Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm Trying Not to Define Myself Exclusively as "Mommy"...

...but that's a tall order when you get e-mails with headers like this:

I knew when I elected to join the ranks of motherhood that I would be responsible for the health and welfare of a small person. But the realities of it -- like making sure your kid has the proper cloacal evacuative capabilities -- are fresh every day, courtesy of bulletins from, among others.

Friday, December 28, 2007

And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

My apologies for disappearing on you, dear readers. Both of you. The holidays pounced on me and my opportunities for blogging have been few and far between. Add some dodgy connectivity in a Cleveland suburb, and voila! A paucity of posts. Besides, what am I going to tell you? That I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with my in-laws, and further enjoyed the in-laws who visited us in our tiny manse? Oh, and that it's a mortal lock that I'll be stressed out by my blood relatives' get-together this Sunday? Pah. Boring.

Here's what we need to talk about:

The BabyKeeper. WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS WHEN I HAD MY FIRST BORN? Clearly, this is the responsible and caring way to handle your kids when your hands are busy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Music

I just realized that all of my favorite holiday tunes are secularized romantic celebrations of the solstice. None of this "Come All Ye Faithful" bidness. I mean, I enjoy those selections when I'm ensconced in a pew and tapping my foot along with the churchie choral music. But my seasonal Top 3 are:

1) Winter Wonderland
2) Baby It's Cold Outside
3) Let It Snow

You might think that these aural preferences are a result of a heightened sense of couplehood around the holidays. That might be. faves might also be due to the fact that Super Ninja and I are both incredible homebodies, and snow mandates that we stay home or we'll end up in a horrific car smash. At least, that's what the local news anchors tell us if there's more than a passing chance of chilled precipitation.

This is all very fascinating to you, isn't it? Well, while we're on fascinating topics, let me tell you what I had for dinner last night (Chick-fil-A). And which types of cookies I baked for my kids' daycare-mates (chocolate chip, and sugar cookies cut out into shapes resembling those in the opening sequence to Edward Scissorhands). And the reams of lists comprising things I need to do before Christmas.

Ugh. I'm boring myself with all of this tedium. It's a good thing we're heading up to Cleveland to hang with Super Ninja's family. I usually get a couple of good stories out of that. We're meeting Super Ninja's best friend's daughter for the first time, so I'm fairly certain the Boy will have yet another arranged marriage proposal. (I have two friends with daughters, whom, I kid you not, have put in a reservation for the Boy. We may start ciphering a stud fee.)

Okay, off to the office holiday party I go! That will be a wasteland as far as stories go. It will be tasteful and tasty, with zero booze, so there won't be anything fun to write about.

Monday, December 17, 2007

'Cause I'm the Mommy, That's Why

Last night was bath night chez nous. We're on an every-other-night routine with the kiddies. On Friday, Super Ninja went out with friends to catch a flick, which meant I was alone with a toddler and a preschooler. Instead of individual tub time, I tossed 'em both in the bath at once, and they had a lovely time. The Boy washed the Girl's hair, she giggled, and there was no crying.

Since they had such a good time in the tub together the last time, we decided to repeat the fun. But, just as we were nearing bath time, a college pal called me. Super Ninja said he was going to go ahead and start the kids' bath, I nodded, and up he went with a child tucked under each arm.

Oh, poor Super Ninja. About five minutes after they went upstairs, I heard the Girl start to wail. This is not unusual, as she loves being nude or dressed, but hates the transition. Then Super Ninja called to me very grumpily, so I hung up with my pal and skittered upstairs. There, I encountered a naked boy sitting on a potty, an upset husband, and a bleeding girl.

Turns out that the Boy hopped into the tub and, to put it delicately, let one loose in the water. A, ahem, solid one. This is the first time he's ever done this, so it would be an understatement to say that he surprised his father. Super Ninja yanked him out of the tub, and the Boy promptly whizzed on Super Ninja's shirt. What with the emergency clean-up and the horror of having just been used as a urinal, Super Ninja was understandably a little distracted, which is when he heard the "ka-thunk" of the Girl knocking her face against the tub. She bit her lip, hence the bleeding.

She's absolutely okay -- nothing two popsicles couldn't cure -- but Super Ninja was rattled for the rest of the evening. After the kids went to bed and we were enjoying a quiet moment, he turned to me and said, "How come when you give them a bath it's all bubbles and splashing, and when I give them a bath it's sh*t and blood?"

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I just realized that I'll be celebrating the 15th anniversary of my high school graduation. Fifteen years ago? FIFTEEN YEARS? There are many reasons that this can't be. But mostly it's because I still act like a high schooler about a lot of things.

I tell you what, though. If the reunion planning committee tries to cram us into a military auxiliary hoojiwhatsis hall again, I'm definitely getting drunk beforehand. On wine coolers, in honor of the occasion.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What? Baseball Players Used Steroids?

Click here to go to the report.

There are a ton of Orioles on the list, which is disappointing. But it's disappointing in the way that it's disappointing when I find out my favorite rockers shoot up (or shot up, as the case may be). I might wish they didn't, but I don't know them personally, so I just kind of shrug. Yeah, drugs aren't such a good idea, and no, I don't want my kids admiring anyone engaged in illicit activities (don't worry, I intend to instill the difference between role models and celebrities).

Mostly, though, I'm wondering why the O's haven't won the World Series since 1983 if there's been this much juice on the team.

Scratch that. I'm mostly wondering why people aren't talking more about "Operation Equine" on page 89. That's the best title of any operation, covert or otherwise, that I've ever heard. It conjures all sorts of images. Were they sneaking steroids over the border in horses? Were they big fans of Equus? Was there some kind of Pony Express for steroids? I almost don't want to read the section and spoil all of the fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Could My Fellow Hoyas Be Any More Boring?

From my Facebook homepage:

Don't get me wrong. I own CDs by every single one of those artists/groups. But it's all I'm not exactly a poster child for musical edginess, but it'd be nice of those that Bleed Hoya Blue didn't exclusively favor BMG darlings.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Is There Some Working-at-a-Country-Club Teen Rite of Passage that I Don't Know About?

Seriously. What's up with that plot device? Is it just a way to get fictitious right side/wrong side of the tracks kids to mix in a public-ish space? Let me present the evidence:

1) Beverly Hills 90210, Summer 1991

Brandon leaves a sweet gig at the Peach Pit to earn some extra summertime dough at the local sun spot for the zip code's hoi polloi. Makes sense. Loves Nat, loves the Pit, loves his job. Why not give that up for a chance to be a cabana boy?

2) Saved by the Bell, Fall 1991

Clearly, the Saved by the Bell writers went into hyperdrive when they saw the preceding summer's Beverly Hills 90210. Bell upped the ante, though, by having Zack, Kelly, AND Slater get jobs at the club. Kelly, if memory serves, was a lifeguard in a ridiculously small one piece. The lifeguard flotation thingamajig she hauled around was bigger than her torso. I'm sure she saved many, many lives that summer.

3) Dawson's Creek, Fall 2000

I've searched in vain for any kind of clips or stills from any of the Season 4 episodes, but, just so's you know, Joey gets a job at the Yacht Club's restaurant and mixes it up with an uppity uppercrust fella. The only (free) clips available were stunning examples of Kevin Williamson's hyperarticulate banter between Joey and Pacey. Oh, the banter, the unbelievable, unbelievable banter.

4) High School Musical 2, Fall, 2007

I haven't seen this little phenomenon yet, but I have nieces who are nuts for it. Anyway, this sounds like Bayside all over again. Main male hottie gets a job, then make sure everyone else gets a job, and a tiny girl is a lifeguard. I mean, I know suspension of disbelief is necessary, especially for musicals, but could we just acknowledge that an ninety pound girl is not going to be able to accomplish these feats?

So, anyway Hollywood, enough with the teenagers-in-country-clubs-theme!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Think this Makes Me a Full-On, Grown-Up WOMAN

Due to an unfortunate confluence of timing and location, I had to purchase a box o'tampons from a young fella of Middle Eastern persuasion who happened to be jockeying the till at a gas station. I'm sure he was just thrilled.

Lemme 'splain that the point of the story is that I only had a brief "Oh, jeez," moment. In the B.C. (Before Children) era, I might've actually left without purchasing les produits feminins. Or I might've gone on a convenience store shopping spree to camouflage my needs with pencils, gum, a gossip magazine, and one of those horoscope scrolls. But not yesterday! I sucked it up and acknowledged that I'm not always going to find a brick and mortar establishment peopled by earthy wise women. So, I plunked my lonely purchase on the counter, handed over some cash, and walked out. Without a bag, thank you very much.

This may have made you dudes uncomfortable. Oops. But this situation is the woman's equivalent to handing over a box of condoms to an avian, grandmotherly cashier. You know, the kind who wears chains on her glasses and calls you "dear."

Anyway, I'm excited that at 32, I'm officially starting not to care about that stuff.

Oh, the embarrassment I will be to my children.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I'm such a child. I'm thrilling at the sight of delicious little flakes of snow sifting down from a thick gray sky. Old habits die hard. Up until I was 22-years-old, snow meant a break from the norm. A delay, or, best of all, and honest-to-God day off without penalties. Snow days equal spontenaity, which I don't get enough of these days.

I wonder when I'll cross the fulcrum and find myself on the "Dammit, snow is a pain in the arse" side of things. It could happen if I moved to Minnesota, like some people. But chillin' in Maryland, we only get this stuff a couple of times of year. And most of the time, it melts about 2 hours after it lays. So, I'll enjoy it while it's here.

I just wish that I'd worn a coat with sleeves instead of my black Marty McFly thingamajig.

Monday, December 03, 2007

One of the Ways in Which I Intend to Parent Differently

Have I told you about my advice column addiction? Dunno why I read them so often. I think I'm looking for some kind of blueprint for wacky life situations. Or I'm insecure about the way I handle emotional issues, and I look for reassurance/reinforcement from these columns. That's to be decided another day, I suppose.

Today I read a column in which a mother wanted to know if she was being too controlling since she required her 14-year-old daughter to supply her with the first and last names of the friends with whom she was hanging out after school. There's more to the tale, but I kind of stopped there...

When I was thirteen years old, I stayed over at my best friend's house for New Year's. Colleen and I met in sixth grade, but we became really good friends in seventh, and so by then, eighth grade, were were thick as thieves. I stayed over at her house often. We went to see movies and sundry other events often. I spoke of her often. You see the common thread here: OFTEN.

So, that first night of 1989, a blizzard struck the suburbs of Baltimore. Very picturesque. Colleen's family dropped me off at my house the next afternoon on their way to eat a Chinese restaurant. I slip-slided up the driveway, and blustered through the back door, my cheeks red from the cold.

"MCV!" my parents and my older sister shouted. Not in anger, but in a, "Oh, there you are" kind of way.


"What is Colleen's last name?"

I raised an eyebrow, "Jones*. "

They all erupted into laughter.

"What's so funny?" I asked.

"We wanted to call to see if you needed a ride home, and Little Bro said her name was Warglick, so we've been looking for her parents' phone number in the directory! And there aren't any Warglicks in Baltimore! Where on earth did Little Bro get that name? Ha ha ha!"

Ha ha ha! Ha ha... Ha?

WHY would they have let me spend the night at the house of a family whose last name they didn't know? WHY didn't they know the last name of my best friend of two years? AND WHY DIDN'T THEY DEMAND A PHONE NUMBER SO THAT THEY COULD CONTACT THEIR PRECIOUS, PRECIOUS DAUGHTER IN CASE OF AN EMERGENCY LIKE A BLIZZARD WITH POTENTIAL POWER OUTAGE CONSEQUENCES?

My parents were, shall we say, somewhat hands-off by the time I ventured into my teen years. I still had an eleven o'clock curfew and good grades were high on the agenda, but if I operated within those parameters, I'm fairly certain I could have been boozing it up with a panoply of shady characters and my parents would've been just fine with that.

I believe firmly that if Super Ninja and I can blend our upbringings together, we'll have a shot at a modicum of normalcy. Either that, or we'll really, really screw up our children. I don't really see much of a middle ground here, though.

*Her last name isn't Jones, but something roughly as common.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I like women. Hold on, hold on, before you suck in your breath in shock that I'm revealing that I'm a lesbian, let me clearly state that I don't like like women. That'd make Super Ninja a beard...or whatever the equivalent cover-up terminology would be. A wig? Falsies? Yep. I'm going with falsie.

Anyway, I'm prefacing this post with a disclaimer about how I generally enjoy women's company because, well, I'm going to write about a trend that I'm noticing. And I don't want you to get all in a twitter that I've fallen into the "women are jerks and just bash each other all the time unlike men, who are awesome, and are only ever friendly and honest and supportive of each other."

Here's the thing: there are a couple of womens' blogs that I've been following that started out all snarky and edgy and unique, and now they've devolved into...well, the bloggie equivalent of Molly Shannon's Jeannie Darcy character from Saturday Night Live. Here are topics that I am banishing from this blog:

1) PMS.
2) An insatiable love for shoes.
3) Why men suck.
4) The myriad ways in which men and women are different.
5) Complaints about how being a woman sucks.
6) Diatribes against the American social norms for women, iff the social norms listed revolve around make-up, depillation, hairstyles, and shoes. (This is somewhat of a subsidiary of #5, but it comes up often enough that I thought I'd give it its own entry.)

[ADDED 11/29/2007]

7) An insatiable love for chocolate.
8) An awesome sale.
9) Having a frustrating dating life (note: STORIES about having a frustrating dating life are interesting. Repeatedly stating, "Jeez, I have a frustrating dating life" is not interesting.)

I know that there are more that I'm forgetting, but these are the ones that really grate on me, so I will endeavor not to put you through the same "I've heard this a thousand times" blah-ness.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For All of the Francophiles Out There (or, the end result of many years of French classes)

My nephew is in sixth grade, and is starting to think about the foreign language class in which he will enroll next year. Spanish or French? He's leaning toward Spanish, given that it is the most frequently spoken language in the world. He's nothing if not practical. Me? I was romantic, and I liked cheese, so when I hit the foreign language fork in the road, veered toward French. My sister asked me if I retained any comprehension, considering...

J’étudias le français pour huit années. HUIT ANNÉES! Six professeurs m’apprenaient. C’est étrange, n’est-ce pas? Huit années et six profs? Peut-être cette facte explique pourquoi je ne comprends pas la différence entre les mots masculin et féminin. Par example, le mot pour “country,” le pays, est masculin. Mais, touts les nom pour les pays sont féminins, sauf le Belge et le Canade. Qu'est-ce qu'il se passe en Belge et en Canada?

Une autre example: une stylo est féminin, mais un crayon est masculin. Pourquoi? Parce que le poulpe “donne le naissance” à l’encre?

Pardonnez-moi. Ma comprehension faible de la langue a créé des idées étranges. Eh, les rédactions de moi ne sont pas important. David Sedaris a écrit une essaie fantastique (et meilleure) de cette sujet en “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” En anglais. Bien, eh?

Je pense que cette poste a justifié huit années d’éducation et beaucoup de dollars, ouais? Combien d'erreurs grammatiques existent en cette poste? Une mille? Une mille mille*?
*Une allusion a "Le Petite Prince."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Post in Which I Reveal Myself to Be One of THOSE Mothers

On a scale of 1 to 10, I think my kids would rate about a 7 for appropriate behavior in public. The Boy hasn't quite learned what an inside voice is. And he's developed a fetish for a clean nose. Suffice it to say, he digs for gold about as often as Yukon Cornelius.

We're working on it.

But for the most part, they don't pinball around waiting rooms, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. They aren't particularly whiny or tearful. And they are usually pretty cooperative. So when I perceive that people in the business of rendering service to children are less than friendly, well, it's annoying.

Last night, we took the Girl to an ear, nose and throat specialist, to whom we were referred by her pediatrician. The pediatrician wanted her to be seen by said specialist because the Girl developed her first ear infection about a month ago. Despite being on Amoxicillin for 10 days, it became two ear infections. After second round of antibiotics (Cedifir, this time), the two ear infections raged on, and the Girl was placed on a third, different round of antibiotics which seems to have knocked it out of her system. Despite that, her pediatrician wants to diagnose the need for Eustachian tubes for the Girl early, if at all. Dr. G doesn't want to continue to pump her full of antibiotics, which I support, because I don't want the Girl to become resistant to their effects.

Wouldn't you think that a place to which I am referred for the treatment of a one-year-old, a place that accepts an appointment for a one-year-old, would have medical professionals who have a better bedside manner and equipment for toddlers? They wanted to weigh the Girl, but they didn't have a children's scale. They just asked me to hold her and stand on the scale with her. They didn't weight me separately, though, so they took my word for my guess as to what I weigh (we don't have a scale at home, so I honestly don't know). Yay for imprecision. Then they asked me if I happened to remember how long she is. I couldn't. But did they measure her? Nope. They just left it blank.

When the doctor came into the room, he asked me about the reason for my visit. So, I told him (I'd already told the physician's assistant, who typed it into a laptop where one would assume the doc could read it). He asked me if she seemed to be having trouble walking. Well, yeah, but that's only because she's one and doesn't really walk without holding onto to furniture. Then, he asked me if she's talking. Again, not really, on account of her being one year old. She's mastered, "Mama," "Dada," and "Bah" for bottle, but that's about it. He gives me one of those, "Oh really?" looks.

Now I'm feeling like my kid is behind the curve, when she's most assuredly at least in the middle of the pack for her age.

We've now arrived at the time when the doctor needs to look in her ears with the otoscope. Fair enough. But I have to restrain her so that he doesn't puncture her ear drum. The Girl is kind of big for her age, so this is no mean feat. Speaking of feet... Well, I'm not Lakshmi, so I couldn't hold onto her feet as well as both of her arms and her head, so she delivered a few good kicks to the doc's solar plexus. He briefly mentioned this after the exam, when he was sending me down the hall for another test to measure the amount of fluid he detected behind the Girl's left ear.

Great. So not only did he imply that she's not developmentally up to snuff, he also implies that she's, ahem, spirited.

I pick up my daughter and my work bag, and traipse down the hall to the other little room for the test. The tech says something like, "I hear you're a kicker!" She then explains that the test we are trying to do involves inserting a plug in the Girl's ear for about 5 seconds. Easy enough, right? Oh, except the test is invalidated if she cries. Have you ever tried stick something in a one-year-old's ear for five seconds, prevent her from ripping it out, and expect her not to cry? Didn't think so.

The tech and I had been trying to accomplish by distracting the Girl with toys for all of two minutes when the doctor poked his head in the office to see if we'd finished yet. We obviously hadn't. We tried a few different tacks, none of which panned out. The doctor came back after two more minutes, and said we'd just have to schedule a follow-up for a month from now to make sure the fluid had drained from the left ear. At that point he said to MY DAUGHTER, "And maybe we can schedule it for earlier in the day when you're not so tired."

This was a full two hours before her normal bedtime. She wasn't tired, she was annoyed. It could have been nine in the morning, and she'd still be grumpy about strangers poking things in her ears.

Yeah, so I think I'll be scheduling her follow-up at the other branch of this particular practice. You know, where they might grasp that a one-year-old will be docile during this kind of inspection if they are (a) asleep, or (b) drugged.


Monday, November 19, 2007

CNN Democratic Debate: November 15, 2007

In no particular order:

1) Kucinich was the only one who directly answered every question asked of him. Yay for that, but it will clearly knock him out of the race, which is a shame.

2) I wanted to pop the UNLV student (a woman, no less!) who asked Clinton if she preferred diamonds or pearls. Good Lord, young America, are THESE the questions you really want to ask of presidential candidates? I know you probably burst a blood vessel trying to come up with a feminine equivalent of "boxers or briefs?" Frankly, I would have been more impressed if you'd had the cajones to ask "granny or thong?" And I would have been equally impressed if one of the other candidates jumped in with a blood diamonds comment.

3) One of the post-debate-analysis talking heads commented that Clinton looked refreshed. I'm not sure if they would have made that comment about a dude, but whatevs. Me, I was distracted by her fresh visage 'cause she was clearly jacked up on Botox. Good genetics, you might argue. Well, there were a couple of points where HRC was valiantly attempting a look of concern, but her forehead remained as smooth as a slab o'clay. And don't worry -- I'd definitely be making this comment about any men showing signs of ye olde surgery plastique. We won't, however, open the forum on pancakey makeup, since all of the candidates looked like an all-day special at IHOP.

4) I'd love to hear a native speaker of Spanish's opinion on the quality of Senator Dodd's command of the language (he employed it when responding to the border protection "you voted for the wall" question). Folks used to crow about G.W.'s ability to speak Spanish, but it always sounded like twangy Spanglish to me. Incidentally, every time the candidates talk about erecting a wall 'twixt us and Mexico, I think of the play within "A Midsummer Night's Dream," in which a Wall has some pretty amusing lines. Do you see how being an English major can ruin a person's ability to focus?

5) Suzanne Malveaux tacked a question about abortion onto an audience member's question about Supreme Court Justice appointment criteria. Each candidate invoked the 9th Amendment's protection of the "right to privacy." I'm not going to debate Constitutional Law, because I'd have my ass handed to me in a heartbeat. But I think this amendment is about how to read the Constitution, meaning that we must abide by the spirit of the document and not the letter. Also meaning that Americans have a bunch of basic human rights -- like privacy -- that are not specifically enumerated by the Constitution but exist nonetheless.

Are you still reading this? I might not be if I were you. No one ever accused me of being scintillating.

Anyhoo, legalization of abortion was established by Roe v. Wade. And, from what I gather, the arguments in favor of legalization were made chiefly under the 9th Amendment and a woman's right to privacy. Since the words "right to privacy" were never inked onto vellum, you can see where folks might think there's still room to argue the legitimacy of the ruling.


Can we all acknowledge that those who are against abortion are not caring if it's a private or a public matter? Their main problem with the procedure is that they view it as the termination of a person, not a pregnancy. Pro-lifers are not rooting for the procedure to take place in a stadium or anything. They don't want it happening it all.

Don't misconstrue this as an anti-abortion rant. It's an anti-semantics rant. The operating-in-the-real-world part of me understands that the candidates don't want to appear like a radical left-winger this early in the came, because the truth of the matter is that most Americans don't consider themselves red or blue, but kind of a purply political mulatto.

6.) John Edwards looked thrilled every time he was addressed, either by a question or an insult. It also cracked me up when he busted out the Godfather's "It ain't personal, it's business" sentiment in response to the audience's clear dislike for negative comments about Clinton.

7.) Did you see the stare-down that Obama gave Clinton when she addressed his voting record? He turned his whole body toward her during the first minute or so of her response, like he was challenging her to continue. It looked like the mean girl in high school was caught scribbling something in a slam book, got caught, and could either backtrack or muscle through.

8.) Why is it such a problem for candidates to admit that they've changed their minds about things? Isn't it wise to allow yourself the flexibility to change your position if new facts come to light that make your previous position untenable? Some of my opinions have remained constant throughout my self-actualized life, but not all of them. New facts = new opinions.

Okay, I'm kind of boring myself now. Now, the real question is, will I watch the next Republican debate? Depends on what happens with the writer's strike, I guess.

Sometimes My Imagination Is a Little Too Active

So, this morning one of those liquid cargo trucks was pacing me on I-95. It looked like this:

Why highlight this mundanity? Because there was a big ol' Perdue logo decorating the barrel of that thar truck. Perdue as in chicken, and turkey, and all manner of poultry. Which begs the question: WAS THIS TRUCK FULL OF POULTRY GOO? I've heard many a rumor about the manufacturing methods of chicken nuggets, and this sighting kind of confirmed all of that for me. Okay, so this is not an earth-shattering revelation, but it is just not the kind of thing you want to think about at 7:17 a.m.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Helpful MDOT Signs

Crawling along at about 7.5 miles per hour last Friday, I had time to whip out my camera phone* and preserve this infinitely helpful message:


Thanks, MDOT sign operator. Had you not provided this bulletin, I might have plowed through the sea of stopped cars.

*Don't worry. I'm well aware that my camera phone stinks.

This Is a Dark Day at Our House

The Boy figured out how to open the baby gate this morning. He's nimble, so there's no fear that he'll go a-tumbling down the steps. But we liked knowing where he was. Now, there is every possibility that this intrepid three-year-old will steal out of his room, open the gate, (unintentionally) sneak up on me and cause my heart to explode in my chest.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thank You for Your Service

Many moons ago, G. Gordon Liddy* stated on his radio show that the only proper way to respond to someone who introduces himself as an American veteran is, "Thank you for your service." I'm down with that. After all, my father's a veteran.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War and served at White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. His gimpy eyesight, which he lovingly passed on to me, kept him off the battlefield. Consequently, his war stories revolve around weekend passes in Tijuana, making fun of the awful movies that were screened for the boys, and pranks they'd pull on each other in the barracks. Not really the Stuff of Legend, but I'm pretty thrilled things worked out the way they did.

So, thanks Dad, and thanks to the men and women who have honorably served in their posts.

*Talk radio programs were thin on the ground in late 1990's Baltimore. I took what I could get.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Signs, Signs, Everywhere There's Signs

A crossing guard driving a minivan tailgated me almost the whole way to my daycare provider's house this morning. That's gotta be a harbinger of something, right?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

The Girl turns one year old today (coincidentally, my marriage turns eight years old today*). She woke up all smiles and blonde curls, and truly is my sunshine girl. Everyone says the time flies, and it does, so I won't belabor the fact. I mean, how often can you listen to a parent jabber on about her kid's squishy cheeks, three teeth, and wobbly steps? I'll just say that she's an adorable chubby wonder, and I'm thrilled every day that I see her that she came to join me, Super Ninja, and the Boy.

*Since our anniversary and our daughter's birthday fall on the same day, one might suppose that either of these events would be at the fore of our thoughts this morning. When I greeted Super Ninja in the Girl's bedroom this morning (where he was getting my wriggly girlfriend dressed for the day), he turned to me and very happily said, "Can you believe BOTH of them slept through the whole night?" And yea verily, this was the thing to celebrate. Betwixt teething and stomach viruses, last night was the first night that either of us enjoyed more than three consecutive hours of sleep since...since...since...

Mixed Messages

Hmmm...should a show that's been rated TV-14 have a toy line for children 10 years-old and up? Apparently, CSI has released a new line of toys. Click the link to see the CSI: Facial Reconstruction Kit, among others. The work of real-life lab technicians isn't necessarily more gruesome than that of police officers, doctors, and firefighters. And kids have emulated those occupations, well, since the jobs existed.

Stop to consider this, though: those occupations are also involved with prevention. My guess is a kid pretending to be a doctor is listening to a playmate's chest and telling them to breathe. Or asking them to drop trou in an effort to see what's happenin' down below. Not yelling, "GSW to the chest! Fire up the crash cart!"

CSI stands for Crime Scene Investigation, yeah? If an eleven-year-old is happily squishing clay around a plastic skull, trying to solve the make-believe mystery of who died and why, we're desensitizing the idea of murder. I'm not getting all Tipper Gore or put kids in an incubator to protect them from outside influences. The dissonance rankles me a little, is all.

If a kid under 14 shouldn't watch a show, he probably shouldn't play with the toy affiliated with it. So acknowledge they can handle the yick and let them watch the show, or don't market to the tweens if we think it's too much for them. My bias is for the latter, but I've been accused of being too strict with that stuff.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I Am (Almost) a Genius

Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to score ONE LESS than "genius level" on a MENSA test (or, at least, MENSA knock-off test)? Very, my friends. Very. Feel free to play. I got the following ones right: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 32. So, if you need help, lemme know!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Mental Note

If there's an iota of a chance that you will be violently ill, do not drink red Fruit Punch Gatorade to hydrate yourself. When the inevitable happens, for a split second you'll be horrifically frightened and convinced that you've just heaved up your innards.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Suck It, Sallie Mae


I have paid back my student loans.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What's In a Name? (Or, Jenny McCarthy Wants to Be Me)

I'm not a moron: I don't think that Jenny McCarthy actually wants to be me. My life is not so much about the fame and the rock hard abs and the $20-million-a-picture boyfriend. But we have (I shudder a weensy bit when I write this) similar writing interests. She wrote this and this, and I wrote this and this. My blog title is "Louder than Words," and so is McCarthy's latest book.

Okay, hundreds, nay, thousands of women write about these topics. Jenny and I are two of many, many similarly-aged women going through marriage, childbearing, child rearing, career issues, etc. Makes sense that we'd both write about these experiences.

BUT, I have been thinking about changing the title of this blog recently, and Jenny McCarthy's new book adds fuel to the fire. I mean, what if people start to confuse the two of us? Snarf.

Jenny's book title comes from her experiences with raising a child with autism, and my blog title comes from...well, I'll be honest: I ripped it off. "Louder than Words" is from a line in Otis Redding's "Hard to Handle." Since it's one of a few dozen songs that I love to belt out in the car, I know all the lyrics. And when I started this blog and thought, "a quote from a poem or a song about words would be a cool title," and well, this song came to mind. There's no subtext. I am not a man of great experience, nor am I hard to handle. It just seemed like a good fit for a word-based medium.

So, yeah, the more I think about it, "louder than words" doesn't really make a whole lot of sense for a blog. The actual lyric is "Actions speak louder than words." Which, now that I think about it, is the same sentiment expressed by Extreme in their hit single, "More than Words."

Crap. I know all the words to that song too, which KILLS me because it is rife with bad grammar. Not only that, but I'm convinced the human brain has a limited capacity, like a bucket, and retaining these lyrics is keeping me from learning something truly important, like how to manage a stock portfolio.

What is wrong with me?

Back to the original point of this post. Which was...wait, don't tell me...oh, right: my blog title doesn't make sense.

Written words don't make any noise, unless you read them aloud. Barring that caveat, EVERYTHING is louder than words. Clearly, I've got to brainstorm new titles that (a) make sense, (b) reveal transcendent coolness (or at least semi-hip geekiness), and (c) aren't twee.

That last one isn't really important. I just like the word twee and I don't get to use it often enough.

If I stick with a shout-out to a song, though, here are songs that actually have a random significance from my childhood:

- "Brass in Pocket," Pretenders
- "One Way Or Another," Blondie
- "Back in Black," AC/DC
- "Heartbreaker," Pat Benatar
- "Another One Bites the Dust," Queen
- "Elvira," the Oak Ridge Boys
- "Never Surrender," Cory Hart

I'm going to stop there. My parents and older sibs exposed me to much, much music, and this represents just the teeniest sliver of my childhood soundtrack. You'll note that there's no Raffi or Disney. Just be glad I didn't toss in Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What About Baltimore, Travel & Leisure Magazine?

"Did you know that Philadelphia was voted the ugliest city in the country?"

My co-worker, whom we'll call Former Math Teacher, is a Washington, DC native and has a penchant for non sequiturs. We'd been speaking about the achievement levels of a school district in Pennsylvania. And no, it wasn't Philadelphia.

"Really? I don't see how that's possible. There are some neighborhoods that are scary," I said, remembering the shoes dangling from power lines on Broad Street like ghetto mistletoe. "But I don't think it's fair to say the city is ugly. Haven't they been to Market Street? Or the the museum downtown, or..."

"Not the city. The people."

"Oh. Well, that's just mean. Who's voting on this?" I asked. I've been to Philly a number of times, and there's nothing especially unattractive about the City of Brotherly Love.

"Travel & Leisure Magazine. And they said that Washingtonians are mean and ugly, but not the ugliest." I could hear her flipping the pages of the magazine.

"Wait, doesn't The Hill do that 50 most beautiful Hill staffers article every year?" I asked. "That alone has to refute the ugly thing about DC." As for the 'mean' part...well, I've been elbowed out of the way by commuters clambering onto the Metro too many times to dispute that.

"I just think the whole article is unkind. Anyway, getting back to what we were talking about..."

And we resumed our conversation about achievement levels. But I wanted to dissect the topic further, so you, Gentle Reader, get to hear all about it.

The article in Travel & Leisure is just a slam book disguised as journalism. But, like a slam book, you're compelled to flip to your page to see what people really think. Problem is, the article didn't even include Baltimore. The indignity!

Baltimore is the 21st largest commercial market in the country. So, how about it, Travel & Leisure? Where are we? I wasn't able to find the selection criteria, but I think there are two reasons that Baltimore wasn't included:

1) Despite the renown of the Inner Harbor, most folks think that Baltimore is a super scary place. I won't say this is undeserved. I love the city of my birth, warts and all, but the warts can certainly taint the overall complexion. Why am I using a yucky skin analogy?

Anyway, editors likely don't want to feature a city that's closing in on 300 murders for the calendar year in a magazine that's ostensibly about travelling in pursuit of a good time. Not only that, but Baltimore's reputation in pop culture hovers somewhere between Detroit and Deadwood. In television shows like Homicide, The Wire, The Corner, and even Roc, drugs and crime exist as characters, not just story lines.

Compare that to, say, New York, which has enjoyed much love from Woody Allen, Friends, Seinfeld, How I Met Your Mother, Will and Grace, All in the Family, Futurama, Spin City, Felicity, NewsRadio, Sex in the City, 30 Rock...well, you get the picture. Even if you tot up all of the crime dramas, they are only a fraction of the New York representation on television. Most of the rest are of the "look how fun and exciting it is to live in New York" ilk.

2) It's possible that the magazine thought they were including Baltimore since they ranked Washington, DC. Many, many, many (too many) people see Baltimore as a suburb of Washington. The most recent example I've come across was in this past Sunday's Washington Post, in the section called the Sunday Source. Every week, they take picture of someone in or around the District who's workin' a personal style that the newspaper digs. This week's fashion plate was found in BALTIMORE.

Grrr. This is just a subtle way of saying that Baltimore is part of the Washington Metro area, and not it's own independent city.
Ah well. In the end it's probably better not to have been ranked. I just needed to say my peace about it.*

*Sidebar: Is it "peace" or "piece"? I've seen both in print. Obviously, I fall into the "peace" camp, but I like to know if I'm coming off like a dummy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Is It about Girl Scout Cookies?

Strange things were afoot when I pulled into my parking lot this morning. My office building leases spots from the local American Legion post. The normally nightowlish veterans don't have much use for the lot during the day. Which is why the eight pallets blocking part of the main lane of the parking lot made me think, "Huh?" When I drove around them, I took a closer at what was sitting on those pallets...

Girl Scout Cookies.

Oh yes. Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samosas, and whatever else those uniformed sugar pushers bring to our doorsteps. Here's what's weird: I immediately flirted with the idea of boosting a few boxes. Now, I don't have a thieving bone in my body, and Samosas are the only cookie in their arsenal that I like. And even those I can take or leave. But seeing those pallets being guarded by three or four men who can best be described as "spry," well, it inspired me.

Which is why I've decided that Girl Scout cookies are either the devil's handiwork and/or they are laced with crack.

Monday, October 15, 2007

25 Things Every Man Should Know (according to Popular Mechanics)

I heard about this article on the radio a few weeks ago, and I've been meaning to look it up. You can see the original article here. I highly recommend looking at it, because there's a hilarious feminist argument raging in the comments. Admittedly, when I first heard about the article, I was all, "Why can't you call it what every person should know how to do?" But that's taking the list far too seriously. Wouldn't the real abilities be things like, "Can grow crops," or "Read pharmaceutical directions correctly"? P'raps someday I will craft a list of what every woman, nay, every PERSON should know how to do. 'Til then, enjoy the list from the mag (below). For fun, I've noted which skills are in my repertoire:
  1. Patch a radiator hose
    If the answer is "duct tape," then I'm savvy. Otherwise, I'm calling my mechanic brother.
  2. Protect your computer
    Yup -- both from thieves AND viruses.
  3. Rescue a boater who has capsized
    Never had the pleasure, but I'm pretty sure you toss them a life raft. Or you call the Coast Guard. Is there an in-between?
  4. Frame a wall
    I'm assuming this is not in any way a decorative term. Nope.
  5. Retouch digital photos
    Yup! Otherwise, my family would look like demon seed, what with all the red-eye.
  6. Back up a trailer
    Yes on this as well, crazy as that sounds.
  7. Build a campfire
    Yes again. They don't say if lighters or matches are allowed. If not, I'm a wee out of luck. Me and the flint are not so friendly.
  8. Fix a dead outlet
    Nay. I have a policy against trying to repair something that could potentially kill me.
  9. Navigate with a map and compass
    Yes. My father-in-law would be proud. In case Super Ninja doubts me: immediate ability to distinguish right from left is NOT an indicator of one's ability to read maps.
  10. Use a torque wrench
    Nope. Where would I lay hands on a torque wrench?
  11. Sharpen a knife
    Ooh! I just read an article on this. I'm in the know!
  12. Perform CPR
    No. Let's all take a moment to reflect on the fact that I know how to retouch digital photos, but not perform CPR. I must hie myself to one of those classes soon.
  13. Fillet a fish
  14. Maneuver a car out of a skid
  15. Get a car unstuck
    I have had more opportunity to perform this feat than I'd care to admit. On one occasion, it was a Maryland state trooper's fault. The only thing that saved me was having a random piece of plywood in my trunk (thank you, set of "Raphael Without Hands"!)
  16. Back up data
  17. Paint a room
    Most assuredly, yes.
  18. Mix concrete
    With a truck? No. In a bucket? Yes.
  19. Clean a bolt-action rifle
  20. Change oil and filter
    No, but I know how to take my car to Jiffy Lube.
  21. Hook up an HDTV
  22. Bleed brakes
    What have brakes ever done to me?
  23. Paddle a canoe
    Shockingly, yes. Hooray for white water rafting adventures as an office team building experience!
  24. Fix a bike flat
  25. Extend your wireless network
    Yes, though I've perhaps extended it further than it should go.

By my count, I legitimately know how to do fourteen of these things, making me a little more than half a man. THAT explains why I'm so short.

We Picked Up the Raw Material for Our Jack O'Lantern Yesterday, and It's HUGE

Okay, so it wasn't as big as the one depicted above. But it did take all of the weak-limbed, sculpted-by-a-sedentary-lifestyle strength that Super Ninja and I could muster to load it into the Family Truckster. Did we go pumpkin patching for the entertainment of the kiddies? Nope. They were asleep in the car. We were on our way back from a baptism in Pennsylvania, and we saw dozens of gigantic pumpkins lolling on a roadside hill.

Not normally an exciting thing, I know, but Super Ninja hasn't seen pumpkins this size in the patches near our homestead. We stopped so that we could satisfy his iddish feelings about Halloween and its trappings. The bonus is that the strapping two-feet-in-diameter gourd he picked out was pretty cheap, as those things go. The only downside is that I have a tough time tossing out anything useful, so I'm going to be eating pumpkin seeds, soup, and all manner of pumpkiny-ness for about a year.

Time to dust off those pumpkin recipes...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's Not Really Such a Small World

Apparently there's an online magazine called Mental Floss. It's tagline is, "Feel Smarter." Well, nice try, Mental Floss, but I feel dumber after having taken your geography quiz. Now, I know geography isn't my strong suit. It ranked second to Sports & Leisure in my ranking of categories to avoid in the Genus edition of Trivial Pursuit.

But back to how dumb I am: the only one I got right was Spain. SPAIN? That's it? I got close a couple of times. When presented with the randomly selected countries, I always went to the correct continent or ocean. But I picked the Bahamas when I was looking for Dominica. And I have apparently decided that Niger will do for every country in Africa. Missing Tunisia was especially embarrassing since that's where Star Wars was filmed. I'm not such a super-fan of the series, but Super Ninja is, so you would think that I would have learned it by osmosis.

But back to the shame. Oh, the shame. And the osmosis that should have happened. It goes beyond Star Wars. Super Ninja actually had to take a whole class like this in college called Map of the Modern World. He spent the entire semester studying the global map and characteristics about each country. The final exam was a blank map and a pen and the instruction to "Go nuts."

Time to invest in some of those map placemats for "the Boy," and actually sit them at my own seat.

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Okay, Braun's Express truck, you forfeit the right to the word "express" when you're doing 40 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone.

Welcome back to work after the pseudo-holiday weekend, Baltimore.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Good, Bad, or Indifferent Parenting?

Is it bad that I will hork my 11-month-old daughter's snacks? And this doesn't happen in a, "Oh, look, the Girl didn't finish her snacks, no sense letting those go to waste and pitching them in the trash" kind of way. I eat them in a "Well, I'm a little hungry and the can is RIGHT THERE" kind of way. I haven't gobbled up all of them. She still has some left. Like, five crunchies, which is totally enough to take the edge off of her hunger at lunch time.

See. THIS is why I shouldn't ever be a stay-at-home Mom.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round Starbucks' Breakfast Blend

After my wisdom teeth follow-up appointment (clean bill of teeth, by the by), I dropped into the local Starbucks to grab a bagel and coffee to break my fast. As I swirled some skim into my Yukon Gold, I spotted a basket next to the coffee fixin's bar. Not unusual in a Starbucks. But affixed to the tippy top of this particular basket was a handmade sign: "Donate a Pound of Coffee to the Troops." Nestled within the wicker confines were four bags of varying blends.

Something about this arrangement bothered me, and I'm trying to pinpoint the source of my bother-ment. Here are a couple of contenders:

1) Why have only 4 people coughed up a $9 bag of coffee? (Full disclosure: I am not one of those 4 people).

2) Why doesn't Starbucks, with all of their crazy margin, kick in a few tons of coffee, rather than stick a donation basket in this little franchise to collect a few pounds? [Further investigation reveals Starbucks' corporate policy is that they will only donate to organizations officially classed as charities (which the U.S. Armed Forces are not), but have set up a program wherein their employees can take some of their paycheck in the form of coffee donated to soldiers. I still think the corporation could make a donation to an organization like this, though, and give soldiers some good brew without controverting their policies.]

3) Who's the fool who donated whole bean coffee?

4) How, exactly, will this coffee be distributed? Do a few lucky soldiers have individual coffee pots next to their bunks in the barracks? Or will the mess hall brew up a mega pot for everyone to enjoy during one of their meals?

I guess it's just weird because I hear all of these stories about WWII, and how people on the homefront rationed food and steel and such so that it could go to the soldiers on the battlefield. And my generation is setting up collection baskets in places where people routinely pay four dollars for a cuppa joe.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Anniversary to Me!

It's been five years since I left my first real full-time job. I was with that company for five years, so this month marks a fulcrum in my curriculum vitae. From this point forward, my post-first-job experience will be the tubby, low-hanging side of the see-saw. This week, though, there's a balance. And when there's a balance, it's a good time to reflect, no?

This little anniversary is a bigger deal to me than the ten year college graduation. Why? 'Cause my professional self was forged in the pits of that thar first job, and I do mean pits. Don't get me wrong: I learned loads there. But it was mostly about what not to do in a professional environment. I won't go into details, 'cause I don't want to be held liable for anything.

Suffice it to say, this guy was the Big Boss of my company, and I find his Facebook profile immensely satisfying:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Again with the Lackluster Signs?

First Prince George's County declared itself a livable community, and now Laurel has declared itself "An Inclusive Community*." Oh my sweet Lord in heaven, why can't the folks who pay for these signs come up with something snappier? Laurel is inclusive, to be sure, but if we want to market ourselves to people shopping around for new homestead, I don't know that inclusivity is their number one priority. In fact, I'm pretty sure that most developers bandy the term "exclusivity" about.

*I'm going to try and shutterbug a pic for ya when I drive by it tomorrow. The sign's at the intersection of Route 216 and Main Street.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Note to Self

Lay off the pain meds before meeting with the Operations Team, which comprises the senior staff of your company. Sure, you won't feel the throbbing pain as your jaw repairs itself in the aftermath of your recent dental surgery. But keeping your focus becomes exponentially more difficult.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Exercise Your Chompers, Really Chew Chew Chew!

(My Google fu has the flu (ha!), so I sadly have no linkage to the title of this post. It is a reference to one of those Saturday morning educational mini-cartoons about a Fonze-ish dude, named Chompers, who advocated eating loads of crunchy, good-for-you foods. If you find lyrics or pictures relating to this classic bit of '80's nostalgia, drop me a line.)

This past weekend was ALL about the teeth chez moi. How so, you ask? Well, my remaining two wisdom teeth were given the heave ho. My dental surgeon put me under, which was freakin' AWESOME. I forgot how cool it is to drift into oblivion. I'm not advocating nodding out or any of that illegal silliness. It's just fun once in a while to give yourself over to something like that. Some folks aren't put under for the procedure. Apparently, though, my roots were as swirly as a gift bow, so they thought they'd save me the horror of experiencing a portly fella digging elbows deep into my mandible. I applaud their thought process.

Coincidentally, the Girl sprouted her first incisor the very day of my extraction. It's the lower left one, and she really works it with her tongue. You can tell she's weirded out by the sensation. But, the confusion lurks on her visage for all of three seconds before she's moved onto something else, like extirpating the pots and pans from their cubby under the microwave.

Last, but most certainly, most assuredly not least, is that we have FINALLY broken the Boy of his pacifier addiction. Our ploy was to use the birth of my most recent nephew (the tenth grandchild in my clan overall) to meet our own ends. We told the Boy that babies need pacifiers, and his new cousin was a have not in this particular arena, and since the Boy is in fact a Big Boy these days, p'raps it was time to pass the pacifier on to his new cousin. So, when these two little men met for the first time on Sunday last, and hence, t'was time for the handoff. And the Boy did it, without so much as a blink.


I expected tears, and fists, and rending of garments. This pacifier is the one thing, the one lovey, that my Boy has cleaved unto since his days in the cradle. It started to affect the way his teeth are positioned, so divesting him of it was long overdue. But still, I expected much more drama. I was pretty sure he didn't grasp the enormity of the situation.

And, like all good Mommies, I was right on the money.

Later that night he asked for the pacifier. And upon being informed that he wouldn't be on the receiving end of his addiction, well, that's when he unleashed a monsoon of tears. Know what, though? Fifteen minutes later, he was okay with it. There were more grumpies tonight, of course, but only about ten minutes worth. I figure in a week, we'll have kicked the pacifier addiction.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Such a Tease

Did you like the way I ended my last post with the "more on that to come" tease? No? Didn't notice it? Oh well.

Well, here are the other immensely practical things I learned:

1) When a two-digit highway ends in an even number, it runs east-west. When it ends in an odd number, it runs north-south.

2) If a three-digit highway starts with an even number, that means that it will reconnect with the highway represented by the last two digits. That makes no sense, I know. Let's use a concrete example: the DC Beltway. It's 495, which means that it connects with I-95. Same thing with 695 in Baltimore, and 495 in Philly. Cool, eh?

3) Conversely, if a three-digit highway starts with an odd number, it means it ain't never joining forces with the highway represented by the last two digits. Think 195 (toward BWI airport) or 395 headin' into Virginia. These offshoots are called spurs.

4) If the exit number atop the exit sign on a highway is positioned to the right, then the exit will be on the right. If it's on the left, the the exit will be on the left. I haven't figured out what it means when they are in the middle.

There's nothing mind-expanding in this here post, Gentle Reader, but I likes to pass the helpful tidbits along.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Most Practical Thing You Will Learn Today

Not only that, but you'll never forget what I'm about to tell you. This is a bold claim, but bear with me. Look at this:

So what, right? It's a picture of a gas gauge. Well, ya see that little picture of a gas pump? And you see that little arrow on the right hand side? That means the car's gas tank is on the right hand side. Isn't that phenomenally useful? When travelling and renting cars, or borrowing cars, or driving a new car, you no longer need to run the risk of parking on the wrong side of the gas pump or craning your neck to see if the gas tank is on the driver's side or the passenger's side. Just look for the little arrow.

And that's merely one thing that I learned on my recent business trip to Tennessee. More on that to come...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Baker's Dozen

I have found that the average length of time that someone will wait to ask you if you are going to have more children is about six seconds after one has exited your womb. My philosophy? I'll take it as it comes. Very Catholic of me, eh? What I mean by that is that my notions and preferences about a goodly number of things have changed in the past five, ten, fifteen years. Do I listen to Depeche Mode daily? Nah. Do I tweeze my prodigious eyebrows? Yes sir!

The upshot is that I'm not going to make any permanent, long-term decisions about stuff like this. I mean, I didn't choose painkiller options until I was actually going through labor because I knew enough to know that I wouldn't be able to forecast my needs until I was actually suffering through the experience.

That was a marathon of a run-on sentence. Sorry. I've only had a half a cup of coffee today.

So, the next time someone asks me how many children I'm going to have, I will say that I am going for an infinite number of children. Because now, the technology is here. BEHOLD: Zeno, the artificial boy. Now, he's Texan, and you know how I feel about Texas. But I think I can work with the raw material.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Equally Impressive and Horrifying

The Boy needed some extra cuddling during daycare drop-off this morning, so I obliged and sat on the couch with him strewn across my midsection. Rarely do I get this kind of extended embrace from him, and I guzzled the deliciousness of it. Until he said this:

"Mommy, I have a piece of ear."

"What?" said I, unable to fathom what he meant.

The Boy pulled back from our hug and handed me a nugget of earwax. It was about the size of broken #2 pencil point. Not huge in general terms, but certainly huge in terms of things a three-year-old extracts from his ear. And a veritable juggernaut in the realm of things I really, really don't want to handle sans protective gloves.

As soon as he'd passed off the earwax, he laid himself back down upon me, pinning me to the couch and rendering me unable to divest myself of this chunk of bodily by-product. What's a mother to do? Well, I opted to stay put until his breakfast was served and he happily skipped away from me toward the waiting plate of chopped plum and cereal bar. At that point I discreetly disposed of the gunk, shivered, washed my hands, and zoomed off into the morning mist to begin my commute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Teaching Netiquette

One of my nephews, whom I'll call Spikey, just got his first e-mail account. This kid is fabulously intelligent and sarcastic, so of course I think of him as a younger male version of myself. You know, before I learned to control my cutting remarks.

Anyway, I've got a soft spot for him and want to guide him on a few things to make life easier for him (well, if he's receptive to it). Like, "If you answer EVERYTHING sarcastically, it will likely hurt your chances at friendship." And, "It's physically impossible for Grandmom to understand sarcasm, so you'll want to keep it to a minimum around her." And also, "You've only got to endure four more years of gym class every day."

All of this means it's really tough for me to resist the compulsion to explain that forwards do not e-communication make. I take that back. They constitute e-communication if you are my parents or one of my new-agey college friends. This morning he sent me a link to a YouTube video featuring a Daft Punk song and hand dancing. It'd take up a lot of real estate to explain it, and I'm not going to post it here, because I don't want to do that to you.

I wrote back to him and did not include any pictures, links to other videos, or jokes. Just a note. Maybe he'll catch on. But I doubt it. Watch, he'll send me that video of a monkey smelling his finger and falling off a tree...

Written from an Airplane on September 11, 2007

It’s 11:15 p.m. EST on September 11, 2007, and I have spent this sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks criss-crossing the country in airplanes. Who says I don’t have a sense of adventure?

There was a school district in the northwestern part of Mississippi that needed training on the proper use of an online analytical database that my company has developed. I’m one of a precious few people willing and able to lead these trainings, so off I went. But I’m still lactating (sorry, for the squeamish among you), and would prefer not to be away from home for an overnighter. Consequently, I booked myself on this wacky round trip. I left my home at 4:00 a.m. to catch an outbound 6:00 a.m. flight. Nearly eighteen hours later, I’m still traveling. It’ll be about two and a half more hours ‘til I’m snuggled up in my bed at home. Christ, will that feel delicious.

Travel is invigorating. Well, right about now the vigor is starting to wear off, but that’s what my Starbucks venti Yukon Gold is for. Anyway, seeing new things, driving on new roads, trying on different lifestyles in the shape of rental cars and local eateries – it all gives my system a charge.

Here's a sampling:

I saw a cotton field today for the first time. Before my stint on Route 61 North, I’d only seen them in Gone With the Wind (and the only-slightly-less-well-known Places in the Heart). Anyway, antebellum romances are probably not the best representation of a textile crop that sustained and rent* a nation all at the same time.

I saw Dallas, Texas from the heavens, and it was a beautiful thing. Normally, all things Texan are somewhat off-putting. A shrinking violet like me is wary of bombast, and Texas is paradigmatic of bombast, right? But from up above, it was silent. And FLAT. The only thing that limited what I could see was my own gimpy pair of old lady eyes. In my native Maryland, the trees and hills and skyscrapers and dense population obscure anything that’s more than a few blocks away.

I experienced a Jackson, Mississippi traffic jam. It’s what we in the ‘burbs of DC call a yellow light.

There was more, but that's all I've got right now. MCV is sleepy, and while my synapses are firing off insights about the irony of my spending September 11th in four different states and airports, my fingers won’t cooperate anymore. Meh. Humankind’s loss.

*'rent' as in 'torn asunder,' not 'rent' as in 'a five-story walk-up in Brooklyn.'

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Britney at the 2007 MTV VMAs

So, I just watched Britney Spears on the VMAs. Her new tune, "Gimme More," is your standard dance club fare. I just felt this weird wave of empathy for her. She was trussed up in a rhinestone studded bikini, stiletto boots, and kept thumbing her fake hair outta her line of sight. Which, come to think of it, might also have been obscured by her Fremen blue contacts.

Anyway, she looked nervous and unsure of her steps, like those heels she was tottering around on were going to splinter underneath of her. I know it's trite to say she looks like she needs a hug, but well, that's the mother in me. Sometime tomorrow she's going to say something that will make me groan and realize that she feels no sense of ownership or accountability for any bad decisions that she's made. But 'til then, I'll just keep it at empathy.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

This Is My Worst Performance on Any Test EVER, and that Includes Pre-Calculus

You'll have to click here for the full results, but lemme list the Star Wars characters with whom I apparently most closely identify:

Openness: Astro Mech Droid (47%)
Conscientious: Grand Moff Tarkin (58%)
Extraversion: Wampa (18%)
Agreeableness: Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker (57%)
Neuroticism: Princess Leia (7%)

The higher the score, the more you exhibit the trait. For example, I only scored 7% on neuroticism, meaning that I'm not very neurotic. That's where the favorable analysis ends.

To wit: I'm apparently Wampa-shy. You know...I just hang out in my cave until a tasty meal comes along, and then I slash at it and hang it upside down in my lair. And then I end up with my entrails serving as an organic heating blanket. Something seems wrong there...

The classification I'm most displeased with is Grand Moff Tarkin. Not because I thought I was all kinds of Type A when it came to organization, but because Grand Moff Tarkin was just the worst-selling Star Wars action figure on the shelves. Super Ninja and I would peruse the toy aisles for gifts for our nephews, and there were ALWAYS at least five GMT's for every one Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. This tells me if there were an action figure version of Yours Truly, it'd just be hanging out on the peg, surround by clones of itself.

Sounds like a good time, eh?

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

So, you can't really see it very well, but that's an American flag flame magnetic decal on the fender. That's a picture of a car that wove around me on the inner loop of 695. There was another decal just like it on the other side, and two on the trunk. Further patriotic imagery was to be found on the back windshield in the form of a stars & stripes see-through decal. The irony? The flags were splattered all over a Volvo.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

When Oldest Bro moved back home, he brought a yellow Labrador with him. That fella was named Toby, and he was big, and lovable, and a little dumb. Anyway, he gave up the ghost this past spring after making it to the ripe old age of fourteen, which is like Methuselah age for a Lab. And even though this was my Oldest Bro's dog, my Mom kinda fell in love with having a dog in the house. Which is how my parents came to be the proud parents of a chocolate Labrador for about three days.

The reason for the short span of ownership? She's a sweetie, but too much for my parents to handle. She zipped over the fence and ran away about five times over the course of those three days. So, they ended up giving her back to the breeder. I feel kinda bad for my Mom, because her brother recently passed away, and I think that she was looking for a little four-legged comfort.

Honestly, I'd love for them to get a smaller dog, because I want my kids to be exposed to pets so that they aren't afraid of them. But man, I don't want to walk them. A dog, I mean. I love walking my kids. Walking with them. They aren't on leashes. Well, the boy was almost leashed once upon a time, but he doesn't attempt to run into the street anymore. Bully for me, eh?

The funny side of all of this? The dog's name was the same as Super Ninja's sister, which was REALLY going to confuse the kids. Not only that, but I'm sure that little fact would've given Super Ninja a migraine. My name, Super Ninja's sister, and of course "Mommy" all start with "M," and Super Ninja already can't call us by the right moniker. A double dose of his sister's name would break the camel's back, or brain, as it were, and he would never call any of us by the right name again.

Another Chapter in "What to Expect When You're in Your Thirties"

"You will find yourself identifying more with the ant than with the grasshopper."

Some folks spent their Labor Day weekend carousing on the beach, some picnicked, some caught their last poolside rays. Me? I extirpated outsized clothing from the Boy's and the Girl's closet, yanked items that Super Ninja and I no longer wear, rearranged our linen closet, and generally went on an organizational frenzy. And I LOVED it.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oooh, RainBOWS!

Fashion dilemma: a co-worker who dresses like the grown-up version of Rainbow Brite just complimented my accessories. Do I pat myself on the back for my excellent taste in jewelry? Or do I consider the source and never, ever wear it again? In case you're wondering, it's fairly innocuous stuff -- just a beaded necklace and a gold bracelet. It's a little flashier than my usual fare. But it's not anything that I expected to catch the eye of a woman who looks like she's wearing a belly dancer's get-up to the office.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Another Chapter in "What to Expect When You Are in Your Thirties"

At some point, technology will begin to escape you. You will no longer surf the tip of the wave of gadgetry. You will wipe out, and wipe out horribly.

I am the SLOWEST texter in the world. Little Bro texted me this morning, asking if I could provide him with mi madre's cell phone number. I had to pull my car over, park, and it took me five full minutes to text:

Yep: 410 XXX XXXX

I think it takes me forever because I refuse to use Avril Lavigne-ish abbreviations. And I use punctuation. And capital letters. My only defense for being so old school is that I find it difficult to read texting shorthand, so outta respect for the person receiving the text, I try to make it clear.

Ah well. Something had to give, right?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'Cos You Were All Yellow

Over the weekend, I played a color quiz game with the Boy. I do this often to reinforce the names of colors that he has at his command. Once he's comfy with the basics, I'll introduce fun color names like vermilion and crimson and chartreuse. These are the ones to which I always gravitated during my oil painting days, and I want to share my palette love with him.

After a few minutes, we'd identified the colors of just about everything in the room, so I focused our little game on our own appearances. This game does double-duty in that identifying similarities in our coloring helps strengthen his identification with the family unit. Well, triple duty in that you can unintentionally discover some, ahem, physical flaws.

"What color are my eyes?" I asked.

"Blue," says he.

"That's right! And what color are your eyes?"


"What color is my hair?"


"That's exactly right! And what color is your hair?

"Brown too!"

"Right again! And what color are my," I fish around for something else that's easy, "teeth?"


Oof. Crushing pause.

"Good job. Let's, uh, let's go read a book now."

Vanity, thy name is MCV. Time to invest in some of these.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Super Ninja packed my lunch for me today, as he does pretty much every day, which is unassailably wonderful of him. So I fully acknowledge that I'm going to seem like the most ungrateful harridan in a moment.

My lunch today was leftover pad thai. My office doesn't stock disposable cutlery, because we are a nonprofit, and extras like sporks eat at the bottom line of all of our do-gooderiness. Knowing this, Super Ninja packed an eating implement in my lunch sack. Problem is, he packed a plastic spoon.

A spoon? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to eat pad thai with a spoon without flicking peanutty sauce and scallions all over yourself? Very, my friends. Very difficult indeed.

This Phrase Was Coined During Lunch with Super Ninja Yesterday

"Sometimes life hands you a lemon. Suck it."

I checked out the gubment internet site on trademarking, and it'd cost me a cool $325 to trademark this phrase for every iteration of how I wanted to use it. That's $325 that I need to use for fun things like diapers and pizza, so looks like I'm not going to enter the licensing fray yet. But trust, if you steal this, I will cut you.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Netiquette Question

I have accepted three people as friends on Facebook. I am ignoring friend requests from five people with whom I am not really friends, though we did go to college together. One is CRX*, who is simply right out, and the others are people to whom I have not spoken since I waltzed through the front gates of Georgetown with my diploma and mortarboard.

So: is this disproportionate number a bad thing? Am I being a jerk?

Editorial: Don't laugh at my teeny circle of friends. For whatever reason, my particular clutch of gal pals leans Luddite, so no Facebooking for them. And, apparently, I'm also a jerk who doesn't accept friend requests from every joker who stumbles upon her profile.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shhh...Don't Tell Super Ninja* That the Boy Gets It from Me

BEHOLD! I have taken a "Which Superhero are You?" quiz, and my results are (tympany, please):

Aww, yeah. Thwip thwip, baby. Super Ninja, and possibly Super Ninja's brother, will be totally jealous**. I'd bet cash money that Super Ninja will totally take this quiz and turn out to be Black Canary or something.

Anyhoo, here's what the great online gods of superhero classification said about yours truly:

You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.

Man, it's like they know me.

UPDATE: Super Ninja turned out to be Superman. This will surprise no one who knows him. Goober. Here's the description: You are mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

*Super Ninja = my husband
**Jealous = not really. He REALLY would've been annoyed if they poll determined that I most closely resembled the Hulk, but I think he'll be okay with Spidey.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We Can Blame the Government for Many Things, But I Don't Think This Is One of Them

Yesterday, if you'd asked me to name the most deluded person in Hollywood, I likely would have offered up some Britney-Nicole-Lindsay-Paris twiglet. But then I read this article, and I realize that the Delusion Crown belongs to none other than Steven Seagal.

Really, Steven? An FBI affadavit caused your career spiral? Not your film choices? Or that action stars (and I use that label grudgingly) score fewer roles as they age because audiences can't and won't suspend that much disbelief? Or the ponytail? I mean, my God, Steven, the ponytail alone could ground any soaring career.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Working from Home: Casual Observation

Perhaps, Bravo, "The Exorcist" isn't the best choice for your 9:00 a.m. programming. Of course, this will be what I watch while I work, but still, I find it odd that this broadcast is competing against Sesame Street.

: Ha ha ha ha! The first commercial during the first commericial break is for e-Harmony. Yup, 'cause Regan and Pazuzu were meant for each other.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

LtW Poll: Creepy or Not?

Creepy or Not?

I'm introducing a polling feature here at LtW for the three of you who read this regularly. Ready? Here we go:

Is it creepy to give someone sexy lingerie at a bridal shower?
Yes -- it's always creepy. Aunt Garnet doesn't need to see that!
Yes, if a family member gives it to you. Mom shouldn't think of you that way.
Yes, if a friend gives it to you. Is she trying to give you away the groom?
Nope, it's never creepy.

View Results

Create your own myspace poll

Monday, August 13, 2007

Huggy People Think They Are Soooooo Superior

I had lunch with a couple of girlfriends yesterday, and one of them mentioned that her sister-in-law was visiting. Women love, love, LOVE, to dissect the differences between their in-laws' and their blood relatives' modus operandi, and my friend was no exception. Bursting with confidence, she said of her husband and his sister, "They didn't hug each other when they said goodnight. Isn't that weird? In my family, we always hugged each other good night."

I expected the other ladies at the table testify in unison with me, "Uh, no. It's weird to hug people good night EVERY night. Especially adults."

Yeah, that's what I expected. Turns out I'm in the minority here. Ooh, the supercilious stares I got as I shared that I am, in fact, fatigued with the amount of hugging I am expected to do. Listen, I hug my children all the time. And my husband and I lean on each other after all the evening chores have been completed. Sometimes it's the only way we can stay standing after a long workday.

I hug family and friends that I haven't seen for a long time. But I see my immediate family all the freakin' time. Do I have to hug them on each occasion? There's like, twenty-three of us. I'd spend the whole visit embracing people. And my husband's college roomates...they are nice guys, and their wives are lovely women, but do I have to hug all of them hello and goodbye when we go to see a movie and spend all of two minutes chatting? I don't cringe when they're about to lay one on me or anything. I reciprocate. But I don't initiate.

Where do you draw the hug line? How do you discern when and where and whom to hug? Is it everyone? Or just everyone to whom you'd, say, send a Christmas card? Hugs are tender, reserved for those whom you'd like to comfort or boost for a moment. Should you lay one on your college roomate's new brother-in-law in her receiving line? I mean, are handshakes so crazy formal that they've become obsolete?

While lingering on the hug topic, one of my other girlfriends shared that her stepmother once said something like, "We don't hug each other often in my family, but that doesn't mean that we love each other any less." And, God love my friend, there was some snide riding on her voice when she said this. Meanwhile, I'm mentally high-fiving my friend's stepmother, thinking, "Yeah! Exactly! I love my siblings to pieces, but yeesh, there's a lot of us. I don't need to press the flesh to show them that I love them."

Ultimately, I sounded like a total cold fish when I declared that I am not a hug whore. Don't get me wrong. Hugs are nice. They really are. But people who dole them out like smiles just don't get non-huggy types like me. I've even heard an accusation or two about being an unfeeling robot. So after my initial, "Hey, I don't hug a lot," I kept a lid on it.

Man, it was like that time at the office when I hinted that we celebrated too many things in the office with cake. THAT did not go over well either.