December 29, 2010

The Merry Xmas Song

Pink Floyd, 1975

Well, that was special.  Christmas 2010, I mean.  Quite simply, it was exhausting.   While I enjoyed.the holiday season, the actual days of festivities broke me.  I hosted back-to-back gatherings and I am rarely referred to as "grace under fire".    For example, I may have snipped a bit at my mom when I was searching for the perfect bowl and she pointed out a plastic bowl and I might have, possibly, snapped that I wanted Christmas to be nice and that we were going to eat out of nice dishes for a change.

It could be true I did that.  Maybe.

So.  Okay.  You get the picture now.

Thankfully, Santa stopped by, slipped through our house like a fucking ninja and saved the whole day.

Magic Reindeer Food, FTW!

Arun Man
The Ultimate Toy From Santa - Arun asked for this thing ALL YEAR LONG. 

Sing it!
Anju got screwed over by a reindeer.....
No....we didn't make her walk home on Christmas Eve. 

From Santa, poor girl had repeatedly requested a Princess Peach, a "disco star" and a remote-controlled cake.  I had NO idea what a "disco star" was, but discovered just the day before Christmas that she meant the Star power-up from Super Mario Bros. Oops. So, I got her a Madame Alexander doll thinking that was a such sweet, traditional thing to get from Santa.  Yeah.  Who was I trying to fool.  Anjali ignored the doll until Sunday night, tucked her into bed and promptly took off and has yet to check in to see if the doll is thirsty or in need of say, AFFECTION.  What sort of mother is THAT? 

Anyway.  I should have known about the Star power-up since I call that move the Disco Mario.  Huh.  I never figured out the remote-controlled cake, though. And yes, she noticed that Santa forgot to bring that as well.  I have T-minus 362 days to figure it out before next year.

Wooden Dolls on the Suburban Prairie
MUCH better.
THIS is what Santa should have brought her.

You say Ice Queen
I say Fashion Victim
Rita will chuckle at this snap since a good 75% of the outfit was cobbled together by hand-me-downs from her daughter.
Christmas Glow
I asked him if he was happy and this smile was his response.

Thanks for making it all worth it.

Both of you..

December 21, 2010

Wish You Were Here.

Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here 1975

I have been meaning to post. But like, wow.  This has been an amazing holiday season, folks.  But first, let me preface with what I have learned this season.

If you are not feeling the Christmas spirit, let it go.  There are always other years.

However, if are feeling the Christmas spirirt, then embrace and go Girls Gone Wild with it.  You may not feel this way next year.

Just call me your Christmas Confucius.  You are welcome.

Last year was so bad.  So very, very bad.  I was so busy working on the now defunct Snapgifts that I did the bare minimum of Christmas Pageantry.  However, this year everything is simply perfect. It helps that we have had loads of free time.  And also, the Team of Chaos are like real people now. Really! They are no longer mutants with non-working legs and a strong propensity to crap in their pants.  Nope, these days they can walk of their own accord and use toilets.  Like humans.  For another, they understand the whole Christmas Thing now.  And oh my, it is so much goddamned fun having miniature humans in this house who believe with all their souls that Santa is real.  The flurry of activity around here with markers and papers is hilarious.

I never want to forget this past month - mostly, it has been simply magical and special and delicious.  Of course, having a small cache of kifli smothered in powdered sugar has not hurt.

Exhibit A: A small portion of Arun's Christmas "List"

That is a frog in a cage.  A toy frog, thank the baby lord jesus.

Bowser from Super Mario Bros. and a robot spider (because a real, live tarantula is not enough for my greedy boy who craves batteries like heroin.)

What?  I have to tell you that is an IronMan mask?  Really?  Have you NO imagination?

The best part is that with each successive Santa he meets, Arun changes his list in a desperate attempt to get more lootage.  He has figured out the scam and is trying to work the system to his advantage.  That's my boy, doing me proud.

Exhibit B: Advent Calendars Galore

Some looped garland thing made at school.  Anjali tried to use hers as a leash for the dog.

A tree drawn on a piece of paper with dates on it.  He circles the date every morning, then crosses it off at night.  He does not laugh or giggle or get goofy with it.  This is serious business, folks.  And the marker must be a consistent shade of green or there is hell to pay.

A calendar that I bought years and years and years ago while dreaming of having a husband and matching kids around to hang the ornaments.  Sniff.

Every morning, Arun hops out of bed and updates every single calendar.  Even the garland thing that Anjali gave up on long ago.  He carefully marks his paper tree, cuts loops from the garlands and hangs a wee ornament every morning.  This is fascinating to observe because normally, Arun is grumpy when he wakes up and takes about 30 minutes to reach Human Status.  Christmas miracles, indeed.

Exhibit C: Our Annual Trip to Union Station and Crown Center

Items Missing From These Exhibits:
  • The gingerbread house carefully handcrafted with a hot-glue gun.  Martha Stewart has probably issued a warrant for my arrest as we speak.  Although, in my defense, I do live in Kansas and that house could now withstand an F5, in addition to a hungry West Highland terrier.
  • A huge pile of wrapped gifts from Arun hidden in his bedroom (at least, he thinks they are hidden.)  He holes up in his bedroom with paper, markers, wrapping paper and scotch tape while he handwraps his "creations".  At this point, Santa is getting two presents and even the fish is one lucky duck.  He sneaks next door and proudly hands over his latest creation to our neighbor while declaring "Special delivery for Zech!
  • I do have a picture in the Christmas 2010 set I have started from our our excursion to the Liberty Hall Christmas Tree Festival.  We do the festival every year with my mom and sister and cousins.  It is a lovely way to start off the holiday season.
  • A visit to Bass Pro and Santa and a visit to their craft area which resulted in a beautiful fishing bobber Santa ornament decorated with cotton balls.
  • Decorating gingerbread cookies.  This is HUGE.  I have never, ever done this.  Sure, I used a tub of pre-made dough (Yes! Nestle!) but considering how deathly allergic I am to baking, this is ground-breaking.  I even broke out the fancy pastry mat.
  • Multiple special excursions in the car to look at Christmas lights.
  • Sending out Christmas Cards - I was on-time with cards this year!  I will never forget that dark, dark January of 2008 when I had a 6month old baby and a recently-minted 2 year old while I was in the wily grasp of post-partum depression - I actually discovered a huge stack of Christmas cards lurking in a drawer.  They were addressed, but were not sealed and had no stamps.
  • The look on my face over this past weekend when I received not one, but TWO Christmas gifts from Brit.  Both of which were incredibly thoughtful, unique gifts which made me cry.  The nerve!  I need to rethink this friendship thing if she is going to make me cry TWICE in a single weekend. Rude.
  • The look on my face when CPA Mom sent me an extra copy of the Charlie Brown Christmas special she "had laying around".  In one fell swoop with a Random Act of Undeserved Kindness, she completely turned around a really bad week I had been having. Speaking of rude.  Ahem.
  • The look on my face when I realized the other day that I had vastly underestimated the amount of continuing education hours I need to complete by the end of year to keep my CPA license intact. Sarbanes-Oxley, ahoy and a Merry Christmas!
  • The look on my face when I discovered that Angry Birds Seasons was finally, finally available for the PalmPre. No worries, I will show those bastard, cloven-hooved swine who is boss.
  • The look on my face when Manoj gave me some incredibly good news regarding his latest business incarnation - a business that has to do with colonoscopy prep so I call it the Butthole Business.  Because I am classy like that.  Hey, you can marry the girl off to an Indian, slap on the name  of George, but she will still always be an Oliver. Always.
  • Attending Average Jane's Annual Cookie Exchange and having a blast gorging on cookies, watching Bad(er) Santa and having some girl time - a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. To boot, I plied Celeste with wine and somehow convinced her that she should inherit Team Chaos in the event that Manoj and I get eaten by a roving band of rabid squirrels (which considering my archives, is not so far-fetched.)  I also found a potential home for Lucy in the event of our demise (thanks, LuAnn!) Suckers! Now, I just need to track down spots for the fish, the gecko, the cats and the tarantula, then find a lawyer and make this all official-like. 
  • Enjoying Arun and Anjali's Christmas concert at their school.  Nothing like a group of wee tots terrorized in the spotlight, barely whispering Rudulph.  Arun insisted on wearing his Santa hat, even on stage and was the only kid wearing a Santa hat.  His spot in the Kingdom of Total Dorkitude is assured.
  • Repeating viewings of our favorite Christmas movies (including, but not limited to): Elf, White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, Love Actually, Robbie the Reindeer.  I still need to squeeze in Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story.  The clock is a' ticking so I best get my rump in action.
  • Repeated readings of our favorite Christmas books (including, but not limited to) Olive the Other Reindeer, Snowmen at Christmas, The Snowglobe Family, Mooseltoe and now, thanks to Brit, The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas.
  • Lighting all the candles on the mantle, getting a good fire going, then turning on the Christmas tree lights and just sitting quietly.  Relishing.  My house will never be Martha Stewart Ready.  But it will always be my home.  And that is more important to me.

We still have an outing planned to see the Country Club Plaza lights and I have another tub of gingerbread dough in the refrigerator.  Presents still need to be wrapped and the house needs to be scoured before guests arrive Friday night.  However, I have plenty of time to do all of this.


My grandma handed down this heavy stained glass and iron tree to me years ago.  There were many years in college and after when I simply could not afford a Christmas tree and this little luminary had to make do.  If I put only one decoration up on my mantle, it will always be this tree because of what it has come to represent to me.

Merry Christmas to all of you and make the most of whatever you have.

Having my babies, good food and a warm home is more than enough for me.

December 15, 2010

High Hopes

Pink Floyd, The Division Bell 1994

Note: We are having a spectacular holiday season this year.  I do have a post lurking in my gray matter about all of the silliness and fun that we are having.  Today's post is a little somber for me, but these are feelings that weigh so heavily on my heart, I need to let them out.  I promise my next post will lighter in nature.

A plate of Romanian/Hungarian kifli eye the nearby bottle of Indian Maggi sauce with concern as they wait patiently for a romp in a bowl of powdered sugar. 

Long time friends, followers, lurkers, readers, foes, frenemies know that baking is not my forte.  Oh sure, in an odd turn of events, I make a kickass crème brulée, but when it comes to things that involve flour and baking soda and baking powder and trying to determine when to blend, when to mix, when to fold, it inevitably becomes a disaster while figuring out how clean that knife was before I stuck it in the middle and seriously, folks how dark of brown can we go before it burns????

Oh sure, occasionally, my baking attempts are edible. That is, if you scrape off the burnt edges or do not mind eating cake with a spoon.

I am not a crazy sweets person, but when I find something I like, I die a little inside (See also: fruitcake from Andres, my grandma's peanut brittle and the cheesecake made from scratch by my friend Celeste. Oh, and plain white wedding cake with buttercream frosting.  When folks choose weird wedding cakes, it makes me want to steal their gift back.)

Quite simply, food and baking have never been a grand holiday tradition in my family - my parents were always about the music, lights and the Christmas tree (the best was when we would trudge through our own property to find the perfect tree.  Oh yes, I complained at the time, but now I treasure that memory with my dad.)

Years and years and years ago, my friend Jolene gave me a box of Christmas cookies.  They were Romanian Christmas cookies, also known as kifli, and they came from a recipe handed down through her family, back from before her great-grandma had even come to this country.  These cookies were so very awesome, they melted in my mouth, a bit of heaven (even for an agnostic like me.)  Not too sweet but a bit too rich, they are a lovely, rolled cookie with a cream cheese dough and a fruity filling, covered in powdered sugar.  I raved about these cookies so much, that it became a tradition for Jolene and her mom to send me a box nearly every year.

A few years ago, Manoj and I went on a great adventure to learn how to make them ourselves.  Jolene would not give me the recipe and insisted on sending me the cookies instead (that is typical Jolene, always wanting to do for others.)  Still, Manoj and I wanted to try our hand at these, so  I enlisted the help of a Romanian co-worker and found a recipe. (Updated!  I have written down the recipe I now use. ) I use this Kifli II Recipe at (Note: For some reason, I always end up with too much filling, so I make an extra set of dough.)  It is slightly different than my friend's recipe, but it works.  For several years, it took Manoj and I all we had to just make a single batch, and we'd end up with only enough for us to consume, certainly nothing we would give away.  Our kifli were ugly with the insides often oozing out, but they were still edible.

This year, I set myself up to major goal.  I was going to make enough kifli to give away, to take to Celeste's annual cookie exchange and in particular, enough to send to Jolene.

Jolene is my friend who was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in mid-2008.  She is still fighting this cancer, but she is quite sick most of the time.  I am not sure if she will have the energy to make these cookies.  This is why it became an all-encompassing goal to me that I MAKE THE KIFLI.  For her.  For her husband.  For her mother.  For her daughter who will celebrate her 3rd birthday this month.

On Sunday, I got out the new hand-mixer I had bought - just a simple Oster, but it has dough hooks - so, so, so important (as I had learned the hard way in past years!)  I had decided to triple the filling recipe and to quadruple the dough - this meant that I would be making 16 dozen cookies.  I got the dough ready to go, portioned out smaller balls of it, wrapped them in plastic wrap and set them in the garage to chill over night.

On Monday, I got out the detailed instructions and illustrations that Jolene's mother sent me last year, I set up my newly purchased Norpro pastry mat (LOVE.) and I got to work immediately.  Rolling, rolling.... filling, filling....baking, baking.  All day long, I stood at my counter, rolling kifli after kifli after kifli.

And all day long, I thought of my friend.  I think of her every day, this is not uncommon.  But the act of making this cookie for her, this treasured cookie that has spawned so many family memories that she has shared with me made me teary-eyed throughout the day.  I thought of our all-night study sessions as under-grads, when we would get so sleep-deprived and begin giggling for no reason. I thought of how she would borrow my driver's license so she could go out with her friends.  I thought of how for years, she signed my Christmas and birthday cards as "Kelli Oliver".  I thought of our roadtrip when we moved her to Phoenix and how I drove her and her brother crazy with my non-stop talking in the tight, cramped car.  I thought of our many trips to Vegas and the late nights at the roulette table, the early mornings at Denny's.  I thought of her wedding, the chaos and how I acted a bit like a brat during part of it.

I thought of how a weird, bizarre misunderstanding between us led to a year and half of not talking and how she reached out to me through a Christmas card, after which, we reconnected.

In my Christmas card to her this year, I apologized for acting like such a brat in the past.

I don't talk much of my friend here.  It rings falsely maudlin to talk about my feelings regarding her cancer.  Good grief, how presumptuous of me, right?  Right.  However, I did want to talk of her today because I wanted to remember the day when I finally realized exactly how baking can be such an act of love, what all of those stupid Pillsbury commercials are getting at.  Why it is such a important ritual in so many families.  When Arun helped me measure and mix and pour and roll, I began to see it.  When he later thanked me for making those kifli and told me how much he loved them, that is when it clicked for me.  This baking thing.

I hope Jolene will be able to make her family's Romanian kifli this year with her daughter.  I hope someday, she will discover that her daughter had a kifli fight with her friends by blowing powdered sugar all over the house (just as Jolene's brother did so many years ago, a memory shared with me, a memory I still laugh at.)

I hope Jolene will make the kifli with her daughter next year and the next year and the year after......

I hope.

December 8, 2010


Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother 1970

My Pakistani ex-boyfriend used to pinch my cheeks and call me "golgappa"Golgappa (or pani puri) are little, fried flour "balloons".  You poke a hole in them, then fill them with a spicy, sour water and a few bits of channa (chickpea).  This ex-boyfriend called me golgappa because I have round cheeks and a fierce temper.  A temper that he encouraged - he even taught me a fair amount of curse words in Urdu (gaalis) to accompany this temper.  For all that I can complain about that ex-boyfriend, I am glad that he appreciated my independence, my outspokenness. 

And yes, it was no small irony when 18 years later while pregnant by my very Indian husband, I found myself craving golgappa like crazy.  I was running to the Indian chaat place throughout the week - I would simply think of golgappa and my mouth would water and there was a yearning inside, deep inside, for that spicy, sour concoction.  I remember one time showing up and finding out they did not have golgappa that day. I thought I was going to cry.

Anyway!  I know that Manoj appreciates my independence as well.  By the time we married, I had already owned a house by myself and in general, have always been far more knowledgeable on sensible things of that nature. We have a running joke where if we are bickering, I will retort "If you had wanted a sweet, docile simpleton for a wife, you should have had your mummy pick you out a nice Indian Girl from the Internet."  Of course, we start laughing because we both know damned well that the "simpleton" part of the Indian Girl Stereotype is so very wrong.  Gentle Reader, if you ever meet an Indian Girl in a dark alley, I suggest you run the opposite direction.  Quicker than you can say "docile", that Indian Girl will whip her sari to the side and cut you like a little bitch. 

Ah, but I kid Indian Girls.  I hope they don't mind.  Ahem.


Mostly, I am okay with being the responsible party.  I enjoy making the decisions, being the person in our house who contacts repair people, who deals with service folks. Quite simply, I like being in charge. Sometimes, though, I wish I could sit back and let Manoj take care of things.  I dream of a being That Girl who has a Manly Man who does things around the house.

And then yesterday happened.

I had run to the grocery store for emergency run of garlic (because yes, if we run out of garlic, I cannot cook.)  On my way home, I got a call from Manoj asking for an ETA.  Immediately, alarm bells stand on high alert.  Turns out, there was a salesmen.  In......our.....HOUSE


Manoj does not do well with salesmen and when one comes to our house, I will trip over my own damned feet in a mad dash to beat him to the door.  He is such a bleeding heart, so completely and utterly vulnerable to the heartless ambush of a salesman. And his heart bleeds more copiously as the outside temperature drops (seriously, who the hell goes door to door in 30 degree weather??!!)  Oh, and if the salesman is under 3 feet tall?  Even better.  Sucker!

With all of this in mind, I put all the ponies under my car's hood to work in a vain attempt at averting disaster.

Too late. 

In two weeks, we are changing cable providers. A deal that means we are going from a single, quad-tuner DVR with ATT U-Verse to TWO SEPARATE, dual-tuner DVRs with SureWest.  Keeping in mind, that Manoj does not entirely understand how to even set up a season pass on our current DVR and realistically, does not quite understand the ramifications of essentially having TWO separate systems in DIFFERENT rooms in our house.  Despite all of my logical arguments that our current system was just fine, fine, no really!

After the sales guy left, Manoj sort of tip-toed around me the rest of the evening in an attempt to mollify me, pointing out that we can get Showtime as I have always wanted (Nancy Botwin! Dexter! At last!).  It worked.  While I am not happy about changing providers (and figuring out how I am going to watch a ridiculous number of shows stockpiled on the old DVR, shows I was saving for the dead airspace that accompanies the holidays), I did appreciate that he realized that I gave the saleman a run for his money and ultimately, saved us a bit more money. 

The next time I groan because I am saddled with yet another responsibility in this house, I am going to remember the vision of that salesman sitting in my dining room, enjoying a beverage, relatively secure in the knowledge that he had already convinced my husband of this so-called great deal.   Sure, I gave the guy a hard time, but half the battle is getting into the house, right?


December 6, 2010

Any Colour You Like

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon 1973

I have always said that kids do, indeed, notice the color of one's skin.  They just do not assign a value to it.  Ah yes, it is up to us adults to instill that in our children.  Start 'em early, that's what I say.

To be sure, Gentle Reader, when your mother is obviously 10 shades paler than your father, you tend to notice.  When your mother has a sense of humor that is obviously 10 degrees more wicked than your father's, you notice.  And then, you take notes.

When all else fails, we find comfort in humor, right?  And yes, Manoj has learned to be somewhat wicked in his humor.  I suppose living with me for all of these years would break even the most purest at heart.  This would be the spot where I openly admit we enjoy teasing our children that we are going to give them to new families (in addition to the idle threats involving transactions with roving bands of gypsies.)  And, to be fair, we mix up the colors of the mama and daddy pair.  Sometimes, both parents are brown, sometimes both white.  Sometimes mixed, with a switcheroo on the particular ethnic pairings. Always, our kids giggle, because they know we are teasing.  And as Anjali emphatically declares "NO, I want a white mama and a brown daddy."

Manoj and I will not know for a long, long time if we are doing the right thing when it comes to discussing race, color and ethnicity with our children.  But I do know that I want the dialogue to be open, because that is the most important piece in all of this. 

This morning, Arun and I were at breakfast together.  I love these meals, just the two us while Anjali is at school.  As Arun dug thoughtfully into his pancake, he struck up the following conversation:

Arun: Mama, is India where all the brown people come from?
Me: Um.  Not really.  There are brown people everywhere.  And there are even white people in India.
Arun: Really? Cool!

At this point, I realize this might be a good place to start a small, watered-down discussion of racism.

Me: Also, did you know that there are some people who don't like other people just because they are brown.  Can you imagine?  Not liking someone just because they are brown?

Keeping in mind that "not liking someone" is serious, not-be-trifled-with business to a 5 year old.

Arun's eyes grow big.

Arun: Really?!  Do some people not like white people because they are white?
Me: Yes, that happens, too.  And someday, Arun, you might hear someone say something not nice about Daddy or brown people.  What do you think you would say if heard someone say that?
Arun: That it is stupid.
Me:  Yes, it IS stupid.
Arun:  Well, what about Daddy's friend, Tom?  He is brown. Do some people not like him because he is brown?
Me: Sure, I bet someone out there is really jealous of his awesome tan.

At this point, I start laughing.  At all of it.  My 5 year old boy's sweet, pure innocence and the fact that a man with a kick-ass tan is still considered "white".  And let me be clear - stupid is not a bad word in our house. It is not allowed to be directed towards people, but it allowed to be directed towards actions and ideas.  The thought that someone would denigrate someone based on skin color IS stupid.  I am not going to lie to my kid just to appease the Word Police who would have all of us ban a perfectly good word from our vocabulary.

I ended the conversation by telling Arun that he is both white and brown.  Sure, my boy could have probably passed for a White Man With A Damned Fine Tan, but no - instead, we saddled him with his phonetically-challenged name thus permanently stamping his differences. This morning, I did not make a big deal about his Mixed Palette Status, I just casually mentioned it and he did not question it.  We finished our breakfast and moved on to bigger and better topics.  Namely, which flavor of bubblegum he would get to purchase as we checked out.  He is 5 years old, after all.  There will be plenty of other opportunities for me to explain the far more serious ramifications of racism.

And in the meantime, I will continue to secretly hope those things will not exist down the line.

December 2, 2010

Coming Back to Life

Pink Floyd, The Division Bell 1979

And yes, I realize that to many Floyd Fiends that a Pink Floyd sans Roger Waters is NOT an authentic Pink Floyd but rather, some severely diluted, puerile version of what had formerly held one of the most amazing song-writers in rock history.  Ahem. Still, I have enjoyed the Gilmour-led Pink Floyd - my main complaint is that the group has  not continued to evolve or create anything new, per se, but I do still enjoy their later albums.


I am in a catching up spot here.  I have a few things I want to get out of my crammed attic for a brain.  In the next few posts, expect nothing more than a disjointed rambling of words loosely held together by the laws of grammar.  I am going to blame the stomach virus we had last week.  Or rather, the Thanksgiving Special, a limited engagement in which I formed an intimate, enduring relationship with my toilet. 

Let no man tear us asunder.  


Of course, Manoj was unaffected by the Thanksgiving Special, he of intestinal fortitude worthy of his Sub-Continental Asian ancestors. Arun and his demi-desi colors shone through and he was only slightly queasy on the big day itself.  Anjali?  Her demi-desi credentials are currently suspect.  By Friday night, our little girl was non-stop horking and dry-heaving.  Me and my lily-white colon? We spent Saturday curled up in my bathroom, never more grateful for cold, blissfully chilly lineoleum.  Cozy! Up with the chuck!

Team Chaos gets a cold here and there, but they rarely hit Ragdoll Status.  And man, when they do?  It becomes a tug o' war between Manoj and I over who gets to hold the kid.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Manoj becomes a hardcore Indian mother when his child is sick and will fight me for the right to snuggle that kid back to health.  And with Anjali whimpering "Daddy, my tummy feels better when you hold me", there was no way I was winning this particular battle, so I waved a white flag.  And offered up a small battalion of clean towels in an offering of peace.  Manoj held Anjali all night long while she puked over and over and over again on him.  I stood close by with Clean Clothes.  It all worked out.

Many bloggers have been writing about those things for which they are grateful.  First, I am extremely appreciative of my high-capacity washing machine.  A close runner-up would be my husband.

Listen up, Gentle Reader. He drives me crazy.  I drive him crazy. Some of it is cultural.  Some of it is Man vs. Woman.

Quite a lot of  it is just us.

Sometimes, I hate that we are a bickering, squabbling sort of couple.  Other times, I appreciate that we do not let dark thoughts lie in wait, festering and rotting away the core of our marriage.  I had a friend who never, ever fought with her husband.  Their resentments laid patiently.  Growing roots.  Multiplying. Then, in one grand finale, it all blew up.  Spectacularly.  You could have sold popcorn, folks.

So, on those days when I send pointed texts to my husband to remind him of important things to ensure that I have a written record of that reminder?  I remember that long-defunct marriage of my friends.  A marriage that was long gone before it actually ended.

Yes, I am grateful for my husband.  He is faithful.  He is true.  He is an amazing father.  He will never understand my need for nights out with my friends (something his mother never, ever did for herself.)  I will never understand his need to watch football games when he never, ever roots for a particular team (seriously, why bother!?!)  He will shake his head in pity at my knitting projects, all that "lost" time gone to waste.  I will shake my head at all those hours he spends working, all that "lost" time gone to waste.

The list could go on, but somehow, we meet in the middle.  We make it work. I am quite honest in that marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life.  The constant compromise grates at me.  Christ on toast, folks. Will he ever put his damned dirty socks in one, single location in our house? 

No.  He will not.  But, knowing that I am with a man of such compassion, work ethic and integrity has made these last 10 years worth all of that sock retrieval.

Thank you, Manoj. 

Thank you.

November 23, 2010

Lucifer Sam

Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 1967

Thanksgiving!  Probably my 2nd favorite holiday after Halloween.  Delicious  food that involves gravy and cranberries.  And, of coursea wee bit of family sans all of the consumerist commercialism huffing and puffing at our doors, waiting with bated breath for Black Friday.  My family manages to dial back the Crazy for an entire day.  We have so many members now, we cannot all fit into a house, so for Thanksgiving, we rent a community hall.  There will be about 40 or so of us.  It will be loud.  It will be fun.  I simply adore my family and it also helps that I feel refreshingly normal after a day with them.  All the while knowing they probably feel the same after spending some time with me.  Touché.

Anyway, that giant sucking sound you will be hearing on Thanksgiving will be me, hunched over my Great Aunt Joan's Weird Whipped Cream Cranberry salad.


In other news, we recently went to another reptile show.  I have posted about these reptile shows and truly, if you have a kid who is crazy about lizards and amphibians, you would do well to go to one.  They are incredibly cheap and require a minimal commitment of time.  We are usually done in about an hour.

This last reptile show was a special - we were on a hunt for a crested gecko and a new tarantula.

Gentle Reader, I present for you, Gordon...the Gecko

Because if you have a gecko, he simply must be named Gordon.

Arun is over the moon since he has been asking for a lizard for a year and half now.  I have been spending that time doing research.  Also, waiting to see if it was a phase that might pass.  It did not.

A crested gecko fit our needs - he can be easily handled, has a diet that includes baby food and a minimum of crickets.  It also helps that he is simply adorable.

Arun paid for Gordon with his own money.  Dollar bills that he has been carefully hoarding in a plastic bucket.  It was simply precious watching him hand over that wad of bills.  It cracked my heart a bit watching him so carefully pet Gordon and coo sweet words to him.  However, it nearly cracked my brain when I discovered that Arun was giving Gordon "airplane" rides in one of his jets.  Sigh.  Arun still has much to learn when it comes to gecko husbandry, but I think he is up to the task.

And yes, that foliage is what you think it is.  How could I resist that when I saw it in the pet store marked 50%?? No, Nancy Botwin, I am not.  Still, I did snicker when the college kid who sold me the plastic ganja asked how I knew what it was.  Dude, pass the blunt and stop talking.

Oh.  And we also got another tarantula - another Pink Toe (aka avicularia avicularia)

His name is Daniel.

He is not as pretty as Sofia. But do not tell him that. Shhh!

There is a body in Bartlesville, Oklahoma spinning in its grave.  That would be my great-grandmother.  After I uploaded these snaps, it occurred to me that she might not be so appreciative of Daniel's attempts at tickling the ivories of her beloved Steinway.

That second giant sucking sound you hear?  Is the sound of my soul.  It is most assuredly hellbound now.

November 15, 2010

More blues.

Pink Floyd, More 1969

Things that are/were broken or unusable in my home with accompanying explanation in parenthesis.  Fixed items are in red.

3 out of 4 tires on my car (Please be advised that Special, Fancy Vehicles require Special, Fancy Tires at a Special, Fancy Price that will make your Special, Fancy Husband grumble louder than a Kardashian using public transportation)

Right-side of the garage (broken springs)

Left-side of the garage (blocked by so much junk you would think we were hoarders, except for the fact our basement has plenty of storage space and we even have a 4th bedroom that is unused.  Which is worse?  Hoarding or laziness?  Wait.  Don't answer.  Although to be fair, the lawnmower and the 10,000 bicycles we own do not belong in the basement, right?)

Downstairs guest bathroom door does not stay shut. (Believe me, our friends and family really appreciate this game of chance fondly known as "Peeping Tom" in our home.)

Upstairs guest bathroom toilet.  (Thank your Favorite Deity that it was a Clean Flush which discovered the problem, so the mess was minimal.)

Upstairs master bathroom toilet. (Again, another Clean Flush!  Perhaps, I should rethink my views on the powers of higher beings?)

Upstairs shower (It leaked into the kitchen over a year ago and we simply stopped using it.  Problem solved! Oh the joys of 1st World problems that include multiple bathrooms for a 4 member family.)

Ice maker refuses to spit out ice. (Another 1st World Problem, FTW!  Woe is me, having to get my delicate digits WET while filling those dastardly  ice cube trays.  However, my father, The King of Ice Cube Trays, would be proud (A brief sidenote on that post, my dad and step-mom are moving and I insist they take the creepy cake with them.)

The power steering thingie in my car is leaking fluid/making noise. (The explanation for this is quite obvious.  We paid off the Special,Fancy Vehicle just last month.)

My 3.5 year old computer. (It's slower than my grandma in a rainstorm.  It takes 15-20 minutes to boot up and I have a small fan running constantly on it to keep it from over-heating.  Often, when I am typing, it will freeze and I will have to wait for what I just typed to appear s...l....o...w..l...y, to magically appear! on! the! screen!   It needs to be rebuilt, but since I am an Over-Privileged American White Girl, we will probably buy a new one in the next few months)

The gate to our backyard. (To be fair, this has pretty much been falling apart since we moved in 6 years ago.  However, the gate held no importance until we got a goddamned DOG.  Now, we prop the gate closed with a wheelbarrow.  'Tis very classy of us, I KNOW.)

The noses of Team Chaos (Note: they are not broken, they are constantly streaming mucus, which in effect, renders them unusable)

My brain (It is yet to be determined whether my brain is broken or just unusable.  I will leave that to you to decide.)

Come on - is there anything better than some puerile sniveling from an Over-Privileged American White Girl living in the suburbs?


November 11, 2010

Us and Them

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon 1973

After yesterday's theme of Totally Serious, I need to lighten things up.  What better way than discussing the festival of lights, Diwali?  .

Awhile back, a fellow blogger who also shares the love for Men of the Foreign Extraction (Gori Girl, perhaps?  Indian Ties?) and is also in an Indian/American marriage linked to a group site/bloggie thingie whereby all of us gals who had legally hitched up to the Masala Marriage wagon train could post our blog links.  I thought about it, but hesitated.  I do not post much about my own little Masala Marriage, mostly because there is not much to report.  As I have written about in the past, this is complicated by the fact that Manoj comes from the relatively teensy Syrian Christian ethnic group and as such, came into my life already Christmas and Easter Trained. Sure, we had some details to hammer out (Santa, Rudolph, Peeps), but overall, we are the most boring of the most plebeian of Masala Marriages.  I would feel like a fraud purporting this blog reports on such fascinating things as "diversity" or "culture".  Except in the kitchen.  Folks, we like it hot n' spicy in the kitchen.  Although, I probably did not need an Indian husband for that. 


Are you still left wondering why I do not plumb the murky depths of my multi-cultural marriage for interesting blog fodder?  Really?

Gentle Reader, perhaps, the following exchange will convince you otherwise
Scene: An average suburban home in Olathe KS.  A man enters his home and addresses his wife.

Husband, in a Lovely Hue of "Sepia": Um, when is Diwali?
Wife, in a Rich Hue of "Vampire": You realize *I* am the White person in this relationship, right?
Mocha Brown Husband: Ha Ha.  No, really.  When is Diwali?
Pasty White Wife: *Blink * Blink*

Action: While Wife resists the gluttonous temptation to openly mock her husband, said Husband looks the information up on Google and finds out that Diwali is the next day.
Mocha Brown Husband: It's tomorrow.

Wife waits for some enlightenment as to the reason for this entire exchange.  After all, Gentle Reader, in the entire 10 years together, this couple has never celebrated Diwali, much less discussed it at any sort of length, so why does he care so much now?  Christ on toast!  He consulted Google, so it must be important.   

The ZhuZhu hamsters in the Wife's brain begin powering up.  Creak....creak....creak....



Pasty White Wife:  Um, I am going to take a wild guess and say that someone at work asked you about Diwali and as the Token Indian, you feel compelled to offer up the appropriate information, huh?  Even though you are a Catholic from Kerala who really did not celebrate Diwali much back home, much less here.

Husband hangs head.

Mocha Brown Husband: Yes.
Pasty White Wife: Dude!  This was totally your chance to demonstrate the rich diversity that is India. The fact that India is an amazing tapestry of religions and culture interwoven through the centuries!  Fail!

In conclusion, my Very Special Indian and I celebrated the festival of lights by drinking cheap wine, eating take-out pizza (with pepperoni, no less) and settling on the couch in front of Real Time with Bill Maher.  I did light up a Yankee candle.

Does that count?

November 10, 2010

A Saucerful of Secrets

Pink Floyd,  A Saucerful of Secrets 1968

Unless you live in a cave, you may have heard of a post at the site known as Nerdy Apple Bottom, a fellow Kansas City blogger.  I am not even going to attempt to paraphrase or explain her post.  The post has been the subject of so much conflict and misinterpretation at this point, that you would do well to just read it yourself.

Are you back?

Mostly, I applauded that post because it resonated deeply with me. No, I do not know the blogger in question, but regardless, I could relate to her on a personal level.  We are both mothers of boys the same age.  We both live in the somewhat conservative area of Kansas City (although I live on the Kansas side, the side that is probably more Red, in terms of necks and politics.) We both send our boys to church-affiliated preschools.  We both have boys who like girlie things.

And, oh my.  How I adored that she cracked that secret wide open - the fact that many, many boys like girlie things.  Gasp.

While I applaud the post, I cannot help but feel a bit guilty for this applause knowing that a little boy is now being considered a public face for a very adult cause.  The mother has stated that she was not outing her son.  And I trust her on that.  But the message has grown larger than her original post.

Let me be clear, I do not believe for a moment that she did this as a stunt.  The vilification of her is undeserved, in my opinion..  After all, we have many, many bloggers in our wee mommyblogging community who know how to do stunt posting and they do it quite well.  I emphatically do not think this particular blogger was mongering for traffic.

And I also do not buy for one second all of those folks who say that parents should not have their children support political agendas or be involved in politics at all.  That is ridiculous.  No one sends their child off into the world as a blank slate.  It is that very inherent piece of parenting that dictates you instill important beliefs in which you hold to be true.  You can wordsmith all you want, but politics are always involved in our belief systems.

Still.  I do squirm a little bit at the thought that this boy has been thrust into such public of a light and there now exists a permanent record.  A record that will go stagnant after awhile, perhaps waiting to rise again when the boy is in middle school.

I am uncomfortable with that.  I cannot lie.

I am not throwing stones, folks.  Hell no, I just finished Windexing my own glass house and I would like to keep it all pretty-like.  At least until the dog starts licking the windows again.  And I have publicly stated time and time again that I support gay rights, that I believe it is a human right for someone to choose who they want to honor legally in marriage (since it is always in the back of my mind that it was not so very long ago that my own marriage was illegal in many, many states in America.)

Oh, how I wish that being labeled gay was not considered a backhanded insult or a convenient punchline.  How about that for a thesis statement?

The hardest part is that this post hit me at a time when I was already having a huge existential blogging crisis with myself.  It certainly did not help to watch a post with innocuous intentions blow up so spectacularly on a national level.  I always question what I am doing on my own site and to what extent I should share my children here. Oh sure, it has helped that Erma Bombeck and Teresa Bloomingdale wrote such a respectful, loving treasure trove of books detailing their own family lives. Two classy ladies who can serve as remarkable role models for all of us.   It also helps that I have a small readership, most of whom are friends and family, and that I feel safe here.  However, blogging is still relatively new and we are still unsure as to the long-term effects on our children as they approach more sensitive ages.  It is quite easy to share baby stories and not worry about the awkward years to come.  Yes, this post has had me thinking in regard to what responsibility I owe my children as I share our lives here.

And I am not sure I like some of the answers.

November 5, 2010

Nobody Home

Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979

Arun and Anjali wore their costumes 5 and 6 times, respectively.  What with school parties, a birthday party, a Daddy's work event, actual Halloween and a special day where I took the spectacular duo to visit some relatives, I had to duct tape Arun's Yoshi costume no less than three times.

Ah yes, am I the only parent who insists on buying their kid's costume a few sizes too big in the vain, desperate hope they will wear the over-priced, scratchy, velcro'd polyester garment more than one season?

Yes, Arun was Yoshi - I quickly realized that my glue gun and I were out of our league when considering the efforts required to make a Bowser costume.  Some gentle prodding at the costume store resulted in an ecstatic 5 year old tightly clutching a Yoshi costume.  Anjali was more than happy to be Spider Girl and as she proudly proclaimed to anyone within earshot, "I am going to save the WHOLE DAY!!!"  Indeed.

Also, am I the only parent who is still slightly drunk on the Halloween spirit and will need all of November to recover from the hangover?  In the past few years, the entire frocking month of October has turned into Halloween.  While I am happy to get a few more pennies worth out of those costumes, it strikes me as a little excessive.

By the actual night of Halloween, the mask was nowhere to be found and her true identity was exposed.

Everyone thought he was a jolly, happy dinosaur.  Dude.  How many dinosaurs can fly while eating apples?  HUGE pop culture fail.

Stupid Human Tricks

A witch's hat for the most impossibly sweetest dog ever in the history of dogs.  However, Lucy most assuredly did NOT appreciate my exercise in irony.  God, what a bitch!  Literally.

And finally, the ACTUAL night of Halloween.  It felt like the denouement to a 100 act play. 
Or something like that.  Also,  I would like to take a second and brag about the fact that I spelled denouement without using the squiggly underlined red thingie as a cheat. Take that, bitches! I deserve a Butterfinger.

Every year, we head a little further south in our neighborhood.  Next year's goal is Oklahoma.

Charlie and Me.
This is one of Anjali's babies and she insisted her portrait be taken with it. Her other two "babies" are an elephant and a polar bear.  No worries, Gentle Reader.  We have established a special account for her future therapy expenses.

And for the grand finale, I have a video!  Anjali loves to break out in song, randomly, in narration.  It is as if I am living inside of a musical or something.  Which leads me to ponder, where the hell is my hot, Nazi-fighting Captain?

I love halloween! from Kelli Oliver George on Vimeo.

That's all, folks.  I have a 3 year old pretending to sleep-walk in my living room.  Soon, the rumbles for breakfast will begin and it is best to have a jump on that.

October 27, 2010

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

Pink Floyd, Ummagumma 1969

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Pray for the squirrels, folks.

October 26, 2010

Candy and a Currant Bun.

Pink Floyd, The Singles 1992

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

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


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

I apologize in advance for your Earworm of the Day:

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

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

What is your favorite part of fall and Halloween?

October 19, 2010

The Hero's Return

Pink Floyd, The Final Cut 1983

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

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

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

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

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

{Click through for the entire set on Flickr}

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 18, 2010

Give Birth To a Smile

Pink Floyd, Music from The Body 1970

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remember.

October 12, 2010

Dramatic Theme.

Pink Floyd, More 1969

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, pardon the mess.

October 6, 2010

Careful with that axe, Eugene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

There.  Done.

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

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

October 5, 2010

Interstellar Overdrive

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

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

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

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

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

It always makes me smile.

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

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

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

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

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

September 29, 2010

Waiting for the worms.

Yes, I have decided to go with Pink Floyd song titles for awhile.  For no reason other than I have been in a Floyd mood for awhile and I am bored with this blog.  If I want to get goofy on you, as is my wont, there is no one to stop me..  One of the many joys of not having an editor, I suppose.

I have a few posts about children's books coming up but I wanted to mention this one, in particular - an adorable book The Other Kelli recommended:

Official Description: 
"Do Witches Make Fishes?" is the moral tale of a young boy who favors candy over his mother's outlandish but healthy dishes. When faced with an ultimatum from his mother, the boy has to make a difficult choice. What ensues is a series of extraordinary and fantastical events that will take the reader on a magical journey through the imagination of a child.

The Other Kelli mentioned "Do Witches Make Fishes?" by Jason Mayo and the fact the author is donating all profits to charity. It appears to be self-published for which I am a sucker (Dude, I totally heart the self-published.) Furthermore, I am always on the hunt for unusual children's books and as such, I willingly forked over my credit card info.  Did I mention the "for charity" part?  The book arrived just a few days later, we ripped it open and I proceeded to read it 3x in a row.  Gentle Reader, there would have been a 4th run-through, but I called "Uncle".  In short, Team Chaos LOVES this book.

The story is in verse and is quite catchy - gummy worms, chocolate yarn, ahoy!  I perform the witch's voice as well, which tickles Team Chaos.  I am not a huge fan of the illustration or color palette but no matter, this book is so much fun to read.  And that?  Is my  #1 criterion for whether a children's book gets to live in permanent residence in our house.  If I loathe reading a book?  It becomes something we get from the library.  This is not really a Halloween book (I have a post planned on that topic for next week!) but why not splurge on a witch-themed book anyway? 

The other book on my top shelf these days?

"Room" by Emma Donoghue!

Official Description: 
In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary. Despite its profoundly disturbing premise, Emma Donoghue's Room is rife with moments of hope and beauty, and the dogged determination to live, even in the most desolate circumstances. A stunning and original novel of survival in captivity, readers who enter Room will leave staggered, as though, like Jack, they are seeing the world for the very first time.

Many, many thanks to Jennifer from The Mind of ~fer for alerting me to this book!  I picked this up yesterday and was immediately sucked in.  I am now anxiously awaiting my brief 1.5 hour window in the school schedule today where I hunker down at Starbucks with my iced green tea lemonade.  Jennifer Weiner has also written about this book and has a nice Q&A with the author (speaking of Weiner, she also has a nice piece about "professional" disdain for popular fiction, as well.)

What you are reading these days that is totally knocking your socks off??