March 30, 2009

Best Friends? Not Really.

A little chunk of my brain cells died recently, I'm certain of it. And when they did they went out with a big fiery explosion, red and hot, loud like a freight train that rumbled through, shaking the windows and leaving me with a distinct palpable image in my mind.

It was the image of Fresca. For no reason at all, except that perhaps I have a big tumor like John Travolta in Phenomenon, a tumor caused by the gamma rays that my alien neighbors shoot through my bedroom window at night.

The image of the Fresca was followed quickly by a memory of my mother working in a greenhouse shortly after my parents divorced. She worked for a dirty old man that one time slapped her on the butt when she bent over to pick up a flower pot. Except what Mr. Sexual Harassment didn't know is that getting slapped on the butt is something my mother wouldn't tolerate from ANYONE including the husband she had just divorced. He figured it out about five seconds after my mom turned around and punched him right in the jaw and said, "You won't be doing that again." I asked her later if she got fired. She said, "No, but I did get a raise."

For some reason men really dig my mom.

After school I would get off the bus and walk to the greenhouse. There were two other girls my age who lived nearby and would walk with me for a little while. I was ten and still learning the ropes of social adeptness. I was ten and learning to live without my father and my brothers. I was ten and riding a new school bus with new people and walking to my mom's new job.

The bus door creaked open and we three climbed down the stairs too big for our legs and watched the bus drive away. We walked and chattered 10-year-old girl chatter. We passed one house and Maria waved goodbye and went home. Jill walked further with me and as we walked she asked me if I liked her better than Maria.

Even in my 10-year-old social ineptitude I understood on a primal level the question was a dangerous one. I also sensed it wasn't a fair or appropriate question. What I didn't know was how to answer the question, because the problem is the answer was NO. I didn't like her better. I found her shallow and annoying. But I cared about her feelings despite her character flaws.

And because I was ten... I lied. Maybe it was weakness, maybe it was fear, maybe I just didn't know how to answer the question gracefully. The simple fact is I told her I did like her better and the lie laid so heavy on my shoulders that my mother could see the ghost that haunted me and gave me a quarter to go buy a Fresca from the Coke box -- the kind where you open the glass door and pull the bottle out.

The next day Maria approached me with confusion on her face, saying Jill told her I liked her better than Maria. Traitorous bitch, I thought. Well, not really, because I was only ten and I didn't know yet what a traitorous bitch was. But it would have been something like that. Or it might have just been, "Oh man, my mom is right, lying DOES always catch up with you."

I don't remember how the story ends (because I think this is right about the point those brain cells did actually take their last breath before screaming away into the night), except I'm pretty sure I confessed the lie. If she were sophisticated she would have realized not only that I was a liar, but also weak of character.

But it was also a pivotal moment because I learned that a lie is unsatisfying and the fruits of a lie are poison. And I also learned that fear is unproductive. Months later I proved that when I organized an uprising of all the girls in my neighborhood to stand up against a boy bully. Like a little Norma Rae, I stood up on a rock and incited the girls to riot, to stick together, to say "from this day forward you are not the boss of us". For a 10-year-old girl it was a darn fine St. Crispin's Day speech before we were off to war.

A friend of mine once said she never liked the term "best friend". I think it's because it indicates some hierarchy where ultimately a friend who is good and loyal and true is somehow labeled less than "best". Until my friend remarked on that term I'd never thought about it before.

I'm not sure there is such a thing as a best friend. Isn't it just the best friend for that particular job? The best friend to complain to about your boyfriend or your family life? The best friend to complain to about your job or your parents or your dog who just ate the cushions of your new couch? And the friend who helps clean you up after you got drunk and puked all over yourself may not be the same friend you call to help you weigh your future life options. Is one of those best or just different?

I think my friend's observation is keen (and wise) and worth thinking about. Which might be why some of my brain cells died.

Damn her.

March 29, 2009


It's Small Town Snapshot Sunday! Read the rules and get the banners here.

(Be sure to add a link to your STSS post via Mr. Linky which is below the picture. If you can't see it for some reason, please let me know by adding a link to your post in the comments and I will add you manually.)

Small Town Snapshot Sunday Participants
1. A Changing Life
2. Kathy
3. Smalltown Girl
4. Views From A Small Town

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March 27, 2009

Easy Way, Hard Way

The Toddler wandered by trailing behind him an invisible, but lethal waft of stinkage.

"Hey," I said, "You're stinky. Did you poop?"

He turns and looks at me like I'm terribly misinformed. "Darted." (He means farted. My mom is mortified that we let him say the word "fart". She insists that "passing gas" is much better. I completely disagree. You pass the mashed potatoes at the dinner table, you don't "pass gas". But anyway...)

While I'd like to consider my children trustworthy, unfortunately they are not. "Are you telling the truth?"

"No," he says. I'm not sure if he understands the word "truth", but I think he and I both know how this is about to go down.

"Okay, let's get your diaper changed." This immediately means he takes off running to hide somewhere. I shout after him, "Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?"


Having only had about four hours of sleep, I'm in no mood to play around. I resort to the despicable tactic of candy bribery at 6:30 in the morning. "Hey, T, there's a gummy worm here, you want it?"


"Come get your diaper changed and you can have it."

"Uh uh."

"Gummy worm is the easy way. Mommy wrestling you down like a perp on Cops is the hard way. How do you want this to go?"

"Hard way."

I bit the end off the gummy worm and sighed after accidentally biting the lime end. Yuck. No wonder he wants to do it the hard way. "Okay, no worm then."

He starts riverdancing and making protesting noises. He turns in circles, gyrating. With a little coaching I think he could go on tour. I stood there wishing we had some music and a video camera.

Finally he realizes I will not budge on the matter of the worms and takes my hand and we walk together to the "diaper station".

"Thanks for taking the easy way. That's a good choice." I hand him the worm as he lays down.


He doesn't seem to mind the lime.

March 26, 2009

Can't We Be Frenemies?

I was washing dishes tonight after dinner and noticed a nice couple practicing baseball with their son. I said to my husband, "Hey, it looks like there are new neighbors over there maybe." (We live next to a quadruplex and don't really keep track of who comes and goes but I hadn't seen these folks before.)

Rob leaned over and looked past me and said, "Oh... yeah. Well, um, I saw her yesterday and she waved at me and was really friendly, but I was working on the mower and just said hi back and probably wasn't as friendly as I could have been. I was really stressed."

I said, "Oh, bummer." I scrubbed the dishes and watched them play for few seconds. "Hey, I think I'll go meet them and introduce them to the boys. Their boy looks about the same age."

So, I scramble around like a lunatic trying to get the boys back into their shoes and socks and wipe faces and tidy shirts and just make sure we look halfway respectable. We walk out to the small field behind their apartment. When we passed the boundary of our yard, the little boy saw us and started waving excitedly. I waved back. I thought it was a little strange neither of the parents looked in my direction. If my kid were waving at someone I'd be wondering who he was waving at. (This should have been my first clue, but read on.)

He comes running up and I said, loud enough for everyone to hear me, "Hi there! We're your neighbors. We wanted to come over and introduce ourselves!" Still the parents don't turn around. I was pretty sure they heard me but second-guessed myself.

I said, "This is Tristan and Julius. What's your name?" By this point I'm starting to freak out because I don't like being a weirdo stranger who comes up and starts talking to kids without their parents being involved. But as I am often unable to restrain myself I asked his name anyway.

"I'm Jeremy." (not his real name) and added, "Can I play with you?"

"Uhhhhhhhmm..." I kept walking really fast to try to get within what I thought was earshot so when they finally turned around to look at me they wouldn't think I was stalking their kid. I yell obnoxiously loud, "HI THERE! I'm, uhhhh, your neighbor. The one from over there next door!"

The whole time the mom and dad had been throwing a baseball to each other. They both had baseball gloves on. The mom turned around and looked at me with this weird expression on her face that sort of implied she knew EXACTLY who I was and didn't care at all to have anything to do with me.

And yet, I'm just like an eager puppy trying desperately to make things as fabulous as possible. "Er... Wendy, that's me. Your neighbor. Next door." Crickets start chirping in the background. They haven't paused throwing the ball AT ALL and have actually moved slightly away from me at this point. I stood there like a dummy for an agonizing hour that was probably actually only 15 seconds.

Finally, after one catch she turned her head to me and said, "Vicki." (Not her real name.) Then threw the ball back to her husband.

"Ah," I said awkwardly. The husband caught the ball and looked at me with a sort of smirky look on his face.

"Alrighty then. Come on boys, let's go home!"

I attempted to walk in a dignified manner back to my house with my tail between my legs. Never, ever, ever in my life have I had anything like that happen. It was just WEIRD.

So, we've spent the last hour trying to come up with various theories about what could have gone wrong. Here is my list:

  1. They were paying Rob back for his social faux pas from earlier.
  2. They know I'm a yeller and think I'm a hideous parent.
  3. They read my blog and don't want me for a neighbor.
  4. They are in the witness protection program.
  5. As a rule they just hate ALL neighbors, not just us.
  6. They are bitter because we have a nice yard and they don't.
  7. They are aliens and do not yet feel properly socialized in a human environment.

Do you have any other theories? Work on it and let me know what you come up with. I'm off to go stalk them and try to figure out why they hate me. I was hoping for friends, would settle for frenemies, but now I can't even get that. Sheesh.

March 24, 2009

Below the Waist, Random This and That

This post concerns matters pertaining to things below the waist. If you are shy, conservative, squeamish or have any little shred of good taste you should just go now and come back tomorrow when I'm better behaved. My grandmother would be so ashamed if she could see me now.

* * *

Chapter One: In Which The Husband Installs a New Toilet Seat

We had to replace our toilet seat because I often sit on the closed lid and watch the boys while they are in the bath to ensure they don't kill each other accidentally. Or maybe on purpose. I'm not sure which I'm more worried about.

In any case, the little knobby things on the underside of the lid have been wearing on the seat and rubbed the coating of the seat off so it was embarrassing for people to see. It looked like we had sandpaper skin on our asses and had been sliding around on the seat.

Seeing that we are in ultra-conservative budget mode right now, Rob replaced the seat with a really cheapo press board seat that apparently cannot stand the force of our heavily-weighted posteriors. Or maybe it's the kids standing on it to get into the medicine cabinet and stealing all the Curious George bandaids. Yeah, I'll blame it on the kids. That sounds a lot better than admitting I have a big butt.

Today I noticed the seat is cracking and the last time I went in there it pinched me on the thigh. You know, a naked thigh pinch is one thing, but a naked thigh pinch from your toilet seat is something else entirely different.

So, now I hover over the seat like I'm in some filthy gas station men's room. This should not happen in the comfort of my own home. This is America for heaven's sake!

* * *

Chapter Two: In Which the Toddler Forms a Certain Obsession

The Toddler, for some reason, has an obsession with butt cracks. I have no idea why or how this happened, but it's disconcerting. He chases Julius around trying to poke him and laughs, "Booty!"

I'm hoping this means that when he grows up he will be a Proctologist who makes a whole lot of money, because the alternative is just too disturbing.

* * *

Chapter Three: In Which We Explain for the 30th Time That Mommy Doesn't Have a Penis

The following conversation took place between Rob and The Toddler during T's diaper changing:

R: You have a very wet diaper!
T: Biper!
Rob gets the dry diaper under him.
T: Neenis!
R: Did you just say penis?
T: Mine.
R: Um, yes, that's your penis.
T: Daddy. Penis.
R: Yes, Daddy has a penis.
T: Julius!
R: Yes, Julius has a penis.
T: Mommy. Penis.
R: No, Mommy does not have a penis. Mommy has a vagina.
T: Oh.

This is not the first time we've had this conversation and for some reason he seems disconcerted by my lack of penis. And sometimes he is quite insistent about it with the scowling and the disbelief. I know as he gets older he will be very relieved, but for now he seems quite indignant about it like we're playing some dirty trick on him.

We didn't have conversations about body parts with our older son until he was probably at least three. Maybe this is what happens when you're the younger kid you become "more informed" earlier. I don't know. What I do know is I'm not really keen on the men in the family sitting around talking about my va-jay-jay like it's the weather or the latest sports scores. Or at all, for that matter.

* * *

Chapter Four: In Which I Discover I Can't Tell the Difference Between Poop and Mud

My husband took the children to the baseball field to give me a little break. He's sweet that way. He and Julius practice every day with the catching and throwing and batting. Today while they were practicing, The Toddler amused himself in a nearby mud puddle. About an hour and a half after they had been gone, I got a call that went something like this:

W: Hello?
R: Woop... Woop... Woop... calling the Hazmat Team, calling the Hazmat Team. We have a full scale emergency. MOBILIZE! MOBILIZE!
W: Mobilize?
R: Full scale mobilization! We have a hazmat emergency! The package is on the way and is highly toxic. We need the entire team, stat!
W: Okay, the team is mobilizing! We'll be at the door when the package arrives.

In the meantime I run to the bathroom, start a bath, get a towel to cover the floor by the door, get the wipes and then I wait, poised for whatever comes through the door.

Julius burst through the door yelling, "We've smelled the Stench of Discovery!" Right after that I smelled the stench of discovery, too.

What came through the door next was a baby with no clothes on. (He left with clothes on. And shoes.) Now, nothing but a diaper. His father was carrying him by his armpits, fully extended out so there's no possible way the baby could touch him. The baby's pale skin was covered from chest all the way down with brown stuff. Part of it's mud. Part of it's... not mud, but something far more sinister. And smellier. I couldn't tell where the mud stopped and the poop started. It's spring. The temptation to put him in the driveway and use the hose on him was nearly irresistible. Somehow I managed to restrain myself.

About fifteen wet wipes later he was clean enough to get him into the tub. We dunked him good in the soapy water while he gleefully yells, "PENIS! MINE!". Pride starts early, apparently. I'm happy for him, but I'll be far more comfortable when he learns to internalize his pride a little better.

[photo credit: pfaff]

March 23, 2009

Congrats, Bluebird!

Jean over at Bluebirds Living in the Meadow is celebrating her Blogaversary. She's having a nifty giveaway, so run right over and check it out.

I have fun over there looking at her creative works. She does a lot of encaustic painting which is something I'm just learning about. It's fascinating and has a beautiful look, different.

Anyway, Happy Blogaversary, Jean. :)

March 22, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday: The Premier Edition

Welcome to Small Town Snapshot Sunday! The inspiration came from a post in which I wrote some small vignettes of life in my particular small town.

With a little encouragement (oh, it takes so little to get me off on a tangent) I decided it would be great fun, for me anyway, to do a weekly event called "Small Town Snapshot Sunday" in which we celebrate life in small town America Earth.

The rules are very simple and pretty loose:

  1. Entries can be either text, picture, drawing (or other artwork) or some combination of those. "Snapshot" can be taken in the literal sense (as in a photograph) or like the vignettes like my example above.
  2. "Small town" is defined as a town having a population of 10,000 or less.
  3. Any small town will do. It doesn't have to be your own town.
  4. "Snapshots" should depict small town life or have a small town flavor.
  5. "Snapshots" must be your own work!
  6. Link to the Small Town Snapshot Sunday page so people know how to play. (You can use one of the banners below if you'd like or a text link will do just fine.)
  7. And then somewhere at the bottom you can do the Mr. Linky thing, linking to your Snapshot Sunday page NOT your main blog page. (And only leave your link if you are participating on that particular day!) Any links that go to something other than an STSS post will be deleted.

Here is my contribution to the premier edition of STSS:

Original Charter Small Town Snapshot Sunday Participants
1. On the Front Porch
2. Smalltown Girl
3. Kathy
4. Views From A Small Town

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For a current list of participants see the latest edition of STSS.


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March 21, 2009

Please, No Pictures!

I was in a restaurant yesterday standing at the counter waiting to pay for my meal. As I was waiting for the girl to help me I happened to turn my head to the right to glance around the restaurant for something interesting to look at when I saw this woman put her arm around the man she was sitting next to, point her phone in my direction and heard it make that classic fake camera noise that phones often make when you're taking a picture of someone.

I blinked and my mouth probably fell open in a really attractive way. She glanced up from her phone and looked at me, slightly alarmed, then pretended nothing happened and made herself REALLY SMALL behind the guy she was sitting next to. AS IF I WOULDN'T NOTICE.

Okay, so... what the heck?? Now I'm all paranoid. Strangers are taking pictures of me. I am certain I'm funny-looking now. My picture is out there on the web on some web site where they make fun of people standing in line at restaurants. In fact, I spent an hour this morning looking for blogs where they make fun of people standing in line at restaurants, but couldn't find one.

Or maybe she was doing a social experiment in which she takes pictures of strangers and then makes a note of their reactions. I haven't looked for that kind of web site yet.

I stood there for a moment thinking I should take a picture of her to retaliate, but then I thought what if she was taking a picture of a nice vase behind me? I looked. There wasn't really anything interesting or attractive behind me. Or in front of me. And I don't look particularly interesting or attractive. I mean... well, don't misunderstand -- I don't have self-esteem issues per se, but can honestly say out of a hundred people in a room I'm going to be one of the more boring looking ones in the group if I'm just standing there. In line. In a restaurant. Strangers taking pictures of me. Standing there.

Do you take pictures of strangers in public? What's the etiquette of that? And what's the etiquette if you're the one whose picture gets taken? Is it wrong to throw a glass of water on a woman who just took your picture? What about stabbing her hand with a fork? Is that wrong? Someone help me out here. And if you can't help me out, for heaven's sake, someone loan me a Xanax.

March 20, 2009

Mom, Please Stop Speaking

Okay, here is a secret post about my mom. If anyone tells her about this you cannot come back to my blog anymore. And also, I will wish that one thousand fleas take up residence in your undergarments.

Remember how I mentioned yesterday that my mother was flirting with a guy? I teased her about it just before I left the office last night. Shoulda known better.

I came into the office this morning and sat down at my desk to work and here she comes...

The door flies open. No hello.

"I wasn't flirting," she says.

I rolled my eyes. "Oh, sure. Mm-hmm." I pretended to stare at something really, really interesting on my monitor.

"It's just that I love people. I love talking to people. I enjoy it."

I glanced up over the monitor and contemplated metaphorically heaving her over my shoulder in a fireman's carry and dragging her out of Fantasy Land.

Just as I was about to set her straight she said, "Well, really, I love men."

That's when I threw up a little in my mouth.

March 19, 2009

Wendy Sees

I saw a fun meme today over at Middle Aged Woman Blogging. Except now I'm aggravated because so many people are doing it that I can't do it now because it's messed up Google.

Messed up Google... really? How can that even be?

The meme goes like this. You go to Google and type in "[your name] needs" (WITH the quotes but without the brackets) and then you make a list of things you see in the search results. Only NOW when you do it you see twelve million other people with my name who have done the meme so instead of getting really funny search results, you get really funny versions of other people doing the meme and they all look pretty much the same.

I thought about sitting around and just whining about it and feeling sorry for myself, but then decided I'd pick another word instead of "needs" and see if I can still get something funny. Below is the result of the modified meme searching for "Wendy sees" via Google:

* * *

  1. Wendy sees red
  2. Wendy sees the horror
  3. Wendy sees trouble
  4. Wendy sees more horror (This is starting to become alarming.)
  5. Wendy sees Billie being tortured for being alone (I'm thinking of quitting while I'm ahead. Am I ahead even??)
  6. Wendy sees the helmet (Wendy has a feeling she should be putting the helmet ON.)
  7. Wendy sees herself as very lucky to have a blessed life and great family (except for poor, tortured Billie)
  8. Wendy sees quickly the level of commitment and caring she brings to her job (on what day?)
  9. Wendy sees the discovery that Lucien has a phobia of clowns (poor Lucien)
  10. Wendy sees things
  11. Wendy sees Alaska as a place where she can be free

Okay, now as amusing as this pasttime might be it doesn't seem nearly as satisfying as describing what I actually have seen today. Anyone with a weak stomach should go to a nicer, more reader-friendly blog.

  • Wendy saw her mother trying to make "fake pickles" in the refrigerator at work.
  • Wendy saw inside the window of a rent house that had 80 pounds of dirty laundry on the floor.
  • Wendy saw The Toddler sneaker-skiing on a mound of gravel.
  • Wendy saw a baby kitty folded in half by her two year old.
  • Wendy saw her mother flirting with an old man and was alarmed and sickened by it.
  • Wendy saw her cup of tea boiling over in the microwave.
  • Wendy saw a total stranger doing numerology in her office.
  • Wendy saw the decayed remains of a tree her brother cut down from her yard, a tree which grazed the end of the porch, bending down a corner of her new metal roof.
  • Wendy also saw that mysteriously a plum tree is also missing from her yard and would attribute that to her chainsaw-happy brother as well.
  • Wendy saw a creepy, diseased dog with wet mush coming out of its ear and eye (and subsequently had someone call the animal control officer).
  • Wendy saw The Toddler jumping up to try to catch the moon.
  • Wendy saw a note from the teacher saying her oldest son is advanced in literacy!
  • Wendy saw her husband explain to her advanced-in-literacy son that the word "there" is only ONE syllable, not TWO as in "thay-er". (This is what sometimes happens when you raise a child in the South.)
  • Wendy saw two unfamiliar teenage boys throwing sneakers into her yard.
  • Wendy saw her husband remove the garbage disposal and not replace it so now there's a big hole in her sink.
  • Wendy saw five, no... six Toddler turds in the bathtub. Just tonight.

Those are just a few things from my day. I hope yours was fabulous and totally poop-free. What did you see today?

March 18, 2009

Brussels Sprouts Encounter

I went back to 1995 to find this for Funnyrunner. This was something I wrote when I was living in the more epicuriously adventurous coast of California. Enjoy!

* * *

I was at the grocery store getting stuff to make chicken soup. I thought I would live dangerously and try adding brussels sprouts like I saw someone do once to see how it would turn out except I couldn't remember "brussels sprouts". I wandered down the produce aisle looking for "the little cabbages" when I finally spied them wedged between some unidentified fluffy green leafy vegetable and some musty looking garlic.
That was about the time I was delicately rammed by a short, aggressive-looking grandma who was either not in control of her shopping cart or just didn't care that she was careening wildly about through the produce section.

I moved out of her way and proceeded to poke through the brussels sprouts when I realized that I didn't really know how to pick out a good one. I was thinking that you would use the same rules that you use for lettuce, cabbages and women's breasts -- pick ones that look nice on the outside and feel firm when you squeeze them.

Just to be safe I thought I would ask, but the only person who looked remotely knowledgeable was The Woman with the Cart.

So I cleared my throat and said, "Excuse me. How do you pick out good brussels sprouts?" I will point out that all the things I have learned about vegetables I have learned not from my mother, but in the grocery store from women who looked like they could have done the cooking at The Last Supper.

She waddled over to me in a way that indicates she is limping on both legs, but won't complain about it. She was wearing glasses that perched at the end of her nose and were secured to her body by a chain that circled her neck. She came up very near and inspected me closely to size up just what kind of girl I am who doesn't know her brussels sprouts. I felt shame and made a mental note to ask my mother why she never explained this process to me.

I guess the woman decided I was okay. She asked me what I was going to do with the brussels sprouts. I told her I wanted to put them into some chicken soup. Her eyes narrowed and she peered at me suspiciously. I wondered if perhaps there was some unspoken code about brussels sprouts and chicken soup. Then she said, "Chicken VEGETABLE soup" and nodded wisely like that suddenly was a different story.

She then proceeded to tell me how she puts EVERYTHING into her chicken vegetable soup. She had a heavy New York accent and I had pictures of her standing over a steaming cauldron throwing in whole chickens, feet and all. She leaned close to me and whispered, "You know what is REALLY good in chicken vegetable soup?"

"What's that?" I prompted.

She paused dramatically and leaned over, slapping her hand onto a stack of bags whose vegetables were obscured by condensation. "PARSNIPS!" she said loudly.

And I said, "Uh, yeah. Those are kinda like carrots."

That remark caused her to launch into a lengthy monologue about carrots and parsnips and her mother's "green soup". By the way, I now know how to make a nice "green soup" and the recipe is probably close to 80 or 100 years old, so I am sure it would fetch a good price on the recipe open market. You can't just get information like this off the label of a soup can.

I finally disengaged myself from the woman and the last I saw of her she was standing with her eyes closed in the middle of the fresh fruit section with a mango pressed to her nose.

I was curious about that, but knew better than to ask.

[photo credit: specialkrb]

March 17, 2009

Mailboxes I Have Known and Loved

(sponsored post)

When I was about nine I got my first mailbox. I think it might have actually been a coin bank, although looking back I guess that wouldn't be a very good bank would it, if it was like a mailbox with a door that opened so you could get the money any time you wanted. Obviously my parents were not that concerned about teaching me about saving.

But I digress. My dad, who worked for the postal service, had a HUGE mailbox. The kind you can put packages in. He could have put ME inside the mailbox for that matter. In one of his rare moments of family participation he was kind enough to actually cement a post in next to the family mailbox and install my mailbox right there like it was a "real" one. I was so excited.

I started leaving notes for the mailman. One time I left him cheap cologne. I think he might have left me a note once. It didn't really seem to matter -- it was just so cool to have a mailbox of my own. Bright blue, red flag. Six inches long at the most. Ridiculous looking on a huge 4x4 post. Didn't care.

Over the years I've always decorated my mailboxes in fun and funky ways. (I've always wanted to get a fancy one like whitehall mailboxes but could never afford one.) Once I covered one all in postage stamps and then covered it in UV-safe shellac. (It faded anyway.) Most of the time I just paint them funky. My current one used to have lady bugs and ivy on it, but all the lady bugs either fell off or were stolen by neighborhood hoodlums. Custom mailboxes rock.

Have you made any personalized mailboxes for your own house? (See comments for a link to some really artistic ones!)

March 16, 2009

Toddler Assassin

The other night The Toddler tried to kill my husband.

I was out most of the night doing city council meetings and after-talk. I got home very late and Rob and I sat talking for a while and had some fruit and cottage cheese. The kids were in bed and I hadn't seen them since I'd left for the meetings earlier in the evening.

He got up and was walking around in the kitchen doing stuff to get ready for bed. He walked past the doorway to the south end of the kitchen and all was quiet for a moment. Then I heard a terrifying guttural noise that I couldn't really identify except that it was coming from the last place to where Rob had walked.

Suddenly I saw him race past the doorway again to the north end of the kitchen where the sink is. More hideous noises that sounded like he was puking his guts out. I jumped up and ran to the kitchen where I found him with his head in the sink. RAAAAHHHHRRRRRRR goes some more puking. Over and over. And over. And over.

I asked him what happened then realized he couldn't answer me. I thought, "Oh dear, I ate the same thing he did." It all tasted fine. Oh how I didn't want to join him in the other sink. I had food poisoning once and it was one of the low points in my life. I was thinking frantically what it could be that was causing him to throw up so violently, so quickly.

After a very long five minutes he was finally able to tell me what happened.

While I was at my meeting, Tristan had been sitting on the washing machine playing in the laundry soap for a few moments before Rob caught him and got him down. In the meantime nobody noticed that Tristan had put laundry soap in a cup that we have sitting on the dryer next to our Brita water dispenser. The cup is there for when Rob (or whoever) wants a quick drink of water.

When he went to take some medication before bedtime, he apparently didn't look in the cup before he put water in it then used that water to chug the pill he was swallowing. Laundry soap water down the hatch.

In case anyone wonders, the label on a box of laundry soap recommends that if you swallow laundry soap you should drink more water to dilute it. They do not, however, explain how you dilute it when you're busy puking it up. Maybe if you've thrown it all up you don't have to. They were not that specific. Also, the poison warning part of the laundry soap box is in very tiny letters, so if you know you're about to be poisoned you should have a magnifying glass handy to read what you're supposed to do when it happens. Or better yet, just commit to memory every antidote to every household chemical. You could practice reciting these to each other on family road trips or make a trivia game of it.

It seems to me we might need this in the future since The Toddler has obviously inherited my mother's penchant for nearly poisoning the family.

Anyway, I'm just glad it wasn't bad cottage cheese.

[photo credit: Chris Fleming]

March 13, 2009

Feeling Bad?

If you ever feel bad about your life: GO HERE

If I had a blog called "Snapshots from a Small Town" I would type in tiny little entries like this:

Yesterday at the city council meeting I got up from my chair and got my foot caught on the leg of the table and nearly fell down. A heavyset lady about my mom's age chuckled and said, "You're as bad as me. Look at this bruise I got..." and then pulled her top down and showed me her black and green breast.


During the summer I rode in the back of a truck for a parade and to make things more interesting I blew bubbles all along the parade route. Now there are people in town who call me "Bubbles" which is a stripper name.


Every year my town dams up a creek that runs through town next to the kiddie park and stock it with fish. The weekend before July 4th we have our summer festival and a fishing derby for the kids. Two or three nights before the derby the police have to sit by this pool and keep grown redneck men from fishing in it. One year someone didn't adequately aerate the pool and the day of the derby we all sat on the banks with our children and watched fish float to the top, belly up, one at a time. The kids were wading in catching comatose fish and yelling, "I got one!"


I grew up in this town and am the daughter of an often-known business woman who is well-respected, but not always popular. (People either really like her or really don't like her.) In my town when you meet people they want to know who you are related to. When I tell them who my mom is they say, "Oh yeah, I know your mom..." except I can never tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

... Except I don't have a blog like that.

March 12, 2009

Coupon Crazy

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Three things happened in a short amount of time that made me think something strange and cosmic was going on.

1) I read somewhere that people on eBay sell coupons online and get big bucks for them. I thought that was so weird and went to check. It's true! I still can't get over that.

2) My mom called to tell me I needed to start clipping coupons because she knows a lady who gets hundreds of dollars worth of food for like $1.62. I decide she doesn't really know this lady, but actually probably saw her on TV because sometimes my mom pretends that people on TV are her friends. (Not really, but it seems to work out that way in her mind at least.)

3) A friend of mine called to tell me she has decided she wants to start clipping coupons because people save hundreds of dollars clipping coupons and since she's a SAHM she thinks it would show her husband she's doing her part. I ponder for a moment that perhaps she and my mom have the same TV friends. This is a woman who pays $4 for drinks at Starbucks. I thought about telling her to just stop the Starbucks drinking and she'd break even without having to clip coupons, but who am I to spoil her fun.

So, now I'm feeling completely inadequate because a couple of times I've tried to clip coupons and the best score I've ever had is $1 off two tubes of toothpaste. That's good and all but I had to spend probably $5 to do it. I don't purchase anything that's on a coupon for the most part. I wish they had coupons for broccoli or butter lettuce or maybe cottage cheese. But no, they don't do stuff like that.

THEN, to top it off I ran across a site called Extrabux where you can shop for stuff and get cash back rebates on stuff you buy. It's a free site with 800 stores where you can do comparison shopping and check out online shopping deals. THEN you buy your stuff through them. They get some kind of money for passing through your business and you get some kind of rebate in the process. I don't quite get all the details, but that's the gist. To me it seems quicker and easier than clipping coupons.

Although, someone says that fishing isn't about the fish you've caught it's all about the chase of getting the fish. Is that how it is for coupon clippers? Do you clip? Do you want to clip? What's your best clip?

March 10, 2009

I'm a Yeller

Now that there is a recession (or depression or whatever we're calling it these days) I'm a yeller. Just a big ole screaming harpie. I can't find any nicer way to say it.

Rob's been hinting around about it for a while with really polite suggestions like:

"I read this article in a parenting magazine about how to have a calm household."


"I saw this infomercial with these tapes about effective discipline... maybe we should get some of those."

and the less subtle

"I think we should try to not yell so much."

and the more direct

"You probably could have done that without yelling."

I heard him, but I didn't really HEAR him if you know what I mean. Because, after all, we're in a recession and of all the vocations to have while we're in a recession, I happen to be a REALTOR for heaven's sake. So, when my head isn't in the gas oven apparently my family claims I'm yelling.

It finally occurred to me today what Rob has been talking about. I had a sudden epiphany.

I was standing in the kitchen and asked Julius to take a drink to The Toddler. As he's leaving the room he says, "I have to taste it to make sure it's okay."

I yell at his retreating back, "NO NO NO, DON'T DRINK AFTER YOUR BROTHER... HE HAS DIIIAAARRHEEEEEEEAAAAA!" (Of course he's already drinking as I'm yelling this helpful warning.) I turn with the word "diarrhea" wafting from my yellbox and realize that on this nice spring day we have all the windows open. Great.

And so for good measure, I yell out the kitchen window, "And all you neighbors watch out too cause my kid has diarrhea. Just wanna make sure everyone heard me!"

I bet my neighbors love me.

[photo credit: demibrooke]

March 8, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher's mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again. ~Jimmy Piersal, on how to diaper a baby, 1968

I'm not a big fan of baseball. I feel a little bit unpatriotic admitting that but figure I can probably get away with it being a girl and all.

We signed my oldest up for baseball this year. Real baseball, not T-ball. We did T-ball two years ago and he seemed way more interested in stripping the leaves off a small tree that was growing through the chain link fence of the field. I sat on the bench and watch a dozen baseballs roll past him and wished I could lay under the bleachers and take a nap for all the good this was doing any of us.

This year he seemed quite enthusiastic about baseball. Today we had a 2nd practice in which the entire family went, the four of us. Dad got to help "coach" on the field and I was relegated to chasing The Toddler around what with my BEING A GIRL AND ALL. I considered turning this into a snarky post about how my normally enlightened and sensitive husband turned into an inconsiderate, sexist baseball-coaching uberDad, but decided that relating one of the more surreal two hours of my life would probably be funnier and get me into a lot less trouble. The thing is... if I piss him off he'll stop making me sushi. He's a really fine sushi maker.

Things started off really well with The Toddler and I racing each other to get a tennis ball as it rolled down a grass hill. Most of the time he'd land on his face, but since he was laughing I figured it was okay. Probably the marks will clear up before he has to invite anyone to the prom.

Just about the time I was feeling 1) really optimistic about my bonding time with The Toddler, 2) confident that my mothering skills were improving, and 3) that The Toddler was maturing enough that it was safe for me to relax and enjoy myself in public was right about the time he suddenly took off running and dashed out onto the field. The pitching machine was set on maximum as was The Toddler. My husband, however, was somehow cranked down to slo-mo and when he screamed, "GET THE BABY!!!" it came out sounding more like the call from a humpback whale.

I skidded across the sand as The Toddler ran onto the field pretty much stopping the practice game. Everyone in the bleachers stared. Fortunately, this was before the incident with my ass happened, but more on that later.

I dragged The Toddler by one arm past the dugout as he was screaming, "NO MOMMY NO" while simultaneously and desperately trying to make a three-limbed sand angel.

Over the next half hour I distracted him by walking him about 12 miles around the entire park. At one point he spotted our car parked in the lot and came to the sudden realization that I was walking him a big circle. He became indignant, pointed the car out to me and scowled with displeasure. "Car!" he accused. "Huh. Is that our car?" I asked innocently. He yelled, "GO!" Back to the baseball field.

One hour down. One hour to go. I walked casually by where my husband was feigning helpfulness. I hinted, "Hey, why don't you take Tristan for a while?" (Well, I have trouble being subtle.) He responded, "I can't, honey, I'm helping." I then made the mistake of assuming we lived in the 21st century where men and women are actually equal and that sometimes moms are allowed to help with baseball practice.

"I could help," I said.

He blinked. I could hear the hard drive in his processor start grinding and the fan kick in. There might have even been some "blue screen of death" had I not turned and walked away in order to spare him the agony of trying to get out of that one. We've only been married for 8 years. I'm saving that level of cruelty for after we've hit 15 or 20.

The last hour began with a my 2-year-old and another 2-year-old starting an embarrassing Toddler Brawl. It began as a simple shoving match, pretty good-natured. My own Toddler happens to be a bully and frequently beats up on his 6-year-old brother, often winning. I expected none of this to go well, but it turns out that the toddler he happened to brawl with was a tiny redneck WWF streetfighter toddler who, given the chance, would have kicked his ass. I did the only thing a mom can do when her son is about to lose a fight... I cheated.

"Okay, no shoving, no shoving, boys," I admonished them, mostly WWF Toddler then realized his grandmother was sitting at the back of the bleachers right where I was yelling. She turned, along with everyone else in the nearest two rows, and scowled at me with one scary eye. I had the decency to look embarrassed at least.

(Oh, I skipped the part where I scared a little girl off the playground equipment and she ran and told her mother something about me. I'm not even sure what I did, but undoubtedly something unwittingly hideous because that's just my level of skill with children.)

At this point, and I'm not really sure how it happened, I began being followed by WWF Toddler's redneck family. I spent the next half hour trying to figure out how the relationship worked. There was WWF and his dad with a lot of tattoos and a farmer tan. There was an older woman that I THINK might have been an aunt or a young grandmother. Then there was a teenage boy and girl, one or both might have been related to the WWF Toddler and yet they were also sweet on each other. The whole thing was confusing. Did I mention they were following me?

As if that wasn't bad enough, they were also TALKING to me. Redneck Romeo told me about his dare-devilish personality and how he used to never care if he were doing daring stuff. He regaled me with tales of a 300 foot drop off a bluff into the water. He said, "Back then I didn't care if I lived or died. You have to feel that way to do stuff like that, stuff like I did back then. I used to say, 'If He wants me, He can take me.' Now I don't, because of her..." He pointed to Redneck Juliet.

He went on to explain to me about various car motors he has taken apart and rebuilt and how he's really realizing his mortality now because of big-bosomed Juliet, who is 16 and wants to go to the Vo-Tech and study automotive because she hates school.

I asked Romeo how old he was.

"Sixteen. But I look eighteen."

"Um. Yeah!" I nodded enthusiastically. I glanced to my left to see WWF Toddler and My Toddler sitting inside a deep trash can lid. WWF punches Tristan right in the face. I sighed.

Juliet says to Romeo, "You're so full of yourself."

Romeo points at me and said, "She said I did." Juliet eyeballed me suspiciously.

Tristan had crawled out of the trash can lid (or been knocked out by a roundhouse punch maybe) and was moving in to clothesline WWF Toddler with his big, fat forearm. He missed.

"Dammit," I muttered under my breath. All he needed was one good connect and the fight would be over. Right after thinking that I realized I probably watch way too much boxing. I promised myself to go check out a book on Ghandi during my next trip to the library.

Before it could get any more embarrassing, I distracted Tristan by pointing to an invisible squirrel and asking him if he could see it. He ran off toward the squirrel that didn't exist and we ended up in a dugout of the empty field next door. I was relieved to have 30 seconds to sit on a bench while Tristan played in the sand. It wasn't until after practice was over that I realized that was the moment I sat down in something really sticky. I didn't notice until I wiped my dusty hands on the back of my pants. My hands stuck to my ass.

I went over and told my husband. He said, "What do you mean you sat in something? What did you sit in?"

Me: I don't know. Something sticky.

Him: What was it?

Me: I told you, I don't know. Feel my butt. It's sticky.

Him: I'm not gonna feel your butt.

Me: Oh, come on. I thought you liked touching my butt.

Him: I'm not touching it.

Me: Just one time, just a little.

He touched my butt and then recoiled in agony like a thousand fires from hell had crawled up his arm and were trying to make themselves at home in his dental work. "Why did you tell me to do that???"

"How do you think I feel? It's on my butt!"

"I have to go wash my hands!" He hurried off to the washroom to cleanse himself after the traumatic ass-touching. That was a real ego-boost for me, let me say.

And to top it off he brought back a long strip of paper towel and thrust it into my hands. "You're not sitting on my seats like that." I eyeballed the narrow strip of towel.

"You think that's gonna cover my butt? Are you kidding me?"

"Just stick it to your backside before you sit down. Do you need me to do it for you?"

At this point I began to feel less amused and more annoyed. "Maybe I should just ask if I could ride in the back of Philip's pickup."

This is the time when Hubby should say, "Oh honey don't be silly." But instead, mine says, "I don't think there's room with the pitching machine in there and all the equipment. Maybe he could make two trips, though."

He might have been kidding. I hope he was kidding.

Being a good sport (for a girl and all) I stuck that crummy wad of paper towels to my backside and hopped up into the Hummer. This is what we do for love. We sacrifice our dignity for car upholstery.

I'm sure he's done something at least that bad. If not, I'm sure he will!

March 7, 2009

I Keep Telling Myself It's Not a Contest

Our oldest son is in kindergarten. We've never had a kid in school before so there's all this stuff you have to learn about ways parents must interact with the school culture, the teachers, rules and regs, etc.

One of the nifty things we've had over the last few weeks is "Moms and Muffins" and "Dads and Donuts" where the kids bring in a parent to participate in the hedonist ritual of sugaring up first thing in the morning. Then at the peak of the sugar high the parents get to thankfully leave the children in the care of the teacher who must then deal with the repercussions. (Anyone who says the sugar thing with kids is a myth is in on a vast conspiracy perpetrated by sugar producers.)

When I went to "Moms and Muffins" I was really delighted by it all. I got this gorgeous long-stemmed rose and a hand-drawn card with a cute questionnaire on the inside that was filled out by Julius and answered questions like "How old is your mom?" (100!) and "How tall is your mother?" (almost as tall as me) and "What is her favorite food?" (rice). My kid SO does not know me.

And then today was "Dads and Donuts" and it was pretty much the same routine without the long-stemmed rose. Dad got a cool hand-drawn card and the funny questionnaire except Rob's was not funny since Julius got everything right except his age. He is also 100 apparently.

But here is where it all went wrong. Where it goes wrong is when you compare the cards side by side. It becomes very obvious instantly that he loves his dad and he hates me. I will illustrate this below.

Here is the front of Rob's card:

There you see our adorable little yellow house with the green roof sitting up on a hill with bats coming out of the chimney. This is close to real life except for the hill and the bats. Doesn't it look idyllic and lovely?

And even more touching is the back:

Here you see two smiling humans, Loving Dad and Beatific Son, walking through the black night. Dad has a big flashlight and guides them through the darkness. (The little red bits in front of the flashlight are lightning bugs.) See how they are holding hands? So precious. This is a drawing of an occasional ritual Rob and Julius have where they take a big flashlight and go "armadillo hunting" which consists of them sneaking around in the backyard to see if they can spy armadillos digging worms out of the ground. It doesn't involve any actual predatory behavior directed at the local wildlife.

Moving on to Mom's card we begin to see a shift in attitude. See below:

See the big black rain clouds? See the heavy sheets of rain that come down from the big black rain clouds? See the big menacing lightning bolts coming from the clouds? See the one special little cloud hanging over the person at the bottom? I said, "Julius, is that me?" He looked me like I was stupid and then said, "No, it's ME."

See how the rain cloud pours 826 gallons per minute onto my son's head and then as if that's not enough see how that one cloud has its own special little lightning bolt that strikes my child in the side of the neck so hard that his whole body is enveloped in an aura of gold electricity?

Yeah, that's my sons interpretation of his relationship with his mom.

I'm gonna go eat about eight chocolate eclairs now.

March 6, 2009

Food d'Amore

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I come from a meat and potatoes family. I wasn't very adventurous about food until I was well into my 20's. I was raised on fried chicken, meatloaf, mash potatoes, green beans, your standard plain country food which was cooked two ways -- fried and boiled. My mom kept a coffee can of bacon grease on the counter if that gives you any indication.

My pre-college boyfriend introduced me to the wonders of steamed broccoli. While now that seems a strange thing to consider new and unusual, at the time it was not a "normal" food. I fell madly and deeply in love with the broccoli. Also with the boyfriend, although my romance with broccoli lasted far longer. (This was also the year I learned about how potatoes can sometimes explode in your oven if you don't prepare them properly for cooking.)

My college boyfriend introduced me to the wonders of moo shu pork and crab rangoon (neither of which I'd ever heard of and neither of which could be procured in the small town in which I grew up). And while his boyish charm and the mysteries of the East lured me for a while, they could not hold me forever.

My post-college boyfriend (okay, yes... I am a serial monogamist) introduced me to a smorgasbord of vegetables. He was a pescetarian (a vegetarian who eats fish) with an adventurous palate, a love for protein shots and, unfortunately, a very annoying habit of telling other people what they should eat. Specifically, as opposed to in a general advisory manner. For example, ORDERING FOR THEM IN RESTAURANTS. But that's another whole story. From this unique human I found my fondness for parsnips, marinated artichoke hearts and the occasional brussels sprout. Oh, and I can't forget chocolate, peanut butter and banana smoothies with organic whey or energy protein powder. (It's really not as gross as it sounds.)

After a while, the novelty of "crazy genius" begins to wear thin, as does the weirdness of not being able to pick your own food and so I was single again.

My husband helped me conjure the courage to try cottage cheese and with remorse I think of all the years I could have been eating that wonderfood and didn't. He showed me the divine miracle of whole artichokes. He is the one who masterfully duplicates recipes that we fall in love with at various restaurants. He fearlessly tackles nearly any type of recipe not matter how involved and intimidating it seems to me. He has documented recipes from my mom despite how they sometimes fight like cats and dogs just so those recipes will never be lost. He has convinced me that "we don't need no steenkeeng restaurants!" And has, in fact, ruined me for many restaurants because I love his food so much.

And did I mention he's also cured me of my chronic serial monogamy?

Do you have any good stories about new foods you've discovered later in life? What is your favorite unfamiliar food?

Tamales of Questionable Origin

This post is inspired by one of the funnier blogs that I follow. Vic is very talented! Not long ago she was talking about tamales and it made me think of my own tamale story...

* * *

I was raised in the south by a woman who grew up in California. I was introduced to various Mexican foods at an early age and it all seemed like a normal part of our diet. We rarely ate tamales, although I loved them. They just weren't anything we usually had because it wasn't in Mom's repertoire.

After I got out of college, I went on a grand and bold adventure to California and realized three days and 1,300 miles later that west coast culture and southern culture really do not resemble each other too closely. This is what I get for not getting out more.

After a few years in California, I had acclimated somewhat, although there were still always a few surprises here and there. But, in lieu of buying a winning Powerball lottery ticket, isn't that what makes life fun and interesting?

One of the things I learned about Southern California culture is that you can purchase tamales out of the trunks of cars that drive slowly through your neighborhood. Seriously.

One day my hubby came in with this awesome dish of tamales, still warm. I stood at the kitchen counter, stuffing about 12 of them into my mouth in a really unsavory and unladylike manner and finally thought to ask where it is he procured them. This was definitely not supermarket packaging.

"Wiffy giddis," I asked, bits of cornmeal dropping from my mouth to the counter.

And this is how I know it's true love and we were meant to be together -- he knew exactly what I was saying. About the time I swallowed my 54th tamale he answered, "Out of the trunk of a lady's car."

You know in the scary movie where the person on the screen stays still and the background zooms away smaller? That's what happened to me. I froze.

"Did you say you got these out of the trunk of a lady's car? What car? What lady? What's the temperature outside? Who is this woman? How long have you known her? How long have the tamales been in her car? How do you know these are safe? What if she is like some crazed tamale serial killer lady who is poisoning everyone in our neighborhood? Did you get her license plate number? Did she have good hygiene?"

Then I might have actually screamed, "ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?" and fallen to the ground. I'm not really sure if that last part happened because my memory goes fuzzy at that point.

The basic jist of his response was to roll his eyes and say, "People do this all the time here. It's a thing they do. You know. It's a thing."

I was waiting for him to add, "Dude" but he didn't.

As with any culture, one must become accustomed to it. In order to become accustomed to this one, I sat quivering on my living room couch staring at the clock and looking up on the Internet the minimum and maximum range for when one would see the signs of food-borne illness or chemical poisonings.

Fortunately everything turned out quite fine and I ended up becoming an enthusiastic supporter of the mysterious tamale lady, to the point that Rob would tell me to stop sending him out to the driveway to look for her. I was like an addict waiting for my dealer to drive by. It was getting embarrassing.

Thank goodness just as things were getting out of hand we relocated back to my home in the South, but strangely there is now a tamale lady here. And she knows where my office is. And sometimes she shows up at my house. It's creepy.

And yet... good.

March 5, 2009

The Future is Now (if you have enough money)

Hubby and I love technology and gadgets. The cool thing about being in the job we do (real estate) is that you get to use quite a few gadgets. The obvious -- a computer, very cool software to draw out property boundaries, GPS units and related software, laser doo-dads that open lock boxes, and a high quality digital camera. The legal forms we use now have a way to do a digital signature that has encryption that is supposed to be better than what banks use.

These days it's like living in the future.

Hubby has a little doo-hickey attached to his computer that has a glowing red finger pad on it. He loads up all his passwords to the computer and any time he needs to log in somewhere he just puts his finger on that glowing thing and SHAZAAAAM! No more passwords to remember. I'm waiting him for install something that starts doing retinal scans on us all. I'm drawing the line there.

Something I was looking at on the Internet today is keyless locks. It works sort of like Rob's password finger scanner. Oh, wouldn't that be handy?? Then I wouldn't have to suffer through those moments with The Toddler when he's whining wanting to get into the house and I'm fumbling around with the keys. There's even a keyless lock that doesn't look like one. It has the little finger pad underneath and has a keyhole to make it look like you still use a key.

In fact, wouldn't that be cool if EVERYTHING had keyless locks? The car, the ignition, my house and when I have to start padlocking the fridge when my boys turn into teenagers -- even the fridge!

Okay, really what I want is a smart house like on the show Eureka. Except when it goes berzerk and tries to kill you. But other than that it's cool. The only thing that would be cooler is if the house also cooked and cleaned for you.

What would be your most awesome techno dream?

March 4, 2009

Do You Know What That Meat Is?

It must be strange conversation day at our household. It started yesterday, I think.

The Toddler is finally starting to figure out putting two words together. In the bathtub yesterday Julius decided he was going to help him "practice" some of his words.

The conversation went something like this:

J: Can you say "ga ga poo poo?"

T: ga ga. poo poo.

J: Can you say, "dummy?"

T: No.

J: Can you say, "stupid?"

T: No.

J: Can you say, "weiner?" (He likes saying this word a lot now because he finally figure out at school that weiner is sometimes a euphemism for penis.)

T: No.

J: Can you say "butthead?"

T: Butthead.

M: Julius, stop telling him to saying stuff like that.

J: Ok. Can you say, "Ma ma poo poo?"

T: poo poo. Ma ma poopoo head.

M: Okay, okay, that's enough!

Both boys laugh hysterically. Mommy is not really that amused.

* * *

The Toddler also has this new thing he's doing where he'll say something then add, "See?" But the thing is he will keep saying "see" until you acknowledge that you've seen it. The problem in my case is I don't like saying things that aren't true and half the time I'm driving when he says this and I don't see what he's talking about. So the conversation will go like this:

T: Horse. See?
M: Did you see a horse?
T: Yeah, see?
M: No, I didn't see it.
T: See? See?
M: You saw a horse, nice!
T: See? See? Mommy. See?
M: I didn't see it, but I'm sure it was a great horse.
T: Horse. See? See? See? Mommy. See?

This will drive a Mom to start lying. I swear.

So, I'm telling my mom this story this morning when I get in to work. This is a woman who is the most forthright, honest person in the universe. She is the one who taught me that it's better to suffer and endure horrific mental, emotional and physical tortures rather than tell a fib.

I tell her this story and her response is, "Oh, just tell him you see the horse."

I dropped the knife I was using to butter my burned toast. (Another whole story for another post.) "What?"

Wiping a big blob of butter off the floor I reminded her snarkily that that would be LYING.

I could see she was reviewing her entire child-rearing in fast forward in order to come up with some reasonable excuse that it would be okay to lie in this particular case and somehow manage to keep from looking hypocritical. I could almost hear her thinking, "Damn, I did good job!" or maybe she was really thinking, "Wow, how did my daughter end up being such an uptight broad?"

Finally she said, "Well, you could say, 'I've seen a horse.' That wouldn't be lying."

"Yeah, or I could say I see a horse... like I'm seeing it my mind's eye."

Enthusiastically she says, "Yeah, see?"

I rolled my eyes. Obviously I suddenly understand where The Toddler gets it. See? See?

* * *

Tonight at dinner we had ham steak, rice, veggies. We're all sitting there staring at each other in silence because we're shell-shocked from the big yellfest episode just prior to sitting down to dinner.

The Toddler pitched one big doozey of a fit because his dad bought him a new bar of soap and he wanted to have a bath RIGHT NOW. Who knew a fresh bar of soap was so cool? Why didn't I buy him soap for his birthday instead of that stupid $40 ball dropper nightmare that you can't put together without first getting a 5-year engineering degree from MIT?

Julius breaks the ice finally by looking over at The Toddler saying, "Hey, Tristan... do you know what that meat is that you're eating? It's a PIG. You're eating a PIG, Tristan."

The Toddler says, "Hmm." He looks over at my plate, leans over and tries to take my ham.

"Hey, wait a minute. You want some of my ham?"

"No. Pig."

"Um... do you want some of my pig?"


"That's ham you know. It's the same thing."

"No. Pig."

It's starting already... Mom knows nothing, Big Brother knows everything. Boy am I am trouble!

Overheard Conversation

My mom is sitting at the other desk in my office talking to a lady at the bank:

MOM: Is this Joy?

BL1: No.

MOM: Oh, well I need to talk to Joy.

BL1: Um, Joy? We don't have a Joy...

MOM: Gay! Sorry, her name is Gay. Well, I knew it was something happy!

Here's a Nifty Idea...

I heard about this event over at Stephanie's blog. It's a little feature designed to introduce you to blogs you might not have ever seen before. Go read about how it works and sign up for it. (Click the button.)

Crisis of Non-Biblical Proportions

(paid post)

I was going to call this one "Crisis of Biblical Proportions", but my husband said it was probably irreverent to compare the problem of our still-missing TV to things like the Parting of the Red Sea or the Ten Plagues of Egypt.

We have, well... HAD a really nice TV. I mostly blog, but I listen to the TV frequently while Rob watches. It's gone, though, and I miss it. I miss being able to watch videos. I miss movie night with the kids.

Another thing I miss is video games. Total addict. It's a little bit embarrassing because I try to talk to my peers about video games and apparently I'm the only 40-something woman I know who still plays them. And on top of it I like first-person shooters. On the other hand, if Rob were ever to leave me because he's tired of me talking about him on my blog I can easily get a date because guys love girls who love first-person shooters.

He'll never leave me, though, because he knows we'd have a big fight over all the electronics equipment. And I could never leave him because I don't know how to hook all of it up anyway. We have what scientists call a "symbiotic relationship".

Since I can't actually play any video games, I pretend I could go buy more equipment and accessories at ShopWiki which is a very cool place to shop since it compiles about 485,000 different shops in one place. Okay, actually just about 30,000... but still.

I check frequently on the Nintendo Wii since we don't have one of those and I'd like one for the kids. (I'm waiting for the prices to go down, but they never do!) It would make me feel less guilty about letting them spend time playing video games. Some friends of ours came over for dinner once and brought their Wii and I was sore for two days afterward. (I think it was the boxing that did me in.) It was great fun though.

Are you a gamer? Have any cool ones to recommend? My top three are: Destroy All Humans, Call of Duty and Oblivion. What are yours?

March 3, 2009

10% or I'm Like the Squirrel, Only Without the Nuts

(paid post)

I didn't start saving money until I was in my 20's. Once I did I got addicted to it. It's amazing to watch your money grow. I loved it.

My mom is VERY frugal, but she didn't really teach me about being frugal or about saving. I think she just assumed I would learn it by osmosis. (Sorta like how I was supposed to learn about shaving my legs by osmosis and that turned out to be pretty much a disaster.)

I learned more about saving money from a boyfriend of mine... my first "grownup relationship". He told me the trick about pulling 10% of my income off the top and putting it straight into a separate account. He said I'd never even notice that little being gone and he was right. (Another trick I learned from him as a self-employed person was to take an additional 25-30% to put into a third account for taxes. Taking it off of each check I got was so much easier than trying to come up with all of it tax time.) You learn to live on what you give yourself after you take out all the deductions.

And, really, once you see that big ole pile of money adding up in your bank account you'll be addicted too. Then you might be tempted to start doing stock trading with an online broker such as Firstrade. I always wanted to do something like that, but never really had the nerve. I'm a big chicken when it comes to money so I'm really conservative. However, I was over at the site today checking it out and they do have $6.95 stock trades which seems cheap, except I've not compared anyone else.

They also have a $50 referral fee so if you don't want to online trading yourself, just go out and find 100 friends to refer and then you've made a big wad of money. And then when you go out to a party or on a date you can impress everyone with your knowledge of all this financial stuff and what stocks are selling for what prices. You'll win friends, influence people, make girls swoon and get weak in the knees, make guys want to buy you a beer -- really, I don't see any end to how fabulous your life will be and all it takes is starting with that 10%.

How hard is that?

If You're Thinking of Having Children

I read a really funny blog post today. If you're a parent you have to go read it because it's a hilarious description of what it's like to have kids.

If you're not a parent, go read it so I can later say, "Well I tried to warn you..." when you later come back and start asking me what you've gotten yourself into.

Excerpt from the blog My Mother Made Me

The Trendy Internet Thing is Only a Fad

(paid post)

It was right around 1988. Maybe 1989. (This is gonna date me and I might live to regret it because then you might actually realize I'm in my "mid life". Or maybe you've already figured it out in which case I will tell you that in an effort to boost my own self-esteem I sometimes refer to myself as "geezerific", but it doesn't really work since the root word is "geezer". No matter how "rific" I really am.) I should start over.

It was right around 1988. Maybe 1989. I had been out of school for a few years, working, and decided out of the blue that I would go to college despite stunning statistics lobbed at me by my high school guidance counselor that said if I didn't do it right after graduation I'd likely never do it.

My response was something like, "You don't know me." Indeed, he didn't.

So here I am a 20-something college student feeling a little out of place. After getting used to the campus, the environment, the strangeness of being away from my hometown for the first time I started hanging out at the computer lab where I met a guy named Peter who I thought was really rude, unfriendly and had a terrible work ethic of which I didn't approve of... AT ALL. (Ironically, we ended up dating for much of the time I was in college and for quite a bit of time after. I was wrong about him being rude and unfriendly -- he was actually very shy. I was right, however, about the work ethic which is one of the things that helped hasten the end of the relationship.)

So, through Peter I ended up discovering the Internet. This was WAY back before blogging, back before web personal web pages, back before ANY web pages. This was back before there was a WEB. This was back before broadband, before cell phones. This was back before computers were owned by regular people. This was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth eating small children and dogs and men cooked over open fires. Okay, close, but not quite that far. My point is... this was back before any regular people knew about the Internet.

I fell deeply and madly in love with it. I would come home to visit my mom on the weekends and try to explain it to her. (Imagine going back in time to the 80's and explaining to people in the past about the Internet today.) I would tell her the marvels of logging into bulletin board systems and chatting with people. I would tell her about mailing lists where you could talk about interesting topics with all kinds of smart people.

She completely dismissed the whole idea as some new trendy thing. To give her credit I'm not sure she could really wrap her mind around it. Frankly, I'm not sure I was really able to wrap my mind around it except that it seemed like the 9th wonder of the world to me. And still does.

And it's not an "internet addiction" (although it IS addictive). It really does come down to the most fascinating concepts if you think about it. We can talk in real time to people in other countries, cultures. Communication is fast -- video, text, sound, phones over IP. Does it seem like a miracle to you? No wonder our world is changing so fast.

Business, too. Companies must be more accountable. They are more "transparent" and in better communication with their consumers. The do blogs, they do email marketing, they have awesome web pages with games and videos and free stuff. (I love free stuff.) They want to know about YOU and what you like and don't like so they offer online surveys and ways to get in touch if you want to complain or praise them. And when you do get in touch it's not like you wait around for days. Through companies like iContact you can have an autoresponder service so you hear back from them in about 1.25 seconds or depending on what part of the world I think they might actually time travel and have the power to respond to your mail before you've even sent it! (By the way, if you want to try their autoresponder time travel service, iContact has a 15-day free trial.)

What do you love most about the Internet? How and when did you discover it? Is there anything you hate about it? Did anyone else's mom just think it was some weirdo freakish thing that their kid was "getting into"? (Please tell me my mom is NOT the only one.)

Car Stories, We All Have Them

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am warning you this is a paid post (but I will try to make it as interesting as possible).

My first car was a big, green land yacht -- a 1972 Ford LTD that my mom bought me from a really old guy who couldn't drive anymore because he was having trouble seeing. He hardly drove it and it had very little miles, but by the time I was done driving it into the ground, smoke would pour out the back and I couldn't drive it the three hours home from college without having to stop for oil halfway in between.

On the dash was a name tag that said, "Hello! My name is Ginny." The name tag was from my violin-playing college pal and I think it ended up on the dash after Ginny wore it to a concert and stuck it there on the drive back.

Those were the good old days of college when we were wild and crazy and full of youthful optimism. That was also the car that was used as our collective "get away car" during Shannon and Worth's brief stint as thieving criminals. That car carried one stolen homemade palm tree from a party, one giant Razorback rug from a restaurant foyer and an ad circular rack that Worth wanted so he could hang wet socks on it from his dorm room.

When it was time to retire Ginny (the car, not the friend), she was replaced by Phoebe, a little brown Honda Civic. Phoebe was tiny, but serviceable, not nearly as adventurous as the land yacht. She had a hole in the passenger side floorboard and when you'd drive her down the road the air would push the carpet up in a big bubble. The worst part was when it would rain. The carpet would get all wet and then being closed up in the car would stink really bad from mildew or general sourness. Phoebe was cute, but not a real charmer.

I packed her up and made an insane trip to California -- moving there to follow work that may or may not be there when I got there and to be with a guy who may or not be there when I got there who turned out to be a bipolar maniac who didn't even own a car. He rode around on a bicycle. At some point I talked him into test driving an awesome BMW that I fell in love with and he bought it. Now, it wasn't a Audi S4 convertible, but still I never got over my love for that car, but it was really his and when we split the car went with him and now all I can do is thinking fondly of my memories of it.

Phoebe was replaced by a Chevy S-10. At the time I was working at home, all Internet-based stuff and I had this brilliant idea that I would put a camper shell on the back and drive up the coast until I got to the northernmost border of America and at that point I would decide what to do next. It never happened because just before I bought that camper shell I met my current husband and got all domestic and stuff. Oopsie.

Now I have a Chevy Trailblazer and an H3 Hummer because I need an SUV for my work which involves taking strangers into the woods and traipsing around amidst the ticks and chiggers and snakes, crossing my fingers and hoping they will buy something and I don't knock out my front differential which I've already done once now. I suppose I could have gotten a GMC Yukon, but the Trailblazer is nice because of its short wheel base and the Hummer we got because of its awesome clearance.

What I REALLY WANTED was a hybrid SUV, but so far we haven't found one to meet our needs. We considered keeping the SUV for work and getting something like a regular road car such as a nifty honda hybrid for making long trips to the next big town where we do our bulk shopping for a gazillion pounds of basmati rice and for free-range sample grazing at Whole Foods on the weekend. That's heaven.

What I'm not really thrilled about is a plain old car like a Nissan Altima that is just like what everyone else drives. I want something with some spunk or some zing, some personality. Maybe something with flames. Or a cool art car. Or maybe an old vintage car. Or a monster truck with an obscenely huge lift kit.

What would you be driving if you could have your dream car?

March 1, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Find My Blog

For some reason my husband wanted to watch Amistad on this fine Sunday afternoon. To distract myself from the sheer horror of it I decided to go look at some statistics about my blogs. I usually save it for a time when I really want to punish myself or deflate my "huge ego the size of Montana" (as Rob calls it).

I've decided, after viewing some of the key phrases people have used that brought them to my blog, that either I'm really screwed up or that people have worse problems than I do. Or maybe we're all in the same boat and it's sinking.

Since I had a great time perusing this list, I thought you might as well get some benefit, too. With or without the horrors of Amistad. If that movie comes walking toward you in a dark alley, just run the heck away. I'm serious.


10. weird correlations
Yes, that will be evident by the time you get to #1.

9. melons pits good
Not sure if they were searching for a food web site, a gardening web site or my post about deoderant. Diversity is good, though.

8. blog +sexy +office +"drive men wild"
Yeah, I want to read that blog, too!

7. someone's gonna get fired for that
See #8.

6. uterus recall
Mine hasn't been, but I wish it would.

5. uterus turn overed
If your uterus has turned over, see #6.

4. infant homemade remedies for vomiting
I feel your pain. I'm surprised I don't also have half a dozen entries for infant poop and also several entries for boogers, thrown food, poop in the bathtub, a variety ways to pee on mommy and possibly something involving a number of different types of dead bug.

3. 2 year old has to rearrange blankets over and over
Tristan, someone is looking for you.

2. childfree 2009
If all goes according to plan, 2025. However, every other parent I've spoken to who has adult children say it's more likely to be 2045 or later.

1. are moldy avocados okay?
I would say no, but if you were to ask my mom she'd just tell you to cut the bad parts off.