Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Haven't Fled the Country, I'm Just Busy

It's lovely when my office assigns me a huge new project. On December 15th. And I need to have my head wrapped around the details by January 5th. And the building is closed between Christmas and New Year's. Yep. LOVELY.

Besides that, nothin' much goin' on around the compound. Wrapping gifts, slapping paint on the walls, marvelling at the inadequacies of some of my DIY projects, especially when they are in direct contact with jobs professionals have done (I'm lookin' at you, brand-spankin' new kitchen window). Random other holiday projects have taken center stage, like erecting a tree that Super Ninja thought wasn't big enough but skims the top of our living room ceiling. Honestly, I think he would have been happy if we had to lop off the top third of it, and then stick that in a Christmas tree stand in the Girl's room since it's directly above the tree spot in the living room.

In-laws arrive today. Some of my co-workers have offered mis-placed sympathy because my in-laws will be here for almost a week. But honestly, they do so much for us while they are here. I might just be interpreting their behavior in a way that benefits me, but I think they are only happy if they are contributing in some fashion. Well...my father-in-law would be content to read an historical tome while ESPN plays in the background, but he is always more than willing to make lunches, wake up with kids, or run to the grocery store.

Tomorrow evening will be spent with my family, and we will festively dine on cheesesteaks. I didn't want to ask my Mom to whip up a holiday meal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when most of her other children will likely visit. Besides, I kind of really like cheesesteaks.

After that, the week will be spent back-and-forthing among various familial outings. And enacting the countdown to my children's heads exploding from all of the sugar, toys, and people.

'Til then, my compadres, have a lovely holiday season.

P.S.: If you are the parent of a child who is friends with my children -- and at this age, "friend" seems to mean they know each other's names -- PLEASE don't buy my children Christmas gifts. I haven't purchased gifts for your children. And even though, as adults, we give to each other because we want to do so and do not expect a return gift, IT DOES NOT WORK THIS WAY WITH KIDS. If they see a brightly wrapped package going to one of their daycare friends, and they do not get one in return... Well, cue tears. So let's save each other the hassle, shall we?

P.P.S.: Once again, the Boy has requested a toy that IS NOT MANUFACTURED. So Super Ninja and I have craftily obtained something similar. I know that sounds terrible, like we're trying to give him a GoBot when he really wanted a Transformer. But the thing that he wants exists only in his imagination, so we are not giving him a subpar version of something cool. I'll explain later. He's learning how to read, and I'm sure he'll stumble upon this blog and he will have magically obtained complete literacy, and Christmas would just be ruined.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Big Girl Beds

The Girl embraces change. The Boy kind of needs to be talked into some things. But the Girl? Not so much. Take this past weekend, for example...

Super Ninja and I have been dithering over her sleeping arrangements. We moved the Boy into his toddler bed when he turned two, mostly because we knew we were going to need the crib for the Girl and we didn't want him to feel like we booted him out of his comfy crib in favor of the new baby. Which, in fact, is what we were doing. But he loved his toddler bed, and we loved that we didn't have to sweat the consequences if he tumbled out of it.

Anyway, most books and other other parents will advise that you leave a kid in a crib as long as she isn't make any attempts at a prison break. The Girl is quite content to sit and snooze. I've never even seen her stand up in the crib, so there's no pressing need to move her into a regular bed. At least not from our perspective.

On Saturday afternoon, though, she said she was tired. A few minutes later, she was nowhere to be found. She's too little to open heavy doors, though, so we knew she was probably upstairs. Super Ninja crept into her bedroom (he is after all, a ninja) and found that she'd grabbed her stuffed dog, crawled into the guest bed that eats up a corner of her room, pulled up the covers, and drifted off to sleep.

Guess she made the decision to move to the big bed on her own.

A footnote to the story: that night, when I was putting her to bed, I told her that now that she was sleeping in a big girl bed, she was becoming a big girl, and would need to think about giving up her pacifier. She informed me, "I not a big girl. I little tiny." Which leads me to believe we're going to have as much fun breaking her of this habit as we did with the Boy.

Some things are the same from child to child, eh?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Think We'll Qualify as a Fleet Soon

Oh yes, we bought another quasi-mini-van. Super Ninja's beloved Windex-blue 1998 Chevy Cavalier served us well. At 115,000 miles, I don't know that we could have asked for more from it. But when we got to the point where we were carrying a battery charger around with us and crossed our fingers every time we started the car, we decided to cut it's life support, and trade it in.

The two qualities we were looking for in a car? Six seats and a really, really good price tag. I know, I know, we're picky. But do you know how many new cars meet that description? Two that I could find. The Mazda 5 (that little beauty pictured above), and the Kia Rondo. The Mazda 5's a little eensy, weensy bit more stylish. But the Kia Rondo lost because when I was getting married, the music director of the chapel made a tape of the most commonly used wedding pieces. The first song on that tape was "Rondo," but Mr. Music had an incredibly thick Baltimorean accent, so it came out more like "Rawndeaux." While that might be an awesome paladin's name in a fantasy novel, I just could not spend the next five to ten years hearing people call my car that.

So, yeah, we bought a new car. The kids like it too, which is a big plus. Especially the Boy, since he's been kind of sensitive about changes like this. As soon as I said it was blue like the Jaguar Power Ranger, though, he was on board.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

And I don't mean this guy.*

Last week, the Girl turned two. I didn't write about it, because I am inspired to write only when there's an opportunity for sarcasm or it's cousin, snark. But the Girl is sweetness and light. I mean, really. When she has a tantrum, she kind of whines and mopes over to the stairs, and lays down on the bottom step. The Boy also employed this civil disobedience-style tantrum, but he would do it right in the middle of the floor, or sidewalk, or whatever. She tucks herself away in a corner. Can I complain about that? Not really.

What else would I write about? That she's turned our lullaby routine into a duet, but prefers to sing either in a growl or a a squeal because she knows it makes me laugh? Or that she gives kisses on the cheek? Or when she sees me says, "Mommy! Yay!" Seriously, do you want to throw up now or what?

But, there is some aftermath from the perfectly lovely birthday party that I need to describe.

The Girl is waaaaaaaaay into Disney Princesses right now. Some women won't let their kids within 100 yards of all the princess stuff. Me? I don't intend to raise the child to think that a magical person, talking animal, or a rich doof will rescue her from day-to-day life. Rather, I want to raise both of my kids to understand that a life partner is someone who makes the day-to-day stuff seem magical. And I don't think some dolls and movies are going to undermine that.

ANYWAY, I bought a truly enormous Mylar Disney Princess balloon for the Girl. She loves it, the boy loves it, everybody loves it. But I don't think it loves me. In fact, I think it has it in for me. It's following me around the house. You could say that it's haunting me. It is gently swaying about four feet away from me right now. It started out upstairs. How did it get down here? Malice. Oh, fine, it might be the air current from my fancy schmancy central air. But if I don't post again, you can rest assured that it is the demon balloon that did me in.

*Oh, God, Super Ninja. What have you done to me? I can't reference things like a normal person. I DON'T KNOW WHAT CONSTITUTES COMMON KNOWLEDGE ANYMORE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To the Kids Who Knocked on My Door Last Friday

(Or: What I Wished I'd Said Instead of Politely Thanking Them and Closing the Door While They Were in Middle of Asking Me Why I Am a Roman Catholic)

I'm a Roman Catholic because it's the faith of my forebears, and I figure that if I identify as Christian, I might as well go with the one that one that started the party. I know there's this perception that Catholics are wacko because of all of the superstition and ritual, but I don't think it's more weird and witchy than the religious organization to which you belong. Besides, we all need a little magic in our lives, right? In fact, I kind of dig that during each service some serious mojo is supposed to go down. Which may or may not make me a divine cannibal. I haven't quite worked that one through yet...

But I digress.

There are flaws, yes. That's because religion is crafted by very fallible human hands. But among the Christian religions, can we say that one approach makes infinitely more sense than the other? Not really. Because the inciting action for Christianity -- divinity encased in human flesh, born of a virgin, and resurrection -- well it's a lot to swallow. You could say that I have my doubts.

But you're not only concerned with what I believe. You want me to practice it in a certain way, right? Really? Does an omnibenevolent God care if I believe in golden plates? Is THAT what's going to keep me out of Heaven, if it exists? Jeez, it's like saying that even though my answer to #3 on the math quiz is correct, I didn't do the work the right way, so I failed. Is that what you are? My 8th grade algebra teacher?

Mostly, though (and this is for the Church organizers): I don't think it's the wisest thing to send 19-year-old caucasian American boys around the world to spread the word. Send me people who have been THROUGH something, or at least people who appear to have been through something more serious than acne. Do that, and I might be more compelled to listen.

So, That Happened

I don't have an election hangover, because I didn't have election fatigue. I might have kind of a real hangover, because I whooped it up last night with two drinks instead of my usual one. But that didn't really have anything to do with the election, either.

The most meaningful thing that I realized during this past election cycle? I am NOT a joiner, almost pathologically so. When I hear someone opining, my natural tendency, EVEN IF I AGREE, is to look for the flaw in the argument, to try to see the other side. What is that? Why can't I just throw my support behind someone or something without feeling like I'm drinking the Kool-Aid*?

Could be a lot of things... Maybe it's vestigial high school anti-cliquishness. Maybe I don't want to appear foolish if it turns out that I'm wrong. Maybe I really, really dislike those clips of Dick Cheney very seriously stating one thing, and then 18 months later, stating the exact opposite thing, but with the same gravitas**. Maybe lack it's a lack of confidence in my reasoning skills. Or maybe it's because I grew up in a household of people with wildly differing opinions, people for whom I have a lotta respect, so I don't want to dismiss a different point of view casually.

Whatever the reason, I'm left feeling all kinds of wishy-washy, which is just not a sexy look. Still, though, I make decisions, cast my ballot and hope, really hope, that they were the right ones. I hope, but I don't know, and that's what so hard.***

*Apologies for the overused, icky allusion.
**'Gravitas' should be used as much as possible in casual conversation.
***It could also be that for the first time in my voting life, the person for whom I cast my ballot in a presidential election actually won, and I don't know how to deal with that.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Me? I don't go over-the-top with Halloween. I like the subtle costumes. A tiny trickle of blood from the corner of the mouth, or cat-eye contact lenses, or, like this morning, vampire teeth:

I heard Super Ninja getting the kids dressed, so I popped the teeth in, leapt into the Girl's room, and growled, "Happy Halloween!"

Super Ninja, with his cat-like senses and reflexes, jumped about a foot in the air. Both kids were not really bothered. After a few seconds, though, the Girl said, "Take a out!" Translated into English, that means, "Take those funky things out of your mouth, you freakin' weirdo!"

The Boy just wanted to try out the teeth, which I obliged.

So, on the schedule for this evening is: pizza, costumes, four minutes of trick-or-treating because my kids are lame and have no stamina for the candy-begging, distributing treats to kids who look like they drove themselves to my neighborhood, and another showing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! Or Cinderella, depending on who wins the cage match we intend to set up between the Boy and the Girl. Hey, as long as there's a pumpkin in it, I'm happy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Take that, Malibu Barbie.

A validating conversation was held amongst my family on the way to daycare drop-off yesterday. I was not in the car at the time. Super Ninja, a man among men, does the daycare drop-off and pick-up because he works closest to home. He relayed the following exchange to me:

"Dad?" said the Boy.

"Yes buddy?"

"I love...Mommy."

(melting...I'm melting...)

"I love Mommy too, Boy."

"I love Mommy...too?" said the Girl.

"Yes, Girl, we all love Mommy."

"Mommy is...bootiful."

(oh my God I'm infused with warmth I thought was only possible through shots of whisky...)

I'm thrilled that my almost-two-year-old girl thinks that I'm beautiful, even though she has no idea what that means. Considering her main frame of reference is the Disney Princess collective and some stacked superheroines, I have stiff competition.

The truth is, I experienced a moment of terror soon after she was born. Well, I guess there are many moments of terror with a newborn. But this one was different from any that I had with my son. See, I realized that I was going to be the standard of, well, not beauty necessarily, but maintaining one's self for my daughter.

Kids look to their parents for examples and standards, right? Boys usually look to their fathers, and girls to their mothers. This is why I henpeck Super Ninja to go to doctors and dentists. I'm a big believer in leading through example -- you can tell kids it's important to brush their teeth, but until they see you brushing, flossing, and going to the dentist, they might write it off as another one of those things that you're telling them they must do when it's really just optional.

And I also believe that the way you take care of something is an outward sign of how much you value it. When you drive by a house that has junk in the yard and grass that is outrageously overgrown, you don't think that the people who live there cherish their address, do you? So, if you're wearing stained and ripped clothing, you're kind of telling the world that you just don't care. Which, come to think of it, may be the point. I'm looking at you, Punk era.

It's such a tricky line. I want to instill in both of them that they need to take care of themselves, and that the world does judge them by how they present themselves. But how do you reconcile that idea with the reality that they should, in turn, only judge people by the content of their characters and not whether or not they have 10 pairs of Guess? jeans and a different Forenza sweatshirt for every day of the week*.

Not sure where I was really going with this. Maybe I'm just glad that my daughter notices, at her tender age, that I make an effort? Then again, I think Jabba the Hutt, Jr., probably that that Gardulla was the cat's pajamas, so p'raps I should not read that much into this....

*Sorry. Bitter moment from 1987.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Look at Me, I'm a Relationship Expert

By far, the most popular post on this blog is this: Questions a Man Should Never Ask a Woman. People from far and wide, like Kuala Lempur and Ontario, have Googled permutations of this thought... "Questions to ask a woman," "questions guys should ask women," "questions to never ask a woman."

If you Google a phrase like that, my itty bitty post will be somewhere in the top 10 results. How'd I get to be so popular? Algorithms, baby. Google works like this: the more often a link is picked from among search results, the higher up it will go in the presentation of the search results. So, in essence, if someone clicks on a link, Google ranks it higher whether or not the info it contains actually satisfied the searcher's needs. Kind of like some of the talking heads on TV -- they've been on TV as an expert, ergo, they are experts whether or not they make sense.

I'm looking at you, E!, and all of your hair, makeup, and fashion "experts."

What? You thought I meant political pundits?

Here's the dirty little secret: I met my husband when we were 18, we started dating when we were 20, and we got married at 24. I dated eight guys (two seriously) before Super Ninja and I became an item. Oh, and that phrase "dated" is being used REALLY liberally. Like, "We held hands in the cafeteria in middle school and went to the Fall dance together" kind of liberally.

So, Google, what on God's green Earth do I know about relationships? Maybe I can recognize a jerk straightaway, courtesy of some of the characteristics of the Great Eight (who shall henceforth be known as the G8).

Oh well. Maybe I'll write a couple of other Top 10 Questions lists to see how many more innocent Googlers I can lure here to read my sham relationship posts.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blogging and the Economy

So, I'm thinking that the economy is having an impact on the economy. Why? Because there are a handful of blogs that I pop to on a weekly basis, and they haven't been updated in ages. I can only assume that the writers have better things to do, like working second jobs to keep their kids in shoes or something.

I know I'm not a daily poster or anything like that, but we're talking weeks and months between postings. Maybe the blogs have just run their natural course. I wonder what the life span is on a blog? Or maybe I'm the Ted McGinley of blog readers? Seriously, some of these blogs were downright prolific until I became a regular reader. Then, a month or two later, nary an update.

Watch out, blogosphere! The Blog Reaper is looking for some new sites to add to her roster!

Friday, October 17, 2008

God Is the Tree, I Am the Bra

That was what I wrote on my 2nd grade art project. No, I was not a pervert. The theme was supposed to be "God is the tree, I am the branch." To this day, I'm not sure why I couldn't scribble down the "nch" before hustling away from St. Dominic's with my poster tucked under my arm. Anyway, when my oldest sister's best friend saw the poster, she collapsed into a pile of giggles, making me feel AWESOME.

Thus began my storied history with supportive undergarments.

You may want to skip the rest of this post unless you want to get to know me infinitely more intimately than you did before. You've been warned. I apologize, but I'm still a little stunned by how I spent my lunch hour.

Today, I spent a small fortune on bras. Not those frilly, decorative things that tweeners wear once adolescence strikes. Oh no, I had to buy feats of engineering. I've been meaning to do this forever, but pregnancy, nursing, and weight loss have made my size fluctuate a bunch. And these bras? They are expensive, yo. Like, $80 a pop. They aren't La Perla, not by a longshot, but I'm chalking up the more-than-I'd-spend-at-Target price to the cost of the space age material they must contain.

Anyway, this was just one of those things that I've been meaning to deal with forever. And, it has to be said, I can be a bit shy. A paradigm shift occurred in my thinking, though, and being semi-nude in a fitting room with a complete stranger named Yolanda seemed better than running around with a profile that reminded me more of Jabba the Hutt than it did slave-girl Leia. Those of you who are partnered up with nerds know that slave-girl Leia is the end-all be-all for your paramour. Well, either Leia or the Baroness. She also has a killer hourglass figure, though I suspect she got more support out of her uniform than Leia did from the metal bikini.

I digress.

I hoofed it to Nordstrom because it's the only brick-and-mortar store nearby that has knowledgable saleswomen AND stocks bras for the bigger girl. I'm not using "bigger" as a euphemism for obese. My ribcage is average. It's the, ahem, cup region that is problematic. How problematic? You won't find my cup size on a report card.

Just so your in the know, when you're being fitted for a bra, there are two measurements: the one around the ribcage for the band size, and the one around the whole enchilada (enchiladas?). Subtract the band from the enchiladas, and you get cup size. My second measurement was NINE INCHES more than the first one. NINE INCHES.

This is why I learned algebra. Solve for X and you get a GIGANTIC RACK.

I knew I was bigger than average. But jeez, not "You can NEVER buy lingerie from Victoria's Secret" bigger. Many props to Yolanda, though -- it took us about 30 bras before we found 3 that worked. She earned that commission.

Glad I got all of that off my chest. HA!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What Up, Ya'll?

I've been in communicado lately, as I'm sure you (maybe?) noticed. Partly because of the crater in my head, partly due to home improvement work. Both projects have resulted in scars of one sort or another, but mostly prevented me from being able to think coherently.

Oh, by "crater in my head," I mean the aftermath of an ill-fated root canal/crown combo. The crowns (yes, there were two attempts) wouldn't stay put, which means I'll eventually need to get a tooth implant. I didn't think I'd need fake parts until much later in life. Sigh.

I can only imagine what the oral surgeon had to do to scrape my head clean of toothy bits left behind by the root canal, but my jaw is STILL sore. This little procedure took place 10 days ago. Mix in with that the guilt that I feel about taking pain medication, and I'm sure I have been a joy to live with during my recovery period. Why am I guilty about pain medication? There's a wee history of addiction in my family. I've never been one of those afflicted, but every time I take a prescription pain killer, I wonder if somehow this will be the gateway pill to "Intervention." It's kind of irrational, I know, but it's still there. As Super Ninja points out, though, I'm 33 years old and the likelihood that I'm going to jump on the addiction bandwagon at this point in my life is slight.

As for the other craters in my life... Faithful readers of LtW will know that I've been yearning to do some home improvement forever, and little problems like ignorance and lack of funding have proved to be impediments. I hate admitting I don't know something or can't figure it out, and I hate spending money that I don't have. I'm growing as a person, though, and sucked it up and asked for help from my neighbor. He's a general contractor, so he's stuffed with knowledge about things like replacing toilets. I never thought I would be excited by knowing how to replace a toilet, or marvelling at the efficiency of low-flow technology, but there it is. Also, Super Ninja got bit of a bonus from work, so we had some money to invest in the improvements.

The end result of this new knowledge and little lump of cash are some half-done projects. My powder room has a new vanity, but the taps aren't connected to the water supply because I didn't realize that the new sink sat higher than the old one (oops). My basement has new flush mount light fixtures, but because of random extra wires, one of them doesn't light up.* (Black connects to black, white connects to white, but red connects to...what does red connect to? THERE IS NO RED WIRE ON THE FIXTURE.) Also, I ripped out all of the baseboards so that I could replace the godawful flooring on my first floor. (I mean, really. WHO installs faux pine laminate next to real oak hardwood floors, and installs it so that the grain runs perpendicular to each other? A jerk, that's who.)

Once I have some after pictures, I will post them for your entertainment.

Why do all of this work? Well, Super Ninja and I intend to move next year. Intended, 'til the economy took a header.

Given the way housing prices skyrocketed after we'd bought the place in 2004, I wasn't really bothered about investing in home improvement because I knew I'd still make a decent profit. I knew work needed to be done, though, because the home inspector said that the house "has good bones." This is code for, "the structure is solid, but yeesh, it's outdated. And in some places, very ugly." At that time we did some basic stuff to beautify a bit -- painted, installed new carpet, replaced some windows -- but nothing major.

Why bother, I thought? If you bought the house for X, and houses in your neighborhood are selling for X + $115,000, you can take the hit if someone talks you down to say, X + $100,000 when you sell the place, right? And even houses that need improvement sell within 90 days, right?

Not so much any more. Either the selling price, or the speed in which the houses sell. UNLESS you have a house that a buyer can look at and say, "Sweet, I don't have to do anything to it." I'm not expecting to sell the joint for the song that I once could have. Mostly, though, I don't want to be in selling limbo. If someone wants to hurl wads of money at me, that'll be fine, but I'm not planning on it. Besides, if the place doesn't sell, or would only sell at a sincerely lower price than what we'd need, we can stay put and enjoy all of the lovely improvements. Win-win, no?

*I know how to fix this now, courtesy of the internets. Thanks internets!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Guess Who's Heading Back to the Dentist's Chair?

Or, should I say, guess who's heading back to the maxillofacial surgeon's chair, then back again after about six weeks, and THEN goes to the dentist's chair?

This guuuuuy! (Waggles thumbs at chest.)

Yeah, baby. My two-time-crown loser, Tooth #30*, is just a wee decayed nub at this point. Think Shane McGowan. Better yet, don't. I'm not that bad. But I do have to have the carcass of this root-canaled mess yanked out of my face. From what they tell me, the jaw bone needs to grow in where the tooth's root used to be, then they implant a post, and stick a fake tooth on top of that. Sounds delightful, no?

I go in on Friday for the extraction. Good way to start the weekend, I think. Or, it'll at least be a good way to start the debates, especially if I'm looped on painkillers.

*Did anyone else think of that joke, Question: What time is the best time to go the dentist? Answer: Two-thirty. Tooth-hurty, get it? No? Just me? Man, it's always just me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Was Only a B+ Student in Math, But I'm Pretty Sure that...

Criticizing a woman's politics ≠ sexism.
Criticizing an African-American's politics ≠ racism.
Criticizing a septaugenarian's politics ≠ ageism.
Criticizing a Delawarian's politicsDelawarianism.

Okay, that last one is a stretch. But the others are true. You can legitimately call someone into question without it being all about their composite parts. Kind of like the political version of synechdoche. Maybe. Look, I'm on my second glass of white wine, so even thought I think the use of a five-dollar lit class word is apt, my judgment could be clouded by a sweet riesling with pear notes. Whatever. But I hope you get the point: I can call someone's politics into question without it being about their DNA. Or the age of it. To assume otherwise is an ism in itself. To quote Ferris Bueller, "A person should not believe in an ism, he should just believe in himself."

Ugh. I just remembered that one of Super Ninja's co-workers didn't know who or what Ferris Bueller was. Now THAT is depressing.

P.S.: I just saw the opening sketch of Saturday Night Live. I have a mad girl crush on Tina Fey. THERE. I said it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Thing I'm Not So Fond Of?

The fact that every chick who chooses to wear glasses, has brunette-ish hair, and kind of a snappy personal style will now be compared to Sarah Palin. I'm not saying I'm Tina Fey or anything, but let's just say all I'd need is a jumbo hair clip and a strand of pearls, and I've got my Halloween costume all set...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Hate People

Not really, but I'm in a hotel room in Mississippi with CNN on in the background, and they're doing a feature on Sarah Palin's glasses.

Yep. Not Sarah Palin. But Sarah Palin's glassess.


Here's why I hate people:

1) CNN is covering the appeal someone's glasses. Unless these glasses saved someone's life, they are not newsworthy. We're not hearing about Biden's ties, are we?

2) Her style of glasses are selling at quadruple the rate they were before Sarah Palin was nominated for Veep. This means women around the country saw the glasses and decided owning them would make them powerful, intelligent women (who also, once upon a time, were beauty queens). Why do I think this is what these women are thinking? Because Peggy Hill has the same glasses, and there wasn't a stampede for Kawasakis when "King of the Hill" premiered eleventy years ago.

3) I watched the segment on Sarah Palin's glasses, so I have to hate me now, too. Thanks a lot, CNN. Thanks a lot.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Things (Like Me) Fall Apart

No, this is not an homage to Chinua Achebe. I need to check my horoscope from yesterday because things, literally, fell apart. And no, this isn't a metaphorical falling apart, so please don't fret that my marriage is in trouble.

I was home with the kiddies yesterday because daycare was closed. We had a lovely time frolicking at the indoor playground at the mall. Don't wince -- I'm not exposing my children to wanton consumerism, well, wantonly. The Boy and the Girl must sound like a dinner bell to mosquitoes of the world, because every time we play outside during balmy months they come home with at least three new bug bites. Have you ever told a four-year-old to stop scratching? Doesn't work.

But here's what happened... Sunday evening, I developed a bit of a headache. Monday morning, the headache turned into a throbbing lower jaw. Tuesday morning, it turned into a blind headache. Canny health expert that I am, I deduced that I had an abscess. My crown, which was the subject of several posts in 2006, fell out a few months ago. A visit to my dentis revealed that the remaining tooth was too nubby for another crown, and that, in fact, I now need an implant in yon gap. And that walking around with a crater in your gum exposes you to awesome possibilities, like abscesses. I'm on antibiotics to kill the infection in the root of the nub. Thus starts the arduous process of glamming up my smile again.

So, what else fell apart? At one point the Girl needed a diaper change, so I trailed her upstairs. I noticed the carpet on the pie-shaped step at the top of the flight seemed to have shifted a bit. Oh, it had. It shifted right off of the tack board. I didn't want the Girl, or the Boy, or any of us to step on that wicked looking thing, so I poked the carpet back down on top of it. Yeah, except I poked my index finger as well. Huzzah.

Next, as I was scrubbing down the grill (it was a bit yicky from our tiny cookout on Sunday), I looked over the deck railing and noticed that wildlife had foraged in my garbage can. Somehow, it (or they?) knocked over the can and got the lid off -- the lid that snaps on and is theoretically locked by the handles. So, cleaning that up was fun.

When I returned to the house, I needed to wash my hands and slap a bandage on the tack board puncture on my finger. So, I scrubbed at the kitchen sink and then reached underneath for my First Aid kit. But I encountered a puddle of water. Huh? I cleared out the rest of the junk under there (bug spray, cleansers, etc.), and found a quarter-inch deep puddle. When I ran the water in the sink, I saw where the hole was coming from: a pea-sized gash in the garbage disposal. I pondered what could have caused that hole -- a fork? a sturdy green bean? a tack board? -- but realized I didn't care, and that I need a sink that doesn't flood. Three hours later, Mr. Plumber replaced the garbage disposal for a tidy sum, but it was money well spent.

Clearly, this is the biggest sign EVER that I should not be a stay-at-home mother, because my house would collapse if I were home with the kids for more than the weekends and an odd day here and there.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that I also managed to ping off one of the plastic nosepads from my glasses last night. You do not appreciate just how necessary those things are until you have some metal gouging a crater into the bridge of your nose. Thankfully, I had adhesive goo I could use to mend my specs 'til I can find time to get to the optometrist. Likely, though, I will just continue to reapply the goo 'til I go for an exam and new glasses.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Look at Me, I'm Raggedy Ann

While on vacation, my daughter was watching a Baby Einstein video. If you haven't been treated to one of these, let me explain what they are... Basically, someone found a lot of cute and colorful toys, and filmed them doing whatever it is they do. Rolling, hopping, sitting still. I firmly believe that they are actually watched more by kids who are stoned than kids who are teething, but I digress.

Anyway, one of the toys featured on this particular video was a Raggedy Ann doll. When Raggedy Ann's visage popped up on screen, The Girl yelled, "Mommy!" At first I thought she was simply drawing my attention to it, but then I realized that she thinks that I LOOK LIKE RAGGEDY ANN.

This is not the toy that most women would like to resemble. Barbie, Jem, maybe a Bratz doll if you're a hooker... But not Raggedy Freakin' Ann. I mean, look:

I shared my ire with the husband of one of my college roommates, and he looked at the image, then at me, then at the image, then at me, and said, "Well..."

I stopped him right there. Look, I KNOW that I look like R.A. I know it. I don't wear an apron or candy cane stockings, but I have a big moon face and a halo of hair that looks reddish at times. I KNOW THIS. But man, you don't want anyone to TELL you this.

My only consolation in this is that Super Ninja owned and loved a Raggedy Ann doll when he was little. So maybe, at an early age, he already knew his type. Don't know what that says about him, but it kinda makes me feel better about the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


You know what? You don't get to request your ex-wife as a Friend on Facebook. Maybe if you're Bruce Willis you do. But not you.

Do you see, people? Do you see why we need to have more than just a "friend" designation on Facebook? For your consideration:

1) Friend
2) Acquaintance
3) Work colleague
4) Met you one time, and I didn't like you then
5) No, no, a thousand times no

PS: I realize that this makes it sound like I have an ex-husband stashed somewhere in my past. I'm just incensed on behalf of a friend. A real friend, not one of those fictional friends that is really a cover for your own wackness.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I'm Going to Bet Ed Robertson Still Doesn't Like Heights So Much

Often when the kids are in the car we'll listen to KidStuff on Sirius. Occasionally I'll flip over to the First Wave, and I'm delighted to report that the Boy really likes the Pretenders.

Anyway, I tell you this to explain why I am overly familiar with the Barenaked Ladies' kids' album, Snacktime. There's a song, "I Don't Like," for which Ed Robertson sings lead vocals. One of the lines of the song is "I don't like heights so much."

So, yeah, if you don't like heights so much, private planes are likely not the best idea.

While I"m at it: it's tough to tell your four-year-old the name of the band he's enjoying when the name of the band is "Barenaked Ladies."

Also while I"m at it: how do you think career children's performers feel about the novelty-ish children's albums released by successful pop groups? I kind of get the sense that members of these groups have children who have reached a certain age and would like to start schooling them on the awesomeness of music. But, they don't want to regale them with tunes about sex and drugs, so they turn to children's music. And they are dissatisfied and think, "Well, I could do better than that." Et voila: children's CDs by Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, Belle and Sebastian, etc.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sharks and the Jets, Man. Sharks and the Jets.

After my jaunt to 7-11 to pick up an energy drink (since I am a rock star, I need to drink RockStar), I spied trouble brewing. Imagine a street corner as a capital L. On the long side of the L, a Shred-It truck. On the short side of the L, an Iron Mountain truck. I skedaddled before they could duke it out over what was the more appropriate way to clear stacks of paper from office archives.

Really? Me?

So, I just got a notification that someone I knew in middle and high school has moved me into a Top Friend spot on his Facebook profile. This fella is a nice guy and everything, but do you know how many conversations we've had since that sunny day in 1993 when we collected our diplomas? One. And that was at our five-year reunion. Other than that, I recall getting one kind of bigoted e-mail joke from him (sent through a listserv), and we've had two lovely exchanges on Facebook. (I'm sincere about the 'lovely' -- he's changed a bit since the Listserv E-mail Incident.)

How does this make me a Top Friend? HOW? Are my missives so outrageously witty that I have soared past all other friends? And it's not like there are only 4 friends on his profile or anything. He appears to have found Jesus recently, though, and I think I might give off a churchie vibe. Maybe that has something to do with it?

I know this isn't a Real Problem or anything. Just struck me as odd, is all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Things You Don't Want to Hear While Waiting for Your Breakfast at the Bagel Shop

Customer, who happens to be a friend of the Food Handler: "I have a friend who's a plastic surgeon, and he said that if the bleeding lasts long than 10 minutes while applying pressure, you need stitches."

Food Handler: "Well, it's been bleeding since 7:00 a.m."

Food Handler was wearing latex gloves and had a bandage over the wound, but still. Yeesh.

It should be noted that I still ate my breakfast sandwich.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Me and the Exercise, We Are Not as One

Not to sound all chick-lit-protagonisty or anything like that, but I could stand to shed a few pounds. Once upon a time, my OB/GYN told me I could stand to lose fifty. I was not pregnant at the time, so I told her that unless she was going to perform some kind of Civil War amputation right there and then in her office, I wouldn't be losing fifty pounds.

I have lost a little flab recently. My co-worker and I have been hoofing around Towson now that it's more walkable*, and I've noticed some changes. Like sore legs. Seriously, though, if nothing else I'm getting out of the flourescent cube of doom (a.k.a, the office).

But I recognize that living a sedentary lifestyle is really not going to allow me to cash in on that sweet 403B plan I've got going on. But man alive, do I hate gyms. And aerobics. And basement exercise. I have attempted all three, and let's just say that things did not go smoothly.

Brilliant lass that I am, I deduced that these exercise shenanigans need to involve something I like doing that won't make me feel like an uncoordinated fool. Oh my God, if I even tried Tae Bo I'd put an eye out. And that, Gentle Reader, is why Super Ninja gave me a shiny new bike for my 33rd birthday (Yeah, I know my profile says I'm 31. See how lazy I am? DO YOU SEE?)

My ride is not pimped. I'm pretty sure Lance Armstrong would pee himself from laughing at me on my Schwinn 26" Comfort Ride. Doesn't matter. After I climbed onto that thing yesterday, I biked, Goonies-style, all over my neighborhood. In all, it was only about 2 miles, but it felt so good to have the wind whipping against my face and arms. Much better than getting the hairy eyeball from someone because I'd been on the stationary bike for too long.

The only thing left to do is to buy one of those little hitches so I can drag (literally) the Boy and the Girl with me on my whirligigs around Laurel. And perhaps some little helmets...

*I think this means that the drivers are now aware that they probably shouldn't run you over while using the crosswalks at the traffic circle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday to the Boy!

The Boy is four years old today, and in honor of that momentous occasion, I offer a snapshot of who he is at this point in time. I will treasure this when he's thirteen.

Okay, so the Boy is pretty much everything I could hope for in a child. Not that there were high expectations or anything like that. Oh, who am I kidding? Of course there are high expectations. But not in a "you should be a media mogul by now" kind of way. No, my expectations for my kids are that they become self-supporting, productive members of society. And that they are nice to me and their father. And that they stand up for themselves when the occasion calls for it. Everything else is pretty much gravy, right?

Anyway, the Boy is the best. To wit:
  • He's friendly, to the extent that he will share his most prized possessions, his vintage 1970's superhero action figures, with children he's only just met. He'll try to get them back a couple of minutes later, but the point is that he doesn't horde them and cry when a kid expresses an interest in his treasure trove.
  • He's really sweet to his sister. The Girl is cutting a shark's mouthful of teeth right now, and consequently she is not her typical bubble of sunshine. The Boy's reaction? He's been doing his level best to make her laugh. Yesterday (or yestermorn, as the Boy would say), Super Ninja took the kids to the grocery store. The Girl was howling because he wouldn't let her hold the eggs. To lighten up the situation, the Boy would touch things in the store that were cold (freezer doors, milk, etc.), and say, "Yee-owch! That's hot!" Then he'd proceed to waggle his arms and hop around in mock pain, like he was on a vaudeville stage or something. Apparently, the Girl was laughing so hard her giggles could have been mistaken for Jabba the Hutt's.
  • He's creative AND independent. The whole way back from Connecticut this weekend (for a visit with Super Ninja's best friend from his Stand By Me-ish years), the Boy told himself stories featuring his superheroes. He needed no input from me (who usually is assigned the role of Catwoman) or from Super Ninja (who is typically Batman or the Joker).
  • He's considerate. When Super Ninja sighed in the car on the way home from Connecticut (it got to be kind of a long trip with a whiny toddler yelling at us from the back seat), the Boy asked, "Dad, are you getting a headache?"
  • He gets excited by costumes. Like, last night, he saw a Peter Pan costume in his closet and insisted on wearing it and sleeping in it. I heard him come out of his room this morning at about 5:45 a.m., and I hustled to meet him (he has a tendency to wander into the Girl's room and climb into her crib with her, which wakes her up, and the grumpiness goes from zero to sixty in about 2 seconds). He wasn't in his room, and he wasn't in her room when I peeked in. Where was he? Sitting on the steps, resplendent in his Peter Pan attire, and with his feathered cap askew. Is there any better way to start your 4th birthday?
  • He's cautious. This is one of those personality traits that I can help him work through. Caution isn't inherently a bad thing. But he needs time to adapt to most new things. This one does not bellyflop in the ocean like his sister. He needs to work his way in, one toe at a time, at his own pace. I get that, and I want to help him understand that he needn't approach all things in life this way, 'cause it can really slow you down when it comes to enjoying and experimenting with new things.
  • He's smart. Oh, how smart this kid is. I'm not talking alphabet-and-counting smart. I'm talking has-a-better-command-of-the-English-language-than-most-adults smart.

Phew. That's all I've got for now. Suffice it to say, I'm enjoying the Boy. So, no sale to the gypsies this year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Everyone Should Get to Wear a Cape

The Boy is back to full-on superhero worship, to the extent that the first thing he does when he gets home and slings whatever cape-like apparel is available around his neck. His bath towel, a dish towel, anything can be a cape. And sometimes, he has an actual cape. My sister gave me a homemade Robin costume a few years ago, and while the boy has outgrown every other piece of it, the cape, of course, still fits.

My heart explodes with happy whenever I see the three-and-a-half-foot Boy Wonder run by in his yellow cape.

Oh, and the Girl has learned how to make "whoosh" flying noises, so when she chases after her be-caped older brother, she punctuates her actions with "fyooh fyooh" sounds.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm Such a Pimp

Due the shard of steel that exploded through my Freestyle's undercarriage, I have been tooling around in a PT Cruiser. Okay, so it's not really the pimpiest of pimpmobiles. I think that honor belongs to the Chevy Impala. Or, at least it belongs to this Impala.

The Boy loved the car because it was all black and we could pretend it was the Batmobile. Me? The gas guzzling nature of the beast didn't really impress me, and it's very necessary to impress me with that statistic since I commute 70-miles round trip every day. If you, Gentle Reader, would only clamor more vigorously for my missives, I might be able to parlay that into a stay-at-home-and-work-in-my-PJs-entertaining-the-masses gig. So get cracking on that, wouldja?

Anyway, I had to stop by the car rental company this morning, and to my wondering eyes a shiny blue Nissan Versa appeared. Serendipitous. Super Ninja's jalopy could give up the ghost any day (I mean, how much past 110,000 miles is a 1998 Chevy Cavalier supposed to go?). Ever the practical one, I've been doing my research on gas mileage vs. monthly payment estimates vs. durability vs. will anyone actually just give me a car? And this particular vee-hicle ranks high on the list.

I smelled an opportunity!

Actually, what I really smelled was FAR too much vanilla air freshener in the PT Cruiser, which made me wonder exactly WHAT the previous car occupants were up to in that car. But I digress.

I used my feminine wiles to get the dude behind the counter to swap out the PT Cruiser for the Nissan Versa. By "feminine wiles," I mean I asked him politely. So, now I'm tooling around in a Nissan Versa, and I'm delighted that it will mean that I have to test drive one less car when the time comes for us to put Ye Olde Chevy out to pasture.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

So, THAT Happened

So, I don't really believe in astrology. I mean, I've found the personality description for my little slice of the zodiac to be spot on. But the day-to-day stuff? It didn't seem to jibe with my realities. I'd read the blurb for entertainment value, not so much for guidance. But these past couple of weeks? Yee-ikes! Many, many annoyances. Nothing catastrophic, just frustrating. This sent me running toward the mystical pages on the internets. Apparently, Mercury is in retrograde or some such, which means, "LtW, life will stink on ice 'til July 4."

Okay, there was nothing so specific as that, but that's what it boiled down to. I'll warn you, below is a bullet-pointed list of bellyaching. Having made that disclaimer, let me share with you what's been happening over the course of the past three weeks:
  • June 15: I hit a piece of junk in the road and blew a tire. Yippee!
  • June 16 - 18: The Girl came down with herpangina, which sounds like a total social disease. Turns out it's one of those viruses that kids pluck out of the ether. Joy. My chubby bundle of sunshine and happy was just the 30 lbs. of grumpy for three days. I'd hoped that the pediatrician would be able to prescribe some miracle drug, but alas, it was one of those delightful illnesses that just needs to be waited out. Since she couldn't go to daycare with a fever, Super Ninja and I "split-shifted" her care. I'd stay home in the mornings while he worked a half-day, then he'd tag in and I'd head off to work. I can't tell you how exhausting it is to look after one (or two) sick children and THEN go to work for six hours.
  • June 17: The Boy also seemed feverish and grumpy, so one day after the Girl went to the pediatrician, it was the Boy's turn. As it happened, he had two ear infections, likely caused by swimming the previous weekend. For that, we could enjoy the benefit of miracle drugs, i.e. antibiotics.
  • June 20: I got the tire fixed, which further ate into my work schedule. With travel and trainings abounding the following week, I couldn't really take any time off of work. There was just loads of stuff that needed to be completed, and no one that I could really delegate it to. See how much fun it is to be important?
  • June 21-22: I was horrifically sick. Flat on my back, can't do anything but suck down tea and cough drops sick.
  • June 23: Training day in King of Prussia, PA. Lost my voice. When I checked the mail when I arrived home, I'd received a notice of jury duty.
  • June 24: I really lost my voice. No squeaks, no gravelly rasp -- just whispering. This is also the day that I my sister's family and mine had dinner together because we wouldn't see them again before they moved to England for at least three years. Nothing like wishing someone farewell via semaphore.
  • June 25: I packed up the kids and drove to Pittsburgh. Yep, two kids, under five, four hours in the car, BY MYSELF, while I couldn't really talk to them. Happily, my in-laws had planned to meet us in Pittsburgh since it was not that far away from the town they call home. They helped out considerably during dinner, bedtime, and the next morning. In fact, they drove them to their home. Just them and the kids in the car together, which was a first.
  • June 26: Training day in Pittsburgh, PA. I'd had to scramble to get someone to come with me to co-present since listening to my voice could be classified as a form of torture. Seriously, I should've just picked up some Hall's stock.
  • June 26: This date gets TWO entries because of how fabulously awful it was. After the training, the plan was for me to drive to my in-laws and meet up with them, the kids, and Super Ninja, who was flying in to meet us (he wasn't able to drive with us due to a work obligation). Everything was going swimmingly, my mood was lifting, and even though I felt like I was gargling glass, I felt good 'cause I knew that my in-laws house would be this little oasis of calm and child-rearing assistance. You know what pops a good mood bubble really quickly, though? Running over a piece of truck debris in a construction zone. Let me explain...

    I saw something in the road that looked like the rubber tread of an exploded truck tire. The stretch of the turnpike that I was on didn't really have any shoulders to it, so I didn't have a lot of swerve room. I did what I could to avoid the debris, but not enough, really. How do I know that? Because of the KA-BOOM! that rocked the car. Oops.

    Immediately, I flipped on the blinker to get over, over, over as fast as I could. Once I was in the emergency pull of zone, I got out to look at what I assumed would be a shredded remnant of a tire and rim. I was especially bitter because I JUST HAD THE TIRE REPLACED. But, when I got to the passenger's side of the car, both tires looked fine. Not pristine, of course, but fine. What gives? I looked at the tires on the driver's side, and there were no problems there either. Shrugging, I hopped back in the car. When I put it into gear and drove for about ten meters, there was a strange sound, and I knew something was not right.

    I stopped the car, got out again, and knelt down on the hot gritty surface of the shoulder to look under the car. And I thought, "Wait, I don't think I've seen that before." I reached up and grabbed a hunk of steel and extracted it from the undercarriage of my car, much like you'd remove a splinter from a thumb.


    It was a flat piece of steel, maybe about twenty pounds. And it punched a hole in the floorboards in front of the seat that the Boy normally sits in. Digest that for a minute. It didn't shoot through like a javelin or anything like that, so it may not have injured him if he was in the car. But it ripped up the carpet and the underlay and left a hole in its wake that's about five inches in diameter. Fabulous.

    Back in the car, I rooted through my wallet for my insurance card, and the good folks in my agent's office told me that I should file a police report. Okay, I thought, can-do. But I didn't want to linger on the makeshift shoulder of the road as trucks and cars zipped by, so I drove to the closest toll plaza, which happened to be in OHIO. Grumble. I grumble because the folks at the toll plaza who normally help with such things told me that I need to file a report with a Pennsylvania state trooper. Off I went, back to Pennsylvania, to the first toll plaza I found, and the manager on duty called a state trooper for me.

    When Trooper Wolff pulled up to my car, he was wearing the big trooper hat, the mirrored Ray-Bans, and was smoking a big old stoagie. I was not expecting sympathy. But when he exited his patrol car and I showed him what I'd hit on the turnpike (which he recognized as a commercial truck's tie leaf), waves of sympathy came off of him. He firmly impressed upon me that I was lucky that no one else was in the car, and that the chunk of steel didn't pop a brake drum, or hit wires, or worse. I agreed with him, and had a half-minute mental breakdown on my drive away from the toll plaza.

    Did I mention the monsoon? No? Well, about a half hour before I arrived at my in-laws' house, the firmament opened and dumped all of the water on top of my route. And you know what you don't expect when you hit a lake-size puddle when you are driving through a rainstorm? You don't expect to feel a splash on your neck.
  • June 29: Seven hour drive home from in-laws'. This trip was fine for the most part, but the Boy got car sick about 10 minutes before we got home.
  • June 30: Training day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I had to drive Super Ninja's car. Ugh. It's a 10-year-old Chevy Cavalier. We're at the point where if it requires a repair of more than about $500, we'll probably just trade it in. You can imagine how fun it is to drive something like that for 300 miles.
  • June 30 - July 3: The kids' daycare provider is on vacation this week, so Super Ninja and I are split-shifting again.
  • July 3: Took the car in to the body shop, where they judged it to be unsafe to drive 'cause fumes could come up through the floorboards. Oh. Really? That would've been helpful to know before I'd been driving it around for a week.

But tomorrow, all of this annoyance is supposed to go belly-up. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Enjoy Some Random Thoughts

The crazed schedule I'm keeping of late (busy at work, busy in life) has sincerely reduced my opportunity for deep thought. Obviously my postings are rife with philosophical ponderings, right? Anyway, for your enjoyment, some random thoughts which are not very deep:

1) Recently, in Virginia, there was a criminal who used a hammer to smash into store fronts and grab some loot. The news anchor described him as the "Hammer Burglar," and I giggled, 'cause I thought of the "Hamburglar," and figured that he'd probably fallen on hard times and had to resort to smash-and-grabs.

2) I love that my daughter, at the tender age of 20 months, has a deep and abiding affection for chocolate. She actually danced with joy -- a jig replete with enthusiastic arm wobbles -- when Super Ninja gave her a quarter of a chocolate doughnut for dessert last night.

3) People who ask, "Do you have two seconds?" are lying liars. It is never two seconds. It is never two minutes. It's usually about a half an hour. A half an hour of time I could be spending watching Netflix Instant Play movies.

4) I recently read "The Year of Magical Thinking." Periodically, I'll revisit the events of the book, and I grew curious about Joan Didion's & John Dunne's daughter, Quintana. I was heartbroken to read that she'd died just before the book was published. Joan Didion opted against chainging the book because, according to her, it was finished. Many of you likely knew that already...

5) The Girl gave me a gift last week. A horrific, gelatinous, summertime virus. Tasty. It has caused me to lose my voice. The rest of me is fine, I am simply without words. In a verbal fashion. Anyway, I went on a brief walk to a bookstore with some compatriots of mine during our lunch hour, and I couldn't really talk. And I had the really terrible suspicion that having been struck dumb didn't exactly deprive the world of golden thoughts and revelations.

6) I understand that there are some hate-mongers who are looking to protest the upcoming nuptials of George Takei and Brad Altman. While no one's wedding day should be treated this way, I almost* hope it happens because I would dearly love to see an armada of Star Fleet nerds standing guard at the wedding reception. I mean, come on. Westboro Baptist Church vs. Kling-ons**? No contest, especially when bat'leths are involved.

*Really, just a teensy weensy part of me.
**Undoubtedly, there would be a host of Federation races represented, but when referring to battle, always cite Kling-ons.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Conversations I Never Thought I Would Have

"Mommy,"whispers the Boy. He is perched on the steps. He knows it is very, very late, that he shouldn't be anywhere near the downstairs area, and that Mama just needs to sit and drink her beer* in peace.

"Yes?" I ask, closing my eyes. The laundry I'm folding is warm on my lap. I could just go to sleep right now...

It has been a long day. Father's Day. Which means Mommy Duty times two. The kids woke up at a quarter after six, and we were off to the races. After changing the Girl's diaper, encouraging the Boy to use the potty, brushing one and a half sets of teeth**, getting dressed, going to McDonald's (to get children out of the house and give Super Ninja the morning off), going to my parents' house, going swimming, being incredibly irritated by one of my brothers but stuffing the annoyance down because Father's Day is a nice time to be respectful of the fathers in the family and not start an argument, realizing this is the last full family get-together I'll have in awhile because Big Sister and her family are moving to England in ten days, driving home, and doing both kids' bedtimes because Super Ninja developed a raging migraine while we were at dinner... Yeah. Long day.

"Mommy, I can't go to sleep because I can't find Juggernaut."

The Boy has been playing with some Marvel superheroes and villains of late, and Juggernaut always seems to go missing. I guess he really is unstoppable.

After a hearty sigh, I push myself off of the couch. My visual sweep of the menagerie of action figures on my coffee table does not reveal Juggernaut, so I shuffle to the stairs, and the Boy and I march back to his bedroom. I dig under and around his bed, but to no avail. I tuck the Boy back under his Thomas the Tank Engine sheets, give him a kiss, and tell him we'll find it tomorrow.

Fingers crossed, the full complement of action figures will be found today so that the Boy stays in bed and doesn't cause me to have minor heart failure by materializing when I'm least expecting it.

*The Girl has started calling beer "Mommy Juice." This does not make me feel good.
**The Girl only has seven teeth right now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I'm Molting

This past weekend was a very swimmable weekend. The air was reminiscent soup. Not the good kind, either. I'm talking Cream of Awful. Sticky, damp, oppressive. And clearly from a can.

Whilst I was wondering what to do with the kiddies all day, my best friend called me to giggle about how she'd just purchased the diametrically opposed Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Then she made me feel sixteen again by asking me the question that all kids whose parents have a pool hear repeatedly during the dog days of summer: "Hey, are you going swimming today?"

When we were kids, she would come over with a towel and a bathing suit. Just in case.

But I couldn't imagine anything better than going swimming. If I didn't, I would've just puddled. And being surrounded by lovely pool water is way, way better than swimming in your own juices. So, best friend came over, and it was just like old times. Well except that we were squiring my children through the water, both of whom could not have loved swimming more. This is a shock, because in previous years we could only coax the Boy into the water with tales of how much Batman loves swimming.

But this year? He'd been napping when Best Friend and I first dipped into the pool, and upon waking from his slumber, my sister brought him outside so he could see what I was up to. The Boy immediately dropped trou and ran toward the pool, semi-in flagrante. I ushered him back inside where I could slap him in his bathing suit, UV tee, and soaked him from head to toe with sunblock. Same with the Girl. And it was off to the pool!

During this thoroughly enjoyable escapade, I earned a flaming red sunburn. I thought I'd gotten my back with the SPF 45, but, it seems I was wrong. It is flaking and peeling now, and I have a new found sympathy for snakes and what they have to go through when sloughing off skin.

Yet another thing that does not scream professional: angling your arms like an escape artist to claw the dangling strips of flesh from your back.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I guess this isn't so much a retraction as it is a correction, but "retraction" always sounds way juicy. And I'm nothing if not juicy. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Anyway, turns out that I misremembered some of my personal history and it was not by brother-in-law's wife, Playwright, who gave me The Time Traveler's Wife. Nope, 't'was my brother-in-law himself, who has requested this moniker when referenced in this here blog: Indiana Hulk.

Wish granted.

Indiana Hulk christened himself such to annoy Super Ninja. How so? Well, he cherrypicked Super Ninja's nearest and dearest fictional characters. Given that, I think I need to offer Super Ninja the opportunity to create a nickname to annoy Indiana Hulk. Might I suggest Citizen Spidey? Or any other combo that name checks Spider-Man, Orson Welles, The Shadow, Houdini, and Richard Nixon?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Another Thing that Doesn't Exactly Scream 'Professional'

Mama went out on a date with Super Ninja on Saturday night. Mama decided to wear those red wedge heels that she's only worn once before. Mama forgot that they are a scourge to human feet.

Yeah, so today I'm rocking some Band-Aids and sandals that have zero straps near the blister zone. But, in my hurry, I grabbed the first Band-Aids that I could find. Instead of the normal semi-flesh-toned bandages one would expect on an adult woman, my toes are bedecked with the Wiggles.

The Boy and the Girl were highly impressed.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Disaster Recovery, Part III

I'm disconcerted by the hole in my dining room ceiling. It is a very neat hole, a deliberately cut hole, but a hole nonetheless. It measures about 18" by 18", and through it I have a lovely view of my home's entrails. PVC abounds, folks. And one of those pipes has loosened it's grip enough that a rivulet coasted along the seams of all of the drywall forming my ceiling. This has turned the perimeter of the drywall into drywall mush. While I'm thrilled that we will only need to repair/replace one measly pipe, it is clear that we will need to replace all of the drywall of which my ceiling is composed.

As confident as I am in my skillz, this is not a do-it-yourself for someone who finds herself sans nail gun, ladder, burly assistant, or height. So, we will be hiring a contractor. Luckily, my next-door-neighbor is a contractor who's lived in our townhouse community for 30 years and has done loads of work on most of the homes on our block. Huzzah for not having to suss out a competent, honest contractor!

More about this hole, though. As I encounter the gaping maw above my head at mealtime, I can't help but imagine gremlins or elves or a murder of crows emerging from it. If you want to know what I'm talking about, go ahead and sledgehammer an opening in your wall, and tell me if you're imagination doesn't do a little overtime.

One thing is resolved, though: during the repairs, Super Ninja and I will sneak something creepy la The Changeling) somewhere betwixt the beams.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Have I told you about "yestermorn"? It is the Boy's way of indicating that something happened in the past. The nap that he took earlier in the day? That happened "yestermorn." That time he got car sick on the way home from Gram & Fa's? "Yestermorn." Oh, and the pizza that he had for dinner yesterday? He ate it "yestermorn."

I share this because it is not only adorable, it is a sure sign of genius since Samuel Taylor Coleridge is credited with coining the term in the poem, "Christabel."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dear Holiday Inn Hotels & Suites,

Putting a teeny fridge and microwave in a hotel room does not render it a "suite." It's a dorm room.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Think My In-Laws Are Plotting Something Against Super Ninja

We all have a stack of books we haven't read but fully intend to read, right? At least I hope we do. My self-esteem will take a knock if I find out I'm the only one...

Anyway, my in-laws have given me some fabulous books over the past couple of years. Problem is, since about July 2004 (i.e., the Coming of Child the First, a.k.a. the Boy), I haven't had much time to hunker down over anything more substantial than a petit four. Don't get me wrong -- I haven't fallen out of love with the written word. But I feel like I've gotta give fine works of literature the time they deserve. So, while I've read loads of magazines and short stories and books with pink covers, I haven't read any critical darlings.

That is, I haven't read any 'til now. It's training season at my office, which means that I'm travelling a little. By myself. Cue substantial reading.

So, what have I tackled? The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger (thanks, Playwright!) and The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion (thanks, parents-in-law!). Holy moly, these books stick with you like spackle long after you've read the final words. That's a good thing. I won't spill the beans on the The Time Traveler's Wife, but the title conjures a woman left behind, eh? And The Year of Magical Thinking...well, since the second paragraph of the flap copy reveals that the author's husband suffered a major and fata coronary, you can't accuse me of being a spoiler.

Things don't go well for the husbands in these books. Consequently, life is tough for the wife. The fact that my parents-in-law gave me a book about a widow's grief in the year following her husband's death....well, that's a little odd, don't you think?

Anyway, I'm feeling like I'm plugged back into the world of words. Okay, fine, I'm feeling plugged into the 2004/2005 world of words. If these trends continue...hey, I could be reading a book published this year!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Disaster Recovery, Part II

Yeah, so it's never a good sign when there's a small pool of water on your dining room floor. After squishing through an unexpected puddle, the homeowner (yours truly), engages in a frantic game of Find the Source.

I quickly ran through the easy-to-resolve theories -- maybe an ice cube melted on the floor? Maybe one of the kids left a juice cup under the table that we didn't see? And I looked up. And I saw the spot on the ceiling.


A few months ago I noticed some spotting on another part of the ceiling. But since it was the first time I noticed it, I figured it could have been there for ages and I just didn't see it. I'd just keep an eye on it, right?

I really, really need to learn to trust that I have keen observational skills, and that if I notice spots on the ceiling, they probably weren't there before.

There's no denying this, though. These spots and bubbles weren't there before. We have a Leak, a professional, hulking leak that is turning the ceiling into mush. And for what it's worth, it's not from the recent monsoon-ish rainfall. Oh no. This is an interior leak, baby. The best kind. The excavate-the-ceiling kind.

Time to research the merits of home equity loans vs. refinancing the whole house. JUST how I wanted to spend my day.

Disaster Recovery

A few days ago, a couple of people in my company (myself included) met to discuss what systems we need, and when, should we experience an emergency. The person who lead the meeting made a critical mistake: he thought the conversation would follow a logical tack.

There's a Dwight Schrutish guy who was included in the meeting, and he kind of took us off course. The Leader* asked us what systems we would need, figuring that we would discuss when we'd need them as we outlined what constituted an emergency. So, he posed the "What do your departments need" question, Dwigh spoke up.

"Well," he said, "first I think we need to assume that if there's a nuclear attack in Washington, then no one's coming here. We'll probably need a site that's geographically far away."

I kid you not. He casually mentioned the possibility of nuclear holocaust. Me? I was thinking about a multi-day power outage a la 2003. Not World War III. I can promise you, emphatically promise you, that if a nuclear bomb is dropped on the nation's capital, I'm not going into work, and I'm really, really not caring about how long it takes us to get our systems back on line.

Moments later, Dwight took it down a notch. He moved on from the Baltimore/Washington Metro Area suffering from nuclear fallout to our building crumbling down around us.

"I think it's naive of us," he said, "to assume that, if this building collapses, it'll be while none of us is here. I think we should realize that everyone on the 5th floor is just gone, and we're probably gone too."

We were all slightly horrified. We were talking about the disaster recovery of systems. It should be a cut-and-dried, mechanical kind of thing. Not a grisly decision tree. "If X and Y die in a car accident together, what do we need to do to keep the business running?"

Yeah, so, if my part of the country is wiped off the map, never fear, customers o'mine! We've got it covered.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Two Great Tastes

Yesterday was a loooooong day. I was up at 4:30 a.m. and out of the door a half an hour later so that I could catch my train to New York City. (The Pace Picante commercial of yore renders me incapable of saying "New York City" without adding a yokelish twang.) I'll pretty much jump on any opportunity to go to Manhattan. I've been there enough that I feel comfortable navigating the subway, but not so many times that I don't get caught gaping at buildings like I'm some kind of half-human, half-goldfish tourist.

I stepped off the train just after eight, hoofed it to the subway, and clickety-clacked my way to Harlem. The training went fine, and we broke for lunch. I hounded one of the locals for lunch options, and she started naming chain restaurant -- KFC, Wendy's, etc. I furrowed my brow. WHY would you go to a franchise when you could sample some local fare? Intuitive as my teacher compadre was, she came up with another option: Amy Ruth's. And that, Dear Reader, is how I found myself sampling chicken & waffles for the first time (and, by the way, how I came to weigh like seventy-four pounds more than when I climbed aboard Amtrak's Regional Service train that day).

Good Lord, chicken & waffles are delicious. Not the wisest choice when you need to maintain on-pointedness for the afternoon training session, but definitely a wise choice when you are looking for a tasty lunch.

By the time the training broke up, I didn't really have time to gallivant around the city like I would've preferred. I felt kinda guilty about leaving Super Ninja to tend the Boy and the Girl all day -- getting them up, dressed, brushed, out the door, picking them up, going to gymnastics class, then to Chick-fil-A. When he goes to New York, there are three things he likes to do:

1) Visit friends/family;
2) See a show;
3) Eat an authentic New York slice.

Well, there wasn't much I could do about #1 and #2, but I could definitely bring home some pizza. When I sauntered through our front door, you would think that I was carrying the Chachapoyan fertility idol or something. Since it was right around the kiddies' bedtime, Super Ninja hustled them off to dreamland so that he could tear into the slices without sharing with our little mooches.

There's no real point to this post, except to point out that I love living on the East Coast, because it affords me the opportunity to go to New York for a Day and pick up pizza for my husband. How cool is that?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

We Need to Retire this Whole "Jealousy" Theory

Among afterschool programs, very special episodes of sitcoms, and the comments sections of popular mommy blogs, a theory is advanced that makes me wince so hard my husband thinks that I'm having a labor flashback:

"They are just being mean to you because they are jealous."

NO. No. Many times no. People can just be mean, plain and simple. I know you don't need evidence, but here's a little slice of my adolescence...

There was this kid, Joey, on my bus in middle school and high school. He was mentally challenged, and he didn't take any crap from anyone. So he'd volley insults with the kids that sat at the back of the bus. This would stoke their desire to pick on him even more, and it would continue until the bus driver or one of us intervened on his behalf. Those kids weren't picking on him because they were jealous of him. They were picking on him because they were bullies.

Here's the real deal: it is human nature to want to be valued. In the absence of feeling valued, people will substitute feeling better than someone else. And some jerks decide that by highlighting someone else's flaws, it will be clear to their audience that they are better than their victims. See? Jerks.

Also? Sometimes people don't agree with your beliefs, your humor, the way you conduct yourself, the way you raise your child. And they are uncouth enough to voice it, or type it, sometimes with swearing. That's the unfortunate side of living in a society instead of going all Howard Hughes and spinning a cocoon around ourseles. The thing is, people are allowed to have differences of opinion, and while it would be nice if they expressed their exuberant disagreement in nicer ways, well, sometimes that doesn't happen.

Maybe knowing the motivations of someone else's ire is the spoonful of sugar that makes the insults, the negative opinions, easier to swallow. But calling it jealousy does us all a disservice, don't you think? Because when we do that, we (a) weave this fantasy that everyone would be nice if they didn't have unfulfilled desires, and (b) imply that bullying is not a result of another person's flawed personality so much as it is the fringe benefit of our own qualities. In other words, we must be better than them for them to pick on us out of jealousy.

So, yeah, anyway, before you get the wrong idea: I haven't been the target hateful comments or anything like that. I've just seen this "they're jealous of you" rationale popping up in loads of places, like Wack-a-Mole. And since I have a kid that will be joining the Pre-K fray, I know that we are teetering on the brink of bullies and nastiness. I'm just trying to get my philosophy in order before it creeps up on us. Expect the best, plan for the worst, right?

But, if you hear me telling the Boy that other kids are picking on him because they are jealous of him, you have my full permission to give me a swirly.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Boy's Education Is Shaping Up Nicely

A recent conversation with the Boy:

Me: Who's your favorite superhero, Boy?

The Boy: Batman!

Me: And who is Batman's best friend?

The Boy: Robin.

Me: And who is Batman's archenemy? Who's the villain?

The Boy: [quizzical expression]

Me: Do you know what a villain is? [I expect him to say, "a bad guy," if anything.]

The Boy: The villain is a goon, and his name is [dramatic pause] the Joker!

Super Ninja melted into a puddle of giggles. The pride that he has in his son's proper use of the word "goon" cannot be overstated.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Henna 'n' WHAT?!?

I went to CVS today to pick up a prescription for Super Ninja, and whilst I waited for the pharmacist to do her thang, I perused the hair care aisle. Since dandelion fluff springs forth from my skull, I like to keep up with the latest frizz taming ointments. And that is where I saw this Frankenproduct:
I would love to know who said to herself, "Know what I think would be awesome for my tresses? Placenta. Yep, I'm going to get me some placenta and rub it in really well."


I Am a Relationship Expert (well, Google thinks I am)

An inordinate number of readers come to this site via Google searches using a combination of the words/phrases "man," "woman," "questions," and "don't ask." Based on my stat counter, many of them leave after zero seconds, so they figure out pretty quickly that I have no idea what I'm talking about and they must go to other fun links, like, "Asian man/black woman dating question? - Yahoo! Answers."

Sidenote: WHY would you go to Yahoo! Answers for some advice on that topic?

I'm suffering from blockage (AGAIN), so you get to hear all about my blog stats. Because you will love that information, and absorb it, and dissect it over your own dinner table later today, won't you? WON'T YOU?!?

Meh. It's a beautiful day. Methinks I will go stomping around the 'hood and see if any misadventures lay themselves at my feet.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I Owe My Life to Robert Culp

Who's Robert Culp, you ask? Philistine! Among many other fine roles, he played Bill Maxwell on 'The Greatest American Hero,' one of the greatest live-action superhero television TV series of all time.

Last weekend, I was hanging out at my parents' house, and I infiltrated my father's Bat Cave. His den is in the basement, and the perimeter is completely covered with books. Top to bottom, left to right, covered in books. Even the windows have been bricked over with books. Pulp noir, science fiction, psychology, history -- really, every genre is represented. And, as I am wont to do, I plucked a tome off of the shelf and thumbed through it. My discerning choice? A Big Little Book. David Copperfield, I believe it was.

My father saw me flipping through it and told Super Ninja and me a little story I'd never heard before... One night in the mid-seventies, Dad was kicking back watching the Tonight Show. Robert Culp was a guest, and if my IMDB detective work is worth anything, he was likely there to plug his latest project, "Inside Out." But the real meat of the conversation centered on Mr. Culp's latest collecting obsession -- Big Little books.

My Dad's ears pricked up, for he too was a collector of Big Little books. So what did my entrepreneurial/needing-cash Pop do? He wrote a letter to Mr. Culp, care of the Tonight Show, to say that he had a load of Big Little books, and would Mr. Culp care to purchase any of them? Mr. Culp wrote back that indeed, he was interested. Dad sent his list of 70 books to Mr. Culp, who ended up buying fifty of them for $500.

"And that $500 paid for," Dad said, "you!"

Howzabout that? My genesis was paid for by books. I should've known, what with all of the reading and the writing. And the being big and little at the same time.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Finally Found a Perfectly Sized Desk and Chair!

Only problem was, it was in an elementary school. That's right, I was lurking in an elementary school today. Lock up your kids!

Why was I hunched over a mini-desk? I was filling out paperwork 'cause the Boy is ripe for schoolin', and as responsible parents, we are investigating the options. Today's adventure was in the local public school. It doesn't have such great ratings on unreliable "recommendation" sites like GreatSchools.net, but it's percentage of students proficient on standardized tests is decent. Of course, that system is crazy flawed as well...


The school has a new principal, so I figured I'd reserve judgment until I see a Pre-K class there. But yikes, do they require a lot of paperwork. Pre-K programs in public school 'round these parts are a rarity, and they need ironclad proof that you live within the school's boundaries. I think they were thisclose to asking me if they could follow me home. We'll find out in a couple of weeks whether we made the short list -- earnings are taken into consideration when deciding who gets to go to Pre-K at the school. So, Super Ninja and I may actually make too much money to be able to send our kid to public school. WHAT?

There's a Catholic school option that's on the table, but I think I told you that I had a visceral (not good) reaction to God being infused in every aspect of education. Me, I like compartmentalization. That's not the only reservation I have about Ye Olde Catholic school. The classrooms were former nun cells (no, really, that's what they call dorm rooms in religious living quarters!). The school knocked down walls in between the cells, so they have these oddly shaped, long, skinny classrooms that don't seem all that conducive to learning. Oh, and there was the one classroom were four-year-olds were doing an arts and crafts project (semi-unattended), and there were scissors the size of hedge clippers on the table. If the Yakuza crashed through the windows, the kids would be prepared, I guess.

I'm scheduling an appointment at another joint, but it's a daycare center/Pre-K facility. And those places confuse me, 'cause the whole point of sending the Boy to Pre-K is so that he can associate with other four-year-olds while he's ciphering and graphing.

Gah. I would SO much rather be watching a stupid movie than trying to figure out the first formal stepping stone in my precious tot's educational career.