October 27, 2010

Several Species of Small Furry Animals
Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict

Pink Floyd, Ummagumma 1969

Confession:  I am enjoying this entire "Pink Floyd Song Titles as Blog Post Titles" thing far more than I thought I would.  At first, I just figured it would be a silly thing to do, but I am finding that so many song titles simply fit.  I also enjoy playing the albums as I write.  A few months back, I was tempted to sell off all of my Pink Floyd CD collection as I have already burned it to iTunes.  I am so relieved I did not because I can play the CDs directly on our incredibly awesome sound system (the Bose commercials do not lie, folks.)  Also?  I think we have a Pink Floyd fan in the making because Arun really enjoys them, too.  And I could not be happier sharing one of my favorite bands with him.

So, first up, I forgot a very important snap for yesterday's post and it must be included.  This is quite simply the most awesome of Halloween house decorating I think I have ever come across:

Team Chaos LOVES this house and begs for a daily viewing. I wonder if the owners are weirded out by the gray Acura that  creeps slowly past their house and sometimes even parks across the street while rolling down its windows. 

So, it is that time of year.  The time when it gets chilly and the effing squirrels start clamouring for ways into my house in the style of Children of the Acorn.  All morning long I hear  



Those of you new to this literary rave may not know that I have a long, sordid history with squirrels which began while I was nine months pregnant with Arun.  In short, do not mess with a woman while her husband is out of town and she is mere weeks from giving birth. She will dance barefoot with unabashed glee in her front yard while squirrels flail in agony in traps set amongst her gutters.  Feel free to check out my "Tastes Like Chicken" archive where I describe in great detail the glory that was the Great Squirrel Sagas of 2005 and 2007.

Oh and I should make a particular mention that both Sagas happened while I was gestating, so imagine my fright when a few months ago, I heard some banging, then scratching.  I thought it was a cat, but instead discovered this:

Nothing is more ominous than seeing your shyest of your cats lying in wait like that and I swear my uterus quaked in fright.  Fortunately, the scratching and banging ended, so it seemed the creature returned to its lair.  And no pregnancy tests were harmed in the process.

But this recent spate of roof thumping has me nervous.  I really, really hope we are not getting squirrels again.  Not to sound dramatic, but squirrels are certainly on the short list of Things Kelli Does Not Really Need At This Moment.

Truthfully, I am so tempted to scoot over to Wal-Mart and buy a damned BB gun.  You think I am kidding?  I come by it honestly. After all, I am the daughter of the man who has declared the NRA to be too liberal an organization for him.

Pray for the squirrels, folks.

October 26, 2010

Candy and a Currant Bun.

Pink Floyd, The Singles 1992

October!  One of the best months of the year, no?  We have been busy enjoying the last of the beautiful weather before Mother Nature turns her back on us and heads south with the geese.  And with the season, comes our favorite Halloween books - Goodnight Goon, Runaway Mummy, Ten Timid Ghosts, Shake Dem Halloween Bones, Skeleton Hiccups, Haunted Party, Mouse's First Halloween, Mouse's First Fall, and a Creepy Countdown.  And caramel apples.  For a boy who already loves to eat apples (I keep a bowl on our kitchen table at all times), a caramel apple is just one metro stop short of heaven.

And like many folks,  I adore cartoons and animation - hand-drawn, computer - who the hell cares.  It is all good to me and I appreciate their artistic differences (I firmly believe computer animation has it is own special spot in the artform.)  I come by it honestly, I remember once as a kid, my dad was digging through the TV Guide and suddenly, he exclaimed "Woody Woodpecker is on!" Then jumped up to change the channel.  Yes, he jumped up off the couch.  Remember the good ole days before remotes?


My kids came into this world already heirs to an extensive animation collection and we have so much fun digging through my collection together.  They love Woody Woodpecker as much as I do and a few months back, got hooked onto the Spook-a-Nanny song - it is something we now sing in the car.  Shaking our booties to the Spook-a-Nanny will probably become a Halloween tradition around these here parts. I don't post many videos here, but felt this was worth it. 

I apologize in advance for your Earworm of the Day:

Besides the Spook-a-Nanny, I have already watched Addams Family Values twice and plan on at least one more viewing (actually, it is one of my favorite all-time movies.  Period.)  I also splurged this year and bought the Bugs Bunny Howl-Oween special.

Ah yes, despite the onslaught of Red #40 and high-fructose corn syrup, Halloween is totally worth it.  Tonight, we carve our pumpkins, light the candles and enjoy the cool evening breeze.

What is your favorite part of fall and Halloween?

October 19, 2010

The Hero's Return

Pink Floyd, The Final Cut 1983

Remember that one time when I talked about how I love to provide free reviews for things for which I have already paid?  I forgot to mention that in particular, I love providing free reviews for local businesses owned by folks I actually know.

I don't normally go crazy on birthday parties.  But there was something about my boy turning 5 that made my throat close tight and my wallet swing open.  Arun had decided early that he wanted to have a Halloween party for his birthday and I had decided early that we would decorate our basement for the occasion.  Besides, as I told Manoj, the decorations were an investment in our Halloween Future.  Win-Win.

I had also decided early that we would be purchasing our cupcakes from Tabby's Treats here in Olathe KS. I have known Tabby since our 5 year olds were babies (Sniff) and recently, we attended her son's birthday party.  There is nothing like trying before buying, folks.  I knew after sampling her cupcakes and sugar cookies, that I would be calling her about Arun's party.  I do not even like sugar cookies, as a general rule - but I can report that her cookies were so soft and so delicious that I was left wondering if maybe the reason I don't normally like sugar cookies is that all the others I had ever had simply sucked.  Maybe?

Anyway, the deal was sealed when Tabby reported that yes, she knew how to make Super Mario Brothers cupcakes.   Folks, Arun is not just into the Nintendo Wii version of Super Mario Brothers - in fact, he has not played the Wii for several weeks now.  He is actually into the entire Mario universe - the books, the plush toys, the miniature toys, the story videos, watching instructional videos on You Tube, the early 1990s Game Boy and my old late 1990s Nintendo 64. 

He was over the moon with these cupcakes.  It helped make up for the fact that I could not sew him the Bowser costumer he desperately wanted and instead, was able to convince him to wear the cheesy, store-bought Yoshi costume.

{Click through for the entire set on Flickr}

The best part of these cupcakes?  They tasted awesome.  We purchased 4 dozen cupcakes in all (2 dozen decorated with marshmallow fondant, 2 dozen plain with butter cream frosting)  After the party, we had 5 lonely cupcakes left.  Considering we had about 25 people at the party, more than one person had helped themselves to seconds. And it was not me.No really. Whatever.  You can't prove a thing. As my friend Caroline observed, a lot of cupcake decorators get so wrapped up in the decorating part they forget you are supposed to be eating the product.  Believe me, Tabby did not forget this crucial piece to the Perfect Cupcake Experience.

Gift Bags!
I decided to do proper gift bags this time - I bought some simple bags and shredded them at the top.  Hands down, the winner was the Halloween sticker sheet theme. I would also like to give the Oriental Trading Company a special shout-out for outstanding customer service.  A few things were missing from the original shipment - I called customer service and the phone was answered directly by a rep and the missing items were shipped express.

I have few snaps of my kids blowing out their candles since I am usually too busy running around, pretending to be a thoughtful hostess. This time, I said "Guests be damned" and made sure I was prepped with camera in hand.

Arun Robert aka "Arun Bob"
Watch him put his Redneck nickname into action. 

To finish off the birthday celebrations, we went to the Renaissance Festival on Sunday. Arun was able to partake of a turkey leg and Anjali tried on a glass slipper.  She handled her first romantic rejection with stoic optimism. 

Despite some crankiness due to over-stimulation, artificial food colorings and a steady stream of sugar, it was a perfect weekend in which to celebrate our boy turning 5.

October 18, 2010

Give Birth To a Smile

Pink Floyd, Music from The Body 1970

Saturday marked a milestone, of sorts.  On that day, five years ago, one of my greatest lifelong dreams came true.  I gave birth to a baby boy and things were never the same again.

I love this picture because it reminds me of those first few days with him.  I would get up in the morning, pull the bassinet close to the bathroom and quickly take a shower. The water takes forever to heat up on that side of the house, so I would go back and forth to check in on him.  I distinctly remember peering into this bassinet and quite simply, in the purest of form, I was in awe. It was unfathomable that I had given birth to this little being.  This sweet bundle of boy was mine.

When he was five days old, he did the Newborn Noodle Neck Flop in the car.  I was sure his neck was going to break and I drove white-knuckled the rest of the way home.  When I finally got home, Manoj was there and I broke out in tears, sobbing uncontrollably on his shoulder.

In a heart wrenching flash, I had realized how intertwined this little boy's well-being was with my own.

This is a boy who loves the Pink Panther, Woody Woodpecker, the Natural History Museum at KU, Super Mario Brothers, apples, Spiderman, candy corn, Curious George, the Overland Park Botanical Gardnes, raw broccoli, sushi, The Ernie Miller Nature Center, dinosaurs, lizards, the Kansas City Zoo, crocodiles, snakes, bats and just about anything else that can scamper or skitter.  Yes, above all things that require a power source, he loves anything and everything related to animals and nature.  Nature reigns supreme here and he is constantly digging in our yard.  When we are out and about, he is always on the hunt for things to add to his collection of bugs, leaves, acorns, rocks and berries.  I keep empty plastic containers in a certain spot in our cupboards for him.  Often, I will hear him run inside, scramble for a container, then dash back outside.  Later, I am not surprised when I find a dead bumblebee or a spider lurking in one of those containers.

He has a friendly and adventuresome spirit. I know that sounds incredibly cheesy, but I cannot think of another way to describe his excitement at new things - he loves meeting new people and exploring new places. In the mornings, he asks where we are going for the day.  Staying home is not an option and when we are out and about, he will talk to anybody.  When we go to the dog park, we often spy him hanging out with other adults and talking their ears off.  The other night, we overheard him tell someone the names of his entire family (including the pets) and then declare that his birthday was coming.  "I am going to be FIVE and then I get my LIBRARY card!!" he exclaimed proudly.

I have often joked that all I did for Arun's first year was hold him.  He was a pretty fussy baby and somewhat serious for that first 12 months.  If he was in our arms, he was happiest.  And so, that is all we did for the first year. Now,  I forget how solemn he could be because he grew into a laid back, very goofy kid.  I can safely say without impunity that he is laid back because even his teacher has commented on it.  A serious baby growing into a goofy preschooler makes for some fun times and when Arun tries to pull lame, practical jokes on me, I can't help but laugh.  Besides, I tell Manoj that since our scrawny, duck-footed boy will probably not be a jock, we need to hone his sense of humor so that he can gun for the position of Class Clown, right?

God,  I love having a 5 year old in the house.  Seriously, I love Five.

Sometimes,  I wonder if folks think he is stuttering.  Nope, no worries.  He is currently obsessed with phonetics and is carefully trying to sound out words.  D...D....D....O..G.  He wants to read so badly.  He is always pointing to words on signs, TV, books, where ever.  "MAMA, tells me what the WORDS say."  Over the summer, he finally learned how to write his name and then from there, the alphabet was his oyster.  "Lists" are one of his favorites things to do now - he comes to me, recites a list of words for me to write, then he copiously copies each word down.  For all of the fancy gadgets out there to inspire a child to read and write, I have found a washable marker and plain printer paper to be the most effective tool. Also, I get a lot of questions from this boy.  How AND why.  If I do not know the answer, he tells me we can look it up on the Internet when we get home.  If he simply wants more information on something, he tells me we need to go the library.  Some of his questions knock me hard.  "Are humans going to go extinct like the dinosaurs?", he asked the other day.

Arun is still not a happy guy when he wakes up in the morning.  Downright GRUMPY is a better adjective, actually.  When he was a baby, it was so frustrating to deal with this crabby little guy who slept like a rock at night, but resisted his much-needed naps. Good grief, so many days I begged him to just wake up and be happy.   Now, I know better. This boy needs some time to wake up and face the day. These days, I ask him if he wants me to hold him and invariably, he blearily nods his head.   I sit in my chair and he climbs into my lap.  He can curl his legs under and still fit perfectly in my lap.  I relish these moments now because I have that knowledge that comes with time passing so quickly.  That clarity which mothers are not often granted in the early years. I pat his head, hold him close and ignore his bony, skinny butt poking me.   I sneak in deep whiffs of his hair.  And kisses.  The boy who loves hugs does NOT like kisses. 

And I remember that soft, pudgy baby with dimples in his wrists who only wanted to be held.

I remember.

October 12, 2010

Dramatic Theme.

Pink Floyd, More 1969

Madison, our a. versicolor tarantula,  is dead.  Sigh.  As I reported with Sofia's death, when tarantulas molt, it is a very stressful process and it seems that with Madison something went dreadfully wrong.  From the outlook of it, she looked gorgeous, it seemed everything molted perfectly and all of the important parts appeared to be intact.  Then, she died 2 days later.  Poof! So, now I am in the market for TWO new tarantulas. I have said that I will never get another tarantula such as Sofia, there was only one Sofia, after all.  However, I would LOVE to have another of Madison. For all of her flightiness, Madison was simply beautiful. So,  I am on the search for another a. versicolor and am hoping to snag a GreenBottle Blue as well.

In related news, I must now hunt down an alternative centerpiece for our table for Arun's Halloween party.  Trust me, Gentle Reader, when you are a tarantula owner, you put them to good use during the month of October.

Something else skittered over the Rainbow Bridge last week.  On Friday, I gave my 30 day notice to BlogHer that I wanted to withdraw from their ad network.

Damn, I wish I could write some raging, heartfelt diatribe mocking the consumerist culture that exists. How my Moral sherpa and I hiked our way to higher ground. How I "sold out" to The Man and regretted it.  How BlogHer, that Big Baddie who so many love to rail against was Evil Incarnate and I had to escape her wily clutches. How Liz's post regarding Mom Central's recent romp in the bed of the Corn Refiners Association made me look deep into the recesses of my own hypocrisies. How the $5 per Tweet program that BlogHer offered recently made me see red, instead of green. How the lovely anathematized pariah, Anna Viehle, finally convinced me that my trust capital was worth something.

The truth?  Is actually quite pedestrian.  In fact, the theme for this entire post, this entire blog is Boredom With a Capital B.  I am not sure what I want here,  I have no idea what I want to write.  I simply realized that I must unfetter myself from the financial aspect of it while I figure it all out and determine how I can stop boring myself with this place.

Listen, I would be lying if I did not admit that all of the recent events surrounding the whole "blog for hire" issue did not get me to thinking.  However, in reality, those posts did not directly involve me because no one is exactly knocking down my door, shoving dollar bills in my face faster than a group of frat guys at a bachelor party. It is actually quite simple to cut loose n' run when there so few clams at stake.  I cannot declare otherwise and this is precisely why I am not proclaiming that I have grown a new set of scruples.

What does all of this really mean?  Not much.  I will keep things the same - posting randomly about the mundane drivel that comprises my life.  Any products I receive for free, for purposes of review, will continue to go on my review blog, Queen of the Free Bees.   Obviously, I can "never say never" and hell yes, if something huge came along, I would sell out faster than you can say "cheap whore".  Realistically, that is not going to happen.

In the meantime, pardon the mess.

October 6, 2010

Careful with that axe, Eugene.

Pink Floyd, Relics 1973
Update: I had been mulling this post for a few weeks now.  Writing here and there.  Thinking.  Then, in one fell swoop, I accidentally published the drivel without much proofreading and derailed my entire train of thought, thus forcing me to declare "Uncle" to myself.  Enjoy!

A few weeks back, a silly argument on Facebook about Evolution circled down the drain when one party showed a hand at ignorance and stupidity, then got rude towards the person's Facebook page on which they were posting.  I was pretty irritated with the whole exchange, in particular when the "pro"-science folks were accused of "being emotionally attached to science" in regard to a topic that is pretty clear-cut, folks.  As Kara said, "being pro-Evolution is like being pro-gravity."

Perhaps, this fervent belief in Evolution is why I have all-too-often been attracted to men of foreign extraction.  My unconscious hope that in co-mingling our genetic matter, superior strands would rise above the others and the result would be a premium specimen? A hope for mankind, hence my vigorous defense of which to many is "just a theory"?  No?

When I was upset about the exchange, my mom asked "Why does it matter?  Why do you get so upset?"  I did not have an answer for her at the time, but I have thought a lot about it since (see, Mom!  I actually listen.)

What is the alternative?  To stay quiet?  Then, later Kara wrote about her big mouth.  Gentle Reader, she does not lie.  Kara's mouth is ginormous.

Anyway, I had some grand statement (I think) on how we all have a voice that must not be cheapened by others or by fright and then I was going to end with a swelling note that would make you all cry and rend your t-shirts but instead I totally suck ass as a writer which explains why my Tweets are only $5 a pop and if you have visited your feed reader lately, it is blatantly obvious why my trust capital is worth $0 and why Mom Central dissed me at BlogHer 09.

There.  Done.

A recent homework assignment .  He was to decorate the paper man in a form that was representative of oneself. My kid? Insisted on decorating his like a monster so he could scare his classmates. Who am I to deny him his artistic inclinations?  

A fashionista is still better than a Sandinista.
She was our last shot in this Evolution Revolution, folks. Obviously, it was a spectacular failure as it seemed we needed to work on the brain lobe that deals in fashion-related matters. And the "wide-staring eyes" worthy of Pink Floyd lyrics? Sigh. We must now extend our hope to another generation which will not emanate from our own loins.

October 5, 2010

Interstellar Overdrive

Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967

Arun: "Can you play the Pink Floyd guitar song?"
I scan the tracks and find Interstellar Overdrive.  And then, we sing the bass line together.  BOM BOM BOMBOMBOMBOM BOM BOM BOM  BOMBOMBOMBOM BOMMMM....

Anjali has always been into music, Arun only since this year.  And I waited a long time for that, folks.   Now, he asks for Pink Panther music (Henry Mancini but Real Jazz will suffice) and lately, Halloween music (fugue-laden Bach).  Better late than never, I will take it without complaint.

I am not big into kiddie music - yes, I love Jack's Big Music Show and Laurie Berkner, but that is reaching my limit when it comes to the Treacle Tracks.   We listen to adult music 99% in the car.  Yes,  I have to be careful as to what comes into rotation (Great balls of fire, Gentle Reader.   I accidentally downloaded the explicit version of Pitbull's "Hotel" and after listening,  I need a goddamned cigarette.And a shower.  And some cuddling.) 

Often, I will glance in my rear view mirror and spy my baby girl's head rocking out with her eyes closed. 

It always makes me smile.

My goal is not to make my children little clones of my musical taste - no, they will find their own taste, just as I did.  However, I do enjoy sharing my favorite music with them.  Just as my parents did with me.  I still remember, distinctly, being 6 years old and twirling in our living room to Linda Ronstadt's "It's so easy". The Eagles' "Desperado" and Herman's Hermits' "I'm Henry the Eighth,  I Am" are both songs that to this day, still jet me right back into childhood.

Over the weekend, we went to a lovely little carnival - the Blazing Trail Autumn Festival - at the behest of the lovely Jenny from We're Not in Kansas Anymore.  The proceeds went to a good cause and we got to see Mr. Stinkyfeet.  I have to give el Feet props, he got my kids to dancing.

Boogie Nights, Take 1 from Kelli Oliver George on Vimeo.

Boogie Nights,  Take 2 from Kelli Oliver George on Vimeo.

Rock it hard, Team Chaos.   Rock it real hard.