Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buying a Pet Door for a Fat Cat

This entry is modified from my original blog, so it might seem familiar. Repurposing material can be seen as either genius or lazy. It’s your call.

Years ago, when I had a cat, I decided to install a cat door between my new “pet room” (a.k.a. the air conditioned garage) and the rest of the house. That way the cat could access his litter box but the dogs and my then-toddler son could no longer reach it. I figured that this would cut down on the amount of the times I needed to shout “Leave it!” at the dogs and “Please don’t touch that!” to my kid.

The biggest problem was choosing the correct size. The smallest pet door seemed like a logical choice, especially since it had a picture of a dog on the front that appeared to be about the same size as my cat. But when I got the door out and looked at it, I had some serious doubts. It was only five inches wide by seven inches tall. I slid the opening over the body of my suspicious, sixteen-pound cat. It fit, but when he was sitting down I really had to squish him through it. I decided to look into larger doors, although I really liked the construction of this one, including the slide which covered the opening to keep the cat from using the door when I wanted to keep him in or out of the room.

My parents, who helped me with this project, located two alternate pet doors. One was made by the same company, but it was the next size up. Unfortunately, a pet door large enough to fit a 40-pound dog was also large enough to fit both a 27-pound toddler and my Whippet. Having a pet door big enough to let my kid and one of my dogs through defeated the purpose.

A different company made a special door called “Chubby Cat!” After I got done laughing I decided that I should check out the Chubby Cat door because clearly my cat fit that description.

Upon examination, the Chubby Cat door had one glaring flaw. Like most pet doors, it had an option to keep the cat in or out by locking the door. Unfortunately, instead of providing a different colored slide to make it obvious that the door was locked, this contraption had no real way for the cat to tell when the door was impassable. The door was clear. In case you aren’t seeing the problem here, with this door a cat could be running toward it, attempt to jump through, and smash into the immovable door. Yes, this was a funny image, but the reality was harsh. How many times is a cat going to use the door after smashing his head into a hard plastic flap? My guess is, never. I decided that perhaps the Chubby Cat people actually had something against fat cats and they were hoping to slowly reduce the population one broken neck at a time.

So the Chubby Cat door went back to the store. This left me back with my original option. I decided to go ahead and install it and see what happened.

I removed the flap entirely so that my cat would have the maximum opening width possible. I could still slid the (obvious) door in place to block him in if necessary. I put him on one side of the door and my son and I sat with treats on the other. We coaxed and begged, but my cat wouldn’t budge. I think he knew very well that we could open the door and let him in if we wanted to. The problem was compounded by the fact that my two-and-a-half-year-old son didn’t really understand the concept, so he kept chucking the treats through the door to the cat waiting on the other side.

Finally I decided that I would just leave the cat in the room and allow him to jump out when he pleased. Eventually, he did just that. It shook the door a bit as his plump sides squeezed through, but he made it. And at least when the flap was closed, he knew it.

(Disclaimer – I’m sure the Chubby Cat people are nice folks. Perhaps they just have more faith in fat cats than I do, and they think they can figure this stuff out. And maybe they can, I just didn’t want to find out!)

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Letters

Read previous letters here , here, here, and here.  Obviously I like writing letters. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Inappropriate to Compare Your Children to Each Other...

...unless you do it for comedic purposes in a blog post. Then it's just funny.

My children attended the same preschool as they grew (my daughter is still there), and have so far had the same teachers. So when I opened the package of gifts my daughter made for us at school this year, I found the same gift that my son brought home three years ago: a decorated hot plate. When I put them both up near each other, Husband and I noticed some striking differences. I'm sure you will too.

This is a portion of my daughter's plate:

You can see that she carefully glued on the sequins, spreading them evenly throughout the branches in rows. She pasted a star exactly at the top. To the right of this beautifully decorated tree, she wrote her name long ways down the side. It's easy to read and includes mostly lower case letters. When she made this, she was four years and one month old.*

My son was four years and two months old when he made his hot plate: 

Now, we weren't actually in the room while he made this, but Husband and I are pretty sure we know how this art project went. 

Teacher: "Squeeze out a little glue where you'd like the sequins to stick."


Teacher: "Very nice, everyone! OH. Oh my. That's a lot of glue, Boy. Wow."

Teacher: "OK, now place your sequins as you would like them on your tree. They are supposed to look like ornaments so you might want to put a few on each branch, but do it however you want."

Boy: DUMP. Shake shake. "DONE!"

Notice that The Boy actually has a star on the top of the tree as well. It's pretty terrible to admit that when we saw that his sister did that, we thought she was a genius, but when we saw that he did it, we came to the conclusion that the teacher must have suggested that they all do that. And probably helped them with it.

There's no doubt that my kids are wildly different, particularly in terms of art projects. The Girl revels in a good art project. She calls it "crafting." At any time she might ask, "Can we craft today?" Our house is decorated in pictures taped to random walls all at kid level (I curse the day she learned to use Scotch tape). She brings her creative eye to drawings, paintings, photography, and fashion.

The Boy thinks art is something that you have get done with in order to get to do fun things. Make a card for someone's birthday? No chance. Slap a little paint on a Christmas ornament for a relative? You'd think that I was asking him to write a novel using all his spelling words and illustrating each page. In pre-K, his teacher had a rule that the kids had to use at least three colors on the pictures they drew every week in their journals. And every week, The Boy asked if he could use only two colors "just this time." (The answer was always no, but she gave him points for persistence.) 

In fact, when he was a toddler, The Boy worked hard to make art projects into sports. For example, we once had a pack of new markers and I encouraged him to draw. He'd make one line with each color on his paper, replace the lid, and bowl the marker across the kitchen tiles. As each marker slid into another, he would cheer. 

The Boy will probably never be an artist. But children are encouraged to color, paint, draw, and play with clay not only because it helps develop creativity, but also because it builds small motor skills that will later be used in writing, shoelace tying, and shirt buttoning.

The Girl has fantastic small motor skills. At about age 18 months, hers were equivalent to a four-year-old's. (I only know this because her health problems required extensive testing. I don't make small-motor skill evaluations part of my regular regimen.) And, as you might guess, The Boy's small motor skills are exceptionally poor, to the point of needing to learn to type soon so that he can keep up with his first grade school work. Now, his Tourette's Syndrome and related disorders play into those deficiencies, and most likely, one of the reasons he hates creating art is because it is always a little harder for him than for everybody else. But if he'd have enjoyed it and actually worked at it a bit, I'm sure he'd be better off than he is now. If only I could have invented some competitive marker-ing sport....

So, the moral of this story is... keep your kid's Christmas art? Try to make your kids draw and do other art projects so that they will have good small motor skills? Poking fun of your kids' shortcomings in print can be fun? Tourette's Syndrome sucks?

Not sure. You pick. Happy Holidays! 

*If you look closely at these photos you can see the reflection of my hands holding the camera. I'm so professional. 

(For crap's sake, buy your kids some markers. And make sure they are washable. You'll thank me later for that.)       

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12 Days of Christmas, Mom-style

I wrote my own version of this (very long, it turns out) Christmas carol today and decided that I absolutely had to go the extra mile and record it for your listening pleasure. I did it in one take (with just one try), using my webcam and laptop mic. So after listening you can either compliment me on my awesomeness or suggest I practice more. Or take singing lessons. Whichever. **

(You might have to turn your volume up to really hear it.)


On the first day of Christmas, my children gave to me a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the second day of Christmas, my children gave to me two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the third day of Christmas, my children gave to me three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the fourth day of Christmas, my children gave to me four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my children gave to me pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my children gave to me six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my children gave to me seven damp stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my children gave to me eight cups spilled OJ, seven damp stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my children gave to me nine matchbox underfoot, eight cups spilled OJ, seven damp stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my children gave to me 10 furniture leapings, nine matchbox underfoot, eight cups spilled OJ, seven damp stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my children gave to me 11 instruments playing,  10 furniture leapings, nine matchbox underfoot, eight cups spilled OJ, seven soggy stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my children gave to me 12 video games humming, 11 instruments playing, 10 furniture leapings, nine matchbox underfoot, eight cups spilled OJ, seven damp stuffed animals, six toys a-lying, pee on the floor, four nighttime wake-ups, three sticky scissors, two fighting siblings and a toilet-paper-clogged potty.

Merry Christmas, moms and dads!

**Yes, those are my dogs wrestling in the background. They apparently need their nails cut. Welcome to my crazy. (And I know I changed keys here and there. That's part of my charm.)

The Value of the Vagina

After sharing yesterday's facts-of-life discussion with my son, I thought this would be a great time to post my first ever "behind the jump" blog entry. That's right; if you want to read the whole story, you'll have to click the "read more" link below. This will allow those allergic to reading the word "vagina" to avoid using their epi-pen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No, That’s Not Candy

Today I had to unexpectedly explain a part of the facts of life to my seven-year-old son. We finished a doctor’s appointment and headed into the bathroom together before our long ride home. He finished before I did and washed his hands while I was still in a stall. The conversation went something like this:

Boy: Hey, I want some candy! Give me a quarter.

Me: Where are you going to get candy from?

Boy: This machine!

Me: …

Me: That’s not a candy machine.

Boy: What kind of machine is it then?

Me: …

Me: It’s a machine for mommies.

Boy: What for?

Me: It’s just stuff mommies sometimes need.

Boy: Well give me a quarter anyway; I want to see what it is.

Me: …

Me: [Hurrying the hell up] No.

Boy: What is it then?

Me: [Silent GRRRR] Well, it’s something mommies, I mean, women really, use because once a month blood comes out and they need something to keep their underwear from getting dirty.

Boy: …

Boy: What?

Me: Well… um… well, you see… when women have babies, they need a lot of extra blood, you know, for the babies. And if a woman isn’t pregnant, each month all the blood a woman would use for a baby just comes out. It just happens every month. It’s no big deal.

Boy: …

Boy: …

 Boy: Does this happen to you?

Me: Yes. It’s really not a big deal.

Boy: …

Boy: Will this happen to my sister someday too?

Me: Yes. But it’s best that we don’t tell her about it right now. She’s too little to understand. It might make her scared, you know? So let’s not talk about this with her [or anyone else on the planet canwebedonewiththisnow???].

Boy: OK.

Boy: I want to go press the elevator button with my elbow so that I don’t get my clean hands dirty.

Me: Good idea! You go do that.

Feel free to copy my awesome parenting skills to educate your own children about the wonders of womanhood.
(Not a candy machine. ----------------------------->)

The Beauty of Intentionally Messy Hair

Recently I realized that an intentionally messy hairdo can easily mask hair that is actually messy.


This model (HA!) tried to coax her hair into a reasonable hairstyle. It refused, and she feels like one big "hair don't." Her hair is Actually Messy.

But with a slight adjustment in attitude, Intentionally Messy hair is born. Now our model is confident and ready to face the challenges of the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, throw away your hairbrushes and embrace the mess! Then no one will notice your bad hair days.
(Garnier Fructis hair products go a long way in bringing the messy. For reals.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Gift Givers

Now that gift giving season is here, it’s a good time to examine different types of gift givers. The following is a thoughtful, researched examination, formulated through 39 years of being a discriminating gift receiver. 

Types of Gift Givers*

The “What Do You Want?” Giver

This Giver category is fairly easily recognized. If a holiday approaches and someone asks you what you want and then buys it for you, she is a WDYW Giver. This Giver’s focus is getting you something you really desire. Her nearly obsessive devotion to this may or may not come from a gift-giving insecurity (“What if they don’t like what I got them? HORRORS!”). Even if the WDYW Giver’s motivation is a Golden Retriever-like desire to please, it still results in you getting exactly what you want, which is never a bad thing. Unless what you want is crack. Then all bets are off.

Really ardent WDYW Givers fit in a sub-category called “If You Don’t Like It You Can Take It Back.” Some Givers in this genre carry the gift’s receipt with them or tape it to the back of the gift. This is really handy, but it may or may not be considered crass by those who focus on the sentiment of the gift giving season rather than the acquisition of material items (wussies).

The “I Know What You Want” Giver

This Giver shops for things she thinks you should want based on her estimations of your needs and/or lifestyle. Sometimes this works out well and you discover that you enjoy something new or that makes your life easier. Much of the time, this tactic simply provides you with a gift you hate. Extra aggravating is the giver who does this and doesn’t fall into the IYDLIYCTIB sub-category mentioned above. Unfortunately, this occurs quite often with IKWYW Givers, who are damn sure that you need what they gave you.

The “I Wish I Had This Myself” Giver

This category is pretty much self explanatory. It would be a billion times better if the IWIHTM Giver just bought the damn item for herself and gave you an iTunes gift card.

Perfectionist Packers

Any of the previous three types of givers might fall into the “Perfectionist Packer” category. PPs search long and hard for the perfect birthday card and match it with fancy wrapping paper. They spend hours curling bows or otherwise making presentation a priority. You almost hate to unwrap some of these gifts. Acknowledgement of the wrapping job pre-destruction is important if you want please a PP. And you do want to please them, because they are tenacious grudge-holders with impressive knife-wielding skills.

The “Oh Shit” Giver

The OS Giver really meant to buy you a nice present. She just ran out of time and remembered her need to purchase something about an hour before she was supposed to give it to you. Unfortunately, perpetual OS Givers are always surprised by birthdays and other gift-giving occasions (the annual nature of most of these events is somehow lost on them).

Usually, OS Givers are well-intentioned. They really wanted to get you something neat. They just suck at time-management (or maybe they are just scatterbrained). You know you have been gifted by an OS Giver when you receive odd or awkward items that can generally be purchased at a convenience store.

The “Don’t Give a Shit” Giver

This Giver knows that she needs to get you something. She’s just got better things to do than to put any effort into buying it. As a result, DGAS Givers buy you a present at wherever they happen to be shopping while fulfilling their own needs. You can track their recent shopping expeditions based on the item you unwrap. Set of markers or tube of paint and a brush? Ms. DGAS must have needed to purchase some craft supplies for her hobby (never mind that you are as artistically talented as a watermelon). A can of mixed nuts and an assortment of cheeses? Ah, it must have been grocery shopping day. A toothbrush and some floss stamped with a dentist’s name? Dental appointment time (and a bonus for the DGAS Giver, since she got those for free).

DGAS Givers are never PPs. They are likely to give you your gift in a plastic grocery bag with a knot tied at the top. Maybe.

We've all been an occasional OS Gift Givers (no?), and, to be honest, we've probably all dabbled in some of the other categories as well. Sometimes you have to buy a gift for a particular bitch co-worker and you just want to grab something and be done with it. And who hasn't tried to think outside the box and purchase something you think someone else might need rather than what she has asked for? Surprises can be nice, right? But with this list of Gift Giving types, you can now be aware of your general gift giving habits and adjust your behavior however you see fit. 

I wish you the happiest of holidays and as few DGAS gifts as possible. 

What's the worst gift you have ever gotten? Tell me in the comments below!

*In this article, all gift givers are referred to as “she.” We all know that men suck at gift-giving. It’s a scientific fact. **

**No it’s not. I just didn’t want to write “he/she” a bunch of times. That’s just damn aggravating.

(Thoughtful or lazy?)------------------------------------------------------------------------>

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Eight True Facts

  1. One filament of rabbit hair on a contact lens renders the wearer completely disabled.
  2. Everything is better with extra fudge.*
  3. Self-closing hatches on SUVs are far less awesome than they sound (and significantly more painful).
  4. If you are going to walk naked through your empty house to get your clothes from the laundry room, you had better be sure that your dog hasn't opened the blinds for you.
  5. The excitement you will feel when your preschooler finally learns how to spit out the toothpaste at the end of a brushing session will fade as you realize that your kid’s aim sucks, necessitating an extra 1,154 hours of cleaning time each year. Give or take.
  6. The same can be said for the joy of successful potty training, especially with boys.
  7. Floridians freeze in fairly mild weather because we only own two sweaters and they are both still dirty after that cold snap we had last year.
  8. Toys that poop are much more popular with children than with their parents.

*Buy someone chocolate for Christmas. Hell, buy ME chocolate for Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010


When I was in college but still living at home*, my mom decided to get a puppy. We already had an aging, quiet family dog, and, quite frankly, I thought she was nuts. At the time I worked in a pet store that sold mostly birds, but my boss had a German Shepherd Dog puppy that ran amuck in the store, biting my ankles and leaving messes for me to clean up. I was not impressed with puppies. Plus, we already had a dog. Why would you ever need more than one dog?
But she brought the pup home anyway, and our lives were changed for the better, even though Brandy turned out to be a challenge. After a year, the whole family happily adopted another dog, this one our first purebred (a Shih Tzu). I took Becca to a few matches and shows, and my fate was sealed. About 18 years later, I’ve owned six dogs, not including that Shih Tzu. Many of those dogs titled in various sports, and I have spent countless hours training and caring for them. I can’t imagine not sharing my life with a dog (or three). I can trace my current career as a freelance writer specializing in dog sports back to this humble beginning.

Of course, owning dogs means losing dogs, since their lives are so much shorter than ours. But one advantage to having multiple dogs is that, sooner or later, you start seeing traits in your new dogs that remind you of past ones.

Sometimes it’s small. For example, my young Papillon can throw himself into a down quickly like my crazy mixed breed, Gabby, used to. He also shares her passion for barking and running to the front door when the doorbell rings on television. 

But sometimes it’s big. Our newly rescued Beagle shares many traits with my dear Vizsla, including his passion for seeking out the source of smells and his belief that he should voice every feeling he’s having (and he has many). Every time Mr. Beagle starts drinking at the water bowl and finishes halfway across the kitchen (leaving puddles along the way), I remember my Vizsla's pendulous lips and many wet kitchen floors in years past. It makes me smile rather than swear.

Our former dogs can never be replaced. Even the ones that made us weary in their last years with senility, bad habits, and medical woes, are remembered fondly. We find ourselves dwelling on their good years and glossing over the bad ones. When we add a new dog we often surprise ourselves by discovering that we can love and cherish him as much as we did our older dogs. Our capacity for love seems to be limitless, as long as we allow it.

So if you are like me and you’re on your second (or third, or sixth) dog, look closely for signs of your previous dogs. I think you’ll find them, and that’ll make you love you current dog even more.

The famous Mr. Beagle, otherwise known as Wrigley (as in Field, not gum).

Spark, the speedy Papillon.

Payton, the wonder Whippet.

These photos were taken by The Girl, who, at four years old, is a better photographer than I am.

*I know it sounds like I was a nerd, but I saved a ton of scholarship money which I later used to buy a house.**

Friday, December 10, 2010

Letters of the Moment: Hairy Topics

Dear Hair,

I do not appreciate your inability to look the same every day. Why is it that I can use the same shampoo and styling aids and get wildly different results? Please get your act together. 

Your Friend,


(Maybe I need to give up and buy these---------------------------------->
Somehow the fact that they are made of actual human hair seems just totally creepy. Why is hair on a head OK and hair anywhere else horrible? )

Dear Hair Dye,

If I’m going to spend 30+ minutes applying you, you should stick around for a while. It’s only polite.



PS to gray hairs: Screw you.

(Maybe I should give up and just dye it blue. Then the gray hairs would be
the good ones. ---------------------------------------------------------->)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Very Least

On Wednesday, Husband picked The Boy up from school and took him and his sister to Chick-fil-a. It was a half day at public school, so The Boy had been served an early lunch, but The Girl’s preschool did not have a lunch break and she was hungry. Husband also hadn’t eaten, so he figured that a trip to a restaurant with kid friendly food, ice cream for dessert, and a play area would keep everyone happy.

Unfortunately, he was wrong. The Boy was grouchy and wanted to go home. No amount of reasoning could convince him that this plan was anything other than horrible. Finally, Husband got frustrated and said, “I know you aren’t hungry, but I picked a restaurant with a play area so that you could play while we eat. The least you could do is have a little bit better of an attitude.”

The Boy is seven going on 40, so this was his reply:

“No, the LEAST I could do is nothing. That’s the LEAST I could do.”

Husband was stunned silent. But they still went to Chick-fil-a. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Predictions vs. Reality: Work-Related Travel

In October, I left my mom-life behind for a five day trip to work at a prestigious dog agility event. Here are some of my pre-trip expectations and how they panned out:

Prediction: 0% chance that a small person would wake me at 2am needing sheets adjusted or changed, a drink of water, or a stern talking-to.

Reality:  True! What a joy it was to sleep unfettered by parental responsibility!

Prediction: 75% chance I’d be awakened at 5am by some asshole who doesn’t know how to close a hotel room door quietly.

Reality: Wrong! I heard nothing during the short naps I referred to as a night’ sleep. I think I was in a coma, but maybe this hotel actually had lots of awesomely responsible and caring guests. It was also probably helpful that my room was about two miles from the elevator, and similarly far from the stairs (hooray for big hotels!).

Prediction: 99% chance that my hotel would have bed bugs, since they really, really freak me out.

Reality: No bugs! Yay! It doesn’t even matter to me that my room was not cleaned regularly and some trash left over by the previous guests stayed on the floor in the corner for the entire time. See how great low expectations can be?

Prediction: 97% chance that I would not have to wipe anyone else’s butt. (Note that I didn’t say 100%, because my life is sometimes very weird.)

Reality: Thankfully, there was no extraneous butt-wiping required.

Prediction: 75% chance that I would step in dog poop at least once during my visit to a five-day-long dog show, effectively filling my apparent need for frequent poop-related experiences.

Reality: I encountered no errant poop on my trip. The end of the world must be near!

Prediction: 100% chance that something work-related would go colossally wrong.

Reality: Yep. Big events are like that.

Prediction: 100% chance that whatever went wrong would be blown out of proportion and would make people I didn’t know exceptionally mad at me.

Reality: Yep again. People get really worked up over things that, in the big scheme of life, aren’t all that big of a deal. Myself included, I’m sure. As someone said to me regarding the event, “No small children were harmed because of this situation.” I would have kissed her, but that’s hard to do over the internet.

Prediction: 95% chance nothing would go wrong back at home. I left schedules and instructions, plus my husband is very responsible.

Reality: Wrong! In a freak combination of circumstances, one of my dogs spent several minutes attempting to destuff my live, champion show rabbit. He’s OK but missing a lot of hair. Yikes!

Prediction: 100% chance that no one on-site would call me “Mom.”

Reality: True. And boo on that. I missed them all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letters of the Moment: Dear Me

Dear Self,

I know you feel argumentative today. That’s OK. We all have bad days. But if you could maybe count to 10 or something before exploding, that would be best for everyone. We want to make a good impression, you know?

Thanks in advance,

Dear Self,

Wow, that was really uncalled for. I felt like the tone of my previous letter was very polite and constructive. Your reply was quite bitter. Please try to be courteous.


Dear Self,

WHAT?! Go screw yourself. Or me. WHATEVER.*


*This post originally contained an F-bomb. Husband recommends keeping the blog clean. Thoughts?**
**I liked it better with the F-bomb. But I'm a fan of comedic use of curse words, so maybe I'm not the best judge.

(It's amazing what you get when you type f@ck into Amazon.com)----------------->

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mom Dilemma

I just stole a Baby Ruth from my son's Halloween candy. Does this make me a thief or a good mom? Is it possible to be both? Or is it IMpossible NOT to be both?

Screw philosophy and ethics. I have a date with Ruth.

Update: The joke's on me. That was the worst candy bar ever. I had to throw it out without finishing it, and it was only fun sized. I guess karma answered my questions with a mouthful of yuck.

(I could have bought my own bag of not-stale ones.)----------------->

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spiders vs. SPIDERS

I've never been a fan of spiders. I'm pretty sure no one is.* But after living for six months in an old house that apparently doubled as spider paradise, I discovered that arachnids come in two types: spiders and SPIDERS.

I was introduced to this concept the first time I moved my towel off the back of the bathroom door and a spider the size of a baseball ran away. The pencil eraser-sized spiders that used to send me shrieking didn’t even seem related to the monstrosities that lived in that house. Any spider that you can hear coming is just a whole different level of awful.

In case you believe that tiny spiders require violent squashing, let me educate you. Spiders can be ignored, moved outside on a piece of paper or inside a Dixie cup, or squished in a tissue. SPIDERS, however, are an entirely different ballgame.

The main difference between spiders and SPIDERS is size. You might assume that overall size, particularly referring to length of leg, would be the determining factor in a spider's degree of awfulness, but that's not the case. It's not about length; it's about width. A fat spider is a terrible SPIDER.

Your average, garden-variety, live-in-peace-with spider is largely defined by either a very small size overall or extreme thinness.

Keep in mind that the spider being depicted here is magnified so that you can see his pleasantly round body and imagined cute smile. But even if this spider was of an angry persuasion, he'd still be unlikely to scare anyone.

                                                               (He sort of looks constipated.) 

SPIDERS, however, are very different. Aside from their larger-than-dental-floss leg width, they often have enough substance to show off their non-circular body and their particularly offensive body hair.

                                 (This image really freaks me out. I bet I have a nightmare tonight.)

SPIDERS often have the ability to run across walls, ceilings, and, most horrifically, the photo of your great-grandma hanging above the sofa. In the dark of night, they stroll carelessly down your hallway as if they own the place. Because they do.

Defeating a SPIDER is tricky business. The tried-and-true foot-stomp method is risky. You have to get very close to a SPIDER to administer this technique. What if you miss? What if somehow the SPIDER crawls up your leg instead?


Maybe. But laws of pesthood may not apply to a SPIDER. Do you really want to take the risk?

The rolled up newspaper method also frequently fails on SPIDERS. Their sheer magnitude can defeat the newspaper's fragile flexibility. You do not want to defiantly smack a SPIDER with the Sunday comics only to find him smiling back up at you as you withdraw from combat. Or worse, you might find him crawling up
your weapon and then, quite possibly, onto your hand. HORRORS!

Spider spray is your best defense against these creatures. Unfortunately, your aim must be absolutely true since arachnids rarely succumb to pesticides delivered in their vicinity. It's right on or it's nothing. A direct hit will deflate a SPIDER like a cheap balloon and leave him curled in a satisfying, disgusting wad at your feet (of which you will unfortunately have to dispose). A near miss might knock him down, but then he'll unfold and run away (I've actually seen this happen). Will you be reaching for him with your wad of paper towels at the moment he revives?

I feel certain that you do not want that to happen to you. Aim well and saturate the area. You can figure out how to get spider spray off your wall/table/clothes/floor/fish tank later. (Note: you will not be able to remove spider spray that falls inside your fish tank. You will, however, later get to buy all new fish.)

What if you run out of spider spray or the spray doesn't work? If this happens, your only hope is to use your spider spray in a way it was never intended: grab the can and beat the ever-loving-shit out of that SPIDER. Your adrenaline and frustration will override your fear of the SPIDER running up your arm and you will be victorious.

*There is an interest page on facebook for spiders and 10,191 people "like" it. I stand corrected. Some people apparently DO like spiders.**

**Those people are freaks.

Update 12/2/10:

My husband thinks that my original drawings for this article added a certain charm. So, here they are... the original spider, angry spider, and SPIDER. In all their... uh... glory. Which are better -- the ones above or the hand drawn ones below?

How awesome are those fangs? :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Letter of the Moment: To the Maker of Chex Mix

Dear Mr. or Ms. Chex,

No one likes the pretzels in Chex Mix. No one. Some people might eat the pretzels just because they are in the bag with other tasty treats, but they don't actually enjoy the experience. The rest of us pick out the good stuff and slide the pretzels back in the bag for the next unsuspecting snacker.

This is true no matter what shape you twist your favorite little crunchy bread products into. You think you can include more pretzels if you make them into different shapes. You are wrong. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHETHER THEY ARE "O" SHAPED OR MADE INTO FUNKY WINDOW SQUARE THINGOS, THEY STILL TASTE LIKE UNDERSEASONED CARDBOARD.

                                            The Girl's recent Chex Mix refuse.

Please reconsider your excessive and unnecessary use of pretzels in an otherwise tasty treat. If not, your mailbox might soon be overflowing with circles and window square thingos. And probably ants. And maybe someone's finger, but you didn't hear that from me.




Monday, November 29, 2010

Your Pillow Pet Will Not Successfully Serve as a Barf Bag

Lesson of the Day: If a little boy needs to vomit, doing so directly into a Pillow Pet will not contain the mess, as one might assume. Instead it will create highly pressurized vomit streams that will travel great distances, as well as spray back into face, eyes, and hair. This is not a desirable situation, particularly in a car.

It makes sense that, in "pet form," a Pillow Pet would not make a good barf bag. He lacks a good surface for catching spew. But what about a Pillow Pet in PILLOW form?


"It's a pillow. It's a pet. It's a Pillow Pet!*"

*Pillow Pets are not vomit receptacles. Barf with care.    

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welcome to My Rainy World

Naming a blog is hard.

I know that sounds stupid, but, for me, naming this blog was an evolution, a path toward crystallizing how this collection of writings, drawings, and more will entertain you, and how it might make you think and feel. My first idea was to go with the utterly pompous title of “Life as I Know It” or “As I See It,” or some other self-important moniker. I googled those ideas and found out that they were, quite fortunately, in retrospect, already taken.

Then I got the idea of “The Naked Life,” thinking that it would describe a blog about life stripped down, exposed, and un-sugar coated. I also thought it sounded really cool. So I googled that.

I don’t recommend that you do that.

How I thought I could use the word “naked” on the internet without being wrapped up in the nudist lifestyle or porn industry, I honestly don’t know. I guess I still have some vestiges of innocence left. I’ll work on eradicating them, post haste.

Then I read this quote for the first time and it applies to my life so perfectly that I knew I had to adapt it for this blog in some way. The quote, which is apparently well-known but unfortunately anonymous, is:

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

I’m embarrassed to say that my introduction to this quote was on facebook (I’m so classy). But as someone who has been hailed on by life lately, it represents for me a different way of looking at things. A way filled with more enjoyment and less slogging through.

As a professional writer, I avoid anonymous quotes like a written plague. I always want to credit people for their hard work and fantastic ideas. Plus I don’t want to steal anything. But I can’t find a source for that great saying anywhere.

I googled “dance in the rain” and variations. Some were available and some weren’t. But I was still snagged by the feeling of idea theft. Something was off.

And then I thought about what I like to do more than anything, pretty much. And that’s laugh. I like funny movies, funny people, and particularly, funny, edgy writing. Surprise me and make me laugh? I like you. Surprise me and make me laugh a lot? I might love you.

So, Laughing in the Rain (someone snagged that title before I posted this, damn it!) "Laughing at the Rain" was born. It’s my little “screw you” to the problems that plague me. And, maybe, it’ll be your “screw you” too. Come here to leave your troubles for a few minutes and laugh at mine.