June 30, 2010

I prefer my crow served warm, smothered in Cholula sauce.

I warned you about the banal.  But I am trying to spur myself back into some sort of regular writing that actually makes its way out of my Moleskine.

So, the other day, I admitted Disney Defeat and bought the goddamned Tinkerbell movie.  Anjali is completely enchanted with that wee sprite.  As Anjali says, "Mama!  She wears GREEN and she has WINGS and she can FLY and so can her FRIENDS."  To which I reply, "Give anyone enough PCP and that will happen".  Deaf ears, I am telling you.  DEAF EARS.  However!  As I am completely enchanted with Anjali herself, the other day,  I found myself with my forked tail between my legs when I exposed myself for the sad, deluded hypocrite that I am as I duly surrendered my credit card to the sullen teenager at Best Buy.   Enchantment?  Why yes, pass that shit around.

As Anjali tumbles down a Disney-infested rabbit hole, Nintendo has tightened its steely grasp around Arun.  Who needs friends (or a life) when you have Mario?  When he is not playing Super Mario Bros, he is an avid student watching You Tube videos of equal-minded gaming geeks playing the game while offering instruction.  Each morning, he stumbles to his laptop, logs on and gets going (and yes, he has his own laptop - a freebie we won.  We are a Household of Technology around here.  And yes, I get a variety of reactions on the matter.)   He is even watching the old, low-pixellated versions of Mario clips from the days of yore known as Super Nintendo- respect the vintage, dude. In fact, we have Mario in 3 different incarnations - mid 90s era Gameboy, Nintendo 64 and of course, the Wii.

Speaking of the Wii, I tweeted yesterday:

Last night, Manoj took the kids to the pool (anyone else snickering at South Park past references to "kids" and the "pool"?  Anyone?  Anyone? Bueller?) 

Anyway! The garage door was still going down as I scrambled to jam the Harry Potter game into the Wii.  And...... Oh MY.  This game rocks.  Great animation, stellar scenery, easy to operate and...and! they use the same music from the movies.  Score! (or Gooooal!! ?)

Last night, I casually mentioned to Manoj that a new Legos game had been released but I am not sure how much longer I can keep my new love affair a secret.

Question of the day!
What is your policy/stance/opinion on technology and kids?  If your kids are playing video games, etc, how do you set time limits?  Are you more relaxed during the summer?   Arun's laptop is set up in our dining room and that situation will not be changing for long, long, long time.  I don't see myself letting my kids hide in their rooms with televisions or computers.  Never say never, but I really want that stuff out in our common areas.

June 29, 2010

Something's gotta give.

As it turns out, folks tend to give their daddies gift cards for Happy Pappy's Day.  And, as it so happens, we sell gift cards on Snapgifts.com, our site (the one that I shill.  Endlessly.)  Holy crap on toast, folks. That week was cuh-razy.  Add in a dash of gross time-mismanagement on my part and the week devolved into a complete and utter mush of mayhem.

It does not help that this summer schedule is not working.  I tweaked it last week, and that worked so much better.  This week, some Interesting and Major Decisions are being made, so the schedule will get switched around further.  I believe, for the better.  

I hate it when I let too much time pass on ye olde blog here.   I never know how to peek back in and hop back on the Hamster Wheel o' Innocuous Musings.   I am going to write a few more posts this week, be warned, a tidal wave of pith shall be forthcoming.

In the meantime, we are in Full-On Birthday Party Planning here - Anjali turns 3 next week and has been planning her party since January.  I do keep things uncomplicated, though.  When the kids were little, I had house parties, but I quickly realized the value of shooting $60 to a worthy organization willing to open its arms to a gaggle of screaming children.  For now, I have both kids convinced that a birthday party at our local nature center is Totally!Rad!  Like, DUDE.

I throw out some cupcakes, ice cream and water (yes, water! Not juice or punch - many of the parents of these kids are my friends and I would like them to remain my friends)  The nature center provides an animal-based activity (the Birthday Princess has selected the Snakes Demonstration)  I emphatically request no gifts - a few family members attend, they bring gifts and that is just the right amount of gift opening.    It is just enough presents to give the party that special sort of birthday flavor, but it does not drag on, either.  The guest list is straightforward - if we have hung out with you in the past few months or we share some genetic material, you are invited. I used to stress about the guest list, now I do not and I realize that it will change from year to year. Normally, I don't do gift bags, but I am taking a cue from my friend Susan this year and providing the materials for a silly craft that the kids can take home to do later.

What I have found with these Simple Simon birthday parties is that the kids simply have fun playing with each other and then stuffing their pieholes with cake.  The equation is quite easy:

Kids + Easy Activity + Cake = Birthday Party

I do not see us doing any birthday extravaganzas.  No magicians, no ponies, no balloon artists, no bouncy princess castles.  Well....maybe.....I am thinking that each kid maybe can have ONE Birthday Blow-Out, say for the Lucky Seven birthday? 

Kristen had a post the other day about the birthday parties and we certainly agree on our mutual hatred of kiddie birthday parties.  Also, the comments got me thinking that I really, really like how we do things.  Laidback, yet still has an aura of "birthday".

What do you think?  Am I a Scrooge McGrinch O'Bailey when it comes to birthday parties?

June 24, 2010

Last I saw, McDonald's did not give birth.

I do have a post in draft.  A delectable post about actual stuff about me and my fabulous life here in the sweltering suburbs of Kansas City.  Which is why my legions of adoring readers flock to come here, no?  All 3 of you! It is the drama, is it not?  The suspense?  It draws you in, every time.  Although, I would think the fact that I live in Kansas would mute the Titillation Factor somewhat, when all 3 of you still keep clicking over.  Thanks!  I salute you.  

However!  I had to comment on the McDonald's Deep Pockets Lawsuit.  It seems, someone is suing McDonald's  for the unforgivable crime of selling toys that lure kids into its heinous, greasy grasp (Totally Tangential! A fun Huffington post link for you!  Yes, I have been sneered at in the past for reading Huffington Post.  I know, I totally suck! Come to think of it, I seem to remember the same person who sneered at me for reading the Huffington Post had zero issues trucking her herd of progeny into McDonald's. So maybe we have a common ground now?   *Meow*  Where is my ball of yarn and box of sand?)

So!  Kids are getting fat because McDonald's sells toys in its Happy Meals.  Someone get the fucking smelling salts.  Stat.

Yes! I love McDonald's cheeseburgers.  I do.  Seriously.  I like mine plain with no ketchup (the devil's blood!)  Although to be fair, McDonald's are my #2 favorite cheeseburger (Just after Five Guys who do not offer toys.  Those bastards. However, they do offer jalapenos.  Hence, the grand distinction of #1 in Kelli's Universe of Cheeseburgers)  Yes...yes... Team Chaos has had a few cheeseburgers from McDonald's.  There.  I just admitted that out loud, in writing.  Go ahead, pelt me with fresh grains, greens and fruits.  I deserve it.

But! Since we are a No Beef, No Pork Household, I have scant remorse about stuffing my kids with a cheeseburger every now and then. They get a cheeseburger and a cup of water.  And a toy.  And truthfully?  They get far more toys than cheeseburgers.   And that?  Is my particular beef with all this mess.  (Yes, I just used a horrible beefy pun. Get over it.)   Some jerkwad numbnuts wants to blame his porky progeny on the fact that a plastic novelty was included with his kid's Happy Meal.  Ultimately, this asshole is simply ruining it for the rest of us who like to just purchase those trinkets without the benefit of the Happy Meal .

You see, that is the secret, folks:
You do NOT have to purchase a Happy Meal to get the toy.  
It can be purchased separately for usually just $1 a piece.

Tell your friends.  Tell your neighbors.  Shout it from the rooftops.

When we do McDonald's, it runs down like this for my kids:  2 cheeseburgers (no ketchup), 3 cups of water, 2 toys (1 girl toy, 1 boy toy).

The end.  My kids do not need chocolate milk and we have regular milk at home. They do not need the nasty apples soaked in absorbic acid cancerkillingsourbittercrap.  They do not need fries.  They do not need apple juice.  They eat their cheeseburger, they play with their toy. The end.

I have to confess that some of the toys are actually worth purchasing separately - The Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz toys, the Barbie toys, the Polly Pockets.  In fact, we still play with telescopes from the Pirates of the Caribbean promotion in 2006 - the lights still work and the kids were hunting treasure just last week with them.  Arg, matey!

Besides, I am doing my very best to protect them from Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  A few folks have aptly pointed out that loads of crap food is being marketed to our children - sans toys even, our children still get the message that something might be tasty when they see their favorite cartoon character emblazoned on the packaging of artificially-colored, over-sweetend cereal and "fruit" snacks that contain not an iota of real fruit. 

The world cannot be saved in a day, folks.

Okay.  Rant over. I need to sign off and scrounge up some Drano to clear out Arun and Anjali's arteries. After all, I would like it if they lived to see Kindergarten.

Keep your eye on the prize, Grasshopper.

June 15, 2010

Just say when.

When will .....
my boy no longer snuggle and sit in my lap?
my girl no longer consider me her "best mama"?
my boy no longer say "cheesegurber"?
my girl not want to sleep with me?
my boy no longer need a healing kiss when he hurts himself?
my girl not whisper "I love you, Mama" in her sleep?
my boy no longer proudly and excitedly introduce me to his friends at school?
my girl stop calling our Mexican panederia "that churro place"?
my boy no longer delight at life's promise that is in a simple tree seed?
my girl discover that not all little girls love lizards and snakes?
my boy stop pretending our car is a submarine?
my girl realize being a princess is, in reality, a depressing occupation?
my boy not want dinosaurs on his underwear?
my girl begin stealing my makeup? my clothes? my booze?
my boy need to shave?
my girl be indoctrinated into the horrors of body wax?
my boy realize I actually have very few answers?
my girl figure out I have no fashion sense?

Actually, forget it.  Don't tell me when, after all.

June 11, 2010

Still selling out, still buying in.

A few months ago, I was digging through my archives searching for something when I came across an entry about our trip to Vegas last year where I wrote glowingly about the Kids Fly Safe seatbelt system.  I did not even think twice about linking to it - after all, I had paid $75 for each seatbelt thingie, so why would I not talk about it?  The system was awesome and allowed us to shoot into Vegas without lugging carseats (we rented them from the rental car company - one of my top travel tips for flying with kids!)

However, after all of the hoopla these past few months about disclosures and how the greedy, grabby mommyblogging community whores itself out for free stuff , I cringe when I read old posts because I wonder if folks even realize that my site includes virtually no free stuff - I believe I did receive a free book while cooking up the Fetus Formerly Known as the Freeloader (aka Arun).  But I do not remember if I disclosed that I had received the $15 book for free.  I know, I am such a whore, right? 

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for nearly 6 years now and have had no problems with linking to folks left and right for free, for products which I willingly forked over my grubby cash.  I consider it the same as having a conversation with friends and we are just comparing our experiences with various products, right?  I do not mind reading about your experiences, so why should I not write about mine?

When I signed up with BlogHer Ads in 2008, I created a review site, Queen of the Free Bees,  specifically for all of the free shit that I anticipated swelling my mailbox.  You see, in 2008 I had made the explicit decision to open myself up for business.  And then, I quickly realized the dark side of freebies.  Things piled up - DVDs to watch, then write about.  Books to read, then write about.  I could not keep up with it and so, I backed down - I have not done a review since last October.

I do plow through a limited number of PR pitches, link requests.  My inbox is by no means flooded, but as a small business owner myself (Foreboding sense of forthcoming shill..... get your gift cards at Snapgifts.com, folks!), I do consider pitches carefully because often, they are sent by real folks actually hitting the "send" button.  Also?  Getting links is serious business and damn y'all, it is a hard knock life out there to get them. 

Last year, the folks at Garage Sale Tracker approached me about mentioning their site - at the time, I declined because the site had very limited results when I looked at it.  Last year?  The site was not useful.  This year?  The site is now useful, with more data and even an iPhone app.  I don't mind throwing out a link for them, uncompensated.  It took me all of 3 minutes to include this paragraph.  And most important of all, the guy who contacted me last year, contacted me this year pointing out their expanded offerings.  He did his homework and actually followed up with knowledge of why I had declined them last year.  Dude, you get an "A" for Effort on that one.

A few weeks back I was contacted about Tire Safety Week and was asked if I minded linking to a Tire Saving Tips page on Michelin - again, uncompensated.  Not a penny towards me.  Why would I bother including something about tire safety?  Because I believe it is important and useful - as the Road Trip season is upon us, tire safety is something that we should remind ourselves about, no?  And typing this took me all of 2 minutes.

And most importantly?  Both of the folks contacting me did prompt, polite, thoughtful follow-up and they knew what they were talking about. 


Recently, I did receive two review offers that piqued my interest - products which I will receive for free.  One is for a DVD - a movie adaptation of a book I recently read, one that is part of a series.  I really want to see the movie before I continue reading the rest of the book series, so I thought it would be fun, even useful for me.  The other offer was for hosting a cooking party - the materials are covered and some of the side dishes are provided by the sponsor company.  Cooking food from fresh ingredients, from scratch is a hot topic for me right now - the opportunity to host a party for my friends and teach them two of my favorite dishes was simply not one that I was willing to pass on.

This post really has no point.  Throughout the year, I muse on whether I should continue to do ads.  I reflect on what my goals are with Rancid Raves and if it is filling my needs or not.  For now, I like the status quo and have decided to not change a thing.  Ads are still up, full feeds are still pumping and I will continue to selectively open myself up for reviews every now and then.    And even if I decide to pull ads, I will still always maintain a review site. 

Do you care about reviews?  Are you irritated by review sites or do you wish it was all on a single site? Do you view links on sites with suspicion or am I the only rube out here? 

June 7, 2010

Islands in the stream of consciousness.

Remember when I was talking Primordial Photography?  The case where I was on vacation and had left my digital camera battery at home and was forced to to purchase disposable cameras using film lest my precious progeny not have a single photographic moment left from our Grand Tour of Branson Mo??  The most tragic piece of Primordial Photography is the inevitable relegation of said disposable camera to the junk drawer.  I can see my great-grandchildren with faces shining expectantly on a 2072 Antiques Roadshow as they hand over cryptic boxes found in their great-grandmother's junk drawer and an appraiser sadly explains the mystery and subsequent demise of "Fuji Film" to them.

So, it is official.  Disney has wormed its tenterhooks into my sweet baby girl's soul.  Somehow, somewhere, she learned about Tinkerbell.  Couple that with my inability to resist a good deal in princess outfits at a garage sale and now, my baby girl  has glazed eyes, speaks in monotone and harbors a desperate yearning for green tulle and satin.

Now, I have to pray that Effing TinkerHell is not locked away in Disney's "vault" (where "vault" stands for "marketing scam") since a little girl has a birthday forthcoming.  While I may be a bitter bitch, even my frosty heart begins to pool into chilly puddles when my sweet girl bats those baby blues at me and declares emphatically "Mama, I LOVE Tinkerbell!  She wears GREEN and she can FLY and so can all of her FRIENDS."

Exposing myself as the hypocrite that I am, I am the one who attempts to deny her daughter her Royal Destiny while wholeheartedly supporting her son's search for his Gaming Destiny.  That little dude can totally hand my ass to me now when we play Super Mario Brothers.

I wonder if there is a TinkerHell game for the Wii?  Huh.

Over the weekend, Manoj and I went spelunking in our couch.  No, not as dirty as it sounds, sadly not in the sexual sense although to be fair, there actually was a fair amount of real dirt involved.   Ah yes, we found dirt.  And loads of it.
And we found knitting needles (explaining why I have bought THREE sets of 9 inch #9s over the years)
And coins.
And yet more Kai-Lan figurines (We are Legion.)
And crayons.
And more coins.
And a LaraBar (I fervently hope it was a LaraBar because otherwise I would have to own up to the fact that somehow an effing dog turd ended up in the nether regions of our couch.)
And inexplicably a single sock, to which its mate was probably discarded long ago.
And yet more coins.
And enough dinosaurs to outfit the entire Cretaceous era.
And a remote that had gone missing while I was gestating the teeny fetus that would eventually become a boy named "Arun".  The same remote that I blamed my nephew Nolan for throwing away in the trash.  No, I was not mad at him at the time because it became Yet Another Hilarious Familial Fable Starring Nolan.
And Thank The Universe Above, we found the cars keys that Manoj had lost over a month ago. Which was the catalyst for the entire Christopher Columbuseque expedition of the couch bowels in the first place.

Then, I soaked my hands in bleach and made an appointment for confession with a priest.  Because seriously, I felt that dirty.

What's the oddest thing you have ever found in a couch?

June 4, 2010

Are you new to the news?

I am always a little shocked when someone tells me they do not read or pay attention to the news.  The other night, my friend Rita told me that she can go through long periods of not reading the news.  I was shocked to hear this.  However,  it is not the first time I have heard someone stating they do not follow the news.

I already lean towards the Cynical and Pessimistic.  Oh sure, my glass might be half full, but the government will surely swipe what is left.    I see that reading the news and related commentary merely serves to feed those negative inclinations that dwell deep inside my frosty heart.  I know this, folks.   However, I still want to be aware of what is going on and I feel it is more dangerous to not know. 

I want to know what is happening with the BP spill.  Even though I live in Kansas, this affects me, if not for the petty reason that my Costco shrimp may increase in price, then for the mere fact that I care about my fellow citizens and our wildlife on the Gulf Coast.  I fear that the situation in North and South Korea  is going to work its way it to the front page soon and that we will find ourselves mired in yet a third, concurrent war (did you know that the military is planning for a deployment to the Yellow Sea? Read the fine print in that article.)  Yesterday,  I dug around and found a stunning entire section on our fallen soldiers - a site that is continuously updated and not just for Memorial Day.  And in inconsequential, non-earth shattering type of current events, I do want to know what is going to happen with the Big 12 - it affects the Jayhawks, so it is important to me.

I will concede that maybe, just maybe, keeping up on current events is why I am such a crabby, bitter soul.  Perhaps.  But still!  I want to know that all of these things are happening. I cannot resist.

Every day, I scan a local Kansas City site, CNN.com, Google Reader and Twitter.  Yes, Google Reader and The Tweetle - I often find some of the more interesting pieces of what is happening in our world through links others share via Tweets and shared items on Google Reader (enthusiastic hat tip to Leah and Mishri!  You two share the best stuff!)  I am constantly reading and re-evaluating my positions.  My political views were pretty different 10 years ago, I credit reading about current events for this change.  Maybe my views are right, maybe they are wrong.  But I know that they may very well change because I will never stop learning about my world as it also continues to change.

Do you read the news?  Do you watch the news?  Am I wasting my time by reading the news?  Would my mental health improve if I just stopped listening to The Voices? Are ostriches really that much more happy and peaceful?  Or is the ostrich going to get his ass handed to him for not paying attention?

June 2, 2010

'Tis a tragedy that a blinking cursor is not motivational.

I am feeling a bit Wordless Wednesday today. 

I would talk about my recent vacation into the murky depths of the Ozark Mountains in Branson, MO this past weekend (a trip which promised to take us back 100 years in time), but I forgot my camera battery and had to totally Old School it with disposable cameras that require FILM and ultimately, trips to Costco to dig out FOLDERS and do some old-fashioned HANDWRITING with PEN by HAND and then scamper back to my hole to do some WAITING and then, some more WAITING. 

Remember those days?  When you would anxiously await your vacation photos, then excitedly pick them up, rip the envelope up while you were still IN THE STORE only to find that half of the photos were crap???  Remember those days?  Yeah.  I am living those days.  And how can I do a vacation post without photos?    After all,  the International Bylaws of Blogging explicitly state in Article 5 "Blog Fodder Rules and Regulations", Section 2.b.321.c  that "photos must accompany all posts detailing trips of more than 50 miles from one's personal abode"  I am not sure what the punishment for violating Article 5, Section 2.b.321.c would entail (yanking of one's URL? SPAM comments?), but I do know that  I do not want to find out.  So yeah, what happens in Redneck Vegas has stayed in Redneck Vegas.  At least, until I get my damned snaps back.

I would like to talk about the oil spill, but there are far more introspective pieces about that topic (a frustrating topic which is discussed daily in our household.)  I would like to talk about a recent tragedy that has happened in our blogging world, but it is a blogger who I did not even read and I would feel as I were jumping on some sort of Anguish Bandwagon (but seriously, folks - HUG YOUR CHILDREN and never ever rest on your parenting laurels thinking you have it all figured out.  And then, HUG YOUR CHILDREN again.) 

So, I would like to talk about a lot of things, but instead, I will leave you with some snaps of a sweet girl and her precious kitties while I get my virtual ass offline to go HUG MY CHILDREN tight (real, real tight) and bake them some more apple pfannekuchen.

Peace, y'all.

New and Improved Simian Snappage! Now, with more felines!

Both of my baby girls.

Vanessa used to be my cat.  Anjali has taken over.  Every night when I turn off the lights, Vanessa jumps into bed to snuggle with us throughout the night. Each morning, Anjali spends some time petting Vanessa before even getting out of bed to start her day.

Sleeping Beauty

Babies, v1.0

The original babies of the George Household (not pictured, our fearless VP of Pestilence Control, Harry)