In My Defense ...

>> Monday, November 30, 2009

Of all the things I might hope this blog is (or becomes) known for, I do not wish it to be known as the "spider blog". Nonetheless, as I sit down to type today's post, I find myself returning to the creepy spider that tried to attack me in my car last week.

This past weekend, Darling Husband and I were at the football game. When we left, he was driving. I reached out to tune in the radio to the postgame show, and out of nowhere, the ugly spider materialized next to the tuning knob. Just like last time, he seemed to possess the mysterious ability to come and go instantaneously. I yelled quietly observed, "There he is!" to DH.

Clever man that he is, DH knew exactly what I meant by my shriek restrained observation. He bravely reached over and flicked the spider with his finger and smooshed him against the car radio. (I mistakenly thought he was flicking it away from the radio and into the car, and I made sure I let him know thatquietly told him I thought that was unwise.) He then found a used kleenex to grab the bugger with and wipe him from the radio dial before shaking him loose out the window onto the grass. During this exchange, I had a chance to look at the beast a little more closely. It kinda looked like this spider here. At least, that's the closest I can find. The trouble is the guy in the picture is only out west.

In any respect ... eww. Even better, why did I, the woman who only pretends to take spiders in stride look all over the internet for a picture of this thing? I may have nightmares for weeks after what I've seen.

The point is, I did it all for you -- so you can see that it truly was an emergency, and I should have stopped on the emergency pull off on the highway after not knowing where the vicious menacing beast disappeared to. I really should have. After all, he almost took off my hand last weekend when I failed to realize he claimed the tuning knob as his own. Even DH, as brave as he was, thought the little guy was a bit evil looking. DH even found it necessary to check if the spider was a black widow or not. Unfortunately, he checked the wrong end. Ah, well, he gets points for bravery, right? And who can figure out the upside from the downside of a smooshed spider anyway?

On the other hand, maybe I just wrote this because I know you all hate spiders, and I wanted you to share my nightmares. Yep. Maybe that's it.

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Mini-Shopping Carts are Gateway Drugs

>> Friday, November 27, 2009

I've developed this love/hate relationship with those mini, child shopping carts that have cropped up recently at grocery stores.

Have you seen them? They are slightly bigger than toy shopping carts, and they look just like the big carts, and not like toys at all -- except that the ones in our store are bright lime green. Heck, if grown up carts were lime green, I might think they were more fun, too. These things are the perfect size for little hands. Ours even come with a long pole sticking up like a flag that responsible adults can hold onto to help steer. Originally, most of them seem to have had a flag on said pole that read, "Shopper in Training" or something like that, but I've only seen an intact flag once.

Here's the dilemma:

Love: The kid actually wants to go "shopping". He asks to go shopping.

Hate: Only grocery stores have these little carts, and Toddler doesn't seem to understand that yet. "Want my cart? My cart?"

Love: All the employees walk around the store, pretending they aren't following us, commenting on how cute Toddler is pushing his cart, and what a big helper I have.

Hate: All the employees stalk me while I shop so they can talk to my kid.

Love: All the employees are helpful like crazy because they know us.

Hate: All of the employees know who we are now, and they comment when they haven't seen us in awhile, or if I come back too many days in a row.

Love: Toddler loves picking out "his" groceries, and if he picks it, he will eat it, even if he has never eaten it before.

Hate: Heaven help me if I try to put anything in Toddler's cart that isn't for him. "Mommy, hold this.'' (Shoves mayonnaise at me.) "No, Mommy! No black drink!" (Crying because I tried to sneak a 2-liter into his cart.)

Love: Toddler is learning to steer, and to not ram into things with the cart, which is a huge improvement.

Hate: Random shelf-stockers like to make snarky comments, like this. ME: "Toddler, don't hit anyone with the cart. That's the number one rule." SHELF STOCKER: "Except Mommy. It's okay to hit Mommy." Toddler promptly shoves cart at my ankle.

Love: Toddler is so proud of himself because he is Mommy's big helper.

Hate: Toddler has to put up all of "his" groceries on the belt himself. Since he can't reach the belt, he has perfected the baseball throw of individual cartons of yogurt. We actually cracked one open today. The checkout clerk pretended it had been that way on the shelf and got us another one.

Love: We are learning responsibility and sharing. We put things (like the cart) back where we found them.

Hate: Sometimes it's hard to understand why you can't take the cart home when you are 2.

Love: The stores are so thoughtful to try to include children in the shopping experience.

Hate: One of our grocery stores only has one cart, which causes tremendous havoc by all the children who walk in AFTER the cart has been wheeled away by a lucky toddler. We were stalked today by a 3 year old who wanted the cart.

Love: Now Toddler wants to help do a lot of things, like carry the groceries to the car.

Hate: Toddler wants to carry the grocery bag to the car HIS way, meaning grabbing one handle and dragging it through the parking lot.

Love: Mommy never has to persuade Toddler to turn off the TV and go shopping.

Hate: "Mommy? Shopping? OPEN DOOR! SHOPPING!"

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Happy Thanksgiving

>> Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hey! What are you doing reading this blog? You are supposed to be out stuffing yourself with turkey, chips, mashed potatos, and conversation from people you both love, and those you have to be with because God won't let you pick your relatives and Great Grandma won't let you pick the turkey-day invitation list. (Why exactly is it the mailman was invited? Really? Isn't he a little creepy?)

Yes, that is right -- no funny business today. We're all eating lots of food and watching football.

Tell your family hello from me, and I'll see you all at the malls tomorrow.

Oh ... and if the conversation lags at dinner, feel free to talk about this blog. I don't mind.

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Why? Part 5

>> Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's that time again, to ask the ponderous, "Why" questions. This is a special post, because portions of this list were contributed by you, my gentle readers. (Okay, I admit, my Mom was a fan of Miss Manners when I was young.) Special thanks to all of you who contributed. You know who you are, but out of respect to your privacy, I will leave your names to mystery. Feel free to identify yourselves in the comments.

1. On the ground floor of Beaver Stadium (that's Nittany Lion Home for those of you who don't know -- but then you probably don't care, either), there are sections with no cement, and no dirt. They have, instead, a floor of rocks -- not pebbles, but fist sized rocks, held in place by little pieces of wood to make "boxes" that are actually dozens of square feet each. Um .... why?

2. Why do I bother to argue with my Toddler? I'm the mom, and that should be the end of it. I'm too big to argue.

3. Why are eggs considered a dairy product?

4. Why are Facebook games such guilty fun? They are the same sort of text-based-game-hyped-by-some-pretty-pics that we played as kids before Sierra invented SpaceQuest. Oh. Wait. Maybe that's why.

5. Why do retailers of children's clothing think toddler boys only need navy, red, black, white, beige, and grey socks? Why do girls get all the bright colors?

6. Why are there separate solid color "boy" and "girl" socks for pre-schoolers ? Unless lace or pink or flowers or trucks or similar is involved, I would think they could be neutrally applicable ....

7. Why do children inevitably prefer the box the toy came in over the toy itself?

8. Why does the Easter Bunny bring eggs?

9. Why do random strangers and distant acquaintences feel so free to comment on the parenting decisions of people they have just met or barely know?

10. Why do we all still insist on calling The Queen's English and American English the same language? We spell things differently, we don't understand each other's sitcoms, and "English" guidebooks still come with translations and frequently used phrases for the traveler. The time has come. One side has to come up with a new name for their language. Then maybe I can officially be bilingual. (Wait, does speaking "Toddler" or "Cat" count?)

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, all.

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It's Official -- I'm a Nut Job

>> Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A while ago I introduced you to the giant spidery-looking creepy hoppers that visit my house that apparently are called camel crickets. Facebook even has THREE PAGES about them here, here, and here (Facebook account required to view). Well, in that post I tried rather timidly to declare that I wasn't exactly afraid of spiders.

Apparently I lied.

We've been having a real problem with all sorts of little insect-y like critters since we canceled the pest control contract, and I am killing spiders routinely, but these are all the thin, whispy looking kind.

Today, a monster with magic powers assaulted me while I was driving Toddler to a doctor's appointment. I'm on my way to the nearby four lane highway, when out of some crack in the dashboard, or maybe the heating duct, crawls an ugly, black, spotted spider about the size of a nickel. Back and forth it crawled, up next to the front window, looking for a way out. I was wondering if perhaps I saw fur on the legs? Was this wicked thing related to the nasty black widow spider my friends found on their porch?

I had just finished listening to a local DJ talk about someone rear-ending them because they were texting and driving, and I kept chanting to myself, inside my head, "Must keep eyes on road. Must not crash car." Sadly, there was no good place to pull over before I had to pull onto the highway on ramp. At the traffic light before the last turn, I rolled down the window in a vain attempt to coax the spider to climb outside and jump down, but the beastie had other ideas. By this point, the little stinker had crawled the whole way to the passenger side, where I couldn't possibly reach it without physically leaving my seat. So, I decided not to stop in the middle of the road and to proceed onto the highway. Surely it would stay reasonably far away, right?

Sure. Right. That's why I'm writing this blog ... because the spider stayed far away.

As I'm watching the spider begin to pace back and forth across the windshield, I start to think. What will I do if it comes toward me? What if it crawls off the windshield and down the dash to the steering column, or (gasp, moan) my leg? I thought about trying to flip it out the window with an old parking sticker from the game last week, but I thought, "What if it lands on me while I'm driving? Will I be able to restrain the frantic urge to lift my feet, kick wildly, and brush frantically at myself? And if it falls on the floor, then what? What if it crawls up the inside of my jeans, or into my shoe?"

I decided that I would be able to restrain the frantic urge to slap wildly at myself and huddle into a quivering ball only because Toddler was in the backseat. While I might not mind being known as the woman to die from losing control of an automobile on the highway while viciously attacking a spider the size of a nickel ... I just didn't want Toddler to go out that way. Somehow, that didn't seem fair. So, I kept telling myself, "Keep calm. You must keep calm."

And then he came for me.

He crawled deliberately and maliciously away from the windshield, onto the dashboard, and toward the driver side window, all, I am certain, in anticipation of jumping from the window straight onto my hair.

Now what. I'm driving down a four lane highway at some unspecified speed over 65 MPH at precisely the speed limit, with a kamikaze spider crawling menacingly toward me. "Keep calm. You must keep calm." In an act of sheer and unadulterated bravery, I grabbed the aforementioned parking sticker, aimed, and smashed the little sucker against the dashboard, between the vent and the door. Just to be sure, I even smooshed and held it a little. He was not going to come after me anymore. When I was certain the little sucker couldn't even twitch anymore, I lifted the parking tag.

He was gone.

There were no spider guts on my blue parking tag.

The little beast had vanished.

Of course, I'm thinking, "HE'S ON THE FLOOR, AND ANY SECOND NOW HE WILL CRAWL UP THE INSIDE OF MY JEANS AND BITE ME ON THE BACK OF MY KNEE!"

"Keep calm. You must keep calm." I tried not to think too hard about all the funny sensations I now felt inside my jeans and outside my socks. Surely it was my imagination. I tried not to lift my leg up so high that I ran us off the road.

I seriously contemplated whether the sign that said, "Emergency pull off 500 feet" was a sign from God that I should get the heck off the road and find the little bastard. Then I thought that perhaps the Virginia police might not consider a spider on the floor of my car an actual emergency, even if I did.

With great bravery and dignity, and with tremendous powers of concentration, I convinved myself that the spider did not fall to the floor. No, instead he crawled back into whatever crevice on the dashboard he came from, and with any luck, he was now twisting aimlessly in the breeze inside the car's ventilation system. Woops. Poor choice. Now I was wondering if he would come blasting out of the heater vent and into my face. No ... no. He's gone. Gone back to the netherworld from whence he came.

I so thoroughly convinced myself of this that when I got out of the car, I even forgot to look for him, although I was still fighting off images of the nasty thing crawling inside my jeans.

He better not come near me again. Next time I really will get him -- magical powers or not!

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The Grammar Rent-A-Cops

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

Some days you get deep concentration from me on trivial subjects like shower curtains, fire, and bedsheets. Other days you just get randomness. Today, you drew the randomness card.

I've been waiting for inspiration to hit, so I can beguile you all with my tremendous wit and cleverness ... but I've got nothing.

Except, of course, the annoying grammar of that previous sentence. If you don't recognize what is bothersome with it, maybe you are from Pennsylvania where the license plates use to say -- for about 20 years -- "You've got a friend in Pennsylvania." Or, perhaps, AOL's "You've got mail" has corrupted you? I can hear some of your thoughts now. "What's wrong with that? My Microsoft grammar checker says it is just fine." If these are your thoughts, then I have a few questions for you. What is wrong with have? Why mess with a word that works just fine? Do you have something, or do you "have got" something?

Nonetheless, disembodied thoughts that I am eavesdropping on, you are right and I am "wrong" (so to speak). Technically, there is nothing incorrect about saying, "have got". To show that I am fair, you may check this link for confirmation (or Google it yourselves, 'cause that works too). You may have also noticed that I named the post "The Grammar Rent-A-Cops" because the actual grammar police were too busy shushing people who were yelling about their mute points to deal with my mere "annoyance".

I know, I know, what's the point in making distinctions in grammar that no one else makes? Why would I bother? Then again, I had an English teacher in high school in Pennsyvlania who invented her own grammar rules. True story. She invented a grammar concept called "technical passive voice." She wanted us to get rid of it in our writing. The problem was, there is no such thing as technical passive voice, and the sentences weren't just passive, they were wrong. Honestly, I was in college before anyone straightened me out. Here is an example. "The lawn needs mowed."

I'm not joking! This crazy woman actually told us that this was poor writing but good grammar because we were supposed to "pretend" the words "to be" were in front of the word "mowed" even though said words were nowhere to be seen.

This woman messed me up for years.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, considering that when I lived there, the farmers down the street still sometimes talked about wanting to "outen the lights" and occasionally decided to "throw the cow over the fence some hay" and we didn't think anything of it. My grandmother hung a sign in her kitchen that said, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get," and while I knew these words were made up/bad grammar, I still knew some people who said them like they were real/correct. (For any grammar cops keeping track, that last sentence is so odd because I was trying to write it without (1) using a "this" without putting a noun after it, or (2) ending a phrase with a preposition. This creation was the best I could do.) Similarly, many of the adults I met would say such enlightened things as, "Yous guys, come here!"

So, with all of this colloquialisms surrounding us, why am I still surprised?

Well, she was an English teacher, for one thing. One would hope she knew the rules of grammar and didn't feel compelled to invent any for her own personal use. I know if she were in my kitchen right now, she would be lambasting the torture that Twitter has wreaked upon the English language, and she would be lamenting the damage that text messaging has done to our collective ability to spell or to use full words instead of abbreviations.

And yet ... "the lawn needs mowed." The woman who would not tolerate, "Won't you come with," (a very common Dutchy-ism), would let us say, "My car needs washed." Our only saving grace was that we could say it ... we just couldn't write it, because she would allow no passive voice in her homework papers, and this bad grammar, my dear readers, was "technical passive voice." (I had to rewrite that sentence twice to get the passive voice out of it!)

Hmmm. Looks like I found something to write about after all. I wonder if my old English teacher will ever see this? If so, I guess I should admit to her (and you) that my typing stinks and I tend to gloss over my own spelling errors. Call me out on them if you'd like. That's okay with me.

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I Really Gave it a Good Try -- Really

>> Friday, November 20, 2009

So ... I was driving down the street one day ... in the spooky, spooky week of Hallowe'en ... when I was taken by frustration ... by the device they call Bluetooth ....

Okay, so it doesn't rhyme, and Hallowe'en was awhile ago, but I never claimed to be a very good poet (nor punctual in my blogs). Well, at least I never claimed to be a good poet since I was 12 years old, when I also claimed to want to be an artist, a dentist, an actor, and a writer when I grew up. At that time I thought I was a good poet. Please don't hold this admission against me.

Honestly, I feel like I've given this Bluetooth thing a really good try. I mean, I know I'm all Luddite-esque about new technology, but I totally get the need for Bluetooth. It goes along with "don't email and drive" that I mentioned in an older couple of posts that I'm too lazy to find the link to. Even better, the Bluetooth is built into my car, and I don't have to wear one of those nutty earpieces. So, I've been trying to adapt to this thing since I bought this car two years ago. Two years is a long time to give something a try, so I totally get credit for perserverance.

Well ... I need to confess that the only reason I have kept trying is because my crazy cellphone is a nag, and as soon as it gets in the car, it beeps at me every 3 or so minutes to ask me if I want to connect to the Bluetooth. Even if I say, "No," it asks again. If I actually use the phone without connecting, the beep becomes truly obnoxious in my ear and makes it impossible to hear my conversation. So, inevitably, I click, "yes" to get the d*&% thing to shut up already.

In the end, though, I have to choose between scylla and charybdis with this whole Bluetooth thing. (Do I get points for spelling "charybdis" without looking it up? Actually, no, because when I Googled it to be sure I had it right, I didn't, so no points for me. Go ahead. Check me.) If I don't use the Bluetooth, I get the annoying beep, plus I run the risk of breaking the law in certain jurisdictions.

If I do use the Bluetooth ... and the voice interface with my car (for what is the point of a hands free system if you still dial manually?), this is what happens:

CAR: Phone book. Please say, "Dial By Name," or "List Names."

ME: Dial by name.

CAR: Pardon?

ME: Dial by name.

CAR: Pardon?

ME: DIAL BY NAME.

CAR: Pardon?

ME: DYE-ALL BY NAAAAAMMMMEEEE.

CAR: Pardon?

ME: (muttering expletives very quietly lest Toddler repeat them back) Dial. By. Name.

CAR: Dial by name. Please state the name you wish to dial.

ME: Aunt Louise.

CAR: Oldest Sister. Please press "Off hook" to dial.

ME: Go back.

CAR: Pardon?

I could go on and on like this. It took me basically 10 minutes of trying before I finally gave up. Once or twice the darn thing actually managed to recognize that I wanted Aunt Louise, but when I pressed the "off hook" switch to dial, it said, "Dialing" and then promptly hung up on me. So after a ridiculously long time trying to talk to my car and probably not seeing enough of the road because of all the smoke coming out of my ears and filling the car, I picked up the cell phone and dialed the number from memory. I know better than to try the "dial by number" option in the Bluetooth. At least with "dial by name" the worst that can happen is I dial someone in my list that I didn't intend to call. If I "dial by number" I could get anyone at all in the world -- maybe even President Obama. I don't want to risk it. (Although, if I did get President Obama on the line, I would like to ask him why he keeps making visits to the shopping mall near my house rather than moving around the largesse -- I mean, it isn't as if we lacked for shopping malls to choose from around here.)

So, I decided to stop arguing with the Bluetooth for a few hours and drove on my way. On the way home, I thought perhaps it might be safe to try again. So I tried dialing by name to reach DH at home. This is what happened:

CAR: Please say a name or say, "List names".

ME: Darling Husband, Home

CAR: Darling Husband, Work

ME: Go back.

CAR: Please say a name.

ME: Darling Husband, Home

CAR: Darling Husband, Cell

And on, and on and on. Then I decided to try the "List Names" function. After a few moments, I remembered why I don't like that function, and there are many reasons. For one, I have to listen to my own voice, repeating all these names back over my car's speakers, in various stages of, "I sound stupid." Like this: (Loudly) AUNT LOUISE. (quietly and slowly) middle. sister. work. Another reason to hate this feature is that there is no order to the names except the order I chose to enter them (which was the order I could recall their numbers from memory). If the list ever is more than 10 names long, it would be unendurable. As it is, I have my old work voicemail from 2 years ago programmed into the car twice. Apparently the car can't tell if I use the same name twice, and I certainly can't figure out how to delete any of the entries. Trust me, a lot of those numbers are out of date now.

Once again, I ended up dialing manually, which defeats the entire purpose. Finally, when I do manage to connect, no one wants to talk to me because I sound like I'm in a tunnel and the time lag is annoying. (Double this when my mom calls me from her car with Bluetooth on my car with Bluetooth. I think space communications with the Shuttle takes less time. Or at least they anticipate the delay and work with it.)

So, what do you think? Have I given this the old college try, and am I justified in ripping out the dang thing and throwing it into the Anacostia River my next trip across the bridge? Oh ... but then I will be in DC and I will have to use my speaker phone on the cellphone if I don't want to break the law. Hmmm.

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Every Once in a While, Things Get Wonky

>> Thursday, November 19, 2009

Despite the best of plans and intentions, some days things just get a little mixed up.

Take this morning, for example. I was doing my hair, and I sprayed hairspray in my ear. Now, I don't mean a little bit of hairspray in the outer ear. I mean a huge, one in a million shot, straight down the ear canal to my brain. I couldn't do that again if I tried, and believe me I wouldn't want to. It is the weirdest feeling, and I don't think there is any way to get the hairspray back out. I'm wondering how this will play out.

However ... I digress. I was thinking when I had the inspiration for this post something a little more along the lines of something getting a little bit twisted up in childhood and staying permanently twisted for the rest of someone's life. No, no, not in the blaming-everything-on-your-parents-in-your-therapy-session kind of way, more like the everyone-is-looking-at-you-strangely-for-what-you-said/did-that-you-think-is-ordinary kind of way. These are the sorts of things that give OCD parents the heeby-jeebies, so get out your rulers and clorox wipes, because if that describes you, the post will bug you all day.

Let's give some examples. My grandmother apparently, somehow, learned the colors "blue" and "yellow" backwards. For the rest of her life, she had to think really hard about it and still said the wrong word sometimes. Can you imagine asking for the yellow pants and having a store clerk hand you the blue ones? How mixed up would you feel? Heck, it might even screw up your ability to match colors for the rest of your life. (Oh, dear, I just realized that might explain a lot about my grandmother's choice of clothing. Hmmm.)

Another member of my family, who shall remain nameless, cannot tell her left from her right. When she gives directions, I need to be very careful to pay attention to which way she is pointing while she talks rather than the words she uses. Very confusing sometimes.

The foibles I inherited from childhood so far seem to be of a much milder variety than the examples above. I used to think that "English" was a foreign language my sisters were learning in school that I would soon have to learn. (Depending on what part of the country I am visiting, sometimes I still think this.)

Slightly harder for me to overcome was the definition of the words, "couple" and "few". I honestly thought that a "couple of toys" meant a handful or so -- you know, an unspecified small number. I didn't think it meant two. So, for the longest time, when someone asked me to grab "a couple of" something, I always showed up with three or four. A "few" was just a few more than a "couple". Boy was I disappointed to finally learn that a couple really just meant "two" and no more. It really cramped my ability to take toys with me in the car, or to Show and Tell, or to buy in a store on my birthday ....

This morning, I was trying to teach Toddler to say, "Surprise" in anticipation of my mother's surprise retirement party. He was pretty good at that part. When I tried to get him to say, "Happy Retirement," well ... that came out pretty garbled. I gave up after a few tries and said, "Why don't you just say, 'Happy Birthday."

At that moment I wondered if perhaps I was creating one of those childhood confusions that would stay with him for a long time ... possibly forever. I couldn't figure out what it might be, but I still wondered. Maybe he would think he was only allowed to retire on his birthday? Or that when you retire, you forever have to celebrate your birthday on that day? I guess I'll find out in about 10 or more years when he tells me whether or not he still believes that the internet lives in the basement.

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Some of Life's Most Irritating Moments

>> Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I've been thinking about what irritates me the most in this world, and without a doubt, the worst offender is myself.

Don't you hate it when:

You put something down in a hurry and say to yourself, "I'll surely forget where I put that," and you do?

You put something in a very special place, promising yourself you will remember where you put it, and you don't?

You keep telling yourself that you won't miss that turn you always miss when coming home from Chick Fil-A, and the carphone rings and you miss it anyway?

You have all these great ideas for blog entries, and you forget them by the time you get to the computer?

The rain just won't let up, and mushrooms start to grow in your flower bed?

You develop this great system of writing notes for yourself about all these great ideas for blog entries, and you lose them?

You carefully snap your child's shirt/pants/whatever and get to the end and it doesn't line up, and when you start over and do it again, it still doesn't line up?

You finally find your notes on all these great ideas for blog entries, and you decide they all suck after all?

You feel compelled to tell yourself, "I told you so?"

You wish, too late, that you took "before" pictures of ... whatever it is you are working on?

You carefully measure the wrapping paper for the gift, and still somehow manage to cut it too small?

The cartoon characters have names that just don't quite add up? For example, why was Brother Bear (from the Bearnstein Bears) named "Brother" when he was the firstborn? Why does everyone else in every other Bear family in Bear Country have real names except his family, who are named, "Mamma," "Pappa," and "Sister"? Why was "Simba" in The Lion King named "Simba" when "Simba" means "Lion?" Why wasn't any other Lion named "Lion"?

When authors of blogs you read obviously have too much time on their hands that they can be bothered by cartoon character names?

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A Video Only A Mother Could Love

>> Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I love my cats. I really do. Of course I do, otherwise I would not be allowed to have the title "Crazy Cat Lady" that I am aspiring to obtain in my dotage. (Thirty-something women are not allowed to have that title, so I'm still waiting. By the time I'm old enough, the cats will probably all be gone, but, as my fellow blogger Cat Lady Larew has noted, you don't have to have a lot of cats (or any) to be a Crazy Cat Lady.) Every once in awhile, though, one of those furry creatures has a day or night that makes me wonder whether I should rethink this aspiration.

This time, the culprit was Big Black Cat. Normally, when Big Black Cat decides it is his turn to sleep on the bed, I'm relieved. Of all the three of them, he is the least problematic. He doesn't try to knead my arm in the middle of the night, nor does he try to sleep next to my head. Once his evening bath is done, he's a pretty stable kitty that doesn't bother anyone much. Last night, though, at about 3:30 in the morning, he decided he was hungry. Very hungry. My first clue was when he started climbing my chest and purring in my face. My second clue was when he started sucking on my finger like when he was a kitten newly weaned from the bottle.

So, like any long-time married spouse, I woke up the other half. "Did you feed the cats?"

"Yes," came the muffled reply.

"Did you fill the water dish?"

"Yes. Why?"

"Big Black Cat is starving."

"I'll go check the food dishes."

As it turns out, Big Black Cat was suffering from an old kittenhood problem. He either forgot where he left his food, or he just didn't want to go downstairs alone. I hate it when he does that. Of all the kittenhood habits, he had, this was the second most annoying. (The most annoying happened because of his kitten allergies. Multiple times a day, Little Black Cat would sneeze, but his kitten food was a touch too rich, and every time he sneezed he farted too. Woah, he was rough to be around before we got that fixed. I'm so glad that problem is gone.)

Personally, I think the problem all started with Houdini whispering from the hallway about fresh chicken hearts and liver or something, and waking up Big Black Cat, who then woke up me, who then woke up DH. Why? Because literally seconds after DH and Big Black Cat left the bed, Houdini hopped up and took Big Black Cats nice warm sleeping spot. He apparently didn't get to keep it, though, because when I woke up this morning, Big Black Cat was back and Houdini was nowhere to be seen.

Between Big Black Cat's hunger attack, and Toddler's early morning, "MOMMY! DADDY! I HAVE TO GO POTTY!" sleep was in short supply this morning.

Someday I will get Toddler back by showing all the pictures I posted about him to his prom date. He will then get me back by selecting my nursing home. It's the cycle of life.

I'm getting Big Black Cat back right now, though. Here is a video I snuck of him the other day trying to defend his house. This is the kind of video that only a cat mom can watch the whole way through. That isn't because it is totally boring ... it's just because I don't have any video software to cut it down to only the funny 20 second part that starts at about 30 seconds in. (Hint, hint for those of you inclined to buy me Christmas presents....)

Click below to view the video. If the video is too dark or the video isn't working, click on either the smaller picture below, or the link to see the video in Photobucket (this will open a new window, so you will have to click back to this one when you are done).

video

Photobucket

or
http://s299.photobucket.com/albums/mm289/KJKK8437/ItsAllGoodToday/?action=view&current=PA250035.flv

See, a few seconds of it were pretty funny. Imagine how much funnier it would have been if I had had editing software.

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A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

>> Monday, November 16, 2009

At church this Sunday, I collapsed in giggles before the service began. Walking up the aisle, everything was fine, but on our way into the pew, this happened:

Photobucket

I know, this picture isn't in church, it's my kitchen, but I don't carry cameras with me into church often, and I didn't have it handy. Thankfully the stunt repeated itself later that day.

Now, no, he's not pulling them down. Skinny butt (or "no hips" as Daddy calls him), is outgrowing his drawers in the leg, while they are outgrowing him in the waist. That first time, he didn't even seem to notice anything wrong (other than Mommy falling down in the pew in with a bad case of the silent laughters), but later on in the day he would come up to us and say, "Mommy, Daddy, pants fell doooowwwwwnnnn! Help, please."

Yep. A picture is worth 1000 words.

Thankfully this didn't happen during the Children's Service. Woah. Just think about that for a minute.

And just because I can't leave well enough alone, here is a picture of Toddler enjoying Homecoming at Penn State. It was an afternoon game, and it was a long day:

Photobucket

Don't you wish you could still do that?

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H1N1 Causes Potty Training

>> Friday, November 13, 2009

Yesterday our entire family got the H1N1 vaccination. With all the hype and hoopla about it, I decided to watch carefully for any unusual side effects. Might we soon cluck like a chicken or oink like a pig? Thankfully for me, I learned that Toddler is quite fond of oinking before we got the shot, otherwise I might be a little bit concerned.

I had some aches last night, and Toddler was pretty restless, but so far no one has started to turn any funny shades of any color. Starting about an hour after the shot, though, I started a pretty intense craving for ice cream. I am wondering if that is a side effect of the vaccination? And what am I going to do about it?

I figure I'd better hurry up and decide in case the "Establishment" decides to hire food police after all, because then I'll never be able to eat ice cream again, no matter how bad the craving and no matter what the cause -- vaccination or just randomness. You see ...

Techincally, I'm not supposed to eat any dairy products, because I get a funny allergic reaction (as in funny-odd, not funny ha-ha). But, hey, I've lived with this my entire life, and I didn't find out about it until I was 25. That's a lot of ice cream that didn't kill me or put me in the hospital. The way I figure, it's my decision whether the ice cream makes me feel so bad that it isn't worth it. Woops! There goes my independent streak again.

Moving on ...

I have to confess that we did notice something odd from Toddler today, and I'm forced to conclude it is related to the shot. As of yesterday, his reaction to the potty was anywhere from, agreeing to sit on it because we asked, and sometimes using it and sometimes not, on the one hand, and screaming, "NO POTTY! NO POTTY!" on the other hand. In no case did Toddler ever ask us if he could use the potty. Fastforward to this morning, and he wakes up especially early. DH and I played rock, paper, scissors to see who had to get up to try to put Toddler back to bed. DH lost.

As DH walked into Toddler's room, Toddler demanded, "DADDY! Potty, now!" (And not a second too soon, I think.) This has never happened before -- Toddler asking to go ... and needing to go no less! A successful, spontaneous potty attempt ... first thing in the morning after a sound sleep. And afterward, the child asks to go back to bed because he's tired. Huh?

Given the circumstances, I am forced to consider that potty training is a side effect of the H1N1 vaccine. We had two more successful attempts over the next 30 hours, each at our request, and not his. Don't worry, though. There were plenty of diapers to change in between, so no one felt deprived.

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Let's See

>> Thursday, November 12, 2009

Boy, do I lead an exciting life!

Oh, no. Wait. That's not right. I have myself confused with someone else today. Woops! Sorry.

Yep. Boring around here.

If you don't believe me, here are the highlights of the day so far:

I told Toddler to put something back, and he came and patted me on the back instead.

I did laundry. In fact, I'm still doing it. Yep. Once you get past the part about the socks getting lost in the interdimensional portal we call the dryer, there is nothing funny left to say about laundry.

I killed four spiders today, all of them in my kitchen, but none of them were the baby-eating kind, nor were they the "cricket" kind from a few weeks ago. Thank goodness for small favors. Yesterday Big Black Cat and Houdini did team up to catch another cricket-type jumping creature in the family room, but this one was much smaller and rather handily dispatched by them. DH discovered what they were toying with and had the enviable job of cleaning up the pieces. Yep. There is a limit to what my sensibilities want to deal with at the end of the day.

Toddler has a little friend "Bigger Toddler". Bigger Toddler's parents are going nuts because Bigger Toddler has entered into the "Why" phase. I am slightly jealous because if we were in the "Why" phase that would mean we would have graduated from the "Noooooo!!!!! NO!" phase. On the other hand, the "Why" phase has great annoyance potential, so Bigger Toddler' s mother has my sympathy. Some of her friends on Facebook were speculating how long it would be before she used the dreaded response, "Because I said so." I suggested to her that she use my sister's stock phrase, "That is not a 'Why' question," instead. Sure, my sister's answer is far less catchy, but it has the added benefit of not lighting the mother's tongue on fire when she says it.

Moving on to other forms of speaking, Toddler and I were covering the ground of animal sounds, as in, "What does a pig say?" I have no idea of how much he knows as a general rule, and he always surprises me. Today we got up to Sheep. What does a sheep say. His response? "Um ... wow?" Why yes! I heard a sheep say, "Wow" just last night in response to how fast DH fell asleep. Remarkable.

Earlier today DH and I both sheepishly confessed to one another that we have each nearly lost Toddler in the commode by forgetting to put the potty seat on, and we both felt some relief that we weren't alone in nearly sinking our only child butt first.

I did my impression of a crazy old fashioned woman by scrubbing the kitchen on my hands and knees. (Yes, again. I haven't learned a thing.) Even better, I scrubbed part of the dining room, too. Then I threatened to disown any member of my family that messed up either room, and I felt, oddly enough, like a sit com star when I said it.

Yep. Nothing interesting or funny going on around here.

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Sheets -- So Complicated?

>> Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a little while are well familiar with my periodic obsession with (and confusion by) ordinary objects in life. Yep. It's that time, and I'm at it again. Not too long ago we talked about shower curtains.

Today, it's bedsheets.

Wait. I heard that. Who groaned? And which one of you said, "There she goes again?" We already know that. I said that in the first paragraph! Today is one of those days where I lost my second cup of coffee under the Keurig Coffee Maker spigot because I forgot I made it, I have to clean the entire house for a football party, and I'm not in the mood for any backtalk.

I mean ... sheets. They are things you put on a bed to keep the mattress from getting all yucky. (That's a technical term.) Since this is a PG blog, no one is permitted to delve into the ideas of what might make a mattress yucky. We have all kinds of emails from people with nothing to do to speculate on things like that for us.

Waaaaayyyyy back at our wedding, DH and I received this really nice set of blue sheets. They came from JC Penney, and I vaguely remember registering for them because that is what the couple is supposed to do at a wedding. (Hey, I warned you. Step that mind awaaaayyyy from the gutter. Away. Back, back. I was referring to registering for domestic-type things the couple does not have and will not/can't afford to buy for themselves. This isn't a bachelor party, it's a blog.)

When I first got these blue sheets, I thought they were ... okay ... but they weren't quite what I thought the height of expensive sheet-dom should be. So, after awhile, I bought a set of satin sheets. Big mistake. See, I like to actually sleep in my bed, under actual covers. I prefer not to slide off the bed to sleep on top of the covers that slid off before me.

I do find satin sheets to be a great source of comic relief where the cats are concerned, though. Picture this: Big Black Cat, calmly strolling up to big bed, and casually jumping up to settle down for a quick snooze -- only to find the comforter sliding swiftly and mercilessly toward the other side of the bed and taking Big Black Cat with it. He digs in with all 10 claws, but by then it is far too late, and he is hanging off the side, taking the fitted sheet with him to lie in a pile of rapidly shedding fur and red satin on the floor.

Then there are the pillows with satin covers on the satin sheets. Picture this: Tired mamma gently moves the covers from atop the pillow and climbs into bed. Pillow shoots across the room and slides gently onto the floor. Mamma retrieves pillow and tries again. She lays down, every so carefully, and as her head hits the pillow, the pillow slips away again like a wet bar of soap in the shower, and her head hits the bed instead. At this point she usually chooses a nearby piece of laundry and scrunches it up to use as a pillow instead. After all, she is one tired mamma.

Needless to say, we only use those sheets once or twice a year when I forget how hard it is to sleep while hanging on for dear life.

So, we had silky-type sheets, then satin. We tried flannel, which is fabulous ... while it is new ... and winter. Otherwise they get all pilled up and are pretty warm for any month in Virginia that isn't January or February. In a normal house, these pills would be an excuse to ask for more sheets for Christmas, but in this house it's an opportunity for Entropy and Chaos to cause clutter. See, DH doesn't believe that pills are a reason to discard sheets. Only when they become so threadbare you can see through them do they become worthy of removal from the linen closet ... and onto the paint cloth pile in the laundry room. I don't know if I should mention that we haven't painted any room in this house since we moved in back in 2002. I'm not sure how many sets of sheets the laundry room pile can hold. Really.

As this struggle continued over the years, those original blue sheets really softened up in the wash, and now they are the most wonderful feeling sheets I have ever found. When they are on the bed, I feel like I'm truly royalty (in the modern sense, not the King Henry sense like my prior post). Of course, by this time, the sheets are getting pretty worn themselves, with a hole in one corner even. Uh oh.

So, one day, while walking through the mall, I saw a humongo (another techincal term) sale on Egyptian Cotton sheets. These have to be just as good as the silky-type ones, right? Of course, I buy a set. At that point I realize that I have the driest feet and most horrific fingernails and toenails on the planet. Every time I use those sheets, I feel, "scrape ... scrape". The two times we tried to use them, I went through a jar of hand and feet lotion each night, and it only worked for about 10 minutes before I would hear again, "scrape ... scrape." I think there is seldom such an awful feeling as one's own "rough" skin catching fibers in Egyptian Cotton sheets. Even cat fur is too rough, I think, for those sheets.

In this great, multi-year quest for the perfect set of sheets, I have come to the realization that much of sheet-dom is just odd. I mean, we cover the sheets with comforters and bedspreads, so the only thing we should really care about is how they feel, right? Then why are there so many colors and patterns to choose from? Why do we care if our sheets are blue, or red, or whether they have patterns of snowflakes or trees? Either the spread is on, or the lights are off and we are sleeping. (Okay, for those of you walking near the gutter again, maybe we aren't sleeping, but I doubt even then many of us are really thinking about the pattern on the sheets. If so, well ... that's more information than any of us really need to know about your life.)

Sheets ... more evidence in my growing observation that most things are absurd if you think about them long enough.

As it turns out, I had my perfect set of sheets all along, and they were my wedding sheets, but I don't know what kind they are, and I doubt that the brand name/type even exists after all these years.

Now what?

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More Things I Can't Believe I Ever Said or Heard

>> Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Way back in July, I posted a list of "Things I Can't Believe I Ever Said or Heard." Since then, the list has grown again, and I thought it was about time we revisited that topic. Of course, like every parent whose child is learning to talk, fully half of these involve Toddler. Feel free to skip every other one if you are strict about limiting exposure to the very young.

1. While in the car, one parent said to the other, "No, honey. I think Toddler said, 'dinner's hot' not, 'tater tot.'" The other parent responds, "Well, they sound the same."

2. Yelled from the bleachers at a Penn State game, "Ref, we ain't doing nothing they're not doing!" Wow, where did I get that grammar? I know better, but I said it anyway. If you think about it, correct grammar would sound muffled and wordy and wouldn't have carried to the field anyway, so that is my excuse.

3. While in the car on another occasion, one parent said to the other, "I can't tell if he is saying, 'me-ow, me-ow' or 'yum-my, yum-my,' can you?"

4. "As we are all gathering, let's gather." (Randomly overheard at the start of a meeting.)

5. During a football game, DH said, "Hey! Listen! Toddler is saying, "Run, run, run, pass." I responded, "No, honey, I think he said, "It's raining." DH responded, "Well, that does make a bit more sense."

6. "Cat, when the child says he's had enough hugs, you need to walk away." (This would be Houdini, of course.)

7. Mommy was driving Toddler around town one day doing errands, when she missed a turn. Mommy says, "Awwww." Toddler pipes up from the backseat, "Oh, dammit!" (Oh, dear! I guess I say that a lot more than I think. We need a pink blushing smilie face here.) Mommy promptly turned on the Toddler music CD and said nothing else for awhile.

8. Said by a husband to a wife, "I know I used to make fun of you for taking your pants off when you do aerobics, but it really does make it a whole lot easier." We'll protect their identities to save them too much pointing and snickering.

9. Said to Toddler, "Sweetie, please pick up Daddy and put him back on the table."

10. Overheard on ESPN, "The zebras had a rough time in Happy Valley this weekend."

I think I'll leave these last three to your imagination.

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Reclaiming My Territory

>> Monday, November 9, 2009

I've noticed that Murphy's Law takes things a little bit personally where my blogging is concerned. The more excited I am about my latest inspiration for a blog entry, the more spotty my internet connection becomes. Today, I had been saving 4, yes 4, ideas to type up, and of course my internet connection blows out completely for 4 hours.

It figures, right? On the bright side, at least I got my exercising done early today. On the other hand, I didn't get much else done that I had planned. I spent lots of time trying to fix the internet, you see.

Today, I was supposed to perform an exercise I call, "Reclaiming My House." I still have a few hours to get it done before dinnertime, and I might get a little bit further along in the process ... once I'm done talking at all of you, that is. (Then again, I could run and do something in between typing each sentence, and you wouldn't even know, would you?)

But ... enough of this silliness. What is involved in Reclaiming My House? Well, I decided a long time ago that there really should be different names for different kinds of of cleaning/straightening up. If we call it what we really mean to do, then (in my case at least), we will be far more likely to actually do it. When I was living in the dorms in college, I developed a task my roomate and I called, "Room Enlargement Exercises." We weren't cleaning up our stuff, we were making the room look bigger by getting all the crap out of the way. When you live in a ridiculously tiny space with another person, a clean countertop (not to mention laundry put away) can make the whole place look a lot bigger. As a side note, wall to wall carpeting helps, too.

When I was in law school, I created a little routine I called, "OCD Cleaning Therapy." Actually, I wanted to call it, "I Just Spent the Weekend In Someone's Really Messy House and I Am Pretty Grossed Out and Trying to Get Over It," but that got a bit long. The first time I had to engage in OCD Cleaning Therapy I actually scrubbed the bricks of my fireplace. Don't worry, that never happened again.

Now, I have the exercise of Reclaiming My House. This exercise can be triggered any number of different ways, but the most reliable cause is a family overnight trip. When we come back from ... say ... a weekend trip to watch the Penn State game, I find that our chaos footprint becomes almost exponentially large. Somehow our two overnight bags, cooler, and a small bag of toys expands to fill the entire trunk and backseat of the car, and by the time we come home, all of the things in the car take up the entire foyer of my house. That is problem number one.

Problem number two comes from us not taking all of the creatures that live in the house with us when we go. We leave behind the cats, or as I sometimes refer to them, Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3, unsupervised. Even better, we give them extra bowls of food (in special, timed cat food dishes that open at a preset hour) to bat around the kitchen floor. They track litter all over the place without anyone to stop and sweep, and they take those catnip mice and carry them all up to my bed. It's nice to be missed, I know.

Then, as soon as we get back, all the chaos lands in the front room of the house and spills over into the kitchen. In this particular case, the chaos came with lots of mud and grass from the weekend's soggy weather.

So, the day after we return, I have to go about a methodical process of pushing back the chaos to wherever it comes from and re-establishing my imprint. All of the "vacation" stuff needs to go back, the cats need to be reminded who really is boss (Toddler), and someone has to clean up all the mess.

At these moments I remember a rule my mother had ... which frankly drove me nuts. She used to insist that each of us unpack our suitcase before we went to bed the day we got home, provided we got home before midnight. I used to be so annoyed at this rule. I always thought the suitcase could wait until the next day, because what was the rush? After all, emptying the suitcase usually led to mother starting the laundry, which meant we all had to help fold and identify the clothes, and then put them away too. How was this a restful return to home, I used to wonder? One day I asked mom why we had to empty the suitcases out right away, and she said, "If you don't do it right away, it won't get done."

I didn't believe her.

I didn't impose that same rule on myself or my household.

I found out she was right.

Now, I haven't managed to impose a "same day" rule on the suitcase (because I'm the one who has to put away almost all of the stuff, and I'm the one doing the laundry these days), but I have imposed a 24 hour rule. Otherwise the suitcase will stay out until the next trip. I've tested this theory, and my mother was right. There is something about stuff inside suitcases that has incredible inertia and is very heavy to lift and put away. Very heavy.

In my defense, the suitcase is already taken care of today. It's just the mail, the coupons, the winter clothing, and all the other things outside the suitcase that grew in the trunk of the car while we were travelling that I need to identify and sort. These things, too, have tremendous inertia. In fact, I think they are taking root in the entranceway. Their inertia was so great, in fact, that I diverted myself by engaging in Room Enlargement Exercises by rearranging Toddler's toys in the family room.

Tomorrow, inertia will return to it's normal levels. I hope.

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A New Look on an Old Profession? Maybe?

>> Friday, November 6, 2009

Yesterday I was flipping through Facebook's Networked Blogs application, examining some of the blogs that Networked Blogs thinks might be similar to mine.

I found this pretty interesting post written by a woman who claims to offer instruction on "How to be a Cat Lady Without the Cats." Since I am well on the way to becoming a crazy cat lady myself (with the cats, of course), I was intrigued and took a look, and sure enough, she spoke to me. (Yes, she knew about me and was writing a post JUST TO ME! Well, not really.)

CatLadyLarew has a theory that all humor bloggers are really just massive attention seekers, and that is why we write blogs. Or, to paraphrase her real idea in squeaky clean language, we are all practicing the world's oldest profession over the internet -- blogger style -- without any of the visuals or erotic language. I encourage you to take a look and get a chuckle. You can find the post at:

http://networkedblogs.com/p15009490 or

http://howtobecomeacatladywithoutthecats.blogspot.com/2009/10/was-it-something-i-said.html

I have to admit, CatLadyLarew has confessed something I have been embarrased to admit out loud. I publish my blog and link it in Facebook because I want you to read it. If I were just writing solely to please myself, I would have written it in a diary or in my head and left it at that. But, no ... I want to know I made you chuckle today. (If I didn't, feel free to keep your opinions to yourself, if you'd like. (grin)) Come to think of it, I think lots and lots of my friends on Facebook are little mini-narcissists themselves. After all, we put up status updates about ourselves ... why? So people will read them. If we didn't want the attention, we would ... not be posting status updates for one thing. We would all just still be emailing.

So, thanks to all of you who follow me, post comments, and read regularly. You are a salve to my exposed ego and you help me stay brave. Thanks, too, to those great masses of you who don't formally "follow," who don't post comments, but still read. At least, I like to think you are out there and not fig newtons on the dessert tray of my imagination. (Hey, it's a house with small children. We do fig newtons, not creme brulee -- much less messy.)

Thanks, too, to CatLadyLarew for busting us all.

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Is The Election Over Yet?

>> Thursday, November 5, 2009

I know that election day was two days ago, but I've been afraid to peek my head out from behind the curtains too much in case there were still lingering emboldened (or embittered) campaign workers lurking just beyond my threshold.

I haven't answered the phone in weeks, either. I'm still apprehensive that this-or-that potential Senator/Governor/Delegate's spouse/brother/ sister/daughter/pet dog will be calling me to tell me to go out and vote for his or her spouse, brother, sister, parent, or cat housekeeper. I mean ... wow. Just wow. That election was something. I think I really hate living in a hotly contested state. In the days leading up to it, I was getting between 3 and 5 phonecalls an afternoon. Most of them were recorded, but one I think was live. It was really, really hard to tell. Actually, I think 2 were live, but I hung up on the first one. The second one gave himself away a bit by stammering just a touch in the beginning. Then his monotone came on really strong. Since I suspected he might be a real person and not an audio recording, I listened, quietly. When he got to the end of his script, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to applaud, or state my intentions, thank him (not likely) or just say goodbye. So, there was this awkward silence that he finally broke by saying, "Um, okay. Bye."

As I approached the polls on election morning, there were swarming election workers buzzing around ready to dive at me with draft ballots (which aren't allowed in the polling booth, by the way). My response? "I'm saturated. Go away." The guy I said that to looked at me very strangely. I'm not sure he knew what "saturated" meant. As I kept walking, some super perfect mom-type buzzed over, with her hand outstretched and more colored paper for me. Again, I shook my head. "Too much." She nodded sympathetically for a moment, but as I kept walking, she shouted after me, "Please vote for ____________ for School Board. She's the only candidate endORSED BY PARENTS!!!" (She had to raise her voice against my retreating back.)

Okay, well, maybe that last part was something I needed to know. That school board stuff. Woops. Believe me, I was not going to turn around and descend into that melee again.

On the way out I managed to dodge the exit poller, I think in large part because I had Toddler and DH with me, and we just look really intimidating, I think ... or like the Marx Brothers maybe -- to0 hard to take seriously enough to bother polling. I'm not sure.

I made sure I wore my "I voted" sticker, just in case I got accosted on the streets of our town and kidnapped and sent to the polls. As it was, I felt beady eyes piercing me as I drove about my errands. The local church had a big sign ordering us all to go and vote, as did various banners throughout town. It was all a bit much, and I was relieved to get home.

Once again, however, I managed to underestimate the fanatacism of our local campaign staffers. I got home at about noon, and I received no less than four phonecalls before 3 pm instructing me to get out and vote today. If I hadn't hung up, I think one of them was probably going to offer to come and escort me. Aaaahhh, no. No. And no again.

Have I mentioned that I detest living in a hotly contested state around election time?

Now, two days later, I am wondering where all the campaign workers have gone. Did their families welcome them back with open arms, or are they just lurking out there on the streets looking for something to do? Will I see them with sandwich boards on their shoulders and signs that say, "Will campaign for food?" I mean, with all that effort last week and the week before, and the month before, and the six months before that, can you really turn it off that quickly? I fear not. I really do.

You tell me ... is it safe to go out yet?

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The Silence Is Deafening

>> Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Okay, okay, okay (Toddler says I say that a lot -- or at least, I say it sometimes, and Toddler says it a lot). I am getting the message.

You don't like the football posts. The response to my attempts at sporty Wednesday humor has been underwhelming, and for those of you that have responded (all three of you), your comments have not been what a good humor blogger wants to hear. ""You have to really be into football to follow them." "Not as funny as the rest." And, the best one of all, from DH, "It's fine, honey." That last one is the kiss of death -- the blogger's version of "Yes, Dear," the sentence that simply means, "If I say something affirmative, will you be quiet and go away?"

Ugh.

So, just to show that I am reasonable, this will be the last officially scheduled Wednesday Football Wrap Up. From now on, you can tune in on Wednesdays with the same uncertainty as any other day. The catch is that I reserve the right to sneak in football jokes and the occasional monologue without warning, and you'll have to live with it.

Fair enough?

Seriously -- I hope you like the change. I agree that my passion for football makes me think I'm more entertaining then anyone who doesn't share my brain thinks I am. I further agree that most of you probably don't salivate over football like I do (although at least 3 of you do). At least this way I don't have to figure out how to hold a space for the Wednesday post. Nor do I have to keep waking DH up for College Game Day Final saying, "Here. I fixed it again. Read it and tell me if its better or worse."

As for my ego ... it, too, will survive.

And, for the record, in case you were all tuned out and not paying attention: WE ARE........

PENN STATE!!!!!!!!

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You Can't Write a Sit-Com Like This

>> Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Today was "one of those days." Honestly, I was the woman everyone felt sorry for every place I went today. This was one of those days why, "If you don't laugh, you'll probably cry," was invented. And, no, Mama never said there'd be days like this, but she should have. Then again, I probably should have guessed.

For starters, DH had to go to work before Toddler finished his breakfast this morning. Breakfast is DH and Toddler's special time together, so Toddler seriously objected. Seriously. Objected. With shoving. And shouting. Eventually hunger won out, and he inhaled his yogurt. I'm not sure if he ate it or drank it, it was gone so fast.

Then, in spectacular craptastic fashion, we had an appointment with a new doctor today. While I would generally say that my child is (reasonably, typically) well behaved in public, he gets a little bit ... unpredictable? in places where there are too many people wearing scrubs. I mean, hey, come after anyone with enough needles and they have the potential to go postal with no notice. Why should Toddler be any different? Just because I want him to be? Right.

On days like this, I'm never sure which facet of "troublemaker" will emerge -- will he be crying boy? shrieking boy? anxious boy clinging to my leg? boy that wants to use the entire hand sanitizer while mommy and doctor are trying to talk? boy that wants to write on doctor's file or prescription pad? What form of defense will I need to use? How will I handle his brand new refusal to remove his coat indoors? If I push the issue, and he screams and has a fit, what will all the other moms think of me?

Well, in the waiting room everything went well for a good long while. We brought Mickey Mouse along and were playing quietly. Then Toddler got a little silly and started walking in circles around the chairs over and over and over, quietly and well-behaved, sure, and dizzying for me to watch. So, I made the mistake of thinking it would be safe to open my book. Bad choice.

Because ... at that moment, Toddler went around my chair ... and didn't come back. I looked up and found him behind me at the registration desk climbing into the chair we were sitting in to check him in. I don't know what he thought he was doing ... un-registering himself from the appointment list, possibly?

Of course, this is not acceptable, so I had to go get him and tell him to "get down and come back." He thought I was kidding. Nope. Tantrum ensues. Again. We aren't even at lunch yet.

Well, since he was already mad, I decided to confront him on that, "I won't take my coat off" issue I mentioned earlier. This action on my part invoked peak screaming from Toddler, which then prompted me to say such inspired things as, "No. That's enough. Mommy's getting really annoyed right now," (all the polite things you say in public when you are embarrased at your kid's behavior and getting really angry -- not annoyed). Thankfully, at that beautiful shining moment of graceful and successful parenting, the nurse comes out and calls our name.

I picked up the coats, our bag, and said, "C'mon. That's us. It's your turn, and everyone here in the room is glad of it." Well, the room laughed (whew), but Toddler was unimpressed. So, end scene with an exit stage right, with much kicking and screaming, Mom carrying Toddler, a diaper bag, his coat, my coat, and Mickey Mouse.

The nurse was one of those people that make you just wonder. She had a fairly blank look on her face, like life has been hard, and she is too detached from the anxiety and stresses of parents and children in a children's hospital to even notice anymore. Either that or she just isn't all that observant. Hard to tell. Anyway, we walked down the hall, with Toddler literally hollering directly into my ear and things falling periodically from my arms and bruises growing on my thights. She continues moving, calling over her shoulder something I can't possibly hear. With great restraint, I manage to say, "I'm sorry, but with him right in my ear, I just can't hear you. She turns around, pauses for a second, then returns walking, saying the same questions again over her shoulder, in the same pitch.

Okay ... that happened. Now what? Apparently this is a test of my psychic skills. What do nurses usually ask parents when they escort them back to the room? Oh, yes. They confirm last name and birthday. I take a shot in the dark and give her that information. Either I'm brilliant, and she is satisfied, or I'm just looking a little bit more like a clueless idiot than I do with a screaming child yelling, "COAT ON! COAT ON!" in a room at least 80 degrees cool. I suppose I got it right, because she didn't say another word. Then again, maybe she just gave up. Or maybe she decided she didn't care. Hard to tell.

It didn't take the doctor long at all to arrive, but by the time he did, Toddler had reversed his mood with lightning efficiency and had switched to being giddy, and giggling, and engaging in violent hugging. After all the climbing and wicked hugs and jumping Toddler was doing, I'm not sure whether that helped my case or hurt it when the doctor asked me why Toddler had a big shiner on his face. I told the truth. We went to a hotel room, he fell out of bed and met the table with his face on the way down. I mean, is there a good way to answer that question? It's the truth, but does it keep the child abuse investigators away, or does it make me look even more like Parent of the Year?

For the most part, I have to think the visit was a general success. I mean, Toddler was giggling and not screaming, so I can't look like the worst parent in the world, right? As a treat, we went to use some coupons at Chick Fil-A down the street. Toddler was great, still laughing and giggling even through the rain until we got inside, at which time he promptly stood by the door and screamed he wanted to go back outside.

By then I was getting whiplash from the reversals. Once again, I tried my "public parent" coaxing routine, which worked about as well as it did an hour before. Unlike Nurse Blankface at the office, though, here there was a restaurant employee who wanted to try to help. Unfortunately, this made it all the worse. At the point where I am trying to figure out whether to drag him to the counter, to slink out in shame, or to just sell him to the nearest passerby, a random stranger decides to start a conversation. Oh, great. Just what I want right now. He looked over at me and said, "He's two, isn't he?" I nodded, and he said, "Yes, I can see that. All he seems to want to say is, "No!"

Okay, maybe this isn't a hostile crowd. This could work.

Again, with an unpredictable U-turn, Toddler cheers up, starts playing, and even apologizes to the nice employee he was so mean to by saying, "I'm sorry, Nice Lady. Bye, bye!" I almost thought that we didn't have to do carry-out anymore, but I wasn't going to be suckered in. We left anyway. I'm not that stupid.

Then, finally, we went home. Toddler once again did his impersonation of a human vacuum cleaner and sucked up lunch like I was starving him. Then he blissfully took a nap. Great, right?

Wrong.

He woke up worse.

He was mad at everything, ate a bag of chips, and yelled at all his toys for not playing well with him. I am not making this up.

In one brief, shining moment of good humor, he brought out some blocks and tried to play blocks with Houdini. Once again it occurred to me that perhaps I should find Toddler some more friends. Human friends. Houdini declined to play, and Toddler went back to creating havock.

DH came home, and things didn't really improve much, so we concluded that for mutual sanity and survival of the family, Toddler needed to get a bath and go to bed. Immediately.

We were hoping he would go quietly into the good night, like he did at nap time, but alas it was not to be. The day ended with the plaintive sounds of Toddler over the baby monitor whimpering, "No night night! No night night!"

Whew. We survived. Barely.

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How Many Times ... A Physics Wrap Up

>> Monday, November 2, 2009

Last week we counted how many times I proposed a money-making scheme in the history of my blog.

This week I thought it would be entertaining to see how many times I discuss some oddity of physics. (Don't worry ... I won't be doing this flashback time of post every week. It's way too hard to go back and find these links again.)

1. This post introduces the gremlins, In "Water in Lake Erie and Soap in a Soapdish"  I first introduce the gremlins that follow me around and take my things. In "They Are At It Again" I imply that the gremlins are part of an alternate dimension.

2. Of course, entropy and chaos, my archenemies, are also concepts in physics. In "My Battle Against the Forces of Entropy and Chaos"  my battle begins.

3. (I know this one appears in last week's retrospective, but it's worth repeating.) In "What Do You Mean, 'Challenging'?"  I speculate on how to build a trap to prevent socks from disappearing in the dryer. This may not sound exactly like a physics issue, but it is, as Erma Bombeck first theorized. She suspected dryers of being portals from one home to another, transporting socks from one family to another. I also discuss the amazing power of coffee cups to multiply in the cupboards. That has to be a mystery of science waiting to be solved.

4. Then we have the ever popular, "Some Things Just Shouldn't Change" post, (which also featured in last week's recap), where we discuss planets, Pluto, and the Kuiper Belt, all of which are concepts in astrophysics.

5. In "What If?" I ask questions about the multiverse and Schrodinger's cat. You can't get much more "physics" than that. (Hey, it isn't all about falling ladders, you know.)

6. The Science Channel hosts all sorts of documentaries about science topics, and I mention one of them, and their scientific host, in "There Might Be a Conspiracy." 

7. I discuss the interdimensional portal that goes with Tupperware in, "It's More Than Unmatched Socks."

8. Toddler's contact with potential wavelengths from some unknown place appear in "Whose Been Teaching My Kid?"

9. Of course, just recently, I revealed my theory on how soda cans are actually "Mini Warps in Space/Time."

I think that brings us current. Apparently I like to blame my life on random quirks of quarks.

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