August 31, 2005

How do I fill my days?

The Great Grandma Showdown: Leavenworth Grandma (LG) and Olathe Grandma (OG) went to lunch together this week! They have never been the best of friends, but LG has had a wild hair up her ass that they should go to lunch. First, a backstory. My mother’s maiden name, C___, was also MY middle name (before I changed it after getting married). My sister decided to give HER daughter this name as a middle name to honor my mother and because it had been my name as well. However, we have all dreaded LG’s reaction because she still resents my grandfather even though 1) he has been dead for over 5 years and 2) they have been DIVORCED for over 50. So, yesterday at lunch, OG took it upon herself to tell LG what my sister was planning. As expected, LG started railing on my grandpa. However, she was stopped short when OG declared emphatically, “Well, she [my sister] isn’t naming the baby after him, she is naming her after her grandmother and aunt.” [meaning my mother and I]. Apparently, that shut LG up right then and there. OH, how I wish I could have been there! As my OG said later, “I am not afraid of her - after all, I am OLDER than her!” hee hee
Go, Go Grandma!

Rancid Rave: Anyone that knows me in real life knows that I am not a makeup fiend. I gave up years and years ago on trying to look cute or gorgeous. However, I have to rave about Loreal’s True Match. You take a plastic card with sample colors on it and put it against your wrist. Whichever color disappears, is the color to go with. Yes, I know the experts say the wrist match isn’t the way to go, but THIS WORKED. The ultimate test? After applying the foundation for the first time, I got into my car to head out. I flipped down the visor and lo and behold - the foundation DID match. Gals, you all know what I mean by the “natural light test”. The foundation itself was pretty good, too - very light and it held pretty well.

Fill ‘er up!!:
Warning: The rest of this post is where I talk mostly about me, me, me. One of my favorite topics!

I’ve had several people, including X, ask “So, what do you do all day?”. In short, I am unapologetically enjoying my free time! I have worked non-stop since I was 16, so I am looking at these few months as a way to catch my breath before a new type of madness takes over. For the most part, I have used this time to get all the stupid, small household chores done that I had been wanting to do since we moved it. For example, I am working on organizing the garage. Truth be known, all the tools and gadgets are MINE and it drives me crazy when I can’t find what I need. Also, I recently replaced all the door pulls in our kitchen - there were 45 of them, so that was no small task. I am also going through all my storage boxes again in an attempt to see what else I can get rid of. And of course, I have been working on the Freeloader’s room. At this point, it is 50% Kid Room and 50% Junk Room, so believe it or not, that is considered PROGRESS. Yesterday, I did my first load of baby laundry, which was a bit disconcerting. It’s one thing to have the little guy kicking (and screaming?) inside of me, but it’s another to wash his clothing. In short, this guy is COMING OUT someday. Eek. Also, I did stock up on the necessities like baby wipes, diapers, etc. At this point, we are ready - the Freeloader could come tomorrow and I would be fine with that. The nursery is not really critical at this point, because he has a place to sleep in our bedroom. I am certainly not going to stress over decorating a room that he won’t even be using until next year. I am more concerned with getting our HOUSE, my OFFICE, and our PHOTOS in order. The house is almost done, the office is a nightmare and the photos frighten me a bit. The photos are particularly important to me right now, because as much as I love taking pics of the cats, the little Freeloader is probably going to be used to lights popping in his little eyes (um, just like the cats are now, come to think of it). (Rancid Reader Request: How do YOU organize your digital photography? Do you name each individual file? I have folders named according to subject and year - for example, 05 Nephews, 04 Christmas, etc. I used to name each file, but this new system on the Mac isn’t letting me do that so easily. I am wondering the importance of naming each file since I am very organized according to year and subject matter.)

For the most part, I have noticed that I have settled into a routine. I try to be up every day by 7:30am and I go downstairs for what I like to call “The Changing of the Guards”. The Inside Cat goes out and the Outside Cat comes in - usually, in their rush to exchange positions, they will bump into each other nearly every time. I make a pot of coffee, then I meander upstairs to my office for email, blogs and news. At that point, I enter some sort of time warp and the morning flashes before my eyes. Sometimes, I forget to eat and that isn't helping this whole "3rd trimester nausea" thing. Sigh.

I was surprised to find that I watch very little TV. I was worried that I would get sucked into that. While, I will occasionally watch something the DVR recorded the night before, I have found that DAYTIME TV SUCKS ASS. I get frustrated with the news channels and would rather READ my news, than WATCH my news. The silly talk shows irritate me (Star Jones, why oh WHY are the tabloids following YOUR stupid, inane, shallow, vapid, egotistical ass?) I even tried to watch some children’s programming just to see what is out there. SCARY. I realize, I need to stock up on some DVDs - the Freeloader can’t live by Wallace and Gromit alone OR alternately, with a mother hopped up on tranquilizers to stem the seizures caused by all the shitty animation out there these days. Cripes.

I had hoped that with my not working, that I would get to see my family more and by god, I HAVE been to the nursing home THREE times in a span of a week. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you view it), my Great-Aunt P is in the home for right now. The jury is out if she will remain there. This place is a kick-ass nursing home, folks. Very clean, smells nice and has tons of amenities (yep, all you Sopranos fans out there, repeat after me in a Jersey accent “It’s a retirement COMMUNITY”). However, my great-aunt has a slight addiction to the TV show Law and Order and the HOME DOES NOT GET TNT. I seriously doubt she is going to make it. It is actually a bad situation because she can’t live on her own anymore and she has no living relatives to take care of her . Well, we are taking care of her, but we are actually her in-laws and have no legal authority to step in and take over. She is on her own, so to speak. Also, I should note that in my family, if you are in a nursing home, you are guaranteed at least 1-2 visitors daily - certainly more on the weekends and the holidays. A nursing home doesn’t HAVE to be a dumping ground and it is truly a travesty that many people ARE just dumped into them. I can tell you for a fact, that residents are not mistreated when they have daily visitors and have obnoxious family willing to get into the administration’s face. We have had great experiences with 3 of the nursing homes in our town.

Finally, the thing I love most about staying home, is that I feel like I am getting to really enjoy this pregnancy. For the most part, it has been a great experience. I love playing my favorite game, BellyWatch 2005 - if the little guy starts kicking, I am free to just sit and watch! If I was working, the Not-So-Supervisor would have surely frowned on that. I guess, for me, because I really doubted this would happen, I am still SO appreciative that I get to have this very cool experience. In fact, at the very end of her pregnancy with Older Nephew, my sister commented that she was a little wistful at the thought of not being pregnant with him anymore. I thought she was insane at the time.

However, now I understand completely.

August 25, 2005

Which little piggy went to market?

I have had a Flickr account for ages, but hadn't actually fiddled with it. I really feel sorry for the Freeloader. As much as I love taking pictures of the cats (the camera doesn't even phase them at this point), imagine how much I will love taking pictures of my own little guy.

Anyway, I am off to the Leavenworth Grandma's house for the day tomorrow. I have to leave at the crack-ass of dawn to make it there because we must be IN LINE at the tea room for lunch BEFORE 11:00am. You know, to beat the CROWD beating at the doors. I AM taking my camera with me. Maybe I can get a pic of the madness that is her house. She likens her decorating taste to "Early Attic". I liken it to "Southwest Flea Market". In the meantime, enjoy my inaugural post with Flickr.

Plastic Pig
Here Piggy, Piggy,
originally uploaded by Cagey333.
This is why I don't go to my Olathe Grandma's house and instead, prefer to meet her in restaurants. It prevents her from foisting crap like this onto me. The last time I popped by her house, she hands this to me and says "here, you said you wanted this once". Good grief! How OLD WAS I when I said I wanted it? Like, 2 years old? Was I really stringing together complete sentences when I expressed my desire for this piece of piggy plastic from the 50s? Maybe I should start pointing at her car and television to see what else I can "score".

The Big Boppy
The Big Boppy,
originally uploaded by Cagey333.
Do you think this furry little menace is going to be a tad upset when she realizes the boppy is not really intended for her new sleeping quarters? You think?

The Monster
The Monster,
originally uploaded by Cagey333.
A Revolution is coming, my little orange friend. Your days as Ruler Divine are numbered. Hello? Are you listening??

August 24, 2005

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Note: Thanks, Goofy Girl , for that incredible quote in today's subject title.

The class yesterday on retirement investment strategies was not as dry and droll as I thought it would be (or conversely, I’m more dry and droll than I thought myself to be. Nah. Perish the thought!) Anyway, the class did get me to thinking long-term. Generally, I tend to think only about 5 years out. As of late, I can barely think past this fall - occasionally I’ll wander to next year, but primarily I'm pretty fixated on Fall 2005, for obvious reasons. Yesterday was a good opportunity for me to think “Okay, I shove Kid #1 and Kid #2 into school - what’s next?”. I know I don’t want to go back to the grind of 50 hours a week, being on-call 24/7, and having to travel. These past 2 blissful months of not working have certainly verified THAT. X and I don’t think daycare is evil, but working for Big Al under the above conditions is not worth putting our kid in daycare, for sure.

I am hoping that when our kids are in school, I can go back myself. For me, I see this huge life change coming as an overall catalyst in many respects. I am hoping to take these next years as serious thinking time - WHAT THE HELL DO I WANT TO DO??? Because bein' a CPA, doing information security or software development just ain't cuttin' it, folks. Depending on our circumstances, and if we have moved from Kansas City by then, I would love to either get a Ph.D. and focus on international business with a specialization in privatization OR I would LOVE to completely “start over” and pursue my true love - languages - either a specific language (Spanish or Hindi - I would love to finally be fluent in one of them) or just linguistics in general. Whatever comes after the kids, I want to ENJOY it and retirement should NOT be a goal. Both of my parents are not particularly excited about their jobs and my dad actually DESPISES his job. In his early 40s, he actually tried to change his career path, got frustrated, then gave up. That has always saddened me. He now spends a good portion of his time griping about his job and dreaming of his future retirement. It's very depressing to hear him.

How many people do you know are in jobs they hate, just marching time until the magic age of retirement?

Are you one of those persons yourself? If so, what can you do to change it?

August 23, 2005

Do foreigners do it better?

I did not mean to insinuate on Monday that my international friends were better parents than my American friends. I was just interested in the differences, that’s all. I realize my post may not have come across that way. It was an encouraging experience this weekend to see there ARE various ways to approach the same situations. That’s it. Much of this observation is being driven home by the fact I’m reading some books on the whole subject of motherhood, societal expectations, and how, ironically, other Mommies can be the worst enemies. The judging starts early, my friends, and I was shocked. If my doctor says I can eat brie, drink coffee and have the occasional glass of wine, who’s business is it anyway? And this is just the beginning - I can only imagine the comments heading my way. So, I thought I should clarify where all that came from. It was a nice relaxing weekend of non-judging.

Finally, I am well aware of the fact that my own house will soon enough be cluttered with ugly plastic toys that seem to come in only crap-ass primary colors. God help me.

What was I thinking?

If I wasn’t pregnant, I would think that maybe I was drunk when I signed up for the class I am attending today. It’s called “Avoiding the Train Wreck: Helping Clients Manage & Protect Retirement Assets” . Good grief - could there be anything more boring??? Why did I sign up for this? The only great thing about these classes, other than getting the credit is that it makes me appreciate my life -- 1) Hopefully, I will never have to actually do anything accounting-related ever and 2) Sitting at home with a colicky baby would surely be more soothing to one’s soul. I feel like such a fraudster sitting there trying to pretend as if I care. I think the worst part of these classes is that sitting for extended periods of time is getting to be extremely painful. I will spare my male audience the gruesome details, but suffice it to say that it is hard to walk now after sitting for 8 hours in a hard chair. However, I will really try to remember all this if indeed the little guy ends up being a colicky baby. As is usually the case, things can ALWAYS be worse.

Oh, speaking of drunk, I got to go to a liquor store over the weekend! I needed to pick up some wine as hostess gifts for our little dinner outings. It was a little disconcerting to be so hugely pregnant, waddling through a liquor store. It cap the experience, I really, really wanted to pick up a jug of Jim Beam for good measure. Just to gauge the reaction, of course.

August 22, 2005

Ready or not?

It’s a Universal Truth: Even though your sick, whiny husband annoyed the crap out of you the entire previous week, your heart still breaks a little when he leaves for a 5 day business trip. You may even get a little teary-eyed.

Suburban Showdown: So, I can see out my window that the ChemLawn dude is in the BACK yard and I can hear the lawnmowing service in the FRONT yard. How will they navigate this tenuous relationship? Cool - I wonder if they will brawl?? Too bad the housecleaners aren't here. Then my lily-white pampering would be complete, eh?

Northside Neighbor(NSN) Update: So, the Previous Owner (PO) to our house came over the weekend to finally reseal our deck. Something he promised to do in April of LAST YEAR when we made the offer on the house and he was still living in the house....... oh, but I digress. Anyway, I tentatively asked how the NSN was - what kind of neighbor she was, that is. He laughed and kind of said “eh, eh” as he shrugged his shoulders. Then, I told him how NSN came stomping over to complain about Harry being in your yard. PO then asks if that happened to be a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure, but I did check the date (the great thing about blogs - a virtual diary of your life, eh??) and sure enough, it WAS a Tuesday night. Well, according to PO that is her “drinking night” because she doesn’t work on Wednesdays. Guh-reat. Furthermore, her husband just recently left her, so her life is upside down right now. PO recommended that we play nicey-nice with her to her face, but basically ignore her and keep the darn cat. Sounds like a plan. I did get a kick out of the fact that the PO is still up on all the neighborhood gossip even though he hasn’t lived here for a year.

Six Feet Under-Rated: Last night's episode blew me away. Okay, maybe not the entire episode itself, but rather the montage at the end. I watched it twice and may watch it again. Very disturbing, compelling, inspiring, heart-breaking - yet oddly satisfying because there were very few question marks left. Wow. The only bad thing about the episode is that I had very disturbing dreams last night - so this coupled with X still being pretty sick and his impending trip today - throw on some pregnancy hormones and well, let's see WHO really COULD sleep with all that.

Kid Overload: In the span of a weekend, we had the opportunity to spend time with a 7 year old, 1.5 year old, 2.5 year old, and a 10 month old. All boys. All full of gusto. All going 90 MPH. Both houses in possession of electronic keyboards with pre-set music. With loud volumes. Everyone keeps asking me if I am “ready” for the Freeloader. This weekend only served to prove that I am SO not ready. Although, I will admit that the 10 month old was so fucking adorable that I now know what Finslippy means by saying she wants to “eat her son”. The kid was SO CUTE. The fun thing about these visits, though is that the 2 couples we spent time with (1 couple on Saturday and the other on Sunday) is that they are from India and Romania, respectively. It was great to hang out with couples that have different perspectives on parenting. In short, these couples were MUCH more relaxed in their parenting styles than many of my American friends. They also didn’t have any hang-ups about what WE thought - i.e. if their kids were behaving or not (Note: other than normal meltdowns the kids were all GREAT. It's just that when they did cry or fuss, the parents were unapologetic and lackadaisical about it - and why shouldn't they be? I am damned cranky myself when tired and hungry or newly emerged from a nap.). I was also relieved to learn that the Indian couple fed their babies curries from the get-go of moving to solid foods - no having to prepare separate meals. Actually, they think it is quite interesting that many Americans have this thing about thinking babies need bland food. Finally, it was nice when they asked the usual polite question of "have you gotten the nursery done?" that they didn't look at me like I was an oddball when I admitted that 1) NO, I haven't decorated the nursery and will only be putting up a cursory amount of said decorations and that 2) at this point, the crib probably won't even be here by the time the kid is born (and it doesn't even matter, because he is sleeping in our room for the first 4-5 months anyway). Overall, it was a nice experience this weekend and it was great to be around relaxed parents - because that is what I want to be. I didn't wait this long to have a baby then to not enjoy it while stressing over every little thing that pops up. Life is too short.

Anyway, for now, I will continue to cherish the fact that I can still come home to a quiet house free of ugly plastic toys that only come in crap-ass primary colors.

August 19, 2005

What happens when you aren’t fluent in Vietnamese?

In a Toe Jam: Not all pedicures are created alike, my friends. I am fairly new to the concept, just having had my first one ever last year. So, there is a place on the Country Club Plaza I go to, and then there is a place in West Las Vegas I like to go when I am there - that’s it. Yesterday, I decided to get one at a place near to my house and thought I would just swing in. I used to get my nails done there a long, long time ago, so I thought I was safe, right? Everything was going okay, I was enjoying my US Weekly, and the gal working on my toes mumbles something to me. I look down and say “Um, okay” then continue reading. Next thing I know - I have a freakin’ daisy painted on each of my big toes. AND I got to pay an extra $5 for it. NOT HAPPY HERE. I will not be going back to that place, that’s for sure. The overall quality was just not there and I look like a DORK.

Baby’s First Outing: The little Freeloader has been OUTED. We decided on a name for the little guy in early July, but I just couldn’t really muster up the energy to tell the family, face possible comments or questions. I didn’t want to deal with it, so I have told a select few friends and kept it at that. My sister, however, did not realize this and TOLD MY DAD AND STEP-MOM last night the name. Now, I must scramble and tell my mom, grandmothers, and other relatives before anyone realizes they were late to the party. In particular, my mom - she will be devastated if she ever finds out that my dad knew BEFORE HER since everything is an irritating contest now with him as far as she is concerned. Good grief - I could start an entire blog on the transformation of my parent’s relationship when they got divorced, but really, some train wrecks aren’t worth rubber-necking for. Anyway, we have decided to go with the name Arun. Honestly, I was the one to come up with the long list of names and that one kept making the short-listing process. I have loved that name since I first heard WAY LONG AGO it in the early 90s, well, well before I knew X even existed. Arun is pronounced “ah-roon” with the emphasis on the last syllable. I told X I will kick my son's ass if he ever tries to "Americanize" his name by pronouncing it "Aaron" or something equally whitebread. I am only half kidding. I don't care if he spends half his life correcting people, it's a fine name. Besides, there are tons of Americans making up silly nonsense names for their kids these days. At least our kid's name is a REAL one, right? Anyway, for the middle name, we went with my favorite great-uncle’s name who passed away 5 years ago - a very generic old-fashioned American name. You know, so he can be President someday.

Weight Watchers: I had a doctor’s appointment today. After being told that it is normal for your body to feel like it is splitting in half, I was told that I lost a pound over the past 2 weeks. So, as it stands right now at 32 weeks, I have gained 14 lbs total. Not bad! With 8 weeks left, things are looking pretty good. Of course, I came home and celebrated with a Patio Burrito - Red Hot (my favorite). Baby needs beef and beans.

Culture Shock: We are having dinner with Indian friends on Saturday and Romanian friends on Sunday. This may put a kink in my plans of not gaining too much weight, but the fun company and conversation will be worth it. I can’t wait to drill our Indian friends on the whole health insurance thing. They just had a baby last year on the same insurance and the great thing about Indians is you can ask just about anything concerning how much things cost and they will never be insulted. Why are Americans so shy about money issues? It is quite convenient to be able to discuss how much cars and houses cost, how much salary is being made, etc. Otherwise, how do you know if you are getting a good deal? Years ago, I remember at one job I had how my manager was quite distressed that all the Indians discussed salaries so freely because of course, when someone realized they were being vastly underpaid, they would request a raise. I realized then how much to the employer’s advantage it is for employees NOT to discuss salaries. So, the next time an Indian asks you how much you paid for something, just remember they are not trying to brag or be nosy. They are just trying to get information. And that can be good for all parties involved.

Anyway, have a great weekend! I am pushing up daisies here and I need to figure out what the hell to do with 'em.

August 17, 2005

What happens when you have been sitting in class all week with CPAs?

You have nothing of interest to write about - that’s what happens. Unfortunately, while Enron and Co. singlehandly rose our cache as dirty rotten scoundrels, it did nothing to dispel the unfortunate stereotype that we are a boring bunch. Because we ARE a boring bunch. Lunch with these people is pretty miserable - all they do is trade stories of Careers Past. Am I the only CPA in the Kansas City area with HOBBIES?

It’s a Universal Truth: Having a sick husband at home is exponentially worse than being sick YOURSELF. If I could pry the goddamned germs from his runny little nose myself and live that cold all over again for him, I WOULD DO IT IN A FLASH.

Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing: The little Freeloader is managing to punch/kick me in the pelvic area while simultaneously tinkling the ivories known as my RIBS. Um, X and I are not inordinately tall people which leaves me to ask, EXACTLY HOW LONG IS THIS KID??????

Do I miss work?: NO. It floors me that I was so worried about missing work or being bored. Um, sure, I have boring days which are easily rectified by cleaning the kitchen, going to the grocery store, surfing the Internet, pounding out an email or two, doing laundry, picking up a book or a cat, calling my sister. In short, the most boring of household chores are STILL infinitely more interesting than my old job at Big Al's Lair. Will I miss KID FREE days of No Work? HELL YES. Anyway, it has been interesting this week doing somewhat Professional-Related activities, even if it is just attending classes. I almost choked on my lunch when someone asked if I was going to go back to work when the Freeloader is 3 years old. Why would I give up a good gig like this as Trophy Wife and Purveyor of Food? X is the easiest husband in the world* to have - all he needs is clean clothes and 3 spicy squares a day. I'm riding this pony til the wheels fall off!

Cat Situation 2005: We have decided to take our sweet, SWEET time finding a new home for Harry. X put his foot down on giving him up just to be a barn cat and well - little docile ole me could never argue with my domineering husband, right? MEN RULE THE WORLD FOR A REASON. THEY ARE SMARTER. Who am I to argue?** Anyway, we are just going to wait until the North Side Neighbor says something again and just let her know that we are looking. I am thinking we should give her a squirt gun - I don’t care if she hits him with water if that will keep him away from her. Besides, when winter comes, he won't be outside that much. YES, he CAN be an inside cat when it's convenient for HIM - typical cat, eh?

Dip a toe in my Baby Pool! Like to take a gander at the little Freeloader's weight? Email your guess to me at cagey333(at)gmail(dot)com. Include a length as a tie-breaker. Yeah, the winner's bounty will be lame (think Big Al) and probably won't be sent until either the kid heads to kindergarten or I recover from post-partum depression, but hey - LOOT IS LOOT.

* For exceptions, please refer to “It’s a Universal Truth” as previously provided earlier in this post.

** Great balls of fire, if you really believe that, then you have NOT been reading my blog enough, o ye of little faith. Refer to the Archives, please and give yourself 40 lashes.

August 15, 2005

What do you do when you have a COLD in AUGUST?

You read. A lot. Why? Because August is ironically a frozen tundra in the realm of quality or new television programming. Save for HBO and FX, there is nothing but crap TV on right now. Anyway, I was so sick this weekend, that I didn’t even get to make my Leavenworth Grandma’s 80th birthday party. I called my aunt (who was hosting), canceled out, had a good cry because I was so disappointed, then promptly fell asleep for 4 hours. So, yet again, I have nothing of interest in the way of blogging. But man - I did burn through some books this weekend. Of the four books I read last week, two were worthy of note.

Rancid Reads: Three Junes by Julia Glass was a fascinating page turner, but not in the “thriller” sense. The architecture of this book was quite interesting and is certainly a testament to the author’s writing skills. The book had three parts - each part was somewhat related to the other, but each part could easily stand on its own. What stood out particularly was that the 1st and 3rd parts were quite short and the book was comprised primarily of the 2nd part. The book covers the life and times of the McLeods - a Scottish family scattered through many countries. The central figure throughout all the parts is the oldest son, Fenno. The author had a knack for hinting at or introducing events that lesser author would have allowed to turn the story into yet another dramatic, maudlin tale. Conversely, this story smacks of “real life” and provides a thought-provoking sensitive portrayal instead. (5/5 Sheep)

The other book worth reviewing, French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano was a great read as well! I was interested in reading this book after hearing such divergent opinions regarding it. People either hated it or loved it. Well, I borrowed this copy from a friend and let me tell you, I will be BUYING my own copy. In addition to the yummy recipes, I want to be able to refer to the book again. This book was sensible, encouraging, and chock-full of common sense. American women are fatter because we eat more, exercise less, consume more processed foods and often have unhealthy relationships with food. In short, it’s the calories, stupid. There is no magic formula. I admit, I was probably prejudiced towards this book when I realized its central message. I have been a huge fan of Dr. Andrew Weil for years and he preaches a similar message of eating healthy and in moderation. Also, I think it says a lot about the sensible nature of the book that I can follow many of the principles even though I am pregnant. All this said, I do have to criticize the book for all the stupid, fucking French phrases and condescending attitude. I suspect the author lost a large readership because of this and THAT is a travesty because this is a wonderful book. The core message is so positive and downright reasonable for most people. It’s a shame so many will ignore this book because of the haughty French airs permeating it. (4.5/5 Sheep) Bonus Review: I should mention the author is also the CEO of Clicquot Champagne - one of my very favorite Champagnes. It is very affordable and very good. If you like Champagne in the least, you MUST try it! (5/5 Sheep)

In other news: The Freeloader is having fun with anatomy! His latest discovery? MY RIBS. It’s a bit FREAKY to go up a bra size simply because your rib cage has expanded to accommodate your kid’s newest hangout. Thank god he can’t invite friends over. However, I can’t be too hard on the little guy. I discovered something pretty interesting last week while at a friend’s house. My friend asked if her son could feel the kid kick around. When I exposed my stomach, my friend exclaimed in shock “You don’t have any stretch marks??!!”. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when I related the story to my sister and she also exclaimed “You don’t have any stretch marks??!!”, I realized maybe I am on to something. I just assumed it was too early to get them and that they would rear their angry red faces eventually. Who knows? Maybe they still will, but it’s nice to know that I’ve dodged the Stretch Mark Bullet for now, at least. Of course, I had rather hoped I would dodge something more useful, like the Colicky Baby Bullet or the Post Partum Depression Bullet, but well, you know what they say about beggers.

August 12, 2005

Coffee, tea or me?

Overheard in Olathe, Kansas:
Olathe Grandma: “I haven’t tried that new restaurant, oh what is the name? It's over by Zio's..... Oh - Hooters! Yes, that's it. Have you eaten there yet? ?”.
Me, barely containing laughter: “Um, Grandma, do you know what they mean by Hooters?”
Grandma: “No. Why??”
Me:”The place is well known for their waitresses wearing tight shirts - flat-chested girls need not apply, if you know what I mean.”
Grandma, giggling: “Well, in that case, I could get a job there!”.
And this is Reason #7843 why I love my Grandma so much! Of course, I don't why I am so shocked, this is the very same devout Baptist Grandma who would joke about needing to go into Priscilla's Adult Toy store to buy something for Grandpa - and she would giggle the whole time. It's all in the giggle, folks. Anyway, I have never been to a Hooters, but I would be there in a heartbeat if I could talk my Grandma into going. MUST GET TO WORK ON THAT ONE.

More Grandma Stuff: Leavenworth Grandma’s 80th birthday party is tomorrow. Should be a barrel of fun. Actually, I have to say, LG doesn’t look a day over 70 - seriously. She looks AWESOME and is truly a testament to clean living - good food, no smoking, no drinking, no caffeine. This is the same women who hops into her red Ford Escape 3-4 times a year to head out to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota - or wherever else her whim takes her. She flies like the wind, too! She likes to say that she is into her 3rd childhood and at this rate, she is working into her 4th. Go, go Grandma!

Rancid Recipe: I fell in love with Honest Tea years ago. At the time, it was very difficult to find in the Kansas City area but I loved it so much, I would drive over an hour round trip just to buy it. Now, of course, it is easily found in the area, but in the meantime, I had found a certain cheapness to my bone and went on a quest to make something at home - I wanted a highly spiced, yet lightly sweetened tea that I could enjoy whenever I wanted. Granted, it is not the same as Honest Tea, but I like it. Apparently, over the years, a few of my friends have decided they liked it as well because I consistently get requests for the recipe. It is one of those things that I would just throw together and I never kept track. Anyway, I promised my friends that I would come up with an official recipe. Note: Anyone remotely familiar with making Indian chai from scratch will notice the similarities - sans milk, of course.

Chai-Spiced Iced Tea

1 qt water
1 cinnamon stick
5-6 cloves
5-6 cardamom pods (slightly crushed to open the pod)
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tbl loose leaf tea (Lipton’s is the brand I use)

1. Bring water to boil with cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom in it.

2. While water is coming to a boil, fill 1 gallon pitcher 1/3 full of ice, then fill with water to slightly over halfway full. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and mix.

3. Add the loose leaf tea to a teapot, then add the boiling water. Let steep 5-7 minutes, depending how strong you prefer it. I think brewing the tea in this method is key - it is the English style and well, those dudes seem to really know their tea, right? If you bring the water to boil with the tea leaves already in it, the tea will be quite bitter.

4. When the tea has steeped to desired strength, add the tea while using a strainer to the ice water/sugar mixture. Mix well. And THAT’S IT. See? No mystery, I was just too lazy to write down the steps.

August 11, 2005

But, can she outwit, outlast, outplay?

I have so few claims to fame. Even though my grandpa was in special effects in the television and movie industry, I never got to actually MEET anyone. I just get to repeat the cool stories, which sound significantly less cool when you are telling them in 3rd person. Actually, they just sound pathetic.

Anyway, when I heard that someone from my high school town* of Tonganoxie** was going to be on Survivor, I knew that I would have to post something about it. Now I'll admit, I have been an intermittent fan of Survivor at best. I missed the 1st season, then caught the next few, then missed a few, then caught a few - I haven't watched it for the past 2 seasons. Each season, I give the show a 4-episode minimum. If I am not hooked by then, it gets unceremoniously dumped from the DVR. However, I suspect that Season 11 will be one that I will watch the whole way through. Danni, as she is apparently called now, should provide some minimal entertainment. I just have to decide on the level of snark I will allow myself come Friday mornings. Anyway, check out Survivor: Guatemala ! I have yet to see where CBS is officially announcing it, but if you fudge with the link for last season's Survivor, you come up with the new season's site. So, the page is live now, just not officially announced, I guess.

*I would never refer to this place as my hometown - I moved away less than 2 months after I graduated from high school. Frankly, I was so relieved to get the hell out of there.

**My friends in college would pronounce it Toxic-Nazi. snigger, snigger

Are you reading anything good?

Well, unless you want me to expound upon the virtues of intermittently laying on the couch and the bed, then I don’t have much else for you. Unfortunately, vegging out for 2 straight days doesn’t provide much in the way of entertaining blog material. Being sick with a COLD in AUGUST SUCKS. In a desperate bid to write about SOMETHING, I thought I would throw out a few books I have just read. I decided to get rid of the Rancid Reads section on my sidebar and will just post periodically about things I have read lately. I had finished at least 16 books since I last updated that section and realized that it was really serving no purpose. Merely listing what I am reading isn’t very interesting when I never write about the darned book to begin with.

Rancid Reads: I recently read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini . It has been so long since I have read a book such as this one - actually “devoured” is better verb usage for how I consumed this book. It was a very dark, powerful, educational, inspirational, heartbreaking read all wrapped up in about 370 pages worth. It blew me away. I read most of it on the plane coming back from BlogHer on a Sunday, then finished it up quickly on the following Monday so I could pass it off to a friend. This is simply not a book that I want languishing on my bookshelves - I want it OUT THERE, so others can enjoy it. It is basically a story of an Afghan boy growing up in a priviliged life in Kabul during the 70s and then the inevitable happens, Russia invades the country forcing the boy and his father to flee the country. I admit, this book particularly touched me because not only did have a good friend in college who had been an Afghan refugee, but also because so much of it was based in Pakistan - Peshwar and Islamabad - both of which I spent some time in during the early 90s when I visited the country. The author did an excellent job of describing the sights, sounds, and smells. He also was very good with conveying the nature of the people involved without diminishing them into mere stereotypes. Which, of course, he SHOULD be able to do since he is an Afghan himself, but really, this is a great book for a white person to read who doesn't have much experience with that area of the world. I can't wait to explore other books by this author now.

Unfortunately, the downside of reading such a stellar piece of work as the Kite Runner is that whatever follows is sure to not live up to expectations. And this was definitely the case with The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle - a very different picture of immigration to America. First, my main issue with the book was the writing style. I had a hard time reading this book - it was like slogging through mud and I found myself frequently keeping track of page numbers to calculate how fast I could read and how far I still had to endure. The only reason I finished this book was that I was reading it for a book club. It certainly didn't help matters that the writing style reminded me of John Steinbeck which drove me batty. At the risk of being flamed, let me state for the record, that I cannot STAND Steinbeck’s writing style. Imagine my bitter laugh of irony when I read an interview later where Boyle states that Steinbeck was one of his literary inspirations - it all made sense to me then. In fact, the book reminded me of The Tortilla Flat, for some reason (if not for title only). Anyway, the story itself was quite interesting - it is the story of 2 couples, one American, the other Mexican and how their lives collide in catastrophic ways. The Mexican couple’s story was absolutely fascinating, but the American couple’s story was very disappointing - they were painted in one broad, racist stroke. Sorry, but many Californians have very valid concerns about illegal immigration and I didn’t think the book adequately addressed those. The author wrote the story in such a narrow way that there was no choice but to have sympathy for the Mexican couple and to have disgust for the American couple.

So, that said, I give The Kite Runner 5/5 Sheep (excellent writing style, fascinating story) and The Tortilla Curtain 3/5 Sheep (painful writing style, interesting yet narrow story).

August 10, 2005

Have you had enough to eat?

Oof. They warn you, but it still doesn’t help. I have been reading for months now how as the little Freeloader gets bigger, he will start cramping my eating style. Meaning, he will start pushing into my stomach, thus decreasing the amount I can eat at a time. I either can’t eat enough, so I am starving or conversely, I eat too much and feel nauseous. Now, every day is a crap shoot as to whether I can eat the right thing, at the right time, in the right amounts. The house won that roll of the dice yesterday when I started off on the wrong foot and never caught up. It was a long day. I thought I was getting better at this Food Fight, but yesterday was a major set back. So, I ended up taking a “sick day” from my regular duties as Trophy Wife and Purveyor of Food.

In other news, I had a doctor’s appointment on Friday and I have only gained 15 pounds so far. Now, keep in mind that I was already overweight, so I wanted to keep my weight gain to a minimum. This means I am on track for keeping my gain to a total of 20-25 pounds and I am very happy about this. While I am certainly not weight obsessed (I only started keeping track about 3 appointments ago), I have tried to be somewhat conscientious in what I eat. Personally, I think I deserve a medal - after all, I only live 5 minutes from Sheridan’s Frozen Custard .

Not much else has happened this week so far, unless you want to hear how I found the perfect set of wheels for my kid. Baby Stroller Research 2005 was an astounding success and the kid’s life is complete. He will be the coolest baby at the zoo next summer.

In furniture news, we received the dresser and the living room set. I cannot believe we lived without a couch for 2 weeks. Frankly, it was miserable towards the end . I could barely sit for 30-45 minutes at a time on the carpet and even then getting up was a feat of strength and endurance which required a minute or so of hunchbacked tiptoeing while my spine worked out the kinks. Anyway, the only furniture left to receive is the crib and I am not stressed about that since we will be doing a bassinett in our room for the first 4-5 months anyway. I considered co-sleeping*, but I don’t know where we would fit the Freeloader - with X, myself, pillows, and the cats, the little guy would be stuck sleeping at our feet. And that just didn’t seem right. So, a bassinett it will be.

Last night, I picked myself off of the couch long enough to attend a breastfeeding class. I was STUNNED to find that out of 25 people attending the class, 20 of them were COUPLES. I can understand why men attend the childbirthing class since there is an active role in that for them as "armchair coaches", but breastfeeding? I never in a million years would expect X to attend something like that. Anyway, it was disconcerting to have all these strange guys around while the instructor is throwing a fake breast around. Weird. The class was VERY useful, though, so it was worth it. Ålso, during the class I did discover something. I am probably not as sick from the Freeloader as much as I am sick from a freakin' COLD. In AUGUST. I guess I shouldn't be inordinately surprised considering I have my own personal Typhoid X running in and out of of the house after having been all over the country throughout the week. Anyway, during the class last night, I noticed my throat becoming increasingly dry and scratchy. Yuck. What a miserable night last night and my throat is killing me this morning. I suspect today will be another one spent on the couch where I will continue my Sex and the City marathon from yesterday.

*Note for the Mommy Police: I have seen many co-sleepers grow into well-adjusted adults. If you disagree, you can bite me and move along to the next blog.

August 8, 2005

What's cookin', good lookin'?

What a nice, laid-back weekend. X was home for most of it, so we started out our Saturday morning by going for breakfast to our favorite pastry place, Napoleon’s . Then, we went to the Rivermarket to pick up some veggies. The nice thing about X going with me, is that he will pick out things that I normally would have no clue as to what to do with them. This trip, he pointed to beets and said “Can you do that?”. I made sure that it was a veggie that his mother used to actually cook and and not just some random request. When he verified that yes, she did used to cook beets, I knew we were in business and that this would be fun. After all, the only beets I ever saw growing up came out of a can. In turns out, I already knew how to do the beets, I just didn’t know it yet. In south Indian cooking, there is a dry veggie curry called thoren - basically, you can take just about any veggie and make a thoren out of it - I have only done green beans and spinach so far, but I am quickly learning the possibilities are endless.

Truth be known, I don’t know how to cook many American dishes.* My mother was never very interested in cooking and when my parents divorced, she abandoned all pretenses. This is exactly why I HATE sandwiches and never keep cold cuts in my house.** Therefore, when I went off to college, I didn’t know how to cook. When I met Asshole #1 he and his friends taught me the only dishes that THEY knew - Pakistani and north Indian. My north Indian roommate was pretty helpful, too. While preparing Indian dishes appears to be a cool party trick for my white friends, I really just feel more comfortable cooking that way. So, when I met X, I was already well-versed in the ways of a north Indian kitchen, but cooking south Indian was as foreign to me as making an American brisket or tuna casserole.*** When I realized that X had “potential”, I decided I better bone up on south Indian cooking. God bless Amazon. I discovered a book that would soon become my cooking bible - in fact, it could be said this book is the one that “won the west” because it surely helped me burrow a way into X’s heart. The book, Savoring the Spice Coast of India by Maya Kaimal , was a double bonus for me because it not only provided some south Indian staples such as the thoren, it also provided some specific dishes from Kerala, the state where X is from. Furthermore, Kaimal writes her cookbooks in such a way that I now have a certain standard for cookbooks and won’t buy one unless I can really look at it first. She presents her recipes in a straightforward way that makes it easy to replicate. I have had very few misses and believe you me, X doesn’t sugarcoat it when I have missed the mark. Let’s face it, though - when you are married to an Indian and he states that something you cooked is like his mother’s - that is a compliment, indeed. I did purchase Kaimal’s other cookbook that has more generic south Indian dishes as well. I have been equally pleased with that book and can credit her with the fact that I can make paneer (an Indian soft cheese) now - not bad for a white chick, eh?

Beet Thoren
4 fresh medium beets (about 1 lb)
3/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 fresh green chili, split lengthwise
1 tsp salt
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chilies
10-12 fresh curry leaves
1 tbs uncooked long grain rice
Ground Masala:
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric

1. Peel the beets and grate them using using a food processor fitted with the coarse shredding disk, or on the coarse side of a box grater. Set aside.

2. In a bowl combine the coconut, garlic, green chili, ground masala, and salt with about 1/4 cup water to form a moist ball. Set aside.

3. In a large wok heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cover. When the seeds have popped toss in the dried red chilies and curry leaves. After the leaves crackle for a few seconds, put in the rice and stir for 5 seconds or until the rice turns opaque white. Add the grated beets and stir thoroughly. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally until the beets become soft. Add the coconut mixture and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and check the salt.
Prep time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6
Recipe may be prepared in advance and reheated.

Sorry this is such a blah post, but the weekend was not very eventful. Unless you want to hear the latest results of Baby Stroller Research 2005 (no??) or how my kid's closet is already filling more quickly with clothes than he even possibly wear them, then be glad I only posted recipes.

*THANK GOD, for Average Jane’s ziti . When I am desperate for a “showcase” American meal, this is the one I pull out. MUY tasty and very impressive to serve. Even better - I can spice it up super hot for our Indian friends.

**In life’s little ironies, I have to wonder if my own children will bitch in their adulthoods about the fact that they will not be getting sandwiches in their own childhoods.

***In my hunt for something stereotypically “American”, this was all I could come up. Feel free to elaborate, if I missed the mark. What do you hate now as an adult because you ate your fill of it as a child?

August 5, 2005

Is it Monday yet???????

Carpet Rat 2005: Our living room is still void of any furniture but the delivery of NEW furniture is scheduled for Monday, THANK GOD. In my overzealousness of “everything must be moved, now, now NOW”, I had the movers come too early. We have had nothing to sit on but carpet for nearly 2 weeks now. I admit it feels a bit, oh, shall we say, “low-rent” to sit on the floor watching a 50-inch plasma TV. As the sun goes down, I draw the blinds tightly for fear the neighbors will think we hawked our furniture to pay for the damned thing.

Wallace and Gromit 2005: The release date for the Curse of the Were-Rabbit is October 7th and my due date is October 15th -- I suspect this will go down as Baby’s First Movie in the old baby book. When I saw the trailer for the first time a few weeks back, it was all I could to keep myself from jumping out of my seat and shouting “Sweet Lord Hallelujah!”, but I was with a friend (If I had been with X? This story would have been far more entertaining). I am so fucking EXCITED about this, that I am verklempt. After all, I first bought the movie stock on the Hollywood Stock Exchange at $14/share when it was a just a twinkle in Nick Park’s eye as a Concept movie. I have waited a LONG time for this. Also, decisions have to made. This will be my optimum opportunity to purchase as much W&G crap as possible without having to go to Brits and pay outrageous prices. Good grief - I SHAKE thinking that even TARGET might be selling W&G stuff. The decisions? Well, of course, I need my own W&G loot and of course, the little Freeloader will need HIS own lootf (to keep his grubby little digits off MY stuff, of course). However, should I purchase stuff for Kid #2? There will be a Kid #2 someday and I don’t want that Kid to feel left out. I really can’t expect my children to SHARE, right? We live in surburbia, after all. Kids share a trampoline these days and that's about it. Sigh. Decisions, decisions........These are the days when I am glad that X barely gives my blog a passing glance.

Baby Shit 2005: Release the hounds! The acquisition of Baby Shit has begun. I entered a Babies R Us for the first time ever in my entire, sad existence this past Monday. It was as bad as I suspected and I could barely keep the eye-rolling to a minimum. THEN, I had to go back yesterday. Sigh. This kid is worth wading through all that crap, though. While X concedes the need for a car seat, he eyes everything else with suspicion. In his words, "In India, all a baby needs is his mum." Maybe so, Sweetie, but you are living in the Land of Consumption, and I don't mean the old-fashioned, "wasting away to bones kind", either. So, the little Freeloader is already the proud new owner of his own set of wheels, a crib, and even a crib set . While I haven't gone hog wild with the Kidsline Clover Field theme, I could NOT resist the sheep. Look at the sheep, ya'll! Yes, yes, REAL sheep are ugly ass and slightly demonic-looking, but CARTOON sheep are just too cute and WHITE (for you urban dwellers, I have yet to see a pure white sheep in Real Life).

I Am a Dumbass 2005: Since I am having trouble shaving my legs these days, I thought that maybe a bit of pre-natal yoga would help me find ways to reach my ankles again. The studio around here doesn’t have classes for August and it is too frightening to even fathom going that long without shaving my legs, so off to Border’s I went to hunt for a DVD. As I entered the store, I paused and looked behind me, then proceeded to totally whack my stomach with the door. OW. Besides using up a full day’s worth of Cool Points, I fear my child may be born with a dented head. Geez, I am such a DUMBASS.

Cat Situation 2005: Harry is on his way to finding a new home. I spoke to my step-mom last night and she is confident her parents or her sister can take him in. Considering the amount of teeny, tiny carcasses littering the area behind our front bushes, I am confident that Harry will like living in the country where the rodents run plentiful. However, I am still not confident that I will like Harry living in the country. I am just trying to accept that in the long-run this is the best situation. There was a good chance that we would have to find him a new home next summer anyway, so maybe this was meant to be.

I still hate my neighbor though. Bitch.

August 4, 2005

Do you love celebrity snark?

Consider this your public service announcement for the week. If you have a fetish for celebrity gossip then I highly recommend the new Kathy Griffin show on Bravo called My life on the D-List . Really, it should be required viewing for those in love with celebrities. This is not your typical reality show where you follow the "star" around as she makes a fool of herself. Instead, you are following a minor celebrity around as she makes FUN of herself. Simply hilarious! AND, you get a glimpse into the crassness that is Hollywood - Griffin lets it all hang out. Even if you don't like Griffin, this show is worth watching - her little asides and revelations into the innerworkings of Hollywood are worth it. As a special bonus, Bravo is also an airing a stand-up special of hers titled Kathy Griffin is not Nicole Kidman - here is a link to the Bravo Schedule schedule if you are interested.

Don't say I didn't warn you!

August 3, 2005

Where's the love?

In all the mayhem of the Cat Episode yesterday night, I forgot to mention that my world went bleak yesterday morning - the broadband connection was out and the le Manse* only had a wi-fi connection via X’s laptop. Since X is the only “working for a paycheck” person in our house these days, he wasn’t really sympathetic to my Internet needs. People, I had to dig out a phone book and thumb my sensitive digits through actual pages of thin, unmanageable paper. They got all smudged with ink. It was truly tragic. Okay, maybe not, but it sure felt like it. Anyway...... I am still very upset about the cat situation and have had people either 1) question how we can just “get rid” of our pet in this way or 2) say to hell with the neighbor. Um, on the one hand I appreciate the support, on the other hand, the neighbor (aka NSN) has the law on HER side. WE are the ones breaking the leash law for my city - not her. While I will HATE** NSN til my dying days now, I still think it is far better to “play nice” with her and try to get a good home for Harry, as opposed to pissing off NSN to the point where she calls Animal Control. Then, we could have a situation where we don’t GET to choose what happens to Harry. Besides, we were already sternly warned by Animal Control last fall that our cat should not be running around at large. I am going to call my step-mom tonight - her parents have a huge ass farm - thousands and thousands of acres worth. Surely, THEIR neighbors won’t complain if Harry wanders to their side of the fence. Wish me luck. In the meantime, here are tidbits of what has been going on lately.......

Kefir Madness: My love affair with all things yogurt came to an abrupt end when I puked yogurt all over myself in the early days of the Freeloader’s Development Cycle. It was an episode of horrific proportions - I was on an Interstate, driving 70 MPH in rush traffic. There was no choice but to just “let it out”. All over my lap, that is. I hadn’t really forgiven yogurt since then and I admit I was harboring a deep resentment. However, yesterday at the grocery store, I saw my old friend Kefir in the dairy section and I thought “Why not try to mend the proverbial divider of property? Perhaps turn a new leaf?” Ah - bliss. How I missed you, my Yogurty Goodness. Welcome back, welcome back. Tomorrow? Maybe I can patch things up with Dannon.

Begging is Underrated: I went to my cousin’s house today to visit. As mentioned before, he and his wife just had a baby in late April. The last visit, I scored a ton of maternity wear. This visit, I scored a ton of baby wear - a positive improvement, I might add. Granted, much of it is Harley Davidson (I believe there may have been something referred to as a "do-rag" involved (??) - I kid you not. While the little Freeloader can never wear that stuff around X, what Daddy doesn’t know while he is traveling won’t kill him, either - right? After all, my favorite motto is “If it’s for Free, it’s for ME.” One dilemma, though. I can see this becoming a trend - meaning their son will always be 5 months older thus ensuring the little Freeloader a steady stream of freebies. I don’t mind if MY kid is the freeloader, but I am not keen on being one myself. I offered to pay them for the clothes and of course, they refused. So, I told my cousin’s wife this: I will keep aside all the combined baby stuff (hers and mine) to sell in next year’s garage sale - then just split proceeds with her. Do you think that is fair? Neither of us will need all these little clothes - this is definitely their last child. X and I are hoping to adopt Baby #2, so we won’t need all this newborn stuff either as 1) we hope to adopt a girl and 2) we will most likely adopt an older child/baby.

Mind the baby, Mr. Bean: Since I alluded to this earlier this week, I was intrigued by a recent article on Salon regarding new technology for tracking where your children. You can link to the entire article here, but this is the paragraph that interested me most:
The irony is that, although news reports paint a bleak picture, independent statistics show that life has become less dangerous for kids in recent years -- with violent crime in particular dropping by 38 percent since 1975. The short spin cycle of cable TV may anoint a new child victim every week, but the actual numbers are far less grim: of the 800,000 kids that go missing each year in America, only 150 cases involve what the Justice Department calls "stereotypical kidnappings," in which a child is taken by a stranger and either held for ransom, abused or killed. Scores more "missing children" are teenage runaways or "throwaways," abandoned by their parents. "Truly, the real news story of the last 10 years has been the astonishing decline in crime," says Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld, a New York City child psychologist. "But we are assaulted by a media that is more interested in scaring people, so it is almost impossible for parents to assess the real level of risk. And of course, there is no shortage of people willing to sell products based on those fears."

Educational Irony: I signed up for a ton of classes today and couldn’t help but appreciate the juxtaposition of my Former Life and my New Life. In addition to signing up for Childbirth 101, Baby CPR, and Breastfeeding***, I also signed up for Business Ethics, Fraud: Government and Non-Profit, Avoiding the Train Wreck: Helping Your Clients Manage & Protect Retirement Assets and Income and finally, Accounting and Auditing Updates. Unfortunately, all sound equally boring! However, I must keep both the Freeloader AND my CPA license alive, so off to school I go.

*All stalkers beware, we don’t REALLY live in a le manse - it’s really just a house - albeit one with an unstable broadband connection and a renegade cat.

**When I told my sister that I HATED the neighbor, she said that was a pretty strong word. I said that it was the RIGHT word. Because I do HATE her - I have to give away my pet because of her. Obviously, my sister is the better person. I don’t care.

***All the Kid Classes were SO CHEAP - I was shocked. X and I are taking all the classes for $125 through my hospital.

Anyone need a cat??

Good grief - whoever said “Out with the old, in with the new” had it right on the nose............

9:00pm and I am snuggled in bed with a book.
The doorbell rings, which really freaks me out - it is 9:00pm, after all and I realized I hadn’t turned on the porch light yet. With visions of burglars running through my head, I dial X’s number and head downstairs. I quickly see it is my Northside Standoffish Neighbor* (NSN) and hang up on X. The conversation goes something like this:

NSN: Do you realize your cat is running around outside?
Sweet, Innocent Little Ole Me. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? It was just ME for Christ's sake: Which cat?
NSN: The black one.
Me: Um, yes - I am aware he is running outside.
NSN: Angrily Well, I have been putting up with this for a long time. I don’t want him in my yard, I don’t want him on my car, I don’t want him in my garage.
Me: Shocked gulp
NSN: Can’t you keep him in your yard?
Me: Um, he’s a cat.
NSN: Well, I am tired of it.
Me: Looking for excuse to GET HER OFF MY PORCH I’ll talk to my husband.
NSN: Fine.

Intermission: A quick conference with X and then my sister ensues. I needed the Double Guns for this one.............

9:30ish I am walking next door.
Me: Well, I spoke with my husband and we will have to find someone to take the cat.** It may take awhile, so please be a little patient with us. I am not really comfortable giving my pet to a shelter where they will end up just killing him.
NSN Friendly tone NOW. BITCH. She even smiled. Oh. Okay. You can’t just keep in your yard?
Me: Um, he’s a cat.
Me: Also, you should really have told us about this sooner. I don’t blame you for being upset that he was in your garage and on your car***, but we have lived here for almost a year now. You shouldn’t let stuff like that go. So please, in the future, tell us immediately when things like this happen. We can't fix the problem, if we don't even know that there is a problem.

You see, THAT is what really pissed me off the most, folks. The waiting, the festering, the stomping to my house, the delivering the news late at night instead of during the day - when I see her ALL the time. Tell me when the shit first HAPPENS. Letting it build up did nothing but create bad feelings because now I HATE HER. Not only do I have to get rid of my cat but I also got to come to the decision late at night after I had already prepared myself to SLEEP. Now, there will be no SLEEP and I am going to sit and stew over this all night.

I also can’t help but feel bad that I am trading in one baby for another, but really, there is no other alternative. NSN made it clear she will make things ugly for us.

*Not to be confused with my Southside Neighborly Neighbor.

**Quick Backstory: The cat is an outside cat - a black, male, neutered, fully-clawed cat - he would go apeshit if kept inside all the time. He came to us as a stray and we knew giving him to a shelter would ensure his death. We figured "outside cat? - can't hurt". He has worked out fine until NSN.

***I am NOT giving her “in your yard”. Get over the yard, lady. Squirrels, oppossums, birds, etc are in all of our yards. A freakin’ cat will not hurt your yard.

August 1, 2005

What's wrong with being a Mommy Blogger after all?

I dedicate this post to Average Jane. This weekend, she not only put up with a sweaty, whiny pregnant chick who can't drive worth shit and was on a constant holy pilgrammage for a bathroom, she even schlepped my baggage for me! Jane, you totally rock and I salute you.

Well, I just got back from BlogHer and it was fabulous! What an inspiring group of extraordinary women. My only regret is that at this point in the pregnancy, I am operating at about 75% capacity. At the end of the day, I just did not have the energy to take advantage of the Mix n’ Mingle cocktail hour. I thought of trying to parlay my 2 useless drink tickets into new friendships, but really couldn’t muster up the social skills for that, either. I am sad about this because I wasted opportunities to really get to know more people. Ah well, there is always next year, right?

One of the topics that spoke most to me was the session about Mommy Bloggers. In the past month, I have started to wonder how the Freeloader is going to figure into my blog. The session really made me think of the issues and concerns regarding Mommy Blogging - I realized I needed to make some decisions as I determine how I am going to incorporate him into my blog. The following questions came to mind as I was flying home last night:

1. Will I reveal his real name? (Answer: Probably yes, because I think his name is KICK ASS and I love it. )

2. Do I worry that some stranger from the Internet will stalk the little Freeloader? (Answer: Probably not - I will resist the strong desire to post my address and phone number on this blog (enter Sarcasm, Stage left --- GOD, it's hard), but much to Fox News' chagrin, I have not fallen for the stranger abduction hysteria. Yes, stranger abductions DO happen and NO, I am not downplaying them, but realistically, most children are more at risk from people they already know. Furthermore, I am more nervous about being carjacked in my local Target parking lot or attacked on my local jogging trail - both of which have a greater likelihood of happening.

3. Will I post pictures? (Answer: Probably yes, because even if my kid is ugly, I will still think he is a Cool Dude. )

4. Will I share amusing and witty tales regarding my little half-Indian progeny?(Answer: Probably yes, because this kid will most likely be the apple of my eye, which of course will BLIND me to any boring qualities that he may possess.)

5. Do I worry that the little Freeloader will be upset by amusing stories involving his misadventures in poo? (Answer: Probably not - while my mom failed in the lessons of Self-Deprecating Humor, my father got his PhD and then went on to teach the damned course. I would hope that I can raise a son with a healthy ability to laugh at himself - if not, well, then he has a long road to hoe in this family and all I can do is offer to help out with his therapy bills. )

So, while previously I was sure that I would never become a Mommy Blogger, I realize now that by sheer virtue of the little Freeloader occupying such a large part of my life, that it would probably be impossible NOT to write a little bit about him. Never say never, but I would not be surprised if I turn out to be a bit of a Mommy Blogger myself. You have been duly warned. At least I have spared ya’ll the gruesome details of the pregnancy - save for a few incontinence situations, but really, I just LOVE the word “incontinence”. It makes me giggle.

Quick Story: On my flight out to San Jose, I noticed the air hostess served pretzels instead of peanuts, but I didn’t think much of it. At our stop (I didn’t have to change planes), I dug around in my suitcase for my cashews - I was getting pretty desperate because I could feel my blood sugar dropping, so I knew I needed a quick fruit and nut snack. I ate my cashews and dried fruit, then put them away. About 5 minutes later, I noticed a gal feeding her child MEDICINE and mumbling something to another passenger about “peanut allergies”. I HAD NO IDEA. I thought if you were allergic to peanuts that was it. Why do they call it a “peanut allergy?” Why don’t they call it a NUT allergy? Anyway, I was moritifed that I had broke out the Kid Killing Cashews, but on the other hand, I would have been majorly screwed had I not eaten the cashews. I was starting to get pretty sick and I was only halfway through the 5 hour journey. In my snack planning for the day, it never occured to me that this would an issue. Jeepers.

In Other News: The Freeloader has discovered my bladder. What’s worse is that my own little Billy Elliott seems to have moved on from his breakdancing routine and into the realm of clogging. Weirdest sensation EVER. God as my witness, if I have to resort to Depends, the little guy is paying for his Ivy League education ALL BY HIMSELF.