Friday, August 31, 2007

Top Ten Reasons NOT to Pack for Tomorrow's Disney World Vacation Departure

  1. My van is in the shop until 6:00 p.m. and I have nowhere to put the luggage.

  2. My son is in time out for the third time today because I won’t let him decorate the living room with toilet paper, “Come on Mom. Just one roll. Please!”

  3. Packing and drinking don’t mix.

  4. My daughter is sleeping. I’d hate to disturb her with the loud packing noises.

  5. Vacations are always more interesting when you forget something important.

  6. I’ve got writing to do.

  7. Packing sucks.

  8. If I could just look over my list one more time, I would know that I’m not forgetting anything.

  9. Florida weather in the dead of summer is really unpredictable.

  10. Holy crap. We have allot of stuff.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Seven Deadly Clogging Sins

My children have three Grandpas. They have my Father, my
Father-in-law and their Dad. My husband is a 34-year-old Grandpa. He gardens.
He can fix anything. He saves everything and he does quirky little things that
only a Grandpa does like create makeshift tomato cages out of scrap metal.
Yesterday he took his Grandpa tendencies to a whole new level.

I was walking out the door headed for clogging practice when
I remembered that I had forgotten, for the fourth consecutive week, to take my
shoes to the shoe repair shop. For those of you unfamiliar with clogging shoes
(and I bet there are many), the taps are connected to the bottom of the shoes
with small nails. The soles of the shoes are about as thick as a piece of
cardboard and the point of the nails in my right shoe had poked through the
padding and into my foot. It was painful and I was forced to clog in tennis
shoes, one of the seven deadly clogging sins. I told my husband about my
problem and he said, in a commanding voice, “Bring me the shoes.”

His face lit up and I was skeptical but I decided to humor
him. Maybe he could fix my shoes. He managed to save our lawnmower from
complete ruin several times motivated solely by his own unwillingness to drop
$150 on a new mower. My clogging shoes cost about $75. I knew that was
motivation enough to at least give fixing them a go. I brought them into the
kitchen and waited for him to return from the one domain in our house that I do
not enter willingly: our detached garage. It is filled with enough random crap
to make my head spin so I choose to deny its existence.

Amongst the random crap exists a cobbler’s hammer. Did
anyone know that there was such a thing as a cobbler’s hammer? I didn’t. I
pictured the shoe repair with some magical little tool that could exert enough
force to smash a nail inside the 1.5 inch toe area of a shoe. I’m an idiot. My
husband took his rusty old cobbler’s hammer (a large, heavy two-sided hammer),
took the laces out of my shoes and whacked them with enough force to make my
daughter cry. That was all it took. The shoes were fixed. My husband had been
waiting ten years for the opportunity to put that cobbler’s hammer to use. I
hope it was worth the wait.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Arsenic and Ground Beef

My mini-break this weekend took me back to my hometown of
Hartsville, S.C. My Grandparents still live there and I always pop in for a
visit when I find myself in the area. Their home is not conducive to young
children (my daughter came along on this trip) so I have to keep my visits
relatively brief. I introduced myself to Ellen the CNA (their declining health
requires 24-hour in home care) and sat down on the couch for a chat.

My Grandparents have a dog. He is a dachshund, aptly named
“Happy.” He hates children. Each time he is in the presence of my children
Happy bares his teeth, growls and lunges. Because I would prefer that my
children’s blood remain in their veins, Happy is confined to the sunroom or the
backyard for the duration of my visits. Despite his
negative behavior towards children, Happy remains my Grandparent’s beloved and
constant companion. As such, he is treated to all of the best that life has to
offer a dog. I would learn in my visit that the best of everything includes his

During a conversation with my Grandmother, a loud, pulsating
noise came from the kitchen at short intervals. Curiosity got the best of me
and I excused myself to see what Ellen was doing in there. I found
her standing over the stove stirring ground beef and shoving baby carrots into a
Salad Spinner. She shot the shredded carrots into the ground beef mixture with incredible precision. My grandmother and I had already discussed dinner plans and I
knew that she was getting take-out so I asked Ellen what she was cooking.

“Happy’s dinner,” she responded.

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Happy’s dinner. I have to cook it once a week. He gets
ground beef and carrots and the carrots have to be sautéed so they aren’t too
hard,” Ellen said, a twinge of cynicism in her voice (not enough in my

I froze. I didn’t know what to say. Part of me wanted to hang a sign
on her neck that said, “I WILL NOT COOK DOG FOOD” and have her stand on the
kitchen table in front of my Grandmother, holding it up in silence like Norma
Rae. The other part of me wanted to give her a big hug and thank her for her
willingness to fulfill my grandmother’s outlandish canine dietary requirements.
Always one to take the high road, I chose instead to whisper under my breath,
“You ought to throw a little arsenic in there,” and walked away.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wolf Boy

I'm leaving on an impromptu mini-break (thank you Bridget Jones) this morning and I'm not sure if I'm going to have internet access. In lieu of a traditional blog entry, I'd like to ponder something. That something is Duff Goldman's facial hair. It fascinates me. The top of his head is bald but his eyes barely have room to function amongst the hair that covers his face.

I appreciate a good cake decorator just as much as the next guy and I'm endeared to the cast of characters at Duff's Charm City Cake, a motley crew of friends he's acquired throughout his life. He clearly loves his job. He's exceptional at it and he gives one of his employees time off each day to participate in a human pyramid on the lawn of the local art museum. I like everything about the man. I just cannot get past his facial hair. My mind keeps wandering to that kid in Mexico that the media dubbed, "The Wolf Boy." Thoughts?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I feel compelled to give everyone a glimpse into what a Hale family car ride generally entails.  Here’s the dialogue that took place on a recent 20-minute trip:

Son: Mommy, do you want to play a game with me?

Me: Sure. What kind of game?

Son: Trains, hunting on trains.

Me (a little surprised about the hunting part): What are
we hunting?

Son: All kinds of animals.

Me: So what do we do when we hunt them?

Son: Me, the engineer, will stop the train so that you,
the passenger, can look closely at them.

Me: Oh, so that’s hunting?


Daughter: All Aboard!

Me: OK. Here’s my ticket.

Son: Choo choo! Chug a chug a chug a chug. Mommy, we’re
moving. Aren’t you going to try to find animals?

Daughter: Choo choo! Choo choo!

Son: Be quiet Tatum.

Me: Oh yeah. Look! There’s a Moose!

Son: If you want me to stop the train, you have to say,
“Appalago” and then the animals name.

Me: Oh, OK. Appalago Moose!

Daughter: Appago Moo!

Son (makes dramatic brake screeching sound): You better
watch out. That’s a red spider moose. They can bite.

Me: Duly noted.

Son: What?

Me: Never mind. Appalago Bear!

 This went on for the entire road trip with my daughter
chiming in, doing her best to say “Appalago” and point enthusiastically out the
window, much to my son's chagrin (he refused to stop the train for her).  I usually have the pleasure of making two trips in one when I'm behind the wheel with the kids in tow, one to my actual destination and the other to the inside of my
son’s imagination. It’s a wild ride!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Becky Baker Skin Care Line

I have always been a sucker for good marketing. I see an ad
in a magazine for the latest and greatest skin cream, run my hands over my face
and think, “Finally. A product that was made for me.” I haul ass to the nearest
department store and wade through the sea of beautiful, two-dimensional women
pushing products of all kind. One whispers in my ear, “All you need is a little
Compound Q-90 and your skin will look like mine.” Another calls a little
louder, “Check out my lips. They shimmer like a disco ball. Don’t you want some
of what I’ve got?”

My response is quick and impulsive, “Yes, yes I do. Bring on
the disco lips.”

The last woman, surrounded by delicate bottles of high-tech
pastel concoctions, calls out the loudest, “Free gift!”

Sold. I walk up to the counter and ask one of the lab
technicians to assist me with my blemishes, wrinkles, blotches and crow’s feet.
She is kind enough to acknowledge each imperfection and suggests a separate
cure for each one. I breathe a sigh of relief. If I want to look like the woman
on the poster, I can, for $125.62. I can feel the brakes screech in my mind. I
come to a stark realization: I can’t afford this crap. I high tail it out of
the store with no purchases in hand and realize that I could have just blown my
weekly grocery budget on skin care.

This nonsense must stop. Upscale skin care is a racket.
Sure, there might be people out there who have highly sensitive skin and need a
special kind of make-up but a trip to the Neutrogena aisle in their local
Wal-Mart will probably do the trick. If you can afford it, be my guest. Fork
out $27.95 for a bottle of Bare Minerals foundation. But if, like me, you
teeter on the edge of your means when you get ready to hand the lab technician
your credit card then please join me in my quest for skin care simplicity.

I’ve pledged my allegiance to the Becky Baker skincare line
(named after my friend Alyson’s Mother, a frugal woman with beautiful skin). It
consists of baby wash ($.99), rubbing alcohol or witch hazel ($.89-2.00) and
generic face lotion ($4.49). That’s two-three months worth of skincare products
for about $8.00. Sure, I might throw in some Clinique astringent or MAC lotion
now and then (I’ve got it. I can’t let it go to waste), but I am dedicated to
the cause. Those two-dimensional women in the department stores are liars and
I’m going to prove it. I’ll report back on the condition of my skin in three
months. I’m sure you’ll all be waiting with bated breath.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Morning: Cartoons Greatest Hits

If you were a child of the seventies and eighties, this
album is sure to make your kids’ playlist. Saturday_morningReleased on MCA Records in 1995, Saturday
Morning Cartoons: Greatest Hits
is a gem of an album. It’s filled with
alternative rockers from the nineties that will make all of us 30-somethings
nostalgic about our angst-filled college years. Liz Phair, Juliana
Hatfield, The Violent Femmes, and Sublime, among others, cover a classic cartoon
theme song from yesteryear.

Some of my favorite tracks are Scooby-Doo Where Are You? by Matthew Sweet, The Fat Albert Theme by Dig, and, hands down, my
favorite track on the album, Open Up Your Heart and Let the Sunshine In
sung to alt-rock perfection by Frente! Every time I hear that track I see
Pebbles and Bam-Bam up on the Bedrock stage singing their little hearts out.
That track alone is worth the price of the album.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Easy to Please

The Department of Family Services of Bradley County has a
surprisingly nice waiting room. It’s got a floral tapestry loveseat, a couple
high-gloss dark wood chairs and a coffee table covered with a wide variety of
pamphlets. I’ve been there three times this week, dragging my kids with me.
They get excited each time we pull into the parking lot, “Is this the place
where we get to sit in all the different chairs?” my son will say wide-eyed.

“Yes, it is.”

They sure are easy to please. They play musical chairs while
I talk smack with the woman behind the plexiglass window. I’ve been trying all
week to get my son’s application submitted for preschool within the public
school system. The paperwork is a beaurocratic nightmare and, after my fourth
attempt, I finally had all of the documents in order. Now, we wait. We won’t
find out if he gets in until 30-45 days after the start of the school year
because they have to give all of the people in the Head Start program a chance
to apply. After that time, they’ll start letting the general public in. I’m
crossing my fingers. It’s a great program. And it’s free.

My kids and I walked hand in hand out to the car. They each
picked up a souvenir and started “reading” their respective brochures as I was
pulling out of the parking lot. It was a really cute sight until I noticed the
title of the pamphlets: Rape and Sexual Assault: What You Should Know.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Furry Role Players


One of my favorite online activities is checking the stats
on my blog. Typepad allows me to view what terms were put in each search engine
to lead Internet surfers to Another Gray Hair. Here are some searches
that have led to my blog in the past 24-hours that I thought were worthy of

  • “bunny bandit” nude (my head is spinning on this one thinking of that CSI episode featuring "furries"--defined as anthropomorphic animal enthusiasts, fur suiters, furry artists, furry conventionists, furry role-players)

  • Bret Michaels hair (searched 5 times in the last 24 hours)

  • Bret Michaels hairline (searched 3 times in the last 24 hours)

  • Son swallowed sun lotion

  • Donate gray hair

  • Is Paula Dean’s hair really gray?

  • Toddler gray hair (I get a hit or two from a variation of this phrase at least once a day)

  • Mary Lou Retton + hairstyle (as a huge Mary Lou fan from back in the day, this one pleases me)

  • Graying hair food (I can't quite wrap my head around this one. What?)

Apparently, I am in good company with my guilty TV pleasure,
Rock of Love. People seem to be obsessed with what is under Bret
Michael’s bandana. There are two camps. There's the, he just looks good in a bandana camp and the, he's covering up a wicked receding hairline camp. I am definitely in the latter. I can't wait for the paparazzi to snap a picture of Mr. Michaels sans do-rag.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Fabricated Milestones

Today was my son’s first day of 4-year-old preschool. He is
going to the same preschool that he attended last year with a different teacher
and a larger class. His day went well. He likes his teacher. He knew some kids
in the class and he got to eat some chocolate chip teddy grahams (the highlight
of his day).

I got right back into my non-summer routine:

  • Wake up at 6:00 a.m.

  • Shower

  • Make myself presentable

  • Wake kids up

  • Feed kids and myself

  • Dress kids

  • Drive to school

  • Pull into the circle drive and let the staff escort my child from the car to his classroom. I don’t even have to take off my seat belt.

I ran errands with my daughter until it was time to pick my
son up. We pulled in the circle drive and let the staff place him in my car.  I felt great about my day. I got to spend some
quality time with my daughter. My son was thrilled to be back in school and I
felt energized as a Mom. I bid a fond farewell to the summer doldrums that have
plagued us for the past few weeks.

This feeling of elation stayed with me until about 2:30 when
I received an email from a friend. Her son is in my son’s class this year and
her email was entitled, Pics of Cody’s First Day at School. I opened it
up to find four pictures of Cody in various positions in the preschool. There
was one of him just before he walked in the door and three more of him engaged
in some type of preschool-y activity inside of the room. The first picture was
even narrated at the bottom with the phrase, Cody standing outside his classroom.

Crap. What kind of Mom am I? I didn’t even walk my kid into
the building, let alone snap some pictures of him entering the classroom. Hell,
I didn’t even take one picture of him at home in his cute outfit, all ready for
his first day. I am terrible at documenting milestones. I suck at pictures. I
suck at baby books and scrapbooking and any type of mementos that preserve when
my kids lost their first tooth, took their first step, rolled over for the
first time. I filled out my daughter’s baby book at the end of her first year
and made just about everything up. Granted, it was in the ballpark of accuracy
but completely fabricated. What does this say about me?

I am really good at documenting the bizarre behavior of my
children and my own mediocre parenting skills. Does this count for anything?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Taking Suggestions

I'm taking suggestiions for Saturday Symphony albums. Please email me your favorite kid's CD or post it as a comment to this thread. I'll have to give it a listen to make sure that it lives up to my non-sucking standards and, if I like it, I'll include it on an upcoming Saturday's blog.

Saturday Symphony

After a very long hiatus, the Saturday Symphony is back. I
must give props to SPIN Magazine who, several months ago, published a
sizable article on children’s albums that I just got around to reading. The
point of Saturday Symphony is to let parents know that kid’s music doesn’t have
to Bottle_let_me_down
suck. Here’s the latest installment.

The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides is
a compilation kid’s CD. It’s full of irreverent tunes for the under 12 set by
artists such as the Waco Brothers, Handsome Family and Nora O’Connor. The songs
have lyrics that kids of all ages can get into and recite. The music, however,
is very diverse and, well, fabulous. This album will suit the tastes of parents
with musical interests ranging from bluegrass to hard rock. It will find its
way into your MP3 player and, after one listen, you’ll be rockin’ out to it
even when the kids are not around. With 26 songs and a download price of $9.99,
it’s a deal you can’t pass up.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A Genuine Shiner

My son has a genuine shiner. It’s dark purple with blue
edges and, as he put it, “Mommy, it looks like a rainbow.” This is not his only
facial injury. He also has a ½ inch scratch running along the side of his other
eye, right next to the bridge of his nose. These two eye injuries, along with
his various bruises, make him look like a child that they might use to play
orphan #3 in a modern version of “Oliver.” The wardrobe people would probably
throw a little dirt on his face and outfit him in some tattered clothing but he
wouldn’t need any make-up. From the neck up he looks like a street child.

Both of my kids had doctor’s appointments today. My son had
his preschool physical, complete with three shots and a finger prick, and my
daughter had her two-year-old check-up. I came very close to cancelling both of
these appointments when my son ran face first into the window ledge last night
causing injury number two. What if they think I abuse my child? What if they
call DFS on me? How am I going to explain the black eye? I tried to devise a
cover story to explain away his injuries. Granted, it was the truth, but I
still felt the need to rehearse it. It went something like this:

See doc, my son is the world’s biggest klutz. He walks on
flat surfaces with no impediments and falls flat on his face, tripping over
nothing but his own feet. He’s currently learning the perils of running in the
house the hard way. The first injury occurred when he ran through the kitchen
and fell onto a chair. The second one happened when he ran through the living
room and accidentally planted his face on a window ledge.

The conversation didn’t turn out quite like I expected. The doctor
asked my son directly and he answered honestly, omitting the whole “world’s
biggest klutz” explanation. The doctor encouraged my son’s rainbow fantasy
telling him that it would change colors as the days went on, first to light
blue, then green and then yellow. He ate this up, gazing up at the doctor with
stars in his eyes. At this very moment my son is standing in front of the
mirror whining because his eye hasn’t changed colors yet. So much for a lesson

Monday, August 6, 2007

His Name is Not "Poophead"

Thank you, Papa Dale, for the easiest blog entry this week.  Check out this news footage from Uniontown, Kentucky.

Gotta love the South!

Will Work 4 Food

I am a hopelessly flawed mother. I have moments of greatness
but they are outnumbered by the poor decisions that I make throughout my days.
Take today. I was feeling guilty because, in the 24-hour period that follows
our arrival home from any vacation, I morph into a domestic goddess. It is
short lived but fabulous. I don an apron (not really—that would be my husband’s
fantasy version of this story), crank up the G. Love and clean the hell out of
my kitchen. By the time my work is done, the refrigerator is so shiny that you
can actually see your reflection in the faux stainless steel finish. The smell
of floral-laced cleaning chemicals fills the air. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that, although your children
may suffer briefly from inhaling a little bleach, their chances of contracting
mad cow disease or e-coli are drastically reduced. Sean and I can rest easy
tonight, knowing that our children our germ free. We can address the whole
bleach inhalation thing at a later date. Right now I just want to savor the

When I finally awake from my domestic goddess hypnotic
state, I realize, Oh yeah, I’ve got some kids. Those kids might need me to
acknowledge their existence sometime today.
I’ve got a great idea! Let’s
all cook something together. The kids will love it.
I’m making vegetarian
lasagna. Yum. It’s every kid’s dream dish. I try to get the kids to smash up
the tofu with me. No dice. My son doesn’t want to get his hands dirty and my
daughter is too busy spraying her “cleaner” (a spray bottle filled with water)
on everything. So, I crack an egg open and let my son dump it into the bowl. I
add the spinach, the tofu and spices and tell him to stir. No dice. My hands
were freshly washed when I grabbed the spoon and I got a few water droplets on
the handle. He won’t touch it. What a prima donna. My next step is layering the
lasagna. This, the kids love. They place the noodles gently along the bottom of
the pan and fight over who gets to do what. I try to referee, making them take
turns. I usually enjoy cooking but this is work. Both my kids have to stand on
chairs to reach the counter so I can hardly reach anything and I am crammed
between my daughter’s chair and the stove. The space available for me, the actual
cook, is about one square foot. I pour my first glass of wine of the evening.

I decide that I don’t need to feel guilty. I just spent an
entire week at the beach with these mongrels. I should be able to cook in
peace. I send them into the living room and shut the door (ah, the benefits of
living in an older home—there’s a door between every room). I drink my wine
slowly, crank up Ben Harper and wait for the lasagna to cook. When it comes to
cooking assistance, I’m making up a new house rule: if you’re going to help
make it, you’ve got to eat it. This should cut down drastically the presence of
my little su-chefs.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

IHS International


I’m starting a new club. The, “I Hate Sunscreen Club.”
Membership is free and requires only a passionate hatred of sunscreen
application. I don’t think I’ll have trouble building a sizable membership. I
see mothers on the beach everyday, going through the motions of applying
sunscreen to themselves and their children. The children fight, whine, pull
away, squirm and cry. The parents coax, bribe, manhandle, rub and spray. Just
walk along any beach or poolside and you’ll have ringside seats for a SPF
parent/child wrestling match.

Sunscreen is, unfortunately, a necessary evil for outdoor
summer activities. Without it, our children’s skin would be scorched and
peeling and destined for skin cancer. We couldn’t live with ourselves if
that happened. Sunscreen is not a win/win though. Our children are suffering
from vitamin D deficiencies. Their bones are not as dense as they should be and
their teeth are suffering. Protecting our kids from skin cancer is causing
damage in other parts of their bodies. So, every time we lather up our children
in 50 SPF, trying to explain to them the importance of protecting their skin
from the dangers of the sun, we should be shoving vitamin D supplements in
their mouths and making time for “safe sun exposure.” What a crock. $7.95 a
bottle and we still can’t win. Sunscreen sucks. Join the club! I’m lathering my
kids up momentarily to hit the pool and I need some comeraderie.