Thursday, November 30, 2006

Faux Velvet

We put up our Christmas decorations tonight. My mantle looks beautiful. There are chochkies of every shape and
size. There is a Santa circa 1920 and
every consecutive year thereafter. There are snowmen in every variety
imaginable. Snowmen with legs, snowmen
with scarves, snowmen sitting, snowmen standing, and my personal favorite, a
mommy snowman staring lovingly at a baby snowman. Awe. Perhaps my favorite
piece of Chinese made merchandise gracing my mantle is the Yoda snow
globe. Yoda, clad in a Santa suit,
stands staff in hand looking sagacious while synthetic snow falls on his
shoulders to the tune of “Let it Snow.” It’s a gem.

There are four stockings hanging on the fireplace, one for
myself that was handmade by my Mother when I was a child, one for each of the
kids that my Mother made last year and one for my husband. I wish I could say it was handmade but it
wasn’t unless you consider sweatshop work handmade. It is a pair of red pseudo velvet pants with a white fur lined
butt opening and white pom-poms on the toes. It looks like something out of a Willy Wonka Christmas special. My children’s stockings are hand-embroidered
with their names. They are
beautiful. My husband’s stocking has
his name written in all caps with a sharpie. Rich.

There is no possible way that I can do the pants justice so
I am including a picture with this entry. He refuses to give them up. They
are a part of his childhood and I have the sneaking suspicion that they will be
on my mantle for many, many years to come. I’ve tried moving them to the side of the mantle that is partially
covered by the tree but the damn things need two fasteners and my husband
installed two brass hooks for that very purpose last holiday season on the most
visible side of the fireplace. I’m
thinking of setting a very tall candle on the hearth and letting fate take its
course. Surely that faux velvet is
highly flammable. Any ideas about how
to get rid of this little gem of a family heirloom are welcome.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Replacement Wife

I just got back from an appointment with a
cardiologist. That’s right, folks, a
cardiologist; a specialist that you should not even consider seeing until you
have been issued your AARP card. The
appointment was made when, at a routine check-up, my doctor discovered a heart
murmur. I have been walking around for
the past two weeks absolutely convinced that I have heart cancer, something I
have never even heard of. 

Facing the prospect of a lethal disease has really changed
my outlook. I’ve been relishing every
holiday moment thinking it was probably my last. I have been extra nice to my kids because I want them to remember
me fondly. I’ve been speculating about
the next Mommy that my kids will have. My husband’s family doesn’t waste time when it comes to finding a
replacement wife. Will she be prettier
than me? Will she treat my kids like
her own? Will she have kids of her own
and banish my son and daughter to the basement where they will befriend mice
and mourn the loss of the Mother that they don’t really remember?  The possibilities are endless and I have considered every one, including the one that has my children joining the Hale-Bop Comet Cult.

My appointment went well. I do not have heart cancer. Instead, like 15 percent of the world’s population, I have a mild heart
murmur. I am scheduled for an
echocardiogram tomorrow which will create an image of my heart. This is just a precautionary measure and I
have been told not to worry. As soon as
my kids go down for their nap I plan to peruse WebMD to diagnose myself with
some rare, grave disease. I must have
something to obsess about. Otherwise I
will have to actually lead a semi-productive life.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Tryptophan and Red Wine

It is 65 degrees in the Midwest.  I brought only winter clothes so I am sweating profusely and doing my best to control the urge to stand with my face in the freezer whenever the opportunity arises.  Despite my constant sweating, I am enjoying myself.  The DVD player made our trip relatively painless and there are three bottles of red wine sitting atop my Mother-In-Laws kitchen counter.  Just the site of them brings me great comfort.  I have to enjoy my wine outside, though, in the evenings or I will sweat to death.

We had a great Thanksgiving and I was one of the raving lunatics who braved the mall on Black Friday so I have oodles of material stored in the old noggin.  I don't have much time because my In-Laws have dial-up and their Internet Service Provider tends to spontaneously disconnect.  I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and safe travels.  Here's to tryptophan and red wine, the staples of any good Thanksgiving celebration!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Over the River and Through the Woods...

To Grandmother's house we go.  Myself and the family
are off to the Midwest to eat some turkey with the In-Laws.  I bought a
dual screen DVD player for my van today.  It should make for a much more
pleasant trip.  I definitely have mixed emotions about it, though.
Our road trips are generally spent talking incessantly to my son, playing
pretend games and counting the minutes until he falls asleep and the
unremitting verbalization finally ceases. My son is one of those kids who
becomes so mesmerized by television that he enters a semi-comatose state in
which he does not respond to any type of outside stimulation.  It does not have to be "Spongebob" either.  He could
be watching "Hogan Knows Best" and remain unresponsive to even the
most tempting of phrases.

"Sweetie.  Come outside and see your new pony."

"I've got some gummy worms and ice-cream waiting for you in the
kitchen."  No response.

My husband and I can openly discuss what Santa will be bringing my son in
normal voices and, as long as there is a movie playing, he will be totally
oblivious.  I know we will miss out on some quality family time and, for
that reason, we will keep the television off for part of the trip.  Ten
hours is a long time though and two or three movies will insure a more pleasant
ride for everyone involved.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. Another Gray Hair will be on
sabbatical until Tuesday, November 28th. I have no doubt that my trip to the In-Laws will serve as a
working vacation. My supply of material
will, as in years past, be endless.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Fiber Nazi

My kids are definitely nutritionally challenged. They are, however, not lacking in
fiber. For some reason I have picked
fiber consumption as my nutritional hot-button issue. I am obsessed with it. My
kids may not eat a single vegetable but I will be damned if they are going to
be irregular. I try to always buy
non-white flour foods. I buy whole-wheat
tortillas, whole wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, and spelt pretzels (when I can
find them). I throw milled flax seed
into any recipe that will not allow its detection and I have even tried making
cakes and cookies out of whole-wheat flour. Unless you like your cakes and cookies to taste like they've been dipped in a sandbox, this is not something that I would recommend.

My obsession with fiber has definitely had an impact. My son does not like white bread and he has
no clue what regular spaghetti tastes like. He thinks spelt pretzels are the norm and relishes his whole-wheat
garlic bread. My daughter eats pasta
like it is going out of style and loves the whole-wheat pizza crust that I
make. There are other benefits as well
but I will spare you those details.

Suffice it to say, I am a self-proclaimed fiber Nazi. I closely monitor my own fiber consumption
and, not surprisingly, this habit has carried over into my children’s
lives. I am always on the lookout for
new, inventive ways to sneak fiber into my children’s diet. I’ve seriously considered introducing my
children to the geriatric version of Tang, Metamucil. My son would probably love it. If only they would come out with a fiber enriched gummy worm, I would be
good to go.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mary Had a Little Amp

Children's compilations albums are fairly common these days.  They usually consist of current artists that either create a new children's song or put their own spin on a well-known classic.  "Mary Had a Little Amp" is one of these albums.  Released in 2004 by Sony BMG Music Entertainment, "Mary Had a Little Amp" is loaded with artists that have a great deal of Gen-X appeal.  Despite it's unoriginal approach, taken as a whole, the album is actually quite good. 

The first track features Maroon 5 singing the darkly enchanting "Pure Imagination" made famous by Gene Wilder in the original "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."  My son doesn't like this track very much yet but I think he will when he gets older.  "The Rainbow Connection," which seems to make an appearance on every single children's compilation CD, is sung with charming simplicity by Natalie Manes of the Dixie Chick.  Our favorite tracks are "The 3 R's" by Jack Johnson (this one can also be heard on the "Curious George" soundtrack) and "Wild, Wild Party in the Loquat Tree" by the Indigo Girls.  Moby, R.E.M., Madonna, Rosanne Cash, and Bonnie Raitt also make an appearance on "Mary Had a Little Amp."

Friday, November 17, 2006

No More Pajamas

My life is an organizational disaster. This, of course, is by my standards
only. Most people would say that my
house is pretty clean and that, judging by everything except my car, I
have it pretty together. They are viewing me through rose-colored glasses. I am on the move from the moment that I wake up until the moment my head
hits the pillow and I still cannot manage to get everything done. I have no job outside of my home and my days
are relatively free from any major commitments. Why then, can I not find time to complete the tasks of my
day-to-day existence?

My days are heavily prioritized. The basic needs of my children come
first. Coming in at a close second are
my basic needs and those of my husband. Next come our time commitments, then my home, and finally my burgeoning
writing career. After I get up, take my
shower, get my kids up and fed, do some laundry, feed the cats, and take my son
to school or playgroup or whatever it is he has scheduled that day; my morning
is shot and I have to start preparing for lunchtime and naps. I also like to budget a little time to
actually play with my children. So, once
they are played with, fed, and asleep, I try to hop on the treadmill for 45 minutes
to get some cardio in.  Then I run downstairs to type my blog entry for the
day. I usually try to switch out the
laundry and pick up the house during this time as well. The kids are customarily awake before I can
get all of this done and, by this time, it is late afternoon and I have to
start preparing dinner. I try to play
with my kids while dinner is cooking and, shortly thereafter, my husband gets
home. We eat, try to have a little
family time, get the kids bathed, read stories and tuck them in. This is all usually accomplished by
9:30. My husband and I try our best not
to neglect each other so we spend a little time hanging out on the couch before
we head up to bed exhausted at around 10:30. The cycle starts all over again when my alarm clock goes off at 6:45 the next morning.

When am I going to find time to write? Should I relive my college years? I could pop some No Doze after dinner and
pull a couple of all-nighters during week. Should I start taking methamphetamines? I hear you can stay awake for days on meth. I have a thing about bad teeth, though, so that is probably not
the best idea. I could put my kids to
bed in the clothes that they are going to wear the next day. This would eliminate pajamas all together
and cut down on the sometimes-painful task of getting my kids dressed. Sure, their clothes might be a little
wrinkled and it might be uncomfortable to sleep in jeans but it would all be
worth it when I got my first published piece, right?

I realize that there are women all over the world who balance their careers and family with ease and grace.  I do not appear to be one of those women.  Striking a balance is a nearly impossible task and I must give props to the moms out there who work full or part-time, manage their homes, and take care of their families.  It is a freakin' monumental task and I have absolutely no idea how you do it.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stick a Fork In Me

I'm done.  My son's birthday party was today.  It went fairly smoothly but I am exhausted.  I ended up just having a very small celebration with a couple of his friends at my house.  I will be spending tonight recovering with some wine and Pinesol.  It's days like today when I miss my dog.  If he was still around, my kitchen floor would be spotless and he would have found a way to defy gravity and clean off my counters and table as well.  Now, I actually have to clean them myself. 

Suffice it to say, I have not had time to come up with anything witty or poignant today.  My brain is in an icing-induced haze and, given my son's all-too-brief nap, I'm in for an interesting night.   At this very moment, he is in his room in time-out.  He's making high-pitched pleas and throwing things at the door.  Anyone want to trade places with me?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chicken Dinos

Yesterday, my son had his favorite entrée, peanut butter
bread, for breakfast and lunch. He
wanted it for dinner but I had to talk him into our only acceptable alternative
protein source: chicken dinos. For those of you unfamiliar with this
product, chicken dinos are battered chicken nuggets in the shape of
dinosaurs. They are, of course, all
natural and very good for my growing boy. 

I feel VERY good about the choices he makes when it comes to
food. For example, the last time my son
had a vegetable was when he was about 18 months old when, out of desperation, I
fed him baby food peas. It was the only
vegetable he would touch. They were
pureed and a lovely shade of green and he ate them up like they were ice
cream. Thankfully, he does like
fruit. He likes strawberries sometimes,
bananas sometimes, apples, grapes, and applesauce. I try to give him at least one of these options at every
meal. I find myself constantly worried
about what goes into his mouth. Are
those processed chicken nuggets going to encourage him to make poor food
choices as an adult? Will the excessive
amounts of peanut butter he consumes cause a problem when he goes off to school
and cannot bring peanut butter because of the prevalence of peanut allergies
among children? Will his lack of
vegetables stunt his growth? Will his
love of milk lead to him hitting puberty at the ripe old age of nine because of
all of the hormones? These are the
questions that plague me. 

If I had my choice, both of my children would eat an all-organic
diet. Their meats and dairy products
would be hormone and antibiotic free. Their vegetables (if there were any) and fruits would be free of
pesticides. If I had the means, they
would certainly eat only the best but being a responsible consumer is cost-prohibitive
for the average American family. How
can I justify spending $4.00 on a half-gallon of milk that will last two days
when I can buy a whole gallon for 25 cents less? How can I possibly afford to spend $7.50 a pound on ground beef
when I can get it for $2.00 at my local Wal-Mart? Am I actually supposed to purchase a whole chicken for $10.00
(they are $3.75 at Wal-Mart), cut it up and make chicken nuggets for my
son? How would I go about shaping them
like T-Rexes and Stegosauruses? Would I
use a cookie cutter? 

Until organic products become more mainstream and, thus,
less expensive or my husband and I happen upon a significant income increase, I
will continue to buy regular meat, dairy products and run of the mill,
non-organic produce (except for spinach and any type of lettuce of
course). That, or my husband’s love of
gardening needs to expand to include livestock. Our neighbors would be so pleased.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A Good Christmas Buzz

I have been thinking allot about family traditions
lately. I don’t think that my son
could name anything in particular that we do as a family that would qualify as
a tradition. This is something that I
would like to work on. In an effort to
make myself feel better, I sat down and tried to make a list of potential
family traditions. It seemed silly at
first because the very thought of concocting a family ritual seems to go
against everything that traditions stand for. Family rituals should not be invented. They should come about naturally. I thought about what traditions stood out most about my childhood, the
holidays in particular. The first thing
that popped into my mind was the fact that Christmas morning was the only time,
throughout the entire year, that my childhood dog, Ruffy, was permitted to
enter the formal living room. This may
seem silly and inconsequential to most, but it certainly was neither of those things to
my brother and I. I remember vividly
waking up Christmas morning and immediately ushering Ruffy into the living room
with pomp and circumstance. We looked forward to that
part of Christmas. It was part of what
made the holiday special for our family.

I try to think about what traditions that my fledgling
family has and, thus far, I come up short. We go to the light parade in our town the first Saturday in December
every year. This doesn’t count, though,
because a true family tradition should be free of any geographical
barriers. If we moved, that tradition
would obviously go down the tubes. We
try to go against the grain and have fondue for our Christmas dinner every
year. This is, probably, our best
tradition yet. My parents, my husband
and I sit around the table eating fondue, drinking wine and listening to
Christmas music while the kids play with their new toys and watch holiday
movies. It makes for a very relaxing

I also have a favorite Christmas narrative that I like to
listen to called “Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party” by Canadian radio host, Stuart McLean. It is one of the most hysterical tales of
holiday hilarity that I have ever heard. I highly recommend it as well as “Dave Cooks A Turkey,” another
classic. My husband and I listen to
these as we play Santa Claus and go through the arduous task of removing toys
from their packages. By the end of the
night we have an endless supply of plastic coated wire, absurdly small screws,
and tons of boxes strewn all over the living room floor. We’ve usually got a pretty good buzz going
and have been laughing our asses off at Stuart McLean by that point so we don’t
care. It appears that we do have a few
holiday rituals in place. Unfortunately, all of them seem to involve alcohol and zero
participation from the children. What
does that say about my family? 

Monday, November 13, 2006

Congratulations Spaz!

My cousin Jeannie (known as “Spaz” in the blog comments)
gave birth to twins this morning, a girl and a boy. I have been thinking about her all day. I remember bringing both of my babies home from the hospital and
the weeks that followed. I was sleep-deprived,
overwhelmed, and suffering from hormone induced manic depression (this is a
term I made up, NOT a real disease but I think it is a fairly accurate
description of the emotional state of a new Mother). I have a mini panic attack when I think about bringing two babies
home at once. How will Jeannie
cope? Will she ever sleep? How will her daughter (three and a half)
deal with the two new additions in her life? How will she manage breastfeeding TWO babies? How will she balance the emotional toll of childbirth with the
demands of two babies? The answer, I
know, is a simple one. Jeannie will do
just fine. She will because she has
to. She has a wonderful husband and
amazingly supportive parents who have taken up residence in frigid New England
for the winter to help the family adjust.

I was walking on the treadmill wondering what the best gift
for a new Mother of twins would be and, as if on cue, Oprah introduced a very
interesting guest. Her name was
Pricilla Dunstan and she claimed have the ability to accurately interpret baby
language. Priscilla Dunstan is a Mom from
Australia who has a photographic memory for sound. She has intensely studied the sounds that babies make and created
a fairly simple, supposedly accurate method for translating baby sounds into
actual words. She will release a DVD
entitled, Dunstan Baby Language, on November 28th.

I watched the show filled with skepticism. How could this woman possibly know what
babies are trying to say? Is it
possible that all babies, regardless of where they are born, speak the same
universal language? The very notion
seems completely absurd. I watched
eight Mothers of very young babies tell their stories, through tears, of
frustration dealing with their babies’ constant crying. I watched Ms. Dunstan listen to each baby
and, based upon the sound the particular baby made, tell the mother what the
baby needed. It seemed, unbelievably,
to work.

I am still a skeptic but I am seriously considering giving
the DVDs to Jeannie as her baby gift. If
these DVDs can offer even a small amount of insight into her babies’ needs,
then they will be money well spent. One
thing that I think Ms. Dunstan failed to recognize, however, is how any new
Mother is going to find a block of free time long enough to accommodate the
watching of two DVDs. She really should
consider releasing CDs that use hypnosis to teach women how to understand the
language of babies. That way women can
do what they do best: multitask. They
can catch up on their sleep and learn to better understand their

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Smell of Hypocrisy

Yesterday, I took my son to a friend’s house and she watched
him while I went to a Christmas craft show. While there, my daughter started to get a little fussy and I happened to
notice Santa sitting quietly in his sleigh at the entrance. So, with barely a second thought, I placed
my daughter on Santa’s lap 46 days before Christmas. The smell of hypocrisy is hanging heavy in the air at my

Last night I hosted one of those direct sales home parties
that I have preached against. I had a
blast and got lots of free stuff. My
husband was scheduled to go hang out with some of his friends and their
kids during the party. They were looking for something
to do and decided, with complete support from yours truly, to take them to the
Santa parade at the mall. It was free,
after all, and the kids were bound to have fun. The kids and Dads had a great time. So much for “Bah humbug.”

I had several friends tell me that they were going to rat me
out on the blog so I decided to save the time and do it myself. My name is Julianne Hale and I am a home
party-hosting, Santa-in-early-November-loving hypocrite.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Legally Condemned

My van is always a mess. Right now you’d be hard pressed to find a path to walk from the front
two captains chairs to the middle seats. There are about 2 feet separating the two, probably 6 square feet in
all. Every inch is covered. If not for the spot under the brake and
pedals, I’m not sure that anyone would be able to admire the lovely gray carpet. I take a small bit of pride in the fact that
most of the stuff that is sprinkled haphazardly all over the inside of my
vehicle is not trash. It is a
combination of things: coats, sweatshirts, shoes, toys, raincoats, umbrellas,
diapers, wipes, some hats, some of my son’s school drawings and, of course, a
little bit of trash. These are the
things that accumulate uncontrollably in my day-to-day existence.

My husband is a gem and while his vehicle could probably be
legally condemned based on the decaying mess that lines his interior, he does
take pride in my van. It is, by far,
the nicest vehicle we have ever owned and he understandably wants it to look
nice. So, every two weeks or so he will
take my van to the car wash and clean it out for me. He washes the outside, picks up the trash, organizes everything
else, wipes down the interior, and vacuums the entire thing out. It is such a pleasure to get into my van the
next day. I look it over with pride
thinking that this time I will do what it takes to keep it clean. By the next morning, the personal items have
already started to gather on the floor. I try to bring them in each time but it is such a hassle to get the kids
out of their car seats, into the house and provide them with whatever food or
drink item that they are demanding at the time; that I rarely find the time or
the energy to go through the van and pick it up. 

Why I allow my vehicle to get as dirty
as it does is a mystery to me.  Most days my house is
relatively clean. I would have to be on
my deathbed for the floor to become so littered with clothes and toys that it
was barely visible. When it comes to my home, if a friend is coming over I
clean it obsessively before they arrive. I don’t even make the effort to clear a path in my van when my friends
ride in it. Why? Because every Mother I know has a van or
car that looks like mine. For some
reason, vehicles have some sort of cleanliness “get out of jail free”
card. We are not judged by the interior
of our cars the way we are judged by the interior of our homes.  The
exterior of the car is much more important. I’d rather have a filthy Mercedes than an immaculate Saturn.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Bah Humbug

Santa is coming to our local mall this Thursday night. That’s right, folks. On November 9th, 46 days before
Christmas, Santa will be arriving at the mall amongst a sizable parade and a
great deal of fanfare. This event has
serious ramifications for me. It means
that every time we go to the mall (which is fairly frequent because there is a
nice, free indoor playground that both my children really enjoy) we will see
Santa Claus from now until Christmas. What a nightmare. 

I find myself stunned every year when I hear the
announcement of the date of Santa’s impending arrival. Apparently, the event surrounding the
arrival is quite fun. There is a
parade, some games, a bounce house, and lots of free stuff for the kids to do;
but I refuse to go. I will not support
such an early onslaught of Christmas commercialism. My poor child is already bombarded with commercials, store
displays, and catalogs on a daily basis. His demographic is marketed very aggressively this time of year and
Santa’s arrival at the mall is only a small part of the master plan to bankrupt
us all. Everyday my son comes up with a
new toy that he wants for Christmas or that he wants to buy for his friend
Katherine or his sister (it seems to me that girls are marketed to even more
aggressively than boys). It is exhausting. 

I know I sound like a complete cynic but I am not. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. As an avid supporter and participant in retail therapy, I even enjoy the
commercialism to some degree but I think it is reasonable to postpone Santa’s
arrival until after Thanksgiving. Let’s
get through one holiday before we move on to the next one. So, for those of you who plan on attending
Santa’s arrival at the mall, have fun. I know that your kids will enjoy it. You won’t see me there, though. I’ll be home snidely enjoying my boycott and teaching my kids to say,
“Bah humbug.”

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Cold Spaghetti

As the holiday season quickly approaches, I find myself
perusing the endless supply of toy catalogs that appear in my mailbox each
week. I search for things that might
appeal to my children feeling, despite my cynicism, a little giddy about
Christmas morning. Christmas has taken
on a whole new meaning since my son became old enough to understand it. There is a great deal of anticipation and
excitement that adds so much to the allure of the holiday season. I cannot wait to see his face on Christmas
morning and all I want to do is make his every wish come true. And then I have a night like tonight that
gives me a skull-shaking bitch slap back to reality.

SpaghettiLong story short, I made spaghetti for
dinner. We sat down and my son looked at his food disapprovingly and
said, “I want something else” in a very demanding voice. I had already prepared myself for this
inevitable scenario and decided that I was up for battle tonight. My son would eat his spaghetti. After all, he always ended up eating it
after being coaxed into the first bite by his Father or myself. He would put the spaghetti in his mouth with
a look of horror that almost immediately changed to surprised pleasure when he
dug his teeth into the pasta. He likes
spaghetti. He just refuses to eat it.

I told him calmly that we would happily provide him with
other food items but that he must eat his spaghetti first. We have coddled him entirely too much where
food is concerned and we usually end up preparing him an entirely different
meal from the one that I cook for the rest of the family. It is absolutely absurd but I created this
monster. I have to deal with the
consequences. My son sat at the table
staring at his food without making any effort to eat while the rest of us ate
and discussed our day.  He asked for a piece of garlic bread (a favorite of his). I told him that I would save a piece for him
but that he must first eat his spaghetti. Now, before you pass judgment, understand that the bowl that my son’s
spaghetti was in was the size of a small ramekin. The spaghetti that I insisted that he eat was the equivalent of
three average-sized adult bites. I was
not asking for much. He was stoic and
resolute and absolutely refused to eat.

I decided to ignore his behavior and put the piece of garlic
bread in a Ziploc baggie. I told him
that I would save it for when he was ready to eat his spaghetti. He decided to take a different approach and
told me that he was not capable of getting bites on his fork and needed
help. This stems from the fact that, on
spaghetti nights, his father tends to use all means necessary to get my son to
eat, including actually spooning the food into his mouth. I disapprove of this wholeheartedly and it
came back to bite us tonight. My son
insisted that he could not be expected to eat the spaghetti when he could not
get any on his fork. I told him that he
was a big boy and that we would not be feeding him. I reminded him that he could eat applesauce with utensils and
that spaghetti was a breeze in comparison. He continued to insist that someone help him get the spaghetti from the
bowl to his mouth. We continued to
refuse. It did not go well.

My son spent a great deal of time in his room tonight. He threw fit after fit, room wrecking,
screaming, jumping, and throwing things. He desperately wanted that garlic bread and I desperately wanted him to
have it but, after nearly two hours, he was not giving in. His bedtime rolled around and I poured him a
glass of whole milk and got him ready for bed. In the end, I lost the battle. My son did not eat his spaghetti.  He lost
his battle too, though. That garlic bread is
sitting in a Ziploc bag on top of the refrigerator calling my name. I’m stressed out and frazzled and dreaming
about how good it will taste with a glass of red wine. Yum.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Temporary Paralysis

I received my first rejection this weekend. It was a very cordial email, telling me that
while they were impressed with the quality and content of the writing, it just
was not the right fit for their publication. Bummer. I know that, for
freelance writers, rejection is par for the course. Most writers have to get rejected upwards of ten to twenty times
before ever getting their work published. I know this. I have read it
countless times, heard personal testimonies, and listened to lectures all about
the rejection faced by writers, especially unpublished ones. I fantasized, however, about being the
one-in-a-million writer who so impresses the editor with her witty, succinct
query letter that she gets an immediate endorsement of her work and a fairly hefty

I convinced myself that I might be that writer and waited
patiently for a response to my first query. I continued to write down all of the article ideas that I had and query
a couple of other editors but I was partially paralyzed by the anticipation I
felt waiting for the first editor to respond. I did not send out nearly enough queries in the interim as a result of
this temporary paralysis. It is gone
now. The realistic part of my brain is
fully functioning and I realize that if I am going to succeed as a writer, I
must be willing to put myself out there. Despite my egotistical fantasies, there are many, many writers out there
with as much or more talent than myself who are working harder to make it in
the business. These are the people who
will prosper as freelance writers. I
need to be one of these people.

I’ve got a plan. I’m
going to try to send out 1-2 queries per week. Now that I have experienced rejection first hand and know that I can
survive it, I am ready to start my one-woman assault team. Let the querying begin…

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies

Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies from the Film "Curious George" is the soundtrack from the adorable G-rated, "Curious George" movie that came out last year.  It features songs by Jack Johnson.  If Curious_george_1
you've never listened to Jack Johnson, I suggest you purchase an album as soon as you can.  He has universal appeal.  His music is mellow, easy to listen to, and usually puts a smile on your face.  I was SO excited when I read that he was doing the soundtrack for Curious George

Released by UMVD Labels in 2006, Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies From the Film "Curious George" is good from start to finish.  Ask anyone what they liked most about the film and they will most likely respond, "the music."  Jack Johnson's mellow grooves made the movie much more watchable for grown-ups.  Our favorite tracks are "Upside Down," "Jungle Gym" and "The 3 R's."  Every song, though, is an absolute pleasure to listen to.  The whole family will sing along to this one.  It would make a great stocking stuffer.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Brain Fart

Last night (Friday) at 10:00 pm, it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to type up a blog entry for the day.  My son was out of school (unusual for Friday) and I just got busy and forgot.   I was about ready for bed and did not have the energy to get my creative juices flowing.  Sorry people.  I'm a dufus. 

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Répondez S'il Vous Plaît

I looked up the acronym “RSVP” this morning. It represents the French phrase, “Répondez
S'il Vous Plaît,” which translates simply, “respond please.” Apparently my generation is in need of some
basic French lessons because when we see “RSVP” on an invitation, we tend to
misinterpret it to mean, “do not respond under any circumstances.” 

What is up with this behavior? Are we so entitled that we think that our friends can actually
read our minds? Do we believe that, no
matter what the attendance of a party turns out to be, the host/hostess should
plan on feeding and entertaining every person that he/she invited? Why are we completely incapable of picking
up the phone or sending out a quick email to let the host/hostess know whether
or not we will attend the party? 

It would be completely hypocritical of me to criticize this
behavior and not admit to some personal guilt. I have gotten invitations in the mail before and put them in my
seven-inch-thick stack of “papers to be sorted.” A month rolls by before I come across them again and realize that
I never responded to the invitation for a party that has already taken
place. Remember, I’m the Mom who can’t
remember to bring Indian corn to her son’s school two days after the request
was made. Suffice it to say, I’m not
the most organized or reliable person and it goes without saying that my
interpretation of common French acronyms could use some work.

When the tables are turned, though, and I am the one hosting
the party, I tend to become very self-righteous about the whole process. I am appalled by the lack of responses to my
invitations and think about how inconsiderate my potential party guests
are. How could they leave me
hanging? How much food should I
buy? Should I purchase two or three
bottles of wine? How many chairs do I
need? With all of these home-based
direct marketing companies out there for my demographic, maybe it is time that
someone started a “Basic Manners 101” course and offered it to young
Mothers. With an entire generation of
manners-challenged individuals out there, it could be a very lucrative business.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

How the In-Laws Stole Christmas

My husband’s family is fairly large. There are five grandchildren so far with no
end in sight. Long before the grandkids
ever came along, gift giving in the family got completely out of hand. The last Christmas that we all bought gifts
for each other there was a fairly sizable fire in the living room. We could have roasted marshmallows over the
flaming pile of wrapping paper and bows. The excitement only grew when, just seconds before someone stomped out
the fire, the cat jumped out from under the pile with an ear-splitting
screech. After that Christmas we
decided that it would probably be best to draw names and limit the chaos on
Christmas morning. My husband and I
always get screwed in this process.

A classic case of middle-child syndrome, my husband is the
only child in his family that does not live within a 20-mile radius of his
parents. We moved a couple hours from
his home-town two weeks after we got married and have not looked back since. We both love his family desperately but
neither one of us cares for the Midwest. Every year my husband’s family gets together a couple of weeks before
Thanksgiving and draws names for Christmas gifts. Every year we are absent and every year we get the shaft. This year was no different. My Father In Law just informed me that in
our absence, he took it upon himself to draw for us and I got my new
Grandmother-In-Law (who neither myself or my husband has met) and my husband
got his Mother. The latter is not a
problem but the former presents quite a little quandary.

How am I going to buy a $50-$75 present for an elderly woman
that I have never met? Should I buy her
a nice pair of mauve polyester pants and a sweatshirt with a loose-fitting
waistband and an embroidered picture of birds? Should I get her a recipe book and a nice platter? Should I buy her a gift certificate to
Wal-Mart? How about a nice framed
picture of the step-great-grandchildren that she has yet to meet? In the end, I think the perfect gift would
be a T-shirt that says, “Who are these people and why are they giving me
Christmas gifts?”