Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Does Anyone Speak Palin-Latin? I Need an Interpreter.

Is this from SNL or is this the real thing? Wow. Excuse me while I go vomit.

I mean really, how can anyone want this? Are pro-Palin folks just so stubbornly on the McPalin train to see what she really is, and more importantly what she ISN’T? Come on, regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, IT IS OBVIOUS. She is NOT a leader.

Monday, September 29, 2008

But DADDY Can Do It

The more bells and whistles the sport of TV watching gets, the easier and more convenient for us as adults it becomes to partake. With DVRs we can start watching Desperate Housewives 25 minutes after it started, skip all the ads, and end up finishing at the same time we would have had we watched it live. Hey, that’s 25 more Facebook minutes! Whoohoo! We can watch both LOST and American Idol; no more picking one over the other. We can record our children’s favorite shows for playback at a more convenient time. These shows can then be watched over and over and over and over again until we as parents can quote Peep, Chirp, and Quack or Abby and Ty. With hit TV shows on DVD we can swiftly watch two seasons of Dexter in less than two weeks. Never mind the painful process of having to wait a whole year for the next season to come out on DVD! And my favorite bell and whistle? Pause and pee.

Greg LOVES to tease me about how I didn’t want the ability to pause live TV when he first suggested we get a DVR (then called a PVR) about eight years ago. I mean really, who NEEDS to do that? Aren’t we trying to save some money here? Can’t we just set up the VCR to record our shows? (Remember, this was about eight years ago. Don’t scoff at me TOO much.) OK, OK, he obviously won on THIS one, because I don’t know what I’d do without the ease of recording, pausing, skipping, and rewinding shows on TV. Oh, and then there’s the crucial pausing and peeing when the need calls. Sadly, for me, that’s a lot.

Two problems have risen from our TV watching. They were unforeseen, and they are pains in the ass.

First, the damn commercials. “Mommy, can you skip past the ads?” Sometimes Braedyn gets a “Sure, bud, hang on.” Other times he gets a, “Nope, sorry, it’s live tv.” Braedyn is going to be on the debate team one day. I am as certain of this as I am that I will need to pause and pee sometime tonight. Braedyn can argue with me until he is blue in the face. Or until I am. “But DADDY can skip past the ads.” “But I have SEEN you skip past them before.” “But why can’t you skip past them this time?”

Second, the damn commercials:

“Look at this toy, Mommy! I want THAT toy!” You don’t have enough saved up.

“Look at this toy, Mommy! It’s so COOOOOL!” You’re birthday is coming up; make a list.

“That toy flies, Mommy!” Christmas is coming. Ask Santa.

“Look at THIS, Mommy!” Ignore.

“Look, Mommy, you dip that cookie in milk and then it ‘tasteses’ YUMMY!” The ubiquitous THEY want you to THINK it tastes good so you’ll go spend your saved up money on what THEY want you to buy. That way THEY have money and YOU don’t.

“But we don’t have THAT cereal here, Mommy.” Because it’s not really cereal. It’s sugar in a box disguised to LOOK like a good breakfast idea.

“Whoa! I want THAT toy!” Um, you DO have that toy, and you don’t play with it now. “But it’s shaped different than the one I have.”

Oh, for the love of the flying spaghetti monster, help me now. Would someone please invent the commercialinator?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Nightmare Before Christmas

This time of year with its chilly mornings and playground equipment that isn’t too hot to touch by 8:30 in the morning always reminds me of the movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie is awesome, an all-time favorite of ours.

P0000509(Here we are with Allegra, all dressed up for Halloween, 2002.)

But our own personal nightmare before Christmas starts around this time of year because it becomes a veritable roller coaster of birthdays, parties, planning, and holidays. Braedyn’s birthday party planning is in high gear, thus starting the crazy ride that doesn’t stop until the beginning of the next year.

Complain as I may, this is a ride that I adore. I love the holidays, and I masochistically love the pain that comes with planning parties. I love watching the excitement that grows in the kids. The excitement that comes from discovering that the birthday they’ve been talking about for the LAST SIX MONTHS is actually here. The thrill of finally getting to put on their Halloween costumes. The sugar rush from all the trick-my-treat candy. The awe of the Christmas tree assembly. The thrill of seeing a stuffed stocking on the end of their beds on Christmas morning.

This year though I’m overwhelmed by the whole gift giving/receiving tradition. It’s a rush of gifts for the kids with Braedyn’s birthday in October and Emily’s the day after Christmas (insert boo track here). And frankly, we don’t need anymore toys in this house. That won’t stop it from happening though, and I’m honestly not trying to stop it. Greg and I are enormous kids at heart, so much so that even WE embrace the thrill of knowing we’re getting new loot on Christmas morning.

I’ve read about kids donating their own presents to families in need, which I think is truly remarkable and I hope that one day my kids really embrace the importance of giving to others and adopt a lifestyle of caring for others. Right now we are hoping they are learning by example, through Greg’s and my actions. One way we do this now is by donating. Greg has shaved his head for charity. (Um, yes, we all know it more the thought that counted there.) We’ve held an Alex’s Lemonade Stand (more to come on this). We’ve organized and participated in Adopt-a-Family events. We always give gifts to less fortunate children and families around the holidays. I’m not saying we’re all that and a bag of chips. I know we could do more, and we do try. I guess I’m saying this because we do make a concerted effort to be a giving and caring family. We do this while at the same time totally digging the gift buying and giving thrill with our children and with each other. Greg loves new toys. I love new toys. The kids undoubtedly love new toys. We keep it within limits. Ok, we sometimes go overboard. A little. I don’t think this makes us capitalist pigs. I don’t.

Another way we teach by example is through donating to charity. I have had discussions with Braedyn about why we were donating some of his things to charity. Once it was a tearful discussion about why his bike had to go to a new little boy. Hmmm, could it be because his knees hit the handle bars? By the end of the talk, he got it. Well, mostly. Today I took some of Emily’s toys to The Salvation Army. I’m trying to make room for what I know lay ahead, but please learn this simple lesson from me. Don’t do a charity run with a child in the car when she is still too young to have the discussion about donating to others. I was sneaky enough about it, backing the van into the parking spot, so they wouldn’t see what was getting evicted from our house. One such item was a toy I picked up at a garage sale for Emily for a dollar. It was cute enough, but she never played with it. So why was it a problem today? This damn toy somehow got activated while the guy at Salvation Army was helping unload the back of the van. It started to play its oh-so-charming and lavish princess enchanted frickin’ fairy music. And queue tears. Real ones. Rolling down the cheeks. I could have smashed that damn toy right on the spot.

IMGP1849.PEF(Emily reusing the Sally wig this month.)

So as much as Greg and I may bitch about all the toys in the house, I know it also thrills us. We love this time of year as much if not more than the kids do. We get the thrill of watching the kids’ eyeballs practically pop out of their heads with anticipation. And we get the joy from and challenge of teaching our children the importance of giving to others. It’s all about moderation, right? And teaching moderation to preschoolers is nothing if not a challenge. Hell, it’s hard to teach it to my husband too. *wink*

Oh, You Flatter Me

It was an exceptional day at the park today. A complete stranger asked me if Emily was my sister. My SISTER! Not only am I her mother, but in some circles, I’m probably old enough to be her grandmother. Holy smokes, I took that as a huge compliment! I thanked her for the kind thought, but explained that no, I’m her mother.

How cool was that? It was better than getting carded! (Never you mind that this stranger was a little girl in the 1st grade.)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

End of an Era

I should feel lucky that this didn’t come earlier, I know. I shouldn’t feel disappointed, but I do. I shouldn’t feel a desperate pang of loss, but it is sharp nonetheless. We are at the end of an era. Braedyn is near, if not already at the end, of his naps.

He’ll be five next month, so I know this era has lasted much longer than many other children. But what the hell am I going to do now for MY quiet time!? This is when I blog. This is when I nap. This is when I read. This is when I get that ABC song I’ve heard an inordinate amount of times today out of my head. Boo hoo. Arm flailing toward forehead. Whoa is me.

He didn’t sleep today, even though his room was extraordinarily prepped for a killer nap. Dark room. Black light on. Glowing, spinning globe thingy providing white noise. Sound machine playing a soothing tune. Down comforter. Feather pillow. Quiet house. I’m jonesing for a nap just thinking about it.

So, how am I writing this today while he is awake? I did what any good parent needing a break would do. Turned on the TV. At least now my head isn’t swirling with “Now I know my A B Cs, won’t you come and sing with me.” Instead it’s jammin’ to “If we can count on you, Scooby Doo, I know you’ll catch that villain.”

Monday, September 22, 2008


Life is nuts right now. The economy is in the tank, and we’re not immune. We’re talking about scary money issues I never thought we’d have to. To get by, I have to take time and look at moments like this that I love so dearly. Here is my pic for the day:


I love you, family. No matter what.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It’s Not a Flip, But It Still Records Demolition Days

In 2002 for Festivus Susanne purchased a Kodak MC3 for $50 with the purchase of something or other and gifted it to me. At the time it was truly the undiscovered wonder of the world. It runs on three triple A’s, takes pictures, video and plays MP3’s. It still does a pretty fine job for old tech.

I pulled it out of the bottom of a box while cleaning the garage today, and while the video quality is not as good as some current models, its ease of use is still amazing. Shoot, plug in, copy QuickTime files off and share. Here is a vid of Emily and Braedyn practicing demolition derby with a neighborhood kid in the cul-de-sac.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Can You Dig It

Susanne invited another hot lesbian friend over for dinner. It’s not really relevant, but I love writing HOT LESBIAN.

Dinner is over and it's time to head outside and drink our wine and I find that Koko has TRIED to escape again!

What I saw when I entered the backyard. Note that all the temporary measures to keep her from digging are pushed out of the way.



Her tail sure was wagging. I had to dig under her to get her out. Looks like someone’s got a little extra junk in the trunk or she would have made it through.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Battle of the Bands

Braedyn is starting his annoying musical interests way too soon. Isn’t he supposed to be a teenager before inflicting musical misery on his mother? Apparently not. He totally digs metal. He completely enjoys that high pitched whiny guitar. The more screechy electric guitar solos, the better. On this, he is my antithesis.

For example, I love Prince, or the artist formerly known as Prince, but as soon as he starts whaling on the guitar, I’m like Billy the Kid drawing his gun switching the song. Yeah, I’m THAT fast. I have to be lest my head explode. No joke. Its effect on me rivals the same throw-up feeling I get when I see a picture of Palin on yet ANOTHER magazine cover.

Greg recently took my iPod and randomly threw songs on it from our 5,000+ song library. This was done for two reasons. First, he was taking the van for a boys camping trip and wanted some fresh songs on it. Second, I always drag my feet on stuff like this. It needed to be done. My step-son Jacob had generously given me his old iPod when he got the upgraded video one. It still had all of his music on it. Some of it was cool. Some just proved to me I am getting old. Greg figured he’d just take care of swapping out Jacob’s songs with some from our library. It was kind of Greg to do this for me. Now if he’d only swap out the CDs in his Jeep’s CD changer. They are the same ones we put in there when we drove to Disneyland. SIX YEARS AGO.

The random song generator out of iTunes did not do a stellar job. It did a pitiful job. It’s as if it checked the frequency of each song, and if there were parts above a certain level, a certain HIGH WHINY EAR SHATTERING LEVEL, it was sure to grab it. There are WAY too many Nirvana songs, WAY too many Night Ranger songs, and WAY too many other songs with bloodcurdling high pitched guitar solos. Seriously, I have about a 1 in 25 chance of finding a song I like. But as fast as I may be at switching them, Braedyn’s ears are quicker at hearing them. I try to be sly and skip past an offensive song, but I inevitably hear, “BUT I LIKED THAT SONG.” Of course he does. Was it the twitch in my eye that tipped him off that THIS song was going to have at least one shrill guitar solo in it?

If there is any doubt about these heavy metal musical interests of his, which he OBVIOUSLY got from his FATHER, take a look at this video taken about a year ago of our up-and-coming metal boy:

Not all days in the van are so bad, thankfully. If we stumble across Cake’s “Rock-n-Roll Lifestyle” before any whiny guitars, we end up playing that genteel ditty over and over again. Now that I can totally dig, and my twitchy eye and exploding head are thankful for the break.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breaking And Entering

Tonight Susanne had a hot date with one of her lesbian friends. Who am I to say no when she asks if I mind. Seriously. I should probably stop writing right now. Maybe I should just post once a week about my wife visiting this hot friend, hanging out with this hot group of moms. Maybe I could generate more traffic with a little creative writing about my wife and hot lesbians. Hmm. Something to think about.

So it's going to be just me and the kids and they are begging and pleading to go with her. Tonight as far as the kids are concerned I am chopped liver dipped in creamed earthworm with a side of blue cheese. Seriously. You would think Susanne told them that as soon as she left that I was going to make them watch 60 Minutes. They REALLY wanted to go with mommy tonight. But I had little something up my sleeve.

Braedyn & Emily (almost in tears): I want to go with mommeeeeee!!!

Me: Hey, you guys want to play video games?

Braedyn & Emily: YAAAYYYYYY. Bye mommy.

Score: Dad 1, Mommy 0

I wrangled em up and headed to the game room. I left Koko and Charmin outside because it's hard enough to manage two toddlers and wired console controllers without the joy of dogs dragging the Xbox and Playstation out of the entertainment center.

The kids played for a bit until Dad got tired of “helping”. “My car is stuck", “this is hard”, “can you help me”. Looky there, the time is up. Did you hear the timer? I did. Time to turn it off. Let's go play outside.

Ahhh, peace and quiet. The children are turning the swimming pool into the largest mudbog west of Lake Lahonton and I get to work on the blog. But wait, where is Koko? “Koko, come girl”. I can hear her whining and barking around the corner. Must be something keeping her entertained.

After a few minutes I am surprised she has not come to see me or the kids (she loves to get wet with the kids). I am still being a lazy motha because work has been really tough lately. Nuff said. Who wants to get fired about writing about work (don’t want to get Dooced!)

So I start yelling for Koko, because my lazy ass is NOT getting out of the rocker unless one of the kids falls into the pool face down…and doesn’t get up right away of their own accord. I look over at the fence and whose head do I see poking out from under the fence? Koko’s. From outside the yard! Somehow she managed to escape, and now she is trying to get back in. Apparently I am not as much a motivator as whatever cute poodle she was chasing on her way out because I had to open the gate to let her in.

Guess I am putting wire up this week.

Chocolate Delight


Chocolate Fondue.  There were Chocolate marshmallows to dip in the chocolate as well.  If there was a heaven, this is what they would serve for breakfast.

“Rock” Solid Birth Control

We made a monumental mistake with the design of our backyard landscaping. We chose to put rocks in various places. Teeny-weeny rocks in an area designated for the kids’ outdoor play equipment and larger “decorative” ones next to the fence. Why was this a grave error in our judgement? Because they suck. They suck because the dogs and the kids kick them all over the patio, making it unsightly and painful to walk across in bare feet. They suck because we are constantly sweeping them back to their proper place. Sweeping them back to their proper place. Sweeping them back to their proper place. And they suck because they are ugly.

The kids LOVE them. Stemming from their fascination with all things egg, they treat a select egg-shaped few as if they are “babies”, fragile little things that would break if you handled them too roughly. They would deposit these babies inside, and don’t even THINK about throwing them back outside, lest there be hell to pay. Cute? Sure. At first. It gets old fast when you find them ALL. OVER. THE HOUSE. In the bottom of a full sink of water (they needs baths, right Mommy?). In the pantry. Among the pots and pans. In beds. On dressers. Wrapped in wet paper towels on the kitchen counter. On the couch. In shoes. In the fridge (that’s where eggs go, right Mommy?).

We discovered a rock solid birth control, a way to halt the ever increasing number of these unwanted off-spring coming into our house. We filled a plastic dish with them and set them next to the sink. Apparently the mere presence of these babies makes the kids happy, satisfies their egg obsession, and suspends the rabbit-like proliferation of rock babies making their way into our humble abode.


Even as I write this, I know that way too soon Braedyn and Emily will be long past this egg baby obsession. Sniff. Sniff.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When Frustrated, Make the Threat a Good One

After a long, messy Play-Doh session:

Me: OK, guys, if you are done playing with the Play-Doh, I want you to come and help clean it up.

Braedyn: No thank you, Mommy.

Me: If you are done, you need to help me clean it up.

Braedyn: That’s OK, Mommy. You can.

Me: If you don’t come and help me clean it up, I will throw it ALL AWAY.

Braedyn: OK, Mommy. You can. You can throw it all away.

Me: If you don’t come in here and help clean it up, I. WILL. THROW. EVERY. SINGLE. TOY. IN. THIS. HOUSE. AWAY.

I’m happy to report, my table is once again clean.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What’s that Smell?


Koko: Smell my breath, aaaahhhh…

Charmin: No, smell MY breath, aaaaahhh…

There is a Chipmunk Among Us

Apparently Emily was inflicted with the chipmunk gene. What is it exactly? It’s the innate ability to hold food in your cheeks until one of two things happen. Either your parents go absolutely bonkers and give in and tell you to just spit it out, or you sit there long enough that the sustenance finally completely dissolves through the pores in your cheeks. Which could take weeks. This is a gene that she must have donned from her Dad’s side of the family. She might ask her Uncle Chris how best to manage this tedious affliction. He had it growing up too. I am told he could hold beef in his cheeks so long that every inkling of pigment would be gone.

Last night the chipmunk gene reared its ugly head for the first time. Sadly, I’m willing to bet a gallon of organic milk it won’t be the last. I IMGP1822.PEFwas trying my magic rhyming skills to get Emily to eat. I’m happy to report it still worked. Well, sort of. It managed to get the food INTO her mouth, but that’s as far as it got. I didn’t realize this at first, so we were on about our third bite when I realized her cheeks were filling up and she wasn’t chewing. Instead she was shoving. Shoving all the food into her ever-expanding cheeks.

IMGP1824.PEFSo what was the outcome? Well, she’s not still sitting at the table gleaning nutrition via absorption. Which means the other of possible outcomes occurred. Greg and I surrendered to the Food Princess and let her spit it out so she could eat her cupcake.

Food Princess – 1
The Parents – 0

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gender Confusion

Today was a rough day for Braedyn.

Last night we had guests over for dinner and he drank way too much juice, ate too much dessert, and went to bed too late.

I made it worse by letting him get up and play video games for the first two hours of the day. This resulted in a SEVERE case of what I call VGS or Video Game Syndrome. This is that horrible crappy feeling you have when you have over stimulated your brain, given it too much sugar, not enough air, and way too many realistic 3D immersive games. This condition has a very strange bell curve. It affects the young and the wise (not going to call myself old just yet). Between the ages of 14 or so and the late twenties there is a strange resistance to VGS.

I am working in the yard when Emily runs out back to tell me lunch is ready (totally naked btw, not relevant but a funny sight nonetheless) and I hear Braedyn crying hysterically in the house. Nonstop tears. A VGS breakdown in full swing. After a typical He Said/She Said volley…

Susanne: “You eat, I will sit with him.”

Me: “No you eat, and I will sit with him.”

Susanne finally won and sat with him while I ate my lunch. Eventually we traded places at which time the Battle For Daddy’s Lap ensued. I could hear the announcer “On this side of daddy’s lap we have Naked Emily. On the other side we have Crying Braedyn.” I could have put the Great Wall of China down the middle of my body and they would have STILL found a way to kick and poke each other across my lap.

After finally throwing Emily out of the ring for ignoring the referee’s commands to keep it a clean fight Braedyn started to calm down. He looks up and starts playing with my ear.

Braedyn: “Is that a hole in your ear daddy?”

Me: “It sure is. I used to have an earring.”

Braedyn: “Was that when you were a boy or a girl?”

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Kiss Me Whoa!

In elementary school growing up in Carson City there was a young man by the name of Jonathan.  He had a “Bah-ston” accent and dressed in collared button downs.  This is in third grade.  Who dresses their kids in collared button downs in third grade. Jonathan had a peculiar way about him and did not fit in with the other kids.  This coming out of my mouth is comical in itself.  I fit in as well as a square peg in a round whole when I was younger.  Nerdlier than nerdly myself my hero was Mr. Spock (yes, I can still do a Vulcan salute) and one of my more common responses was “that’s not very logical”.  You get the picture. 

But Jonathan had this particular habit that I remember.  Whenever he was TOUCHED he would fly across the playground screaming “WHOOOOAAAA” as though he had been thrown off the highest of cliffs and he would “bounce” off of any nearby object whether they be walls, other people or playground equipment. Kids would do this in the most dramatic of ways approaching him slowly with their finger extended like you do when you know you are going to get a FANTASTIC static electric shock because when the “touch” actually happened, you knew there was going to be a show. Now when I think about this happening I have the visual of an Oompa Loompa spinning like a top bouncing off bumpers in a pinball machine.  I now feel bad for Jonathan.  Obviously he had even more issues than the rest of us at that age.

My oldest son Jacob has made it nearly through high school and next year Braedyn will be entering kindergarten and Emily a couple years after that.  I think about how my two youngest will get along with the other kids when they start school and often I think about poor Jonathan and how he was made fun of almost every day.  He has entered my mind every day now for the last four months. Why you ask?  Was I the bully who relentlessly “touched” Jonathan’s shoulder to make him pinball around the playground?  No, but I was there and laughed.

Each night now, my daughter asks me to let her “Kiss Me Whoa.”  This is a ritual we have been practicing for about four months now. (yes, four months, coincidence?  I think not). It goes like this.

Emily is tucked in bed. Mom and dad are SOOO ready for their box wine.  Emily says “Kiss me whoa daddy!”.  I lean in and I present my RIGHT CHEEK to her puckered lips.  It MUST be the RIGHT CHEEK or I will be punished with pouting and “NOOO DADDY!!!”.

She will then grab my face, kiss my right cheek, then turn my head to kiss my left cheek.  During this kiss the face is squeezed, her lips are pressed hard against my face because she is getting ready to fire me out of the cannon.  I will of course have to predict the moment of the end of the kiss and …

then I will scream “WHOOOOAAAA” as though I have been thrown off the highest of cliffs and “bounce” off of any nearby object whether they be walls, children's toys or dogs. I put on my best impression of an Oompa Loompa spinning like a top bouncing off bumpers in a pinball machine until I have made it out the door and out of her line of site.

Jonathan, I hope you read this and realize you have the last laugh.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Whose Toes are Those?


Yeah, yeah. Blue, boy. Pink, girl. But I don’t think this could technically be considered gender biasing. Could it?

I’m Selling My Soul for a Gallon of Organic Milk

OK, so I’m not selling my soul, but I might have to start selling some vital organs on eBay if I want to keep up the healthy food choices I’ve made for our family.

A quick report run in Quicken this morning had me choking on my Kashi Heart To Heart cereal. Seriously. I had no idea it was my grocery shopping that was the greedy little money whore sucking away our income. I thought for sure I could blame Greg for some impulse tech purchase or even Braedyn’s swimming lessons. Nope. I only have me to blame. And I could cry about it.

My grocery spending is out of control - just about double what it was a year ago. Yes, I know prices have gone up on everything. Gas. Movie rentals. Bubble gum. Box wine. Dirt. But it also has to do with the choices I’m making. I’m a label reader to a fault. I just want the best for my family. “No high fructose corn syrup for you!” And apparently this sentiment comes at an astronomical sticker price.

So, now the conundrum. Do I save money by compromising the integrity of the ingredients in the food my family eats (and my own integrity by shopping at the morally objectionable mega-corp Walmart)? Or do I get a part-time job at Whole Foods to get their discount AND the added bonus of a bona fide paycheck?

If I ease up on my family’s dietary regiment, I feel like I’m failing their healthy bodies AND foregoing my principles (even if my kids would adorn me with princess tiaras and butterfly wings for stocking up on some Kool-Aid instead of 100% juice, Otter Pops instead of 100% juice pops, and Cheetos instead of strawberries). If I don’t ease up, the greedy little money whore wins.

You’re thinking there must be some middle ground somewhere. The thing is, I’m frugal. I do my best to stock up when things are on sale. I’ll buy the cheaper of two cereals that pass my label test. (You know, can I UNDERSTAND the ingredients, and does it have close to 5 mg of sugar per serving?) I’ll forgo the organic strawberries if the other ones look just as scrumptious. I’ll pick the cheaper of two nitrate free hot dogs and the cheaper of two box wines. I will! But apparently this isn’t enough.

How do I like them apples? I don’t. Even if they ARE organic.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

They Won’t Be 20 and Not Know Their ABCs

I’ve been in play group circles where the discussion among the moms was nothing more than a “one-up” feast for ravenous egomaniacs. Where the talk was all about what their little one had accomplished since the last time we had all been together. Only a week ago. First crawler. First walker. First babbler. First to be potty-trained. First to solve Cantor’s Theorem. Let me be clear about something. I hated this. I have since emancipated myself from this circle where the moms placed a tremendous burden on their children to accomplish sooner, quicker, better so that their own identity as a “successful” mother can be stroked. Hell, I’m surprised I hadn’t been expelled for being an under-achiever.

One of the burning topics among this group of women was preschool education. After all, getting that notch of early reader on their child’s forehead FIRST would be a monumental mark of (their own) achievement. So, their search was on for the BEST preschool with the MOST QUALIFIED teachers and the HIGHEST academic reputation. No one but a person with graduate school level teaching credentials would qualify to indoctrinate their little poop buckets.

Don’t throw a book at me. I’m not anti-education. Far from it. I’m all for education. Education that’s appropriate for your child, not your ego. When educational choices are made based on the child, and not anyone’s self-aggrandizing motives, I think the sky is the limit. Pushing your child to achieve, achieve, achieve at such an early age is not about marking your child’s success, but your own.

Braedyn will be an “old 5” going into Kindergarten, meaning he’s just missed the birthday cutoff to start this Fall. Emily will be the same way. And to that I say, “HOORAY!” I’m in no hurry to push them into academia. They have their whole lives to hit the books. Right now it’s about being a kid. To me my children’s appropriate education consists of:

  • Learning to listen.
  • Figuring out which bugs to stay away from and those that are ok to chase down and put in a bug cage.
  • Deciding who is cooler, Spiderman or Batman.
  • Learning to be kind to others.Including each other.
  • Figuring out JUST how much dirt a diaper will hold before it’s time to evacuate the sand box.
  • Learning to say please and thank you.
  • Realizing that sprinklers are not scary and are actually FUN to run through.
  • Figuring out which markers come off of the skin in the bathtub and those that don’t. OK, this one is for MY education!
  • Learning to take turns.
  • Learning to be quiet in the library, or at least MOSTLY quiet.
  • Learning to blow their own noses. And wipe their own bums.
  • Learning to Stop. Look. Listen. before crossing the street.
  • Learning that a little vinegar in a load of wash will help eradicate the smell of pee. Oops, again, that one’s for me.
  • Learning to steer clear of the big gaping holes in park play structures so mom doesn’t have a coronary.
  • Learning that rock trumps scissors.

Greg and I read to Emily and Braedyn every day. At least twice a day. It’s part of our routine, and it’s fun. They love it, and for us it is usually a marker that they are going to bed soon and we’re going to get some eagerly anticipated adult time. They are picking up things at their own pace. If they ask about something, we talk about it. If they want to sing the ABCs, then we sing them.

My point? My children will not be in their twenties and not know their ABCs. They may however be in their twenties and forget how fun it is to run through a sprinkler. And that’s a lesson I think some people need to learn.

Shiver Me Timbers, Me Hearty!


Emily hollered at me today, “Look, Mommy! I a pirate!” Aye, Matey. That you are. You stole my heart.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

But Bacon Tastes GOOOOOOOD

Alright all you bacon lovers out there (or even the bacon curious), I just HAVE to share this easy and scrumptious hors d’oeuvre recipe with you. (Thank you Jason and Jen for giving it to us years ago!) It’s so mouth watering, Jules Winnfield would set down Mr. 9mm, sit at your table, pop a few, and lick his fingers. Plus, Greg took some kick ass photos of them; it just didn’t seem right to let them sit there unshared in my Picasa program.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 pounds bacon
2 cans whole water chestnuts

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix the sugar and ketchup and set aside. You’re lovin’ how easy this is so far, huh?
  3. Cut the bacon in half.
  4. Wrap the bacon around a water chestnut (either a whole one or a half one) and pierce with a toothpick to hold it in place.
  5. Put it on a cookie sheet.
  6. Repeat until all bacon and/or water chestnuts are gone.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and baste with the sugar/ketchup mixture.
  9. Bake for another 30 minutes.
  10. Try and stop after eating just one. I dare you.

So the kick-ass pictures:

Before baking:

After baking:

These might even temp the Dark Knight out of vegetarianism.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Picasso of Couches

We were having a family dinner at our house for Jacob’s 17th birthday (holy flying spaghetti monster!), and I felt like I had picked up the cushions on the couch in the front room at least 17 times in my obsessive-compulsive cleaning mania I get in when we are having people over. Oh wait, I DID clean up the cushions 17 times. Obviously a number indicative of our guest of honor. Braedyn and Emily use these cushions to make forts, beds, bridges, rocket ships, concert stages, and dog houses. No kidding. They create. And I pick them up. And they create. And I pick them up. Again and again. Finally, I was tired of being a broken record. And not in the cool old school Run DMC scratchy way:

Since I was done being the couch police, I made putting the couch back together and making it “pretty” sound like a game for the kids. I do this by letting THEM think it is a good idea, and by ending each sentence with an enthusiastic, “Doesn’t that sound like FUN?” Don’t laugh. It worked. Well, sort of. I heard, “Mommy, the couch is pretty!” and this is what I saw:


What I want to know is who’s been training them in the ways of Picasso when I wasn’t looking? And could you get them to do it on PAPER instead?

There Was a Young Lady that Growled at a Fly, I Don’t Know Why She Growled at the Fly

Well, actually I do know why. And I’ll tell you.

We have two dogs. Koko and Charmin. Koko came first to us about a year ago. She was less than a year old, and the people who had her on Craigslist said their landlord wouldn’t allow them to keep her any longer. We adopted her on the spot because she was great with kids. It didn’t take us long to figure out that the landlord spiel was just a ruse. A cover-up for the real reasons she was being banished from this family. A few of those meticulously crafted lies we were told? Oh, let’s see…

  • “She’s house broken.” The truth: Um, I have a spot on my carpet there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there, and there that says otherwise.
  • “She’s a cuddle bug.” The truth: She loves to cuddle with you…in your bed. Regardless of whether you want her there or not. It doesn’t matter.
  • “Our children take her for a walk all the time.” The truth: She turns into Captain Spazmo when you try to put her collar on. Their young children, their itsy bitsy, tiny, young, WEAK children take her for a walk? No way. No how.
  • “She loves being outside.” The truth: She loves geography. So much so, she will try to get to China. From your backyard. Straight down.
  • “She loves people.” The truth: She freaks out when she’s alone. So much so you’d think she was getting ready to be pawcuffed, blindfolded, and strapped down in a dark closet with Skinny Puppy blaring at too high of a decibel level. Yeah, that kind of freak out.


After several months, I couldn’t take it anymore. When it was time to go somewhere, not only would I have to wrangle two kids and all their crap into the car, I would have to literally pick up this 50 pound fur ball and carry her outside. She could tell we were getting ready to leave, and she wanted to let me know she didn’t like it. Not one bit. Take her with me, you say? Yeah, we tried that. Once. I was in the middle of my suave acrobatic act, the one carefully crafted to keep the dog in and get the kids out, when she bolted. Freaked and bolted. I chased her. Dragging my kids. Screaming “KOKO” until I was hoarse. A sailor’s cursing would be considered benign when compared to what was going on in my head at that moment.

So, a few more weeks of dog hell, and I told Greg she had to go. A few months after that (yeah, you can see he listened to me), something in me decided to give her one more chance. One more very expensive chance. We called Bark Busters. It was Koko’s date with destiny. If it didn’t work, she was outta here. It cost a whole crap load of money. And what did we learn? We learned how to growl at our dog. And you know what? The shit worked. She is the best behaved dog, and I absolutely love her. She’s my favorite. (What? Our dogs can’t read. I can express favoritism!) Now if Charmin would follow suit, we’d be one happy family. Brady Bunch even.

So, Greg and I growl at our dogs to let them know who’s boss. Our growls sound something like a deep, guttural, “BAAAAAAAAAAGH!” The kids aren’t considered high in the dog pack, so they technically aren’t supposed to growl at the dogs. But children learn by example, right? And we growl in our house. A LOT. It actually comes very naturally and easy to us now. Probably TOO easily.

At any given moment in our house, you may hear something like this:

Braedyn: “Charmin! Get off of my legos! BAAAAAAAGH!”

Emily: “Koko licked me!” (Tears) “BAAAAAAAAGH!”

Me to Charmin as her nose is precariously close to that dinner plate on the table: “BAAAAAAAAGH!”

Emily after being told she can’t have more juice: “Mommy!” (Tears) “I want more juice!” (Emphatically) “BAAAAAAGH!”

Emily: “Charmin’s on Didi!” (Her blankie!) (Tears) “BAAAGH!”

Emily to Braedyn: “Give it back!” (Tears) “BAAAAGH!”

Me to snoring husband: “Roll over! BAAAGH!”

So, there you go. We growl a lot. At the dogs. At each other. It’s engrained into us as a way to express frustration. To dole out discipline. Whatever. If it doesn’t work, it at least makes us feel better.

And then today:

Me to a fly: “BAAAAGH!”

Yup. It popped out of my mouth before I even thought about how absurd it was.

There was a young lady that growled at a fly. Now you know why she growled at a fly.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Magic Of Words

Last night Susanne and I climbed into the ring with our mouth guards in, hands wrapped and mind prepped for the battle that is….dinner.

You see, our children don’t eat.  Ever.  I swear.  And it’s not that they eat junk food all day, that I can assure you.  Susanne shops at Whole Foods and they don’t sell Twinkies or Doritos as far as I know.  Yes, they have cookies and such, but Susanne is doing her very best to feed them right and raise two children who will eat Captain Crunch with chocolate milk and a side of ice cream for breakfast as soon as they hit the college dining commons because they didn’t know such worldly delights EXISTED!

Last night for dinner they were served a MINISCULE serving of Caribbean jerk pork, rice, cheese, apples (for Braedyn) and applesauce (Emily).  They wouldn’t touch any of it.  I looked across at Susanne and said “If they at least eat the rice that would be a good thing. Children in poor countries survive on rice alone don’t they?”   Susanne laughed and says “I was thinking the exact same thing”. We have been married long enough to have a Uni-Mind.

They didn’t eat the rice.

Both Emily and Braedyn got down from the table after asking to be excused for the 15th time. That’s the legal limit.  As a parent you have to say yes or you are required to make Mac & Cheese.  We say yes. I could see that Susanne was frustrated and ready to try something new when her furrowed brow straightened and she smiled.

Susanne: “Emily, watch this..” as she scoops a forkful of rice. “Abracadabra, alakazue watch me turn this rice BLUE!”

It must have been some helluva magic spell, because not only was I convinced the rice was blue but Emily comes running over with her mouth open like a boa swallowing a crocodile.  I swear her jaw was unhinged. Next time I will get a picture.

I pinched myself.  I must be dreaming.  Now I am sure that none of you have heard that exact magic spell before, variations yes, but not that exact spell and neither have I. It was at that point that Susanne started pulling all the spells she could out of her magic hat.  What I was wondering, do magic spells have to rhyme?  Apparently so, but they don’t have to make sense to work.

“Alakazuba spooga, zoo, make this rice tasty goo”

That wouldn’t have sold me but Emily ate it. Then it got worse.

“Ah-La kazaba naba nooby nood watch me turn this rice into Princess food!”

Emily takes another bite as Susanne offers it.  At this point I am trying to keep my rice from coming out of my nose like a Gattling gun.  Seriously.  Any parent knows if you laugh, the kids will know something is wrong and the gig is up.

“Smackity spickety speegally spoo this rice is now ooogally oooh”

It still worked. It’s a good thing Emily finished her rice first because if she had done it one more time my Pepsi would have propelled my rice out of my nose at high velocity and somebody could have gotten hurt.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I will lift my glass to you…again..and again.. and again.. and…….

If you have followed this blog you may have learned that Susanne and I have a bit of a box wine problem. We enjoy our cheap wine, maybe just a little too much.  In fact, when she asked if we were going to go the the IGT wine tasting again I pointed out that for the price of the tickets we could get 11 boxes of wine, an equivalent of 71.5 bottles of wine and she agreed so we didn’t go. I guess since we didn’t run out and get 11 boxes we don’t have THAT much of a problem.

When we realized that we were going through a box a week and Susanne did some quick math we decided it was time to cut back.  Susanne comes home one day and drags me into the kitchen and says “I have a proposal, we will stop buying wine until we get rid of all the liqueur in the liqueur cabinet. When its empty we can start buying wine again.”

There are MANY fine and not so fine bottles of whiskey, scotch and miscellaneous hard liqueurs inhabiting that cabinet. I am going to let you readers all ponder the photo below. 


Yeah, that’s how I feel about it. Do I get to skip work this week?  Who is going to take care of the kids?  I would like to start drinking wine sometime this year.

So the first night we start working on it I am pushing to get through the bottle of apple pucker and what do I hear?

Susanne: “I didn’t say we had to finish it all on the first night!”

Me: “What?”

I love my wife, but holy invisible pink unicorn, what a buzzkill.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Ground Control to Major Tom

As Greg showed you earlier, Emily is getting a new room. This was a move that I think I was more excited about than she was. Why you ask? Because she has my ears. Poor thing. Her previous room shared a wall with our bathroom and our bedroom, which means the infinitesimal sound made by the simple act of opening up our medicine cabinet could cause her to squirm and wake up. She has definitely gotten better over the last six months or so, but she has a rough sleeping life ahead of her if she doesn’t outgrow this. Trust me. I know. Greg is all too painfully aware of this as well. He has already been awoken from a deep sleep with the words, “Can you turn over PLEASE” more times in his marriage to me than any man should really have to endure. Ever. Luckily he rolls over and falls right back to sleep and doesn’t stew over it. Much.

So Emily’s PINK room is done, and she’s all moved in. The one sad thing in this move that I’d like to share with you is what we painted over. She is now in what used to be Braedyn’s room, and Braedyn is in what used to be Jacob’s room. When we moved into this house Emily wasn’t in the picture yet, but the boys were and they each got their rooms specially painted for them by a fantastic woman named Maureen Rector. This phenomenal woman has the biggest and sweetest heart and has talent equally as large. She can make brick look like wood. She can make stucco look like marble. She can make your man look like Brad Pitt. I honestly don’t know of any limitations this amazing woman has.

Braedyn was so young when we moved in that we picked the theme of his room. Outer space. I always wanted to go to Space Camp growing up, and my first major in college at Texas A&M was Aerospace Engineering. Space has always fascinated me. If I had known then what I know today about our boy, I never would have picked this theme for his room. Instead it would have been floor to ceiling Spiderman, Hot Wheels, Batman, racing tracks, monster trucks, and pirates. And somehow Maureen would have made it all work, I’m sure.

The space room was so cool. The details were spectacular. One of the astronauts had Braedyn’s name on his suit. The alien in the space ship is waving at you. And the best part is the surprise alien shushing you in the closet, asking you to keep its presence a secret.

But, alas, it is now gone forever. Well, forever from that room. I’m happy to keep the space room alive here. Check it out:





I keep telling Greg I want to make our room look like a stormy day at the beach. Storm clouds. Tumultuous, crashing waves. Inviting sand. I’d even pump in the smell of sea salt and seaweed. He just won’t go for it. Guess he will only settle for the real thing. I’m ALL for that!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Dare

So, I’ve spent most of my free time reading other people’s blogs today. Usually when the kids are making no peeps (aka napping), I like to sleep, read, or write about the kids for MarriedGeeks. Today though, I’m riled up. I’m fired up. And strangely enough I feel bummed, a bit down, at the same time. And yes, I’ve taken my “Women’s Relaxing” pills, thank you very much.

Why is it that reading inspiring political blogs like I read today (list to come) that I could feel so down? Is it because our future is SO completely uncertain in this country right now? I mean really, who wants to vote Republican when there are SO many personal freedoms at stake? Bring on higher taxes if it means my rights as a woman were left the fuck alone. Bring on higher prices at the pump if it means my gay and lesbian friends have EQUAL rights. I laugh when I hear Republicans refer to themselves as freedom defenders, as the government with the least personal involvement. Sure if their only damn freedoms involve money in their pocket and a gun in their closet, that might be true. Sure they don’t want the government involved in your personal *business* decisions, but they’ll be damned if they aren’t going to nose their way into your *personal* ones. Your bedroom! Your doctor’s office! No where is exempt from these nosy little bastards. Birth control is abortion? Give me a flippin’ break! Am I supposed to stop wearing pants and give up my right to vote too?

I don’t want another DAY, let alone another four years of a government that makes decisions based on theology. I am very capable of making moral decisions. Seriously. Get the hell out of my bedroom. Get the hell out of my doctor’s office. And for that matter, get the hell out of the way of scientific research.

OK, I feel a little better now for having vented. A little.

I know there are many other issues at stake in this election. The war. Health care. Education. But I AM a stay-at-home mom with limited time to write. I hear the kiddos stirring from no-peephood to peephood as I type.

So quickly, my husband’s ex-wife’s new husband, Joe (got that?), a very PROUD republican, challenged me to wear an Obama shirt. Every day. EVERY day. (Joe, if you are reading this far into this blog, I’m impressed!) I ordered one. I like his dare. Other than wash days, I think I’ll have to make this a personal goal. Why? Why NOT! I don’t want anyone thinking I’d EVER be voting for the other guy. I don’t want anyone thinking I’ve forgotten personal freedoms and how much people have fought to get them. To me that is an atrocity. Monstrous. We can have personal freedoms AND sound economics in this country. We’ve had it before. We’ll have it again.

Go Barack Obama!

OK, the blogs I owe some credit to for getting me all fired up today are:

Dooce (I ADORE her!)
Libby Logic

Damn it, who kicked my soap box out from under me. Joe, was that you? :-P

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Help You Daddy!


Time to paint Emily’s room pink.  Not just any Pink, but Disney PRINCESS Pink. In the process Emily just HAD to help.  The above photo shows her best effort at “Helping Daddy!”

A Day at Granny’s


I had forgotten my camera (gasp!) for Braedyn’s first swim lesson, so on the way to pick up my mom (Granny), I asked if she’d bring hers. It was no surprise that it was already in her hands ready to go. She let me bring her camera home to get the pictures off of it, and this picture was there too. It was taken the day I dropped Emily off at my mom’s while I took Braedyn to his dreaded robot tooth check-up appointment. This picture screams “Day at Granny’s” to me. The hat. The purse. The furniture. The boots. What’s really geeky cool is I used Photoshop to brush out the electrical strip and cables that lurked in the background. Don’t look too closely, I’m not a guru like my husband.

Punch That Clown

As a parent, I have learned to give a countdown to an event, so that when that event is actually upon us, it does not come as a shock to little systems. For example, when a play date is just about over, I will let the kids know they have “Ten more minutes!” “Five more minutes!” “Three more minutes!” “One more minute!” “It’s time to go!”

Depending on how much fun they are having or how close to bedtime it is, some days that 10 minutes can stretch to a half hour or more; other days that 10 minutes will last only five. Oh help me when they actually start telling time. This generally works for Braedyn and Emily because they know the impending doom that lay ahead – bed time, quiet time, end of a play date, etc. They may still procrastinate (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree), but they generally aren’t all freaked out and tantruming because they didn’t see it coming.

Last night this countdown backfired on me. After Braedyn crawled into bed for the night, I leaned down and kissed him. I got all overly-animated and smiley and mentioned that he was going to have his first swim lesson in the morning. I thought he’d be excited. Um, I thought wrong. I didn’t just get a piercing look of shock and horror. Oh, no. His little eyes started to swell with tears. I knew he was trepidatious around water, but we had visited the swim school and thought he’d be charged about going. Yeah, not so much. But I managed to save it by pulling my foot out of my mouth and promising that he’d get to pick a prize out of the swim school's prize bucket after the class was over. This little factoid seemed to put his mind at ease.

He seemed a little more assured this morning, and he actually was excited about getting to wear his Spiderman swim trunks. We got to the swim school and had to buy him some goggles. I knew he needed some and the 99 cent pair I brought with us had broken for the twentieth bazillion time, so I coughed up the 12 bucks for a pair of theirs. Ouch! This made him happy though. He got to pick out the color (blue), and he seemed chipper.

Silver Bear Swim School runs a tight ship and is very organized with the comings and goings of the kids and parents before and after a class. Braedyn went with the instructor to his section of the pool, while Granny, Emily, and I sat in the waiting area and watched his lesson through the glass. He was the only one with this particular instructor today. I doubt we’ll be that lucky each week, but it was sure a treat for his first lesson. I was completely impressed with the way she handled him. There were some tears shed. Sure. There were some pleading arms reaching out for me a couple of times. Sure. But by the end of that half hour, the miracle-worker instructor had him at arms length moving him through the pool and up to a platform where he got to punch a blow-up clown. For a boy who is always being told not to hit, that was a big treat. Braedyn was even laughing and splashing her by the end of their short time together.

So, we had a big day. He had his first swim lesson. He got to pick out new (cough) $12 goggles. But what were his first words to Greg when we called him to talk about the lesson? “Daddy, I got a prize from the bucket!” And what was that prize that he picked? A tiger tattoo. An itsy-bitsy tiger tattoo. I must remember this at Christmas.

I screwed up the countdown routine with Emily today too. I should have been counting down to the end of Braedyn’s lesson because when it was over, she was very upset. Because she wanted to watch Braedyn some more? Oh, hell no. Through tears she pleaded, “I want to run on the water. Like Scooby-Doo.” I told her she had about a year to go before she did swim lessons. This countdown didn’t make her happy either. Countdown be damned! I obviously need to work on this skill which takes precise timing and delivery.