop everything for some sugar, butter and flour.

Which leads me to some other National Some-Something Months that I've seen about November.  It's National Diabetes Month.  I assume this has to do with raising awareness, promotion of healthy lifestyle choices and timely acquisition of testing and medical care.  Sorry. I'll be too busy with the aforementioned butter and sugar.

It is also National Adoption Month.  Not sure I can get involved with that one; I have all I can handle with one little Jumping Bean around the house.  But I'd make cookies for all those other kids.  It's National Family Caregivers Month... again, cookies, anyone?  Although I'm sure what they'd prefer is a night off so they could go to a movie or something.

I like to think of the period from November 1 to January 1 as The Cooking Season.  I do love baking, and have been known to make quantities of cookies best estimated in metric tons in the weeks leading up to Christmas, but I also love-love-love cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  I take two or three days about it.  This year I'm not doing it, because we'll be spending the day with family a couple hours south, but I've made it clear that I'm willing to make as much of the dinner and truck it down there as would be helpful. I don't want to imply that my stuff is better than everyone else's; I just love the food!

So check back every day this month, and bring all your friends, to see how many days I make it before I'm abducted by my own gingerbread men. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Warning: Superiority Ahead

I try hard not to think I'm better than other people. Some people will tell you that an attitude of superiority is actually there to mask feelings of inferiority.  I don't think that's true in this case.

I think I'm better than people who don't pick up after their dogs.  I never leave dog poop when I walk the dog, and, yes, this makes me better than people who do.  Infinitely so, in the case of the guy down the street who lets his enormous bull mastiff outside to poop in the unfenced part of his yard.  Indeed, he has a fenced back yard, but apparently he likes to keep that nice for his family. As for the rest of us, we get to walk past continent-sized piles of poop left at the side of the road, and enjoy the scent of the various vintages on the way to school in the morning. Also, judging from the appearance of these piles, they feed that dog crap in the first place, so what's to be expected?

The laissez faire treatment of the mastiff droppings took an unexpected turn for the completely disgusting on Halloween.  You can probably guess what comes  next.  Give bored and unsupervised teenagers some ammunition...  I imagine (I dearly hope) it started because there are no sidewalks on our street, so if anyone was trying to avoid walking in the actual street, they were bound to happen across one of the little treasure troves.  There are now poop smears all over the street right beside Mastiff House.

I think I'll drive to school until it rains again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I blame Peter Sagal

I'm writing resource materials for work.  I work in a small, private counseling practice, where everyone has file drawers full of client handouts they've collected from various agencies over the years, and I've decided they're all too complicated and tired.  I've started writing one-page handouts in an effort to produce short, readable documents to give clients when introducing a new concept.  Homework is common in Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, and although most of these are not designed to be returned as actual assignments, it gives people a resource to review after their therapist has bombarded them with new jargon for 45 minutes.
Today, I've been working on these for a couple of hours, and only realized it was time for a break when I noticed I'd included this bit of wisdom in a description of a thinking error called Fortune Telling:
There are probably some situations in which you can recall “predicting” the outcome when you were correct, but it may be harder to recall predictions that turned out to be incorrect.  If this is true, either your cognitive filters are a little too tight, or you should be charging for palm readings in a darkened room with bead curtains.
Time for lunch, I think. And maybe a conversation with a live person. Also, perhaps I shouldn't listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me podcasts while I'm working.  I'm just guessing.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Good grammar is sexy

It turns out I'm a gigantic weenie.  Who knew?  I mean, were there warning signs along the way?  Did I participate in speech-writing competitions in high school or act in Greek dramas?  Oh, yeah. I did.  Right. Should have seen this coming.

So I've written occasionally about my husband. Not too much, because he doesn't really like it, but sometimes I just get all fluttery about him.  Like when he mentioned the faux shutters while we were discussing the colors to paint our house via email.  That's right. He said faux, and spelled it correctly.  He's smart like that. His apostrophes are always in the right place. He never uses double superlatives, and gives all his prepositions a noun to describe.  I don't want to see any wagging eyebrows, now, I'm talking about grammar.  You're thinking "proposition," anyway. Work on those homophones, will ya? He sometimes sends me emails of ads he's working on where the customer has made gross grammar mistakes, and refuses to be corrected.  They're like little love notes to me.

Yep. Full-on weenie. I'm not sorry.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I won't be the one to break the cycle it seems.

There are some things of which I will want to remind Hannah in about 10 years, so on the off-chance that one of thim might slip my mind, I'll just record them here for all time.

And I quote:
"I'm never going to be too old for snuggling. Even when I'm a Fifth Grader. Even when I'm ten years old. I'm always going to want snuggles."

"I'm going to stay with you forever. I told you that already."

"I'm not going to drive. I'm just going to ride in the front seat."

Then there are the thing that were just cute because she didn't have a good grasp on the meanings of words at the time, such as:
while looking for a slip of paper that was in a memory verse box she made in Sunday School
"Mom, I can't find that paper that says 'The wise men bowed down and brought him gold, incense, and murder.'"

And the blossoming of munchkin-logic, such as the time she asked me why she can't have just bread and honey for breakfast. Her reasoning:
Hannah: The Berenstain Bears do it.
Me: Yeah, but the Berenstain Bears are talking bears who wear clothes and use tools and drive cars.
Hannah: Yeah.  Bears can't drive.

I always hate it when my mother breaks out goofy things I said when I was smaller. Or not even smaller, but just younger.  It doesn't stop her from doing it.  And I very purposely do it to my siblings.  Many of our conversations are based solely on repeating things others of us said as kids.  So I can reasonably predict that it will annoy Hannah when I remind her of these things, and that I will continue to do it, anyway. After all, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.  It would be silly to think that just because I managed to grow a teenager that I'd developed some sense of restraint when it comes to embarrassing my family members.  That's just wishful thinking.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I still kind of hate technology.

My phone died this week.  Alright.  I probably killed it with my virulent hatred.  Or maybe with my frequent dropping of it on the pavement.  But probably the hatred.

I did hate that thing.  It took me a year to figure out how to switch between calls.  This could possibly be because it is rare that two people call me in the same day, much less at the same time, so I didn't get a lot of practice.  It also had a quick-dial function for the 5 most-frequently-called people, and I accidentally called my husband nearly every day, just trying to open the menu or access my contacts list.

So I went and got a new phone; I had 4 choices, since I don't want a smart phone.  I might have picked the most expensive one.  But it was way better than the other schlock they had in stock.  The user's manual is all of 25 pages long.  It may seem like an odd way to choose your electronics, but I had to defer to my husband's common sense.  The one I initially wanted had a 150-page manual, and he knew I'd never read that, and he'd probably end up having to check my voice mail for me every night plus turn it on for me in the morning. The phone store helpers aren't all that helpey, other than to suggest multiple peripherals you might purchase in an effort to double your ticket price.  They never really show me how those things work.  Dave picks up the slack and makes sure I don't hurt myself.

And now I can't operate the call-waiting again.  Sorry, Amee. I'll call you right back.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sigh. The revised edition.

We went to the library yesterday after school.  I helped Hannah pick out some learning-to-read books appropriate to her skill level, then left her with the picture books while I went to grab my book off the Hold shelf.  When I returned to the children's area I could see Hannah sitting in a big arm chair with a stack of books, studiously poring over one.  Loveliest sight in the world.  As I drew closer I saw that she was reading a Toy Story book (not too disturbing), and had another sitting right beside her called

I didn't know whether she'd yet read it, and I was not familiar with that name at the time, but, as noted in my previous post, the child picks her own literature, such as it is.  After a bit, she selected the books she was taking home; also in the stack:

You win some, you lose some.  We proceeded to check out, using the awesome self-check station.  Hannah loves that thing. Except when it won't read the tired bar-code stickers. Which was yesterday. Alas.

When we read her books later that evening, I was delighted to learn about Amelia Bloomer and her righteous objections to petticoats and street-dragging skirts.  I'm not sure Hannah was as interested in the story, the the paintings are sweepingly beautiful, and the type-setting is artistic, so it kept her attention.  The princess stories, as the title implies, take only 5 minutes, so they don't have to hold mine.

Ahhh.  Sneaky feminism and literature!  God bless you, Scholastic Press.

Tomorrow maybe I'll stop griping about little girl story books.
No promises, though.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I've whined about this before, but my level of despair is unmitigated by the repetition of this travesty.
Snooty talkin' makes me feel better. You'll understand why in a minute.

Hannah asked to go to the bookstore this evening.  Of course!  If there's something I'll blow money on in a red-hot second, I mean beside shoes, it's books for my girl!  They've rearranged our Barnes & Noble, so there were books of myths and folklore where I expected to find Pinkalicious.  Nice surprise for me.  Although I don't object to that particular bit of literary confection.  It's not bad stuff for girls.  But what I found was a nice hard-bound volume of folktales where the heroes are girls.  The author makes a big point of not calling them heroines, because she doesn't want any hint of the diminutive in her book.  It's Clarissa Pinkola-Estes for the pre-tween set.

We sat on the floor and read one of the stories; I attracted a child whose mother was reading Vogue down the aisle.  She did keep trying to distract me by pulling other books off the shelf to show me (she seemed about 4 years old), but I would not be distracted from the Tale of Mollie Whuppie.  She outsmarts a girl-eating giant four times!  No one comes to her rescue.  She kicks some giant butt, and doesn't whine about it.  That's my kind of bedtime story.  My other all-time favorite book is

I can recite it for you sometime if you want.

All I want is for my daughter to be independent, not love glitter and lip gloss, and be prepared to tell a boy he's a bum if he complains about her appearance after she rescues him from a dragon.  But what does my child choose?  My dearest love, my precious girl chooses to read this drivel:

Yeah, I know it's backward; I used Photo Booth.  That picture is not worth the trouble of importing a photo from my camera. Or even looking up on Amazon.  Plus, when the FBI confiscates my computer, I don't want them to find any Barbie searches on my browser history for any reason.

International subterfuge: Maybe.
Mass produced tripe for girls: Never.

Oh, and, um: I'm just kidding about the subterfuge, guys.  Didn't I mention that using big words makes me feel better.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where Physics Meets Metaphysics

Walking home from school yesterday Hannah started talking about my Dad.  She calls him Papou.

Hannah: ...that makes me think about Papou dying.
Me: Oh?
Hannah: Why did he die?

Why, indeed, Munchkin.

Me: Well, his heart just got worn out, and stopped working.
Hannah: So, one second he's alive, and the next second he's dead?
Me: I'm pretty sure that's it.  Papou's heart just ran out of beats, and it stopped. But as soon as his body died, his soul went to Heaven.
Hannah: What's a soul mean?
Me: It's sort of an invisible part of you that never dies.  You can't see it or touch it, but it's the most important part of you.
Hannah: But is it inside your body?
Me: Uh. I guess it is.  Until your body dies.
Hannah: But how does it get to Heaven.
Me: I don't really know. No one has been able to explain that to me.

thoughtful silence

Hannah: I think it must be like a magnet, and when your body dies, your soul just gets pulled to God.
Me:       stunned silence.       I think you must be right.

She has asked me, now and then, since my Dad died how he got to Heaven.  I've never had any idea how to answer her.  Leave it to a six-year-old to figure out the logistics.  Maybe we should get her input on our vacation planning in the future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

...with just a dash of... what's that stuff in the shaker-thingy?

Hannah's first grade class was learning about Johnny Appleseed today. Part of their lesson included making apple sauce.  She was raving about it:

Hannah: You should have tasted it, mama!  It was so good!
Me: Why didn't you save me some?
Hannah: There just wasn't enough. But you should try applesauce that you bake!

[She interchanges the words bake and make when talking about any cooking process.]

Me: Well, I don't really know how to make it.  How long did you cook it?
Hannah: How long is P.E.?
Me: I don't know.  Thirty minutes?
Hannah: It's really easy.  You just take out the seeds, cut up the apples, put them in the cooking machine, and after P.E. it's ready!
Me: Whaddya mean cooking machine?
Hannah: I don't know.  It's a circle, and it has a lid.  If you don't have one, you could just bake it in the oven.
Me: You should really write a cookbook.

My further attempts to figure out what she meant by Cooking Machine have also proved unsuccessful.  My best guess is that it was a small crockpot.  She might not have recognized it as one, since mine is oval-shaped and built to hold half an ox. It would probably be too big to cook applesauce for 18 children.  The time frame is a little harder for me to estimate.  I have no idea what time P.E. starts or ends, nor what time the whole project commenced.

There's probably an easier way to figure out how to make applesauce, but this recipe seems sound enough to me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is why they make sedatives. And wood storks.

My child.  The light of my eyes.  The joy of my life.  The bane of my weekday mornings.  This little bundle of love drives me right to the edge of insanity, and then gets excited about identifying the wading birds that wander into our neighborhood, and I feel bad for getting upset with her.

This morning Hannah took issue with the Beatles song I was singing.  Can't remember which one it was by  now, but how bad could it be, really?  What she hates is when I sing in a silly voice.  Or an opera voice.  Or with any voice some mornings. But after I'd sung the same 3 half-lines of this song 27 times, I was getting bored with it, so just sort of mutated into Yoda or some other voice.  The next thing I know, Hannah goes into her room, closes the door rather pointedly, and launches into some monologue about how terrible of a person I am, and possibly something about running away to join the circus.  I think she could tell when I was standing outside her room to eavesdrop, because she started getting kind of ambiguous about it.

I mean, maybe.  It's hard to decide.  I might. But I might not.

She might have been planning to murder me in my sleep, too. I have got to remember to stand so she can't see my feet under the door when I eavesdrop.

It got worse from there, and the biggest challenge for me is to maintain the same tone of voice while instructing her that she must finish getting ready, because she's walking to school, whether it makes her late or not.  She needs that walk to school.  It's where she turns back into Dr Jekyl.  She talks about the shape and color of the cactus flowers down the street, wants to know why cacti have flowers, and how they bloom.  She wants to make sure the ducks know when the traffic is too heavy to waddle into the road. She wants to speculate on where the pigeon poop may fall as they sit on the power lines overhead.

By the time we got to school, she was calm, loving, and looking forward to her day. Maybe I should start sending her on a 10 minute walk as soon as she wakes up in the mornings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Get in here right now, and I meme it!

So I've been meme-ed.  That's right. I made up a word, the very thing I have cautioned you all against in the past.  Apparently, it's only okay if I do it. What's inconsistent about that?

Anyway, in the great tradition of stuff recently made up on the internet, one of my blog-friends has tagged me in a post as a blogger to read, which I find amazing and gratifying.  Plus, it explains the couple of new followers I have who aren't personal friends.  Here are the rules:

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
 2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog– 1 link for each category.
 -- Your most beautiful post
– Your most popular post
– Your most controversial post
 – Your most helpful post
– A post whose success surprised you
– A post you feel didn’t got the attention it deserved
– The post that you are most proud of
3) Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part.
4) These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate up to 5 more bloggers

After looking at the word over and over, I want to replace Blogger with Booger or some other such nonsense.  Now if only I can figure out how to add a link in here without it actually spelling out the whole web address I'll be cool.  Please refer to my most recent post. 

single exploratory click, tongue sticking out from the corner of mouth.

Ooh. Turns out it's monkey-simple. Thanks, Blogspot, and sorry, folks, I'll now be bludgeoning you regularly with cleverly-worded links to stuff you may not want.

My most beautiful post: gotta be Welcome to Friday, because it's one where I'm not complaining about anything.  Enjoy it. The list deteriorates from here.
My most popular post: bearing in mind that only Jodee, and once my sister, comments, I'll just guess that it's this one. My mom actually commented on this one. Admittedly, not on my blog, so you'll have to take my word for it.
My most controversial post: Does meanest count? If so, it's got to be this one.  I'm not sure if it's funny to anyone other than Rebecca, but there it is.
Most helpful.  Hmm.  How about here, where I act like I'm smart.
The post whose success surprised me must have been the first one Not-Jodee commented on.  You're still my bestest blog-friend, Jodee.  I'll always love you most.
The post that didn't get the attention it deserved might have been here. Because of my awesome parenting tips.  I usually charge over $100 an hour for this stuff, people.
The post I'm proudest of must be the one about the Dad jokes. It still makes me cry. And I know how it ends.

Now for the hard part. I say it's the hard part because I'm relatively new to the blogosphere (I didn't make that one up), so I don't follow all that many other blogs yet, but here are the awesome ones I do follow, so check them out:
You three who don't already, check out Jodee because she makes me laugh out loud every day.
I also love Becky's blog, but don't read it while your kids are around, because you can't be safe from pencil drawings or actual photos of scrota.
Here's a cool cake blog that is completely appropriate for your kids.  Especially if they like Starwars Cakes.
And I still laugh out loud when I even think of the Hyperbole and a Half story of how Kenny Loggins ruined Christmas. Please read it at work.  Everyone will think you're nuts.

Thanks for reading my inane stuff.  I love you guys.  So write me some comments.  I need validation sometimes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The internet makes me feel uncool, kinda like high school.

I am the most musically illiterate musician on earth.  I mean, relatively speaking.  I know stuff about classical music, although I no longer perform any of it.  I know some stuff about jazz music, because my husband is a fiend about it, and I absorb some of his reams and reams of knowledge occasionally.  But I know nothing whatever about pop music of any kind.  I hear some stuff, and I think "That's annoying," or "that's fun," but I feel too far behind the curve to ever catch up, and I don't even try to pay attention.

Except in the area of Kindie music.  I'm down with that scene.  I'm totally in the loop about when the next Randy Kaplan album will hit the internet.

When I was in high school and college I spent every extra dime on music: back then it was cassette tapes.  I could have built a very fragile house out of my collection of cassette tapes.  WhenI was in college, we started transitioning to CDs, but I felt hopeless about the prospect of actually duplicating my entire music collection on CD.  I could have bought a house if I'd had that kind of money.  A year after college I got married and we didn't have any extra dimes, so my music-buying went on, uh, Permanent Vacation.

I never watch American Idol; it's not just because the performers made me sad the ONE time I did see it, but because I don't recognize most of the songs, and don't really know if I should be sad for the singer or the original artist.  I don't watch Glee, because I don't get it for the same reasons. I wouldn't recognize Katy Perry if she sat on my lap.  Although if some chick sits on my lap now, I'll be sure to ask if it's her.  I don't really feel too sad about the whole thing.  I'm a grown up, and the first question people ask me when I meet them is no longer "So, what kind of music do you listen to?"  I haven't felt left out for the past 20 years.

Now I've got a Spotify account, and I feel overwhelmed by my options.  I find myself just listening to stuff that sounds like old New Order and Cure songs.  So I guess I haven't really come that far; and neither has pop music.  So maybe I'm more current than I think.

Oooh!  Look! I just caught up!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Here's why my life is awesome.

Me: Tomorrow is picture day, Hannah, what do you want to wear?
Dave: How about a gorilla mask?
Hannah: No way!
Dave: A Nixon mask?
Hannah: What's a Nixon?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Well, it's not the General Lee...

Once upon a time I heard a Car Talk episode where the guys were talking with a woman who was referring to her car by name. Not GTO or Camry; more like Maryanne or something of that nature.  Tom and Ray then went into a discussion about how only women name their cars, at which I took umbrage.

Really?  You got annoyed with Click and Clack?  You need to lighten up.

It was because their theory was flawed.  I had direct evidence of this, in the fact that my dad named several of his cars since I've been alive.  At that time, oh, 15 years ago, I thought about emailing them about how they were way off base, but never got around to it.  So here's my semi-public refutation of their proclamation and alternate hypothesis:  Only people with imagination name their cars.

My dad had a parade of named cars, starting with a 1964 Mercury Comet convertible, which my father called Big Daddy.  I think he thought that was funny, since it was considered a small car for the vintage.  It had been his first car, and sat in our garage in various states of functionality for my entire life.  It would probably run today, if my brother could find some lead additive for the gas tank.

Later, there was a 1982-ish Ford Mustang convertible, which he called Junior, for reasons I found obvious.  It was the car in which he drove me to my wedding.  Big Daddy was my first choice, but he was not up for the 40 mile journey from the house to the church where I got married.

When I was in high school, Dad bought a 1985-ish Ford Mustang which he called The Howlin' Wolf, because it was so noisy.  It was his own personal car not to share, because at the time no one else in the house knew how to drive manual transmission.  We also had a 1986 Ford Mustang which I named Lazarus because it died and was resurrected so many times.   That car took several beatings, and just kept running.  Once my brother ran it into the garage door when he was about 14 while trying to move it so he could play basketball in the driveway.  I took it to college my junior year, where I learned to keep a screw driver beside my seat so I could jam it in the butterfly on the carburetor when it slammed shut, preventing the car from starting for lack of oxygen.  The paint color was the light-blue metallic fleck that Ford eventually recalled because the paint just fell off after about 5 years.  Unfortunately, we were not the original owners, so they wouldn't honor the recall on Lazarus.  I had a friend who told me it looked like I had re-entered Earth's atmosphere without my heat shields.  A car that gets that much attention definitely needs a name.  My dad and the aforementioned brother finally set it on fire one day, which was the end of the line for Lazarus with our family.  It was replaced by another Mustang, which was never as cool as Lazarus. It didn't last long enough to earn a name, I think.

After I got married, I bought my first new car: a 1994 Mercury Tracer, which I named Lolita after about a year.  My reasoning was that she'd seen way too many miles for someone as young as she, and the name seemed apt.  After a while, when she wasn't so young anymore I called her Lola. Then I could sing that Kinks song when I started her up in the mornings.

Dad's tendency to name cars doesn't seem to have been picked up on as readily by my brothers as it has been by my sister and myself.  She names all her cars; so far I think they've all been males.  Including the one she called The Meatloaf, no reference to the dashboard light intended.

Upon further consideration, I amend my hypothesis to the following:
Only people who are awesome name their cars.  Me. My dad. My sister.  All awesome.
I rest my case.