Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So much for the spirit of the season

I’ve been so busy preparing for Christmas that posting has been pretty slow. And the holiday fun is not over yet. I’m headed out of state over New Year’s to celebrate a late Christmas with more family. But I didn’t want to leave you empty handed while I was gone so here is an email that I sent to my very best friend Shawna around the 15th of December after my husband called to inform me that some asshole had stolen my vintage bicycle directly from our front yard.

It was completely non-functional (tires were shredded, chain was rusted) but it was charming and I had put a basket on the front which I decorated throughout the year with seasonal items, and I’d place potted plants or pumpkins on the vintage metal child’s seat on the back of it. I loved that thing and I was planning on writing a blog post about its theft. But looking back, I think the raw unabashed hatred and sense of helplessness that I felt after that theft could not be conveyed any better than in this excerpt from an email that was composed directly after I found out it was stolen:

Some Mother Fucking, Son of a Bitch is going to die! Die a horrific death. If only the fury of my hatred could be fired out of me like a bullet out of a gun, and magically seek out the asshole who has done this, it would be a thing of beauty!

Some jerkoff has stolen the bicycle from the front yard. The vintage bicycle that I saved from the curb and gave a new home to. The one I lovingly added a basket to the front and filled with seasonal flowers and decorations. The one that added charm and whimsy to an otherwise shitty front yard.

Gone. Stolen. I haven’t been this pissed for months, years maybe.

You know how sometimes for fun or an ice breaker people will ask you what kind of super power you would have if you could have any super power, and people say , flight, or invisibility, or super strength etc. Well my super power would be the ability to recognize the people who steal stuff from people’s lawns. Yes, I’d want the ability to look into their souls and recognize what they are and then I’d want the power to punish them for the rest of their lives by making their things disappear. Maybe not even their lawn ornaments but just anything – one day they’d wake up and I’d have removed every pair of underwear they own, including the pair they had on. The next day I’d remove every mirror from the entire house, the next day I’d take the steering wheel out of their car, the spoons, their toothbrush, every pair of shoes . . . on and on until the last day of their life.

They’d wake up every morning and find something gone – just like my bike was gone – and my payback would be complete. . .

And while my reaction might seem a little dramatic for the theft of a bike I got for free, I think it speaks to that feeling of helplessness and violation that you get when something is stolen. You can’t do a damn thing about it and it’s frustrating. Not to mention that if you sit and think about it long enough to realize that some stranger was inches from your front door at night with evil intentions (okay maybe evil is a little overboard but they certainly weren’t friendly) and that you were at home alone with your kids, then it compounds that feeling of helplessness and even mixes in a good dose of fear as well about what “could” happen.

So now that I’ve given you a good dose of reality after the fantasy and charm of the holiday season. I’m heading out for more holiday cheer. Have a Happy New Year everyone.

oh and don’t ever think about stealing anything from my front yard. I’m installing motion sensors and stockpiling weapons by the front door so they’re within easy reach when the next person tries to steal my Malibu lights.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tacky Treasure time - cast your vote!

The tacky treasures are awaiting your vote! Go to www.freewebs.com/tackytreasures to cast your vote!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Santa Snob

We recently made our requisite December journey to the Mall. Not for shopping, not for an orange Julius, though that would have been nice, except the Julius has raw eggs in it doesn’t it – isn’t that what makes it frothy or is that an urban legend? Maybe just a smoothie would have been better or some ice cream from the creamery – sorry – off topic.

It was time to see Santa – that jolly old soul. The most ironic thing about seeing Santa is that it’s never jolly. We knew the line would be horrendous, and it was. We knew it would be packed with snot nosed impatient children – and it was; ours fitting in perfectly with the rabble.

We’ve gone to the same mall every year since Aaron was born to see this particular Santa. I’m a bit of a Santa snob – I’ll admit it. I’m not going to sit my kid on just anyone’s red velvet robed knee. Oh no, if I’m going to perpetuate the myth that is Santa then by God I’m going to do it right by choosing a Santa that could actually BE Santa.

He’s round, he’s jolly, he has a REAL beard of snowy white, a gentle voice and a genuine way with children. This way when the kids get old enough to realize that we’ve been lying to them for the entirety of their childhoods, they might at least appreciate the fact that we were damn good liars and picked a heck of a good actor to aide and abet us in those lies!

How about you? Are you picky about which Santa you take your kids to see?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nothing tops the black fuzzy poster

The Christmas season is here and I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get everything done. There are cookies to be baked, cards to be sent, photos with Santa to be taken, shopping to be done, gifts to be wrapped, family feuds to begin, or end . . . and the list goes on and on.

Due to economic issues, and the fact that I am kind of crafty, I’m making a lot of gifts for people this year and while I think they are fantastic, I sometimes wonder if the recipient might think they are completely lame. To combat these fears I try to focus on some of the worst gifts I and people I know have received over the years and in comparison to some of these gifts, my hand knit scarves seem like the most thoughtful and beautiful gifts ever!


Now in general there’s nothing wrong with Potpourri. It’s not my cup of tea but I suppose it serves some sort of purpose, doesn’t it?? Like an alternative to cat litter when you’re in a pinch? Anyway, it wouldn’t have been such a bad gift had it been paired maybe with a candle or a lovely bowl or something to put it in except there was nothing else. Just a plastic baggie full of potpourri from the dollar store, with the price tag still on it. If you couldn’t afford to give me anything that’s fine, just get a card or a scrap of paper and write a lovely note wishing me a happy holiday. A 99 cent bag of potpourri is like leaving your waitress a 2 cent tip, it just shouldn’t be done unless you want her to spit in your salad the next time you eat there.

Ch-Ch-Ch Chia!

While there is something intrinsically fascinating about watching something sprout from the back/head of a terra cotta (insert your shape – sheep, tweety bird, Homer Simpson, Garfield) figure, I don’t think the Chia Pet has ever been or will ever be elevated to “good gift” status. My husband got one of these as a gift one year and quite frankly he’s still insulted by it. Though he’ll deny it, I think the true insult came from the fact that it wasn’t even the terra cotta one – it was one of the cheaper heads made out of nylon with a face painted on it - you know like the ones you made in kindergarten from your mom’s pantyhose. Perhaps if it had been the actual terra cotta variety, he might have gotten over it by now.

KOOL t-shirt

I think this might have been a birthday gift actually, but a bad gift is a bad gift so it makes my list. When my husband was in grade school his grandparents were pretty heavy smokers and they used that habit not only to supply themselves with lung disease but also with countless gifts for their grandchildren, and I’m not even counting the second hand smoke as one of the gifts! They’d save up their cartons and packs and send them into the company for free merchandise. So Matt was often gifted with a KOOL or Salem T-shirt as a gift. What could a 13 yr. old want more?? Hey at least they didn’t pair it with a carton of ciggies.

Black fuzzy poster

Now in general I try not to make fun of hand made gifts. Because even if they are absolutely hideous, if somebody put the effort into making something for me, I try to look past the fug and appreciate the time and the thought. However, I don’t think coloring in one of those black flocked posters really counts as hand-made so I have no qualms about poking fun at this gift.
It would have been a different story if it had been a gift from say a 9 yr. old, or even a 15 – 16 yr. old. But, no. This was a gift from a grown woman. A black fuzzy poster that she was incredibly proud to announce that she had colored in all by herself! I can’t even remember what the image was – perhaps a unicorn or a kitten or something, shockingly I did not keep it.


Everyone had that grandmother who bought them socks or panties every year. Well my friend’s grandmother took it a step further – actually 2 steps further because not only was she gifted with panties every single year up to the age of 15 (yikes) but she also was forced to put them on and model them for her as if it was a festive holiday sweater instead of a lacy pair of undies with the days of the week printed on them. No wonder the poor thing is in therapy now.

Mini bottles of shampoo/conditioner from a hotel

While it’s a great idea to share mementos and photos from recent trips with friends and family, it’s not usually looked upon fondly when you share your trip by gifting them the bottles of shampoo from the hotel you stayed at in Hoboken. A friend was once given mini bottles of Super 8 shampoo by her husband’s grandmother. So either her grandmother is very cheap or perhaps she’s not well liked by the in-laws – or maybe both.

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received??

Monday, December 1, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

So I know things have been a little slow around here. Posting has dropped off dramatically and I’m sorry for that but I do have a legitimate excuse. I’ve launched a craft business and I’ve been busily creating products, setting up my online shop and creating content for my craft blog.

Now I know what you’re thinking; “Woman, it’s about time you did something! I mean with a full time job, plus being the sole caretaker of your 2 small children in the evenings while your husband works, it’s about time you took advantage of all that abundant free time you have!”

And you’re right. Because I was seriously wasting my time on things like personal hygiene and sleep. It was laziness, pure and simple and now I’ve found something worthwhile to fill up the hours of my day.

Now I’m still in that optimistic stage of the game. I’ve sold two things (hurray!) and hope to sell more. Right now my stuff is just online but I hope to do some local craft shows and stuff next year when I have more inventory built up. I’m really trying to find my niche and that’s hard. I don’t expect to earn enough for champagne wishes or caviar dreams, but I love creating stuff so I figured I might as well try to hock some of it while I’m at it.

If you’ve got nothing better to do – check out my shop on Etsy: http://www.pinandpaper.etsy.com/

and visit my crafty blog as well:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why she’s on the short list of people I’d give a kidney to

A recent email conversation between me and my friend Shawna:

From: amy
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 12:49 PM
To: Shawna
Subject: Had enough

Have you ever used a nasal spray? I don’t generally like squirting stuff up my nasal passages but at this point I’d just really like to breathe. Was wondering if you had any recommendations.
I’ve been trying to look online and I’m finding all this stuff about how I could possibly become addicted to them. So if you catch me selling myself on the street to score another bottle of Afrin – be prepared for an intervention.
At this point, it’s worth the risk.

From: Shawna
Sent: Thursday, November 20, 2008 1:40 PM
To: amy
Subject: RE: Had enough

I can’t do that stuff either not sure why. I hear it works.

Don’t worry about the addict thing it runs in the family and I am an old pro with interventions. I’ll tell you what I will wait till you get addicted to crack and become your ideal size and then will kick you off the drugs. I mean there might as well be a pay out to addiction if you ask me. Then you will hate your self for being weak and becoming an addict but you will look great naked.

Now this is a gal with my best interests at heart!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Down with DYFEA? Join the Campaign!

You’ve just reached the checkout at the store and the gal behind the conveyor belt has already mindlessly slid 10 items past the scanner and then she turns to you and says, “Did you find everything alright?”

I hate that question.

I’M AT THE CHECKOUT! Which means that if I hadn’t found what I was looking for then I would have left – without buying anything! Or if I had more than one thing to purchase then I would have already enquired about the item I couldn’t locate to some stock boy or other employee or resigned myself to the fact that they don’t carry that product.

Maybe if they asked BEFORE they started ringing me up, then I’d believe it was more of a genuine question/concern. What are they going to do if I say; “No, I couldn’t find the right brand of heavy flow tampons.” Are they going to stop ringing me up and guide me back to the aisle and help me search, despite the lineup of 8 customers behind me? Are they going to send out a stock boy to find them? Do they write it down and have a meeting after closing to discuss how they can better organize the tampon section?

I don’t think so!

Now I realize that it’s one of those questions that’s not really a question. It’s really just a social nicety – a greeting – like when someone at the office says, “Hi. How are you?” They don’t really care. They don’t want you to launch into an itemized listing of what’s going wrong or right in your life. They just want you to say “good” so they can move along and get their coffee. I get that. But it still irritates me to no end. And I’m writing about it in the hopes that the shoddy logic of it will irritate you as well and perhaps together, we can bring about some change in this world and make that idiotic phrase obsolete in the retail environment.

Who’s with me??

I’m thinking of having some buttons made up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yearning for something in poor taste?

It's that time of year folks - Tacky Treasure Competition time!

The 2008 category has been chosen and shopping commences on Nov. 1.

Check out our newly redesigned website to learn more about it.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Birth Control

Whenever I start getting fuzzy feelings about having a third child I try to remind myself of how much joy the 2 children I have right now give me, and how if I had any more joyous moments like the one below, that my head just might spontaneously combust.

And all this because I put food on her plate. Yes, food - ON HER PLATE - and it was unbearable. Lucky you only have to endure about 56 seconds whereas I got the pleasure of a full 7 minutes!

On a side note, I'm not cruel and enjoy watching her scream. I've learned that there is nothing I can do to soothe her. If I hold her she pushes me away, if I try to talk to her she screams louder. However, if I just sit back and wait for it to pass, she jumps up like nothing has happened and the only clues that there was a meltdown at all are the tear stained cheeks and snotty nose.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And her baby brother is going as a soy sauce packet

I realize that when you publish a magazine with home made Halloween costume ideas in it, that after a few years you’re going to be searching for something new and exciting to feature rather than the cliché pig costume made from pink sweatpants.

However, I think this costume featured in the recent edition of Family Fun Magazine is a little odd:

Has your 7 year old ever expressed a desire to dress as raw fish and rice rolled in seaweed? Are all the other kids in the neighborhood saying, “Mom, my princess costume is SOOOO LAME! Chrissie is going as Sushi! You could have at least gotten me a Wonton outfit or even a dumpling costume! I’m going to be the laughing stock of the neighborhood!”

Maybe it’s because I live in the Midwest and sushi isn’t really all that big around here. Maybe I’m just out of touch. Does anyone else think this is weird??

But if you’re dying to make one of your own check out the instructions at the Family Fun website, which truly does have some pretty cool kids crafts and stuff on there and I would also recommend the magazine as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Best and Worst List

I love lists – doesn’t everyone? And today in an effort to somehow make a cohesive post out of three completely unrelated musings that have been rattling around in my brain - I bring you my Best and Worst list.

Best place to wear a black nylon leotard, rainbow dress and a care bear backpack:

A comic book convention

Worst place: any other public location

Best business name:

Stinkie fingers bait shop. It’s memorable, it’s appropriate to the business and it’s spelled with an “ie” which makes it that much more charming. Are you going to go to some bait vending machine for quality catfish lure or are you going to head to this place? I know where I’m going!

Worst Business name:

The Royal Flush. I realize this is a Poker themed name which perhaps they thought would go well with a “Lounge” however, it’s seldom a good idea to invoke bathroom related lexicon into the name of your restaurant. Was “the Urinal Cake café" taken?

If they were dead set on a card themed name couldn’t they have gone with "Full House", or "Four of a Kind" or even "UNO!" would have been better. Add to the fact that the steak on the sign somewhat resembles a bowel movement floating in a blue toilet bowl when you drive by at 45 mph and that the building itself is a steel warehouse in the industrial area of town and you’ve got yourself a restaurant that everyone thinks is a plumbing supply store.

Best male fake hair in a movie:

Ben Barnes in Prince Caspian (his hair was too short before filming – these are extensions) - Grrr Baby Grrr.


Nicolas Cage in any movie within the last decade. I mean seriously. Let’s take Ghost Rider as an example – they can turn this mans head into a flaming skull and yet all they can muster with his fake hair is this botched Bosley hair restoration look?? Couldn't the hair have been computer generated as well?

However, in the Hollywood Hairdressers defense - this is what his real hair looked like when he was younger so I guess you can only do so much:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh the humanity!

I'd like to start out this post by saying that I love my mother.

But . . .

when she showed up with a bag full clothes for the kids that she'd gotten while garage saleing and within its contents was a size 2T shell suit, I started to question her sanity.

You remember shell suits don't you? The fugly fashion of the late 80's and early 90's? If not, then let me refresh your memory. That's not even the worst part. Before I had a chance to burn it, Gwen had grabbed it and was pushing it in my face, desperate to put it on! What was she so attracted to? The hideous color combination? The odd placement of the printed panel? The sweat inducing properties of the synthetic non-breathable fabric?

I don't know, but she loved it. I'm only going to indulge her this one time though. I cannot let her wear it again, and definitely not in public. I'd better get it burned before she finds it again and requests a coordinating fanny pack to go with it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Confession - the Kit Kat incident

Forgive me Super WalMart, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.

I knew it was wrong, I don't know what came over me but when I saw her there with her face covered in chocolate, I just lost it. I mean she'd been trying my patience ever since we entered the automatic doors. The greeters recoiled in fear when they saw she was untethered. Fellow shoppers did their best to avoid her in the hopes that she wouldn't target their shopping cart, commandeer it and push it directly into the 6 foot display of pantiliners on aisle 6.

She was a force to be reckoned with. She scoffed at the confines of the cart. She spat out the pacifier with her shrieks of anguish. She mopped the floors with a face full of tantrum tears. Other mothers embraced their children lovingly and vowed to be forever grateful that they had such an easy child.

Finally I reached the end of my epic journey - the checkout. I was almost free and clear and while placing the contents of my overflowing cart onto the conveyor belt I glanced down to see her with the Kit Kat - half eaten. I knew what I should have done. I should have laughed in one of my patented "oh how entertaining these little angels can be" laughs, handed the candy to the cashier and asked that they ring it up since my sweetpea had already ingested the majority of the shiny wrapper. But I didn't. I glanced around to make sure no one had seen it and then threw the open candy back on the shelf behind a box of king sized peanut M&M's.

Was it embarrasment, frustration? I don't know. I stand before you in shame and with sincere regret. I'll throw an extra 58 cents at you the next time I'm there. Oh and you might want to rethink that endcap full of light bulbs over in the hardware aisle. Thankfully she was distracted by the air freshener display in automotive.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

He draws the line at indecent exposure

Over the years Matt has grown accustomed to my sense of humor and no longer argues with me when I ask him to make a stupid pose with an inanimate object. See the example above. All I had to do was ask him if he loved me and when he replied in the affirmative I told him that I needed him to pretend that inflated T-Rex was about to eat him. I even once convinced him to fondle the breast of a female statue at a mini golf course (I seem to have lost that picture, perhaps he found it and destroyed it).

There are times though where he still refuses me. For example - as he stood in front of this replica moon in the Kansas cosmosphere he repeatedly declined to grace me with the image of 2 moons. I mean come on - it would have been hilarious and the surveilance camera wasn't even pointed anywhere near it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just call me the Lunch Lady

We’re currently hosting our 2 nieces and our nephew at our house and while it’s been fun so far, and Aaron is in absolute heaven with his live-in playmates, there have been challenges as well.

One of the biggest challenges for me is meal preparation. Cooking is not one of my favorite tasks (which is somewhat odd since eating is) and I often struggle to cook something for myself and my own 2 kids and now I’ve got 3 more to worry about. Last night I opted for chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and peas – a healthy meal balanced with items from each of the three processed food groups (processed powdered cheese, processed chicken parts formed into nugget shapes and heavily salted canned vegetables).

While the preparation was no different than usual, the quantity was and I spent what seemed like 15 minutes just trying to calculate how many nuggets to bake and whether or not I should do one box of Mac and Cheese or two. Once preparation was complete – putting it all on plates was an elaborate assembly line production which conjured up images of school days in the cafeteria. At one point I wondered if I should be wearing a hair net.

Tomorrow I think I’ll serve up some mashed potatoes with an ice cream scoop.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The fruits of my very minimal labor

I planted a cherry tomato and a grape tomato plant in a huge pot on my patio this year. It was my way of connecting to mother earth, and enjoying tiny tomatoes on my salad without having to pay $2.99 every 2 weeks.

They're so delicious and were so easy to grow that I've started wondering why I don't garden on a much larger scale, and then I remember that I'm still officially on strike. My parents promised me 10cents for every quart of strawberries I broke my back to pick from our huge family garden back in 1988 and I've yet to see a penny of that money.

Unfortunately I was only 12 so according to my lawyer, the contract was not legally binding since I was a minor. However, I'm still pushing for a settlement. If you factor in lost wages and pain and suffering, I think we're talking close to $2,000.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creative Writing 101 - Character Development

I attended a creative writing class once that suggested taking a situation or scene that you witness (a couple sitting at a café, a group of people having an animated conversation on the street etc.) and using that scene as a starting point for character building. Who are the characters? How did they get into that situation? What is prompting them to act they way they are?

I’ve attempted it a couple times but never really found an adequately inspirational situation to evolve into a proper set of characters. That is, until Sunday night.

Matt and I had taken the kids for a ride in the evening, pretty much to get them settled and to be honest – to avoid our normal lengthy nighttime ritual just for a change of pace. On our way home, around 9:30 or so, the kids were snoozing softly in the back and we were just getting ready to pull onto our quiet street when we noticed a car stopped at the intersection.

A woman, probably early to mid 20’s, was leaning her entire torso out of the window and yelling at someone either on the street or in the cheap motel on the corner. The driver of the car was a man, about the same age, slouched in the driver’s seat, looking fairly embarrassed and dialing someone on his cell phone. Here’s the kicker. The woman was completely naked from the waist up. Yep, fun and fancy free my friends.

Now after the initial shock and excitement wore off; I mean stuff like this is a fairly rare thing to witness by two socially dead middle aged parents in the heart of the Midwest, I began to create my own detailed storyline to fit the scene.

The woman’s name is Tamara, and she insists on being called Tamara, not Tammy. She practices the almost extinct art of macramé and also crochets things like pop can belts and purses and sells them on ebay to supplement her income from her cashier job at the local health food store. She’s just gone through a very messy break up with her boyfriend Dan, whom she caught sleeping with her best friend Samantha in a cheap motel.

She was feeling a little sorry for herself tonight and had a few too many bottles of Boone’s strawberry wine while watching Footloose. The fight scene at the bar got her all teary. She remembered the time Dan had punched some guy who had playfully smacked her on the behind at the local bar. She’ll never forget that romantic day they spent together after she bailed him out of jail for assault. Anyway, she’d ran out of liquor and didn’t want to drive to get more so she called up Terrence, her co-worker, whom she knew had a secret crush on her and would jump at the chance to do something for her. Sure he was a complete geek and she suspected that he was stealing herbs from the “male enhancement”display at the store, but he seemed harmless enough and could take her for more liquor.

Terrence was delighted when he got the call and was so excited that he even logged off Socom (his username is TerrITup29) before finishing the battle. He was sure that his online teammates would understand. He wondered if he should he take some of those herbal supplements before he went? He picked her up in his Mom’s Camry and she was so drunk that he thought he had about an 85% chance of getting a little first base action.

He made a critical error though when he chose the route that took them by that motel with the ancient outdoor swimming pool that they had filled in with dirt and allowed every manner of weed to invade.

She just lost it when she saw it, and before Terrence knew it she’d ripped off her shirt, threw it in the backseat, leaned out the window and started shouting obscenities at the numbered doors of the Motel. She was reliving that terrible night when she discovered Dan and Samantha in room 3B and fueled by the power of cheap liquor, she was somehow reliving it barechested.

Terrence was in a complete panic. This scenario had never come up in that online tutorial; “What to do on a date with a hot chic”. Desperately he dialed his best friend Kyle – he was the guru. He’d made it all the way to the finish line with Sarah Grettelman on prom night. Sure, she’d been drunk, and possibly slightly unconscious, but it still counted as a score. Kyle would know what to do – especially with a drunk chic. He just needed to lay low until he got a hold of Kyle. That couple that just passed him in the mini van looked like they recognized his Mom’s Camry. Maybe they knew her from the neighborhood association?!

Now isn’t that fun? Talk about inspiration! Come up with your own characters or at least a believable scenario if you’ve got nothing better to do.

My friend Shawna came up with the following: the driver is her boyfriend and they were having an argument. He suggested that she needed a boob job, and was in the midst of calling one of his buddies to confirm his beliefs and she was so irate that she whipped off her shirt and was soliciting opinions from passersby.

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Losing a finger or two could be considered as a character building experience.

I recently upgraded the status of my “body fat terror alert” from yellow to red. It’s been determined that my ass is a weapon of mass destruction and I’ve enlisted the help of Weight Watchers to help me fight the good fight.

Losing weight is always a struggle, but I like the “Points” system and so far things are going well. The key is to have a lot of weight loss weapons in your arsenal – and I’m not talking about workout equipment or little scales to measure out all your portions – I’m talking about 2 cupboards worth of Fudge Grasshopper and Fudge Stripe 100 calorie packs.

Because without these things I could seriously be caught licking the Oreo cookie crumbs off the faces of my children, or worse: “Here sweetie, eat this Little Debbie Fudge Round and don’t worry if you get all messy, Momma will clean you up . . Oops, we’re out of wet wipes, let me just nibble that chunk of cookie off your sleeve there . . .”

I take these treats seriously here people. First of all they’re pricey and second of all they’re the only things that can keep me on track on certain days and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give even one of these little cookies up. But I have 2 children and as anyone with children knows – what’s yours is theirs. Far too many times I've had little fingers reaching into those sparsely populated bags. Too often have they reached for their own entire pack! I cannot allow this to go on. So far I’ve found the following strategies to be beneficial:

Distraction: Throw in a Dora or Diego DVD and as their little eyes alight upon the glory of Nick Jr. entertainment and their little bodies (and probably minds) cease to function, I sneak into the kitchen to enjoy my 100 calorie pack in peace.

Bargaining: “No honey, you can’t have any of Momma’s cookies . . . Oh don’t cry! You know how you’re always wanting to play driver in the van? Well here are the keys – go on out and play in the van for a while. Just remember to leave it in Park because neither one of you can reach the pedals.

Other times I try lying but Aaron is getting too old for that to work. For some reason he doesn’t believe that those cookies taste like broccoli, and he’s smart enough to recognize the boxes in the cupboard when I try to tell him that we’re all out.

Now maybe some of you are thinking that I should be sharing these low calorie, low fat snacks with my children in order to teach them how to be healthier and I’d have to say that I agree with that in theory. However, they really have fairly little nutritional value and most of the time my kids are content with some fruit. Thankfully they haven't yet learned to equate happiness with sugar and chocolate. Not to mention the fact that things are going to get really, really messy if I come home to find that I’m completely out of those 100 calorie miraculous elf created treasures. So even though I love my kids so much that I'd throw myself in front of a bus for them, they'd better leave my cookies alone if the want to go through life with all 10 digits intact.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Crapping in echo canyon

Aaron saw a Kipper cartoon the other day about echoes and this afternoon while I was in the living room I heard:

"MOMMA . . . momma . . . momma"


"I'M POOPING . . . pooping . . . pooping"


"COME AND WIPE ME . . . wipe me . . . wipe me"

God I love that kid!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Because nothing's funnier than a genetically deformed animal

Aaron loves knock, knock jokes and after suffering through his own made up jokes for a couple months (Knock knock - who's there? - House - House who? - House Door! and somehow that was hilarious to him) we got him a children's joke book. For the most part it's okay. It's got some groaners in there and some pretty bad puns but it's also got some jokes that are really bad. I don't mean that they're simply not funny - they're just in really poor taste. For example:

"Where can you find a dog with no legs? - Right where you left him."

"What do you call a mouse with no legs? - Cat food"

Seriously, who compiled these jokes? The screenwriter for Saw?

For now we just don't read them to him, but we'll have to conveniently lose the book when he learns to read.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

House Envy

Have you ever disliked someone for something they have no control over? Loathed their mere presence without ever making the effort to get to know them?

My neighbor is a very amiable divorcee in her early 50’s. She moved in about a year ago and she’s always been exceedingly friendly. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and I’m always ready to wave and say a friendly hello when I see her but beyond that I can’t seem to muster much effort.

Truth is, I hate the fact that she bought the house next to us. I’ve always liked that house ever since we moved into ours and when it was up for sale we toured it and after seeing the inside I loved it. In the timeframe between the tour and the day it sold I had hundreds and hundreds of lovely and vivid dreams of owning it myself and raising my children in its quaint window-seated bedrooms. Playing piano in the dining room, where the antique piano that’s been cluttering my mother’s house for years would have fit perfectly, creating a perfect garden oasis in the huge double lot backyard . . . But unfortunately when it was up for sale we were not financially ready to buy, and it would have been out of our price range regardless.

It’s really not fair of me to project my feelings of loss and regret on her and yet when I see her I can’t help but feel bitter that this single workaholic older woman is traversing the wooden winding staircase and hallway that should be littered with my children’s scattered toys and abandoned shoes. The walls are probably pristine and white when they should be covered in crayon scribbles and scuff marks. I mean what does a single old lady need with a 2 story, 4 bedroom house? She travels quite a bit and when I see it empty I almost feel like the home itself is sighing. It’s longing for the bustle of children and domestic goodness. Its windows are aching to be covered in tiny fingerprints and to rattle with the joyful screams of playing children. Instead it’s dark and lonely and quiet and I blame this on her.

Completely ridiculous and silly and yet there it is. It’s not her – hell I could have found fault with anyone who moved in there that wasn’t me. If Jesus himself moved in, I’d complain about how he doesn’t invite us to his wild monthly luau parties. Ewan McGregor could move in and I’d be livid that he trims his hedges while fully clothed.

I keep thinking I’ve reached a point that I can let things go and move on. I try to convince myself that my dream home is somewhere else and really wherever my family is together and happy is really a dream home anyway right? And then I see she’s having pizza delivered and all I can think is – I bet she just chucks the leftovers into one of the spare bedrooms. I mean what else could she possibly be using that space for?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Word Up!

I'd like to tell you that we spend most of our afternoons cleaning up state parks, volunteering at food banks, reading fully unabridged and annotated versions of literary classics or bonding over games involving laminated educational flashcards, but that's not quite accurate. What really happens is that I try to wind down from 8 hours of soul sucking meaningless busy work while keeping the kids entertained with a little age appropriate cartoon entertainment.

And on those days when my responses to Dora's continual queries of "Where are we going?" are: "hell", 'insane" and "the liquor cabinet", I'm glad that there is another cartoon option out there.

Enter WordGirl. A new show on PBS Kids that I absolutely adore. I always have a softspot for any show in which the characters converse with the narrator - that nuance never really gets old for me. Plus the focus of the show is increasing children's vocabularies which is a noble cause in and of itself.

It's just so original and well written that it's one of my favorite TV shows right now and I'd watch it even if the kids weren't around. I mean how many shows have super villians who fling bratwurst? Check out part of an episode here.

Of course since I adore it, the kids don't really care for it. True, it's aimed at a slightly older audience than 1 and 4, but still it's entertaining. If I can coax Aaron into watching until the Captain Huggy Face dance segment comes on, I'm golden.

I dare you not to smile while watching this!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

l've named it "Bic"

Thanks to my Scottish/Irish heritage and an insanely unlucky genetic makeup I am covered in freckles and moles. Freckles I can deal with. I’m actually oddly attracted to freckles. I love looking at people who are excessively freckled. It makes their skin strangely beautiful and unique, almost like traditional Henna skin art. But I digress.

What I don’t like are moles. Moles have no redeeming qualities. None whatsoever and don’t even talk to me about the famous Cindy Crawford beauty mark mole. It’s only attractive because it’s on her and it’s the only one she probably has. And sure it looks great but I bet you $50 that she has to get that baby waxed on a weekly basis to keep 2 ugly thick black hairs from growing out of the middle of it and dangling onto her upper lip. How attractive is that?

I make an annual trip to the Dermatologist where he slices and dices off moles of questionable size, shape and color. Thankfully all have come back from the lab as normal. Melanoma is not a pretty thing. However, the side effect of all this slicing is scar tissue and mole remnants. You see sometimes they don’t get the entire thing and part of it grows back and then takes on a weird deformed existence.

This is one of my particular favorites. For some reason the wounded and pissed off root of this particular mole decided to take its vengeance by growing back dark blue/black; therefore causing everyone who sees it to inform me that I have a dot of ink on my arm.

Sure I could get it sliced off again but I’ve grown to love the oddity of it. And much like a belly button cat ass tattoo, it’s a great conversation starter.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Culture . . . and man boobs

While flipping the channels the other night I landed upon a PBS special on a group of traditional Hawaiian dancers. It was mesmerizing. They didn’t perform for tourist luau’s, they performed simply for the ritual of it and instead of flamboyant flowered lei’s and cheap grass skirts, they donned handmade traditional costumes; broad palm leaf skirts hung low on the waist to accentuate their hip movements and simple dyed scarves wrapped around their chests. The men were bare chested with a short palm leaf skirt around their waist. It was truly beautiful.

They were dancing in the foreground of a volcano and, seeing this as an educational experience I started talking to Aaron about it. We discussed the volcano and we found Hawaii on the big map in his room and as I was silently praising myself for offering up such a cultural and educational experience for my son, he turned to me and said;

“Why is that man naked?”

I assured him that he wasn’t naked; he just didn’t have a shirt on.

“But I can see his boobs.” was his reply.

True, he was a larger man and I couldn’t quite argue with the kid’s logic, but I said “Men don’t have boobs, honey.”

With a serious and resolute look Aaron then informed me, “Yes, Momma they do! They’re just smaller.”

He was so confident that I knew it wouldn't be easy to convince him otherwise. Plus, the visual evidence was almost overwhelming in Aaron's favor and I really didn’t have the energy for a full on discussion of pectoral muscles vs. mammaries.

When the subject comes up again I’ll be sure to address it properly. Until then I just hope he doesn’t ask the next man he sees to show him his boobies.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What "Lozzie" taught me

Everybody has things they regret: ill advised piercings, that new shirt you thought was stylish and unique until the first day you wore it and 2 people congratulated you and asked when the baby was due. . .

One of my biggest regrets is something I said years and years ago that at the time seemed completely and utterly innocent and yet it haunts me to this very day. My grandmother, whom I never saw very often as a small child because she lived several hours away, used to say “Lozzie” all the time. It was her word and I loved it. I’m not sure of the origin of the word and it doesn’t really matter. It was used as an exclamation like “Goodness Gracious” (or if it was me “Shit!” or “Damn”).

I loved the way she said it. Sometimes it was a loud and raucous Missouri accented “LAWZZIE!” uttered at the end of a funny story. Other times it was a more subdued and endearing “Lozzie, child you sure do look like your daddy.”So when she and my Grandpa moved back to our little town when I was about 11 I happened to mention to my parents how much I was looking forward to hearing “Lozzie” more often and when they looked at me quizzically I pointed out that Grandma said it all the time and I adored it. Well naturally this charming and endearing story was eventually recounted to her.

And . . .

The woman has never uttered the word again. EVER! Sometimes I think it might slip out when she’s telling a funny story or being spontaneous – but it never does.

I don’t know if she felt self conscious about it. Like how if someone tells you they adore the fact that your right ear is bigger than your left, and you, never having realized this, start wearing ear muffs year round. I felt guilty about it for the longest time, and then I finally decided that it was her issue not mine. If she wasn’t willing to embrace herself then there wasn’t much I could do about it.

But it did teach me that you should probably keep most of that stuff to yourself and that’s my public service message for today. So, if you ever feel the urge to volunteer up the fact that you love the patch of hair on your husband’s back because it’s the exact same shape as the state of Rhode Island or that you adore how your Aunt says the word “orange” as “oinge” – DON’T DO IT - because then you’ll be stuck shaving his back every month and your Aunt will feel the need to get speech therapy and avoid you like the plague any time a citrus fruit is in the vicinity.

And if someone ever offers up a quirky thing about you that they love, don’t feel self conscience or judged. Don’t even think about it. Just say “thank you” and revel in the fact that you’re loved and accepted for who you are.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Because "Thingamabob" just doesn't sound tasty.

I was surfing the vending machine selections this afternoon at work and there was the usual – M&M’s, Snickers, Twix, and then . . . I noticed a small shaft of light coming from some inexplicable source and alighting upon the most glorious treasure imaginable:

There it was beaming at me like a gold nugget in a pan of mud, like a diamond amidst a pile of pebbles, like a clearance priced plus-size pair of jeans on a rack of size 6 skinny pants.

I love Whatchamacallits, and they’re pretty rare. You’re not going to find one of these babies at your normal checkout counter candy center. Most convenient stores don’t even carry them – and to find one in a vending machine is almost like a once in a lifetime occurrence. It was the only one in the machine and had probably been sandwiched between a Twix and a Snickers. I mean what are the odds that it would be front and center, just waiting for me? It was kismet!

I savored that thing like it was my last meal, and it absolutely made my entire day – and I don’t even care that it makes me sound incredibly pathetic – it’s the truth. It’s all about the nostalgia. Ah sweet, chocolatey memories.

Friday, May 30, 2008

6 Degrees of You Know Who, and the joys of small town life.

I grew up in a small town not far from where I live now. I really loved living and growing up there but for now I’m in love with the convenience, culture and opportunities that my larger city life affords.

We go back there to visit my parents quite often and when we do the conversation inevitably turns to town gossip. I enjoy a little gossip, however the majority of the time I have no idea who they’re talking about. Sure every once in a while I’ll know the person, after all I did grow up in that town, but I’m not good with names. I have cousins whose names I can’t remember - let alone some guy I’ve never met who lives in a town that I haven’t lived in for about 13 years.

Sometimes I just flat out say that I don’t know who it is. I tell them I have no clue, don’t recall or never did know them in the first place. Other times I like to play along, simply because it seems to bring them a strange sense of satisfaction. I call it the "6 degrees of You Know Who", similar to the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon but with no cinematic knowledge required:

Mom: “Did you hear about Ed Smith?”

Me: “I don’t know who Ed Smith is.”

Mom: “Oh you know who Ed is. He used to be married to that gal that had that little antique shop on 4th street. They’re divorced now.”

Me: “Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.”

Mom: “You remember, she used to sell Avon and they had a boy, what was his name? Joe? Jared?”

Dad: “I think it was Josh.”

Mom: “Yes, Josh. Was he ahead of you in school or behind you?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Mom: “ I think he was older than you. He played baseball I think.”

Me: “Was he a pitcher?”

Dad: “I think he played 3rd, but he might have pitched too. Do you remember him?”

Me: “No, I just always pay more attention to pitchers, they’re more glamorous, like the quarterbacks of baseball.”

Mom: “Oh. Well he just got married.”

Me: “Who? Ed or Josh?”

Mom: “Josh, the son.”

Me: “Oh yeah?”

Mom: “He married that gal, Teresa, that manages the convenient store on the north end of town.”

Me: “Uh huh.” (staring blankly)

Mom: “Oh you know, she used to be a cheerleader. She was in that bad car wreck her senior year with that other girl who was dating that kid in your class.”

Me: “What kid in my class?”

Mom: “Steve or something like that, used to play the trumpet. His sister was in 4-H with you.”

Me: “Oh, okay, yeah. Yeah, Steve. I remember Steve.” (At least I think I remember Steve or am I thinking of Sam? No Sam didn’t have a sister . . . They’re really excited that I remembered Steve so I’m going to go with it.)

Mom: “Well then you’ll remember that he dated that Anderson girl. Not the oldest, I think she was the youngest one.”

Me: “Yeah!” (I don’t remember anyone named Anderson but I’m not letting on)

Mom: “Remember she was in that terrible car wreck on prom night, broke her legs I think. Well this gal Teresa was with her and got hurt too. You remember that right?”

Me: “Yeah, of course.” (At this point I’m beginning to wonder if I was abducted by aliens at some point and the majority of my memories were removed for their research purposes because none of this is ringing a bell. I do remember a bright light in the cornfield when I was about 17 . .. )

Mom: “Yes! Well the other day Ed’s pickup was stolen right out of his driveway and . . . “

And then 10 minutes later we’re back on Ed, who I still don’t know and yet since I remembered the ex boyfriend of the high school friend of his new daughter-in-law it’s now assumed that I’ve known dear old Ed my entire life.

I used to find it really annoying and now I just go with it and I love it! It invokes such small town nostalgia. Sometimes I miss that small town feel. I miss that you can go into town and recognize the majority of the people on the street. Sure you might not know them well or even know their names, but you just might know that their wife’s daughter from her fist marriage just had a baby out of wedlock with that kid that used to get in trouble all the time for skateboarding on the courthouse steps and spray-painting the water tower. And if that doesn’t foster a sense of small town warmth and friendship then I don’t know what does!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things I don't understand

There are a lot of things in this world that I don’t understand: terrorism, child abuse, people who honestly believe that global warming is not in any way linked to or caused by the excesses and pollutions of humanity. The list could go on and on but today I feel the need to highlight some of the more mundane daily things that I just can’t quite understand:

-My work pants have 2 buttons and 3 clasp closures on them and I don’t understand why? Does this make them more sophisticated than a normal pair of pants with just a button and a zipper? I mean, they’re pants – it’s not like they’re encasing 2 million in bearer bonds or the technical readouts of the death star – just my ass. Should it take me a full minute to get them undone when I have to take a piss?

-They can build a car that will tell you the outside temperature, the pressure in each of your tires, whether or not your oil is low and give you turn by turn directions to the nearest Baskin Robbins but they all come with the same old boring horns. I for one would like some horn options. Maybe a nice friendly “beep” to tell the gal in front of me that it’s time to stop applying her mascara and actually drive since the light turned green 5 seconds ago. How about a nice blaring “kiss my ass” sound for the jerk that cuts you off. Can I have some options here? How about making the horns customizable like your cell phone ring. That way when some hot guy in a convertible is staring wide eyed at my unbrushed hair and wondering if those are gummy bears or goldfish crackers whizzing past my head from the backseats, I could throw him a little “Don’t Ya wish your girlfriend was hot like me” horn action from my dingy mini van.

-There’s a show on Animal Planet called Groomer Has It. It’s like Project Runway or Design Star – for dog groomers. It’s not that I don’t understand the show, or don’t understand why desperate tv producers are still latching onto the tired yet successful reality show concept to fill the airwaves. What I don’t understand is why I can’t stop watching it. During the last episode I watched a contestant, in an effort to make an Ali- inspired egotistical speech said, “I groomed like a butterfly and ummm groomed like a bee.” On this show a loose tuft of fur on a groomed dog is gasp inducing – I mean it’s ridiculous and has no merit and yet I can’t stop watching it! I fear I’ve been brain washed. I think I may need professional help.

-Have you ever wondered what it would be like to steer a sheep? I haven’t, and yet it appears to me that many people have and in an attempt to experience that sensation, have encased their steering wheels in thick wooly covers. Now to me it seems like somewhat of a safety hazard to place an inch of synthetic fur between your hands and the device that keeps your vehicle under control at speeds of 70 +mph. I’m not one to judge though. Perhaps they’re preparing for one of those rodeo sideshow sheep riding events?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

80's CliffsNotes - Fads

Okay, I promise - this is the final installment of my 80's CliffsNotes series. Then I might find the energy to think up some original content.

There were tons of fads in the 80’s. Looking back, none of them made much sense but that just makes them all the more endearing.

Since the 80’s was all about music, you were nothing if you didn’t have a boom box. Now it was mostly rappers and breakdancers who carried them around on their shoulders down the street, but everyone had them because portable music was a must. Oh and they played these things called Cassette Tapes – you might have heard of them. You had to rewind them after you played them and take them out and flip them over to listen to the other side.

Hannah Montana is nothing more than a rip off of Jem. The best cartoon ever about a recording studio manager who was really a rock star in secret. All she had to do was press her gawdy star earring and BAM she was decked out in full pop star ensemble and ready to rock! Sure there were other great cartoons in the 80’s (The Smurfs, Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, My Little Pony) but nothing quite as great as Jem because it incorporated 80’s fashion and music and the MTV culture into animation.

Cabbage Patch kids were to the 80’s what Tickle me Elmo was to the 90’s. I think some parents actually died while wrestling each other for one of these

The Rubik’s cube was a very popular item in the 80’s and succeeded in making 99% of the population feel like complete idiots when they couldn’t solve it.

“The Wave” was born in the 80’s. At an 80’s sporting event you’d do the wave at least 10-20 times. Sure it got tedious after a while but you haven’t lived until you’ve been part of a sea of bodies working together to create one cool spectacle.

The 80’s had its share of phrases and popular words. The phrase “Where’s the Beef?” was made popular by a little old lady on a Wendy’s commercial. Surprisingly enough you can find a lot of situations in which to use that phrase and we did. “Not” and “Psyche” were also popular and were used quite frequently. For example: “Those boot cut jeans look great on her – NOT – she should so tight-roll those or she’ll be the laughing stock of the roller rink” or “I think 6 bracelets are enough on this one arm – PSYCHE – I’m so adding at least 10 more!”

Professional wrestling was really popular in the 80’s. We were all Hulkamaniacs back in the day when being a Hulkamaniac was cool. They didn’t bleed and they didn’t hit each other in the head with chairs, it was just good, clean, cheesy fun.

Monday, May 19, 2008

80's CliffsNotes continued - Fashion Edition

Here's the 2nd installment of my gift to my young friend who was denied the joy and pleasure of experiencing the 80's properly.
The most important thing you need to know about 80’s fashion is that we were perpetually trying to make ourselves into large upside down triangles. The point was to make our upper body as wide as possible through the use of shoulder pads and oversized T-shirts and then make our lower halves look as small as possible through the use of tight rolled jeans or leggings.

You could never have enough accessories. If you only had on 5 bracelets then you might as well not have any on at all. Earrings had to be either large hoops or of the colorful dangle variety – after all they had to be big to stand out in all of that hair.

Jeans were big in the 80’s. They were mostly high waisted and tapered at the leg therefore making them as unflattering as possible. If we found that they weren’t tapered enough at the leg we would employ the tight roll technique. Acid washed jeans were a big favorite as were jeans that were pre-ripped. If your parents were loaded enough they’d buy you the ones that came pre-ripped/torn from the store. Otherwise you’d have to try and artfully rip your own.

Slouch socks were a fashion must and would always match your shirt – not your pants. Preferably the were layered so that you could have at least 2 colors on. Another favorite was the slouch boot which was a high heeled boot with slouching leather around the ankle. All of these ankle options accentuated the tight leggings or tight rolled jeans.

T-shirts were preferably bright in color – usually neon and they were always worn big. If you felt you had too much fabric you could always use the T-shirt buckle or tie it at the waist. Sweatshirts were acceptable but only if the sleeves and neckline were cut out so that you could wear them off the side of your shoulder.

Don’t forget the leg warmers Everything about dancing was big in the 80’s. This included ballet leg warmers as well as tight leggings or the ever popular stirrup pants.. Aerobics was born in the 80’s and it was perfectly acceptable to wear spandex aerobic clothing anywhere and anytime. Sweatbands became high fashion!

Jelly shoes were all the rage, despite the fact that they wore holes through the flesh of your toes and made your feet sweat like crazy. Other popular footwear included high tops or any tennis shoe as long as it was fitted with neon laces.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

CliffsNotes - The 80's Hair and Makeup

One of my friends recently celebrated her 21st birthday - can you imagine?! I think I was 21 at some point but I can't quite remember what that was like.

Anyway, as much as I enjoy her youth and general naivetee, her lack of experience and knowledge with certain things was always a nuisance. I mean she actually turned to me once and said, "Who's Stevie Nicks?" It was a sad, sad day.

Not to mention the fact that she's unable to weigh in on important cultural debates - like how Jennifer Beal's character in Flashdance could possibly have time to train, walk and care for a pit bull while juggling welding, exotic dancing, training for a prestigious ballet school and sleeping with her boss.

So as part of her gift, my hubbie and I burned her some 80's hits compilation CD's and I worked up some 80's CliffsNotes for her on the subjects of Hair and Makeup, Fads, and Fashion.

I'm quite proud of them really and it finally hit me that it's ready content for the blog. So here you go. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, or for you youngin's a small education on the greatest decade ever.

CliffsNotes - The 80's Hair and Makeup:

80's hair was either one of the following: Feathered, crimped, curled or teased. Whatever the style it had to be Big! The bigger the better. If you had trouble fitting your hairstyle through the doorway then you knew it was almost perfect! Once your style achieved the right height and width you had to keep it there with the use of either Rave or AquaNet hairspray. I believe that we unwittingly depleted 85% of the ozone layer in one decade alone. Not to mention that our hair was always in desperate need of a good V05 hot oil treatment from all that teasing and crimping.

Bangs were big - and I mean BIG. If you could get them to stand a full 12 inches off your head then you were automatically in the running for prom queen.

There were a variety of hair accessories in the 80's. The banana clip allowed a cascading flow of locks in the back and ample opportunity for large bangs in the front. Headbands were also popular but keep in mind that they never held the bangs back - Oh no they were used simply to offset the bangs
Scrunchies were a must have. Ponytails were worn off to the side and held with scrunchie that coordinated with your outfit. The great thing about scrunchies was that they were also useful as fashion accessories when you wore them on your wrist.

.As far as makeup in the 80’s: blue was king. Blue eyeshadow, blue eyeliner, blue mascara. The more blue the better - and we caked it on thick. It went from eyelid to eyebrow and often spilled out wide to the sides as well. Like everything else in the 80’s eyeliner and mascara were used in excess as well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Spit or swallow? The phlegm debate.

I have a cold – AGAIN – and this time around I’m experiencing some nice juicy coughs and a plethora of phlegm. Matt has come down with the cough as well and during our weekend of hacking and building snotty-tissue mountains I started to ruminate on the everlasting spit or swallow debate. And of course by this I mean whether or not you spit out the phlegm that you cough up or do you swallow it.

Matt is a spitter: hocking great mounds of mucus onto sidewalks or into wadded tissues – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m a swallower. I’ve always been a swallower and for years as a child I was berated for this and told that I was making myself even sicker for not spitting that phlegm out. “It’s just going to come right back if you swallow it – you have to spit it out.” my parents would say. And I believed them for several years and I made valiant efforts to spit. But I’m not a good spitter. It’s not a skill that comes naturally to me, and when I attempt to spit it usually ends up as an embarrassing and messy scene involving spittle trails on my chin and an ineffectual wad of saliva and mucus a mere 2 cm. from the toe of my shoe.

So for years I swallowed in shame. Convinced that I was making myself even more ill, until one day when I finally realized that it was all just a scam, a myth, an urban legend. Let’s think about it people: phlegm comes from your lungs, or more accurately from your trachea. When you cough it up it dislodges and lands in your throat or the back of your mouth. When you swallow it goes down your esophagus and into your stomach. Therefore it’s been cleared from your lungs and in effect you’ve accomplished the same goal as spitting. You’ve removed the phlegm from the trachea.

Why is there still this belief that if you swallow the phlegm that you’re somehow being unhealthy? Is it ignorance? A gross out factor? It seems that a lot of people think it’s gross to swallow phlegm. My question is, how is it any worse than spitting it out? The phlegm is inside my body anyway, and sure it’s nasty, but I’d rather swallow it quickly in a fraction of a second and allow my digestive track to dispose of it, than to have it travel over my tongue (and taste buds) and teeth and shoot it out between my lips.

I searched online for medical proof that swallowing phlegm was detrimental to your health and I found none. Everything that I found backed up my belief that it doesn’t matter whether you spit or swallow, just as long as you remove the phlegm from the trachea. And yet I ran across several message boards and question and answer sites where the same old adage, “if you swallow it, it will just come back” was repeated by the ignorant masses.

I’m thinking of starting some sort of public educational campaign. I need to stamp out the ignorance and let people know that it’s okay to swallow, though I’m not sure I’d get good reactions If I made posters that said “There’s no shame in swallowing!” or “You don’t have to spit – you can swallow!” and posted them up on Laundromat and YMCA cork boards.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Practical Shopping tips for the first time parent

The thing about most first-time parents is that they have no idea what they’re getting into. Sure they think they know, but then they’re also scared shitless and are inundated with magazines and books and advice and clever marketing strategies that keep them constantly overwhelmed. It’s this state of mind that most baby product manufacturers love. They love to create it and they love to take advantage of it, because if they can convince you that you NEED their product for the safety and well being of your child, they know you’re going to buy it, no matter how incredibly impractical and useless it is.

My best friend Shawna, a very informed and level headed first time parent, ran across such useless baby items when she was shopping for her child and she shared them with me for a good giggle. I’ve highlighted the most ridiculous down below and in the interest of public service, I’ve also listed some more practical alternatives for the first time parent.

Item #1:
Baby Care Timer

Price: $24.99
Product description: This unique timer takes the guesswork out of keeping baby comfy, cozy and happy. Large display shows the elapsed time since the last diaper change and feeding, how long baby has been awake/asleep.

Alternative product(s): andy clock you already have, common sense

Price: free
Product description: Want to meet all of your baby’s needs? Curious as to whether your baby is hungry, sleepy, wet, or soiled? Then try the advantages of common sense and the use of any timekeeping device.

If baby is unhappy then check its diaper. If the diaper is soiled, change it. Is baby hungry? Try to recall the last time you fed it, and even if you don’t recall then try to feed it. If it eats, then it’s hungry, if it doesn’t eat – it’s not hungry. Curious as to how long baby has been sleeping? Well it’s never long enough so don’t even bother keeping track. It’s never consistent either so even if you’ve timed every nap and they’ve all been 45 min. long, the one time that you want to take a long soak in the tub, the kid is only going to sleep for about 10 minutes or as long as it takes for you to get the water run and lower your exhausted ass into the tub and then it’s going to start wailing – guaranteed.

Item #2:

Portable Pacifier Cleanser.
Price: $16.99
Product Description: Dropped pacifiers are magnets for dirt and germs, and that is why Prince Lionheart invented this product! Just place your Baby's dirty pacifier in the spray shield and spritz the dirt away with clean water or antibacterial mouthwash. Unique design keeps clean and dirty water separated. Also great for cleaning Baby's face while you're on the go!

Alternative product(s): Your own mouth, your shirt, your hand/finger, a pacifier leash

Price: free/ .99 -$2.00

Pacifiers can be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. However, they pale in comparison to shopping cart handles, toilet seats, restaurant floors, and the bottoms of shoes. These are all things that your child will put his/her mouth on once they reach the crawling/walking stage. It’s inevitable. So really it’s a good idea to expose them to as many germs as possible as an infant just to build up their resistance.

If the pacifier does become covered in some sort of visible dirt or other substance you have several options. You can wipe it on your shirt, or if moisture is required simply lick y our finger and then wipe off the nipple. It works like a charm. Remember that the 3 second rule applies to pacifiers as well as dropped food.

If you’re ultra concerned you may want to employ the use of a pacifier leash. A very inexpensive product that attaches the pacifier to the child’s outfit therefore removing the possibility of it falling on the floor. However this does not prevent the dog from licking it or an older sibling from pawing it excessively right after his fingers have taken a thorough and slimey journey through his nasal passages.

If dirt prevention is your aim rather than simple cleanup. Check out item #3 and its alternative.

Item #3

Mam pacifier keeper with nipple cover
Price: $4.99
Product description: The Sassy MAM Pacifier Keeper with Nipple Cover is designed to fit securely around nipple of baby's pacifier to keep it clean. Keeper can be attached to baby's garment making sure pacifier is always within reach.

Alternative product: cleavage
Price: Free/cost of a good plastic surgeon

Let's analyze item #3. That cover is only going to fit over certain brands/sizes of pacifiers and you’re going to lose it within the first 2 days of use anyway. Even if you manage to keep track of it, the inside of the nipple cover is probably going to get dirty and then you’ll just be encasing it in dirt and providing a safe/moist environment for bacteria to grow and breed.

Therefore I recommend my soon to be patented portable pacifier keeper: cleavage (see here for more details). The downside is that you need to have a decent breast size in order to have a sufficient sized cleavage pocket. If you’re only sporting an A or B cup then you’ll have to upgrade before this technique will work for you.

Item #4

Belle Baby Carrier

Price: $89.99
Product description: Adjustable Height, Adjustable Shoulder Straps• Features Waist Belt, Ergonomic Design, 4-Point Harness, Sleek 1-Piece Design, Dual Buckles, Locking Mechanism Indicator• Flexible Design, Reinforced Stitching, Ventilated Fabric, Adjustable Straps, Buckle Closure• Stain Resistant

Alternative product: Any baby carrier besides this one.

Baby carriers are fabulous things. I’m not going to discourage the use of this product in general. A good baby carrier should be comfortable, it should provide support for both you and the baby, and it should be covered in a fabric that does not suggest that the child you carry it in was conceived during a sordid S & M encounter. This thing looks like something you’d get at Frederick’s of Hollywood instead of Babies R’ Us.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Something I’ve always found fascinating is the link between smells and memories. It’s amazing how one whiff of a particular scent can conjure up such vivid recollections of events, places, people and emotion.

One of my grandmothers used to smoke like a chimney and yet she was a complete OCD neat freak so her house always had a very strong odor of cigarette smoke with a slight twang of cleaning supplies. I spent almost every Thanksgiving and Christmas there as a child so now when I enter a place that smells like it’s been marinating in smoke and lysol it invariably creates an image of my Grandmother in my mind, if even for just a split second. Which is slightly odd because it’s not really normal to be reminded of your grandmother when you enter a bar or the smoking section of a seedy restaurant/lounge.

My grandfather on my father’s side always smells of coffee and Old Spice and I love that combo. My Mother always smells like soap and this particularly lovely musky perfume she wears. She gave me a couple jackets the other day that she no longer wears and when I put them on I was surrounded with the scent of her and it was like I was a little girl snuggled in her arms again.It makes me wonder what fragrant memories I’m making for my children. Will artificial apple scent some day awaken fond memories of bath time with apple scented shampoo? Will the smoky scent of a campfire remind them of our evenings on the patio roasting marshmallows on our little fire pit? Will the scent of Quarter Pounders with cheese remind them of my “home cooking”?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Astin Crush

I love my husband and he fulfills me in every capacity. That being said, I think every woman still has a 14 year old girl inside of them who’s clipping out pictures of hunky guys from Teen Beat and taping them to her bedroom wall.

I have my share of celebrity crushes – Ewan McGregor being at the very pinnacle of that list. However, coming in at a close second is someone slightly unpredictable. It’s Sean Astin. And no, Goonies is not my favorite movie of all time, though it is a fine piece of cinematic art.

I never really thought much of him when I was younger but he really caught my eye when he played Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Yeah, I’m a little bit of a sci-fi babe but only in the sense that I enjoy some Sci Fi/Fantays books and movies. Nothing major though. I don’t speak Klkingon and I’ve never dressed as Leia in the Jabba the Hut slave scene or anything like that – though that might just be because I can’t find that metal bra in a size 38 DDD.

But anyway . . . Sam is my favorite character from the LOR books and I thought Sean did a wonderful job of portraying him so I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since.

Then there was a particularly juicy 3rd trimester dream (you moms know what I mean) starring him and I found it interesting when I awoke that I was actually disappointed that halfway through he switched into Brad Pitt.

I’m not sure what it is about him. Maybe because he looks so sweet and cuddly. Maybe because he just strikes me as an all around nice guy, but whatever it is, it’s enough to move him into 2nd position behind Ewan on my celebrity lust list and just to show you how much my hubbie loves me and accepts me for who I am I offer this piece of evidence that he got specifically for me while shopping for his sportscard hobby:

Yep, a genuine signed Sean Astin collectable card. Isn’t that fab? I don’t know what I like more – the card or the fact that my hubby got it for me.