December 31, 2009


I love New Year's. To be sure, it is a false fresh start constructed solely out of noisemakers, streamers, confetti and paper hats, but hey, what the hell?  I'll take it!  And I will resist nudging 2009's ass with the tip of my new boots as 2009 finally staggers out of the door.

2010? I am so ready for you. Come on in, have a glass of champagne, will you not?

2009 was not a good year.  But I am fine with that because at the end, I am still precisely, exactly, absolutely where I would like to be.

To be fair, the Aughties were very, very kind to me.  It is certainly not the entire decade's fault that 2009 turned out to be a little bitch (and yes, 2009 IS female because 9's are female.  And yes, that was for you, Monkey Dearest

Anyway, to recap the Aughties:
  1. I met a boy.  A really, really nice boy (more on that later.)
  2. I turned 30 and celebrated by dancing with my sister to Abba's Dancing Queen.
  3. I was working for a Dot.Bomb (Viva la Empriva!) when everything blew up and I had a fish-eye lens view of history in the making.  Which I do appreciate now, perhaps not so much at the time.
  4. I got a new job as a Blockhead as business systems analyst at a Big Corporate Tax Preparation Company that paid me much, MUCH more than the Dot.Bomb and was able to pay off some major debt AND buy myself a house - one accomplish I had always wanted to do as a Single Girl.  In addition, I made some incredible friends at this new job.  Friends who are still with me today.
  5. I went to Rome with a friend.  We had an amazing, incredible walking adventure of Rome and the Vatican - only taking the train once and no cabs whatsoever.  Everywhere else, we walked.  It was a trip of a lifetime for me.  Also, the plane ticket was a grand total of $329!
  6. I married that nice boy in a very pretty ceremony in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and we spent our honeymoon exploring the entire state.  (Sidenote: It thrills me to no end that now anyone simply wishes to build a life with the person they love can get married there - gay, straight, lesbian, whatever.  I am so fucking proud of New Hampshire.  Live free or die!)
  7. I went to work for the Federal Reserve Bank - it was a hellish job, actually, but I did have some amazing experiences there and got to work neck deep in the Check 21 project.  I was able to travel to 16 banks and branches, coast-to-coast in a very short amount of time.  I did NOT appreciate the experience at the time, but I do believe it allowed to really settle down and.......
  8. give birth to my first baby and become a homemaker with no hesitation whatsoever.  And then?
  9. 20 months later, I gave birth to his sister.
  10. And in the midst of all of this, I began this blog.  Writing here is purely narcissistic and I am my Audience of One. I cannot pretend otherwise.  Still, I thank you for reading all this endless blather.
I do not normally do resolutions.  Do you?  Do you keep them? 

Actually, I tend to make my big life changes in the summer -  I did not do this on purpose, but there is a lightness to summer that probably lends itself better for change.  After all, I quit smoking in June 2000 and this past June, I began a steady, consistent exercise program that has changed my life.  When I am plodding around on the track or doing my hamster moves on the elliptical machines, I am still amazed at what exercise has done for me.

I would like to wish all of you a Happy New Year.  We are spending ours snuggled up in our house with movies, a nice champagne and a yummy dinner prepared by yours truly.  And I am not the least bit ashamed to say that I am pushing for a viewing of Grumpy Old Men - what better way to start the new year?

December 28, 2009

Be careful of what you wish for.

Kansas City had a White Christmas.

While it was simply precious to have a White Christmas, it meant that we spent Christmas alone since the particular set of family members due to arrive that day are mostly over OVER 80 years old.  Since the Snow Walker (with tennis rackets instead of tennis balls??) has yet to be invented, they did not particularly feel like braving the snow to trudge their way to our house.  Losers.

No matter, we enjoyed the slow, relaxing day.  I cooked the traditional  meal from scratch - stuffing, potatoes, cranberry relish and funeral corn.  Since my great-aunt Joan the turkey had flaked on us, I made a chicken sauteed in poultry seasoning and olive oil.  Fortunately,  I found a jar of gravy hiding in the cupboard. As my great-uncle Ted the veggie relish tray had failed us, we went without fresh carrots and such.  Oh, and since my grandma Vivian the pies also chickened out on us, along with my grandma Phyllis the chocolate cake we spent the day noshing on the sundry sweets that had gathered in our house in the preceding weeks.

The day was not a waste - it was nice to just relax in our pajamas and do nothing but eat, watch movies and play with our new toys.

One of the Anjali's Christmas presents was that I did not brush her hair all day.  All day!! She was not appreciative enough to pose nicely for the camera, though.

Arun got to eat cookies all damned day long.  ALL DAMNED DAY LONG.  And yes, that is the puppy totally crashed at his fee.  The puppy had a great day because it seems the puppy loves, LOVES the snow.  She was ringing her doorknob bell all damned long.  ALL DAMNED DAY LONG.  Thanks to Lucy, many angels got their wings this Christmas Day.

Later in the evening, we played in the snow. Then, we came back in and I made hot chocolate from scratch because we did not have a mix or powder.  Actually, making hot chocolate was insanely easy to do.  However,  lest you think I am painting a sweet mix of Thomas Kinkade with a splash of Rockwellian accents,  you may rest assured we enjoyed that hot chocolate with a lingering odor of sour, stale chocolate in the air because I had burnt the first batch.

On Saturday, I high-tailed my butt to a shoe store to buy boots.  On Friday, I had discovered with horror that I had NO BOOTS because I had given away all of my winterish shoes in the spring - all the shoes that were about 1/2 size too small because no one warns you that giving birth may increase your shoe size. So! New shoes!

That evening, I took Arun for his First Sledding Ever.  It was everything I could have hoped for  - nice, slick snow, a new sled and a boy squealing with delight.  Although, that same boy screamed bloody murder when his butt got too cold and he had to be escorted quickly to the safe confines of the car.  I have no pictures from our sledding adventure because I chose to use a vintage recording device instead.  My brain.  Amazing, yet true! I wanted to just enjoy the moment and be present without worrying over the Perfect Shot.

Overall, it was a nice weekend with few complaints.  Yes indeed, Life is good.

How was your holiday? 

December 23, 2009

Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear!

Today's title is courtesy of my favorite Christmas card this year- the one from my personal trainer.

Here is the card we sent out this year:

Per usual, I included Pearson our cat, but it just seemed odd to not include Lucy. She is such a constant presence in our house, that is is like we added a 3rd child this year.  The bottom picture of Team Chaos is one of my favorites from this year.  We had such a great time that afternoon at the park and I am glad I was able capture the photo evidence.

Our Christmas celebrations kick off today. My dad, a respiratory therapist, is on call tomorrow night, so we moved our normal Christmas Eve tradition up a day. My dad, step-mom, siblings and all of their significant accoutrements will be arriving at 4pm. Tomorrow will actually be a really quiet day for us, but that works in my favor - I am hoping to fit in some more driving around to see lights, vegging out to Christmas movies and decorating that gingerbread house languishing in the garage.  We are also going to let the kids open up their presents - all of them - that evening in a vain attempt to stem the tide over-stimulation coming their way the next day.  I am a little worried the three days of presents might actually be worse, though.  Christmas Day will be a stereotypical celebration with all the usual foods consumed with the chatter of TV (football?) on in the background.  My only worry is the weather - many of the folks coming on Christmas Day are over 80 years old and get nervous about rain, much less the more solid stuff.

Merry Christmas to all of my imaginary friends out there in the Blue Nowhere!!

This has been a year where I am so grateful for the folks who have been so supportive over the years. All of the virtual hugs and high-fives have really meant so much to me.

Now if you will just excuse me, I need go and dig out the some comfortable pants in preparation for eating my way through the next 3 days.

December 18, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Foot Christmas Tree

I had enough questions about my last post that I thought I would throw out an end of the week sort of post.  I bought the ornaments in 2000 at a Hallmark store, deeply discounted on clearance - the box still has the 75% sticker.  At the time, I bought TONS of cool HP stuff at a deep discount - a Gargoyle bank for my mom, bookends and some more ornaments.  I am glad I did, because after the movies began coming out, much of the things you can buy now are based on the movies and not the book's illustrations.

Anyway!  I did find the ornaments on eBay, if any of you are really interested.  The tree itself is a tiny tree purchased at Hobby Lobby - it is actually supposed to be a placecard holder, which is why it is so tiny.  I LOVE teeny, tiny Christmas trees and I have TWO more lurking in storage.  However, I also have TWO small kids (who also lurk in the basement on occasion).

There is a reason why the Harry Potter tree is on the mantel.

Completely and utterly tangential and pretty much apropos of nothing whatsoever:
While at the gym yesterday, I was subjected to an episode of Dr. Phil where the mom was distraught about her daughter getting tattooes.  For some reason,  I found this amusing, yet horrifying because it led me to ponder - How will Team Chaos defy Manoj and me?

Piercings?  Whatever.  After all, Manoj's people are a Piercing People and our kids can brag that their Grandma Lilly had her NOSE pierced, no??  Awesome!  Rock on, Grandma Lilly!! 

Tattoos?  Whatever.  I am considering getting one myself (a 1912 Jayhawk on my ankle, which I have ALWAYS WANTED and nearly got for my 30th birthday and damned well may get for my 40th.)

Skimpy clothes?  Whatever.  I am used to seeing nekkid teenagers running around.  One trip to a shopping maul and you become visually numb to peekaboo butt cheeks.

And that is where the horror begins.  I could only wish that piercings, tattoos and nekkidness and would be the worst of our problems.

December 16, 2009

Randomly Random Randomness

To be clear, we are not full-on Santa around here.  We just happened to be near a Santa last year and that was Arun's first visit to one.  I really do not care for pictures of screaming kids on Santa's lap, either and this is why I have never really gotten into the Visiting Santa gig.  Too many viewings of Billy Bob Thornton as Bad Santa will do that to you, I suppose.

A month back, I had gone through the toys festering in the kids' room and bagged some up for donation and scattering at grandparents' homes.  The kids discovered this cache of treasure lurking in our junk room and have decided that nooooooooo! they LOVE these toys!  they are their very! favorite! toys. MAMA.  Yes, THAT one, the little drum with a missing stick that was purchased in Target's dollar section 3 years ago.  THAT DRUM IS MY FAVORITE.


Anjali has 1 teacher and Arun has 5 teachers at their school.  I was racking my brain and came up with this for Teacher's Gifts: a gift bag for each teacher with the following: a Krispy Kreme gift tag with a free doughnut coupon on back, some Ghiraldi chocolate pieces and a $5 gift card for Starbucks.  Then, in the director's gift bag, I included a $20 gift card for Hobby Lobby for the school to use.  All in all, I spent about $60, but I thought that was not so bad for 6 teachers who are such a positive and sweet influence on my children.  I am always at a loss at what to do for teachers, I know some folks do baking.  But, I am not a baker.  I gave up a few years ago on that.

Yes, I am not a baker and baking cookies will never be a part of our holiday tradition.  Arun wanted some gingerbread man cookies and Panera just happened to have some adorable ones.   Folks, that sound you hear???  That is the sound of Everybody Winning.  Also, I get invited to a cookie exchange every year that completely stresses me out because did you see that part where I cannot bake?!?!?!  What the hell does a non-baker take to a cookie exchange?  Fortunately, my friend Jackie gave me a great, simple idea for a cookie.  I am calling them Jackie's Balls and if they come out okay, I will be sure to share the recipe, which involves refrigerated cookie dough wrapped around a candy Rolo. 

Oh,  huh.  I guess that would be the recipe.  You are welcome!  If you make them, be sure to call them JACKIE'S BALLS.  That makes them super special, moist and delicious.  And my friend Jackies LOVES hearing her name in conjunction with BALLS.  Trust me.  She does!

I am nearly done Christmas shopping and have been pretty much done for a few weeks now.  I just need to procure a few picture frames and a fancy cigar for my dad.  Then that will be it.   I began picking up doodads here and there back in October.  Cool, right?  Not really because I ended up buying too much for the kids.  We will be making a nice donation to Toys for Tots AND I will be setting aside some toys for entertaining them on Super Bowl Sunday and Ice Days.

As a sincere apology for the lameness in posting lately,  I present for your viewing pleasure, my Harry Potter Christmas tree.  It is about 5 inches high and the ornaments are so twee, they are smaller than a frocking dime.  No joking.  I love playing around with the macro settings on my camera and it was good practice for me.  My favorite has to be the golden snitch.

The detailing on these ornaments is exquisite and sadly, my photography skillz do not do them justice.

Potion Bottle

Winged Key

The Sorting Hat

Dragon Hatching From an Egg

Magical Theory Textbook

The Golden Snitch

December 14, 2009

I believe.

Last week, I met my co-workers from Friday Playgroup Inc. in midtown Kansas City.  We went to the Union Station to see the massive holiday train exhibit, then trekked over to the Crown Center to gawk at Gene Simmons' tour bus, eat lunch at Fritz's and to meet Santa in the Crayola Land.

Mr Claus.... St. Nicholas..... Father Christmas.

Yes, that guy.

Right out of the gate, Anjali was adamant about not greeting the Great Red One.  She was not upset and did not cry because I did not push it.  I gave her the choice and she firmly said "No.", then ran off to play.  Arun wavered a bit because at the wise old age of 4, is well aware of how this particular scam works - if he does not actually tell Santa what he wants, then Santa will not show up on Christmas Eve. He bravely faced Santa, then sort of sat beside him.  I heard him quietly telling Santa what he would like - "a squishy T-Rex like the one Lucy chewed up and a microphone".   I thought he was finished, but then I heard him say, "and my sister wants a triceratops and a tea set."

Without prompting, he had remembered to plead his sister's case.

Recently, Shaken Mama had a lovely post about Santa being a "morality booster rocket." I think she makes a nice point about havng Santa as a part of one's childhood holiday tradition and uses a valid literary example - Pinocchio.
I was thinking about Santa. And I realized, "We're trying to trick Chebbles into being good."

And I decided that this is what you are obligated to do while a child is developing a conscience -- make good behavior a habit by creating fictional constructs which a child will shed when he or she is older, when the reason to behave in our society is clearer in their mature mind.

We do not push the Santa Thing too hard around here.  Arun knows that Santa will bring a few things and that is about it.    However, after reading Shaken Mama's post,  I did add some bits about "being good" to the Santa Thing.  I do not use it as a threat and there no Elf on Our Shelf.  Besides, I have never cared for vague statements about "being good".    I simply added some specific measures to the Barometer of Goodness.  I decided that having Arun know that Santa rewards kids who listen to their parents and share toys with their sisters is not necessarily a bad thing.

I will probably never have this parenting thing figured out.  Just when I think I am on the right path, these two little hooligans begin lobbing curveballs at me.  But last Friday, as I heard my boy politely and quietly ask Santa for some toys for his pesky little sister and for all the other times I see Arun ask for an extra goodie for his sister of whatever he is being handed, I knew that I must doing a few things right on occasion .... some of the time..... once in a very great while.......

And I just have to hope that is enough.

December 10, 2009


From this post forward, all posts regarding will be titled #Shill.  Why?  
Because I call 'em like I see 'em.

I do not see myself doing an inordinate amount of posts about our business,  But I would like to use this space to talk about things going on with it.  Besides specific business activities, I may use this space to talk about the struggles with entrepreneurial ventures.  It is a damned shame I am not a Naked Blogger, because interesting things most certainly happen in one's life when you are living on the entrepreneurial path.  Sigh.  I never thought I would be living this life and while I have no regrets, it can be very stressful at times for someone like me, someone who would rather receive a neatly printed W2 than have to file a messy scad of incorporation papers.

Anyway., in a word, is going gangbusters.  I am 3 parts exhilarated, 2 parts utterly frightened.   I am in an active role with this business and hence, the slowdown on Rancid Raves as I scramble to adjust to this WAHM thing.  But really, some truly good stuff is happening around here, folks.  Besides some awesome meetings that Manoj has had lately, we have a few specific things going on right now.  As a bonus for enduring the boring stuff, I am including a list of restaurants that are offering special deals right now on giftcard purchases - in the interest of fairness, you do not have to purchase through Snapgifts, but holy smoke, the deal at 54th Street Grill is too damned good NOT to share with you.

1.  Most importantly, we are participating in the Shop For Anissa campaign going on today at  Aiming Low.  This means that we will be donating 10% of the revenues from today's sales towards the Hope 4 Anissa fund (revenues!  not profits.  Because we are a startup and profits?  I laugh at the prospect. Like a lunatic, I laugh. So in fairness, we went with total revenues. )  Additionally, we have a section of our shopping cart that allows folks to make their own donation towards Anissa's fund. Check out the list of vendors - serously!  There is some fun stuff there and I have a serious hankering for a warm cup of tea right now......

2. We are offering a special 2009 Holiday promotion valid through December  - FREE shipping and handling on all gift card purchases. Just enter "freeshipping" when you check out.

3. We are offering a cool, new product called a SnapCard.  In short, you purchase this product and it is emailed to you.  You print it off, give it to your lover, best friend, whoever and they can redeem it for any of the 600+ gift cards we currently offer.   So, if you find yourself in a bind with last minute shopping, this is a great option because you will receive it immediately - no waiting for the post office.

4. And finally, I promised a list of a few places offering good gift card deals!  The following businesses are offering these deals.  Note, of course, I have included links for Snapgifts, but in all fairness, you should be able to get these deals anywhere!

A bonus $5 certificate for every $25 gift card purchased

A bonus $10 for every $50 gift card purchased:

A bonus $5 for every $25 gift card purchased, plus a bonus $25 card if over $250 is purchased - plus, you still get the original 10 $5 gifts (that is $75 in bonus gift cards for a $250 purchase!)
54th Street Grill

And the fun deals of the day?
Cheesecake Factory: A coupon for a free piece of cheesecake with every $25 purchase.

Chick-fil-A: A free calender with a $25 purchase.  Their calendars are fun, quirky and include coupons valid throughout the entire year.  This year's theme is "Great Works in Cow Literature" - my personal favorites are Mooby Dick, Flankenstein and Robinson Cowrusoe.   Sadly, Snapgifts cannot offer this because of the shipping involved, so I will have to go rogue on you and simply suggest that you get your own ass to Chick-fil-A to get that calendar. 

December 8, 2009

Have a Heart, Tinman.

If that does not scream Christmas!Card! to you, then it would seem you are lacking a soul. Or maybe you do not celebrate Christmas.  Whatever.

So, I received my shipment of Christmas cards, only to discover that I must have found a helluva lot new friends in 2009 because the normal lot of 50 cards was not enough.  Another box of cards has been dutifully ordered.  You see, I like doing Christmas cards.  I love the process of picking the perfect photo (and before photo cards, the perfect card itself), the signing of them (I always hand sign my cards), the addressing of them (I do that by hand, also), sticking return labels and stamps on them, then trucking them off to the post office.  Call me crazy, but I enjoy it.

Now that you have read that, you will realize the seriousness of this: A week ago,  I discovered a significant cache of 2008 Christmas cards that had been signed and addressed, but not mailed.  I knew there were some cards that I had just let go, but I did not realize how many.  It is discoveries like that make me realize how very sad I was last year.  Sigh. 

The upside of all that is it simply makes me happier than ever to realize that I really am on the Other Side now.  Truly.  Life is frocking good.

Yes, things are just so lovely right now and it only makes it more poignant when having to deal with so many jerks lately.  Holiday spirit, folks?  Heard of it?  I can report that many folks are not getting it.  I am out and about a lot these days doing things for our business.  And all of the Scroogy McGrinch O'Potters are breaking my heart, y'all.  Within a few days period, I was verbally accosted twice at our post office.  Twice!

The 1st incident occurred after some Guy #1 pulled an illegal u-turn in the street and nearly hit me.  I was so flustered, I committed a minor traffic transgression.  I was in a right-turn lane, but went straight instead - I did not realize it because the right-turn lane is directly in line WITH GOING STRAIGHT.  Guy #1 begins furiously honking his horn, follows me into the post office and begins berating me.  At one point, I gave him the Talk to the Hand motion and threatened to call the police if he did not back off. 

The 2nd incident occurred two days later and this one still has me clueless.  Scene?  Again, the post office.  I mail a letter and pull forward to enter the exit lane.  In the corner of my eye, I see a guy racing through the parking lot, he beats me to a spot in front of me, then opens his door and starts screaming "You fucking bitch!!!!".  And my kids are in the car.  It was AWESOME.  I have no earthly idea what set off Guy #2 but rest assured, I threatened to call the police on him, too.

Those are two specific incidents which I can recount - the other days are littered with all sorts of randomness.....  Eye Rollers who are impatient with my sheer audacity to be in line before them or even better, the Line Cutters who trip over their happy selves to shiv you in the retail heel or, last but not least, Lovely Drivers are perpetually in a mental mode of Dammit, Get Out of My Way So I Can Beat You To This Traffic Light.  The mind boggles. Or perhaps, I am just too damned happy this holiday season and that is pissing people off.

Okay, folks, your traditional holiday PSA about slowing down and smelling the mistletoe is complete.

As you were....

December 2, 2009

Specifically Random

My stomach is a twisted ball of stress these days.  Fortunately, the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done, Christmas cards are ordered (thanks to, my favorite of online photo sites!) and some major packaging of presents have already been hoisted into a post office bin.

My goal is to concentrate on my newfound J-O-B (being married to an entrepreneur has its pitfalls!)  and a flurry of holiday activity coming up.  Yesterday, we went to Lawrence for the Festival of Trees at Liberty Hall and this Saturday, we head back for the the Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade in downtown.

Anyway, today is going to be one of those random sort of things because I simply cannot come up with a narrative that ties it all together. 

Such is my life these days, so be it.

I am ridiculously excited about two of my favorite shows returning in January - Antiques Roadshow and Big Love.  And truly, I am more excited about the Antiques Roadshow than anything thing else.  I must have some latent little old lady lurking deep inside of me.  Having said that....... I have also decided to pick Chuck back up - I had some DVR issues last spring and had to drop the show mid-season.  I have decided to buy Season 2 and catch up on the lost episodes. Now that we have a DVR through ATT, I will be able to keep with the maelstrom of shows that air on Monday.

I cashed in a slew of iTunes gift cards this morning and purchased a veritable musical smogasbord - Pitbull, Lady Gaga, Jason Mraz, Kings of Leon, Black Eyed Peas.....    and ........... some Taylor Swift rounded everything off quite nicely.   I am not sure what that mix of artists says about me and my tastes, but I am really excited about firing up the iPod today while out and about today!!

Oh, my GOD. I am having zero patience with spammers right now.  I have turned on word verification, but if the spamming does not let up, I will have to tighten comments up further by not allowing anonymous commenting.  I really do not want to do that because I like commenting to be as simple as possible, but I simply do not have the time to deal with spam right now.

I noticed last night that Anjali managed to find the lone Asian in her vast population of Little People.  This little Asian girl has become BFFs with Anjali's myriad of Kai lan dolls.  My baby girl is 2 years old and already racial profiling?  We are so proud.

The tree trimming other day was simply wonderful.  One of those Life's Perfect Memories.  I think as parents, we all too often build up events in our head to the extent to where the actual happening can never, ever live up.  In this one instance, Real Life equaled Grand Vision and it was so precious to me that for once, it all happened as carefully and painstakingly planned.

When the kids woke up from their naps and saw the tree, their eyes bugged out.  We slowly dug through the decorations with absolutely no fighting and no ornament breakage.  I relaxed, played some holiday music and let the kids hang the ornaments wherever they wanted.  Later, I subtlety sneaked the more fragile ones up higher with no one the wiser.

Perfect.  Just perfect.

And finally?  Some random Twitterage:

I thought I would cobble together some heartwarming, O. Henryesque parable about the mutual love and adoration my cat and I share, but tragically, words failed me.  I just wasn't feeling the Gift of the Magi.  Anyway, if any of you were under the delusion that I was high-flying around here with ad money coming out of my ears as I purchase all sorts of pretty baubles for myself, you can rest assured that is most certainly not the case as my usual Taco Splurge was abandoned in lieu of a new litterbox for my beloved Vanessa.  Sigh.

Although, I could swear my cat smiled the first time she shat in her sweet new bathroom.

November 30, 2009

Faking It.


In one of the very first compromises made in the ongoing saga of Kelli And Manoj Live Happily Ever After, we agreed to invest the money in a fake Christmas tree.  This was a difficult one for me  - after all, my father could have very well served as the real-life stand-in for Clark Griswold.  I spent many Christmases as a kid, trekking through our 40 acre plot in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  And finding needles embedded in your carpet as late as March is just quintessentially American, no?  Admittedly, a fake Christmas tree completely lacks all that is special about a live one.  Needles in your feet or not.

Little, snowy house.

Still.  I suspect the kids will not care.  They are napping and have no idea that while they were in school, I dutifully cleared the tree lurking in the basement of all spiders and whatnot, then dragged the thing up the stairs, adjusted the smushed-up branches and set it up in our living room.  When they wake up, we will begin digging through ornaments of all sizes and shapes.  Some are breathtakingly beautiful and shimmer in the light.  Others are ugly and cheap.  But they all mean something to me - every year, I buy a new ornament or two and when I am traveling, I limit my souvenir shopping to just a single ornament to remember my trip.  Many of these ornaments hark back to my Single Girl Days, when I yearned of having my own little family with whom to share the holidays.

Christmas in the trailer park.

And now, I have that sweet, little family of which I always dreamed.  Oh sure, my husband could have been the love child of the Grinch and Scrooge, but I have hope in our children that they will grow to love these tacky, kitschy ornaments as much as I do.

The Hungry, Little Caterpillar

Our fire-friendly, plastic tree may be nothing spectacular, but it is ours.

November 23, 2009


What are you grateful for?
Anju: My mama, my daddy, my brudder.
Arun: Anju, because she shares things with me.
Cagey: A ridiculously crazy schedule because while I do not have time for my blog, it does mean that I have many people to consider, many people who care for me.

At Costco, there is an older man who works there - his name is Mr. Harold.  The kids know him by name and when we went to Costco yesterday, they began asking for him.  I told them that it was Sunday and that Mr. Harold was probably not there.  However, we spied Mr. Harold and both of the kids' eyes lit up.

The usual holiday talk came up and when I asked Mr. Harold his plans, my heart sank. He had none.  None.  He told me His Story of why he had no plans and I got teary-eyed.  He was matter-of-fact about it and I tried to compose myself because I wanted to be respectful.  The dude did not need sympathy from an over-privileged white girl.

However,  Mr. Harold is more than just a nice Costco employee to me.  This is a man who has consistently gone out of his way to help me.  Particularly, in those early, stressful days of having 2 Under 2 when I was figuring out how to work the whole Shopping With 2 Under 2 gig.  Days when it would begin pouring down rain just as I was exiting the store.   Days when it seemed everything was going wrong.  Days when I would completely and utterly misgauge the kids' nap schedules and/or Anjali's nursing schedule which would leave me rushing to check out and just escape lest all the minions of hell broke loose on the poor saps in the food court just trying to enjoy their kosher hot dog, yo.   Mr. Harold would help me with my purchases.  Or, he would keep an eye on the kids while I would dash out in a thunderstorm to get the car.  Or, he would just offer a friendly smile and greeting.

I wanted to extend a Thanksgiving invitation to Mr. Harold, but for a variety of reasons I did not, including the fact that I am not hosting Thanksgiving and felt it was not my place to just randomly invite folks.  X thought I should have extended one.  I am disappointed that I did not, also.

I most certainly am going to be doing something for him for Christmas.  Because I think Mr. Harold needs to know how much I appreciated him when my babies were small and when I felt so very small myself.

I don't want to leave this on such a maudlin note, so I will redirect you elsewhere. 

Average Jane has compiled her favorite Thanksgiving recipes into one helpful book.  Truly, I love, love her recipe for cranberry sauce - it is so easy and simple  - you dump the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer.  Folks, that is it.  I relish the lovely smells it creates in my house as I am rushing around.  The sharp, tangy smell of cranberry and orange juice help me to relax.

And Scribbit has a sweet post about contentment.  As she points out:
This time of year we're given a paradox: Thanksgiving is the season for gratitude yet before the turkey is even cold we're bombarded by advertisers telling us we can't make it through the holiday celebrations without buying things. Lots of things, and the more the better.

So we're supposed to be grateful but not so grateful that we don't want lots more.
Which leaves me for one more thing for which I am grateful:
My family.  If there is a time that I am appreciative for my family, this is the time of the year when I am most thankful.  Our celebrations are centered very simply around food and togetherness.  No complicated, guilt-laden traditions are required.  Oh sure, the children are deluged with silly toys, but the adults are not bombarded with ridiculous expectations.  My Christmas list is very simple and short.

My goal for the month of December is enjoy the lights and music with my kids.  I am also looking forward to enjoying some local, Kansas City traditions with my kids - Crown Center, Union Station, the Plaza, the Arboretum, Shawnee Mission Park.  And thanks to my family, I will get to do just that because I will not be wasting time trolling through big box stores and the malls.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks.


November 18, 2009


First and foremost, we have a winner of the gift card from - the winner was  Sarastani!  Sarastani, I have emailed you the code to the email provided in your profile, please let me know if you did not get it.

Yesterday, my mom gave me grief that I had not updated my blog.  As I was sitting on her couch. After having spent the entire day with her. I tried to convince her that my vast, far-reaching legions of devoted readers would give their eye teeth (wisdom teeth? appendix?) to be subjected to the excruciating banalities that comprise my life.  The very same inane details my mom gets to hear on nearly a daily basis.  How lucky is she?? 

However, my mom remained unconvinced.

The nerve.

And so, here I am.

Attempting to think of something interesting to talk about that my mom may not have already heard yesterday.  As I was sitting on her couch. After having spent the entire day with her.

Folks, even the crickets are bored at this point.

And sadly, my mom is not on Facebook so she could not even enjoy the lovely roundtable of comments that were generated by a brief throwaway Tweet my sweaty, hyper-ventilating self furiously tapped out today while doing the rounds on the elliptical machine at the gym.

Apparently, joshing around about Sarah Palin gets the fires a glowin' because my Facebook wall is burnt to a fucking crisp, sans the apple. 

And really, that Tweet was a direct, passive-aggressive result of the fact that I am so very sad that I do not get to throw around the word "BeelzeBush" in casual conversation any longer (BeelzeBush! BeelzeBush!)  Obviously, Sarah Palin is a natural go-to for pathetic, puerile pundits such as myself. 

I love, LOVE watching Palin. 

Holy crap.  I wish I could generate that sort of conversation on my blog (seriously, if you are my Facebook friend, get theeself to my Wall and read the comments - there is some Good Stuff there.  None of which I have the brains enough to cognate. Am duly ashamed. Will make myself a cone of shame.  Will sit in a corner. Satisfied now?)

Oh, where was I?? 

Ah, yes.  Mom.  I did not forget about you.   Here is the video I promised:

Arun the Bakugan

Ignore the dirty carpet or the fact that I actively urge my child into such antics (and yes, the complimentary Silly Dance is something I regularly encourage simply because it MAKES ME LAUGH.)

A bakugan, for those uninititated into this  particular phenomenon, is a series of ball-like things that have a button you push so that the ball springs into action with arms and a face.  Or something like that.  We bought a series of the toys from McDonald's (Total Sidenote: Did you know that you can get toys from McDonald's without purchasing the stupid Happy Meal that is loaded with WAY too much food for ONE child.  Like, seriously - who wonders why we have a childhood obseity problem when a Happy Meal meant for a CHILD can feed a small country????  Anyway, the toys are only $1 when purchased separately and are totally worth it.  We zip through the drive-thru and just get the toy.  Why bother with the food??  The toys are high-quality (usually) and are a steal for $1. Although, sometimes, sometimes! we get a cheeseburger.  Or ice creamSometimes.)

My mom laughs at me and says that I had the children so that they would entertain me.

Um, hello?  Am I the only parent who views her children as mere court jesters?  Besides, my boy is not gunning for any sort of sports jock position and I consider it my personal responsibilty as his mother to finetune his skills in comedy in hopes of his attaining the coveted crown of Class Clown.

For real.

November 13, 2009

A High Note.

First,  the giveaway ends this Sunday! Unless we share some common threads of DNA, the question begs - why have you not entered?


So.  About my post the other day.  I feel Better because writing does that for me.  Pulling words out of the scrambled eggs I have for brains and then organizing them into something, whatever that may be, helps me.  However,  I hate leaving a misty post up like that for too long.   Still, years from now as I cringe through certain posts, I will be grateful that I posted the last one.  Some things, you do need to remember.

I did talk to J and it was a good conversation.  We had a good laugh over my innovative (!) idea for the setup of a detoxification chamber in her front entry.  And I let her giggle at my notion of packing the kids up for a 3 day roadtrip (I was serious.)   Okay, okay, so all of my grand brilliance was snuffed, but she did ask me for a few favors.  Which was such a relief.

Note to Everyone: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are seriously ill and your friends ask if they can do something?  Don't hesitate to ask for something.  Anything.

My task involves some research for her - she cannot leave her house now and will be sealed up for the winter like a bear for the winter.  I am glad that I can be of some (limited) use to her.  All hail the Internet!

Speaking of the Internet and all things including wires and tubes - I am officially declaring the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Texting as the things I am grateful for right now.  It is really easy to talk smack about Technology.  Yes, yes.  Cold, barren, faceless Technology gets such a bad rap and as a parent, I read article after article about effective ways in which I can protect my precious progeny from its steely grasp.

I have a specific, long-time friend who would definitely not be my friend if it were not for email.  I did a summer internship in the summer of 1995.  It was a brief summer and I went back to school on my merry way.  I made a friend at that internship and I tapped out emails via my Unix-based Pinemail account to her intermittently throughout the fall of 1995.  There is no way we would have kept in touch otherwise.  Quite simply, we are not phone friends and to this day, we rarely talk on the phone.  Furthermore, she was working full-time, married, living in Kansas City while I was a grad student living in Lawrence and club-hopping my weekends away.  We had completely different lives at the time, but email was a simple, casual way to keep in contact with someone I thought was fun and interesting.

That friend was Goofy-Girl, my Very First Friend As a Result of Technology and when we first began texting each other as an added communication, I could not help but chuckle.   Goofy-Girl is an important friend to me and since Goofy-Girl, I have made many more friends who have become integral in my life.  Friends that I call, text or email with good news or sad news.  Friends with whom I was set up by a sly, matchmaking Technology.

The next time you see someone banging on poor, downtrodden Technology, remember that there is a still a real, live human behind it.


November 11, 2009

Just Keep Swimming.

Late, late Sunday night I received an email from my friend J.  For those of you just joining the program, J is a long-time friend.  The one with whom I went to high school, but who I really got to know in college.  The one who lives in Vegas with her husband and 2 year old daughter.  The one who was diagnosed in June 2008 with a neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer that spread to her liver.

J's recent email was disheartening and per usual, the future is uncertain.  I was supposed to go to Vegas to see her in September, but then we found out that J cannot have visitors who have flown via a commercial airline, thanks to the Piggy Plague.  And since my private jet is sitting on blocks in our front yard, this meant I could not go to see her and my trip would have to be delayed until April or so.  Quite simply, I was crushed.

I do not talk about J or this situation very often. It smacks of self-indulgence and melodrama for me to do so.   After all, I live over 1300 miles away, safely ensconced far, far away from a world filled with endless doctor visits and a rigid routine of drugs that all seem to counteract each other.

It hurts to feel so useless, but what galls me the most is to know that I have not been such a good friend to her.   Not just now, but also in the past.  We went through a freaky, complete misunderstanding in 2003 but we made things right in 2004.  I am forever grateful that J made that first move to figure out what the hell went wrong.  And I am still ashamed at how I acted in 2003.  She was the bigger person and there is a lesson in that.  Something I struggle with, that whole "being a bigger person" thing.  There is a beautiful quote from George Eliot that I use quite often:  It’s never too late to become what you might have been.

Obviously, sometimes it is too damned late.

Again, I do not write much about J.  It is her story, not mine.  But what is happening with her runs deep with me and sometimes I need to let it come to the surface. 

And now?  I need to dive back below, into the deep waters that are my life.

November 8, 2009

For Shame

So, it seems my sweet, honey of a husband has had a light bulb moment of a brainstorm and is realizing the value of a blog.  Value! In a blog!  Can you imagine the lunacy?

In short, he would like me to talk about his new business. Obviously, I am hesitant to talk gift cards on all the damned time.  While I am really, really excited about this business, I want to be careful of watering down my stern, serious, very authoritative voice here.  The masses look up to me, right?

Ah hell, who am I kidding?

Okay...okay.  On a serious note, I suspect all of us can think of at least one blogger in our feed reader who spends the majority of their posts plugging their paying gigs.  And I do not want to be That Blogger.  *shudder*

So, this is the deal.  When I talk Husband's Business, I will just put a title of "For Shame" on these particular posts.  Those of you who loathe unabashed peddling can merely move along, right? Seriously, click your ass on out.  I will not be offended. Promise!  Is that simple enough?  To be fair, I should note that I will be hosting a series of giveaways within those posts.  Cruel, am I not?

So, you are asking "What the hell is"  Quite simply, it is a site that provides a central portal for purchasing gift cards - both varieties of cards are offered!  Yes, your grandma's landfill-stuffing, plastic cards of yore and additionally, we offer e-cards that would make little Al Gore fill his pants. Our e-cards can be personalized, then emailed to the recipient.  From there, they can either be printed or simply shown via a smartphone. Our particular focus is on local businesses and to that end, we are in the process of networking with local businesses.  And of course, all of this makes long-distance gift-giving a piece of cake.

So, Giveaway #1 shall commence:

We are giving away a $50 gift card that can be used for any of the merchants listed on our site!

Leave a comment here and tell me what you are most looking forward to this holiday season!  If you would like an extra chance to win, please post this on your own blog (if you could use the verbiage "gift cards at" in your link that helps us get the word out with Google.  Ahem.) Please let me know if you have posted on your site or not so I can keep track.

This giveaway closes Sunday, November 15th at Midnight, CST.  I am really sorry, but this can only be open to US Residents.

So, what am I looking forward most to this holiday season?  Christmas lights!!!  The kids and I had so much  fun playing I Spy Pumpkins all throughout October.  Damn, their heads are going to explode with all of the lights around here.

November 3, 2009

10 Hail Marys

Forgive me......
  1. I let Arun play outside in our front yard all by himself.  And this has been going on since this spring.  He has rules and boundaries for his outside play - if he disobeys them, he immediately has to come inside.  In the past month, I have been letting Anjali play outside with him more and more. However, I recently read on a site where a mom was pummeled into a virtual-reality bloody pulp for a similar admission.
  2. I am very perplexed with the author Toni Morrisson.  I really do NOT like her writing style, yet she weaves such compelling tales.  It is like loving the work of a particular fashion designer but hating the color and fabrics that are used. 
  3. I love watching Faux News.  Yes, me.  The same one who claims to be conservatively liberal on her Facebook profile.  I particularly enjoy watching Bill O'Reilly since he has the mannerisms of a hardened criminal, but at least he gets good guests.  I cannot watch Glenn Beck, though - that shrieking harpie screeching about the sky falling grates on my eardrums.  If I were President, I would not invite him to my house, either! (on that topic, I suspect that BeelzeBush also would not have invited a "news" network actively organizing protests against him.)
  4. Yesterday, when I picked up some lint from the carpet with my hairy cricket legs, I realized I was most likely due for a shave.  And that I probably needed to vacuum the carpet.  Huh.
  5. I have been researching bearded dragons.  Oh yes, I HAVE.
  6. I listen to Dr. Laura.  Nearly every day.  I think she is too harsh with her callers, but since most of her callers are idiots who have screwed up their lives to the extent they are compelled to ask a frocking stranger on the radio for advice, it is difficult to summon much sympathy. As such, I simply turn the volume up higher.  Because I actually agree with her views on family value (save the parts that are homophobic, of course)
  7. Over the weekend, I tweeted the following and am duly ashamed:

What do you need to confess today?

November 1, 2009

October, Post-Mortem

October was simply wonderful this year.  We enjoyed the entire month of turning leaves, rain and Halloween decor.  We did not do anything spectacular, it was a pretty laid-back month.  We did not even do a pumpkin patch.  But we did enjoy the month -- counting pumpkins on porches every day while driving around, Halloween parties and gatherings, eating honeycrisp apples by the dozen, picking out costumes, reading Halloween books all month long (our favorites?  Goodnight Goon, A Creepy Countdown and Ten Timid Ghosts)

And Halloween night was perfect.  Simply perfect.  All day long, Arun and Anjali played in the front yard, practicing their spiel for the night (Trick or Treat!  Smell my feet!) Later, our neighborhood was totally buzzing with trick or treaters and one of our neighbors really got in the mood.  He would stand in his front yard moving with stiff motions like an animanitronic statue, then jump out randomly at passer-bys.  All night long, kids were screaming, which definitely lent a certain air to the night.

I could not have asked for a better October.  No pressure, November.

Arun Stoker

Grouchiest of Them All

She was supposed to be a pumpkin fairy.  She LOVED her costume, but did not want her picture taken.    Every single picture I took of her in the outfit were of her scowling.


They played in the rain ALL DAY.  By the end of the day, they were on their 4th change of clothes.  It was worth the extra laundry.

Enjoying His Spoils

There are Bugs in my Buggy

Falling for Fall
Falling for Fall

Falling for Fall

October 28, 2009

OCD Babies Wear Garanimals

This past summer, I purchased an adorable little book of sudoko puzzles.  I picked it up and fell in love - it was small, concise.  I loved the format and the fonts - it was easy to do a puzzle, mark it as done, then put it away.  I saw that it was 2nd in the series, so I went back to Barnes and Noble to pick up the first one.  They did not have the 1st in the series, but they did have the 3rd in the series.  Later, further inspection with information desk revealed there was 4th in the series, as well.

Oh, crap.

I knew immediately where this was going, although I did my best to resist.  I dutifully picked up the 3rd one and tried to quell the squirm of worms in my stomach. While I am not clinical, I do have obsessive tendencies (like many other folks?  I hope? Hello? Is there anybody out there?)   One of these obsessions is with "completing sets".  Fortunately, I am not a full-on collector of anything in particular but this compulsion does manifest itself in books - be it a series or a particular author.  Renewing my love affair with my local library a few years back has gone a long, long ways in helping me.  In fact, I was able to break apart a few sets that I had religiously compiled by simply keeping my favorites from each series.   My local library has also helped me with my Life Goal of reading everything fiction that John Irving and Margaret Atwood have written.  Knowing that I can access any of their works so easily, helps calm my stomach and keeps me from rabidly hunting for these particular authors.

And that is the best way to explain a compulsion - when it comes on, my stomach literally begins to twist and I simply cannot let it go.  The churning is why I carefully comb through antique malls and garage sales for books from the Sweet Pickles and Gus the Ghost series .   It is why I stalked Trixie Belden and Katie John on eBay for years.  And it is why I gave in and ordered the rest of the sudoku set from Amazon the other night.

My stomach twists over loads of silly things - well, silly to the rest of world, but not so very silly to me

My entire life, I have been described as "picky".  
If that is another word for it, then yes, I AM picky.

I still have not decided whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that I married someone completely and utterly the opposite to me.  We have our fair share of communication problems because he does not realize how serious it is to me when he does Certain Things.  On the other hand, if he were like me and I was constantly doing Certain Things that contradicted his compulsions?  I suspect it might be even worse.  I think someone like me probably needs to be married to an Absent Minded Professor type. At least, in my case, Manoj clearly and perfectly understands why I am the way I am.  When he met my father for the first time, he wryly observed "At least now, I know where it comes from."

One last thing about this persnickety side of me - I often find myself really having a true sympathy for my toddlers.  I understand that deep-seated desire for something to be a precise way - be it cereal in a certain way with a certain spoon or the desire for toys to be played with in a very specific manner.  Where I often butt heads with my toddler is when their obsession conflicts with mine.  Sad, yet true.  I also often find myself sympathizing with my autistic nephew.  Seriously. Nolan buddy, I get it.    And my heart breaks for him because I know how hard it is to move past an obsession.  I am able to do it whereas, he is simply incapable.

Now, if I can only get the stupid Gap to get the particular jeans I want back in stock already and then I can get my life back.  Jeans that fit me perfectly and even have the correct inseam for my short stumps.  Jeans that seem to be out of frocking stock everywhere.

If only.......

October 27, 2009

Not Here.

Today, I am posting over at Brit's place, who is celebrating her 5th blogging anniversary this week.

Brit is simply one of my favorite Imaginary Friends (in a close tie with the venerable Monkey, they can duke it out if they so desire.)  Imaginary Friends, you say?  You know the type,  the fake, imposters that we meet in this phony world of blogging.  Yeah, those friends.

Go give Brit some love, will you?  She is truly an inspiration - with her passion for creativity and for being a good world citizen, she always has something nice to say. If that is not enough for you, then just go find out why my pants are falling down

October 22, 2009

A Preservationist Has Been Converted.

I recently read The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen.  It was a little dull of a read, frankly.  Seriously, reading about reading?  Yeah, right.  However, I did feel inspired about how I am conducting my own little Well-Read Life and was pleased to see that I already do many of the things he recommended.  I do keep a shelf of "candidates" in my home in a designated areas around our house and I keep a list of books on my Treo as I come across them while I am out and about.  I keep a list of the books I have read by using - a site I highly recommend for all book aficionados. I belong to a spectacular book club - seriously one of the best I have to which I have ever belonged - this club has really expanded my reading horizons and I come away from each meeting inspired.  And finally, the author recommends not rushing to put a book back on the shelf immediately after reading it, he recommends savoring it for awhile, maybe revisiting a few pages.  He recommends just sitting for awhile and thinking about the book.  This something I often do after having read a good book - I just sit back and relish my favorite parts.

The author also talks about Footprint Leavers and Preservationists.  Footprint Leavers dog-ear pages and write in the margins of pages.  Preservationists leave no marks on books.  I am a Preservationist - except for textbooks in college, I rarely write in books.  Sometimes, I will dog-ear pages so that I can refer to them later, but in general, I try to use Post-It notes.


I am currently reading The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It by Robyn O'Brien.  I checked this book out from the library, but I realized within 20 pages I would simply need to own this book for myself.  I also realized that I was going to need to reform my Preservationist ways.  So, I purchased one of those fancy Post-It Notes highlighters with the built-in Notes dispenser. I am still uncomfortable marking up this book, but there is such important information contained in it, I want to be sure I do not forget it.  Also,  I want to write a proper review of it here when I have finished it.  This book is life-changing for me and I want to help pass the message that our food supply is corrupted.  In short, this book is holding proofs regarding some things I have been concerned about for years  -- trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and most recently, artificial food colorings, which affect Arun in serious, negative ways.  He becomes an entirely different little boy when he consumes artificial food colorings.

Folks, I will be marking the hell out of this book.

October 21, 2009

Socrates and Plato

I use the term Team Chaos in a loosely sarcastic, wry sort of tone.  I am not sure that is conveyed here or not.  Because truthfully, in many ways, I am still astounded at how easy these two ruffians have gotten to be.  The whole disappearing act they pull throughout the day as they play together in the backyard or in various places around the house.  The fact that they love going to places with me and meeting new people.  I purposely do not do things like the grocery store, Post Office and Target runs while they are in school because I try to save those activities for when they can come with me.  Or how about this?  I went to the car wash with them awhile back.  While there, I cleared the car of all items, completely dismantled the carseats and thoroughly gave the car a good washing and vacuuming.  Team Chaos played nearby the car the entire time, happy as clams.  For nearly two hours.  How lucky am I?  This means I can save my Kid Free Time for fun activities - like hanging towel rods and regrouting showers and sorting through mountains of paper and catching up on my backlog of Salacious, Kid-Unfriendly TV lingering on the DVR.

Everything these days is "family time" with Anjali.  If she is playing with any sort of animals, there must be a "mama and baby" (big and small).  If there are extra parts, even better, because then she will act out the "daddy and brother" parts.  This applies to cars, trains, animals, Strawberry Shortcake, Kai-lan and Spiderman.  Yes, we have Baby Spiderman and Mama Spiderman in our house, don't you??  It is cute, to a point.  Not so cute, when she throws a fit because she has the "mama" OR the "baby" but not BOTH.  And that little tink of a girl can scream like a banshee.

Mama Kai-lan and Baby Kai-lan, let no man tear them asunder, trust me.  OH DEAR SWEET BABY JESUS, TRUST ME.

Anjali has adopted a mannerism that can best be described as the I Am Sorry handmove.  As in, "Sorry, Mama.  We have no milk. SORRY" or "Sorry, Mama.  I spilled leaves all over the floor.  SORRY." or "Sorry, Mama.  I can't find Baby Elephant. SORRY."  And believe, me - no one is as sorry as I am when the missing half of a Beloved Mama/Baby Pair cannot be located.

Last week, we went to the Toy Store in Lawrence to get Arun yet another lizard and another allosaurus dinosaur.  Because you see, when you are 4 years old, you can never, ever have enough lizards or dinosaurs.  Trust me.  While we driving to the store, Arun pondered what we should get Anjali, who was sleeping in her carseat, unaware of our destination.  Arun was very concerned that she would sleep through the visit and leave empty-handed..  "We will get her a tortoise, she likes tortoises.  That would make her happy." he decided.   She woke up before we arrived and ended up with elephants, instead, but no matter.  Arun had her back, just in case.  After the toy store visit, we went to have a snack at the Mad Greek.  While I enjoyed some hot feta cheese dip and saganaki (the flaming cheese), Arun and Anjali happily created games to play with their new animal purchases.

As all parents are aware, you cannot force your children to be nice to each other.  Oh sure, you can force them to play the part and go through the motions., but you cannot actually make them like each other.

One of my favorites bits of being a parent is simply watching my children hang out together.

Arun and Anjali playing with his favorite birthday! present! ever! mama! - the desert monitor.
It's early morning, Anjali and I have just woken up.  We are snuggling in bed, talking about what we will do that day.  It's on of my favorite parts of the day.  The snuggling.  The whispering.

Anju: Are you happy, Mama?
Me: Yes.
Anju: I want you to be HAPPY, Mama.
Me: I am happy, Anju.
Anju: Mama?
Me: Yes, Anju.

Anju: WHY are you happy, Mama?

Anjali: I like rain with snowflakes on it.
Arun: You mean SNOW, Anju.
Anjali: NO!!!  I like RAIN with SNOWFLAKES on it, Ah-woon!

Anju: Mama, Lucy scratched me.  LUCY SCRATCHED ME.
Me (looking at Lucy): Lucy, say sorry.
(Several seconds pass as the dog cocks her head and stares at both of us as only a Westie can with such pretty, perky ears )

Anju: MAMA, Lucy can't TALK.  That's silly!

Arun wanted to use a particular bowl for cereal, but I pointed out another bowl would work better.
Me: Trust me, Grasshopper.
Arun: I'm not a GRASSHOPPER!  I'm a CRICKET.

Arun (motioning towards a Stormtrooper action figure): Mama, what is this?
Me: That is a Stormtrooper from the Star Wars movie.  They are bad guys and their boss is Darth Vader.

Minutes have passed. 
Arun: Mama, what is this?
Me: A Stormtrooper

More minutes passing.....
Arun: Mama, what is this, again?
Me: A Stormtrooper

And yes, yet more minutes pass .........
Arun: Mama, what is this?
Anju (exasperated): It's a STORMTROOPER, Ah-woon.  It's a type of BAD GUY.


As reported by Anjali's teacher, apparently Anju got antsy during show n' tell and wished that everyone would pick up the pace a bit so she could get to digging out her bag of mama and baby lizards.  She let everyone in the class know this by impatiently  announcing "Come ON, let's GO!!"  The teacher thought it was hilarious.

Welcome to my world, teacher lady.

Lest you accuse me of being sappy or dear God, a mommyblogger, let me throw out some gratuitous random snappage for your mocking pleasure...... 

Hillbilly Bumpkins

Missing some teeth action there, yo!

Seeing Red!

FULL ON Rainbow Action Over the the Free State Brewery and Liberty Hall in Lawrence KS Last Night
I have to admit, I may play with these photos later  to see if I can get the rainbow to pop a bit.  Still it, was some fun lighting with which to play!

October 19, 2009

Ain't No Free Lunches

Recently, I received 4 DVDs to review (one of which I really enjoyed.  In fact, I am giving away FIVE copies of it, go comment here to enter because it would make a great holiday gift this season.)

Yes, it was fun getting things in the mail.  However, it quickly got awkward when it became obvious several of the videos were stinkers.  Oops.  So, yes, I did not care for two of the videos I watched and I could not even get my own children to finish them with me.  You see, during this entire process, I had been corresponding with a particular PR gal and I had to get it out of my thick melon that giving a bad review was a personal affront to her.  Because, of course, it is not.  Still, I had to decide how to manage the contact with her - this was my first negative review experience.

In the end, I just sent the links to the reviews and said nothing else.

It made me sit back and really ponder what I am setting out to accomplish with doing reviews of products I receive for free. Oh sure, it works out grand if you like the product, it is then worth the work of scheduling the receipt of product, using the product, writing a quality review, conducting correspondence with the PR person. And in the past, for me, it has worked precisely as it should have worked - I reviewed a Build-A-Bear monkey earlier in the year and was so impressed with the quality of the product, that I have taken my kids back several times to purchase products from them.  Before my review, I shrugged off Build-A-Bear as simply overpriced, but as a direct result of my review experience with them, I have become a paying customer (which is why I am even able to mention them here - now that I have actually paid for a product myself, I can mention them and not violate my contract with BlogHer.)

When X and I were discussing the recent FTC act that requires bloggers to disclose freebies received if the product is reviewed, he had trouble understanding why it was such a big deal.  And sadly, I had to explain to him that many folks were simply doing the reviews without revealing they did not actually pay for the item. In theory, it sounds straightforward and simple. But it is not.  And I found out recently why this is so.  Forming a relationship with a PR person is a tricky business and a blogger can easily find herself in a Biting The Hand That Feeds You scenario.   

I firmly believe that not only do I have a responsibility to you, but that I do have a very real responsibility to myself, as a person.  I could not, in good conscience, give a good review of something that I did not appreciate and would not fork over my own cash to purchase.   And that, my friends, is my solemn promise to you.

October 16, 2009


As much as I have enjoyed the ages of 1, 2 and 3, I cannot even imagine how much cool Year 4 will be.  He is so much fun to hang out with and I love hearing his observations as we navigate our world.  To watch my squawking, hairy little bundle of boy grow and take on all of these life roles is amazing.  He's my son, but he is also a thoughtful brother, a curious student, and an affectionate grandson, cousin and friend. 

My goofy, inquisitive little boy.  All the parenting books prepare you for the Why Questions, they fail to warn you about the How Question........ How do lightbulbs work? How do our bones work? How can a bird fly?

Being this boy's mother is an incredible privilege, an amazing responsibility.  I am humbled thinking of all that lies before me.  But I also am grateful for what I have been dealt.  I wanted a child for so very long and he is simply far more than I could have ever dreamed.

Happy birthday, Arun.

The Many Faces of Arun