May 28, 2009

What's in the bag?

Handbag Thursday [hānd'bāg' thûrz'dā]
1. A Canal Street knockoff of Jodifur's Shoe Friday.
2. A lame attempt at regular blog fodder by invoking my own accessorized day o' the week.
3. A frivolous little feature that allows me to talk about handbags every week. What's not to love about that?

Guilty Pleasures
I am in Branson, MO. With all these beautiful, luscious outlets.......utter bastions of temptation.

While I am loving my Sherpani backpack, I do not always need to tote a frockin' backpack into the grocery store. Or to Target. Or to lots of places. So. It seemed a smallish, evening-type bag was in order. One that I could conveniently tuck inside of the backpack.

But, of course.

May 26, 2009

If the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

I have a post brewing on Brain Candy. In my last post on favorite reads, I made it appear that I was some sort of Serious Reader wiling away the hours on her chaise lounge reading thought-provoking books, then staring deep into the distance, thoughtfully lost in her thoughtful thoughts.

You know, thinking.

Oh sure, I usually am reading something High-Falootin', but I always have some Brain Candy tucked away on a side table, too. As such, I updated on that post, "I realize this is a High-Falootin' List of Favorite Books. I am going to put together a list of Down n' Dirty list of reads. Total brain candy - the kind laden with artificial sugar, badly photoshopped covers and S-E-X. And some mystery." I am taking Team Chaos to Redneck Vegas (aka Branson, MO) this week, but the post will probably come out next week.


We had a pretty good weekend. On Saturday, I took the kids to the KC Jiggle Jam. I am not sure what to say about it. Um, the kids had a blast. As they should have - it was a festival for kids, no? And I enjoyed watching them have a blast. What I did not enjoy was all the cloying kiddie music, the junk food smells, the shelling out of precious, precious dollars for everything, the parking, the manuevering of the stroller on stairs to get between the two stages (NO ramps, NONE) and the sweating. Oh my, the sweating. At one point, I tweeted "Am melted. Actually, am PAST melted. Have gone beyond a liquid form and am now in a gaseous state. Folks, it is HOT."


I met Dee and her family there and it was fun to hang out with someone I never get to see. And again, the kids had so much fun. Which means that I can most definitely see us heading out the KC Jiggle Jam next year and I would even consider making it a Weekend and staying in a hotel near by. While praying for snow, because good grief, it was HOT.

On Sunday, I took the kids to Overland Park Arboretem and Botanical Gardens. I was blown away, folks. WOW. I have always been impressed with the place and always thought it a perfectly lovely place to stroll around, but I only got out there once last year and WOW. They have done some amazing things out there in the meantime! I cannot wait to go back again. What a beautiful, special place to take your family to for a simple Sunday walk. And it is free, folks.

On Monday? The weekend took a weird, odd turn. First, I should explain for the folks just joining the program that X and I are not a DIY kind of people. Actually, I do not mind doing things around the house and truthfully, the tools were all purchase by ME. My children have never graced the aisles of Lowe's with their father. No, that honor was bestowed upon them by Yours Truly.

However, I got frustrated doing everything by myself, so I gave up. And X? I blame it on his being Indian, this reluctance to pick up a hammer, the inability to differentiate between a Phillips versus a Standard. The Sisterhood of the Masala can chime in - perhaps, I am wrong?

When we moved into this house, I bitterly complained about the nasty landscaping in the front. The horrible evergreens. Bleh. The prickly bayberry. However, X got all Gandhi over my ass and said it was silly to kill perfectly good plants. Wasteful! But then? Over the years, our neighbors tore out their nasty landscaping. And a few weekends ago, our next door neighbors tore out their evergreens themselves. Within a single day, the front of their house was transformed. It was most certainly awe-inspiring.

So, X promised to help with some yard work over the weekend - a rarity to be sure. We were going to put some branches that I had already cut out for the pickup, pull some weeds. Your garden-variety yard work. Literally. So, on Monday, we went in the front and for whatever reason, one that I will never figure out - the latent Edward Scissorhands came out in X and he went cuh-razy. After 5 hours, 4 lawn bags, a full yard waste container (hastily borrowed from a neighbor), a curb full of branches and a pending call to the city for bulk pickup, we are staring down the shotgun barrel of 7 evergreen stumps and 4 bayberry stumps. Which we have no earthly clue how to remove. I attempted to take an ax to them, to which I swear I heard mocking snorts emanate from the ground.


KC Jiggle Jam

The Big Butt at the KC Jiggle Jam
Baby's got back? Indeed. This was an entrance to a bouncy house thingie. It looked like a monstrous, giant ASS. Literally, the ass cheeks were parted and then your child entered. Wrong, on so many levels.

Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Easy Rider

May 22, 2009

What is your favorite book ever? Why?

Updated to add: I realize this is a High-Falootin' List of Favorite Books. I am going to put together a list of Down n' Dirty list of reads. Total brain candy - the kind laden with articial sugar, badly photoshopped covers and S-E-X. And some mystery.
I had a lovely bookclub meeting last night where we discussed one of my favoritest, bestest ever reads ever - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. For me, it is a read second only to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

Ah, Margaret Atwood. There is something about her writing that reaches inside of me and plucks away at my heartstrings, then rambles into my brain and bounces around there a bit, jiggling with all those synapses that seem to lay dormant these days. I always come away from Atwood's writing feeling as if I have lived and thought something profound. John Irving also does that to me (am thinking another reading of A Prayer for Owen Meany is forthcoming.) I also recall feeling this way about The Year of Silence by Madison Smartt Bell and Island by Charles Abbott. And I remember crying at the end of the Catcher in the Rye and feeling as if I had been physically struck. Check...check ...check.... Add them to the reading list as well.

My bookclub has been doing a Year of Favorites, where we are all picking our favorite books. I have decided to perform this little exercise on my own reading list as well.

I know some folks do not like to reread books, but I always have enjoyed re-reading books - even mysteries! I have read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn about 5 times now, but each time is a different experience. Recently, I went through it and was blown away by how much of the mother's story resonated with me. It was like reading a new book because now that I am a mother myself, I understood Katie Nolan's perspective as she desperately tried to care for her children the best she knew how. In previous readings, I thought she was so unfair to Francie. And during this recent reading of the Blind Assassin, I found myself very frustrated with Iris Chase in that that she did not fight harder for her daughter.

What is a Favorite Read? It is difficult to explain what that should invoke - I suppose it is different for everyone, right? For me, a Favorite Read should continue to contribute something with each additional reading. It should not only just make me think, dammit. It should make me uncomfortable. It should encourage me to mentally re-adjust my attitudes.

I hope I never give up reading things that make me think and force me to re-evalutate. I am really opinionated and it is struggle for me to get outside of my zone. My great-aunt Peggy was such an inspiration in that area. There is this stereotype that old folks get set in their ways - Aunt Peggy defied that notion. No, she was not a rabble-rouser nor overly opinionated. Ha! She was actually very, very quiet and quite shy. However, it was her nature to read and ponder. It took some effort to get to know her, to get her to open up and I am glad I made that effort. She had some interesting insights on topics today and she had the knowledge with which to back them. Not only did she read books, up until the few months before her death, she was reading the Kansas City Star and the Washington Post every day.

Her favorite book was The Quantum Self by Danah Zohar. She showed it to me once, it was wrapped in saran wrap to protect it, a precious gem it was to her. Someone found the book while cleaning the house and I grabbed it.

I am going to add that to the list as well.

Speaking of my Aunt Peggy, here are some shots from her estate sale that I had forgotten to post. The light was just perfect, I thought.

May 21, 2009

What's in the bag?

Handbag Thursday [hānd'bāg' thûrz'dā]
1. A Canal Street knockoff of Jodifur's Shoe Friday.
2. A lame attempt at regular blog fodder by invoking my own accessorized day o' the week.
3. A frivolous little feature that allows me to talk about handbags every week. What's not to love about that?
So awhile back, while she was in Vegas, Monkey happened across my Only If I Ever Win The Lottery Dream Bag and took a snap of it for me. Yes, this is the infamous Birkin bag by Hermès. (Fun Washington Post article: the difference between a Kelly bag and a Birkin bag.) Folks, she saw this in person - a rarity right there. Of course, I will never actually own one of these bags and given the choice (ha! I crack myself up) this Kelli would prefer a Kelly bag.

Besides, I find it hard to believe that I could ever be in a financial position to buy one, much less be in an emotional position to own one. Dude. My grandma would have a heart attack if she ever found out that I paid over $200 for one of my favorite bags, much less what it would take to own a Birkin. Eh.

A girl can dream.

May 20, 2009

Why do your feet "smell", yet your nose "runs"?

When I mentioned how mean of a mom I am, I forgot to mention The Chocolate. Oh my, The Chocolate. When I bring home fine, hand-crafted artisanal chocolate from Andre's, I refuse to share said chocolate with a group of hooligans who are just as happy to cram their craws with sub-standard Hershey's. However, my husband has totally given me grief over this. You see, gentle reader, he grew up with an Indian mother and apparently, gals from the sub-continent of Asia are complete chumps where their children are concerned. I wish I could have met X's mother (God rest her soul) because I would have taught her that no child is worth the sacrifice of good chocolate.

Oh, speaking of kiddie music from yesterday's post! I won tickets to the Kansas City Jiggle Jam coming this weekend. Many thanks to Jenny's giveaway on her Kansas City Savvy Source (a great place to keep up on KC happenings!) I used to loathe kiddie music, *shudder*, but Jack's Big Music Show really turned things around for me and now I have a better appreciation for it. While I still will not jam to Laurie Berkner or David Weinstone as we cruise down the highway, I am still really looking forward to hanging out with my friend Susan and our kids this weekend (I am sharing my tickets with her).

In other under-reported news in My Life, I joined a local mom's group on Monday. And I am looking forward to it. I already know many of the moms from Arun's school and can see that the group lacks drama, which is something I am not looking for in my life right now anyway. Primarily, I am joining because I really need to get out of my comfort zone. I feel incredibly fortunate that I already know loads of moms who "stay" at home and can run around with me during the week. We are already quite busy, so I was hesitant to add something else to our schedule But. I miss meeting new people. I miss putting myself out there. In my past career, I was always meeting new folks, new clients, etc. I miss that. And I also want to push my kids out there in the whole "meeting new folks" exercise as well. I also decided to just dive right in and we are attending a treasure hunt later this week.

Tomorrow, I am beginning Handbag Thursday again! I have not felt up to it for a few weeks, but I want to begin it again. And as luck would have it, Monkey happened across my Only If I Ever Win The Lottery Dream Bag and took a snap of it for me.

May 19, 2009

Is it not alarming that a doctor calls his business a "practice"?

So, in my continuing quest to document my life and fill this wee site with trivialities, I forgot to talk about our visit to urgent care last week. First, I should mention that when either of the children get a mere scratch, my husband turns into his Indian mother (fortunately, he does not have an obsession with ditches. So, there is at least that. I suppose. Ahem.) Anyway, Arun got a splinter/thorn in his foot because we are totally lowbrow around these here parts and let our kids go barefoot. You know, the economy and such. Trying to save their shoes for church on Sunday even though we do not go to church, which really is working out for us, come to think to think of it. Anyway. X began agonizing over the damned splinter/thorn almost to the point of rending his garments so he took Arun to a non-children's urgent care whereupon they declared that it needed to be soaked. Which our hyper-active 3 year old BOY was totally down with. I mean, what 3 year old BOY would not simply adore sitting around with his foot in a tub of warm, soapy water??

So, after another few days of hearing X's anguish. I packed a picnic lunch, tucked the kids into their carseats and headed over to Children's Mercy urgent care. I just needed to be done with it already, even though I knew damned well Arun's body would eventually take care of it (as the surgeon himself confirmed.)

Folks, I really fear that Team Chaos is destined to a life of hypochondria because they seem to really dig the whole "medical drama" routine (Point of Reference #1 and Point of Reference #2) Seriously. They had a blast - new people! lights! equipment! new toys! We were there for 3 hours in which time we consumed our picnic lunch, grew tired of our toys and whereupon, the nurses fetched orange slushies, cookies and even more toys. All the while completely fawning over the kids, which swelled their little egos to the point where I thought I was going to be required to research talent agents and publicists while drawing up restraining orders on the paparazzi.

Good grief.

It is no wonder that Anjali screeched like a banshee when we left - "NO! NO! I hafta stay! I HAFTA STAY!" Folks, she wailed louder than Arun did when the surgeon cut the damned splinter/thorn out of his foot.

Oh and I totally Twittered (Tweetled?) the affair. Because I am that sort of mommyblogger. The very worst kind, apparently. (Hey, you in the back! I can totally hear you judging.)

Maybe I should reconsider that whole shoe vs. church thing.

May 18, 2009

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Thank you. Thank you for the comments, emails and texts. Thank you.

I felt immediately better after just posting that bit. Sometimes, it is good to just get it out, take a deep breath and then just keep swimming ....just keep swimming.... just keep swimming......

Estate Sale
So, this past weekend was the estate sale at my great-aunt Peggy's.

It was something else that was weighing heavily on my mind and I am glad it is over. The day was interesting. It was nice to hang out with my family (most of them) and Team Chaos had a blast playing with their distant cousins. It was also interesting to talk to folks who were very curious about the house itself - it has a bit of history since it was the childhood home of J.C. Nichols, a local historical figure here in Kansas City.

A note about possessions: Folks, label your precious possessions, if they have an interesting story or meaning to you. While cleaning out the house, we came across lots of items that either we had no earthly clue what they were or what they meant to my great-aunt.

While it was still a little ooky for me to watch strangers pawing through my great-aunt's things, that is the essence of an estate sale, no? I think overall, it saddened me. And I could not help but think this: regardless of religion or what you may think of the afterlife, in the end, you are gone, baby, gone. And all of your possession are still here for someone else to deal with. Items you believe to be treasures will literally become someone's else junk.

So, in my last post, a few kindly souls pointed out that is my wee site and I want to rant, then I should. Why not? Indeed.


Neighbors Who Do Not Recycle: My city provides a service whereby for a mere $3/month, they will come to your house to pick up your recyclable materials. I repeat, they will come to your house. I find it difficult to believe that folks in my neighborhood cannot afford a measly $40 a year for curbside recycling. Hello.

Foolish Motorcyclists Who Foolishly Do Not Wear Helmets: This furiously infuriates me with a red hot furious ball of fury. In short, it makes me furious.

Fatheads Who Hide Transfats: Folks who advertise "0 Transfats" on their food products, yet have obviously messed with their serving sizes to make it appear erroneously that their foods contain no transfats when in fact they do, need to be held down and forcibly fed their own damned products until their arteries solidify. Too harsh?

Greedy, Grubbing Relatives Who Grumble Piss Me Off in a Manner Befitting a Queen: Enough said, no?

Mean Moms: I do not like Mean Moms who selfishly refuse to drive mini-vans because mini-vans are no fun to drive even through their kids would probably be more comfortable in a mini-van. I also am irked with Mean Moms who refuse to listen to kiddie music in the car and instead, subject their children to the likes of Coldplay, The Killers, Akon and Nine Inch Nails. I also really despise mean moms who refuse buy their sons a toy snake and instead, let him cry and stomp his feet in the store while his sweet baby sister tries to soothe him. I really cannot stand Mean Moms who try to be hip, cool and ethnic by naming their sweet children with odd-sounding monikers that will haunt them through their school years.

Hey, wait a damned second.

May 13, 2009


I am not doing well. And while I call this my Happy Place and all that dreamy jazz, I have really been faking it lately.

A patent fury bubbles beneath my mental surface and I struggle to find the Good. I want to rant, not rave these days. And then, I find myself resisting the urge to issue diatribes over such mundane topics as folks in my neighborhood who do not recycle.

I am not a topical nor an entertainment blogger. This place is primarily a diary of sorts where I am my very own Audience of One. And I would be remiss to not at least reference this particularly difficult time for me. Besides, the pretense otherwise is wearing on me. I am bored with writing post after post after post in a gauzy, soft-focus perspective.

And yes, I am totally pulling the Dramatic Card. We are healthy, the children are fine, X's business is doing well. Everything is fine, just fine.

But still. I never want to forget this particular period of time. The anger at my friend's cancer, the disgust at family members rabidly picking through my great-aunt's possessions, the weariness of trudging through yet another day.

I need to remember it.

Continue as you were and ignore the dithering idiot.

May 12, 2009

If a book on 'How to achieve success' is a failure, then could it be a success?

A room without books is like a body without a soul ~ Cicero.

That is one of my very favorite quotes about books. Ever.

I am currently re-reading The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. It is simply one of my very favorite books, only to rival A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith as an all-time favorite. The reason I am re-reading The Blind Assassin is that one of my book clubs is having a Year of Favorites - for this year's selections, we are all taking turns picking our favorite reads. I was very torn in choosing between The Blind Assassin and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but for selfish reasons went with The Blind Assassin. I want to reread it and I want to have someone with whom I can discuss it. I have had several friends listen to the audio book, but I really believe it is best read and not listened to.

In a past post here, someone asked for advice about hosting or creating a book club. I have thought a lot about this. What makes a great book club? How does one go about beginning a book club? I have been involved in some great book clubs, some bad book clubs and some book clubs that simply failed to take off past the initial few meetings.

After thinking about it, I came up with these questions to ask when going about creating your own book club:
  1. How many members? It is best to have a group with about 5-8 members. Less than that and it can be difficult to get a good, thoughtful conversation going. More than that, and you will have too many side conversations which can be distracting.
  2. What is the purpose of the group? I was in a club once that incorporated a wine tasting into the meeting. While this was really, really fun, it was a significant time and money commitment since purchasing a bottle of wine, a snack and a book could add up quickly. But I was in another group with co-workers where we met quickly for lunch. While convenient and cheap, it did not allow for nearly enough time to discuss the book. Consider whether everyone you are asking will be able to participate. Decide whether you want to have a social aspect or whether you want it to be all about the books you read. I am in one group where there is very little social aspect - we get together, nibble on some crackers and discuss the book. Quick, simple. I am in another group where we get together, eat a meal, discuss the book and then catch up socially. Not so quick, not so simple. Truly, I enjoy both groups equally and they both involve books. What's not to love about that?
  3. How are you going to determine the book selections? One group I was in did a drawing to determine who would select the next book. A group I am in now just goes in a democratic, alphabetical order according to our members' names. Another group I am in now is willy-nilly about it, but nobody seems to mind.
  4. Do you want to have basic guidelines for selections? For example, if new releases are allowed, this can increase the cost of participation. New releases are not generally in the lower-priced trade back version and getting a high-demand book at the library can be really difficult. Also, some groups may want a page limit if members are particularly busy or not hardcore readers. I am in a group that tries to keep selections to 350 pages or less. Yes, that limits our possibilities, but it also means that our members who read less are not stressed out about getting through the books.
  5. How often will you meet? Where are you going to meet? I am in one group that meets every other month, another group that meets about every 2-3 months since our schedules are insane. I have been in groups where we met at the same place for every meeting. Meeting in one place every time is convenient for scheduling, but it may put folks off if they happen to live far away from the agreed-upon location. The groups I belong to now mix it up a bit - we have met at members' homes, a local winery, a tea shop, a library and various restaurants. I also recommend setting up the next day before you wrap up current meetings - it is far too easy to let time fly before scheduling another meeting.
  6. How are you going to communicate? It is helpful to have a leader who is willing to take charge of communication. You could use Facebook or email. Also, consider using a site like Goodreads to keep track of your group's selections. I am using Goodreads for one of my groups and I wish I had been using it all along for the other group I am in as well.
  7. How are you going to organize the meeting? I always prefer a meeting that is a bit organized with questions, but it does not have to regimented. This is not a quiz, folks. My favorite discussions are the ones where we take turns on some initial questions. This also helps members who are shy and hesitant to voice their opinions, even though they may have some interesting points to add.
I am sure there are many things I am forgetting, but those are some great ideas to get you started.

I have had some great experiences with book clubs. In my opinion, a stellar book club is one that leaves you thinking about what you have read. And even if the book was not a great selection, that does not mean the meeting is a failure - I have read many stinkers, only to find the conversation itself well worth the having suffered through the book.

May 11, 2009

Why are they taking away all of our toys?

Free-Range, Indeed
Modern Day Hermit has won a copy of the Free-Range Kids! Thank you to everyone who lent their 2 cents. I wanted to stir discussion points and all of you rose to the occasion, remaining for the most part, respectful and courteous of differing viewpoints. Oh, and as a nice weekend capper, my 22 month old daughter slipped out the gate of our backyard and wandered around our front yard. Folks, I am all for Free-Ranging, but am not necessarily ready for that.

My Garage Sale Total = $270.
Not too shabby considering there was a serious rain delay on Friday morning and the fact that absolutely nobody on my actual street had sales during what was supposed to our annual "neighborhood garage sale". When neighbors fail to participate, "walk by" traffic for me is seriously hampered since folks just drive by and must be tempted by what they can actually see from the road in the safety of their car. Otherwise, they rev their engines and zoom past, leaving my crestfallen junk in a trail of sheer rejection.

So, Arun has now learned firsthand about garage sales, as evidenced by today's post title. For weeks, he has watched me scoop up toys, price them, then place them in the garage. This weekend, he actually saw the sale in action and was a little dismayed by what he saw. To his credit, he handled it pretty well. Although, I did relent on the little push mower and he "earned" a brand-new sandbox in the shape of a turtle.

Speaking of Arun
Rozanne observed in a post I wrote a few weeks back that he seemed rather grown-up all of sudden. Her comment struck me because I have been startled myself at this.

Last week, he went to the dentist for the first time. I had spent several days preparing him for it and warning him that it might be scary, but that I would be there to hold him hand. When we arrived for the appointment and he hopped into the dentist's chair with huge, gemstone eyes brimming with skeptical curiosity, I had a sudden urge to burst into tears. Simultaneously, he appeared so big and yet so very small in that chair. And when I realized that I had my camera in my bag, I turned into That Mom. Profusely apologizing to the hygienist, I snapped a few pictures. For myself. During the rest of the appointment, Arun was a dream patient and I was so proud of how he handled his fears. He was polite, listened to hygienist and the dentist and even thanked them when he got his goodie bag of dental accouterments. He then came home and proceeded to brush his teeth 4 times throughout the course of the day. Goofy boy.

My little guy is growing up and frankly, I am enjoying it. It is one thing to love your child, but it is truly a joy to like the person your child is becoming.




A Noble Attempt at Dressing Himself

May 6, 2009

What if??

I dedicate this post to a mom I used to hang out with long, long ago (I mentioned her in a post I wrote about fear.) M could not hide her complete disdain for my lack of bolted-down baby gates and naps finished in my climate controlled garage. She was what I called a What If? Mom because for every single scenario you could imagine, she had a magical ability to conjure death and destruction from it.

What if? Indeed.

I was at the park last night and there was a couple there with kids the same ages as ours. As we pushed our kids on the swing, the mom and I chatted. I raved about how much I love, love the park. It is just perfect for us! With it being just a mere half a mile away, Arun can easily ride his bike there and back while we walk along with Anjali. In general, it is a beautiful, calm space with tons of shady trees nestled deep into a neighborhood without major crossroads buzzing with traffic.

While the mom agreed the park is wonderful, she lamented that the swings are so far away from the playground area (seriously, not more than 40 feet, folks!) and that when pushing her child on the swings, she has to turn her back to the area, thus leaving her older children vulnerable.

I tried to make light of the situation, mentioned Free Range Kids and urged her to read it. I also pointed out that statistically, a stranger is not going to whisk in steal her kid. Her response?

"Have you been to the KBI website? There are tons of pedophiles in this area! It's scary! I watch CNN and Nancy Grace all the time to keep up on that stuff."


I chose not to argue because I did not feel like facing it and potentially subjecting myself to the Lazy, Uncaring Mom role to which I have been assigned WAY too often. And yes, I knew damned well what she was getting at regarding the KBI (Kansas Bureau of Investigation) site, but could not argue because I did not have the facts. This morning, I dutifully went to the site and verified there are less than 100 sex offenders in my city which includes TWO zip codes area (Per this site, a sex offender is a generic term for all persons convicted of crimes involving sex, including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production or distribution. )

Yes, there are still 100 sex offenders around here, but I am going to get Glass Half Full all over your ass and say that there are only 100. And furthermore, this included ALL sex offenders. Which probably means that when 18 year old Jimmy Joe slept with his 16 year girlfriend and her father found out? Jimmy Joe got himself a listing on the website. And if Roger Sterling lived in Olathe and someone finally reported his sex harassing ass? Roger gets himself a listing on the website. And yes, rape and molestations are included in that list, but in short, all the folks on the list are not pedophiles lurking playgrounds prepared with lost puppies and candy so they can prey on your precious progeny.

Listen. I know things happen and I am not trying to push some Kumbaya Agenda onto y'all. Good grief, I had a Creepy Uncle and a Creepy Neighbor, too. Fortunately, my mom had talked to me about what to do and I did tell my parents what was going on before anything progressed into Scary Serious. In fact, I was so young during the Creepy Neighbor Incidence that I do not even remember it. But I did know enough to tell my parents. And when I was a sophomore in high school, my best friend and I were subject to the stereo-typical Gross Guy "asking for directions". No, we did not get in his truck. And yes, we reported his ass to my friend's parents, who called the police, who miraculously! managed to find the guy and arrest him. And then, we got to sit in court and watch him get sentenced.

Folks, these incidences did not scar me for life - in fact, while writing that last paragraph, I only just remembered the whole Gross Guy "Asking for Directions" Incident and realized it was relevant, so it should be included. Why did these incidences not scar me? Because I had been prepared to report them. My mother had created an environment where it was made clear that she wanted me to tell her when these things happened.

So, yes, I am teaching my kids to talk to strangers. But only if they are comfortable doing so. However! I am teaching them to never, ever actually go with a stranger. I do not want to teach them that all strangers are dangerous and I want them to learn how to trust their instincts. For reals, folks - Creepy Uncle? Gave us the willies from early on. As children, we knew something was not right. And lucky for me, my mom created an environment in which I felt comfortable telling her when things were not right.

Where the hell am I going with this??

I did finish reading Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry (Skenazy is the Official World's Worst Mom who let her 9 year old ride the NYC subway by himself and then began the Free Range Kids blog. A blog that should be required parent blogger reading, in my opinion.) This book was a breeze to read. It was reassuring, informative and Skenazy has a way with words that hit home. And now? I am cheering my decision for not allowing my children to sit in a Shopping Cart Condom, And, I can now eat raw cookie dough and raw snow with an easy heart. Thanks, Lenore!

To boot, she has a great sense of humor:
The biggest fear on Halloween, of course, is that somehow, your nice, quiet neighbors - the ones you never got to know but somehow managed to live next to in peace and harmony the other 364 days of the year - have been waiting, like kids for Christmas, for this one day to murder local children. Murdering them on another day wouldn't be satisfying, I guess, which is why they've shown such remarkable restraint. But a child homicide on Halloween -- it just feels right.

For the record, there is no recorded evidence that a child has ever died via a contaminated Halloween treat.

However, I think the most important message of all from the book is this:
"Don't talk to strangers" is one of the most useless pieces of advice ever foisted on us to foist on our children. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

"Our message is exactly the one you're trying to convey. We have been trying to debunk the myth of stranger danger, " say Ernie Allen.

What's stunning about this statement is that Allen is the head of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The organization John Walsh helped found after his son was killed...... The organization that put the missing kids' pictures on the milk cartons and didn't tell us that most of them were runaways or abducted by family members.......

"Our message to parents is you don't have to live in fear, you don't have to feel you have to lock your children in a room," says Allen. What you have to do, he says, is to talk to them about how to to handle themselves confidently, among people they know and people they don't.

I guess we all could do with a little bit less Nancy Grace and a little bit more Fancy Nancy, eh?

So, here you go, folks. I bought this book with some of my birthday money and as a goodwill gesture, I am giving it away. Why? Because this is a cause that I truly believe in - turning off the drama-ridden media, letting go of the hysteria and mommy guilt. Allowing our children to explore their worlds. Furthermore, I am forfeiting my chance to get my copy signed by Skenazy herself - she is going to be at BlogHer this year and I will be doing my best to not stalk her. And now? And when I do get my chance to get all freaky fangirl on her, I will not even have a copy of the book to wave in her face.

But. If I can get one more mother to re-think letting her child play outside alone, then it will be worth it.

Also? I am weary of being treated like a half-assed, lazy mom who does not care about her children's safety. I will not judge you for putting your child on a leash, if you will back off on my decision to let my 3.5 year old run around in a playground that is a mere 40 feet away from me.


If you are a US resident and would like to be entered to get this book, please indicate in the comments before Midnight, CDT on Sunday, May 10th - yep. Mother's Day.

Do you have a Free Range story to tell?

Here's mine - when I was less than 4 years old, I was allowed to play in our front yard unattended. However, I was not allowed to cross the street. A very strict rule that I followed - in fact, my next door playmate of the same age did cross the forbidden street and I immediately ran inside to tell on her.

A born rat, I was.

May 5, 2009

What's your best offer?

'Tis that time of year again - the neighborhood garage sale. I love, love garage sales. Holding them and cruising them. This year, I have already scored a Mega Blocks alternative to the muy expensive Legos Duplos version. 150 piece set for $6! And yes, the two versions can be used together. And yes, I dickered the price down from $7. Because if nothing else, I am a cheap whore.

I am quite stressed about my garage sale this year - I had tons of stuff boxed, organized with some of it already priced in our basement, but during a family gathering at my house, the kids ransacked the boxes. Add this to some major procrastination on my part and now I am finding myself wound pretty tight this week.

But, I know it will be worth it. A garage sale allows me to clean through my shit - metaphorically and physically. I know that come Sunday, I will be jangling pockets full of dimes and nickels with a gleeful satisfaction that is only brought on by dragging my junk out to my own front yard and watching it get hauled away by someone else willing to actually pay me for the priviledge.

A few weeks ago, Goofy Girl asked for some tips on having a garage sale. I wrote a quickie email, but thought it was worth a post as well!

Helpful Hints for Your Next Garage Sale/ Yard Sale/ Tag Sale
  1. Overall, I really recommend having a designated space for donation/garage sale items - be it a box, a closet, or corner of your basement (lucky me!) this will go a long way in identifying sale items. I throw things into the Garage Sale Corner all! year! long! Seriously, it is such a time saver.
  2. If you do not have a desiganted spot in your house, allow yourself a few months for this step: begin going through every nook, cranny, closet and room of your home. The simplest way? Take a garbage bag and a box with you everywhere you go throughout the house. Garage sale? Goes in box. Goodwill? Goes in garbage bag.
  3. When you have all your stuff in boxes, designated for the garage sale, this is a good time to park your ass in front of the TV and catch up on your DVR backlog while you price things. I buy garage sale stickers, that makes it go much more quickly.
  4. Tips for pricing your garage sale items? First, keep in mind this is a garage sale - this is not eBay or Craigslist. Folks coming to your driveway want a steal, not a deal. The general rule of thumb is to price things about a quarter to a third to a quarter of what they cost new, but only if the item is fairly new to begin with. The bigger item? The bigger the price tag! Putting a pink dot sticker on a sofa is silly and just creates work for a potential buyer as they hunt for the price tag.
  5. As things are priced, this is the time to set them in the garage. Make it a rule, only priced things go in the garage, it will be easier to keeps thing sorted.
  6. The day before the sale, get about $25 dollars in change. I get about $1 in dimes, 50 cents in nickels, $5 in quarters, $10 in ones and and $10 in fives. Early on the 1st day, you will be receiving loads of $20 bills as folks make change for the rest of the day (if you are holding the sale a 2nd day, you will already have plenty of change to hand out!)
  7. The day of the sale? Be prepared for Early Birds. They come every year, worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. These are the folks who cruise garage sales before they officially open and begin digging through your boxes as you are unpacking them in your driveway. Many of them are "professionals" - folks who are hoping to score some gold in a pile of pyrite so that they can turn around and sell it in their rented space in your local antique mall. Some of these folks can get a bit aggressive with their dickering as well.
  8. Display? Drag big-ticket and/or more desirable items closer to the curb. I will be hauling a freakin' desk and loads of "big" baby toys to the curb this year.
  9. Ah, dickering. Haggling on prices is fun - as a buyer, I do it myself. However, most White People do not like to dicker. Steel yourself mentally towards this - on high priced items, decided how low you will go. Stick to your guns, folks! If someone offers an insulting price, just politely say "No." That's it. In general, when holding a 2 day sale, I dicker less on the first day.
  10. Handling the money? I prefer to keep the money on my body - a box is too easily lost or stolen. Therefore, I wear pants with pockets - as the $20 bills pile up, those get taken into the house. Also, when giving change after someone hands you a large bill, lay the bill down on a table as you count the change to prevent confusion or a possible scam (ie. someone claiming they gave you a $20 bill, when they really gave you a $10 bill.)

I suspect I am forgetting something, but I just came across this site called Yard Sale Queen - these are tons of great tips here as well!

May 1, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor?

So, I have not talked about our new neighbors much. And much like my No Blogging stance on Arun's school, I will not be blogging much about the neighbors, either.


We were hanging out with them last night on the front sidewalk, getting acquainted. Their children are almost exactly our children's ages and from the start, Arun was getting along with them.


Then, we were talking to the husband and it turns out they are religious.


Fortunately, they are the Happy Sort of Religious Folk. You know - the types who preach love and peace - full-on Jesus Junkies. So, that is pretty cool, I suppose.


So, there's the husband, declaring his love for eternal life et al, and what does my own beloved husband do? X, starts laughing and before I could even utter the words "hellbound heathens" he proclaims, "We are the total opposite." And then laughs some more.


He totally ruined my gig. I could have pretended to Believe for the sake of getting a new friend out of the bargain. Maybe?


More Snaps From Vegas
Someone has decided she is too cool for her mother to be snapping her pics. I get the "No taking pictures! I mad at you!" with a Talk to the Hand gesture as she runs away so that she can sulk.