Friday, May 30, 2008

Chihuahua Tasering in the ‘Hood

I got a check from the City of Cleveland yesterday for $25. They actually reimbursed me for the cost of my doChihuahuag because I brought proof of his neutering to the Animal Control office. Talk about a deal. The Dud was free, plus I get 40 or 50% off of his veterinary care because he is a rescue dog. It blows my mind that there 
are stores out there that offer financing for purchasing a dog. Financing! A weird, bassetty mutt at the local shelter beats the heck out of a $900 Yorkie in a sweater. Come on! Dudley could wipe the floor with some pedigreed Yorkie. Puh-lease!

Speaking of vicious dogs, we took a family walk in our 'hood last night and came upon several varieties of scary canines including, but not limited to:

  • A pit bull with a tumor on his face that makes him look like the scary guy from Goonies who wanted a Baby Ruth so desperately.

  • A boxer tied to a precarious looking stake, barking aggressively at us.

  • A Rottweiler tied to a similar stake in the same yard barking even more aggressively at us.

  • A leash-less Chihuahua who cracked me up but, nonetheless made my ankles a bit nervous with his throaty barks and bared teeth.

  • A leash less German Shepherd the size of Texas who followed us for the length of two yards along with his side-kick, a yellow lab the size of Arkansas, barking at us with his ears back and his hackles up.

I remembered, after the encounter with Cujo and his sidekick, why we drive 2 miles to a local park to take our walks. I've got two options:

  1. Invest in a tazer

  2. Drive the four miles round trip for our walks

I think the kids might be permanently scarred if they saw me taze the Chihuahua so I better stick with option 2.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Very Cool Website

So, if you were in a life raft in the ocean, on the brink of starvation, with a father, his two kids, one sick middle aged man with an extensive knowledge of the ocean, an elderly woman and a nurse, who would you eat first?

If that's the kind of question that gets your blood pumping then you might want to check out this blog. Perhaps its the fact that I was a philosophy major in college and a member of the super fly Illinois State University Philosophy Club but I can't get enough of it. Its the equivalent of a little homespun ethics class. Check it out and put in your two cents while you're there.


I just discovered that my "About Me" page, which I haven't revisited in nearly two years, had a misspelled word on it. I used the word hear instead of here. There's really no worse sin for a writer. What a dufus I am. The 20-month-old crisis has been averted. You can all rest easy tonight.

Now I've got to work on updating my photo. Can someone meet me at the gymnastics center this week and snap a picture of me doing a modified (for the 30-and-up crowd) hurkey on the trampoline?

I'm going to die a little inside when I part with that photo. I loves it so.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beaver Fever

This weekend was Ugly Dawg's inaugural trip. She treated us well and we had a great time on our annual Stone Mountain adventure. The weather was beautiful, there wasn't a dead body to be found and, best of all, we were NOT in a tent.

My friend, Jacquelyn, and I tend to be pretty chill about our kids getting dirty and having fun. The same cannot be said for our husbands. Twice Jacquelyn and I were met with subtle contempt when we let our kids run wild a bit. The first time was atop Stone Mountain where, unlike years past, there were several puddles left by recent rains. The puddles were filled with a soot-like substance. While this may sound like a cesspool, these puddles are not exactly teaming with life. This was new rain on a mountain made completely of stone. They were clean, in a very dirty way. The kids started wading in the puddles and we Feet
did nothing to stop it. Our husbands fought us initially but gave up and distanced themselves from the entire scene. They sat on a rock several yards back, quietly judging us and watching onlookers do the same. I will admit that I did not see another child running through the mud but I cannot do that without also acknowledging that I did not witness another child having nearly as much fun as ours were. They were filthy little mongrels having the time of their life. I relished every moment of it.

The next day we all took a little hike through the woods at the base of the mountain. There are some short trails, perfect for young children. The hike led us on a bridge over a stream. The kids were hot and at the height of their afternoon, I-need-a-nap lull. What better anecdote for a case of the naps than some cool mountain stream wading? We consulted our husbands briefly about allowing the kids to get a little wet. Their response was predictably negative. My husband, however, took us by surprise when he mentioned the possibility of the ever-menacing "beaver fever." We both laughed and I tried to suppress thoughts of a 16-year-old boy, headed out to a party on Saturday night telling his buddies that he had a bad case of "beaver fever." Yes, I'm a little twisted, but it made me laugh. It's making me laugh even as I type this.

Still skeptical of the existence of "beaver fever", we decided to take a chance and let our kids wade in the mountain stream. They loved every minute of it. A google search upon returning home revealed that beaver fever is a legitimate condition. I'm happy to report that despite the warnings to the contrary, every one of our children remains beaver fever free.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Naked Boot Camp

My kids really enjoy being naked, perhaps more than other kids. Tonight, just before their bath, they were both running from the kitchen to the living room and back, naked as a jaybird, singing the following chorus (to the tune of the Spiderman theme song):

Naked girl. Naked girl. Naked naked girl girl girl.


Naked boy. Naked boy. Naked naked boy boy boy.

They sung it in stages like Row Your Boat.

They sung it loud and seemed to gloat.

They sung it soft, too soft to hear.

They sung it slow and loud and clear.

Sorry. I've got a little Seuss vibe going tonight. They actually did sing it in a variety of ways. It was as if Truman was a naked drill sergeant, giving commands for tone and volume to his naked, incorrigible PFC.

Does this type of thing go on in other homes or is it a certifiable freak show at the Hale house?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Ugly Dawg

I would like to formally welcome our gently (OK, this may be a stretch)-used pop-up trailer into the household. Lovingly dubbed, "Ugly Dawg" by my camping-enthusiast friend Jacquelyn because of the presence of a very sweet but aesthetically-challenged dog on the property where we purchased it, the trailer is sitting in my drive-way, begging me to take it somewhere. Sure, she might have a dent or two in her exterior and a couple patches of duct tape but ol' Ugly Dawg has it where it counts: AC, hot water, and a giant storage container. She hasn't got a leak on her and can be easily pulled by our minivan. 

So, if you see a gently used pop-up being pulled by a blue minivan cruising by you on the interstate, give her a honk. It's Ol' Ugly Dawg heading out for some memory makin' in the woods somewhere with the Hale family.

We're heading to Stone Mountain Memorial Day weekend. Our goal is to skip the repeat of last year and NOT find a dead body in our campsite. It's lofty I know but say a little prayer that we can accomplish it. Oh, and we'd also prefer not to be haunted by her ghost. That would be a nice bonus.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pop Tarts and Demons

I wrote this post back in February to save for a rainy day.
Today is one such rainy day:

If you ordered say, blueberry pancakes, at IHOP and the
waitress brought you strawberry instead, would you freak? Would you morph into
a demon and scream at the waitress as if she were an imbecile? Would smoke come
out of your ears? Probably not. You’d do one of two things: A) Bring the error
to the waitress’s attention and politely request the correct dish or B) Accept
your fate and enjoy the strawberry pancakes. But you’re not my son. And the
waitress is not me, on the phone with a doctor from New Hampshire, conducting
an interview for an upcoming article.

It was a pop tart. I gave my son a cherry pop tart instead
of a blueberry one. We were out of blueberry. I loathe pop tarts. They’re
chock full of high-fructose corn syrup and they amount to a nutritionally
worthless breakfast but I keep them on hand for after-lunch treats (my kids
split one) and emergencies. This interview was one such emergency. I called the
doctor on Wednesday. My house was quiet and orderly and I could have conducted
a highly professional interview but he was not in his office and I left him a
message. He called me back yesterday morning and instead of telling him that I
would have to call him back and getting the kids in order, I acted impulsively
and decided to take the interview then. I hauled out the big guns: pop tarts
and Sponge Bob and sat down in front of my computer.  Things started to go south about 10 minutes

My son was not pleased with his cherry pop tart and kept
GET-ME-A-BLUEBERRY-ONE.” This was not said in a kind voice. It reminded me of a
tape I heard in Sunday School in junior high of a man possessed by a demon
named Legion. Not pretty and just a tad distracting. The doctor was gracious
and kind and, best of all, a father of two kids under 5. He kept right on
talking and I kept right on listening, occasionally peeking into the living
room to point at the phone forcibly and give my son the evil eye. As you can
imagine, it was highly effective. My parenting skills, especially under duress,
are off the h-iz-ook.

So, writer Mamas, what’s your strategy for effective and
professional interviewing? Hire a nanny? Invest in a kid-cage? Sound proof
walls? I’m up for suggestions!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Little League Heckler

Can someone please tell me why my ground turkey is, "flavored with natural ingredients"? Shouldn't ground turkey be flavored with, say, ground turkey? And what, pray tell, are these supposed natural ingredients? If you know the answer to this, please enlighten me. I'm cooking that bad boy tonight.

In other news, my son has taken on a new role on his baseball team. He's the official team heckler. He stands at his post as catcher behind the batter and heckles each kid as they swing the ball and miss (9 times out of ten—this is 5 & 6 year-olds). Right after he haphazardly throws the ball back to the pitcher, he yells the player's status, S-trike 1!, and then proceeds to laugh uncontrollably. It just started at tonight's game. I'm mystified. I don't think he even knew what a strike was prior to this evening's game. The only explanation that I can think of for this bizarre, yet humorous, behavior is that the coaches, in an effort to get some manner of enthusiasm out of him, advised my son to yell out the strikes as they happen. Who can blame them? This is a kid who we have to cajole into getting the ball each time a batter gets a strike. Baseball, for him, is all about hecklin' and dirt playin'. No wonder he loves it so much.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Picture Frames! Shoes! Books! Oh My!

Here's some products worthy of promotion:

Jeannie Hines, my dear cousin and mother of three, contributed to a wonderful book, Water Cooler Diaries: Women Across America Share Their Day at Work was released in March. It documents the events of the same day (March 27, 2007) in the lives of several different women, in their own words. Some of the women are well-known and some, like my cousin, are not. I read Jeannie's excerpt quite a while ago and it was a fantastic read, brutally honest and funny. Get your copy now!

Jennifer Neisslen's book,  Practically Perfect in Every Way, came out on paperback on May 6. The  book chronicles Jennifer's journey through the murky world of self-help. She's a fantastic writer and laugh-out-loud funny. Buy the book!

Alyson Tunnell is a dear friend. She lives down the road in Ringgold, GA and makes custom personalized products out of her home. Her business is called AlyDots. When you visit her website, be sure to check out her Gallery. Her products are super cute!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Third Rites

There are many rites of passages associated with particular birthdays. At 16 you can drive, at 18 you can buy tobacco products (yippee!), at 21 you can drink and, last but certainly not least, at 25 you can rent a car. My daughter is obsessed with two of her little known three-year-old rites of passage. The first, swimming lessons, consumes her thoughts on an hourly basis. She asks me at least ten times per day, "Mommy, am I going to imim lessons today?" I only get to answer her question with an affirmation on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the rest of the time she sulks around, depressed about her non-swimming, three-year-old existence. This morning, a swimming lesson day, I awoke to green and white striped lycra two inches from my face and my daughter repeating, "Can you help me put on my bathing suit for swimming lessons? Can you help me put on my bathing suit for swimming lessons?" over and over again. I finally gave in, surrendering the fantasy that I might actually get to sleep until 7:00am on a non-school day. Where do I get these ridiculous notions?

Her second obsession is with the nursery at our local YMCA. We are regular Y-goers so that nursery and the wonderful staff that helps care for the kiddos is a second home for my kids. My daughter and I go sans my son on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while he is in preschool and then we all go on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The days when my son is present are a little complicated due to the fact that my son is in the 3-5-year-old section and my daughter is in the 18 month-2-year-old section. The only thing that divides these two areas is a 3 foot book shelf but my daughter can't stand it. She wants to be with Bubba in what she refers to as, "The Boy Room." The other room where she spent hours of agonizing partial separation from my son on Tuesdays and Thursdays is aptly named, "The Girl Room." There is, mind you, no separation based on gender in the nursery. This is just how my daughter sees the world I guess. Suffice it to say, she was thrilled to death when, on Tuesday, she was permitted to stay in "The Boy Room" with Bubba. She practically danced past the 3 food bookshelves and staked her claim in the space right next to Bubba. It was a victorious day.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


My baby girl turned 3 yesterday in perhaps the most gratifying birthday celebration ever. She was aware that it was her birthday from the moment she woke up and soaked up every ounce of attention. She smiled as she ate her pancake breakfast and asked several times if it was, in fact, her birthday, "It my dirday?" Sometimes it seemed like less of a question and more of an affirmation. She Birthdaycakedecorated_57300443
and her brother went with me to the store to pick out her balloons and she sang about three choruses of, "Happy Birthday to Me"while I paid for the balloons and cake. About an hour before her party guests arrived she insisted on changing into her princess dress, tiara and all. She leaped and twirled in her dress when the doorbell rang and greeted Grandma and Pop-pop and the Byrne family with her affirmation, "It my dirday!" She savored every bite of cake, every slice of hot dog (her birthday request) and every note of her birthday song. She was so anxious to blow the candles out that we had to have a redo for the purpose of preserving the staged moment forever in pixel format. It felt like a scene from The Hills.

For all of those new parents or expectant parents out there, be warned. You will hear the phrases, "Time flies" and "It all goes so fast" and "Before you know it, they'll be driving" countless times in the coming years. They may feel like the cliché sound bites of jaded parents but there is real truth and wisdom in these statements. My daughter can't be three. She was a baby fighting for her place in this world in the NICU just a couple weeks ago. It seems like just yesterday that she was causing me extreme anxiety with her refusal to walk until she was good and ready (almost 17 months). She's off to preschool in a mere three months. She started solo swimming lessons today (no Mommy and Me needed). She can dress herself, use the potty, has preferences about what she wears, watches, eats. She's three. THREE. I feel like I've only known her a short while but I can't imagine my life without her.  Happy Birthday Tater Pie!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


The old blog is suffering of late. I'm drowning in work which is not a bad thing but it pains me to commit bloglect. For those of you who may not be up on your up-and-coming terms, here's a definition: bloglect-- neglecting one's blog for the sake of one's work or life. Yep, that's me.

Last night we had dinner with some friends and one of them said, "So, what's going on with Another Gay Bear." It took me about three repeats to understand what he was talking about and I laughed, finally, but I felt like a moron. Suffice it to say, I'm fried. FRIED. We're going to a Cinco De Mayo party tonight and I fully intend to take out all of my pent up anxiety on a very large margarita. It should ensure my status as a stellar host at my daughter's third birthday bash tomorrow. In the words of the Allman Brothers, "I'm past the point of carin'"