It's Still Wednesday, Right? -- Wordless Wednesday

>> Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I think she's trying to tell us something.



The 12 Days of Christmas Like You've Never Seen Them

>> Friday, December 17, 2010

A few weeks ago, I went a bit nuts again, and decided it was time that my bloggy-friends and I all blogged on the same topic again.  This time, though, I was going to make sure to pin the blame (and the job of hosting the challenge) on another blogger.  If the plan is a resounding success, of course I will produce my emails and chat sessions and claim lots of credit.  If the plan bombs ... well ... it's on @jterziett's page, not mine, right?

But, seriously (if that is even possible), please check out Juliette's blog, where she is writing her version of The 12 Days of Christmas, and where several (hopefully lots) of our fellow bloggers will be posting their links about their version of The 12 Days of Christmas.

In the meantime, I give you MY version of The 12 Days of Christmas.  Pay attention.  You might learn something you didn't know before.

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two trees to decorate
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,

And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.]

On the fifth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the sixth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.
On the seventh day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the eight day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Eight singing Christmas toys,
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the ninth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
My car in the shop,

Eight singing Christmas toys,
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the tenth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
A ten-hour sleep deficit,
My car in the shop,
Eight singing Christmas toys,
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
A school plague of pink eye,
A ten-hour sleep deficit,
My car in the shop,
Eight singing Christmas toys,
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.

On the twelfth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Twelve rooms to clean,
A school plague of pink eye,
A ten-hour sleep deficit,
My car in the shop,
Eight singing Christmas toys,
A freaky Thursday snowstorm,
Six broken ornaments,
A baby due in spring,
Forty people to shop for,
Three anxious cats,
Two trees to decorate,
And a hyperactive 3 year old boy.


And How Was Your Week?

>> Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello, how are you this week?  What have you been up to? 

Me?  My week has been ... well... I don't know how best to explain it.  I think you might get the best idea of how things have been if I give you some excerpts of some sentences we heard around our house recently.

1.  "Mommy, I kissed Sydney on the cheek at school, and Sydney kissed me on the cheek too." [Mommy promptly faints.  I am too young for this.]

2.  "Two person destruction team for sale, very cheap - one is 37 and tall enough to get the high stuff, and one is 3 and tough enough roll over everything. They can work in tandem or tag team. This is a once in a lifetime deal. Get it while you can."

3.  "The weather stripping on the front driver's side door of the car fell off.  No, really, it fell off almost completely."

4.  "Ma'am, your mud flap has fallen off and is caught on your tire.  We fixed it, no problem, but while we had the car jacked up, we noticed your shocks are leaking.  You'll have to take that to the dealership."

5.  Parent:  "Honey, what do you want for dinner?"  Child:  "Chocolate."  Parent:  "Chocolate milk?"  Child:  "No.  Chocolate."

6.  "Did we get him the root beer maker as a Christmas gift before, or not?  I just can't remember."

7.  "KFC is no longer serving the Twister sandwich.  In fact, the only sandwich they still have is that gross double-whatsit.  My life is ruined."

8.  "Don't worry.  I know where it is.  I don't need the address."

9.  "Woops.  It says it's Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys, but it's some stupid 2001 version about a toy taker.  These things should have a warning label."

10.  "Oh, good Lord, those markers had BETTER be washable."

11.  Parent:  "Why are there stickers stuck inside your sneakers?"  Child:  "Because that's where they go."

12.  Child:  "Mommy, I can't find what it is I am looking for."  Parent:  "What are you looking for?"  Child:  "I'm looking for another thing."  Parent:  "?????"

I think that about sums up everything about as well as anything.


Holiday Don't Wish List

>> Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's the holiday time again.  I love December.  I can sing "Jingle Bells" without anyone thinking I'm singing an Elmo song, and the entire world cloaks itself in bright, festive colors.  Thanksgiving is great, don't get me wrong, but Christmas has Thanksgiving beat up one side and down the other when it comes to decorations.  I mean, brown, orange, and gloomy fall colors when you can have flaming red and crayola crayon green?  Is that really even a choice?

Of course, Christmas season means gift giving, and gift giving means ... lists.

I have a love-hate relationship with lists -- mostly hate.

You see, I like surprises.  I would much rather have someone buy me something they think I will like and be surprised then buy something I know I will like and have no surprises.  On the other hand, some people get too worked up about getting the "right" gift, and I'd like to de-stress them.  After all, if I don't mind taking something back and exchanging it, why should they?  It isn't like it's a personal failure, although some people take it that way.  People are different, and trust me, if someone is having a tough time buying me the "right" gift, then chances are I am having the same problem with them.  Things like to work out that way.

As far as me buying from a list ... I'll admit, I seldom do it.  I sometimes use a list to fill out a Christmas or birthday offering, and sometimes I use it to get launching off ideas, but I do try to venture out on my own when I can.  (Some years it doesn't work, and I have to list-shop.)  Why do I do this?  Well, I figure if I like surprises, then everyone else will too.  I know the theory is flawed, but it's all I have.

When it comes to what is on my list, well ... I have trouble remembering what I want when the time comes to sit down and write it.  Each year I think to myself how much easier it would be if I just wrote an "I Don't Want" list.  (Seriously, I did that once, on my baby registry for Bubba.  In the top, in a big note, I wrote, "Please, no Precious Moments toys or decorations for the baby."  I'm sorry to say that not everyone listened.)  The reasons I don't write a "Don't Want" list are simple:  1.  Someone is bound to ignore it (see prior sentence), and 2. These kinds of lists make me sound bitchy and high maintenance.  (Can I say "bitchy" in this blog and still be considered PG?  Hmmm.)

If I were to write a "Don't Want" list, I think it would probably read something like this:

1.  I seldom wear pink.  There is a reason for this.  I only like one shade of pink, and it's hard to find.  All other shades of pink I wear out of necessity.  For example, when a woman borrow's maternity clothes, she cannot return all things pink and be considered polite.  Also, there are only so many different colors of silk blouse "shells" to wear under suitcoats without running into a pinkish color.  Thus, to minimize returns, pink is a color I would advise avoiding.

2.  I wear yellow even less than I wear pink.  I do this because I have only ever found one yellow shirt in my entire life that didn't make people want to rush me to the emergency room as soon as I tried it on.  I bought it for the sheer novelty.  Unlike most shades of pink, I actually like yellow.  Yellow does not like me, though.

3.  I hate beige and wear it only when the only other choice is nakedness.  Beige looks quite bad on me, and I do much better in white, even thugh white attracts stains like a kid with chocolate.  In fact, I despise beige so much that every time I move into a new house, I paint all the realtor-beige walls bright white.  I think the place always looks much larger that way, but my real estate agent friends universally cringe when they hear me say this.

4.  Precious Moments statues with their big, sad eyes give me nightmares.  I know they are supposed to look "cute," but I think they often look like a kid whose parent just died.

5.  Romance novels are predictable, murder novels are gruesome, and most lawyer novels are just plain wrong.  All other books, fiction or nonfiction, are warmly welcomed.

6.  Contrary to popular belief, I love getting clothes for Christmas, so long as that isn't all I get.  I'm a tough fit, and I seem to be no particular size, so a return is almost always required, but I can't fairly call clothes a "Don't Wish" item.  (I guess that means that technically I shouldn't mention it on this list, but hey, it's my blog.)

7.  I have all the cooking implements any human could ever want, unless you happen to be Emeril or Rachel Ray (and I, clearly, am not).  Unless a particular kitchen cooking tool appears on my "Wish List," then you should consider it to be on my "Don't Wish" list.  This restriction does not apply to hand towels or dish towels.  No family with children can ever have enough of these.

8.  I don't generally "do" floral prints.  Poinsettias are the great exception to this rule. 

9.  I LOVE Christmas decorations.  I may have mentioned that already.  I have a catch, though.  I like my Christmas decorations (and wrapping paper, for that matter), to look realistic, not cartoonish.  Clowns are not Christmas, and Santa's head is not shaped like a conehead.

10.  Last, but not least, I DO NOT WISH ... anyone to take this list too seriously and get all worked up over Christmas gift-buying.  And yet, I am absolutely certain someone will print out this blog post and take it to the store with them to make sure they don't make a mistake.  I'm just not sure who it will be.

Of course, now that I've printed this post, I am expecting a special delivery from my sister (or possibly my friend in southeastern PA, or quite likely several of my special needs moms with twisted senses of humor), containing a beige sweater with pink and yellow flowers on the front and a big old glow-in-the-dark Precious Moments figurine for my bedroom.  Of course, they will send it without the receipt just for spite.


Dear Allergies,

>> Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Allergies,

The time has come for you and I to have a little talk.  I know you live here from time to time, and there is little I can do about it, because you made your rent deal with a landlord with more clout than me, but I think the time has come to lay some ground rules.

To begin with, as a guest in this house, we would prefer if you would let us know when you plan to arrive before you actually do.  These sudden appearances in the middle of the night, waking me up, have got to stop.  Plus, when you decide to take off for a few days, we would appreciate knowing when you will be returning.  For example, last week you disappeared for a few days.  Now, of course, where you went and what you were doing is none of my business, and I am the last one to try say you aren't allowed to go anywhere.  But, given how close we are to the holidays, you can understand how I thought you would be gone for a lot longer than 3 days.  I thought maybe you went home to see your mother, or maybe went on a holiday cruise, or went to visit some relatives, or were doing any of a number of typical holiday things.  I really didn't expect you to reappear last Saturday afternoon during the football game, bursting through the door and disrupting everything like we should have known you were coming.  Yes, we were having a little bit of a football gathering with some family, and no, I didn't have enough food for you.  I had no idea you were coming.

Second, we are becoming aware that there are some things in this house that seem to set you off, and this year is worse than most.  We would appreciate if, instead of throwing a temper tantrum, upsetting everyone's day, and making me, Bubba, and Houdini the Cat sniffle and cry, you would just tell us what is bothering you.  Maybe we can avoid the situation in the future.

Third, just because you live here does not mean you are welcome to accompany us everywhere we go.  For example, I really don't want to pay for your admission to the wine festival, and my friends and family, really are never very pleased when you show up in the car with us when we go to their house.  After all, they don't know when to buy food for you, and (I know you may find this upsetting), they think you are kinda gross.

Fourth, and possibly the most important, there are some times when you are simply not welcome, and your being here is just not acceptable.  When anyone in the house is sick, you really should just take yourself somewhere else.  Hanging around throwing fits while someone is sick is really just the height of self-centered rudeness.  This kind of attention-seeking behavior has got to stop.

Fifth, please clean up after yourself.  Of all the people that live in this house, even temporarily, you are the messiest.  You smear goop all over Toddler's face and don't help him wash it off.  You tickle Houdini and make him sneeze, without any consideration about wiping up all that stuff flying around, hardening on the walls and the cat bed.  You leave tissues all over the house.  Don't even get me started about that tuna incident with Toddler last summer.  I should not have had to do all that laundry by myself. 

And, that tuna-incident reminds me of my next concern.  If you intend to experiment with new things that used to work just fine, like tuna casserole in Toddler's stomach, I think I deserve a warning.  I mean, if we do what we always did, we expect what we always got.  If you start messing with the fundamental building blocks without letting us know, I think you are almost certainly violating some FDA regulations about experimenting on unknowing and unwilling subjects.  In any respect, it's really very poor sportsmanship.

I really don't think these ground rules are too much to ask in any house guest.  I trust you will give these items your sincere consideration, because I believe I am bending over backwards to be fair here.  I would appreciate the same consideration.




Tips On How To Be A Successful Blogger

>> Monday, November 22, 2010

(I seem to be in a bit of a "top 10" (ish) mode lately.  I know, you probably prefer a little variety, but it was either this post, or more silence for a few days, so you'll just have to deal with it, or skip on to the next blogger you like to read.  Your choice.)

After another hilarious week in the "It's All Good" House, resulting in lots of laughter and absolutely no blogging, I decided to sit down and analyze my problem.  (With blogging.  My problem with blogging.)  I used to be the blogger that posted every Monday through Friday, for nearly an entire year.  Then I went and got myself sick with that old gall bladder nastiness, had a few minor surgeries, took a trip out of the country (and here, and here), survived Bubba starting school, took a trip out of town (and here, and here), got a cold that wouldn't quit, and I've never managed to get back on the ball in quite the same way.

What the heck happened?  I lost my momentum, that is what happened.  A blogger in typing mode will tend to stay in typing mode, but a blogger on vacation ....  So, while trying to get back up on the proverbial horse, and actually stay there, I analyzed some of the biggest obstacles in achieving my blogging-momentum.  The result of all this deliberating is this list I have created for you:  my own special tips on how to be a successful blogger.  (In other words, don't do what I do if you want to succeed.)

If you want to be a successful blogger:

1.  Avoid Facebook like the plague.  If you absolutely must join Facebook's Networked Blogs because, well, you feel a blog is not worthwhile without a few followers that haven't known you since you were two, then be absolutely sure you are never suckered into playing Farmville or Frontierville.  These games will implode your day before you realize it.

2.  Don't raise children.  That will provide you with endless fodder, for sure, but it, too, will suck up all the time in your day and all the energy you need to actually type a blog post.  Instead, borrow children periodically from your friends and neighbors.  They will love to share.  Trust me.

3.  Keep a tablet by your bedside table for all those fabulous ideas you have in the middle of the night.  No matter how much you think you will remember them in the morning, you won't, and no one will ever believe you had them.

4.  Avoid answering the phone when people call.  Time spent chatting on the phone is time you could spend blogging.

5.  Have a big extended family and an network of friends that goes back ages.  These types of friends and family are more likely to elect to "follow" your blog publicly and to comment every so often so that you feel like you aren't talking to yourself.  (Note that keeping in touch with these people might actually require you to break rule number 1 or rule number 4.)  If you have such a network, and they don't volunteer to help you, feel free to threaten them with sharing old family or playground secrets in your blog.  Either they will follow you to shut you up (or see if you are serious), or they will call your bluff because you aren't a popular enough blogger for them to worry about their secrets.  Regardless, you win.

6.  Make friends with lots of other bloggers.  Be sure to "follow" their blogs.  Don't actually read them, though.  There are so many talented and worthwhile blogs out there that you will spend all your valuable time reading them and forgetting about yours.

7.  Don't read your email, or spend anytime actually reading anything on Twitter, for the same reason as #6.  How you will actually "make friends" with other bloggers without reading their blogs or chatting with them on Twitter is an issue I haven't managed to solve yet.

8.  Have pets.  They make great blog fodder. 

9.  Have another family member in charge of actually caring for the pets you obtain pursuant to #8.

10.  Carry a camera with you at all times, so if you start to falter, you will always have a stock of "Wordless Wednesday" photos in reserve.

And there you have it. 


How to Ruin a Roll of Toilet Paper and Confuse Your Wife At The Same Time

>> Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How does one ruin a roll of toilet paper?  There aren't that many ways to totally destroy the thing.  Even a viscious attack by a hunting domestic feline really only spoils the first inch or so.  In most disasters, at least a small part of the toilet paper will be salvageable.  Only two methods really qualify as "total destruction":  Fire, and a whole lot of water.  (Technically, dropping the roll down a latrine makes it "gone" but not "totally ruined."  Totally gross maybe, but not ruined.)

For the adventuresome husband, boyfriend, or significant other parenting figure, here are a few steps you can take to totally ruin a roll of toilet paper and simultaneously confuse the heck out of your wife/girlfriend/significant other parenting figure.  (For this exercise, small children are helpful.  In their absence, you can attempt to modify the steps to accomodate small furry pets.)

Step One:  Place child on toilet seat for pre-bath "potty break" in full reach of full roll of toilet paper.  Make sure toilet paper is off the spindle.  In fact, if you can, arrange to have the spindle completely broken so there is no question about *why* said toilet paper is not on the spindle.

Step Two:  Turn your back on child while child picks up toilet paper and hides it behind his back.

Step Three:  Lift child into bathtub, conveniently not noticing the toilet paper in his/her hands.

Step Four:  Set child into the bathtub and watch while child attempts to sit on toilet paper roll.

Step Five:  Notice soaking wet, sopping, and now dripping full roll of toilet paper in the bathtub and attempt to rescue it.

Step Six:  Examine toilet paper roll carefully, and conclude that in the next million years or so, it might dry out again and become useable.

Step Seven:  Leave sopping wet roll of toilet paper on the edge of the bathtub to "drip dry".

Step Eight:  Decide to not bother to get out a new roll, but set up a convenient box of facial tissues "just in case".

Step Nine:  Go to work the next morning and wait for your spouse to call with the question, "Would you like to tell me what happened to the toilet paper in your child's bathroom?"

Step Ten:  Try to explain how you really thought the paper might dry "soon".

Step Eleven:  Laugh and apologize.

Step Twelve:  Bring home dinner, and make it good.


What Really Happens When You Open "Instant Dough"

>> Friday, November 12, 2010

A few weeks ago, I made some allusions to an argument I had with a can of "instant dough."  To clarify, by "instant dough," I mean the kind that comes in a can and that has perforations in the dough so the user can tear it and roll it into pieces that will become crescents, biscuits, or whatever shape is described on the label.  I'm sure most of you know exactly what I'm talking about.

To use instant dough like this properly and effectively, you need to be able to see the perforations, and to tear the dough at the right spot.  If you can't do this, then we've lost the whole point and you might as well have just mixed up your own batter and kneaded it into whatever you want.  So, when you leave those cans in the refrigerator past their "suggested use by" date, and they get tempermental, things can get interesting.

Take, for example, a particularly troublesome can of allegedly crescent-shaped rolls I encountered in September.  I peeled back the label, exposing the ever-so-critical black line to the air.  Of course, I did this with the tube about as far away from me as I could, gingerly waiting for the *pop* of the can in my hand.  This *pop* isn't loud, and it isn't scary, but still, I can't seem to just peel back that label without stretching my arms out to their full length ... just in case the little sucker might want to explode.  (For the record, I do the same thing with those hypodermic-needle looking wine  bottle openers that inject air under the cork so it pops out.  I've also noticed that the majority of people who aren't wine butlers will do the same thing with a bottle of champagne.)

So, there I was, arms outstretched, black line exposed, and ...

and ...


Nothing happened.

No *pop*.

The can didn't open.

So, I dug into my bag of tricks. 

I banged the can on the countertop.  Nothing happened.

I got out a spoon and tapped the black line.  Nothing happened.

I removed the rest of the label.  Nothing happened.  (Are you getting the picture?)

"So now what?" I wondered.  What on earth could I do with a hermetically sealed tube of crescent rolls that refuses to open?  Dinner was waiting, people!

For lack of any better options, I got out a knife and tried to pry the seam under the black line apart.  The moment the knife point penetrated the thin cardboard, I learned what about instant dough is supposed to make the can pop open.  Exposure to air through the super-thin cardboard at the black line is supposed to make the dough expand, popping the fragile cardboard and presenting the cook with a nice cylindrical pile of ready-to-separate dough.  (Let's assume that the dough isn't stuck to the cardboard anywhere, or tears where it isn't supposed to, or ... you know.  Let's stick with the ideal here.)

When the cardboard won't give, a little knife prick hole sends expanding dough oozing out like toothpaste from a toothpaste tube, and there is nothing you can do to stop it.  Forget about careful tearing of perforations.  This stuff is snaking out like one of those Fourth of July "firework toys" that turn into tubes of carbon when you light the little bullet thing on fire.  (Is that enough analogies?)  No perforations will survive.  The dough, for all intents and purposes, was becoming one long thin strand suitable for braiding into 1/3 of a french twist.

Okay ... that happened.  Now what?  The dough had a life of its own, and someone had to do something.  (Given that it's only me and the 3 year old in the house, I figured "someone" was me, 'cause he'd just poke at it and then ask me to help him wash his hands.  Or smear it in the furniture.  One or the other.)

Once again, fresh out of any other brilliant ideas, I headed for the can opener.  I had to find a way to libertate this dough.

Can openers, in case you were wondering, have a similar impact on expanding dough as knife pricks do.  At the first cut of the can opener, dough began squeezing out the end.  Thankfully, the can opener worked quickly, and in a matter of moments the entire end was off, allowing the dough to ooze out like a really big, fat sausage ... with, of course, the pencil-sized appendage from the knife prick still growing on the side.

Thankfully, at this point, I was able to use the knife to finish removing the cardbord from the cylinder of expanding dough, which was a huge relief, because all that dough was starting to stick to that blasted cardboard that wouldn't pop.  (It never did pop, you know.)

As for the crescent rolls ... well ... what can I say?  I pretended I let Bubba help me put them together.  One or two came out reasonably normal.  The rest?  Let's just say it's a good thing we weren't having company or anything. 

Hey, they were edible.


A Random Wordless Wednesday Post

>> Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Now tell me, doesn't this kid have the right idea?



Now, When Did That Happen?

>> Monday, November 8, 2010

This morning I realized something.

Somewhere in the past two years, I became a "mom." 

No, no, no.  I don't mean a parent.  I don't mean a mother.  I mean a "mom."  I'm one of those women that drops the kids off at school and heads straight to the supermarket to stand in line with all the other "moms" to buy cheese and meat before pickup time.

Have you ever noticed that?  The primary population of the grocery store before 10 AM is moms with small children and very slow moving senior citizens.  (Then again, if you are neither, chances are you are at work, or still at home in your PJs sipping one more cup of coffee before forcing yourself out the door, so how would you know?)

I'm guessing that these particular moms are at the store at that hour because it's just down the street from the preschool and/or elementary school drop off, and grocery shopping with one or more fewer children is SO MUCH EASIER, no matter how many you still have with you.  After all, these women seem to have a more well-worn look to their faces and a very practiced hand on those carts.  These are no novices, even though they have small children in arms or carts.  They mean business.  They've seen this road before and know all the tricks.

Take me for example.  I mean, before we joined preschool, I thought 10 AM was plenty early enough to make it to the store.  Now I'm peeved if I'm not home by 10 AM.  I used to struggle managing a bag of envelopes with coupons, a cart-ramming Toddler with a baseball arm for yogurt cartons, and a shopping list with some measure of dignity.  Generally, I failed.  Now, sans Toddler, I can do the whole thing in 1/3 the time.  I'm guessing that the next step along the path (should we choose to take it), is gaining the same kind of shopping speed, poise, silent children, and determination that these truly veteran moms do.  (Oomph, I think that requires having more children.  Hmm.)  The daily goal?  In, out, on the way, home to unpack, do laundry and dishes, and still get back at school in time for lunch. 

I'm impressed by the silent dignity and grace of these women and all they accomplish before noon.  After all, I still get hung up with my blog and Twitter while the dishes linger in the sink and the laundry breeds on the living room floor.  (Guess what I'm supposed to be doing right now while I'm blogging to you?)

I'm also appalled that I've reached this phase in my life where I can seek fulfillment in rapid-shopping, spiffy cleaning, and quiet children, although I can certainly envy all three.

My child is 3 1/2, and I'm still not ready to be a "Mom".  A "mommy," and a "mother" are all well and good, but "Moms" chaperone field trips and run carpools and attend youth league sporting events.  Me?  I'm still a goof-off that would rather go to the toy store to shop for my husband's birthday present 'cause I know I'll find something.  I still think McDonalds is lot of fun, with or without my son.  I haven't managed to panic yet about food preservatives, and I still cringe when someone calls me a "Mommy Blogger."  Most of all, I cannot fathom that we are scheduled to drive for next week's field trip to the pet store. 

I'm sending Daddy.  I'm not ready yet.


And What Happened to Her?

>> Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'll be you are all asking yourselves the title of my blog post.  "What the heck happened to her?  Where did she go?"

Yeah, yeah, good question.  Pick whichever of these answers you like:

1.  I'm wasting my days playing Frontierville on Facebook.

2.  Working for a coop preschool is a lot more work than I thought it would be.

3.  I've been hanging around the window looking at Charlie, trying to figure out who managed to keep this wild cat that won't be touched by human hands without a fight away from his home.

4.  I've been out of town a lot, and I actually took nearly a week off without my laptop as an experiment.

5.  I've been really knocked around by these allergies and this nasty preschool plague that seems to last about 3 weeks.

6.  I've drowned in a pile of laundry created by the powers of Entropy and Chaos.

7.  I got lost in my garage.

8.  I went to the Carribean and refused to come back.  (Wouldn't that be nice.)  Alternatively, I decided to go back to Florida.

9.  It's hard to type with a three year old hanging on me.

10.  It's something else I haven't shared yet, and you don't believe a word of what I said above.

Your call.  More posts to come ASAP.


The Cats Play on Wordless Wednesday

>> Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In furtherance of yesterday's post about Charlie and the rest of the cats, I give you the following:



Girl Cat worrying her corner (and worrying me!):

Girl Cat


It's a Cat, Cat, Cat, Cat World

>> Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today Darling Husband and I woke to a surprise.  Our long lost cat, Charlie, has returned from the dead. 

Go ahead, giggle. 

Charlie was Princess's brother, and we adopted them as semi-feral outdoor cats many years ago.  Almost exactly four years ago, Charlie didn't come for breakfast, or dinner, or breakfast, which was very unusual for him.  Sure, he was an outdoor cat, so he wandered, but he always returned, and never stayed away for more than 2 days.  After all, Charlie was a pretty smart cat, and he knew better than to waste a free meal. So when he didn't show up for three days, we had begun to fear the worst.  There was a rash of coyote attacks in our area, and we were worried that poor Charlie had met his end at the hands of a coyote predator.  Now, Charlie was one big cat, so that had to have been one mean coyote, but no matter what happened, Charlie was gone. Even the birds seemed to think so.  When Charlie was alive, those birds stayed up in the trees and only landed in the neighboring land.  Our yard belonged to Charlie, and they knew it.

Now, you might be thinking about feeling sorry for those birds, but I wouldn't bother.  You see, the birds brought their own ostracization on themselves.  They, led by the blue jays, had the funny idea that they should try to gang up on Charlie and repeatedly dive bomb him.  Why?  I have no idea.  I think probably because he liked to lay on the food table so they couldn't have any.  I watched one foolish bird trying this trick one sunny afternoon.  He dove at Charlie, then retreated like a pendulum, then he dove again and retreated again, and then dove again, and retreated again ... you get the idea.  Charlie just watched, and watched, and finally, a picture of utter calmness, Charlie reached his paw up on the next bird dive bomb, and "BOOM," that was the end of the bird.

Shortly after Charlie disappeared, the birds began landing in the yard in huge flocks on their migration south for the winter.  If we needed any more evidence that Charlie was nowhere, we had it now.  Some days it felt the birds got more of the catfood than the remaining cat did.

Yet, last night, Charlie appeared at the table sneaking food, and making Darling Husband feel like he was seeing a ghost.  Even more miraculously, someone had shaved most of his fur.  I am puzzled where he was and why he couldn't come back because, like I said, Charlie was king of the back yard and not one to pass up a good meal.  I am most puzzled, though, about how anyone managed to actually shave him.  That cat wouldn't let anyone touch him unless sedatives were involved, so whoever tried it might have a great deal of scarring to identify them in the future.

So very strange.  Charlie, for all that he was a "no touch" kind of cat, was very devoted to us and seemed to care about us very much.  He and his littermate, Princess, were very attached.  Occasionally they would ask to come inside to sit near the door and watch TV.  Charlie used to love to sit on the back stoop and peer in to see the football game, and if DH didn't come outside to play with him when Charlie wanted, Charlie would deliberately walk up to the back door and turn his back on DH inside, repeatedly until DH got the message and brought the toys outside for Charlie.

And yet, someone shaved this cat.  I can't quite get over this.

I suppose I will shed more on this story as it unfolds, but as for now, we have to be satisfied with an 8 or 9 year old cat returning from the dead after a 4 year absence.  I think that should do, don't you?

On "inside cat news," Girl Cat tells me that there is another mouse or something in the house.  I don't believe her, but she is persisting in telling me there is something worrisome in the corner of the dining room.  There is no hole in the wall large enough to see in that corner, so I don't understand what her issue is, but we all remember what happened the last time Girl Cat worried about a corner.  I am afraid ... very, very afraid.

And then there is Houdini.  He ... um ... okay, there is no way to talk about all that is going on with Houdini without grossing you out.  Moving on.

Big Black Cat may be due for a name change soon too, if things go along the way they have been.  Poor Big Black Cat has never had a very thick coat of fur anyway, but now he seems to be losing his thin layer across his belly.  Darling Husband suspects that Big Black Cat is evidencing male pattern cat-baldness to keep Darling Husband company as he gradually kisses his own hair goodbye.  I guess we'll have to see.  In the meantime, Big Black Cat has been exceptionally needy and permanently attached to my lap every time I sit down.  It's been a great excuse to keep sitting down because, I tell you, that cat is heavy.

Unfortunately, all of this "cat" stuff has been interfering with me doing anything important, like actually writing a funny blog instead of a random set of paragraphs about what the cats have done today.

Oh well.  Better luck tomorrow.


The Official Name Changing Ceremony

>> Monday, October 18, 2010

I don't know if any of you have noticed that from time to time in this blog, I have referred to my son "Toddler" by the nickname "Bubba."  If you did notice, perhaps you also noticed that the name, "Bubba" has been sneaking in a bit more often recently.

See, the problem is that "Toddler" is outgrowing his name.  It's hard to talk about an almost 3 1/2 year old that goes to school three days a week and no longer wears diapers as a "toddler" anymore.

So, after much thought, consideration, and more than a few helpful (and not so helpful) suggestions from my readers via Twitter, I have decided to re-christen "Toddler" as "Bubba."  I mean, technically we do live (slightly) south of the Mason-Dixon line, and Bubba was technically born in the south, so we can use that as the excuse for this otherwise hopelessly northern and midwestern family using such a ubiquitous southern nickname.

My other excuse is, that is one of the things we really call him, and "Kid," or "Annoying Chatterbox" just didn't seem to fit the mood I was going for.

And ...

after announcing that ...

I don't seem to have much more to say on the subject. 

In other, miscellaneous news,

Toddler ... I mean, Bubba, has been "playing cars" with Houdini for the past few days, and I swear that Houdini is actually starting to bat the cars back. 

Bubba has reached the stage where his answer to everything is the opposite of whatever it is I want.  Instead of saying, "No," though, Bubba has to be more verbose.  He says, "I don't think that's a good idea, Mommy."  Or sometimes, "I don't think so, Mommy."  It's hard not to crack a smile when i should be cracking the whip.

Additionally, my most striking condemnation as a parent has come from the mouth of Bubba.  He picked up his toy phone last night and began talking.  DH and I were having a conversation, and Bubba looked over at us and said, "Mommy, Daddy, stop talking.  I'm on the phone.  You can talk when I done."

For our final announcement, I am loathe, surprised, and rather stunned to announe that my not-quite-three-and-a-half year old came home this evening and asked me if I would please turn on the Suite Life on Deck.  Hey!  What happened to watching Mickey Mouse?  I didn't have this renaming ceremony because I actually wanted him to grow up or anything.  If he does insist on watching this show (I'm still hoping it's a fluke because we said no more cartoons today), I hope he decides to like a character that is ordinary and responsible, like ... like ... wait, there has to be one on that show.  Doesn't there?

And ...

That is about it.  See ya.


After This I'll Quit Teasing You About My Vacation

>> Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This vacation I just took was a weird one.  We wanted to give Bubba a real family vacation with his mom and dad to make up for us taking off and leaving the country.  You know, we'd never been away from him for more than one night before, and there we go taking off for his third birthday.  Great.  More evidence for our Parents-of-the-Year Trophy.

The problem was, after that big "mom and dad only" trip to Egypt, funds were ... well ... tight.  So, the trick was going to be "doing Disney" on a pretty down and dirty budget.  Toward that end, let me just tell you how much I love hotel reward points.  I spent eight days at a fabulous Marriott hotel with an amazing pool, and I paid for parking.

Yes, parking.

But, on a trip to Disney World, what is the single biggest expense?  Lodging?  Maybe.  Tickets?  Perhaps.  Food in the parks?  Now you are talking.  Disney, I love ya, but that park food is awfuly pricey for the family on a budget.  I thank you profoundly for allowing patrons to bring food into the parks.  I thank you, thank you, thank you.  Bubba thanks you, and my wallet thanks you.

There was one problem with the great plan of ours to pack food and take it with us.  It required us to have food worth packing.  No problem, right?  We had a cooler and a microwave, right?

Oh, no.  Think again.  We were staying at a full service hotel that doesn't have microwaves.  Nope.  If I want something heated up, I am free to work with dining services, and they will accomodate.


I'm going to go down to dining services in the morning and ask them to heat me some hot dogs and chicken sandwiches so I can take them to Epcot.  Ummm, no.

Fortunately for me, we were anticipating this problem.  Even more fortunately for me, my mother had the brilliant idea of suggesting that we pack the panini maker to help us out.  Whew!  (Thanks again for that inspired piece of thinking, Mom.)

So, there we were, in a nice, roomy hotel room, with a countertop, a fridge, a panini maker and a coffee pot.  I learned quickly that I can make a lot of food using only a panini maker and a coffee pot.  For the most part, I tried to stick with things that were "precooked" in case I did something silly like expose my family to a raging bacteria from poorly cooked chicken, but still, we did a lot.  We had broccoli, chicken, general tso's chicken, italian meatballs, noodles, even spaghetti once, and (of course) paninis.

Yes, you read it right.  All of this with only a panini maker and a coffee pot.  Necessity truly is the mother of invention. 

I just can't get over the irony.  Here I am, in a glorious hotel with multi-star restaurants and a fantabulous hibachi grill surrounding me on all sides ... and I'm cooking ramen noodles in a coffee pot.

The things I'll do for Disney.


Let's Face It, We Are a Weird and Backwards Family

>> Monday, October 11, 2010

I am sniffling, and I'm sick of it.  My nose has been dripping like a faucet since September, and the past 24 hours have been nearly constant.  I think I might lose my mind.  Allergies suck, and I want to go back to Florida.

What, you say?  Florida?  Won't that make your allergies worse?

No, no it won't, because I'm part of this crazy, mixed-up, backwards family.  Toddler and I both found our seasonal allergies improving the further south we went.  For me, this fall has been a miserable one, with my worst allergy attacks coming up in Pennsylvania, and my best days by far being in Orlando, Florida.  Sadly, no place seems to give me complete relief from the incessant sneezing and nose blowing (so attractive), but I have noticed a distinct change each time I cross the Georgia/South Carlolina border.  North of the border, my stuffiness is worse.  South of the border (the actual border, not the giant tourist trap), my symptoms improve.

What is up with that?  After just spending a weekend in State College with a tissue (okay, a series of tissues continually ripped out of the box) in my hand for 48 straight hours, I just want to go back to Florida.  And, no, the tissues were not for the tears during the game, although Toddler did give off several of his own, poor guy.  No one likes a really bad loss, and this was a really bad one.

Speaking of Florida, I have to say that Toddler's reaction to Disney World held some surprises too.  Now, keep in mind that this Disney-crazed family has had this child at The Happiest Place on Earth 4 times before he was 3 1/2.  He is no stranger to Disney or Mickey Mouse, but, being that he is very young, each time is a bit like a brand new adventure.

Take the Winnie the Pooh ride for example.  Two years ago, and again last summer, Toddler thought the Winnie the Pooh ride was the coolest thing on Earth.  I have pictures of him staring around hm in rapt attention.  This time, he screamed and cried in line and attempted to refuse to get into the car (until he realized it was a ride, then he was all for it).  But, when the lights "went out" (read, "dim slightly and display psychedelic colors") Todder began a plaintive wail of, "It's very dark in here. [It wasn't.]  How are we going to get out of here?  We have to get out of here!"  Of course, at the end of the ride, he said, "Can we do it again?" 

These general themes were repeated at various points around the Magic Kingdom.

Let's take the PhilharMagic as another example.  This 3D movie experience is a long-time favorite of me, DH, and Toddler.  This year, however, was Toddler's first year actually wearing the 3D glasses.  Shortly into the movie, when things were spinning around on a fairly dark screen, and things were "flying" at us from the screen, Toddler jumped down off his chair, clung to me, and whispered (as only a child can whisper loudly), "They ARE NOT GOING TO GET ME!"

I guess I don't have to wonder if he got the benefit of the 3D effect.  Clearly, he did.  You will be reassured to know that after a few hugs, he was fine.  In fact, he enjoyed the movie enough to ask to "do it again."  After that first little incident, our most difficult part was convincing him that he absolutely had to return the 3D glasses no matter how much he wanted to keep them.

So, here we are, DH and me, thinking that with the weepy reaction we are getting in the "dark" parts of some of these rides, we'd best avoid the ones that can be really scary, like the Haunted Mansion.  I mean, with the 1 billion other rides and shows, we can skip that one this year.  After all, Toddler was a big fan of Goofy's Barnstormers roller coaster and really wanted to ride it again and again and again.  It seemed like a fair trade.

The next day, though, we just could not pass up the chance to ride Ellen's "dinosaur ride" in the Universe of Energy at Epcot.  I mean ... it's dinosaurs that blow snot on you, and a cool movie to boot.  What is better?  But then, there was Toddler and that newly developing, "It's very dark in here," schtick he was perfecting.  What to do?  Skip the ride?  Heck no!  I'll just hold the little jumping bean and try to keep any crying lower than the decibles of the speakers, right?

Well, not quite.

He loved the ride.

Every blessed minute of it.

No fear in sight.

The child freaks out on Winnie the Pooh and loves the growling, snarling, man-eating dinosaurs in the Universe of Energy. 

Let's face it.  We are a weird and backwards family.  We should have gone on the Haunted Mansion.


Not So Short, Not So Tall -- Wordless Wednesday

>> Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm sure these Wordless Wednesday photos will generate a few questions.  Enjoy them.



Happy Wordless Wednesday.


Wake Up Calls

>> Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Um ... hello there.  Yes.  I haven't seen you in awhile.  I know, I know, it's my fault.  I've been remiss on this blog.

See, I was off on a little vacation visiting a certain mouse in Florida.  He's a great buddy of Toddler's and an old, old friend of mine.  Of course, he and his friends are the only mice I tolerate, as some of you might recall from my prior post, His Name Isn't Mickey So He Isn't Welcome Here, but tolerate him, I do.  I even stood in line for a whole 30 minutes so Toddler could see him ... twice ... and I usually don't stand in line for much of anything if I can help it.

Anyway, I am back and full of apologies for the extended absence.  I hope you will forgive me, because I have some stories to share. 

For those of you that have been reading this blog for awhile probably remember that I have an ... issue ... with mornings.  (I would link to a post, but I don't know as I could actually choose one out of the many in which I comment on the level of antagonism that I have with mornings.  I might have to go back and start a new blog label "Mornings" and just add it to my list of labels for you to peruse.  Yeah.  I'll add that to the list of things I need to do to improve this blog.  Maybe when Toddler is in college I'll get around to finishing it.)  I really can't think of a "good" alarm clock or wake-up call, but after spending 10 days sharing a variety of hotel rooms with my 3 year old, I have discovered a few wake-up calls that definitely fall into the "bad" category.

The fortunate part of our vacation was that traipsing through the Disney parks every day wore out Toddler, and he had taken to sleeping in a bit.  (What a relief to any family with small children.)  We decided we would just wait until he woke up, and no need to set and alarm to try to get to the parks when the gates opened.  Of course, any family members of mine reading this will think I have committed a sacriliege by even saying such a thing, much less doing it, but not really.  Sleeping in for Toddler usually means 7:30, and occasionally 8:00, so we were still up plenty early and got great parking spaces.

The unfortunate part of our vacation was that Toddler was exhausted, and he sometimes forgot to wake up when he really needed to. One morning, early in the week, Darling Husband and I woke up to the sound of Toddler rolling over and saying, "Uh, oh!!!!!"

In unison we said, "What's wrong?"

He replied, "I'm soaking wet!"

We both said, in unison again, "Oh, crap."

That, my friends, is not a good wake-up call.  And, when the child says "soaking wet," he was actually being quite modest, which is rather miraculous considering he did get up in the middle of the night to go potty.  For the second time, I had to call a hotel room front desk for an emergency sheet change.  I'm afraid I might be getting a reputation here.

On another morning, we woke up to hear Toddler whining in his bed.  Again, we asked him what was wrong, and he replied, "Help!  I need to get the poopies out!"

Again, my friends, this scenario is not a good wake up call.  No, no, no.

(I have to take a little aside here to observe that the "Potty Mouth Blogger" has struck again.  I'm seriously considering whether I should just give up and rebrand my blog that way.  At least, I should create a label for "potty stories," right?)

On the other hand, I did run into one wake up call that I found, while not pleasant, at least mildly amusing.  It involved Toddler silently slipping out of bed, coming to Darling Husband's side of the bed, and staring Darling Husband down in his sleep, waiting, waiting, waiting for Darling Husband to open his eyes.  When Darling Husband finally did open his eyes, Toddler let out  a little chuckle and then said ... (wait for it) ... "I need to go potty."  Heh.


Think First. Your Kids Will Thank You.

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I used to think my parents had a few too many "rules" about how to name their children.  While I appreciate very much how seriously my parents took the possibility of childhood teasing and lifelong embarrasment, I have sometimes thought they went too far, crossing off perfectly acceptable name combinations on the grounds that they might produce some unwanted twitters. 

First, you have their obsession with initials, and how they can produce unwanted innuendo.  Then, you have my father's outright hostility to nicknames.  Children in his family would bear the name they would be called -- no nicknames allowed.  (At least, that was the theory for the birth certificate.  Apparently the rule against nicknames had nothing to do with random nicknames based on his casual whims.  But, that is a story for another day.)  Finally, you have their concern over finding the appropriate number of syllables to counteract an obnoxiously difficult last name.  By the time they were done applying all the rules, my parents had only a handful of acceptable names to choose from.

My parents might have taken things a bit far, but looking around the world today, I thank my lucky stars.  Sure, my first name is always misspelled, and I have spent my entire life spelling all parts of my name to everyone trying to write it down.  And, sure, I never could find any of those novelty license plates or preprinted pencils with my name on them in the tourist traps of my childhood.

Still ... I'm glad for their cautiousness.  When I meet some people and hear their names, I think, "Oh, dear.  Perhaps a trip to the courthouse to change something is in order?"

Now, I don't want to "out" anyone who might be reading this blog.  If you have a troubling name, chances are you already know all about it.  I mean, some last names are just problematic, and if your parents were on a bender when they gave you the first name, you heard all about it in elementary school.  Or, if you had the first name and married into the last name, I am certain all the possibilities came out at your bachelorette party, or were swimming around in your head before you said, "Yes."  I don't need to embarrass you further.

Still, let's think about some general principles.  My parents had a few things right.  Initials do matter.  If your last name begins with a "K," you might want to avoid naming your child two names that start with "E," like, for example, "Erica Elizabeth."  Of course, if you feel strongly about the name, use it.  The world won't end, but your daughter may never admit to having a middle name until she hits at least college.  I mean, in the rough school years, do you really want your daughter's initials to spell "EEK!"?

Another rule I wish parents would consider is this:  If your last name is a noun in American English, please do not give your child a first name that sounds like an adjective in American English.  For example, if your last name is "Wool" you probably should not name your son "Harry".  A cautionary footnote to this rule is that many popular flower names for girls are also colors, and, hence, both nouns and adjectives.  Think carefully about your last name "Sofa" if you want to name your daughter "Rose" or "Lavender."

A few other useful tips are to try to avoid naming your children after characters in horror flicks or after porno stars.  If you don't watch either of these genres, this advice could be quite hard to follow, but hopefully with the passing of time, your child will forgive you.  So, at least, don't do it knowingly, okay?

For those of you that hate your names, what other naming advice do you wish your parents had followed?


More Things I Have Learned - the Post-Preschool Edition

>> Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm not sure when I last wrote a "Things I Have Learned" Post, but I'm building up a nice little list, so I think the time has come to share it with you.  I call this one the "Post-Preschool Edition" because I figured we are all tired of me trying to come with new and unique ways to say, "yet another list" in my title.

Don't worry, though.  "Post Preschool" is only a time reference.  Not every thing I have learned has to do with preschool... but a few do.

I have learned that:

1.  Apparently, according to Toddler, the bests part about preschool is the playground.  So far, that is all he has manged to tell me that he does while he is there.  What happens in the rest of the time is something I have yet to learn, although I've heard something about "pictures" and some questionable comments about skateboards.

2.  As far as Toddler is concerned, "talking about" a curbside drop off is altogether different than actually doing it.

3.  The reason that ramen noodles tell you to put the powder in after the noodles are cooked is so the powder stuff doesn't touch the steam from the boiling water and adhere to that little foil thing like paste.  (And, Doc Curtis, if you are reading this ... the ramen noodles were for ... the neighbors.  Yes, I was making them for the neighbors.  I wouldn't dare eat them after you told me to cut back on salt.  And I threw away all the soy sauce in my house, too.  Yep.  Threw it all away ... in the cupboard ... where it belongs.)

4.  My husband will eat most anything if I put steak seasoning on it.

5.  Given that Toddler has come home from both days of preschool with wet pants in his bag (or slightly damp on his backside), I think the preschool aides are having some trouble with crack-peeing.  I find this reassuring. 

6.  I have learned the mechanism that makes those instant bread product cans "pop" open when you peel back the label.  Don't know it?  Try opening one with a can opener once and you will figure it out.  I suspect you will be reading more about this in a future blog post.

7.  To my horror, I am finding Jimmy Johnson on Survivor to be compelling.  But, you see, I went to Penn State, and I'm not allowed to like Jimmy under any circumstances because of that whole national championship "we don't eat with the enemy" thing.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you have two choices.  If you are a football fan, you can Google "1987 Fiesta Bowl".  If you aren't a football fan, you can just read on and ignore this because you don't care anyway.  Add to that that I grew up an Eagles fan and live in Redskin's territory now, and you can see how I might feel a little bit conflicted and suprised that he seems so .. well ... likable!  (Again, if you aren't  football fan, just move along.  It would take too long to explain.)

8.  Preschool teachers are either taking mood altering drugs, or they give them to the children.  I can envision no other way any sane person could survive the job, and the ladies at the school all seem reasonably coherent and in touch with reality when I talk to them.

Feel free to contribute any thoughts about things you have learned recently.


Is This a Joke? No? Really?

>> Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Twitter is a wonderful tool.  It connects people all across this planet who would almost certainly have never met any other way.  Recently, I have begun a bit of a dialogue with author Derek Haines after we had both been mutually "following" one another on Twitter for many months.

I believe (dare I say it) that Derek followed me first, although for the life of me I never figured out where he found me.  Someone we both know must have put me on a "Follow Friday" list of some kind and he decided, "Hey, why not?"  I followed back, and I've been reading his tweets ever since.  The really cool part is that he lives in Switzerland, a place I have not yet been, and even if I had been there, chances are good I would not have met him in the lobby of my hotel or hanging around near my tour bus.

Then, one day, he did something I couldn't resist.  He tweeted about the Monkees, and he wrote a blog post about Peter Tork.  You see, the Monkees are a secret vice of mine.  (Yes.  I know.  I got a lot of grief about this from my family, too, especially my oldest sister.)

No ... I was not around for the Monkees the first time around.  I'm on the backslide to 40, but I'm not old enough to have been around in 1966, much less to have bought a record.  But, I was around for the Monkees reunion tour in 1985, and I was old enough to buy records then.  

(And, when I was in law school, I did see Mickey, Davey, and Peter do a concert in Boston on the town green.  And, yes, I still have Monkees paraphrenalia and copies of the TV show in my house.  Satisfied?)

But, I digress.  Derek was tweeting about the Monkees, and, oddly enough, Jimi Hendrix (which is not as odd as you might think it is given that Hendrix and the Monkees have a past ... but there I go, digressing again).  Anyway, I couldn't resist answering tweets about my favorite manufactured pop group.  One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I got the nerve to send Derek (a real, genuine, published author) a link to my Blog Challenge.

Then apparently we all jumped down a rabbit hole, because the next thing I knew, Derek was sending me direct messages about doing a guest post on his blog.

Yeah.  Wow.  I totally agree.

Of course, once I pinched myself, and quizzed him to death about whether he was kidding, pulling my leg, or otherwise playing some European style of practical joke of which I was not familiar, I said "Of course!"

Then I said to myself, "Well, crap, now I have to think of something clever to write."

So, all that was a long way of saying ... hey, I'm writing over at Derek's blog today.  No, all of this wasn't my blog post, it was just a little prequel for your reading entertainment.  You can find the real blog post over at Derek's blog, starting at noon U.S. Eastern Time, or 6 PM Central European Time.  (Those of you in other time zones will need to sort it out for yourselves.)

The link to Derek's blog is hereIf you click it before noon, you will get to read Derek's latest blog post, "Twitter's Very Precious Garbage Dump."  If you click it after noon (give or take a few minutes), you will see my guest post, "Who the Heck is This Murphy Guy Anyway?" 

Ready? Set?  CLICK


Coming Home

>> Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In yesterday's post, I described a little bit about what a day is like in this house when we are trying to get ourselves up to the football game, including a little insight into the anxiety of Big Black Cat.

Today, I thought I'd tell you the story about what happens to suitcases and bags when we finally get back from going away.

This post seems better told in pictures than words.  I call them, "You Aren't Going Without Me Again If I Can Possibly Help It."

Cat on My Stuff

Cat On My Stuff Too


The Day Before The Football Game

>> Monday, September 13, 2010

Last week, I was packing up to go to the season opener for the Penn State football season.  That, by itself, is not unusual.  I've been doing that for several years now. 

What was different was how experienced we all have become with the process.  Darling Husband and I had already put the suitcases and most of the "ordinary" stuff in the car the night before.  We were hoping to prevent random acts of unpacking by Toddler, and excessive shedding by any stressed-out four-footers.  What was left was the ceremonial "packing of the foodstuffs".

I put oatmeal and cookies and meatrolls and potatos and plates and cups and can openers and plastic utensils into a bag, and I put ice, and beer, and milk, and yogurt, and juice and chicken nuggets and hot dogs and broccolli into a cooler.

In the meantime, Toddler was removing cookies and plastic utensils from the bag and trying to put them both into his mouth.

By the time I was done putting (and re-putting) all the food, food byproducts, and food eating products into travelling containers, I was beginning to wonder if I was packing for a tailgate or a camping trip.  (Someone on Twitter asked me what the difference was.  The truth is that when camping, you are limited to what can be cooked on heated cook surface and stored in a cooler.  When merely tailgating, you can use the heated cook surface before and after the game, but they you have the added option of take-out or the microwave and refrigerator in the hotel room to make munchies for the hot tub while the kiddies sleep.  Families with older children or no children have the further option of going out to eat after the game and taking home leftovers.  Families with small children are welcome to try this event, but if the small children fail to nap during the afternoon game and have begun running in circles to stay awake, using the hotel room as a crash-zone and relying on the delivery driver and the in-room microwave is much simpler.  Like I said, we are becoming quite experienced at these experiences.)

The only ones that seemed to be unprepared were the cats.  Darling Husband came home from work at noon to begin the feeding-four-footers-for-the-weekend routine.  When Big Black Cat heard the sound of the cat food can opening early, he came tearing down from the bedroom into the kitchen.  Sadly, when he next heard the click of the timed-opening-food-dish closing, his whiskers fell in disappointment.  If you listened carefully, you could almost hear his thoughts. 

"Yay, food, food, food ... what?  Oh no!  They are going away again!  Where are the suitcases?  I didn't see any suitcases.  How long are they going to be gone this time?  Who is going to pull at that yucky stuff out of the litter boxes so my paws don't get dirty?  Who is going to clean up after Girl Cat when she blechs hairballs all over floor?  Whose feet am I going to sleep on?  What will I do when my head itches?  How many new things am I going to have to remark with my facial glands when they get back?  What cats and dogs are they going to go see, and how long will it take me to get that 'other pet' smell out of my stuff?"

Poor Big Black Cat.  He is getting more domesticated every year, and he just doesn't get football with all the yelling and cheering and travelling.  You may think that reaction is normal, but I had once had a cat that seemed to understand football.  He'd come up on the back step and peer in through the glass every time the game was on.  If we'd open the door so he could hear the commentary, the cat would start to purr. 

I miss that cat.  I wish these guys got the whole concept like he did.  Life would be so much easier if they did.


The Great Experiment (Don't Try This at Home)

>> Thursday, September 9, 2010

A few weeks ago, Darling Husband and I embarked on an experiment.  Don't ask what we were thinking.  I'm not sure we really know.  It was a combination of saving money, greening the environment, getting out more and staying in less, and probably some other karmic good stuff.  I don't completely understand it myself.

We limited water use and power use all over the place.  In truth, we wanted to see what the real dollars and sense cost to the home is of all our ordinary activities. 

Before you get too wound up about this, and before you begin worrying about what happened to my blog, let me explain a little bit about how this house works.

Hot water to the upstairs tub happens within 15 seconds.  Hot water to the kitchen sink can take as much as five minutes.  The bathroom that is mere steps from the kitchen can have scalding water instantaneously.  This sink can also pull hot water from the heater as many as four days after the power has gone out for a random hurricane.  I know this for a fact.  This house is messed up, and that is just the water stuff.  Don't even get me started on the air circulation.

In other words, this house is a bit of a maintenance nightmare.  How many cents am I wasting trying to get hot water from the kitchen when I could just walk to the bathroom?  How many cents am I saving by somehow having the hot water express-shipped to my upstairs shower?  And who knows what is going on inside that washing machine when I hit "warm"?  It's an energy star appliance, but is it on the "hot" or the "cold" side of the water line?

I know that adjusting our thermostat by two degrees can have a tremendous impact on our monthly power bill, especially in the summertime, so what else might?  Probably nothing, but why not give it a try, at least for the sake of Mother Earth?

So, like blind fools, we tried this "experiment".  We turned off all the lights in the house until at least 5 PM.  We limited each adult to no more than one shower a day, and we opted to wash children only if they seemed to need it rather than every night.  Then, I forced us to only do five loads of laundry a week.  (That took major arm twisting for sure.)

What did we learn in this experiment?  I learned many, many things.

1.  Don't try this experiment at home.

2.  Toddler is addicted to lights.  Every 15 minutes he asked, "Can you turn on the big light?"

3.  If we said, "No" to turning on the lights, he would simply get the stool out and do it himself.

4.  The laundry seems no different if I wash it and rinse it in cold.

5.  The dryer doesn't dry nearly as well on "medium." 

6.  After three days of no internal electric lights during the day, the house began to look shockingly like a cave.

7.  Cave-like homes lead to really bad moods.  Candles only help a little bit, and not if you are under five.

8.  There is no sense to this cave-like issue, because we have big wide windows and a lot of natural light, but somehow it isn't enough.

9.  Once we began to pray for sunset so we could turn on the lights, we gave up.  It can't be that much money anyway.  Mother Nature may be annoyed, but much more of this and we would have qualified as our own disaster zone.

10.  We will be keeping the laundry limit at five loads a week, though.  I like that change.

11.  As it turns out, children in this house really do need to be bathed daily.

12.  Limiting adults to only one shower a day on work weekends when garage and/or yard work is involved is a mistake.

I never really thought my recessed lighting in the kitchen and family room made all that much difference, but apparently I was grossly mistaken and they are actually the finest investment I ever made.  Apparently, these lights heighten moods like happiness and a sense of well-being.  They also seem to keep other moods, like grumpiness and random flashes of Toddler-anger, at a minimum. 

And all along I thought that was the television.  Huh.  Maybe I just have magic lights.  Maybe I just have a weird family.


Perhaps I've Gone A Bit Too Far ... Again

>> Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If you are looking for the Blog Challenge Link Up Page, please click the Challenge Button on the left of the screen.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I apologize for interrupting your reading.

Last night on Twitter, I made this statement:

"Nobody move. Nobody breathe. Nobody eat. The house is clean."

To be fair, that statement was an exaggeration. The only part of the house that was clean was the ground floor. The upstairs was still yucky, and the basement was ... well ... let's not go there.  (Seriously, you don't want to go down there.)

Starting at about 1:30 in the afternoon, I broomed, vacuumed, and dusted everything stationary. I decluttered crap, threw away crappier crap, decatted furniture with tape, defurred one of the cats with a brush, and sorted and matched toy parts. What I did not do was sanitize and stain-lift.  I mean, I only had so much time, and I had to prioritize.  I decided that digging out the stray strawberry plants from the yard and removing the broken down bulb leaves from the plants next to the door was a higher priority.  After all, those leaves have recently been trying to randomly attack people walking up the sidewalk to the front door.

Heck, I even managed to get half the laundry done.  I was still working hard on the toys when the Va Tech-Boise State game came on at 8 PM.  At 9 PM I finally broke down, put the vacuum away, and made dinner for myself because I decided that enough just had to be enough.  As tired as I was getting, if I kept trying to clean, I might only end up making things worse.
What, may you ask, was the cause of all this furious activity?  Why, it was Labor Day, and we are supposed to labor on Labor Day, right?  No, no.  Of course not.  Was it because Darling Husband was supposed to be helping me but instead snuck off to actually watch the football game live and in-person?  (Totally unexpected, of course, because we have no ties to either school, and DH learned most his football enthusiasm from your's truly, so he isn't usually the kind to sneak off to any game unless I go with him.)  No, that wasn't it either, although it didn't help.

Actually ... I am sheepishly forced to admit that I just might have overreacted a little bit to the pending home visit from Toddler's preschool teacher.

I know, I know.  It's just preschool, and just a 15 minute home visit. 

But, still.  Toddler has enough spunk and talk in him to make his own reputation in preschool.  He doesn't need any weird preconceived notions in anyone's head because of my inept housekeeping and gardening skills.  After all, he's a pretty darn cute kid that happens to be the son of a nerd and a geek.  Odds are he will be in glasses before he is six, and it's starting to look like he might be too short for sports.  The deck is stacked against him enough as it is without my help.

So, there I was, going through my ground floor room by room, shining them all.  When I was done with each room, I drew an invisible line at the door and told everyone (the cats and Toddler) that they were not allowed to leave any fur or toys in that room. In fact, they weren't even allowed to be in that room, because Mrs. Teacher was coming and we wanted to make a good impression.

Toddler asked if we couldn't just call her on the phone instead.

Maybe he has the better idea, because now I have to figure out what the two of us are going to wear.  I suspect Toddler's PJ tops and pull-ups will not be setting the right tone.  Getting those alfalfa cow-licks slicked down on the crown of his head won't be easy either.

Was I supposed to bake muffins?  Is that what the really organized stay-at-home moms would do?

I'm stll tired, and the late, late, edge-of-the-seat ending on the football game last night didn't help either.  My eyes are bloodshot and teary, and I probably look like I am coming off a bender.

I wasn't cut out for this.


Blog Challenge -- The Results Show

>> Monday, September 6, 2010

Last week, I shared with my blog audience a challenge issued by a so-called "friend" of mine allegedly to help me overcome my writer's block. Of course, the topic of this challenge was embarrasing and egotistical, so I felt compelled to share the pain around my blogging friends. Today, I am posting my answer to the topic, "Ten Reasons You Should Read My Blog." (While only marginally, I found the topic slightly more palatable than the alternative, "Why I Write?" however I let my readers select which topic they prefer for themselves.)

Below this post, you will find a link tool that allows anyone who wrote a post in response to my challenge to share a link to their blog. Please take a look at the responses that have been linked up and see what these other blog writers have written. I've asked the bloggers to link up by September 8th, but I'm sure a few will be early and a few will be late.

In the meantime, please enjoy my forced attempt to egotistically explain to you why you should read my blog.

Reason Number One:  I am a secret superhero that does battle against the forces of Entropy and Chaos in a never-ending struggle to save our planet.

Reason Number Two:  While attempting to entertain you, I always try to take the time to educate as well.  I provide helpful lists about things like Painting Rules, how to tell if you are a packrat, how to handle Potties in Foreign Lands, and dozens of other useful tips you won't find anywhere else.

Reason Number Three:  I am not afraid to share with you some of parenthood's most embarrasing moments.  (There are way too many posts for me to even try to link here.)  You'll either feel at home, or feel superior. Either way, it's a win-win for you.

Reason Number Four:  Someday, I am going to publish a get-rich-quick scheme that will actually make someone a whole lot of money.  Maybe that someone will be you.

Reason Number Five:  On any given day, I really just might make you laugh out loud -- or my guest posters or shout-outs will. 

Reason Number Six:  My husband thinks blogging might be what is keeping me from babbling Toddler-speak and eating bonbons all day, so I really need you to keep from talking to an empty internet over the sound of crickets.

Reason Number Seven:  I break out in random fits of football.  You might find this a good thing, or you might find it an excuse to take a break from my prolific blog entries.

Reason Number Eight:  I can make you feel normal, whatever that means.

Reason Number Nine:  Because I said so.  And so did my mother.

Reason Number Ten:  Where else are you able to watch in real-time blogging the story of one woman slowly losing her mind to motherhood?

There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I would say I hope you will read my blog, but I guess you are already doing that, aren't you?

Blog writers, please link your posts using the LinkyTool below. In the first block, please insert your name or blog title, which topic you chose, and whatever else it is you would like us to know about your post. In the next box, please include a link directly to your blog entry. (Please link directly to your post and not to the homepage of your blog.) If you are having trouble with this form for any reason, please let me know and I will try to help you link your blog.


Short People

>> Friday, September 3, 2010

Most of the time I forget I'm short.  I know, if you ever see me or see a picture of me, you probably wonder how I could possibly forget such an obvious thing.  After all, I married a man over six feet tall, and I hit five feet only with some effort.

Nonetheless, I think my height is the right height from which to view the world, and the rest of you are all overcompensating.  After all, the taller you are, the more likely you are to notice things like dust and spider webs on high shelves, fan blades, and picture frames. 

I do have moments, though, when I think being short makes some things difficult -- nearly impossible.  Recently, I confessed to my distressing ability to not-fold sheets.  I firmly believe that the entire problem comes from being short.  Sheets, by definition, are taller than most people, but even if I stretch my hands as high over my head as I possibly can, and say, "Blast off!"  (Oh, wait.  That's from Little Einsteins.  Let me try that again.)  Even if I raise my arms, I still cannot hold on to the top of the sheet without several feet dragging on the floor.  I wonder if I stood on the couch while trying to fold the sheets if I would have any better luck, provided I can keep my balance on the cushions.  Of course, if all I am going to do is remove a sheet from the dryer and then drag it all around like PigPen with his blanket, why am I bothering to wash it in the first place?  The better solution is to wait until someone overly tall comes home and let them take care of it.

Of course, on the same day I was last attempting to fold sheets, I also had to put the pool towels away.  The pool towels live on top of the linen closet, in the narrow bathroom.  The top shelf is even more over-my-head than most closet shelves, and with a stack of pool towels over 18 inches high, shoving won't work.  They just fall back.  Aiming and heaving won't work either.  The top of the closet door is too low to let me "aim and throw," and the rather idiotic configuration of the door to the bathroom and the closet door have stymied my attempts to get a chair into the room.  I am left with Toddler's potty stool as my only height-increaser, and that thing has a weight limit.  Please, don't even get me started on the pillows.  I have several sitting in the bedroom waiting for the mythical tall person to come and put them away for me.  (DH has stepped over them for weeks now, so I suspect he will not be volunteering any time soon.  I'm not sure what he thinks they are doing there on the floor.  Perhaps we are being extra-nice to the kitties.)

Then, this morning,we had the "vacuuming the spare bedroom" incident.  The skies are overcast, presumably because Hurricane Earl is stirring up all kinds of cloudiness about 200 miles away in the ocean, so the sunlight that I rely on to help this house feel less cave-like is noticably missing.  No big deal, right?  Turn on the light, right?  "The light" in this room is attached to the fan, and is currently only usable by a pull chain ... that is about half an inch long and attached at the base of the bulb ... on the ceiling.  So, I vacuumed the room in the dark, by the dim light of the hallway and the Hurricane-Earl-Obscured-Sunlight.  I know better than to think any tall person is going to come by and vacuum this room.  People in this house seem to think vacuuming is for short people because we can see dirt on the carpets better.  Hmph.


Oh, You Shouldn't Have ... But I'm Glad You Did

>> Thursday, September 2, 2010

I know this post is a little bit late this morning.  I was supposed to be sitting around last night thinking of something clever to say, but I got hung up with the Big 10's football division announcement show.

Oh, wait.  That isn't right.  Yesterday was my anniversary, so I was supposd to be sitting around eating Chinese food and hanging out with my husband.  Yep.  We did that -- while watching the Big 10's football division announcement show.

Sadly, we missed the first 10 minutes of the show due to an airing of Lady and the Tramp from our VCR.  (Ahem, yes ... VCR.  We're a little too cheap to re-buy all our old VHS tapes for the DVD player -- just the Star Wars ones so that DH doesn't have any anxiety attacks that there might be deleted scenes and special material out there that we do not possess.  And, that would be ... all the versions of Star Wars:  anniversary, silver, gold, wide-screen, digitally remastered, and original and un-remastered.)  Nonetheless, we did learn about the excellent anniversary present that the Big 10 Conference gave us -- a protected cross-over game between Penn State and Nebraska for eternity.  While I am deeply humbled that the Conference wanted to make such a glorious announcement on our anniversary, I am deeply thrilled too.  This rivalry is meant to be.  Penn State and Nebraska have each cost the other a national title, and the time for mutual paybacks has finally arrived.

As I type this great revelation, I can hear the varied reactions going through the minds of you, my readers:

Some of you are finding out about this division announcement through my blog because it popped onto your news stream on Facebook.  Sadly, you are a bit out of touch, but don't worry.  I will help you out.  Here are the important facts you might be missing.  1.  College football season starts tonight, and the Big 10 is actually playing a Thursday night game.  2.  This coming Saturday is the season opener for just about everyone else.  3.  Nebraska joined the Big 10 back in June, and Colorado went to the Pac-10.  4.  Penn State and Ohio State have been slated into the same division, and divison play starts in 2011.  There, that should be enough information so that you don't embarass yourself until you can rush to the internet and catch up.

Some of you are thinking ... wait.  Doesn't that mean there are 11 ... no, 12 schools in the Big 10 now?  Yes.  There are.  Try not to worry about it.  The name and the number of schools hasn't matched for nearly 20 years, so there is no point in worrying about it now.  Just move on.

Some of you are trying to figure out why I'm talking about football and are wondering when I'm going to stop.  Umm ... next question?

Hearing none, I will end this discussion and return to my previously-scheduled task of packing for the opening game. 

What was that?  Did one of you say, "which game?"  You must be new here.  It's the Penn State game, of course.  (And welcome, by the way.)  I still have one extra ticket if you want to go with me.


It's All Good -- BLOG CHALLENGE!

>> Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September first has come again.  College football starts tomorrow night, the pool closes on Monday, and for all intents and purposes (except for that equinox-thingy), summer is over.  This summer has been a strange one all around.  June was record-hot, and August was cool(ish) and rainy. 

I can't say the summer has been a bad one.  We have had a lot of fun at the pool, meeting new friends, and going to the park.  In all, I'd say we had a lot more fun than we did last year.  At the same time, though, there have been a lot more disruptions to our "peaceful and quiet life".  (Yes, try not to laugh at that one.)  While reading the blogs of some of my fellow writers and fellow special-needs moms, I feel like I am not the only one that has had a challenging summer.  I have read far too many posts about funerals, medical hurdles, life-threatening illnesses, emergencies, tragedies, sorrows, and medicial decisions no parent should ever have to make. 

I, myself, have had several surgeries since May began (including that one where I forcibly evicted my gall bladder after spending the entire day in the ER), have received more funeral notices than I ever wanted to see, suffered my own small losses, and hugged friends making difficult and painful choices.  At the other end of the spectrum, I have stood at the feet of some of the world's most collossal monuments and fulfilled some of my most treasured dreams.

 And, somewhere along the way, I fell off the writing bandwagon.  After almost an entire year of week-daily posting,  I have been struggling to get back on track.  Oddly enough (or perhaps not so oddly), I've been hearing that same complaint from a lot of my fellow bloggers.  For me, I can still see the funny in the world, but I have a hard time holding onto it long enough to put it in the blog.  If deep-thinking monologues were my style, I would have had a very productive summer, I suspect.

In the midst of all this, a "friend" of mine issued me a challenge to help break my writer's block.  (As you will see, friends like this make me question my judgment in people.)  Anyway, he suggested I write a blog about "The Ten Reasons Why You Should Read My Blog."  My response was not really printable in a PG blog.  I mean, can you think of a more egotistical topic?  (I think perhaps he missed the part where I write "self-deprecating humor".)  Okay, since I didn't like that idea, he suggested that perhaps I write a post explaining why it is I write.  Hmm.  Actually, I think that idea is ... even worse.  The "top ten" idea is like walking outside in a prom dress in the middle of July at lunchtime and screaming, "HEY!  LOOK AT ME!"  The "why I write" idea is like trying to sneak out the front door to get the newspaper at 5 PM, still in my bathrobe while the entire street has thrown a spontaneous a block party in my front yard.  I'd almost rather take the prom dress.
Then, I got to thinking.  I've written about pee, poop, loss of internal organs, my belly button issues, my son's habit of repeating curses I uttered a year ago, and a whole host of other embarrasing topics.  How much worse could this be?  After all, I have someone to blame.  I don't have to take responsibility for such an egotistical topic if I can claim that someone dared me to do it, right?  Because turning down a dare is just the responsible, adult-like thing that humor writers are known not to do.  Plus, it's a writing challenge, and I have writer's block.  How can I say no?  I can do this.  I can tell people why they should read my blog, and I can take it to the comedic level, and in all events, I can blame my friend for making me do it.
Then, I got to thinking a little bit longer ... and things got dangerous.  I decided that if I was going to accept the challenge of writing one of these two topics to help break my writer's block and re-establish my connection with the "funny" in the world, then why not share the pain?  Why not challenge YOU, my fellow bloggers and authors, to do the same thing?  Why not break your summer-jinx, or writer's block, or bad attitude, or whatever is plaguing you?
So, here it is.  I hereby challenge YOU to write a blog post on one of the following two topics.
1.  Ten Reasons Why You Should Read [Whatever it is I Write], or
2.  Why I Write.
If you want to be funny about it, that sounds great to me.  If you have a community service blog or other kind of web presence that makes sense to be serious, then be serious.  Your choice.  Just sit down, write it up, and we'll all link it up one week from today.  You can feel free to blame me entirely for the topic choice.  I'm expecting it.  In fact, I will be disappointed if you don't.  After all, I'm passing the buck, so why shouldn't you?
So, are you up for it?  One week from today, on September 8, 2010, I will post my Ten Reasons Why You Should Read My Blog, as I was dared to do by my (albeit rather questionable) friend.  I will also put in a link button on the bottom of that post for you to link your blog and share what you have written too.  If you want to commit to the challenge, please post a comment below.  If you would rather coast along and drop your link as a surprise next week, that's okay too.
One week, my friends.  One week.


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