June 30, 2009
In 2002 I bought a house and immediately started the Doggie Debate. The following year, X and I got married and continued the debate by adding in his favorite breed (Labradors. Not really a breed for me.) In short, this decision did not come lightly or quickly. But now? We are in a good place in life to have a dog - our kids are more independent and not a danger to the dog. They are learning to not keep their frockin' toys all over the place (seriously, the floor has not been this clean in years.) And with X and I both working from home these days, it is helping with the whole housebreaking thing (we are using the crate-training method.)
In the end, I wanted one of the breeds with which I lived the longest, breeds that I knew the best and with which I was most comfortable - a Cairn terrier or a husky. My two childhood dogs that I bonded with the most were this Cairn and the husky. End of story. And for our lifestyle, a terrier really fit the bill (although, I did not want one of those yappy, snippy, types of terriers who have "small-dog syndrome", something I will be working to avoid at all costs.) And while I did not get my first choice, a Cairn Terrier, getting a West Highland Terrier was good enough since Westies are essentially a white Cairn terrier (FYI Flash: A Cairn terrier is a "Toto dog", the same dog in the Wizard of Oz movie, although NOT the books.)
And Lucy is everything we wanted - spunky, hardy, scrappy, and very snuggly. She loves the kids and in fact, gets restless when they are asleep and she needs to play, dammit.
I was going to write a long, defensive post about why we chose not get a rescue dog (check out this irreverent take on Slate regarding the rescue movement. It's entertaining enough. "Canine-11 (Why Americans are obsessed with "resucing" dogs)" ) Then, I decided to go the Eh, Whatever routes. Seriously. That is lovely that other folks do the rescue dog thing. But it did not work out for us. And I knew exactly what sort of dog I wanted, which significantly narrowed the Rescue Dog Playing Field. Growing up, my family had all sorts of dogs - purebreed, half-breeds, plain old mutts. Terriers, shepherds, a poolie, samoyeds, huskies, and even pitt-bulls. We got them in all sorts of manners - shelters, breeders, friends, side of the road and even at an Easter egg hunt.
I did visit our animal shelter here a few times and simply did not see a dog that I wanted. I knew what I wanted and when we saw Lucy, I knew she was the right fit for our family. And while, yes, we did pay for her, we did not pay a much more than if we had gotten a dog from a shelter. No, she is not some fancy show dog and we love her unapologetically.
She was worth every penny.
June 29, 2009
Still, I expect some accidents, but really, in a nutshell, that was our potty training story - The Waiting Game. Which definitely worked for us. I know there is a reasoning that there is some "window" when a child turns two and if you miss that magical portal of potty then tragedy will befall you and your loved ones. Or something like that. Eh. I think every parent needs to just listen and observe his/her child. At two, our son was not ready for potty training at two when we first began all all the Talking and Demonstrating and Bribing With Cool Underwear activities that were met with blank stares. He was not verbal enough and had absolutely none of the signs of readiness that you look for - discussion, interest, awareness, a willingness/desire to dress himself. And yes, we had loads of peers for him who, at two, were fully trained. Furthermore, his own teacher agreed that he was not ready and that it would be best to wait until this spring to start trying - winter has so many onerous layers of clothing, it makes the process tragically messy.
Frankly, an extremely affable, easy-going toddler does not make for an independent toddler. And that is okay, because I still sort of like the kid. On his good days. Hell's bells, on my own good days.
Now, Anjali? Is a different story. She is already doing the Katie Couric on her own functions and as such, demanding her own turn on the toilet (sans results, though). And this is regardless if we are at home, Costco, school, wherever. Her turn at the toilet shall not be denied.
Oh. And how do we celebrate potty training around here?
Just as the carpeting breathed a collective sigh of relief, we went out and got a puppy who needs to be housebroken.
Oh yes, we did.
June 25, 2009
Brit can usually be found posting at Running Stitch, when she is not trying to convince her three year old that he really should be wearing pants or her five year old that it is not, in fact, going to snow in June, and that maybe instead of making a snowman they could paint!
When Kelli started her bag entries I feigned interest, because you know, she's nice and I like her and I can force myself to look at her bag entries. I'm not really much of a bag person myself.
Except as I look around my house all I see is bags. Bags for grocery shopping, bags for library books, bags for the boys to take places full of distractions and clean clothes. Bags for biking, bags for the car, bags for lunch,bags for this sewing project, bags for that sewing project, bags for running shoes, bags for running clothes.
It's only been a few months, since I stopped carry a diaper bag. Of course now I carry a backpack full of extra clothes, because, wow! are little boys dirty. The backpack also contains bandaids, benadryl (my oldest is allergic to the world) tea (because you never know) and their medical information.
However, I have also gotten to the point where I'm going out sans boy bag often enough that I made a little bag for myself. I call it the 'Just Me" style I actually completed this over a year ago and I carry it everywhere. It is perfect for my wallet, cellphone, and change purse. And it fits right into any of the the bigger bags I perpetually
seem to be carrying.
Apparently, I am a bag lady after all.
June 24, 2009
Apparently, a mother (one of the nursery employees) found my ring in her son's (wet, not dirty!) diaper.
I feel like a total goon for lacking faith and even worse, for insinuating someone took off with it.
I have learned so many lessons from this.
And not just the obvious "I will never wear my ring to the gym again" lesson.
I rarely wear my rings to the gym. But since I was only doing cardio yesterday, I wore it. My cardio got interrupted because a certain little girl had a dirty diaper. Which also rarely happens. I changed the diaper, noticed the adjoining bathroom in the nursery was occupied, so I used some Purell to clean my hands. Another rarity because I loathe Purell and think its stupid. I set my ring on the changing table to apply the Purell. Also rare, because I am so paranoid about my jewelry that I usually stick it into a pocket, rather than putting them down.
Then, I walked away.
Yes, it is my fault that I set my ring down and forgot to put it back on. It still does not prevent me from being infinitely frustrated, disappointed and sick to my stomach that no one bothered to return it.
Yes, it is just a ring and my family is safe and healthy and blah blah blah blah.
Whatever. It was my wedding ring. The one blessed by a priest during a religious ceremony that meant something to the sentimentalist in me.
June 23, 2009
While touring our high school on Saturday, we came across an anti-bullying poster that solemnly stated "Don't Bully". Or something to that effectively effective effect. I laughed and made some sort of wisecrack that it was a tragedy that it had not been hanging back in my day. I noted that of course, my own bullies would have read that poster and then left me alone. Of course! Right?
Folks. Please tell me I was not the only one to be bullied in school.
In grade school, a girl named Viola used to corner me in the bathroom and on the bus. I was not overly terrified, but as you can imagine, I was not entirely happy with the situation, either (as you might imagine.) About 6 months ago, a "Viola" friended me on Facebook and fortunately, the gracious buffer of time and space meant that my reaction was a wry one. Like, what? My grade school bully found me on Facebook so she could now cyber-bully me? Fortunately, in this case, it turned out to be a different, non-bullyesque Viola from my other school. A different Viola who was and still is quite sweet (I was excited to see her and her adorable daughter this past weekend.)
In high school, my bullying experience was quite different and less innocent. For months, I was tormented by two girls who would not just leave me the fuck alone. I don't recall exactly what spurred it, I am not even sure what I could have done to prevent it (like, what? Stop using 3 and 4 syllable words? Stop reading books? Stop getting good grades? Stop knowing answers? Things that garnered me so much abuse in my school days.) I was not an aggressive type, so I can guarantee I had not done anything too onerous to deserve this.
I have repressed most of my memories of those two girls. But what I cannot repress is this:
The shame of not being able to protect myself or to even stand up for myself. Something I still struggle with to this very day. The shame of feeling embarrassed that somehow I had gotten myself into this bad situation from which I could not extricate myself. The shame of feeling so fucking alone because I did not tell anyone. My friends.... my parents.... even a teacher.
What the hell was wrong with me that I did not even seek help?
Being in my high school this weekend brought back those memories of when those two girls would confront me - how sick to my stomach and weak in my knees I would feel afterward. How my hands would shake.
It is all find and dandy that I am an adult now and truthfully, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever knowing that both girls ended up in less than ideal circumstances. As you can imagine, bullies are unhappy folks to begin with and both of those girls had horrible lives in their homes.
I am not only a mature (somewhat) adult, but I am now a parent. And I have to process this as such.
And I already find myself doing things like marking Arun's things for school in black or red marker - not the convenient pink marker that always seems to make its way to the top of the Sharpie heap. And today, Arun wants to take his beloved toy puppy named Sparky and I have to resist the temptation to urge him to take a dinosaur or a train instead. Yes. I already think of these things because I know how it feels to be picked on in school. Having your greatest strengths demeaned and devalued has a belittling effect on your self-esteem that is difficult to shake.
However. What is my deepest fear for my children when it comes to these schoolyard squabbles?
Is that they will not tell me.
June 22, 2009
My head is sort of all over the place on this and I could write posts all week long. Long, mental meanderings about how sad and disappointing small town life really can be, despite the best efforts of politicians touting its "real" American" qualities, as if us fools languishing in the suburbs and cities are doing squat to contribute to our country. About how my small town experience is complicated by the fact that I spent half of my school life in Oskaloosa, KS and the other half in Tonganoxie. About how I did not really like living in Tonganoxie. About how my time in Oskaloosa has been gifted that special soft-focus glow of memory because my parents were married at the time and I had an intact family. About how Tonganoxie is still remembered in a harsh glare of hurts, disappointments and loneliness.
My friend Tari (aka TLC, from my post Can Wii be Friends?) and I spent a week or so in feverish anticipation of this reunion. Comparing notes on outfits and shoes. Genuinely excited about reconnecting with long-lost friends and hanging out in our old high school, the scene of many crimes and ill-conceived schemes. Quite simply, we were totally stoked to the max about spending nearly an entire weekend together.
And it did not disappoint - it was bodacious and bad to the bone.
On Saturday, we drove around the town and the country roads, visiting all of our old houses (and bicycle routes!) Reminiscing about how said sad we were to find that despite new buildings, many things in our small town had not changed one. damned. bit. Talking about old dreams and new ones. How we missed the openness of the countryside, but not the ironically stifling atmosphere of a small town.
About how miraculously, despite it all, we ended up where we had always wanted to be anyway - married to two nice guys and ending up with some pretty cool kids.
Here's a toast to mini-marshmallows roasted over the flame of a unicorn candle. And may we never stop learning new things.
PS. Oh, and I can still totally kick your ass in Trivial Pursuit.
Scenes from a High School Gym
1985, 8th Grade Graduation
2009, Our 20th High School Reunion
June 18, 2009
1. A Canal Street knockoff of Jodifur's Shoe Friday.
2. A lame attempt at regular blog fodder by invoking my own accessorized day o' the week.
3. A frivolous little feature that allows me to talk about handbags every week.
As promised, welcome to this week's Scottish Edition of Handbag Thursday. Also known as "May I take a picture of your crotch, kind clansman?"
Last weekend while we were at the Scottish Highland Games, I realized I had a windfall for my Handbag Thursday. Like, DUDE. Men in kilts carrying handbags. Does it get any better? No. It does not.
Oh sure, you may say sporran, but I will still say handbag. Wicked cool.
Although, admittedly, there about a thousand things wrong and so not traditional with this guy's getup, I still liked his sporran.
I really wanted to get a closeup of the detail. But um. Yeah. No. No, thanks.
And since he was so kind to pose, how could I resist a full body shot? *cough*
June 17, 2009
Normally, I do not like subjecting the unsuspected masses to my precious progeny's version of Juvie Jargon, but hey. It's my blog, I suppose.
Technically, Anjali cannot say her "Ls", so she actually asked for her "butter-FWY" when she requested help with her fairy wings, but I could not bear to type Juvie Jargon for I have standards, bare minimum they may be.
Scene: Characters are playing in the living room.
Arun: Anju, can I have that puppy?
Anjali: No, Ah-woon
Arun: Why not?
Anjali: Cuz, it’s too wate, Ah-woon. TOO WATE. (Note: "Late" is the excuse we use for her all the time as to why we can't go to the pet store, the gym or the park. It's too damned LATE, Anjali. Go to bed!)
Scene: Characters are lolling about in bed.
Anjali: I wuv you, mama.
Me: I love you, too.
Anjali: I wuv you MORE.
Me: I love YOU more.
Anjali: I wuv you dan DINOSAURS (Translation: "I love you more than dinosaurs." You can also include puppies, cupcakes, cheese, tea, triceratops, pterodactyls and candy. My daughter’s love for me is sure and strong for which riff raff cannot compete. I may be a mean bitch, but I am lucky one.)
Scene: Characters are in the car. The mother is desperate for a nap. It's for the children, of course.
Arun: Anja-wee, you hafta go to SWEEP.
Anjali: Ah-woon, I don't wanna go to SWEEP. I wanna go HOME.
Arun: You hafta.
Small female character ponders thoughtfully.
Anjali: Hode my hand, Ah-woon.
Arun: It's okay. It's okay. (Note: In the past few months or so, Anjali has begun turning to Arun as a source of comfort when she is hurt or scared. Adorable.)
Scene: Costco. Male Character is attempting to procure an ice cream AND a lemonade, which are mutually exclusive per the Maternal Character.
Arun: Why can't I have both?
Me: Because you are having cake tonight, so for lunch, you can only have lemonade OR ice cream. Otherwise, it would be too much sugar.
Arun: Mama, I have an idea. I will get lemonade NEXT time. That's a good choice.
Scene: A volcano rumbles in the distance and a toddler is about to lose her cool.
Anjali, sputtering: I MAD at you. You in BIG twouble. I'm gonna kick your ass. (Note: I am not proud of this one. We really say "kick your ass" in jest, but sadly, it does not come out that way. Obviously, we need to wash our own damned mouths out with soap.)
Scene: Maternal characters spies male character getting into a box that he KNOWS he is supposed to stay out of.
Me: Arun, what are you doing?
Arun: Oh, I am just NOT getting into this box. Don't wook at me. Don't wook at me!
Scene: On our way to the gym where exercise awaits me and a power muffin awaits my children.
Arun: If I eat a muffin, I will get bigger and bigger like a big boy.
Arun: If you eat a muffin, will you get smaller and smaller like a little girl?
Me: Sure! And then we will get rich off the proceeds from the lawsuit or the movie, whichever comes first.
At some point, these children have seemed to morph before my very eyes. They walk into stores with me. They have animated conversations with each other. They can destroy a room together within 5 minutes flat. They choose their own food much of the time. They whine when the other is sleeping because they are bored and need the other to complete whatever little game they are playing. If Arun gets a pair of swim goggles, then Anjali must have a pair. If Arun gets a cork gun, then Anjali must have one. If Anjali gets a parasol, then Arun must have one. Oh wait. Um, NO. But.....
Still, they are so small.
It is always presumed that if you have a Boy/Boy combo or a Girl/Girl combo that your children will be Instant Best Friends. Folks often act as if a Boy/Girl combo has no chance of hell for producing any sort of close relationship. By virtue of their differing genders, this combo is doomed. Or so folks would love to hint (and not as subtly as they might think.)
My kids currently like each other. I do not know if this will always be the case, but for now? I appreciate this little gift of watching them navigate their relationship. And they have always liked each other. Well, truthfully, Anjali did not have much of a choice.......
Arun was beyond excited when he first met Anjali. The second time he came to the hospital to see us, she was not in my room which he immediately noticed and worriedly asked for her "da Bee-bee? da Bee-bee?" When we brought her home, he was constantly in her face. As a newborn, it made her cry. Now that Anjali can hold her own, he gets the Talk to the Hand action. When Anjali first began rolling over onto her stomach, Arun would rush to lay on his stomach beside her. And now, throughout our days, I hear Arun saying "Anju, come ON" and her answering, "Just a MINUTE, Ah-woon." He is insistent that her participation is required in whatever activity it is that he has concocted for them - willing or not.. When we pick him up at school, he happily greets her and eagerly shows her his little project for that day. And when we talk about our plans for the day, he usually asks, "Can Anju come, too?" As if we would leave her home.
His excitement never really went away.
June 16, 2009
Last Thursday, I told Arun he would be sleeping 3 more nights and then he was done with diapers. Forever. Oh sure, he will wear Pull-ups at night and if he naps, but we call those "sleeping pants" around here. Diapers? No more.
So, Sunday was our first day sans Artificial Bodily Waste Containment. Yes, diapers. It was as messy and frustrating as I expected, but I knew this going in. Yesterday? Insanely successful. And we were out and about all damned day- haircuts, gym and a long evening spent at my friend Tari's - who incidentally has THREE potty-trained boys (ages 17, 11, and 5) who provided excellent role models for Arun. Thanks, guys! After Arun's initial Puppy Dog Pee of Excitement, he used the toilet the rest of the evening.
I do feel this has been the best method for us - this whole waiting game. Over the past year, I have had folks give me The Eye, or quietly tsk tsk under their breath as I wrestled down my 10 foot long son to change his diaper. The indication was clear, I needed to take the upper hand and show my kid who's boss. Eh. Whatever. I know my kid. He was simply not ready earlier. The main problem has always been that he is so easy-going he just does not care. Conversely, he is so easy-going that he also is not freaking out when he has an accident. So there is that, at least.
And sweet Anjali? For the first time in a year and half, she will be wearing her proper diaper size. Early on, I realized I could not keep track of two sizes of diaperage and as such, poor Anjali immediately graduated from a size 1 to a size 3. And she has been wearing a size 6 forever, even though they are too big for her. Now, she will be back to her "real" size 5. I hope all of this has not messed around too much with her body image.
Her take on all of this? She keeps telling anyone who will listen to her lies, "I hafta go pee in the potty." Which leads folks to frantically wave me down lest she have an accident not realizing that my little Monkey See is dreaming a dreamy dream. At home, she sits on her little frog potty chair while Arun sits on the real toilet and I cannot help but wonder "when did my babies grow up?" while simultaneously thinking "Yeah, right, sister. Just wait your turn. Wait. your. turn. I am not potty training two of you fools at once." Although, admittedly, it is nice to know that my days as a Land-filling Water Conservationist are drawing to a close. Perhaps, I can finally watch An Inconvenient Truth and not break out in a cold sweat.
And, finally, to the patrons of the Kansas City Costco, I would like to extend the sincerest of Sincere Apologies for the urine sample my son left in the parking lot on Sunday. Hey, at least he spared the food court.
June 14, 2009
If a man is standing in the middle of the forest speaking and there is no woman around to hear him - Is he still wrong?
And I married a man who is all about hiring folks to do things. We work it out, we find our common ground. Sometimes, that common ground finds me on a ladder, cursing him. But hey, it works for us.
My post last week was really about the Grind of it all, the special blend that comprises many SAHMs days.
I suspect every single person out there has their own house blend of Grind.
I read several blogs where every Monday there is much grumbling about a busy weekend and how tired they are. I am generally very selfish with my weekends. Fridays and Saturdays are open, but I try to keep Sundays free for doing "our" stuff - the gym, laundry, housework. It is a holdback from my days of college, trying to catch up on homework and then later, my days of working, trying to catch up on housework before another crazy week began.
This weekend was an exception to our rule because we had a family event on Sunday. And Saturday? Was crazy - we went to the Scottish Highland Games, then trucked over to Tonganoxie to hang out at my sister's house, then went to a friend's house to watch the Tonganoxie City Fireworks. It was a great day, but I was really scrambling on Sunday to catch up. Not because I was over-loaded with work, but rather, because I am used to being extremely lazy on Sundays.
Anyway - Highland Games were totally worth it! The smells (pipes, and Scottish meat pies), the sounds (pipes, Scottish meat pies) and the sights.
Also, I have a special Scottish edition of Handbag Thursday coming this week - stay tuned.
If one grandpa can wear a lungi, why can't the other wear a kilt?
Clan Fraser, Represent!
It is rumored in tight circles that my step-mom had an inkling as to what she was getting into when she married my dad. However, in her defense, he was NOT wearing skirts back then.
The Games themselves were awesome to watch - brute tests of strength with lots of grunting and cheering. FUN. However, I loved how some of the contestants' kilts were daintily tucked behind the chairs as if to not wrinkle them.
Insert your own damned NomNom noises [HERE]*
Scottish meat pies are the bomb, but fortunately, not the Belly kinda of bomb. Ahem.
*I am very weary of the LOLcatese that has proliferated blogs these days. Dude, you are NOT a frocking cat. Speak HUMAN!
June 12, 2009
IN CONCLUSION: They did an entire video about working Mom stress and no one mentioned daycare struggles or frustrating commutes. What about the guilt when you only see your kids for three hours a day? Or the guilt when the weekend comes and you realize that 14 hours in a row may be too much? Does the laundry pile up? Do you find yourself sitting down for dinner at 9pm? There are so many other Working Mom stresses that could have been addressed and weren’t. I respect those women are all working Moms and maybe some of them do work outside the home, but no one was discussing the factors that so many of us deal with every day. How many times do you use your lunch break to run an errand for the family? Do you choose a daycare close to home or close to the office?The irony? She also discusses why she could not be a SAHM:
Let me start by being completely honest: I could not be a Stay At Home Mom. It’s not because I can’t play trains for five hours, because I can. I like the playing/crafting/activity part of being a Mom. It’s the cooking/cleaning/bathing/tooth-brushing part I hate. And I feel like a great SAHM either (a) Considers those tasks part of her obligations and doesn’t mind doing that stuff as well as care for the children or (b) Considers her job raising the kids ONLY. Therefore, the HOUSE stuff is still to be divided equally with the spouse and the spouse agrees. I think they’re both legitimate ways of looking at being a SAHM/WAHM, but I just don’t do either successfully. I would become bitter. And have proof because my 2 separate 12-week maternity leaves left me very bitter. Ask my husband.Later, she goes on to say:
Being a SAHM/WAHM has it’s own set of stresses I know nothing about. And I don’t want to know about them. That’s why I work outside the home. You SAHM/WAHM don’t get a designated vacation from your job. What the hell? Shouldn’t the be a law against that? You don’t get raises, or even minimal recognition. There might be struggles with your spouse: Do they appreciate your work? Do they undermine it? Do they take you for granted? It’s a different set of problems to worry about from the ones women who work outside the home worry about, like: Did I just leave the house in two different shoes? Again?And she is right. On so many levels.
I do feel some bitterness. And it has been building for the last year. Why? I am responsible for everything in this house. Everything. It is my J-O-B. Ant infestation? 'Tis my problem. Indian meal moth larvae? It is my ass on a ladder handpicking those fools off of the ceiling. Home repairs? I arrange for all of that and make the decisions as to what should be done based upon what we can afford. Laundry? Me. Dishes? Me. Hot water tank dies? Me. Air conditioner on the blink? Me. House needs painted? Me. Lightbulb changes? Me. Me. Me.
Granted, in some respects, I have it pretty easy because X has been working from home on and off these past few years - he is definitely an equal-opportunity parent and chef. But he has never done house repairs and grew up in a house where his father did not do them, either. I know how to do many things around the house, or at least know what needs to be done and can appropriately explain it over the phone. X simply does not know, nor does he have the time to learn right now. Besides, for Our Situation, his time is best spent doing what he is doing.
However, did you read that statement about "working from home"? I repeat, MY HUSBAND WORKS FROM HOME. Which adds an entire other level to my stress. And I am so not kidding on the "work". The very last thing I can accuse my husband of is being lazy - the guy works all the damned time.
The work that he does is the sort of work for which he gets a pat on the back. Work that gives him mental satisfaction. When my ass finally got off of the ladder after taking care of all those larvae, no one said "Great job, Kelli!!" and instead of feeling proud of myself, I felt I needed to hose myself off in bleach. And sadly, that was a time when I really needed some kudos because that was one of the most disgusting things I have ever done in my entire life. Ever. Moth larvae? Totally trumps 2 small children who are both in diapers. For reals. This is not a drill, folks.
So, yes. I am a little bitter. And I do point out to X how my work is the grunt work for which I will never earn accolades. And he tries to be appreciative. Because he knows.
Why bother being a SAHM? Did you notice in my litany of complaints that I did not complain about the kids? Because they are the easy part, folks. They are why I try not to complain about the monotony of my life. They are the part that reward me on a daily basis with the adorableness, no matter what the contents of their diapers may bring. The kisses, the hugs, the maniacal laughter. Anjali is in her "I love you, Mama" phase - I hear that statement ALL DAY LONG. It keeps me going. And Arun? Is in his Astute Logic With a Twist phase - his thoughtful observations on life and people in general entertain me and make me think all day long.
I am extremely grateful that I do not have to fight traffic during a long commute any longer. That when my kids are sick, I can drop everything and hunker down at home. That I can get up in the morning and decide willy-nilly to go to the zoo or the children's farm. That I get to see my children all day long and am not limited to a few hours in the evening. Because truthfully? They are not at the top of their games in the evening, they are happiest late morning/early afternoon and I would resent paying someone else to see all that that. I want to see that. So yes, I would have it no other way, this Bitter SAHM Business.
But if I ever catch two moths bumpin' and grindin' in my kitchen again?
I am going to torch the house, seek a new identity and run for the hills.
June 11, 2009
1. A Canal Street knockoff of Jodifur's Shoe Friday.
2. A lame attempt at regular blog fodder by invoking my own accessorized day o' the week.
3. A frivolous little feature that allows me to talk about handbags every week. What's not to love about that?
As promised, I checked out purses today while at the DMV. My original line of thinking was that this would be easy pickings - after all, I usually languish in the crowded waiting area for at least 45 minutes to an hour. Every.Single.Year. Today? The waiting area was nearly empty save for a few men and a pair of little old ladies. Furthermore, I grabbed a ticket which had a number that was immediately announced. The one time I needed to hang out at the DMV? Denied. Totally.
But, of course.
Fortunately, I spied a gal standing near to me. I happened to finish my business first and then proceeded to pretend that I was taking snaps of Anjali, when in reality, I was in serious need of some telephoto lens action.
Anyway. I really liked the colors of this bag, which is why it grabbed me. I would love to have a bag like this for knitting projects!
Now, I have to wonder - should I go for Ugliest Handbag? Silliest Handbag? Awesomest Handbag?
Stay tuned. In the meantime, I have finally uploaded some video of Team Chaos. Arun has turned into quite a ham these days. A dancing ham.
I taught them the I Love You More Than game that I learned from the show Little Britain USA. Obviously, our version has been cleaned up a bit and lacks references to S-E-X.
June 10, 2009
- For those of you who do not do The Tweetle*, you will not have noticed that I have discovered The Sudoku. Think what you may, but I found it first. No? Oh. Anyway. Whatever. This completely unknown little gem of a puzzle that involves neat, perfect, little boxes and convenient numbers which all have their special places, if only you can figure it out. Drool Where the hell have I been? This game was invented for the likes of me and somehow I missed it until now? I should be appropriately ashamed. Duly noted. Anyway. I found a book of puzzles at The Starbucks the other day (yes, yes, I loathe their coffee, but their shaken iced tea lemonades are the bomb.) This book is perfect for me - a hard, cardboard cover with a ring instead of binding. The pencil fits perfectly in the ring and I can schlep the book through the house and metro area as we go about our day. Am hooked, I say. **
- What is it with little girls and accessories? Shoes. Hats. Handbags. I blame her father.
- Finally. Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf or Death*** can found via our On Demand. I cannot begin to describe how jealous I was that Britons got to see this before it came stateside. Did we not sacrifice for them in WWII? Dashed right over the pond to help out their sorry, tea-swilling asses?? Where the hell is the gratitude? Grumble.
- The first of my TWO 20-Year High School Class Reunions is forthcoming****. It appears that I forgot to lose 20 pounds. Must now decide between Spanx or Cabbage Soup. Those are my only options on such short notice, as I believe Fen-Phen is still considered deadly, or something like that. Actually, I am looking forward to the reunion. If the worst thing about me is that I am overweight, I'll deal. I suspect I will not be the only sad sap there looking older. Besides, I am actually pretty happy with where my life has gone. My fancy scale and crow's feet cannot take that away. *****
- It has occurred to me that someday, my children will not want to snuggle, hug or kiss me. When they head off to college, perhaps? The thought makes my heart hurt.
- I loved Pixar's newest release, Up, so very much. In fact, I am really tempted to take Arun again to see it because he loved it, too. It was a movie that simply had it all - heart, soul, laughter, tears, balloons. And talking dogs. What's not to love about that? I have really enjoyed taking Arun to movies lately. For me, going to movies was a special event growing up, so I do have the whole Re-living My Fondest Childhood Memories thing going on. I would argue that is not always a bad thing. Right??
- A little girl just approached me and requested, quite politely, "Can you change my poopy butt, Mama? Puh-wease?"
*Am forever thankful to Monkey's baba for the christening of The Tweetle. Because for serious, that is the best Twitter name ever. And as such, I have stolen it for my very own precious. Also, am curious what my own little half-breeds will think of their own baba, who also unnecessarily inserts a superfluous article (usually "the") in front of nouns.
**Oh, and despite the advice regarding installing this on my phone, I will be doing no such thing. Eh. I am not convinced I want to sully this game with binary code. Much of the pleasure I am getting from it is from scratching out the numbers with an old-fashioned pencil.
***Speaking of Aardman Productions, I also began purchasing the Shaun the Sheep series. 'Tis for the children, of course. Greedy little mites that they are. Begged for the damned sheep, I tell ya. I swear.
****Yes, TWO reunions. This upcoming reunion is for School #2, the one I actually graducated from. However, I went to School #1 from Kindergarten through half of the 6th grade year. Therefore, I spent an equal amount of time between School #1 and School #2. Frankly, I am more sentimental about School #1, though. It was a smaller, tighter knit group, my happiest years were spent there - the years before my parents divorced.
*****I should note for the audience that my husband is not, I repeat, NOT happy about going to some boring reunion where we are going to cackle and laugh over events gone by that he could care less about.
June 9, 2009
My friend J grew up in the South - the region of the United States where the women folk take their hair and makeup quite seriously. She also has eyelashes like a giraffe. Way back in the 90s, knowing that J would have the Correct Answer, I asked her for advice on mascara. Her immediate answer was Max Factor's 2000 Calorie. And that is what I have been buying ever since. End of story, no? No. Target, my usual purveyor of makeup does not carry Max Factor, which means I have to scurry over to the Scary Wal-Mart when I run out. I hate Scary Wal-Mart and often cannot justify navigating its Scary Aisles just for a single tube of mascara. I am then reduced to taking a gamble and trying a new mascara, which invariably turns out to be a clumpy clunker.
I am very, very picky about mascara because my eyelashes are a tangled mess without an eyelash curler and a good mascara.
Anyway. After reading all the rave reviews about the new 2000 Calorie Lash Plumper Upper Thingie (and entering every! single! giveaway even though I rarely enter giveaways but hey, what the hell is this?? Two kids napping? A free Friday afternoon?), I picked up a tube at the Scary Wal-Mart this past weekend. Truthfully? I did not notice any new lash plumping capabilities. Perhaps, while waiting on the production line, my own tube reconsidered and said "No thanks. I'm good, yo." and then skipped its turn for a squirt of the Extra Magical Lash Plumping Potion??
Still. 2000 Calorie is the same damned good product I have been using for years and I was actually relieved that Max Factor had, after all, decided not to mess around with one of my favorite makeup products. I do despise the new packaging, though. The tube is HUGE and FAT and CURVED all wonky-like which means that it does not store well now in my cup of brushes, etc. Sure, it stands on its end. Quietly waiting for me to knock it over.
Do you see what I just did there? I wrote a review (sorta.) For a product for which I paid (cash!)
You may have noticed, but I do talk a bit about products and other consumables around here. Why? I like to read reviews myself - if someone has purchased something and has had a good or bad experience with it, I do not mind hearing about it. Also, for some products, it is hard to get an opinion, which is why I wrote a smallish bit about the Kids Fly Safe seatbelt system for flying. Dude - those things were expensive at $75 a pop. But they were worth it and I felt that should be noted.
Maybe my 3 loyal readers do not want me writing about the stuff I buy. Eh. Whatever. If it fits into my personal content or the story overall, I will mention it - which is why I mentioned the mascara, as an example. Otherwise, I probably would not have written about the mascara because makeup and girly things are not my usual topics around here and it would not have fit. But truthfully? I do not mind reading others' consumer experiences as well. After all, chances are that if I read your blog, I trust your opinion.
But, I do want to be upfront and as such, have recently added a bit about this on my Multiple Personalities section:
There has been some talk surrounding this while I was out of town (which is why I am addressing all of this so late in the game. I am a sleepy sheep.) In this vein, Lindsey Ferrar of Suburban Turmoil has some great points regarding this (Part 1 and Part 2.)
In Part 1, she writes:
And my feelings as a reader of blogs are what made me decide as a blogger to start a separate review blog (and for that matter, what kept me from putting ads in between posts, as opposed to keeping them in my sidebar). I tried doing a few book reviews on this blog and they just didn't feel right, sandwiched between posts about my struggles with breastfeeding and pictures of my children.
In Part 2, she writes:
What you decide to do with your blog does affect whether or not I want to read it.
And that's what my post was about. No hidden meanings. No innuendo. Just. That.
Lindsey has some great points. I can think of 3 bloggers off the top of my head that I simply had to quit reading because I could not sift through all the reviews and sponsored posts any longer. But I bear no ill will. I could really care less. Oh sure, I really do miss one of the bloggers in question. I still periodically check her site to see if she has pared down on all the giveaways, reviews and sponsored posts. When/if she ever does, I may add her back to my feed reader because I really enjoyed reading her perspectives on family life, entertainment and current news. I just did not have the time to sift through the rest of it. That was all. No hard feelings.
But really? Overall? I could care less if folks do ads, reviews, sponsored posts, exorcisms on their blogs. I can always stop reading. Me personally? I like having a separate review site - it is a clear line of distinction for myself. If I do decide to discontinue ads, I would still keep a review site, for whenever the God of Freebies determines I am worthy (Sidenote: I never get offers. The chances of this are slim to none.)
To recap, when I mention products on Rancid Raves, I have forked over my own piece of plastic for it. If I have received something free for review, I will write about it on my review site, Queen of the Free Bees. Considering there are a total of 3 reviews over there, it is obvious how how far down on the Totem Pole of Freebies I hang.
Oh, and don't forget to pick up a tube of Max Factor's 2000 Calorie mascara. You will not regret it.
June 8, 2009
Every now and then, as Anjali has gotten bigger, I get the Twins Question regarding Team Chaos. They are always in their stroller when I am asked this seemingly odd question and I suspect the size difference must not be as obvious while they are sitting down. Or something like that, since truthfully, I do not think they look like they could be twins. Not in the least. However, at Silver Dollar City, I got this question several times. Huh.
Anyway, I have finally uploaded vacation snaps to Flickr. Overall, the trip to Branson and Silver Dollar City (SDC) was a good one. I cannot recommend Branson enough - it is so family friendly and reasonably priced. Anju and Arun got in free to most things because they hit the "3 and under" requirement quite nicely this year. Furthermore, all the attractions within Silver Dollar City are free - even Marvel Cave! Food and souvenirs are reasonably priced as well.
In fact, some of their toys were cheaper than what I have paid for in the past - case in point, we have a collection of frogs at home. Sadly, I had only brought one, solitary, single frog with us when I scooped up some animals to bring along and yes, we must have animals to play with everywhere we go. I have teeny, tiny animals in my purse, my car and frockin' bed, folks. My kids? Are obsessed with animals. I should just buy the entire Animal Toob company and be done with it. Anyway. That sole frog caused so much anguish in the tiny, compact space that would be my car, if it had not morphed into some demonic level of hell. Because the wrath of a child denied his or her heart's desire? Is a force not, I repeat, not to be reckoned with. Fortunately, at SDC, I came across a nature store that sold little toy animals. I frantically bought a variety of frogs and for good measure, some snakes and salamanders. Of course, I still lost the war because I had only bought ONE red salamander. Team Chaos spent the duration of the trip in tussles over that damned Red Salamander.
Anyway. Anjali Sr. has an excellent post on Skirt explaining how vacations become very unvacation-like when you become a parent. She also points out that in the end, it is all worth it. And she is right - seeing my children's faces full of awe and wonder at the things we saw was worth it. It is the reason why I will be dragging my weary body (and Red Salamander) to Omaha and St. Louis this summer as well.
The Butterfly Palace
We went to the lovely Butterfly Palace. I had told the kids we would be going to it and then, it turned out, our hotel was near it. We drove by the damned place multiple times every day. Every single morning, they asked about it - even Anjali. Finally, on the last day of the trip, we headed over to the place. They were beyond excited. I forked over the exorbitant entrance fee, grateful they were getting in free. We marched upstairs to view a movie, which they loved (although Anjali insisted on narrating the entire time in her outside voice. Which I supposed might have been a boost to the poor saps who did not know what the hell a butterfly or praying mantis was. She was helping, no?)
Then, we went into the hot, damp, muggy atrium thingie where the actual butterflies resided. Did I mention the hot, damp, muggy part?
Just by the entrance inside of the double doors with all sorts of signs warning you of the Fragility of Butterfly Life, some of the Palace personnel were releasing butterflies that had just emerged from their chrysalises. And it just happened to be at face level to my children.
Within 10 seconds of arrival, Arun managed to freak out, flap his arms wildly about and smush a butterfly. Awesome. Anjali, taking many of her social cues from Arun these days, proceeded to become unhinged as well. We spent all of 10 minutes in the atrium with a total Butterfly Body Count of about 2 (maybe 3, Mr. Postman was definitely limping by the time we scooted out of there.)
We went downstairs to look at frogs, turtles, lizards, cockroaches and centipedes, where the children were just thrilled. Frogs! Turtles! Lizards! Cockroaches! Centipedes!
The Butterfly Killer
BBQ and Bluegrass
I love going to Silver Dollar City this time of year, and we made it just before the BBQ and Bluegrass festival ends. After that, the Kids Festival begins and runs all damned summer long. The thought of that many children in one spot absolutely horrifies me, so I was extremely grateful we missed that. Because if nothing else, I am an excellent hypocrite. I do not mind foisting my lovelies on the rest of the world, but heaven forbid, should other folks want to bring their own precious progenies. Go me!
So, where was I? Oh. Yes. I love, love the BBQ and Bluegrass festival and this year, the kids did, too. They gobbled up some good food and danced away. As such, I have some great video of the kids dancing. However, the Embarrassment Quotient on it is pretty high for my sweet pair of severly uncoordinated goofballs and that EQ will only increase as junior high looms closer, no? Therefore, I am hesitant to post it. I have loads of thoughts like that rambling around in my skull these days - what should I post here? What should I not?
Howdy Podner. Pull Up a Chair.
Waiting for some damned music, already. Fools.
My parents took me through so many caves as a kid - one year, we did a total Cave Extravaganza - just driving through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, veering off the roadway any time we saw a sign for "cave". I was really excited to do that this with the kids - we only did the Fantastic Caverns and the Marvel Cave, but I am hoping to kick it up a notch next year. They both loved the caves, although again, Miss Katie Couric had to narrate the trip. In the Fantastic Caverns, Anjali kept yelling "I don't wanna see DARK! I wanna see BATS! I wanna see BATS!" Lucky for her, we saw cute little bat just as we were leaving. In Marvel Cave, she kept yelling about the damned bats again, but added a new litany to her complains, "I wanna WALK! I wanna WALK!"
Folks, That's Some Serious Flare
Marvel Cave Tour Guide
Little Miss Can't Be Wrong
Guard rails are meant to be ignored.
June 2, 2009
Still, I would rather read a book.
I promised a post on what I refer to as Brain Candy - silly, fun, sometimes thought-provoking trifles of books that are meant to amuse. You can think deep thoughts at your own damned risk, folks. I have listed these by author - for some authors, I have listed a specific book that I particularly enjoyed. Some of these are guilty pleasures, some are not and truthfully, there are some damned good authors in here. I primarily included author links to Amazon. If I had attempted to link to every single book it would take me too long and I would most certainly make mistakes. Or, I am merely lazy. Your choice.
These folks write books that can be devoured in a Sunday afternoon. Brain Candy!
- Sue Grafton - the author of the "alphabet series", beginning with "A is for Alibi". The protagonist is Kinsey Millhone - a child-free, sometimes single, old-fashioned gumshoe who cuts her own hair. These books are set in the 80s, before the Internet. Millhone must do it her job Old School and the characters she meets along the way are worth the ride. Her wry observations on people and life in general make me wish I had kept notes while reading the series. Also, unlike another female detective who resides in New Jersey (*cough*), Millhone actually solves mysteries. What Millhone does not possess is a hilarious, funeral-stalking granny as a sidekick, I will grant you that.
- John Grisham - How could I not include John Grisham?? I have not read his legal thrillers for a long time now, I thought some of his later books were not up to par of his usual standard. Still, my favorite of his is "The Firm".
- Mary Higgins Clark - Another author I do not read any longer. A few of hers in particular, I do remember. "Where Are the Children" terrified me. A "Cry in the Dark" made me scream in the night when a nearby window slammed shut as I was reading this incredibly creepy book. I also remember "Stillwatch" being a tense read.
- Sidney Sheldon - Ah, Sheldon. Classic Brain Candy. Cuh-lassic. My favorite is "If Tomorrow Comes", but the other Must Reads would include "Master of the Game", "Bloodline", "Rage of Angels", "The Other Side of Midnight" and "The Doomsday Conspiracy". He also wrote a mystery, "The Naked Face" which won an Edgar.
- Judith McNaught - I am not really into romance novels, but McNaught's "Whitney, My Love" still remains one of my favorites. It has all your typical romantic elements - contrived marriage proposal, rebellious young girl, gentlemen and some S-E-X all set into an historical context. Awesome!
- Belva Plain - Thinking of the story of Plain's "Evergreen", still makes my heart squeak. A beautiful Coming to America story. Plain has a way of presenting characters and you really feel as if you know her characters when you are done. Also, an interesting presentation of the Jewish immigrant experience.
- Judith Krantz - My very favorite Krantz is "Mistral's Daughter". If you are interested in the modeling/fashion industry, this will be a good read for you as well. I also really enjoyed the "Scruples" trilogy ("Scruples", "Scruples 2" and "Lovers".) Oh, hell - and "Princess Daisy" as well. Why not? Wait. I forgot about "Til We Meet Again". Read that one, too.
- Michael Connelly - You need a strong stomach to read Connelly, but if you like to read mystery thrillers and to watch C.S.I, you will be hard-pressed to not enjoy this author. I have primarily read the ones that included his protagonist Harry Bosch, a gruff, yet likeable character.
- Cynthia Freeman - "Portraits" is a book that I have read many, many times, but it is the only book by Freeman I have read. The characters really grabbed me, for some reason. It is another Jewish immigrant story and was compelling for me when I was younger. The mother/daughter dynamic really grabbed me.
- Jane Green - Green is an uneven author who, for me, writes hit or miss books. However, even the misses are worth reading because she is just plain fun. Also, since I am an Anglophile, she has that whole British element going for her.
- Jennifer Weiner - Weiner is one of the few authors who I still buy in hardback and after my freaky fangirl moment with her, I almost feel obligated. Enough said - oh and hey! She has one of those blog thingies as well - A Moment of Jen. It worth reading her astute observations about the book industry, in general and the unevenness of the NYT review section.
- Leona Blair - One of my very favorites pieces of Brain Candy is Blair's "Privilege". Period. While it is a typical tale of "rags to riches", I really liked the character of Ema and rooted for her success throughout.
- Michael Crichton - Sadly, many of Crichton's books are made into mediocre movies. "Congo"? Great book, silly movie. "Disclosure" was a good read, but a so-so movie. I did not even bother to see "Timeline". Also, some of Crichton's later books were totally "meh", but truly, his earlier stuff is fun, fun, fun to read. Others that I have enjoyed? "Andromeda Strain", "Eaters of the Dead", "Rising Sun", "Prey","Airframe" and "Sphere". Now, I should warn you - you must, I repeat, must read Crichton with heaping bowls of grains of salt. "Jurassic Park" will leave you believing many ridiculous notions which are simply not true. But hey, this is the Brain Candy edition. Tastes yummy, no?
While I was gone, a few things happened or were written that had me thinking.
The murder of George Tiller absolutely shocked me. I heard about it on the way back from the Ozarks, just as it was breaking and I actually gasped out loud. Tiller's son was one of my classmates at KU. We did not run in the same circles, but had some mutual friends. He may not even remember me. However, when grief has an actual face for you, it does make you think and my heart went out to my former classmate and his family.
Yes, abortion is a dirty, nasty business full of heartbreak and difficult decisions. Ugly options which are legal. However, George Tiller made that option possible for women who had the right to it and he did not deserve to die for it.
Personally, I do not think I could have an abortion. But, how the hell will I ever know? I had two completely healthy pregnancies which resulted in two beautiful, full-formed babies.
Therefore, I do not judge.
On a happier note........
Today's post title is brought to you by Brit of Running Stitch. Her blog went dead last week and she went through the mental meanderings of just pulling the whole thing down. Her post last week touched a spot with me as she wrote about how she had considered calling the whole thing off. In the back hallways of the blogosphere (aka email), we whispered about it and I tried my best to be supportive by not giving her too much grief if she really decided to quit. But still - selfishly, I would have been heartbroken had she given up her site. Her posts are beautiful and are usually written in a celebratory tone. Life is short and as such, Brit relishes hers with her two boys and husband.
I suspect most bloggers periodically go through the motions of questioning their virtual existence. I certainly do. I will never, ever make Money on this site. I do debate whether I should continue ads, but honestly, I just like being a part of the BlogHer network. Yes, I do receive a check about twice a year, which allows us to splurge on tacos at our favorite Mexican restaurant. But folks, I am not doing this for the tacos and I am finding it impossibly exasperating to get X to understand why I need this silly thing called Rancid Raves. What it means to me. Why I essentially do it for free. How the creative process of writing satisfies me.
Then, Brit hits the nail on the head:
I have always had journals. And to this day I enjoy flipping through the pages of those journals and remember time, place, and emotion.
I feel the same way about this blog. This record of my time as a mama as I grow as a woman and watch my children grow in this world we are creating for them. I enjoy the reflection, looking back at how far I’ve come, at how much stronger I feel, how much more secure in our direction I am.
And when my site flickered back to life on Wednesday I rejoiced. And realized that while I may be writing for myself and my family, that I am also a part of this blogging community. Much like I am a part of my neighborhood and city. And that my time spent here, reflection on this family life is just as important to that life as the living of the life.
Now, if I could just get X to read her blog.
June 1, 2009
The boy was about Anjali's age and size. His hair was reddish, but light in color. Not quite strawberry blond. His skin was all sorts of frightening shades of color. The boy's eyes were rolling, something was streaming out of his mouth and his body was lifeless.
I always joke how my kids gain 10 lbs and are dead weights when they fall asleep on my shoulder.
I will never refer to my children as "dead weight" again.
Dad did get the little boy to breathe again. But it was still a grim situation. The boy was somewhat awake, but was not crying. It is impossible to explain how truly awful, heartbreaking, terrifying it was to see a toddler not cry. He should have cried. No wait. A strange man with a beard was hovering over him. He should have screamed.
In about a ten minutes time, the paramedics arrived and they continued working on him together. The paramedics whisked him away.
Afterward, I thought I was going to vomit. I felt punched in the stomach. It certainly did not help that the boy was so near to Anjali's age.
My sister Maureen and I were crying and very shaken. My step-mom was a little more mature about it, but was quite proud of my dad. Dad? Shook off the You Saved His Life Backslaps. Not in a cold manner, but in a practical, professional way. It was not about modesty. Of course, he is concerned about the boy, but this is what Dad does. He treats a patient, then lets them go. Maureen and I are the ones wanting to Google the incidence. Was it "just" a "normal" seizure? Was it heatstroke? Was the boy already sick and just happened to spike a fever at the park? We want to know the ending so that we can wrap it up with ribbon.
My dad rarely gets that luxury.
Obviously, being a front row witness to the Fragility of Life left me thinking deep, dark, anxious thoughts. Now, I am questioning whether I worry enough. Perhaps, I am too relaxed? I need to retake that First Aid, most definitely.
Anything can happen.
Friday and Saturday, up until then, I had been a crabby, hot, sticky mess. I was one of "those" mothers constantly nagging her kids about something. Fretting that the kids were not having enough goddamned fun. Damnit, they should be having fun. Completely forgetting that they are just children - crabby, hot, sticky little kids who needed an adult to take care of them.
Watching that little boy struggle to breathe left me feeling ashamed of how little patience I have towards my children sometimes.
Also, I am seeing Dad in a new, different light, today.
I like what I see.