Friday, December 26, 2008

Going Postal

I am not one to blame things on pregnancy. I don't buy into that whole, "delicate condition" thing. I like to be pampered just as much as the next guy but that is true whether I'm pregnant or not. I am, however, changing my tune a bit when it comes to decision making. I have made some highly suspect decisions, the most recent of which will be seen by all of my family and friends in a few short days. I sat down to the computer in late November, coupon code in hand, determined to pick and order my Christmas cards. Along with the rest of the population of the U.S., we usually do a photo card. My card last year rocked but it was done by a friend who is also a professional photographer. This year, in an effort to save some money, I decided to give it a go myself.

I sat down at the computer, logged on to all of the photo sites to see who was offering the best deals on photo cards and got started. There was no prep work, no actual photo session. Without thinking, I just decided I would use an existing photo, perused what I had and chose one that had all of the components I wanted: my son, my daughter, and my dog. It didn't occur to me to care that the picture I chose was a Halloween photo. I then took on the task of choosing a background. This took all of 45 seconds. I chose a hideous pink and red striped number with a few sparkly snow flakes here and there. It is SO UN-ME. Then I chose the message and stuck with the default font and color. I approved the final draft of my card, entered my 25% off coupon code, ordered 75 of those suckers and, voila!, I was done. The final product of this impulsive ordeal is a bizarre Halloween/Disco Christmas card that features my kids and dog in full costume. It looks like it was picked out by Paris Hilton's new BFF.

So, if you are one of the 75 lucky people to receive a 2008 Hale Family Christmas card, please accept my deepest apologies. The progesterone coursing through my body at record levels temporarily hijacked my brain and replaced my usually rational mind with that of an impulsive tweener. She thought my cards were SICK! (for those of you not familiar with tweener lingo, "sick" is the new awesome).

Such a tragedy that the rational me could have used THIS picture:

Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 Annual Hale Family Brutally Honest Christmas Letter

My cards have yet to be mailed but my labels are printed, my terribly misguided photo card is ready to go, and my letter is written. It's only a matter of time folks. In lieu of a timely Christmas letter delivered via snail mail (it will be delivered to those of you on my address list, just not in a timely fashion), here's the 2008 Annual Brutally Honest Hale Family Christmas Letter:

It is time to feast your eyes on the 2008 Hale Family Brutally Honest Christmas Letter.

2008 has been a year of surprising additions. The first, and most surprising, is the news that we will add another child to our family sometime in March. It's a girl and her name will be Harper Emerson (Spare me the negative feedback people. It's a done deal). We were shocked initially and, while we are terrified at the prospect of being outnumbered by children, we are all excited to meet Harper this spring.

The other additions are a little less shocking and come in canine form. Dudley, a pound puppy, joined our family in January. He has charmed us all with his uncommon good looks and winning personality. Ugly Dawg, a gently used and abused pop-up camper, was added to the family in March. She was named in honor of the hideous, yet sweet, canine that greeted us when we went to look at the camper. She's got a bit of duct tape here and there to hold her together but the Dawg has already served us well. We look forward to many more adventures within her climate controlled walls.

Truman started Kindergarten in August and he thrives academically but struggles with the fact that school occurs every day, EVERY DAY. The very thought of this still boggles his mind. He is also disillusioned with the cafeteria choices, forcing his poor mama to prepare a meal for him every day. How many different ways can you prepare a PB&J anyway? Truman experienced a life-changing event this year when his father won a Wii in a Bingo game at his school's fall festival. His mother was kind enough to purchase a Star Wars game for the two of them and she hasn't seen them since. They've disappeared into the world of Jedi's, Death Stars and Light Sabers. Julianne is forced to limit the Wii time and finds that it is a very handy motivational tool for Truman and Sean. She needs all the currency she can get.

Tatum started preschool this year and couldn't be more enthusiastic about it. She goes three days a week and is very disappointed when Bubba (Truman) gets to go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and she does not. She will likely be enrolled five days a week next year. Tatum is only three years old but has filled her Christmas list with age-inappropriate items like Barbies and Hannah Montana items. Sadly she has no aspirations thus far to join the marching band when she reaches high school, preferring instead to be a cheerleader. Julianne has high hopes that she'll change her mind and take the path less travelled of blissful band nerd-dom.

Sean has been very lucky this year, maintaining his employment in the world of financing amidst a financial crisis that has us all on the edge of our collective seats. Sean continues his descent into Tennessee redneck-itude and has already scheduled his yearly pilgrimage to Talladega for the Nascar race. Julianne lives in shame, a closeted Nascar wife and blames this descent on Sean's friends.

Julianne is working steadily as a freelance writer and has written many gripping pieces of journalistic excellence on such subjects as surviving your child's first camp experience, successfully photographing your family without losing your mind, and taking a vacation in your own hometown. She's pretty sure a Pulitzer is within her reach. She blogs but not as regularly as she once did. She is a master of shameless self promotion. Just check out her blog at

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All Wrapped Up


As I was rolling up a shirt in cheap paper today, I thought back to the days of yore when I actually cared what my presents looked like. I'd buy all manner of coordinating ribbon and paper, get custom tags made and even add little touches like coordinating ornaments taped under elaborate bows on each gift. I would painstakingly wrap each present, catering my wrapping to the individual recipient. I loved the whole process.

I'm over that now. My husband took one look under our tree last night and laughed out loud at the misshapen bundles wrapped under it. When I have to wrap an article of clothing these days, I just roll up the item, roll it up in paper, and tape it shut to the best of my ability. I've bid a fond farewell to gift tags, custom or not, and replaced them instead with a big fat black sharpie. I write directly on the paper in large letters TO: and FROM:. I don't take the time to cut out a make-shift card with the wrapping paper and tape it. Who has time for that? No, I just write directly on the package. My poor children think that's the norm. They think every mom across America wraps her gifts in random three-dimensional wrinkly blobs of paper and tape.

Pretty packages are just one of the many luxuries I've happily tossed aside in favor of sanity and the true holiday joy that comes from being DONE with all of that wrapping nonsense and sitting down to enjoy the pleasure of introducing my children to the best Christmas villain of all time: the Heat Miser.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Disney Lesson #1

WARNING: I've just returned from Disney World and have it on the brain.

The joy, the pain, the financial burden, it all adds up to an often unforgettable, frequently unbearable, and undeniably fantastic experience for the family. While we are regulars at the happiest place on earth, this was a trip of firsts. It was the first time we camped (on property at Fort Wilderness) and the first time we went during the holidays. The camping experience was fabulous. Ugly Dawg was good to us and it beats the heck out of any hotel room. I do long for a camper with a shower and bathroom but I'm grateful for the Dawg and look forward to many more years of fun within her climate controlled vinyl walls.

I'm going to share some lessons from Disney World with my readers. Here's lesson number one:

Never, EVER underestimate the price of a product or service at Disney World.

As I've mentioned before, my son has a healthy Star Wars addiction. It's something both my husband and I support as we both loved the movies as children and take a certain measure of pride in his newfound discovery of the series and characters. After making a B-line to the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios on Day one of our Disney vacation, my son noticed someone getting their face painted like Darth Maul. He spent the remainder of the week obsessing about it and, overcome by the palpable Disney Magic (sure, it sounds like a myth people but it effects you, even the hardcore skeptics like myself) in the air, we relented promising to return to the Studios to get his face painted later in the week. Later in the week turned out to be our last day. I'm a theme park multi-tasker so I handed my husband $15, surrendered custody of both my kids, and took off across the park for a fastpass. My walk was shorter than I'd planned so I came back quickly to find my husband in line to get the kids' faces painted (my daughter had to have hers painted as well). He pointed to the cash in his hand and shook his head animatedly from side to side. What? $15 isn't enough for two face paintings? Are you kidding?

As it turns out, $15 was barely enough for one face painting. That is the going rate, in fact, for the "Sinister Sith" AKA Darth Maul face painting. My daughter's less-sinister, "sparkle kitty" paint job ran a mere $12. So, yes, I dropped $27 on two face paintings that took all of five minutes. The most painful part? There's a clown here in Cleveland, TN that does face paintings at just about every local event/party for $1 a pop and her work is JUST AS GOOD! She doesn't do "Sinister Sith," mind you but she does a rockin' "Sparkle Kitty."

So, folks, lesson learned: Never, EVER underestimate the price of a product or service at Disney World. You and your wallet will live to regret it!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday’s Rant

Be forewarned I'm feuding with my husband over something about which he has no control and I'm feeling the urge to scratch my own eyes out with a rusty knife. It's been a great day. Suffice it to say this post may seem, hmmm…, a tad bit angry.

For those of you who are unaware, I have lupus. I realize this may seem like a random statement but it becomes relevant later. I have lupus and so do 1.5 million other Americans yet very few people even know what the disease is. There is no celebrity spokesperson for the disease even though it is statistically impossible that a celebrity or five does not have the disease. The only press it ever gets is when one of the staff members on House throws it out as a possible diagnosis every week. I'm not kidding. EVERY week. Pay attention. This lack of awareness drives me nuts. Fret not, all of this will make sense in a few minutes.

Anyone watch The Shield out there in cyberland? My husband and I have been fans of it since the first episode and have watched it faithfully until its painful conclusion last week. For those of you unfamiliar with the show, it is a gritty (that might be the understatement of the century) cop drama about police corruption and the activities of one particular group of cops in L.A. It's violent and thought provoking and shocking at times. It's the kind of show that I love. I was so pleased last season when one of the show's primary characters came out of the closet with a lupus diagnosis. She's a smart, successful, highly capable woman and I was thrilled that lupus was finally going to get some serious treatment on a relatively high profile show. My pleasure turned to shock when it was revealed that the reason for the revelation about the character's diagnosis was that she was going completely insane. She was losing perspective, unable to perform the functions of her job, getting irrationally emotional and had even let her house get so filthy that it could have been condemned, all of this from a woman who, prior to her lupus diagnosis, had been an exceptionally successful woman in every aspect of her life. Are you kidding me?

So the character she came clean to took it upon himself to shelter and protect her from those who might discover her illness and subsequent meltdown. Being the gentlemen that he is, he talked her down when she was overly emotional, over compensated for her rash behavior, and hired someone to clean her house. What a gent!

The final few episodes revealed that it was her medication, not her disease, which was making her crazy. This left her with a difficult choice: continue to take the medication and remain a crazy person or stop taking it, get some normalcy in her life, and die a slow painful death from a relentless disease. She chose the latter. Nice. My heart swells with pride at this oh-so-accurate portrayal of a relatively common and treatable disease that affects many intelligent, successful, capable-of-keeping-our-homes-clean women who take their medication regularly without going crazy. Come on!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rage Against the Machine

Packaging nightmare

What's every parent's Christmas nightmare? We've all been there. We've got our Santa clothes on and finally have the kids secure in their beds. We unload the items from the attic and bring them down to the living room to begin the assembly process. Some of us drink a few cocktails and watch It's A Wonderful Life, trying to savor every minute of it. Until the minutes become hours. Why? Because of the ridiculous measures that toy manufacturers take to securely fasten the toys to the packaging so that they are displayed to utter perfection on the store shelves, catching the eye of young passer-bys. These days the displays involve all manner of torture devices from plastic wrapped wire to strategically placed rubber bands, screws and industrial staples. It all adds up to a frustration filled Christmas Eve when Santa hats become sweat bands and holiday cheer turns into yuletide rage.

Time allotted for assembly of the Littlest Pet Shop Fitness Center: 5 minutes.

Actual time required: 47 minutes

Cost: your mental health

After five or six of these episodes, you are tired, frazzled, angry and half drunk and the pile of trash that has accumulated in the corner is beginning to resemble the debris of a demolished building.

The purpose of this post is not to wallow in this misery but to let parents in on a genius little secret: THIS CAN ALL BE AVOIDED!

In a move that can only be classified as genius, has partnered with Mattel and other manufacturers to provide its customers with "Frustration Free Packaging." What this means for me is that the Barbie Cruise Ship (no, my daughter is not into age-appropriate toys) that I ordered yesterday will arrive on my doorstep in a big cardboard box with zero packaging. They'll be no clear plastic viewing window, no attempt at aesthetic shelf appeal, just a toy in a box, a big, glorious toy in a box. This brings me great joy and hope for humanity and, coupled with the free shipping offered on many products and their low prices, gives me almost no motivation to shop elsewhere.

So, get out there and rage against the department store machine and do your holiday shopping at Maybe toy manufacturers will take the hint and do a little good for our collective mental health and the environment and get rid of the ridiculous over-packaging that has taken over store shelves of late.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Urine Going to Enjoy This One

Pretty sure that's my second time using a play on words with the word, "urine." What's wrong with me?

Urine Collection Jug

So, I've been peeing into a biohazard jug all day. Fun fun! I lost the
hat (white plastic thing that goes into the toilet to collect the pee)
so have been forced to improvise. Despite my husband's genius
suggestion that I use a plastic fire hat that one of the kids brought
home from school, I have been using a large glass measuring cup. If any
of you would like me to provide your family with baked goods in the
near future, please let me know. The list is long.

As a result of my forced confinement, I have morphed into a happy homemaker. I cooked a whole chicken to prepare for Thursday's Teacher's Soup Lunch at my son's school which was, incidentally, postponed until Dec. 3rd this afternoon. I also baked, frosted and decorated 48 cupcakes (fret not, I've got more than one measuring cup) for my son's upcoming 6th birthday.

For the record, I am astounded by how easy it is to find photos of urine collection products on the internet. Who knew?

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tribute

Last night I lost my Grandma. She was 94 years old
and had been living without her husband for over seven years. She was ready to
go. She’d been ready for a while and she left this world peacefully. These
memories are dedicated to my Grandma and Grandpa who are together at long last.

Tip and Jack, this one’s for you:

What I remember most about Grandma, aside from her
spunk and sense of humor, is the adoring eyes of Grandpa and how much he loved
her. I remember a visit they made to my house during my senior year of high
school. Grandpa wanted to get Grandma a nice gift and asked me to take him to
the store. In the car on the way to the local department store he revealed that
he wanted to buy her a nightgown. A deep admirer of the aesthetics of a
woman all of his life, Grandpa was very specific about his nightgown choice. He
wanted something that would flatter her figure. Between the driving "lessons" he would give me while we cruised through town (he was never much of a passenger in his life), he proceeded to tout the
virtues of Grandma's then-80-year-old body to me saying things like, “You know, your
Grandma has a really nice figure. Always has.” At that moment, although
admittedly embarrassed, I saw my 80-year-old Grandma through her husband’s eyes
and I saw her as I never had before. She was beautiful in a timeless way that
few can ever hope to achieve, a loving, devoted wife and mother and the object
of one incredible man’s undying affection. I helped Grandpa pick out a
nightgown befitting royalty for Grandma, the apple of his eye.

Grandma was a fairly peaceful woman. She got along
with most, had a pleasant disposition and a dry sense of humor that I’d like to
think I inherited, at least partially, from her. She did have a running
dispute, her own personal vendetta against one marvel of modern technology: the
television. I don’t know if my memories are amplified because I so desperately
wanted to watch Guiding Light at age
10 at the beach instead of splashing around in the ocean or flying a kite with
my cousins or any number of things that kids “should be doing.” But I felt
constantly persecuted by her insistence that I “turn that infernal thing off!” An
avoider of conflict all of my life, I usually complied and ended up swimming in
the bay with my cousins, riding the waves in the ocean, or chatting with my
family on rocking chairs on the porch. No matter what the alternative activity
was, it was always more enriching and memorable than any episode of Guiding Light so I guess Grandma knew
something I didn’t. While these moments felt like persecution at the time, I
learned a deep appreciation for quality time with family from my Grandmother
and, as a result of her and my Grandpa’s efforts, I know my five cousins as
well as many families know their own siblings. Our dedication to carry on
Grandma and Grandpa’s legacy has led to many recent family reunions. To this
day, every time the television is turned on in the presence of my extended
family, I feel some residual guilt. Mission accomplished Grandma.

After I turned 12 or so, our beach vacations ceased
and we switched to the Western half of the country. We started a new tradition
of meeting at Keystone ski resort in Colorado for a week each spring. Grandma
and Grandpa had always rented the beach houses and they continued to give us
this great gift by renting a ski bungalow every year. By the time our ski week
tradition started, neither Grandma nor Grandpa were able to ski but they
participated none-the-less. They came to the ski lodge with our picnic lunches
every day and we all hopped off the slopes for an hour or so of conversation
and nourishment. They listened intently as we all spoke of our skiing
adventures and mishaps of the morning. Lunch was always a lively occasion and
attendance was mandatory. After our thawing and belly-filling was complete, we’d
gear up and head out. A couple times during each week, Grandma and Grandpa
would hop on the Gondola to watch us collectively come down the mountain
directly under them while the Gondola cruised to it’s destination. This mass
ski required some logistics and many of the more skilled skiers in our group
were forced to wait for the rest of us but we all participated without
complaint for the sake of Grandma and Grandpa. We’d wait until we saw Grandpa’s
hands hanging out the window of the gondola and all start skiing. We’d stop,
look up, and wave to Grandma and Grandpa who waived, smiling and laughing
enthusiastically in return. They may have longed to be hitting the slopes
themselves but we never knew it. They seemed perfectly content to watch us
glide down the mountain as a group, THEIR group, THEIR family, the creation of
the two of them and their love for each other.

And that is how I think of them
now: together at long last, hand in hand, looking down on our growing family,
content with the legacy they left behind.





Monday, November 10, 2008

Wary Googlers

A friend of mine is starting a blog and I was helping her with it today (it was a paid service so I did my best to be professional). I used my own blog as an example and showed her the stats section where I can check where the visits to my blog are coming from. I clicked on the first search engine hit to illustrate the nifty feature that allows you to see what people are searching to arrive at your blog. What were the search words you ask? In the past I've had such gems as Bret Michael's hair, Furries, and many others. This one, though, takes the cake: Hugh Hefner STD. Thank goodness she is a friend or I would have been mortified. We both had a hearty laugh about that and moved on. Just remember, if the urge to uncover Hef's seedy medical history strikes you, have no fear. Just do a google search and Another Gray Hair will be the 9th entry. I'm here to please and provide massive amounts of useless information.

Since my post about Hef did not actually answer the question as to whether or not he has an STD, I thought I should address that now for wary Googlers looking for answers. According to the ever-reputable Wiki Answers, yes, Hef did have an STD, syphilis, in 1991 from an unknown partner. We can all rest easy tonight knowing that this question is answered and that Hef has recovered from syphilis to live a long happy life full of pure American debauchery. Go Hef!

In completely unrelated news the Wii has become a major source of contention in my home. I feel like we should be interviewed for the next E! "Curse of the Lottery" special where we could serve as a cautionary tale for families who win small household luxuries in Bingo games. Sure, you think you're lucky now. Just wait! WAIT! Ever since I purchased the Legos Star Wars game for $19.99 (that's the only reason I bought it!), my son has become completely obsessed with it. He dreams about it, talks about it, and collapses into a ball of desperation when I deny him the privilege. This week is not going well for him. Due to his unpleasant attitude when asked to complete simple household chores (I insist that my kids do these things with a "willing spirit"—think that's a bit of a stretch?), he has lost his Wii privileges for two days. His response to this punishment was similar to that of a rabid, Ferrell cat trapped in a small space. I confined him in his room and shut the door but I never, ever want to hear those noises again.

To add insult to injury, my husband, who knows that my son's Wii privileges have been revoked is, at this very moment, attached to the Wii remote giving Darth Vader a run for his Lego money. He's got the volume down to conceal his illicit game play from my son. What a gent.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


No matter which candidate you were rooting for, I think we can all breath a collective sigh of relief that the election is over. The madness is through. I may go into a little CNN Ticker withdrawal but I'll be alright. And you will too.

Santa Mall

Moving on. Let's talk about Christmas, shall we? My good friend Jacquelyn and her lovely troop of Daisy Girl Scouts are participating in a Christmas parade. The parade takes place in the perimeter of the local mall and is meant to welcome Santa Claus and his elves to the celebratory world of consumerism. What's the big deal, you ask? Why does this event even qualify for blog fodder? Well, the answer to this question has much less to do with the event itself than it does with the date of the event. The parade, you know, the one to welcome Santa Claus into his cardboard house in the climate controlled "North Pole" of the mall, is tomorrow night. Tomorrow is NOV. 6, a full 50 days before Christmas! That's 7 weeks people! Absurd.

Maybe I'm a closeted Ebenezer Scrooge but I feel like this tradition is ridiculous and should be changed. Maybe they can replace Santa and his sleigh with a perfectly prepared turkey dinner or some pilgrims, something, anything that represents a holiday within a reasonable proximity to November 6. Jacquelyn and the Daisy Girl Scouts of Troop 507, I love you all dearly but I must, on sheer principle, boycott this parade and all it stands for. Have fun ushering a fake Santa into consumer hell tomorrow night. I'll be thinking about you while I make my lowly assistant shovel coal into the wood burning stove.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


My son is, at this very moment, emptying the dishwasher and touting the virtues of each individual Star Wars character. He's currently on R2D2 who is, incidentally, his favorite robot, "because he has lots of important stuff on him and he helps out a lot." We just finished up an existential discussion about Darth Vader, "Is he a robot, Mommy, or a human?" Lucky for him, Mommy is a virtual Star Wars encyclopedia, having grown up with an older brother and seen every movie several times. I recounted the final scenes of Return of the Jedi in which Darth Vader's true identity was revealed to young Luke and the dark lord met his end. My son was a captive audience, giving me a satisfying, "oh yeah" after my explanation. Star Wars

Where is this coming from? This sudden interest in Star Wars? Remember a few weeks back when I shared my husband's luck at winning a Wii during a bingo game at my son's Fall Festival? Well, I found the Lego Star Wars game on sale recently and purchased it for my son and husband (they're both fans). The game made more of an impact than I could have ever imagined. It has taken residency in my son's brain and occupies his thoughts during every free moment. It even inhabits his subconscious. I heard him scream out, "Use the force!" in his sleep once last week. Yikes. What have I done?

I have always had an aversion to video games. It comes from growing up in a household where television viewing was kept to a minimum and where, despite the yearnings of my brother and I, we never owned a Nintendo. I inherited my parent's line of thinking that video games and television are instruments of time suckage that should be allowed only in small doses. The Wii was something we would have never purchased on our own. It is too expensive and too low on our priority list to ever warrant an actual purchase. I do like the Wii because, unlike most gaming systems, many of the games require physical activity (unfortunately Star Wars is not one of them) but I can't imagine us owning one without my husband's luck. That being said, I feel slightly guilty that my son is spending the next half hour (he's done with the dishes) playing a mindless video game. He's been asking me since he got in the car to play the Wii and I told him that he could once he completed his chores. He complied, so what's a Mom to do? The con in this situation is that I have an almost-six-year-old who is a certified gaming addict. The pro is that it is Star Wars and I have a currency that I've never had before. All it takes is a threat of no Star Wars and I have immediate compliance.

Anyone else have a gaming addict out there? How do you handle it?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sweatin' to the Oldies

I've been struggling lately with time management, energy, and the constant desire to sleep. One of my friends asked for some help with her new website's text and I was happy to oblige but it took me a while. She asked me about it a couple days after she sent the text over and I replied honestly. I said, "Well, I've had a really busy schedule of sleeping and resting and its tough to find time to fit the other things in." I realize this is a pathetic answer but I get points for honesty, right?

I'm happy to report that things are looking up. I'm feeling more energetic, the dry heaves are on their way out and I can survive a day without a nap. Progress is welcome in my life, even if it is minimal.

In light of my lack of inspiration, I pounced on my friend, Alyson's genius costume idea for her 1 and a half year old son, Cooper. She sent me a picture and I begged her to let me include it in a blog entry. She obliged. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the funniest costume I have ever seen on a child: Cooper Tunnel as Richard Simmons:


And, for good measure, here's one of Richard Simmons as Richard Simmons:

Richard Simmons

If anyone has ever seen a more hilarious, creative costume on a child, I invite you to share it. Go Alyson!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Semper Fi

Boy soldier

My son hopped into the car today with all manner of Marine Corps merchandise. He had a book cover, a large poster and a pencil, all covered in Armed Services logos. I was a little surprised and asked him what he learned about the Marine Corps. Here's what I learned:

  • Marines carry guns and get to set off fireworks.

  • Marines blow up buildings.

  • And, my personal favorite, Marines get to help Santa Claus with his toys.

I explained to my son that Marines were very brave men and women who fought for their country and that they had to fight in wars and many unpleasant things in addition to blowing stuff up, setting off fireworks and filling in for Santa's elves. I dare say the recruitment techniques for the under-7 set have gotten a bit skewed. Is there really recruiting for the under-7 set? I'm not ready for that yet. Not even close.

Thursday, October 16, 2008



I just pulled a slug, a SLUG! out of my daughter's hair. She came inside and said, "Mommy, I've got something gooey in my hair." I leaned in for a closer look and there it was: a one inch slug writhing around in her beautiful brown locks. I have an aversion to slugs. I can't stand them. They feel like those globs we used to get out of the grocery store vending machines as kids only they are actually living breathing organisms. I have no problems with most of the creatures of the insect world (I'm assuming here—probably wrongly—that a slug is an insect. What else is it going to be? A reptile? I think not). I digress. Most insects don't even phase me. I live together in peace with the moths, the flies, the wasps, the bees, the spiders, even the occasional cock roach but I can't handle slugs. Is it too much to ask that they steer clear of my daughter's head? Geez.

In better news my children have been playing outside for over two hours in the rain, wearing their fireman hats. They are covered in mud and slug feces from head to toe but I don't care. I love to watch kids playing in the rain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sappy Six

Karate Kid

I’m feeling a little sappy this morning so here goes:

Six Things I love about my kids:

1. My son can’t just have toast or waffles for breakfast. He has to invent something. This morning it was a peanut butter cheerio boat, translation: a piece of bread with peanut butter spread on it and cheerios sprinkled on top.

2. My daughter is, as I write this, wearing a pink sparkle headband around the circumference of her head Karate Kid style. I told her she looks like Daniel Son. She replied, “No Mama. I look like a cheerleader.” Who knew?

3. My son gets extremely excited about eating a school lunch. This happens very rarely as a result of his finicky palate but, when it does, he skips towards the entrance to his school like he’s walking into a theme park.

4. Yesterday, after dropping my son off at school, my daughter asked that we play a horse game (she has a tendency to skip consonants so her “horse” actually sounds like “whore”). This is what she said to me, “Mama, you be a big whore and I’ll be a little whore.”

5. Whenever my daughter does something silly, like this morning when she insisted upon eating her toast from the middle out and licking the butter off of her plate, my son and I look at each other and chuckle quietly. Yep, we’ve got inside jokes.

6. Both of my kids refer to our main vacuum as “Big Yellow” and get very excited whenever I haul her out of the closet. They call the other vacuum “Little Blue” and flash disappointed expressions in my direction whenever I plug Little Blue in.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The stress in my life melted away yesterday when my OB's nurse called me to inform me that I did not have gonorrhea. Phew. Thank goodness. That was keeping me up at night. When it comes to my list of stressors, "Fear of STD's" is at the very top, above "In 5 months the children will outnumber the adults in my household" and "Holy crap what is my stomach going to look like after this?" I guess I should be thankful for the small things, right?

Speaking of STD's, I read today on that Holly Madison and Hugh Hefner are splitting. This upsets me a great deal. What will poor Hugh do without his beloved Puffin? Word on the street is he's got a set of 19-year-old twins chomping at the bit to take her place. If this relationship comes to fruition, Hef's new gal pals will be 63 years his junior. My question is this: what do their parents think? I would be mortified. That gives me two primary goals for my daughter(s):

  1. Keep them off of the pole (thank you Chris Rock)
  2. Keep them out of Hugh Hefner's bed.

Sure, I'd also like them to be happy, well-adjusted, successful women but I'm thinking right now in terms of concrete objectives and these, my friends, are two of them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Officer Awesome and the Fair Maiden

I snapped some pictures of my kids in their Halloween costumes and couldn't resist posting this one.


In other news, my son's school's annual Fall Festival was  a smashing success. Tons of money was raised and fun was had by all, including my husband (the luckiest person I know), who entered a $5 Bingo game and won the grand prize: a Wii!!! Yahoo! I was so excited I had an obnoxious screaming fit in the middle of the silent auction.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chapter 11 for the Tooth Fairy


Ever-dwindling blog no more! I don't know why it is such a struggle for me lately, perhaps for the same reason that it is a struggle for me to peel my arse off of the couch to do anything productive. I need a little motivation.

We all know that our country is in trouble. We've got a ginormous deficit, our banks and lenders are closing down like local grocery stores on the heels of a Wal-Mart grand opening, and our Representatives are likely going to vote to spend $700 billion of our money to rescue our economy from certain doom. While nobody has enough fingers to point at those responsible, the American consumers are certainly near the top of the list. How many people do you know who live in homes they can nary afford? Or drive cars that cost more a month than some mortgages? Or take vacations with limitless budgets and host elaborate birthday parties for one-year-olds? This culture of entitlement and overspending has found its way into the made-up mind of at least one fantasy character: the tooth fairy.

When I was a kid and lost a tooth, I laid it under my pillow before going to sleep and woke up to find a shiny new quarter in its place in the morning. I was thrilled. A WHOLE quarter! My son lost his first tooth yesterday. He put it in an empty Ambien prescription bottle (that's just how we roll around here) and placed it carefully under his pillow. He woke up to find not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE crisp dollar bills under his pillow. FIVE! I hung my head in shame this morning realizing my mistake. Darn that Tooth Fairy Diva! She's a high-fallutin', over spendin', wracked-with-debt dental fairy with nothing better to do than poison my mind with her mass kindergarten entitlement conspiracy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's In a Name?

I found out at a doctor's appointment today that this unexpected bundle of bun in the oven is most likely a little girl. While I am excited about the prospect of having another little girl, it complicates the naming process. My boy name was an ace in the hole, chosen beyond question. The girl name remains up in the air. Some of my friends have emphasized the importance of carrying on the T-name tradition, "You already have two kids with T names," they say, "It would really stink for the third one to be the odd one out." While I agree with this logic to some degree, my agreement stops at the prospect of naming the child Tiffany or Tonya. Please, all of the Tiffany's and Tonya's out there, don't take offense. You had no control over your parents!

I've got a great name picked out but, alas, it does not start with a T. I will not post it here yet because my husband and I have not agreed and I will not entertain any negative commentary about my child's name choice. There is an inherent danger in telling people prior to the birth, what your choice for names is. They can be judgmental and harsh because they feel as if their opinion could sway the parent one way or another. This ridiculous charade stops as soon as the baby is born and people say with a smile, "Tallulah Does the Hula. What a great name!" So, to you the faithful readers of this ever-dwindling blog, I pose the following question without revealing too much:

How important IS continuing the T-name tradition?

Would you dare break it?

If I do break it will it cost my child years of therapy (Why Mom, WHY didn't you just name me with a "T" name?)?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Urine Not Going to Believe This


Is it because I have a boy? Because he's five? Because I have a husband? Because my daughter sits on an elevated toilet seat so her teeny tiny butt doesn't slide through the hole into the deep abyss of toilet water? Why? Why? Why does my bathroom smell like pee no matter how many times I clean it? Why did I find a puddle of pee under the trashcan, take a moment to think about that—UNDER THE TRASHCAN—when I mopped the floor yesterday? The trashcan is about two feet from the toilet and there was no pee in the trashcan or around the trashcan so how, in the name of all that is not pee in the world, did pee get UNDER the trashcan? That is today's mystery. Thoughts?

Oh, and I apologize for the title of this blog. It's awful and not at all funny but I couldn't help myself.

Pluggity Plug Plug Plug

I'm all about supporting other moms trying to get their feet wet in the world of business and Gloria Moser is one such Mom. She works full time, has two kids under 4, and has recently started a local website geared at parents in the Cleveland, Tennessee area. The website is and it lists upcoming events, coupons, sales and contests that would be useful for area moms and dads in the Cleveland (and Chattanooga for that matter) area. Go check her out and if you live in East Tennessee, subscribe to her feed for updates on local family-friendly happenings that won't break the bank.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Family Wedding Part Deux

My gratitude to my Aunt Janet's neighbor for letting us stay in her home cannot be fully expressed. As someone who despises hotel rooms, particularly with children, and despises spending $120/night on a hotel room even more, I was more than happy to park my family in the home of a kind stranger. My guess is that the neighbor didn't quite know what she was getting into. Given the house's close proximity to all of the wedding action and the presence of five very active children, our home away from home turned into the indoor playground for the kids. There was so much chaos over at Aunt Janet's house that the presence of one five-year-old, let alone three of them, was like throwing gasoline on an already out of control fire.

Not wanting the flames to reach the expertly quaffed and sprayed-to-the-hilt hair of the women of the family, we opted to let the kids hang out in the neighbor's house. She had a large basement with lots of open space and the kids set up camp down there. It was raining most of the time we were in Maryland so we let them go a little wild. And wild they went. They built forts with cushions, did some major running and jumping, screamed, laughed, sang, played and had a ridiculous amount of fun. Listening to them was both enjoyable and disconcerting at the same time because of the sheer volume of their play. We let them go, though, because our main concern was burning energy.

We took for granted that we would have the house to ourselves during our stay. This was a mistake. We failed to account for the fact that maybe the kindly neighbor would forget her shoes on Friday and have to stop by mid-evening to pick them up; or that she may have to stop by on Saturday to pick up her invitation with directions to the reception. I was standing in the dining room of my Aunt's house on Friday evening, looking out the window. I had just left the neighbor's house and knew the scene: five kids going ballistic in the basement reaching volumes that most humans aren't capable of and my husband and cousin sitting in the living room, drinking beer and chatting. I did a little play by play:

Me: Oh my gosh the neighbor lady is here! She's getting her mail.

Mom (staying with us in the house and well aware of the scene): No she's not!

Me: Yep.

Mom: Oh no, she's not going in is she?

Me: It doesn't appear that she is going in.

Mom: Thank God.

Me: No kidding.

I was wrong. I had gone to the window after her entry into the home where she found my husband and cousin chatting casually, drinking beer, completely unaffected by the utter chaos going on downstairs in her home. I bet she was horrified. She probably thought we'd let a traveling circus stay in her basement. Sean and Janet said she played it cool and smiled politely but they were caught off guard. I'm perplexed as to whether I should send her a thank-you note, an apology, or both; and I'm pretty sure I'll include a complimentary Xanax.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Museum" Might be an Overstatement


Family weddings may be the best source of blog fodder on the planet. I spent two days in Baltimore with my extended family this weekend and have blog entries clogging up my brain. Here's the first installment.

We arrived via 11 hour car trip in Severna Park, MD on Thursday evening. My kids were beat but they were looking forward to seeing their cousins and excited to be on vacation. We were staying in my Aunt's neighbor's house (she was with friends for the weekend) so that my parents could help out as-needed next door. My Aunt Janet was the mother of the groom and handling all of the wedding plans as well as hosting the rehearsal dinner. Friday was the day of the rehearsal and, suffice it to say, it was a little nuts. My cousin Janet (yes, it's confusing. We're all J's and half of us have the same names. Try and keep up.) and I were under strict orders to get all of the kids out of the house during the day so that the rest of the crew could prepare for the rehearsal dinner. Janet and I did a little preplanning and decided to take the kids to the Chesapeake Children's Museum. It was only a few miles away and cost $3/person. With five kids and two adults, we were sold. Plus, it's a children's museum. I've never been to a bad children's museum.

It should be noted, for the purposes of this story, that my cousin Janet works for Walt Disney World. Her expectations, as a result of her job, are a little high. She told me in the car on the way to the museum that the online reviews of the place were less than stellar. When we arrived, we discovered why. The museum resembled a small mobile home. I think Janet's exact words when we pulled up were, "I think I'm gonna cry." We opened the door to the mobile home to find an elderly lady who asked us repeatedly if we were from a daycare center and seemed to be a little angry that we didn't call her to tell her we were coming. When we finally got her to understand that we were not with a daycare center, she counted all seven of us and asked for $21. We gave her $30. She continued talking and had no intention of giving me my change.

I spoke up, "Um, we gave you $30."

"Oh, I'm sorry honey, I thought you'd given me $21."

And so the kids set out to explore all 350 square feet of the museum. Despite my trepidation about the cleanliness of the place and the "Museum" designation, I must admit that the kids had a great time. We had three five-year-olds, a three-year-old and a two-year-old and they engaged in a variety of elaborate scenarios using the museum equipment. It was fun to watch. After some time in the "main room," we moved to the upper level (about three steps up). Here there was a dollhouse, a couple toys and a large wooden cage with a sign that said something like, "This is Bubba the red Boa Constrictor's home." The kids and I looked and looked but Bubba was nowhere to be found. There was a regular visitor to the museum sitting in a rocking chair close by who casually explained, "Oh Bubba's been missing for a couple days. He got out of his cage and we haven't seen him since. We're sure he'll come back soon." I'm not sure how you would have reacted to that but it was a pretty big red flag for me. A boa constrictor large enough to justify a six-foot-tall cage was loose in the museum and no one seemed even a little concerned. Feeling a little uneasy about the snake on the loose, we decided to take the kids downstairs and see what exhibits awaited them.

The downstairs area features a large lounge area, complete with old leather recliners, a long table with chairs, shelves full of cleaning supplies and indistinguishable clutter, and a rabbit cage with a cute grey rabbit walking all over his own excrement. In my experience, rabbits are usually kept a couple inches above where their poop falls so they remain clean. Not at the Chesapeake Children's Museum. Our new goal became keeping the children away from the poop-coated rabbit and we made use of the two sinks that randomly sat against the wall of the downstairs. One of them was full of dishes and couldn't be used but the other was in working order. We coated each kids' hands with Dawn (the only soap available) and washed them one by one. We headed back upstairs for one more look at the upper "exhibits." I secretly hoped that Bubba would find a way to get to that rabbit and put an end to its misery but I decided not to share that little tidbit with the kids. We left the Chesapeake Children's Museum feeling that we'd gotten our $3 worth and headed to lunch.

I have mentioned the museum a couple times in front of my son, doing my best to do justice to the nature of the place but my son gets very defensive. I believe the words, "The best museum ever!" have come out of his mouth on more then one occasion. What do I know, right?

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Litter Box

About six weeks ago my husband purchased an automatic cat litter box for me. It was, perhaps, the most thoughtful gift ever bestowed upon a newly pregnant woman and it didn't come cheap (about $100). Much like little Ralphie did with his Red Rider on Christmas morning, my husband ripped open the box with gusto and immediately (and very uncharacteristically) tossed it in the trash and began assembling the litter box. I didn't know that he had tossed it until Monday afternoon, after the trash pick-up had come and gone. I was not a happy girl.

We both gazed at our new marvel of modern technology in wonder as he did the honors, pressing the green button to watch the box rake the litter, pick up any refuse (there wasn't any yet) and toss it neatly into the plastic bag. It was a thing of beauty. A thing of beauty that didn't work worth a darn. Our eldest cat, Dickens, drinks more ounces of water a day than me. I've theorized that he is a diabetic but I'm much too afraid of the bills and medical regimen that will follow to actually get a diagnosis, plus it's his only symptom. His excessive water drinking causes him to, surprise!, pee excessively. He pees in absurd quantities a ridiculous number of times per day. The Litter-O-Matic was no match for Dicken's bladder. That poor motor can't even handle one pee pile from good ol' Dickens. The motor runs and runs and the rake goes back and forth again and again but, try as it may, it can't scoop up the ginormous pile o' pee.

Our Litter-O-Matic was a lemon and it needed to be returned but we had a problem. We had a receipt (thanks to your's truly) but no box. I sent my husband to the store with strict instructions to demand a refund and he returned with a new Litter-O-Matic, minus the box. My poor husband, filled with remorse about his impulsive choice to toss the box, is down in the basement as I write this, doing his best to will the second Litter-O-Matic to work. He's tried every brand of clumping litter, worked on the motor, spent endless hours watching it and he still will not give up. Six weeks, people. SIX WEEKS! I wonder if there is a support group for people like him, the "My Litter-O-Matic Can't Handle My Cat's Pee 12-Step Program."

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Rush of Patriotism

What an exciting 2 months lay ahead of us! We have Sarah Palin, the first woman ever on the GOP Vice-Presidential ticket and only the second in history (anyone remember Geraldine Ferraro?). Plus we have an African American on the Democratic ticket, born just 6 years after the Montgomery Bus Boycotts when African Americans in Alabama were fighting for a seat on the public buses. Now, a mere 53 years later, Barack Obama is fighting for a seat in the Oval Office. I freakin' love this country.

Indoor Topography

Do you ever look around your house at the chaos and wonder, "How could I even considering adding another person to this mix?" I find myself doing that allot lately. Maybe it's the hormones or the ceaseless bouts of dry heaving but I focus on the chaos in my home. I am either a glutton for punishment or I have just accepted the fact that my house will never, ever even have the appearance of cleanliness again. It's over. With kitty cages and a dog that likes to shred things like paper, pillow stuffing, cats, Littlest Pet Shop toys, and all variety of apparel and a husband who could walk by a trash bag at the door, ready to be taken out to the curb, 17 times and never even notice its existence; I might as well just accept my fate, embrace it. Instead of fighting this constant battle to keep up a façade of cleanliness, I'm going to turn over a new leaf. I'm going to become a hoarder. In ten years, I'll have a guaranteed appearance on Oprah, something my writing career may never afford me (yes, I'm optimistic—if I hoard and write successfully, I might just morph into Oprah's ideal guest).

I'm going to start collecting things now, lots and lots of things. I'll throw nothing away and count on my husband to take the recycling to the center, thus ensuring that it will never leave the home. I'm going to stop consigning my children's clothes when they outgrow them and save them, every single piece, for posterity's sake. I'm going to start ordering things from QVC. A QVC addiction is an absolute must for any self-respecting hoarder. I'll turn each room into a labyrinth. My kids will love that. There will be specific trails that will get you from one room to the next, surrounded by walls of things. I'll make my son our official topographer, turning each day into a treasure hunt, What Mommy? You need the dishwashing detergent? Let me consult the map. I'll need 25 minutes and a machete but I'll find it for you. His topography skills may just lead him to become the next Rand McNally, mapping the floor of the ocean or the surface of Mars. My hoarding will become his career inspiration. I can hear the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech already. Sure, they'll be mildew and odor but that's a small price to pay for an Oprah appearance and a kid with a Nobel Peace Prize, right?

Monday, August 25, 2008


Just a few tidbits on this lovely, wet Monday:

My first cover story was published! Pretty exciting stuff. I'm posting a picture of the cover for all to see. Forgive my lack of humility. It's a career milestone.

One of my oldest friends, Julie Schmidler, who used to drive me around in her rockin' blue Mazda 626, had a baby on Friday. Her name is Kate and she weighed a whopping 10 pounds at birth! Congratulations Julie, Ray and the extended family!

My son has decided he wants to be a spy for Halloween. I welcome any costume suggestions anyone might have. I'm at a loss.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Kitty Cages

There is rarely a dull moment in my house. With a daughter
who raises her voice an octave and a decibel every time she talks but is not responded
to immediately, a dog who has recently acquired a taste for all Littlest Pet Shop products, and a son
who manages to injure himself at least twice a day, I rarely have time to give myself
the half-hour of trashy reality TV and a self-pedicure that I deserve.  Last night was no exception.  My son was doing his usual afternoon routine
of making him and my daughter “Kitty Cages.” What is a kitty cage, you ask? Well, a kitty cage is my son’s infuriating
invention. Each one consists of a laundry basket, one or two strategically
placed chairs, and several blankets. They are always constructed in a
high-traffic area and leave me with no chair to sit in at my computer and no
way to get from the kitchen to the bathroom without performing a medal-worthy
gymnastics routine. What’s the best part
about kitty cages
, you ask? Well, funny you should ask that. Hands down,
the best part about kitty cages is the 10 minutes preceding bedtime when this
mean old haggard woman named “Mom” demands that all of the items in the kitty
cages be put away. My son’s reaction is typical. He falls to the floor in a
heap of tears and high-pitched screams, forcing me to threaten him within an
inch of his life and swear, up and down, that I will forbid kitty cages in my
house if he doesn’t comply.  Kitty cages
rock my world inside out. I’m so pleased that they have become a part of my

Last night wasn’t just any kitty cage night. There were
special circumstances. My son tried to incorporate the plastic headboard of my
daughter’s old toddler bed into the Kitty Cage building process. This involved
climbing to the top of the headboard (about 4 feet high). My son is not the
most graceful of children. His falls are frequent and spaztastic. His plummet
from the top of the headboard was no exception. He cried predictably and I did
my best to do the simultaneous consolation/lecture technique that so many
mothers employ, “I’m sorry that it hurt when you fell, honey but you know this
never would have happened if you wouldn’t have climbed on the furniture.” I
hugged him and went about my business. A couple minutes later I sat down to
watch a little TV with the kids and noticed that my son was very lethargic. He
kept falling asleep and, when ERI tried to wake him up, he seemed disoriented and
out of sorts. I started to panic and my husband arrived home shortly
thereafter. We agreed to keep him awake and watch him closely and we both
noticed a half-dollar-sized bruise on his temple. He continued to doze in and
out and we decided, fairly quickly, that a trip to the ER was in order. My
husband took him to the hospital and I stayed home with my daughter. At about
10:30 they returned with news that my son was fine but should be watched for
nausea or any other signs of a concussion for the next 24 hours. He got up and
went to Kindergarten this morning and was perfectly fine. He even found time to
build two elaborate Kitty Cages right in the middle of my kitchen.  And the cycle continues…

Monday, August 18, 2008

Humiliating Library Moment #1

The staff at my library are usually hip, young folks from the local university. I glow with the approval of them when they look over my literary picks. Kurt Vonnegut, huh? Cool., the skater dude with the longish hair will say as he puts the final kid's selection, "Yurtle the Turtle" in a pile to reveal my choices at the bottom. I bask in the awesomeness of myself and my reading selections. On another occasion it was the hippie chick who can rock a no-make-up face like nobody's business and usually has a homemade peasant top on, Animal, Vegetable, MiracleDon't you just love Barbara Kingsolver? I smile and nod. This is the first Kingsolver book I've read but cool hippie chick doesn't have to know that, right? Aaahhh… there is nothing as pathetic as seeking approval from the young, is there?

Today was not one of my shining moments. First of all, my kids were with me and I was taking back one book and one book on tape that may or may not have been overdue. Secondly, there was a huge line and only one person at the check out counter. She was not the usual youthful presence. She was a crotchety older woman who was clearly flustered by the crowd gathering in front of her desk. I had the kids throw their selections on the counter and handed her my card. She scanned it and said, "You owe $2.00 in late fees."

Blushing, I replied, "Can you tell me what those late fees are for?"

She turned the computer screen towards me and scrolled to the page that listed my overdue books. I saw the listing and said, "Oh, I see. I won't make you say that title." And I laughed uncomfortably.

She said, without batting an eyelash, (she was at least 75 years old), "Skinny Bitch and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch." Suffice it to say, she didn't use her inside voice and everyone in line and within a 2 mile radius of the library for that matter, heard her.

Not wanting to seem like a library loser and in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from that unfortunate title, I immediately jumped to my own defense, "Oh. I brought that back today. I put it in the drop slot when I walked in."

This news was not received by Crotchety Old Library Lady (COLL). She sighed heavily and walked slowly over to the drop slot. She opened it up and said snarkily, "What does it look like? I mean, it could be anywhere."

Me, trying to remain cheerful, "It's a book on CD and I turned it in less than five minutes ago so it should be close to the top."

This did not go over well either and COLL kept pulling out VHS tapes, holding them up and asking, "Is this it?"

"No Mam. It's a book on CD."

Finally, she held up the correct title. Relief flooded my body. "That's it." She returned to the counter, took my $2 and gave me a mini-lecture on how I should tell her up front that I had an overdue book when it was really busy. I thought about explaining to her that I wasn't sure whether it was overdue but thought better of it. I thanked her in my most sickeningly sweet Southern draw and sashayed out of there with my kid's books in hand, hoping like hell everyone wasn't looking at me thinking, "She might want to listen that Skinny Bitch book a couple more times."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Déjà Vu


The kids and I sat down for an early lunch this afternoon. It was an odd mix of leftovers. My daughter had a slice of pizza and some broccoli. My son had a PB&J and some strawberries and I had some teriyaki chicken and rice. We were all very hungry for some reason so we weren't talking much at

the table until everyone's plates started to clear. Then the chatter started. My daughter had eaten her pizza to the crust and then tore the crust in half and handed me a piece. She said, "You be this guy and I'll be this guy." Then she held up her half of the pizza crust and started bouncing it around, attempting to anthropomorphize it (do I get props for that word, or what?!). Here's how our little pizza crust dialogue went:

Daughter: (in strange, muffled deep voice) What are you doing friend?

Me: (attempting to imitate the bouncing with my half of the crust) I'm getting ready to be eaten.

Daughter: NO! NO! Don't let her eat you! No!

Me: How do I stop her?

Daughter: (looks mischievously at the pizza crust in her hand and takes a big bite out of it) Ah! No! No! Help!

Me: (taking a big ol' hunk out of my half of the crust) Sorry man. I can't help you.

My son, the whole time, was watching our conversation with great interest, smiling as the poor crust halves met their fate. I couldn't help myself. I turned to my daughter and said, "You could not be more like your brother." I winked at my son.

He looked at me innocently and said, "What do you mean?"

I just laughed and said, "You know what I mean."

Neither one of us spoke again. I just marveled at my two glorious weirdos who can turn the most mundane items into dramatic scenarios and smiled.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cafeteria Style Social Life

An impromptu viewing of Mean Girls this weekend caused me to ponder the great philosophical questions of parenting life. I wondered, for example, what I would pick for my children if I could walk down the cafeteria aisle of teenage social existence. What choices would you make?

Would you choose A or B:


A. Star Athlete

B. Mack Daddy Mathlete


A. Valedictorian

B. B+ Student with a good sense of humor and a decent social life


A. Head Cheerleader

B. Marching band French Horn Section Leader


A. Football Player

B. Golf or tennis player


A. Card-carrying member of the "In-Crowd"

B. Card-carrying member of a Motley Crew of cerebral misfits

I choose B every time. Now, don't get your panties in a wad about letting my kids be themselves and tell me to stop trying to dictate their future. I realize, also, that there are many, MANY more social possibilities for teens these days and that very few actually fit into any one of these categories. This is a fantasy exercise people. It's completely hypothetical, on the same level as the "5 Celebrities" game we've all played with our spouses (although some, who shall remain nameless, refuse to give an answer—party pooper!). Just play it. I'm curious to know, given that you've all survived the teenage years, what you would choose for your child to create the best possible high school experience. Here's mine:

Son: Good grades, mathlete, class clown, a little too confident and terrible with the ladies but he doesn't realize it. He wears weird shirts with sayings that I don't always understand and he plays soccer well enough to get some field time during home games.

Daughter: Good grades, yearbook editor, cute with a strong sense of fashion that's a little left of the norm. She plays tennis but doesn't know if she wants to commit to playing for the school team. Her friends are smart and fiercely loyal to each other. They resemble the girls in "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants"

Man, am I in for a reality check or what?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wax On. Wax Off.

I just read a profile about a young woman who has made it her mission to teach teenage girls how to defend themselves. Her interest in the martial arts began when, at age 10, her father sat her down and told her that the only way he would allow her to date as a teenager is if she earned a black belt in a martial art. This may be the most brilliant parenting strategy I have ever heard. I'm seriously thinking about implementing it with my daughter. I did a little research tonight and asked her whether she would rather take dance lessons or karate. Without hesitation she replied, "Karate." Score!

Now, how can I avoid a double standard? What should I require my son to complete before he is permitted to date? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Advice?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

Long after my college days of devouring Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan and participating in "Take Back the Night" marches, I have finally come to appreciate what the feminist movement has done for me, for my daughter, for every generation of women to come. This appreciation came from a most unlikely source: a television show. After reading about all of the award nominations that the AMC show, Mad Men, has garnished, I had to see the show for myself. I moved it to the top of my Netflix que and have been watching Season 1, one disc at a time, for the past few weeks. For anyone who hasn't watched the show, it depicts the professional and personal lives of New York Advertising execs in the 1960's. Let's just say the glass ceiling was in another galaxy and sexual harassment was not only legal, it was a freakin' expectation. This is the work environment that my parent's generation began their professional lives in. It blows my mind.

Mad Men
On a recent episode, one of the men in the office was describing his experience while brainstorming with the secretaries (lovingly referred to as the "hens") in which he was astounded to find that one of the women actually had some pretty good ideas. He described the scene, "It was like watching a dog play the piano." This is so foreign and offensive to me that I cannot fathom behavior like this ever being tolerated. My daughter will be even more astounded and baffled by this type of talk. You know what that is called people? Progress. So, thank you Mad Men for giving today's generation a real glimpse of what it was that the women of the sixties and seventies were fighting for. And thank you bra-burnin', protestin' women of generations past for making such behavior seem stranger than fiction to me.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Control Freak

I tend to be a joiner and, just maybe, a little bit of a control freak. When I attended the introduction meeting for my son's new elementary school in May I stayed around for the PTO meeting to see what it was about. I went into this determined to be only a distant participant, volunteering perhaps to bring muffins or cookies to bake sales from time to time but not committing to anything (a lesson I learned a long time ago). The meeting opened my eyes to the PTO and how effective they are at getting things done within the school. I learned that my child, while attending this school, will never have to sell anything. I learned that the PTO is board-driven and, as such, the only people with a vote are those that are actually on the board. The last little tidbit made my heart skip a beat. What? No vote? I can't just attend the meetings, give my feedback and raise my hand at vote time? It took me all of .5 seconds to decide that I HAD to get on the board. So much for no commitment.

During the course of the meeting, next year's PTO president mentioned that there was one position that needed to be filled by a Kindergarten parent: a Kindergarten liaison. Sounds simple enough right? I knew it was mine. I asked a ton of questions during the meeting (control freak anyone?) and got up immediately after it was finished and handed my card to the president, offering to be the Liaison, thus cinching my right to vote and be heard. I wasn't sure if I "got" the position until yesterday when I received a call from the PTO president. She welcomed me to the group and told me that the first activity was a teacher breakfast on Monday. She asked me if I could bring something to the school at 7:30am. 7:30AM! Geez. What have I gotten myself into? All of this so I can exert some level of control of the decisions made by my son's Parent/Teacher Organization. Was it worth it? That all depends on whether I am voting on parade floats or technology upgrades for my son's classrooms. The next 10 months will reveal the answer to this question. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It’s a Magic Number

Three is a fun age, isn't it? Let's hear it for three. My daughter (an adorable three-year-old) demanded milk this morning. There was no please, no pleasant voice, no question, simply a demand. This might be my most loathed childhood action. I realize that making demands is at the very heart of gaining autonomy but it is the lack of respect that I cannot tolerate. Doesn't, Mommy, can I please have some milk? mean the same thing as, Get me some more milk!? I have zero tolerance for the latter, regardless of whether the child saying it shares my DNA. When my own children make demands such as these I usually respond by refusing to respond. This doesn't always go well. Here's what happened this morning:

Precious Three-Year-Old Daughter: (in a demanding voice) Get me some MILK!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (in a slightly louder demanding voice): Get me some milk Mommy!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (in a loud, shrill, almost unbearable voice): Mommy! Get me some milk! I want milk! Mommy!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (doing her best impression of Axle Rose during that awful scream at the opening of "Welcome to the Jungle"): GET ME SOME MILK! I WANT MORE MILK!

Me: (quiet, calm) I don't respond to requests like that

PTYOD: Mommy, can I please have some more milk?

Me: Sure. I'll get you some

This strategy, although rough on the ol' ear drums, eventually gets me the response I want with my own kids. I don't really feel comfortable using this strategy for kids that are not mine. How do I go about handling these pesky demands in other people's children? Do I ignore them? Submit to their requests? Threaten them with physical violence? What do you do?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stealing My Thunder

I mentioned, in Tuesday's post, that the Hale/Byrne Fireworks Spectacular was a blogworthy affair that would be given due diligence in a later post. Well, Jacquelyn (a Byrne) has stolen my thunder (with my blessing and encouragement--I'm all about letting her do the work for me) and done a great job telling the story on her new blog, "Real Moms Don't Play Bunco." Check it out and give Jacquelyn a warm welcome to the Blogosphere.

We're off on a much-needed vacation tomorrow. I'll probably check in from time to time but it will be quiet around here for a while.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Anybody Missing a Goat and a Dog?


In lieu of anything that takes even an ounce of creativity (I'm fresh out), I present to you this story that was printed in our local newspaper today. It makes me feel a whole lot better about living in Tennessee where the only thing climbing on top of our German imports are the black bears.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Faux Guitar Prowess

PatrioticHow do you celebrate your patriotism? Me, I spend the day with good friends on the water fearing brain-eating amoebas and drowning my fears in Bud Light. Then, I head back to their house where I find myself, in particular my arm, between the bared teeth of two sweet but suddenly very territorial dogs (one of them my own). This incident left me with some nasty teeth marks in my arm and the need to recall the date of my last tetanus shot, which if memory serves me right, was 1992. Off to the emergency room we went.

Thankfully, there wasn't a soul in the waiting room and, hot damn!, Jeopardy was on. Jacquelyn kicked some butt in the country music category during the double Jeopardy round while I had a little visit with Dr. McDreamy. He cleaned my wound, shot me up with a tetanus vaccination, wrote me a script for some pain pills and antibiotics, and sent me on my way. I spent the next two days with my wrist wrapped in guaze and tape, looking like someone who had made a half-assed attempt at suicide.

All was not lost as Jacquelyn and I got back to her house in time to enjoy some delicious ribs and the Hale/Byrne Firework Spectacular (another blog for another day). During this time my son uttered these words several times with elaborate body gesturing, "This is the best night of my life!" It was A-freakin'-dorable and me and my dog bite injury (pity party anyone?) ate it up with a spoon. The grownups closed the night with a little Guitar Hero on the Byrne's Wii. I thought I would rocked the house but I was terrible, garnishing the title of, "The worst Wii player we have ever seen" by the Byrne Family. Go me! I have been singing, "Dream Police," a song that I only mildly enjoyed to begin with ever since.

My next mission: buying a Wii and Guitar Hero of my own to prove my prowess on a faux guitar. After all, what is a 33 year old mother without faux guitar prowess?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Peanut Butter Edisons


The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in my son. Actually, he may be more of a haphazard inventor than an entrepreneur. He's really into inventing things, mostly food items. Almost all of them involve peanut butter, which makes sense considering it is the one and only source of protein in his diet. I've become somewhat of a peanut butter Edison myself, although our innovations have different origins. My sons come from a deep creative need whereas mine are born out of a lack of groceries and a burning desire to avoid Wal-Mart at all costs.

Two mornings ago, for example, I prepared a breakfast of fresh strawberries and Peanut Butter Boats, the latter consisting of ½ of a hotdog bun slathered in peanut butter. Yes, I am a genius. And yes, I do plan to copyright the idea. My kids thought they had died and went to heaven. My son went so far as to remove the boat from his plate in a dramatic interpretation of a boat crash, complete with sound effects. It was awesome.

Driven to up the ante on the peanut butter invention competition that has taken over breakfast in my house, my son came up with a radical idea this morning. Here's what he suggest:

Son: Mommy, this morning instead of doing just a Peanut Butter Boat, I have an invention. Let's put Honey Nut Cheerios on the Peanut Butter Boat.

Me: Interesting idea. What will we call it?

Son: A Peanut Butter Boat with Honey Nut Cheerios on it.

We're copyrighting that one too.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Tankini Wahini

TankiniIs anyone else appalled at the price of bathing suits? I just ordered one on clearance from Land's End, the crown jewel of the bathing suit empire for those of us who are looking for bathing suit descriptions that include such phrases as:

  • The texture that slims

  • Tiny vertical ribs smooth and slim your figure

  • Details that flatter your figure

  • You'll look a size smaller—instantly

  • Skip the sit-ups!

  • Anxiety zone solution: tummy control firms you, yet you feel comfortable

If you are looking for a bathing suit that will make you look hot, do your shopping elsewhere but if, like me, you are looking for all of the attributes listed above (taken directly from the latest Land's End swim wear catalog), you need to look no further than Better start saving now though because a suit that lets you skip the sit-ups isn't going to come cheap. I got a bargain, snagging one from last year's collection off of the online clearance rack for $39.99. Any of this year's line will run you $90 and up for a tankini, the only acceptable mom-suit at pools these days. Sure, traditional bikinis are always acceptable for the lucky Mamas who can pull them off but for most of us, its tankini city.

But $90? $90! Does that seem a bit excessive to anyone else? You can hop on and order a pair of men's trunks for $19.99, NOT on sale. What's up with that? It's not like women's suits are incredibly detailed and made of high cost materials, we're just desperate to pull them off, so desperate that we'll drop $120 on a good suit without hesitation. So, don't be snowed by promises that you can skip the sit-ups if you wear a particular suit. Do a few sit-ups, shop the clearance racks and flash dirty looks from under your sunglasses at the hot moms in bikinis at the pool. Everybody wins.

Friday, June 27, 2008



All you twitterin' folks out there in cyberspace, give a girl a hand. My account is so empty that I can hear an echo when I log in. My networking skills are a bit rusty and I need some help. Click here and let's start Twitterin' (is that a word?). Follow me and I'll follow you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Siegfried and Roy watch out! My son is only five years old and well on his way to becoming the next hot magician. I'm going to encourage him to stay away from sequins and albino tigers but, other than that, I'm all about him making his mark on the magic scene.

Today, for instance, he put on a dynamo magic show. The first couple of tricks were standard fare involving cards and pennies but the last one was a doozy. He walked into the room and stood on his "stage" in front of the coffee table, waving his magic wand in dramatic circles,

Son: Would you believe that I can turn myself into a metal robot?

Me: No way. I'll believe it when I see it.

Son: Close your eyes. Don't open them until I tell you that you can.

Me: OK

Lots of rustling takes place at this time, and I can hear him walk from the living room to his room and then back. There's some additional rustling and then some footsteps into the kitchen.

Son: You can open your eyes now

I look around and try to figure out what is going on. There, on the coffee table directly in front of where my son's "stage" was, is a little silver plastic robot, an Ironman Kid's Meal toy. I hear a voice from the kitchen,

Son (in best monosyllabic robot voice): I'm a robot. Would you like me to bring back the magician?

I did my best not to laugh and oohed and aahhed in amazement at my son's trick.

Me: Yes, please bring him back.

We went through the same process, lots of rustling and footsteps and the next time I opened my eyes my son was standing there with a proud grin on his face. I could have smeared him with butter and swallowed him whole, he was so adorable. Maybe I should take him on, "America's Got Talent" and let him perform his trick for David Hasselhoff in the hopes of becoming someone that won a show once and now does weddings and bah mitzvahs. Vegas, here we come!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Naegleria Fowleri

I've become obsessed with brain eating amoebas. Yes, that's right, brain eating amoebas, naegleria fowleri if we're getting technical. Go ahead, google it. You'll never set foot in a lake again.

I took a beginner's kayaking class yesterday with a friend and, in an effort to impress our cute instructor, I volunteered to be the idiot who tipped my kayak over (because, let's face it, there's nothing more impressive than someone losing their balance and falling out of a boat). It was fairly painless but I did get some water up my nose. My first thought was, Crap. What if I sucked in some brain-eating amoebas?

I realize this is probably not the typical reaction to getting water up your nose but, alas, it is mine. I'm a freak like that.

While Jacquelyn and I were braving the rip roaring waters of the quarry with our mad kayaking skills, our kids were cruising around the lake on the Byrne's super fly boat, "The Wareagle." As soon as I saw my husband I gave him the third degree about my children's water experiences, focusing primarily on the amount of water that may or may not have gone up each of their noses (the amoeba can only access the brain if it goes through the nose). My son's risk factor is very low but my daughter's is relatively high, given that she went under at one point and sucked in a lot of water. I was up half the night last night obsessively researching naegleria fowleri. I've become quite the expert on this disturbing organism. Feel free to post questions at any time. My husband's response, "You've got a better chance of walking out your front door and getting hit by a mack truck than getting your brain eaten by an amoeba." True, but I'm not going to walk out there with a blindfold, hoping that there's no truck around. I'm going to look both ways. The same needs to be true of my lake time. So, be sure to look for me and my family out on the lake. We'll be the freaks with the nose plugs.

Look both ways, people, look both ways!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I’ve made it a point to keep the lupus talk on my blog to a
minimum. I try not to dwell on the disease and its presence in my life. There
are many, many days that I forget I even have it, except for the fraction of a
second it takes to pop a pill in the morning and before bed. I have always
found it suspicious that there are no celebrities who have come forward with
this disease to promote public awareness.
Statistically, there must be some. It’s a disease that affects roughly 1.5
million American and 1 in 250 African American women (it’s much more prevalent
in women of color). Come on Whoopi! Oprah! Halle! Heck, at this point I’d even
take Star. It’s not like lupus is an STD or anything. There’s no shame in
admitting you have it.

My frustration with the closeted celebrity lupus cases (like
I said, there MUST be some) can now be put to rest. I found out yesterday that
there is, in fact, a celebrity who has come forward with Lupus. I discovered
this bit of information on the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center’s website last night:

There are famous people with autoimmune disease.
Barbara Bush and her husband, the ex-president George Bush, both had autoimmune
thyroid disease. One of their sons had colitis. But the member of their family
that got lupus was their dog, Millie. Dogs can get lupus. Vets can diagnose it
because dogs can get the same malar rash that human beings do.

Now, Millie wrote a book about her life with lupus.
It's a great story, because Millie had a successful pregnancy. So, I think it's
a nice story to tell patients with lupus. Millie has since died of old age. The
current dog in the White House, Spot, is Millie's grandson. But because Spot is
male, he's unlikely to get lupus. We think the autoimmune story has ended!

So, rest easy lupus sufferers of the world. We finally have
our spokesperson. Sure, she may have two strikes against her:

  1. She is not human and
    therefore cannot actively raise awareness.

  2. She is dead and therefore
    cannot actively do anything.

But our disease has a face and a book. I can’t imagine the
comfort I will find in Millie’s inspirational tale.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hat Tricks

Given my status around the changing table (that's the mom's water cooler for those of you who aren't hip to such things) as a certifiable fashionista, I have decided to start a new trend for the summer: hats. Sure, it Life is Good
sounds simple and perhaps a bit of a faux pas but I'm determined to change that. By the end of the summer, people will see me coming around the corner in my faded "Life is Good" ball cap and haul ass to their local outfitter to purchase one for themselves. I don't look particularly attractive in a hat. I have short hair and no neck. This is not a good hat combination. In order to really look good in a hat you need a nice thick ponytail that fits perfectly through the hole in the back of the cap and a long thin neck. A sports bra and some shorty shorts come in handy too. They all come together nicely to create a hot hat look.

I'm not going for a hot hat look. I'm going for the yes-in-fact-this-hat-DOES-look-good-on-me-and-it-also-covers-up-my-terrible-haircut-and-saves-me-about-15-minutes-in-the-morning look. Are you with me?

My next move: stopping the Carrie Bradshaw-inspired stiletto insanity. Seriously, who let this happen? I'm bringing back the flip flop!