Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dinner is something that you make

Sometimes evening activities prevent "sit down together" dinners. On Friday in the late afternoon, I made myself brown sugar toast as a snack/early dinner before leaving the house. Husband ate Coco Puffs, The Boy snagged some Corn Puffs, and The Girl decided to try Froot Loops for the first time. As I went to put my plate away, I made up some little song about how everyone was having breakfast for dinner.*

Girl (laughingly, from her spot on the sofa, bowl in hand, watching a DVD on a laptop): This isn't dinner.

Me: Yes, it is.

Girl: No, it's not. Dinner is something that you make. This is not my dinner.

Me: Well, I got news for ya....

Girl (beginning to cry): I don't want this to be my dinner!

Me: Well, we don't have much time. I'm sure you can eat something later after soccer practice. What else do you want that you can eat right now?

Girl: ...

Girl: Frosted Flakes.

Me: ?

Me: OK, we can do that.

The moral of this story is that you should always buy those tiny boxes of cereal in lots of different flavors, dyes, and sugar levels. You never know when you might need to "make" a last-minute dinner.

*I sing about pretty much every mundane thing that's going on in my house. I'm really charming that way. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Boy tells it like he sees it

Husband swings a new "training aid" golf club in the house after returning from a golf convention.

Boy (without looking up from his DS): I thought we weren't supposed to swing golf clubs in the house.

Husband: Well, you're right, but I'm a golf professional.

(He actually is; he's a PGA pro at Dick's Sporting Goods.)

Boy: We just played golf and you were terrible.

Husband: That's cuttin' deep, man.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Here's why I can't operate my toaster

Toasters are certainly the dumbest of all kitchen appliances, and yet I'm routinely stumped by mine. After annihilating two pieces of toast this afternoon, I realized that, once again, I had graphics dyslexia and misread the stupid "this is how dark I want my toast" illustrations under the dial. What the hell is wrong with me? I decided to investigate this rare shortcoming of mine a little further.

This is the dial on my toaster:

For whatever reason, my whacked-out brain says that the all-white image of the toast is dark because it is colored in. Yes, I know, it's colored in WHITE, but my head says that's dark. I've decided I need a little memory device to help me get it right:

I guess as long as I remember that, I don't need to come up with anything cutesy that rhymes with "dark." But I'll try to keep this in mind:

Even if I get the symbols right, I have an additional problem. Sometimes I reverse the dial, pointing the larger section at the level of toastedness I desire. Yes, I realize that there is an arrow on the knob, and that I should point that arrow at what I want. But looking down at the toaster, with the glare... yeah, I know, it's a poor excuse. But nonetheless, I've wrecked perfectly good bread due to my inability to recognize a small, white triangle. 

I've decided that my inability to sort this out is a cute quirk, and a sign of my overwhelming genius in other, more important subjects. Perhaps I am some sort of savant in some other area of expertise that I have simply not yet discovered. Right?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Snowman vs. Snowman

Not long ago, I posted a picture of my son's "Snowman from Hell," a three-year-old preschool art project gone Halloween-style (click here to read about it). Recently, my daughter brought her version of the same project home from school. As a reminder, here's The Boy's snowman:

And now, here is The Girl's snowman:

Note the pleasantly shaped eyes, round head, and knowing smile. This snowman just made cookies for you and maybe picked up the ingredients to your favorite meal to make for dinner. She does not look like she's about to commit a felony.

I've decided that these two snowmen look like potential before and after photos. Here are some possibilities:

Before coffee

After coffee

Nazis before opening the ark

Nazis after opening the ark*

Me up late at night

Me getting up early in the morning

Me dropping me kids off at their Sunday School classes***

Me trying to pay attention to the sermon

Harvey Dent pre-accident

Harvey Dent post-accident**
Cleaning up normal stuff

My son asking for something for the 1,725th time
("Maybe this time she'll say yes!")

My son when I say no again

Me in a bad mood

Me in a good mood

I need more sleep, or new make-up, or something.


* This obscure Raiders of the Lost Ark reference is courtesy of Husband and is a replacement for my own funnier, yet horribly inappropriate, deleted caption. (Have no idea what this refers to? Click here, and prepare for grossness.)

**This nerdy Batman reference is also courtesy of Husband. (Click here to see a not-too-graphic illustration of Harvey Dent, AKA Two Face.)

***The second "me" was a typo but I decided to leave it in because pirate-speak makes it even more funny. Do your best pirate impression... you'll see!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sign from a Sign?

Ten minutes ago, this sun was smiling over my guest/children's bathroom door:

Then for no apparent reason, it came crashing to the ground, bashing itself to bits on my ceramic tile. Apparently after sitting there and smiling warmly for six years (and gracing our previous house before that), Mr. Smiling Sun decided to end it all.

I think it's particularly twisted that he still appears to be smiling.

Now, I'm not a big believer in signs. Not as in stop signs (I believe in those for sure), but signs from God or nature or whatever. I'm pretty sure you could go crazy trying to interpret everything that happens as some kind of indicator in your own life. But a violent stage dive from this overly cheery ceramic sun (which was a hand-me-down from my mom) seems like it might be a sign for something. An ominous warning? An indicator of good things to come since no one was around to be wounded during his descent? Who knows?

It's funny, because I haven't thought of anything as a real "sign-with-a-capital-S" in years, but I had a fleeting thought about one earlier in the day. On my way through fog this morning to take my son to his medical appointment, I saw a dolphin surface off the side of the bridge. It's really a feat of amazing timing: I looked over at just the right moment to see the fin arc up and duck back down. And I thought, you know, how can today go wrong? It's starting off with such a beautiful and amazing sight!

And then I promptly got lost in downtown St. Petersburg, caught in a web of one way streets which made us 15 minutes late for our appointment. So much for signs.

I'm not expecting anything to come from the crashing sun. I actually am hoping against it. I'm not a fan of the weird. 

I'm also not a fan of my empty bathroom wall.

Bye, Mr. Sun!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Idiotic Conversations Part 1

I’m starting this out labeling it as “conversations” (plural) and as “Part 1.” I’m doing so because even though I only have one conversation to report at this time, I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll have another one in the very near future. So, enjoy, my first (reported) idiotic conversation:

After spending about two hours chasing down insurance information in an attempt to be less surprised by our upcoming medical bills, I had to call (for the third time) the insurance company to confirm that our hospital was on the list of providers. The company encourages that you use the website for this purpose (of course -- what company wants to pay someone to actually talk to customers?) but the website had launched me into some kind of circular hell where it kept bringing me back to the search page empty-handed (it turns out that Blue Cross Blue Shield isn’t a fan of Google Chrome, apparently).

Me: I need to confirm that All Children’s Hospital is on our list of in-network providers.

Customer Service Rep: All Children’s Hospital?

Me: Yes.

CSR: How far is that from your house?

Me: I don’t know. It’s in St. Petersburg, does that help?

CSR: Hmm. I guess I can make that work. Let me type it into the website.

Me: You have to use the website? You don’t have, you know, a list?

CSR: Nope. The website. 

Me: ?

CSR: Hmm. That’s not coming up.

Me: Really? I’m surprised. It’s such a big group.

CSR: All Children’s Hospital, right?

Me: Yes.

CSR: Hmm. Nope.

Me: ?

CSR: Wait. Is that a CHILDREN’S hospital?

Me: ???

Me: Yessss…

CSR: Oh! Here it is. Yes, they are on the list.

Me: ?

Me: OK, thank you very much for your time.

I’m not sure what kind of hospital she thought it was at first. Its name is so vague I guess I can understand how she might be confused. Because clearly All CHILDREN’S Hospital might treat veterans, or seniors, or maybe only redheads. And then, of course, it wouldn’t be in network. Those redheads don’t deserve medical care anyway. *

* No offense to actual redheads is intended. Next time I’ll target people with freckles or something. Although that’ll probably include redheads too. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Behind the Artwork

I've mentioned before that my daughter, who turned four in late October, is a great photographer. She's also a talented artist. Although her drawings are crude, there's a balance to them. They look like they are supposed to look the way they look, if that makes sense. If I was drawing a cat, a dog, and a pig, they would look awkward and tentative... kind of like they were drawn by a four-year-old. So, here are some of The Girl's latest artwork, designed on a small Dora notepad at a mall food court and, surprisingly, in a moving car.

First, the original drawings, scanned by my new wireless printer that makes my old printer look like a Flintstones "bird pecking on a stone tablet" model:

And now, a look at the making of these works of art:

The dog may be my favorite, cute-wise, but the pig picture is the most interesting:

While drawing, The Girl realized that she didn't know what a pig's tail looked like. She had the drawing nearly finished when this realization hit. He was sans curly tail and that was it. Clearly she had intended the extra long leg to be a tail, and when I told her pig tails were curly, she looked at her drawing intensely for a few seconds. Then she said, as if she needed to justify it, "This... this is his leg. He's sticking it out. THIS is his tail." Then she scribbled what she thought a curly tail should look like. 

Pretty quick thinking.

My favorite part of this drawing is the pig crossing sign. I'm not sure why I would need to know in advance that a pig is coming, but I'm sure it could come in handy.

I feel a little guilty letting The Girl do most of the work in today's blog entry. I guess I'll cut her in on the profits. Maybe she can buy a piece of candy. :)              

UPDATE: My friend "karendipitee" sent me this link, demonstrating that there apparently IS a need for pig crossing signs.

(This pig is nearly as cute as The Girl's. Nearly.------------------->)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Letter of the Moment: Dear Garbage Collectors

If my actual garbage collectors ever see this I'll never get a can emptied again. 

PS-How about that trash can drawing? Nice, eh?

(Touchless trash can. Who wouldn't want that?----------->)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowman from Hell

While perusing my Christmas decorations (which someone is going to have to put away soon), I took a closer look at a snowman lovingly made for me by my son during his preschool years. After looking at Mr. Snowman in the light of post-Christmas gloom I’ve determined that he is spooky as hell. Examine at your own risk:

I’m pretty sure it’s the gaping mouth that gets me. He looks like he’s frozen in a silent scream of horror. But his face looks sort of... melted, or something. That facial distortion, combined with the beady, off-kilter eyes, makes him look like someone you might wake up to find at your bedside with a large knife balanced in his disproportionately giant stick-hand. Or, alternately, you might discover him at the scene of a horrid crime, spattered in blood and incapable of telling you what actually happened, what role he played in it, and who the three headless people propped up on skewers are. 

On the upswing, he's got a killer scarf. 

(Wonder what THIS snowman does in his off time?------------------------->)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Curiosity may have killed the cat but so far it has just made me tired.

Curiosity can be a blessing or a curse. As an intensely curious person (you can read that anyway you wish), I sometimes find myself spiraling into subjects that I never even knew existed because once I learn a little, I need to learn a lot. I have questions. Many questions.

The internet has certainly made it easier for the crazy curious to satisfy our information cravings. This is also a double-edged sword. I mean, it’s great that I don’t have to drive to the library and do research in order to follow the curiosity trail that started when I heard that one of the Kennedys had a lobotomy. But instant information access meant I spent quite some time reading about the procedure (why and how it was done, the effects, personal accounts from the lobotomized, and why it’s not done any more) and then went to bed late and a little freaked out. (If you are one of the curious, I apologize for turning you on to this subject. If it’s possible for you to get out now, I recommend that you do so. It’s not pretty.)

While at Busch Gardens theme park recently, I noticed some interesting signs that got me thinking. The first one looked like this:

Did I stand in a park bathroom and take a photo with my phone just for you all? Yes I did. You're welcome.

Now, I can understand why you might need this kind of sign. I guess a lot of diabetics visit the park and toss their needles all willy nilly (I’m sure it’s not the junkies. They are a neat bunch.) But, if you have a need for this sign, why is it only in some of the bathrooms in the park rather than all? Do they wait until a janitor gets his finger poked while emptying the trash before putting up a sign reminding rule-following needle-users to properly dispose of their medical waste?
Even more interesting was the sign that showed the rules for riding the Sheikra, my current favorite roller coaster. Rules include no prosthetic legs on the ride, and they deny entrance to anyone with a leg amputated above the kneecap. (We actually saw a young woman in the park with exactly this problem, and my first thought was, “Damn, she can’t ride the Sheikra!”). These rules were added since the first time we rode the roller coaster. My mind exploded into questions and scenarios. Clearly some unsuspecting soul must have had his fake leg fly off during the ride, smashing into expensive pieces or injuring another park visitor, who most likely sued. But then I had to think more about the amputee situation. Did some poor leg impaired rider become dangerously dislodged from the ride because he didn’t properly fit in the seat? I’m pretty sure that if someone was flung from the ride, we’d have heard about it on the news, but clearly there is some reason for the prejudice against amputees. I’m amazed that there isn’t some way to make the ride safe for someone in that condition.
After all, they can make roller coasters safe for extra large riders. During my recent visit, on two of the three rides I went on, I wound up in the “fat seat,” which has two seatbelt restraints attaching the harness to the base rather than just one. (I’m trying hard to not take offense at the cosmos for landing me in that seat twice.) It seems like there should be some kind of extra strap you could apply to keep someone with fewer than your normal number of appendages safe on a ride. I mean, Velcro is really tough, right?
So, while we were waiting in lines for rides, my mind was busily working through these scenarios. Am I the only one who can’t just read something, go “hmm,” and then move on? My husband was clearly not as enthralled as I was with all the possibilities. “Come on, the line is moving!”
Of course, curiosity follows me everywhere. Yesterday at CiCi’s Pizza (a buffet that is my daughter’s current favorite restaurant, largely because of the potential for unlimited brownies), as we ate, a large group of probably-college-aged people came in and sat down at one long table. The young men all had dark pants, white button-up shirts, and buzzed haircuts. The three women all wore dowdy skirts and had their hair pulled back. Everyone wore black name tags.

 A covertly taken cell phone photo of the group. Do they know of this technology?
I figured that they were either members of a strict religious sect (but not strict enough to deny a gluttonous trip to an all-you-can-eat buffet) or trainees at a sleazy used car dealership. But I decided against the latter because, while the guys’ attire might have worked for that purpose, I’m pretty sure that the shapeless skirts on the ladies ruled that out.
I had to read those nametags.
My first trip to refill water glasses/spy was unsuccessful. I could see their names but not the smaller print beneath them. What good is a nametag that you need to be on top of the person to read? On my second mission, I was able to confirm that the rest of the tags were in Spanish and included the word “Jesucristo.” So, a Spanish church group with a lot of young people in it that don’t appear to speak Spanish, at least, not as their first language (I heard only unaccented English at their table. Not that I was eavesdropping or anything). That makes sense. 
I had more questions.
Of course, I could have asked them what group they were with, but my aversion to conversations with unfamiliar religious zealots (of any religious persuasion) trumps my curiosity, so I was out of the game. Fortunately, we were also done eating, so I was able to make a clean break. But you see that I’m still thinking about those kids. And I’ll never REALLY know what they were up to. Sigh.

(You know this is a good book.----------------------------------->)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Best Songs of 2010, or Something

Year ends are full of reflective “Best of” lists. I used to enjoy those, back when I paid attention to entertainment and knew what the hell they were ranking. Now I haven’t seen a movie or music video in forever and I’ve never read bestsellers anyway, but music… popular music I know.

Here are Billboard’s Top 10 Songs of 2010, with my comments:

Where the hell did Taio Cruz come from? Suddenly he is everywhere on the radio, singing in his American accent and speaking in his English one. His songs are catchy, but forgettable, and they sound a lot alike. He had better change it up soon or his career will just “cruz” right on by. Oh yeah. I went there.

I love that Lady Gaga can get away with a song remembered largely for it's nonsensical lyrics. She’s so beyond everyone else that she’s not even restricted by actual language. I hope her next album holds up to the scrutiny it’s sure to receive.

This song is just incredible. Rihanna kills that hook, and Eminem makes you feel what it’s like to be part of a volatile relationship between lovers. You almost understand domestic violence when you hear this song. The sadness. The anger. The way he justifies his behavior. It’s amazing. And getting Rihanna, who suffered the most public case of domestic abuse ever, to sing on it was just perfect. That lady has some serious balls. This may have been the best song of the year. Even my kids like it, although they (thankfully) don’t understand most of the lyrics. It’s really awesome to hear my four-year-old daughter rap, “Look me in the eyeball! Next time I’m gonna aim my fist at the drywall.”

Haley Williams can SING. She makes every song better. Add to that the fact that the rapped verse mentions good old “mix tapes” and I’m all in. Although I can’t get that twitpic of Haley sans top off the inside of my eyelids, so minus one point. But only one.

5. OMG

This song is catchy. And I like the way he always says, “Oh my gosh” instead of “Oh my God.” It's unusual. You might think the man has a little religious leaning or something. That is, until you hear the lyric “Honey’s got some boobies like wow-oh-wow.” And then you realize that he’s not religious, he’s just 10. Mentally, anyway. Plus this song sucks live. (Well, based on the one time he sang it on American Idol. Yes, I can make a judgment based only on that. It’s my blog.)

I’ve discussed my newfound Katy Perry appreciation elsewhere in this blog. But damn, I’m really, really tired of this song. It was a fun summer confection, but there’s no real staying power here. I hope.

The lead singer of Train, Patrick Monahan, is 41. Every DJ in the world (OK, in my market), felt compelled to mention how he’s just so damn old the first million and one times they played this song. My 39-year-old self found this unamusing. The song is catchy though.

This country-crossover was compelling, even for those of us who don’t like country music. And that’s pretty much all there is to say about that.


I think Ke$ha is brilliant. Yeah, I said it. She’s tacky, goofy, and often sounds drunk, but I’m pretty sure that’s her regular voice. The fact is, Ke$ha earned a perfect score on the SAT. You don’t do that without walking on the genius side. And really smart people often don’t quite fit in to social norms. The just don’t see things the way the rest of us do. It’s part of their charm.

Regardless of what you think of Ke$ha, Tik Tok wasn’t the best selling song of 2010 for nothing. It’s catchy, it’s wild, it’s different, and it makes you want to dance. This song made me sore for days after I bought the album on iTunes. And the rest of Animal is just as quirky and fun. I don’t think I can recommend her second effort, an EP companion to her first, called Cannibal, but you won’t be sorry you spent your money on her first album.

My biggest concern about the music industry in 2010 was not really the quality of the music, the fact that nobody sings completely live anymore, or even the incessant overuse of autotune (not as a fun effect but as an attempt to make sucky singers sound good). It was a wardrobe issue. WHERE ARE ALL THE FEMALE SINGERS’ PANTS? How did a sequined leotard become the only possible on-stage attire for female pop singers? Most of these women (who are very attractive, I might add) DON’T REALLY EVEN LOOK GOOD IN THEM. Don’t they have mirrors backstage? I mean, really.

2011, please bring us more fun, throwaway poppy dance songs to enjoy while we clean house, work out, or drive our cars on mundane errands. And also, please bring us pants.

UPDATE: For those of you who are pop musically challenged, I included links to the videos of each of the songs mentioned. You're welcome.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Year in Review

The Numbers
  • Number of times I heard a Katy Perry song on the radio: 4,509,611*
  • Number of Katy Perry songs I’m not tired of that they play on the radio: 1 (“Baby you’re a firework!”)**
  • Number of times my son has begged me for something: 5,415*
  • Number of times my head nearly exploded from all the begging: 3,599*
  • Number of actual explosions: 2 (I’m very patient)
  • Number of imaginary parties my daughter has planned: 10* (the candy corn party is coming soon, I’m told)
  • Number of times I have cleaned up vomit: 31* (many of those times were actually in the toilet and required minimal scrubbing on my part; the kids are getting good!)
  • Number of times I took a kid to a doctor’s office: Too damn many. And why are all the good doctors in the next city? Seriously, Tampa is a freakin’ mini-metropolis, you’d think the best specialists would be here rather than over the bridge in St. Petersburg, but no.
  • Number of times I saw a medical specialist: Not enough. I still haven’t made it to physical therapy for my herniated discs and it’s getting hard to type sometimes so you’d think I’d make that a priority.
  • Number of pets we added: Two rabbits and one dog, which makes three dogs, two rabbits, and a tank of fish, if you’re keeping track. (Don’t. It’s mind boggling.)
  • Number of pets we subtracted: One. RIP, Mr. Aquatic Frog.
  • Number of rabbit shows I attended: Four. I’m guessing that’s four more than you've been to in your entire life.
  • Number of magazine articles I wrote: 347*
  • Number of magazine articles I wrote that had something to do with dogs: 347*
  • Number of writing ruts I’m in: One
  • Number of work-related trips I took: Two
  • Number of vacations I took: Zero. Good thing I like my work!
  • Number of Enrique Iglesias songs that creep me out: One. Tonight you are not loving me, Enrique. No way.
  • Number of pounds I've lost: 7
  • Number of pounds I've gained: 7. DAMN IT!
  • Number of awesome people I cyber-know, including authors, TV producers, dog trainers, actors, former high school classmates, and random people who like the same TV shows I do: Too many to count. Thanks twitter and facebook!

The Words

2010 brought me closer to understanding my son and his problems, and named them for me in a way that made things easier to research and understand (Tourette’s Syndrome “Plus”). The process has been painful and difficult, but ultimately rewarding. I will give him every advantage he deserves in order to maintain his self-confidence and maximize his potential in school. He already amazes his teachers with his intelligence and eerie “40-year-old man in a seven-year-old body” answers to their questions. My goal is for him to be as comfortable handling his Tourette’s at age 17 as he is now (“What’s that noise? Oh, that’s my Tourette’s. Sometimes I squeak. Want to go play hide-and-seek?). I admire his sense of self and confidence.

2010 saw my daughter grow and blossom. No longer the quiet, frail, “she used to be sick” girl, she’s now talkative, imaginative, and brave. Though still small, she is a force to be reckoned with. And she’s not just a pretty (and somewhat dramatic) picture. She’s well on her way to being a four-year-old reader with handwriting that puts many kindergarteners to shame. I no longer think that our children will be categorized as “the smart one” and “the pretty one.” She’s going to give her brother a run for his money, and she’s going to be fashionably dressed while doing it. She’s my hero.

2010 brought my husband a job he really likes with co-workers and bosses who appreciate his hard work and loyalty. It’s amazing how those attributes are often swept under the rug by employers who notice the squeaky wheel rather than the guy who always gets his job done, and done well. Thankfully, his new company “gets it.”

2010 gave me more work than ever before, and more of an itch to expand into new things. I’m finally finding my creative side. It took a long time, and I’m not letting it slide away under the demands of paying work and doctors’ appointments, even if it means I don’t sleep much. The year also delivered me a slow-awakening realization that I’m kind of “different” from a lot of women my age, and a lot of women with young children in general. I'm still coming to grips with it, but it's kind of a relief, actually. I’m tired of trying to fit in and always feeling like I’m a just a little behind. I’m a believer in working hard to fix your problems rather than just complaining about them. But now I’m kind of seeing that maybe my shortcomings aren’t such a big problem. They just are. I’m just me. And if my lack of proper footwear, unmanicured nails, and wardrobe made up of almost entirely black, brown, and denim makes people look at me funny, well, I guess they can just enjoy the laugh. I think I’ll laugh with them.

All-in-all, it’s been an OK year. Hard, but we're better people for it: more understanding, more educated, less judgmental, less aggravated, more happy. And we have some things lined up for 2011 that will hopefully make it even better. I’m hoping it will be full of weird and wonderful adventures of the kind that generally only happen to me. I’m ready!


*Some numbers in this article are estimates.

**I bought her most recent album, though, and it’s really very good. Katy Perry is everywhere for a reason, and it’s not (just) because she has great boobs.

(Buy this. It's good!---------------------------------------------------->)