November 30, 2009

Faking It.


In one of the very first compromises made in the ongoing saga of Kelli And Manoj Live Happily Ever After, we agreed to invest the money in a fake Christmas tree.  This was a difficult one for me  - after all, my father could have very well served as the real-life stand-in for Clark Griswold.  I spent many Christmases as a kid, trekking through our 40 acre plot in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  And finding needles embedded in your carpet as late as March is just quintessentially American, no?  Admittedly, a fake Christmas tree completely lacks all that is special about a live one.  Needles in your feet or not.

Little, snowy house.

Still.  I suspect the kids will not care.  They are napping and have no idea that while they were in school, I dutifully cleared the tree lurking in the basement of all spiders and whatnot, then dragged the thing up the stairs, adjusted the smushed-up branches and set it up in our living room.  When they wake up, we will begin digging through ornaments of all sizes and shapes.  Some are breathtakingly beautiful and shimmer in the light.  Others are ugly and cheap.  But they all mean something to me - every year, I buy a new ornament or two and when I am traveling, I limit my souvenir shopping to just a single ornament to remember my trip.  Many of these ornaments hark back to my Single Girl Days, when I yearned of having my own little family with whom to share the holidays.

Christmas in the trailer park.

And now, I have that sweet, little family of which I always dreamed.  Oh sure, my husband could have been the love child of the Grinch and Scrooge, but I have hope in our children that they will grow to love these tacky, kitschy ornaments as much as I do.

The Hungry, Little Caterpillar

Our fire-friendly, plastic tree may be nothing spectacular, but it is ours.

November 23, 2009


What are you grateful for?
Anju: My mama, my daddy, my brudder.
Arun: Anju, because she shares things with me.
Cagey: A ridiculously crazy schedule because while I do not have time for my blog, it does mean that I have many people to consider, many people who care for me.

At Costco, there is an older man who works there - his name is Mr. Harold.  The kids know him by name and when we went to Costco yesterday, they began asking for him.  I told them that it was Sunday and that Mr. Harold was probably not there.  However, we spied Mr. Harold and both of the kids' eyes lit up.

The usual holiday talk came up and when I asked Mr. Harold his plans, my heart sank. He had none.  None.  He told me His Story of why he had no plans and I got teary-eyed.  He was matter-of-fact about it and I tried to compose myself because I wanted to be respectful.  The dude did not need sympathy from an over-privileged white girl.

However,  Mr. Harold is more than just a nice Costco employee to me.  This is a man who has consistently gone out of his way to help me.  Particularly, in those early, stressful days of having 2 Under 2 when I was figuring out how to work the whole Shopping With 2 Under 2 gig.  Days when it would begin pouring down rain just as I was exiting the store.   Days when it seemed everything was going wrong.  Days when I would completely and utterly misgauge the kids' nap schedules and/or Anjali's nursing schedule which would leave me rushing to check out and just escape lest all the minions of hell broke loose on the poor saps in the food court just trying to enjoy their kosher hot dog, yo.   Mr. Harold would help me with my purchases.  Or, he would keep an eye on the kids while I would dash out in a thunderstorm to get the car.  Or, he would just offer a friendly smile and greeting.

I wanted to extend a Thanksgiving invitation to Mr. Harold, but for a variety of reasons I did not, including the fact that I am not hosting Thanksgiving and felt it was not my place to just randomly invite folks.  X thought I should have extended one.  I am disappointed that I did not, also.

I most certainly am going to be doing something for him for Christmas.  Because I think Mr. Harold needs to know how much I appreciated him when my babies were small and when I felt so very small myself.

I don't want to leave this on such a maudlin note, so I will redirect you elsewhere. 

Average Jane has compiled her favorite Thanksgiving recipes into one helpful book.  Truly, I love, love her recipe for cranberry sauce - it is so easy and simple  - you dump the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer.  Folks, that is it.  I relish the lovely smells it creates in my house as I am rushing around.  The sharp, tangy smell of cranberry and orange juice help me to relax.

And Scribbit has a sweet post about contentment.  As she points out:
This time of year we're given a paradox: Thanksgiving is the season for gratitude yet before the turkey is even cold we're bombarded by advertisers telling us we can't make it through the holiday celebrations without buying things. Lots of things, and the more the better.

So we're supposed to be grateful but not so grateful that we don't want lots more.
Which leaves me for one more thing for which I am grateful:
My family.  If there is a time that I am appreciative for my family, this is the time of the year when I am most thankful.  Our celebrations are centered very simply around food and togetherness.  No complicated, guilt-laden traditions are required.  Oh sure, the children are deluged with silly toys, but the adults are not bombarded with ridiculous expectations.  My Christmas list is very simple and short.

My goal for the month of December is enjoy the lights and music with my kids.  I am also looking forward to enjoying some local, Kansas City traditions with my kids - Crown Center, Union Station, the Plaza, the Arboretum, Shawnee Mission Park.  And thanks to my family, I will get to do just that because I will not be wasting time trolling through big box stores and the malls.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks.


November 18, 2009


First and foremost, we have a winner of the gift card from - the winner was  Sarastani!  Sarastani, I have emailed you the code to the email provided in your profile, please let me know if you did not get it.

Yesterday, my mom gave me grief that I had not updated my blog.  As I was sitting on her couch. After having spent the entire day with her. I tried to convince her that my vast, far-reaching legions of devoted readers would give their eye teeth (wisdom teeth? appendix?) to be subjected to the excruciating banalities that comprise my life.  The very same inane details my mom gets to hear on nearly a daily basis.  How lucky is she?? 

However, my mom remained unconvinced.

The nerve.

And so, here I am.

Attempting to think of something interesting to talk about that my mom may not have already heard yesterday.  As I was sitting on her couch. After having spent the entire day with her.

Folks, even the crickets are bored at this point.

And sadly, my mom is not on Facebook so she could not even enjoy the lovely roundtable of comments that were generated by a brief throwaway Tweet my sweaty, hyper-ventilating self furiously tapped out today while doing the rounds on the elliptical machine at the gym.

Apparently, joshing around about Sarah Palin gets the fires a glowin' because my Facebook wall is burnt to a fucking crisp, sans the apple. 

And really, that Tweet was a direct, passive-aggressive result of the fact that I am so very sad that I do not get to throw around the word "BeelzeBush" in casual conversation any longer (BeelzeBush! BeelzeBush!)  Obviously, Sarah Palin is a natural go-to for pathetic, puerile pundits such as myself. 

I love, LOVE watching Palin. 

Holy crap.  I wish I could generate that sort of conversation on my blog (seriously, if you are my Facebook friend, get theeself to my Wall and read the comments - there is some Good Stuff there.  None of which I have the brains enough to cognate. Am duly ashamed. Will make myself a cone of shame.  Will sit in a corner. Satisfied now?)

Oh, where was I?? 

Ah, yes.  Mom.  I did not forget about you.   Here is the video I promised:

Arun the Bakugan

Ignore the dirty carpet or the fact that I actively urge my child into such antics (and yes, the complimentary Silly Dance is something I regularly encourage simply because it MAKES ME LAUGH.)

A bakugan, for those uninititated into this  particular phenomenon, is a series of ball-like things that have a button you push so that the ball springs into action with arms and a face.  Or something like that.  We bought a series of the toys from McDonald's (Total Sidenote: Did you know that you can get toys from McDonald's without purchasing the stupid Happy Meal that is loaded with WAY too much food for ONE child.  Like, seriously - who wonders why we have a childhood obseity problem when a Happy Meal meant for a CHILD can feed a small country????  Anyway, the toys are only $1 when purchased separately and are totally worth it.  We zip through the drive-thru and just get the toy.  Why bother with the food??  The toys are high-quality (usually) and are a steal for $1. Although, sometimes, sometimes! we get a cheeseburger.  Or ice creamSometimes.)

My mom laughs at me and says that I had the children so that they would entertain me.

Um, hello?  Am I the only parent who views her children as mere court jesters?  Besides, my boy is not gunning for any sort of sports jock position and I consider it my personal responsibilty as his mother to finetune his skills in comedy in hopes of his attaining the coveted crown of Class Clown.

For real.

November 13, 2009

A High Note.

First,  the giveaway ends this Sunday! Unless we share some common threads of DNA, the question begs - why have you not entered?


So.  About my post the other day.  I feel Better because writing does that for me.  Pulling words out of the scrambled eggs I have for brains and then organizing them into something, whatever that may be, helps me.  However,  I hate leaving a misty post up like that for too long.   Still, years from now as I cringe through certain posts, I will be grateful that I posted the last one.  Some things, you do need to remember.

I did talk to J and it was a good conversation.  We had a good laugh over my innovative (!) idea for the setup of a detoxification chamber in her front entry.  And I let her giggle at my notion of packing the kids up for a 3 day roadtrip (I was serious.)   Okay, okay, so all of my grand brilliance was snuffed, but she did ask me for a few favors.  Which was such a relief.

Note to Everyone: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you are seriously ill and your friends ask if they can do something?  Don't hesitate to ask for something.  Anything.

My task involves some research for her - she cannot leave her house now and will be sealed up for the winter like a bear for the winter.  I am glad that I can be of some (limited) use to her.  All hail the Internet!

Speaking of the Internet and all things including wires and tubes - I am officially declaring the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and Texting as the things I am grateful for right now.  It is really easy to talk smack about Technology.  Yes, yes.  Cold, barren, faceless Technology gets such a bad rap and as a parent, I read article after article about effective ways in which I can protect my precious progeny from its steely grasp.

I have a specific, long-time friend who would definitely not be my friend if it were not for email.  I did a summer internship in the summer of 1995.  It was a brief summer and I went back to school on my merry way.  I made a friend at that internship and I tapped out emails via my Unix-based Pinemail account to her intermittently throughout the fall of 1995.  There is no way we would have kept in touch otherwise.  Quite simply, we are not phone friends and to this day, we rarely talk on the phone.  Furthermore, she was working full-time, married, living in Kansas City while I was a grad student living in Lawrence and club-hopping my weekends away.  We had completely different lives at the time, but email was a simple, casual way to keep in contact with someone I thought was fun and interesting.

That friend was Goofy-Girl, my Very First Friend As a Result of Technology and when we first began texting each other as an added communication, I could not help but chuckle.   Goofy-Girl is an important friend to me and since Goofy-Girl, I have made many more friends who have become integral in my life.  Friends that I call, text or email with good news or sad news.  Friends with whom I was set up by a sly, matchmaking Technology.

The next time you see someone banging on poor, downtrodden Technology, remember that there is a still a real, live human behind it.


November 11, 2009

Just Keep Swimming.

Late, late Sunday night I received an email from my friend J.  For those of you just joining the program, J is a long-time friend.  The one with whom I went to high school, but who I really got to know in college.  The one who lives in Vegas with her husband and 2 year old daughter.  The one who was diagnosed in June 2008 with a neuroendocrine pancreatic cancer that spread to her liver.

J's recent email was disheartening and per usual, the future is uncertain.  I was supposed to go to Vegas to see her in September, but then we found out that J cannot have visitors who have flown via a commercial airline, thanks to the Piggy Plague.  And since my private jet is sitting on blocks in our front yard, this meant I could not go to see her and my trip would have to be delayed until April or so.  Quite simply, I was crushed.

I do not talk about J or this situation very often. It smacks of self-indulgence and melodrama for me to do so.   After all, I live over 1300 miles away, safely ensconced far, far away from a world filled with endless doctor visits and a rigid routine of drugs that all seem to counteract each other.

It hurts to feel so useless, but what galls me the most is to know that I have not been such a good friend to her.   Not just now, but also in the past.  We went through a freaky, complete misunderstanding in 2003 but we made things right in 2004.  I am forever grateful that J made that first move to figure out what the hell went wrong.  And I am still ashamed at how I acted in 2003.  She was the bigger person and there is a lesson in that.  Something I struggle with, that whole "being a bigger person" thing.  There is a beautiful quote from George Eliot that I use quite often:  It’s never too late to become what you might have been.

Obviously, sometimes it is too damned late.

Again, I do not write much about J.  It is her story, not mine.  But what is happening with her runs deep with me and sometimes I need to let it come to the surface. 

And now?  I need to dive back below, into the deep waters that are my life.

November 8, 2009

For Shame

So, it seems my sweet, honey of a husband has had a light bulb moment of a brainstorm and is realizing the value of a blog.  Value! In a blog!  Can you imagine the lunacy?

In short, he would like me to talk about his new business. Obviously, I am hesitant to talk gift cards on all the damned time.  While I am really, really excited about this business, I want to be careful of watering down my stern, serious, very authoritative voice here.  The masses look up to me, right?

Ah hell, who am I kidding?

Okay...okay.  On a serious note, I suspect all of us can think of at least one blogger in our feed reader who spends the majority of their posts plugging their paying gigs.  And I do not want to be That Blogger.  *shudder*

So, this is the deal.  When I talk Husband's Business, I will just put a title of "For Shame" on these particular posts.  Those of you who loathe unabashed peddling can merely move along, right? Seriously, click your ass on out.  I will not be offended. Promise!  Is that simple enough?  To be fair, I should note that I will be hosting a series of giveaways within those posts.  Cruel, am I not?

So, you are asking "What the hell is"  Quite simply, it is a site that provides a central portal for purchasing gift cards - both varieties of cards are offered!  Yes, your grandma's landfill-stuffing, plastic cards of yore and additionally, we offer e-cards that would make little Al Gore fill his pants. Our e-cards can be personalized, then emailed to the recipient.  From there, they can either be printed or simply shown via a smartphone. Our particular focus is on local businesses and to that end, we are in the process of networking with local businesses.  And of course, all of this makes long-distance gift-giving a piece of cake.

So, Giveaway #1 shall commence:

We are giving away a $50 gift card that can be used for any of the merchants listed on our site!

Leave a comment here and tell me what you are most looking forward to this holiday season!  If you would like an extra chance to win, please post this on your own blog (if you could use the verbiage "gift cards at" in your link that helps us get the word out with Google.  Ahem.) Please let me know if you have posted on your site or not so I can keep track.

This giveaway closes Sunday, November 15th at Midnight, CST.  I am really sorry, but this can only be open to US Residents.

So, what am I looking forward most to this holiday season?  Christmas lights!!!  The kids and I had so much  fun playing I Spy Pumpkins all throughout October.  Damn, their heads are going to explode with all of the lights around here.

November 3, 2009

10 Hail Marys

Forgive me......
  1. I let Arun play outside in our front yard all by himself.  And this has been going on since this spring.  He has rules and boundaries for his outside play - if he disobeys them, he immediately has to come inside.  In the past month, I have been letting Anjali play outside with him more and more. However, I recently read on a site where a mom was pummeled into a virtual-reality bloody pulp for a similar admission.
  2. I am very perplexed with the author Toni Morrisson.  I really do NOT like her writing style, yet she weaves such compelling tales.  It is like loving the work of a particular fashion designer but hating the color and fabrics that are used. 
  3. I love watching Faux News.  Yes, me.  The same one who claims to be conservatively liberal on her Facebook profile.  I particularly enjoy watching Bill O'Reilly since he has the mannerisms of a hardened criminal, but at least he gets good guests.  I cannot watch Glenn Beck, though - that shrieking harpie screeching about the sky falling grates on my eardrums.  If I were President, I would not invite him to my house, either! (on that topic, I suspect that BeelzeBush also would not have invited a "news" network actively organizing protests against him.)
  4. Yesterday, when I picked up some lint from the carpet with my hairy cricket legs, I realized I was most likely due for a shave.  And that I probably needed to vacuum the carpet.  Huh.
  5. I have been researching bearded dragons.  Oh yes, I HAVE.
  6. I listen to Dr. Laura.  Nearly every day.  I think she is too harsh with her callers, but since most of her callers are idiots who have screwed up their lives to the extent they are compelled to ask a frocking stranger on the radio for advice, it is difficult to summon much sympathy. As such, I simply turn the volume up higher.  Because I actually agree with her views on family value (save the parts that are homophobic, of course)
  7. Over the weekend, I tweeted the following and am duly ashamed:

What do you need to confess today?

November 1, 2009

October, Post-Mortem

October was simply wonderful this year.  We enjoyed the entire month of turning leaves, rain and Halloween decor.  We did not do anything spectacular, it was a pretty laid-back month.  We did not even do a pumpkin patch.  But we did enjoy the month -- counting pumpkins on porches every day while driving around, Halloween parties and gatherings, eating honeycrisp apples by the dozen, picking out costumes, reading Halloween books all month long (our favorites?  Goodnight Goon, A Creepy Countdown and Ten Timid Ghosts)

And Halloween night was perfect.  Simply perfect.  All day long, Arun and Anjali played in the front yard, practicing their spiel for the night (Trick or Treat!  Smell my feet!) Later, our neighborhood was totally buzzing with trick or treaters and one of our neighbors really got in the mood.  He would stand in his front yard moving with stiff motions like an animanitronic statue, then jump out randomly at passer-bys.  All night long, kids were screaming, which definitely lent a certain air to the night.

I could not have asked for a better October.  No pressure, November.

Arun Stoker

Grouchiest of Them All

She was supposed to be a pumpkin fairy.  She LOVED her costume, but did not want her picture taken.    Every single picture I took of her in the outfit were of her scowling.


They played in the rain ALL DAY.  By the end of the day, they were on their 4th change of clothes.  It was worth the extra laundry.

Enjoying His Spoils

There are Bugs in my Buggy

Falling for Fall
Falling for Fall

Falling for Fall