Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Welcome SITS gang!

Oh my GOODNESS, but I'm so very excited to be the Featured Blogger of the day today!!! Seriously, you have NO idea. I've been a huge fan of The Secret is in the Sauce since the day I discovered that leopard printed wonder of a site! I've met so many fantabulous bloggers over the past few months through SITS, and now it is actually my turn! I'm doing my best happy dance, which is only marginally better than this:

Yes, that's right, I'm doing a veritable dry heave set to music out of excitement today! Sweet fancy Moses!

If you want to know the nutshell version of me, check out the sidebar over yonder on the left. The really teeny nutshell version is this: I'm Heather, married to Hubby, one daughter - Kiddo, age 5 and who just started kindergarten. (Actually, today is her "special day" at school and Hubby and I will be heading over this afternoon to participate in her "All About Me" day, complete with her photo story presentation - all glued onto neon pink posterboard and accessorized with a zillion stickers. I get the extra honor of reading the story Kiddo selected - Dinosaurumpus!, a great, fun to read aloud book - to the class, too!) We live in the 'burbs of upstate (western) New York with our crazy cat and Kiddo's big, fat, carny goldfish, Swimmy. Swimmy and I have issues, as she has on more than one occasion tried to kill me. To quote Kiddo, around here we're all "nuttier than a can of cashews," so consider yourselves warned. (To give you one example, we frequently have Opera Day in our house, where everyone sings everything instead of speaking. Well, except for the fish - she considers herself above such things.) That being said, please feel free to poke around. I've got a music playlist down towards the bottom of the sidebar, but it doesn't start automatically, so never fear if you're like me and up reading in the wee, small hours when your loved ones (or other, more sensible types) are asleep. Oh, and way down at the bottom is a video clip that I find extremely entertaining, but that's just 'cause I'm a huge word nerd. What else? Let's see... Kiddo was adopted as a newborn, which is the same way I joined my family as a baby back in the day. She has Sensory Processing Disorder (henceforth abbreviated SPD) which is also sometimes known as Sensory Integration Dysfunction. You can learn more about SPD by clicking here.

I'll stop rambling on now (I can be a bit verbose, 'specially when I'm so dang excited) and just say WELCOME once again!! I'm off to swipe a tiara out of Kiddo's dress-up box because I feel like Queen for a Day today! Cheers!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Step off, Jose Feliciano!

Earlier today, I was shopping at a discount store that shall remain nameless (but hint hint: its name rhymes with MallWart) and while heading over to the bath-n-beauty aisle where I was hoping to find a more inspiring toothbrush for Kiddo (more on that later), what to my wondering eyes did appear but an ENTIRE WALL of Christmas decorations. Let me say that again: Christmas decorations. Ornaments. Santas. Snowmen. Reindeer.

MallWart, what the HECK? It isn't even OCTOBER yet. I shook my head in disgust and turned away from the display, heading into Land O' Dental Accoutrements. After finding, totally amazingly, a musical toothbrush that not only features Simba, Kiddo's most favoritest Disney character of ALL, but that plays her most favoritest song of all time from The Lion King and calling Hubby from the middle of the aisle to screech with glee over my discovery, I headed out the other end of the aisle - away from the ridonkulously early Christmas display - over towards the cat food aisle. Then, I heard it. Somewhere in that RECD, some animatronic Christmas Critter was having his button pressed and was dutifully belting out Feliz Navidad. Over and over again - clearly, some mother was letting her child repeatedly start Animatronic Christmas Critter's singing.

Now, I am a Christmas nut. Seriously. I *heart* Christmastime. I also love the more generically "winter" snowmen - I have a collection of various snowmen figurines, ornaments, mugs and assorted tchotchkes. I absolutely adore Christmas music (and am doing my darndest to ingrain a love for Christmas music in Kiddo, as well).


First of all, let's skip over the fact that it was ANY Christmas song playing in SEPTEMBER, okay? I am pretty sure that even those other Christmas nuts out there like me will agree that SEPTEMBER is just way, way too early for Christmas stuff. Unless you live at the North Pole, which, while it may feel that way weather-wise here sometimes, we don't. I mean, the leaves are just starting to turn and the weather is juuuust starting to feel crisp. Let's further overlook the fact that a mere two aisles away from the Land o' Crazy Early Christmas, witches were cackling and black cat eyes were blinking and ghosts were wooooo-ing and Frankensteins were moaning from their rightful spot in Halloween World. Monster Mash and Thriller only have a limited window for airing each fall, so to hear them competing against the jingling bells and cheery strains of Christmas music was just dissonant and weird and wrong.

What I really want to get to here, however, is the song selection. You see, there are very few Christmas songs I dislike. I even have a certain fondness for Dominick the Christmas Donkey and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (which I hold dear more for the nostalgia factor, remembering the time my friend Da Nator and I translated the entire song into Spanish for a class assignment back in high school. Abuela fue aplastado por un ciervo..... Good times!) There actually are exactly two songs in the Christmas genre that I cannot stand. One of them is that piece of inexcusable dreck (complete with children's chorus) called The Christmas Shoes. (I want to barf just typing the name. I refuse to link to it. Google it if you want to expose yourself to the horror. I'm sure there is at least one treacly video someplace on YouTube. *shudder*)

The other song that, though it doesn't make me want to barf, does drive me utterly crazy? Yep, you guessed it - Feliz Navidad. The reason I can't stand it and that it drives me so crazy is that once I hear it, even the teensiest snippet, it embeds itself in my brain and won't. Get. OUT. I will wake up at night hearing it playing in my dreams. I will catch myself humming it without even realizing it. It is insidious and that makes it eeeeevil.

Every year, Hubby and I keep track of how close to Christmas we get before hearing Jose's little ditty of doom. Typically, it is sometime around the week of Thanksgiving, usually heard in a shopping mall or on a commercial someplace. (We have a "ban" on Christmas music in our house - Hubby long ago decreed that it may only be played between the day after Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Kiddo and I have subsequently modified that rule to "may only be played in Hubby's hearing" and usually start listening to Christmas tunes shortly after Halloween.)

I cannot freaking believe that this year, I heard it on September freaking 29th.

Oh, and clearly, I am not the only one for whom this song works an insidious and evil magic, because over the next 20 or so minutes that I was wandering the aisles of
MallWart, I passed no less than three people who were whistling Feliz Navidad as they shopped.

Nooooooooooooooo! Stop the madness! At least until November 1! Aieeeeee!

(You think I'm going crazy over nothing? Really? Then I dare you to click below. Go ahead. See if it doesn't get stuck in your head for the next three months. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!)

Boo hiss, Branta canadensis

Branta canadensis is the bane of my existence these days. What is that, you ask? (What, no ornithologists read my blog?) Here's a hint:

The above pictures were taken earlier this summer, back when the Canada goose population in our neighborhood was just beginning to burgeon with goslings. (Now that it's fall, my burning bushes are starting to burn and my lilies are pretty much done...)
I know that many suburban areas are dealing with the annoyances of vast populations of Canada geese. In our area, there are three small ponds within a quarter mile, including one smack dab behind our property. This means that we don't just have flocks of geese, but hordes of them. It is a veritable plague of geese in our neighborhood. Every morning, the kiddo and I must tread carefully on our way to the corner, lest we step in a Canada Goose Land Mine. The sidewalks, streets and unfenced yards are strewn with goose droppings. The geese have also been known to hold up traffic by sauntering across the street, single file, hissing and flapping their wings at the cars they are blocking.

Now, I try to shrug off the holding up traffic; I realize that the adults lose their flight feathers during gosling season (though it seems they could do us the courtesy of hurrying it along when crossing the road - they are positively meandering and don't give a hoot - or a honk). I even try to frame the fecal extravaganza in positive terms - all that poop must make great fertilizer for the lawn (at least in our front yard; they don't go in our back yard thanks to the fence. Geese like to have a large, clear sightline in order to land, so the fence keeps them out quite handily.)

The reason I'm so anti-Branta canadensis comes from one, simple thing. These birds are LOUD. Not just the honking, though that woke Hubby and me up again well before our alarm clock this morning, but also from when they make a water landing. Graceful, these birds are not! Now, we have a few gray and white herons that visit our pond regularly - gawky birds with massive, pterodactyl-like wingspans. The herons' wings are so large that you can hear them beating the air, helicopter-rotor-like, when they fly over, whump whump whump. But when they touch down in the pond, there's nary a splish. Not so much the geese. They sound like someone is gluing large cats to frozen turkeys, then tossing them into the pond from a great height. THUNKsplashsplashsplashsplash, and of course HONKING all the while. The noise is quite disconcerting and loud enough to rouse one from a deep sleep. It sounds like someone is fighting a sea monster there in our back yard.


? Hard to say...........

"Well, Heather," you say, "at least the geese are migratory. Won't they be gone soon?" Nope. Can't even cling to that hope. These geese are here until well after the pond's frozen over solid. (That is an even more disturbing sound than the water landing - a mess of geese all trying to land in the same, small spot of unfrozen water.)

So, this is why I'm grumpy this morning, because we were once again woken up before 5am by the clamoring ruckus of the Canada geese. Mother Nature is one evil witch sometimes, let me tell you!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Weathery wonderings

Am I the only parent out there who agonizes over how to dress my child for school each day? I'm not talking in terms of fashion trends or what-have-you, I mean in terms of weather. Every single night, I check the weather forecast - usually in two or three different places, as they can differ, and then lay out an outfit for Kiddo to wear the next day. Then, in the morning I'm back to checking the weather all over again, and I agonize some more, oftentimes changing part of what I'd set out the night before.

Part of my trouble with dressing her appropriately for the weather is that the weather here can vary greatly within the course of a single day, especially in the fall and spring. It will be downright chilly in the mornings and then 15 or 20 degrees warmer by midafternoon. It wasn't quite as hard when Kiddo was just in half-day preschool; I'd dress her for the morning temps and then she could change when she got home if it was significantly warmer. But now, I have to consider the whole day. While it is frosty in the mornings (seriously, we had frost last week) and we're shivering at the bus stop, it turns summerlike in a matter of hours and she's sweaty when she hops off the bus at the end of the day.

I also fret over what temperature range equals what length of sleeve/pant leg. I'm usually on the cold side, personally, so I can be comfortable in jeans/pants and a short-sleeved shirt well into the 70s. (For those of you from abroad who are accustomed to the Celsius scale, I'm talking about the mid-20s, according to the handy-dandy temperature converter I just consulted.) Kiddo runs hotter than I do, in general, and is so crazy active all the time that she will get even hotter, so I have to take that into account.

Generally, my mental guidelines for dressing Kiddo go something like this:

80 and above: shorts, short sleeve shirts (tank tops if above 85), sundresses
70s: capri pants, short sleeve shirts
60s: pants/jeans, short sleeve shirts or long sleeve shirts (depends on upper or lower range)
40s and 50s: pants/jeans, long sleeve shirts
below 40: pants/jeans, sweaters, turtlenecks, long sleeve shirts, also an undershirt. Warmer tights if dresses or skirts.

Now, all of Kiddo's skirts are knee-length, and generally I go no tights for 60 and above, tights of according thickness if below 60. We don't do knee socks (I hated them as a child and they never. stayed. UP.) so she wears ankle-length crew socks or bobby socks. She has some longer dresses but nothing further than mid-calf (tea length), so the same sock v tights rule applies.

For outerwear, if it is 60 or below, Kiddo gets a jacket. We've got jackets ranging from lightweight to arctic, as you might expect. Also, living where we do, there are snowpants, hats, mittens and scarves to consider, as well as snow boots...

Even with all these guidelines I keep in my head, I still feel daily angst over her clothing. I guess this will continue to happen until she's old enough that Mommy doesn't get regular input into her attire (though I plan to exercise my Veto Power as long as she lives under my roof...). What do you all do in terms of dressing and the weather? Anyone else in a similar temperature zone, with the big differences between first thing in the morning and mid-later afternoon?

Reunited, and it just feels awkward

Back in high school, I was good friends with a person I'll call X. We were pretty close then - did a lot of the same things (singing groups, theater etc) and socialized over the summers as well as during the school year, but as tends to happen, we lost touch once we moved on to college. Fast forward twenty years to the present. One day, my Facebook homepage told me that X is now on Facebook. I was so excited! Thrilled at the chance to reconnect, I immediately sent a friend request to X. X accepted and woo-hoo, we're reunited!

Only... not so much, as it turns out. I did a "personal message" along with my friend request, to which I got no response. As soon as I had confirmation that we were friended, I wrote on X's wall. No response. I sent X messages via Facebook and X's listed email address as well. Nothing. I haven't "heard" a single word since X friended me.

So, now I'm feeling kind of awkward. I'm not being stalker-y or anything, just trying to catch up with an old friend. I'm genuinely interested in X's life and how things are and what's happened over the past two decades, and I'm not trying to suddenly be BFFs or anything. It just seems so weird to me that X would friend me and then not a single word of acknowledgement afterwards... I can see where X has commented/posted on Facebook to other mutual friends, so it isn't that X is just not really "there" - X is active on Facebook. X just isn't "speaking" to me, apparently.

Is it weird that I'm feeling slighted or upset here? Am I reading too much into the lack of response from X? Should I just take the freaking hint already and stop trying to reach out to say hey and catch up? If we'd just been casual high school acquaintances, I wouldn't be feeling this way, but we were legitimate friends. There was no falling out or anything that ended our friendship 20 years ago; it was just a matter of going our separate ways to different schools and then gradually losing touch - first there were phone calls and letters and visiting when home over the holidays, then life just intervened, as it does, you know? (I am guessing it is an entirely different world for high school graduates today, with the internet available for keeping in touch - I was in college back in the nascent days of computers, before the internet really blew up. But I digress...) The thing is, there are several other people I went to high school with who have turned up on Facebook with whom I was not even particularly close back then, yet we've reconnected now and it's been really cool hearing about people's lives and seeing where folks are now and what they're doing. It's kind of been a pre-reunion as we're now collectively staring down our 20th which is coming up in the spring. (Egad, it has been twenty years since I was in high school. Where's my Geritol?!) It just makes me a little sad each time my Facebook status update tells me X has commented on someone else's photo or written on someone else's wall... I'm like "Hey! I'm here too!" - I feel like I'm being ostracized from the cool kids' table all over again, or like there's something green stuck between my teeth and no one's telling me. It's strange how this is making me feel all adolescent and insecure again. Like, "Hey, I'm cool enough now! Way cooler than I was in high school, even! Dontcha want to get to know me as an adult and see how I've turned out?" I mean, okay, I'm *not* really that cool now - coolness and me just will never happen, but still, I think I'm a pretty decent human being, albeit one who is now obsessing ridiculously over this entire situation.....

So, what do you think? Am I spending way too much thought and energy on this whole matter? Should I just forget trying to reconnect - am I just being obtuse? Should I go the other way and pick up the telephone instead of trying to connect via the computer? Do you think X is now regretting ever friending me and wishes I'd just leave well enough alone? Sigh.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Paul Newman

I just sat down at the computer for the first time since early this morning and read all the headlines and learned that Paul Newman died yesterday. (CNN's obituary here.) He was one of my favorite actors, and his philanthropic efforts and the way that he led his life are a lesson many of today's "celebrities" could very much stand to learn... He truly was a great man, just a real, true, honest-to-goodness class act.

In the words of his daughters, "
Always and to the end, Dad was incredibly grateful for his good fortune. In his own words: 'It's been a privilege to be here.’ " That kind of sentiment sure seems rare in today's celebrity culture - heck, in today's world altogether.

Rest in peace and thanks for everything, Paul Newman...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Five - We are Family

My friend Andy posted this Friday Five on her blog, and I thought I'd give it a shot...

1. What is your family story?

My family story is formed through adoption in two generations, bound together by love, laughter and loyalty, also a fair amount of craziness, with faith and togetherness seeing us through some dark and difficult times.

2. What is the story you want to tell about your family?

How family is not made solely through biological connections (after all, very few of us out there marry our blood relatives, just as an example...). Our family sticks together no matter what, loves each other no matter what, and opens our hearts to welcome in new members, regardless of how they came into our fold.

3. What is important to you as a family?

Supporting each other, laughing with each other, loving each other, forgiving each other. Being together. Putting up with each other when things aren't all sunshine and roses.

4. What is your experience of creating family?

Growing up, family meant new faces were always welcomed - from childhood friends to exchange students to those who might not have anywhere else to go for a holiday. There are often, to this day, new and different faces at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner... We hosted several exchange students when I was growing up, and are still close with them despite being separated by many thousands of miles. Once you're in the family, you're in for keeps.

When starting our own family, things didn't go the way Hubby and I pictured it would back when we were just starting out on the road to married life and parenthood. We'd always thought we'd have at least two kids and never really envisioned difficulties with getting and staying pregnant (who does?). We did our spin on the (in)fertility merry-go-round and decided we would pursue adoption rather than go the route of major medical intervention and potentially high-risk pregnancy. After all, I was adopted myself, so it just seemed the natural path for us to take. Nothing particularly remarkable or unique about that story, though our journey to parenthood through adoption wasn't without its drama. Now, we're raising Kiddo through an adoption that didn't quite work out the way we'd hoped, but life is always full of adjustments and we continue to do the best we can. Doesn't everyone? Kiddo is our daughter and the light of our life, and our hearts and dreams have adjusted to fit the picture of this family of three as complete. I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that I get to be Kiddo's mom each and every day.

5. What is the most important thing about your family?

We love and laugh and cry and scream and hope and dream together - through thick and thin, for better or worse, in sickness or in health, for richer or poorer (thanks, craptastic US economy!), loving and cherishing each other until death do us part. (Hmm, I seem to recall hearing and saying those words sometime before..........)

Anyone else want to join in this week's Friday Five? Please feel free - drop a comment here to point us to your answers, or just post 'em right there in the comments!

Ponies and princesses and stuffed animals, oh my!

On the other side of the wall from where I sit right now, Kiddo is entertaining some friends in her room. She's had plenty of playdates in her short life, but this is the first time that I've okayed kids playing upstairs in her room. Usually, I keep them downstairs or outside, but since I was doing stuff upstairs (namely, playing Wordscraper and blog-hopping) and since I'd cleaned up Kiddo's room earlier today (I did a toy purge - shhhhh), I decided to approve Kiddo's request for the girls to play in her room...

Within approximately thirty seconds, as you might expect, Kiddo's bedroom floor was covered. The girls have taken out all her My Little Pony world, her Disney Princess mini-castle (which I love because it folds up into a compact, easy-to-store case) and all the Disney mini-Princesses (which I hate because of their weird, rubbery plastic clothing that Kiddo cannot manage to put on or take off without needing assistance about 75% of the time, and which *I* cannot manage to put on or take off without swearing - on the inside - about 99% of the time, not to mention the fact that their shoes are sooo itty-bitty, like less than half an inch long and millimeters wide) along with her Aladdin and Jungle Book figures, a few of her farm and safari animals and assorted random dinosaurs.

One of her friends is doing voices for the different princesses and Kiddo is doing voices for the ponies (with appropriate "neigh-y" inflections). Kiddo is also doing the worst faux-Caribbean-isle accent for her Sebastian the Crab (of Little Mermaid fame) - something that always cracks me up.

They've also gone through Kiddo's vast collection of stuffed animals (aka her "guys") and it basically looks like her room has exploded. (I just peeked in again, about 10 minutes after the above photo was taken, and at this point, you'd be hard pressed to say Kiddo's carpet is blue unless you happened to know the fact already.) They're having a grand time but I'm thinking it may be a few more years before I okay an upstairs playdate again... Somehow the living room never turns into quite so large a disaster area. But for now, I think I'm going to join them and play with the princesses and the ponies and the dinos... I do a great T Rex voice, you know!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Miscellany: Sweet 16, The Silence of the Voles, Google hilarity

Sixteen years ago tonight was my first date with Hubby! He picked me up at my apartment in his teeny-tiny Ford Festiva and we went to Pizzeria Uno for dinner, then to see Last of the Mohicans (its opening night). After the movie, we went to Friendly's for dessert, where I was impressed by Hubby managing to put away an entire Jim Dandy sundae -

- that's FIVE scoops of ice cream, y'all! (I should point out Hubby was only a 19 year old college student at the time, and hasn't eaten a sundae half as large in over a decade...) We sat and talked 'til the restaurant closed. Then, we headed back to my apartment where Hubby came up (oh hush now, I'm not like that on a first date) and we watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, because I was horrified that Hubby had never seen it. (That's a movie that we still quote to each other on practically a daily basis, and it's a good thing Hubby liked it as much as I do, as that was part of my future-husband-material litmus test.) After that, we talked some more and he left my apartment around 4:15 in the morning. And that was the Great Beginning, sixteen years ago today...


So, yesterday I mowed the lawn. It was far overdue for a mowing, and the back yard was especially jungle-y. When I got to the back, I dragged Kiddo's playhouse up onto the deck, as is customary, and shook my head when I saw the obvious signs that some of our community of voles had set up an outpost - vacation home perhaps? - underneath the playhouse - vole poop, little trails, two voles scurrying away and under the fence, etc. We never put any rat poison underneath the deck this summer, where their primary metropolis exists, and I've seen evidence as always that they were utilizing both my food garden and planting beds as their own personal salad bar, so I wasn't surprised to see that they'd been under the playhouse. I began the mowing, iPod on and my Aerosmith playlist cranked up so I could hear it over our loud, old, gas-powered push mower. As I was going over the area where the playhouse had been, I mowed over a largish tuft of dead grass that I had figured was the voles' vacation bed. Coincidentally, as the front edge of the mower hit this tuft, the song I'd been listening to ended and there was a moment of silence just long enough for me to hear some hideous squeaking as the mower blades momentarily caught on something in the grass. I immediately stopped the engine, but it was too late - what I'd just run over with the Grassy Blades of Death was not an abandoned pile of grass for bedding, but a nest containing several small and now quite diced and dead baby voles.

I felt just horrible about it, as I hadn't intended to slaughter an entire nest of helpless babies, rodents or otherwise. I fetched a shovel from the garage, scooped up the gooey, gory remains and carried them ceremoniously down to the pond, where I gave them a burial at sea. (I figured the fish or herons or other pond-area wildlife would appreciate some Vole Tartar.) I mean, as much as I hate the stupid voles and do intentionally try to off them in their adult form (via the rat poison under the deck), I didn't mean to kill a whole passel of babies. To paraphrase Hannibal Lecter, now it will be some time before the voles stop screaming............... It also will be some time before I offhandedly mow any lumps of grass, as well. I imagine those baby voles are now sitting up there in animal heaven, alongside the squirrel I ran over when I was 17 and the bird that flew into my car earlier this summer, leaving grisly bits embedded in the front grill, and they're all waiting for their turn to cast their judgement upon me, the careless machinery operator who sent them to their doom...


So, from time to time I read posts other folks have written about the weird Google searches that brought people to their blog. Well, I certainly have my fair share of those too, and now's as good a time as any to share them with you. Here goes with a sampling from the past week's searches:

goldfish getting fat

Perhaps installing a tiny treadmill in the tank would help?

coke-bottle glasses thick

Yep, that's me. I could start fires in seconds by holding my glasses up to the sun. Seriously.

kids gotta pee

Yes, they do. True story.

how to make a loud burp without soda

I'm a bit sad that I didn't have any actual answers for this person on my blog...

the mom haircut
Mrs. Brady hair

These both appeared several times from different places. Who knew so many folks out there are interested in either mom hair or the mother of all moms, Mrs. Brady's hair?

neti pot hurt eardrum

Well, I told you I don't ever want to use one of those things, and here's just one more reason why.

why is my child barfing all over the bed

Um, I'm not sure, but sorry - perhaps a throw-up bucket would be a good idea?


In which regard: bringing it, smelling it, or listening to it?

How to look like Angelina Jolie

Sorry, I certainly can't help you there. Getting Brad Pitt as arm candy might help, though.

apple bread more with less

This one just doesn't make sense. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

food getting stuck in teeth all the time

Have you tried flossing?

moms in jeopardy

I don't know what you were looking for, but I was on Jeopardy and I am now a mom...

How to remove very big splinter from childs skin without screaming

Well, I certainly would also love the answer to that one!

Boobs in a swimming pool

Yes, there frequently are.

Now, I have had many search hits every week for things like "naked locker room" or "embarrassing public nudity" thanks to some of my older posts, but I'm guessing that the people doing those searches aren't getting the results they were hoping for when they stumble upon my little blog. Hee!

Okay, I could keep rambling on, but I have a list of errands to do and I'm burning daylight here. Hope everyone is having a great day out there in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

4 Things meme

Okay, my bloggy buddy ~Trish~ tagged me for this 4 Things meme, so here goes!

4 things I did today:

- mowed the lawn (and committed inadvertent rodent murder - more on that later)
- shelled, cooked, cooled and skinned peas, then fed them to Kiddo's ginormous, carny goldfish who was seeming constipated
- took Kiddo to Walmart to pick up supplies for her "All About Me" presentation on her "special day" next week, namely hot pink posterboard and stickers (Disney Princess and Winnie the Pooh & Friends, naturally)
- caught up with a high school classmate via Facebook - our 20 year reunion is coming up in May and it seems like loads of my fellow classmates are popping up on Facebook now

4 things on my to-do list:

- dig out the two dwarf rhododendrons from the front bed and transplant them in the bed on the side of the house
- change the kitty litter
- order Kiddo some of the long-sleeved Super T shirts from Land's End because those things are indestructible!
- upload pictures from computer to have them printed out (going alllll the way back to Kiddo's birthday at the end of May - it's been a while and this is now a HUGE project, hence the procrastination)

4 of my guilty pleasures:

- America's Next Top Model (which starts in like 15 minutes, woo-hoo)
- lounging around in my jammies all day long
- popcorn (air-popped) with lots of butter and a little salt
- Lifetime TV movies

4 random facts about me: (ack, this is a hard one, after my 100th post and other memes...)

- Snickers candy bars give me heartburn
- I know The Muppet Movie, The Princess Bride, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid by heart - word for word (and can apparently therefore be a bit annoying to watch said movies with)
- my favorite alcoholic beverage is a frozen mudslide
- I shave my big toes (betcha that'll bring some weird search engine hits...)

4 bloggers I'm tagging to do this meme:

Elsie Button
Hot Tub Lizzy

Your turn, ladies!

There is no "fun" in fundraising

I understand that there is a shortage of funding for schools and education. I understand that schools need to raise extra money - as much as possible - to help make ends meet and that they constantly have to do more with less. I understand all of this, and yet I cringe when fundraising time comes around, no matter how worthy the cause. I'm not new to the world of school fundraisers; the preschool Kiddo attended last year had several. Well, we now have the first fundraiser for her elementary school sitting downstairs on the kitchen table.

It isn't that I object to fundraisers in general, but I do strenuously dislike the "catalog" fundraisers, like the one presently buried under a pile of coupon inserts I have yet to sort through and clip. My problem is that these are little kids, these supposed salespeople. Kids who really don't have the wherewithal to sell things via a catalog to their nearest and dearest, much less to strangers in the neighborhood. So, to whom does it fall to hit up friends-n-relations to buy overpriced, teensy rolls of wrapping paper or ridiculously expensive, tiny boxes of chocolate? To the parents. Of course.

Now, I did my share of fundraising when I was a kid. I didn't rely solely upon my dad taking the order form into work and passing it around, either (though he did sell more than any other parent and even won an award for that one year at his office, hee hee).
I went door-to-door with Girl Scout Cookies and that ridiculous 4-H Goat's Milk Fudge sale (which I thought I'd blogged about, but I can't find in my archives - I'll have to tell you that story another time). I'd even dress my little sister up in my old Brownie uniform (complete with adorable pigtails done by my mom under the beanie) and take her with me. She was shy as heck and didn't say a word beyond maybe a mumbled "hello" but I only needed her for the cuteness factor. She was the "awwww, look how cute" and I was the huckster, pushing the cookies on the folks with my charm and persistence. But still, I wasn't five. I was maybe seven or eight by the time I started my fundraising days. You know, the Girl Scouts get it - they don't allow the girls Kiddo's age (who are now "Daisies" which didn't exist back in my Scouting days) to even sell cookies yet. Not so much for the schools, though.

I hate asking people for money. I hate having them feel obligated to buy something that they don't particularly want just to support Kiddo. Not to mention there's always a glut of fundraisers at any one time - you can't chitchat over a cup of lemonade at church on any given Sunday without being hit up to buy cases of fruit or magazine subscriptions or ginormous tins of popcorn. And nine times out of ten, it's the parent who is waving the form, not the student in question.

Part of me feels like "Okay, I have bought stuff from YOUR kid(s) for years, now it's payback time." That's the part that doesn't mind pushing the catalog on someone else. (I'll even admit there were times when I supported some kid's band trip fundraiser or Scouting troop or what-have-you with the precise thought in my mind that one day, it would be Kiddo's turn.) But the other part of me still cringes. Blech. I wish I could feel firmly enough in my convictions - catalog sales by kindergartners are ridiculous and wrong! - to just not do the dang fundraiser. I learned from helping out with fundraising at Kiddo's preschool last year that plenty of parents just ignore such things entirely and don't think twice, but I just can't do it. I can't NOT help. (This would be why I joined the PTA and am already chairing a special event for Halloween next month...) Last year when the dreaded catalog fundraiser came home, I took a picture of Kiddo holding the catalog and sent a low-pressure email out to our family and friends (oh yeah, that's another problem - most of the folks that we would hit up for such things live out of state) and a few folks did order some stuff via the catalog's website, for which I was profoundly grateful. (A word of warning - I'll probably do that again this year...) I'm pretty sure that Hubby's company has a rule against bringing in the forms and leaving them in the break room or passing them around, which I can appreciate as someone who felt obliged to buy stuff from each sheet handed to me by a coworker myself, though now that I'm on the selling instead of the buying end of things, I wish his company allowed it just for the ease of effort that would entail.

According to the PTA ladies who chose this fundraiser, this catalog - Kathryn Beich - is really fantastic. The stuff is really high quality - made by the same manufacturers who make things for Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and LL Bean, supposedly.
The PTA ladies positively raved about how delicious the humongous tubs of gourmet cookie dough are, in particular. The prices, well, they're what you'd expect for a catalog of this sort, and yes, along with the cool, funky things there are those dang rolls of giftwrap and boxes of chocolate. They have an online ordering site, too. So, if anyone out there in the blogosphere has a hankering for tubs of gourmet cookie dough, wrapping paper, candy or any other fundraiser type item, give me a shout and I'll happily supply you with the link and code to order things on behalf of Kiddo's school. Of course, you probably are dealing with your own fundraisers yourself, aren't you?

Ah well, at least this is the only catalog fundraiser on this year's schedule for our school. Whew!

Monday, September 22, 2008

So *that's* what a frog's tongue smells like

The other day, Kiddo had such an great day at school that she was rewarded with not one, but TWO stickers at the end of the day. One was a sticker that said "AWESOME" and the other was a scratch-n-sniff sticker with a frog on it. Kiddo was quite excited about the frog sticker in particular, and was wearing it on the back of her hand when she climbed off the bus.

Kiddo: "LOOK at my frog sticker, Mommy! It SMELLS, you have to smell it!"
Mommy: "What does it smell like?"
Kiddo (in a "duuuuh" sort of way): "Like a FROG'S TONGUE!"
Mommy: *snort*

I bent down and dutifully scratched-n-sniffed. Apparently, frog tongues have a generically citrus-y smell. Who knew? Kiddo told Hubby the same thing when he got home, proudly showing off her sticker that smells "like a frog's tongue" and making him smell it as well. Hee!

All her excitement about stickers reminds me of back when I was in fifth and sixth grade, when stickers were all the rage. Kids actually collected them in special albums, as well as decorating the fronts of our Trapper Keepers and anything else we could stick them upon... I remember that along with Kiddo's beloved scratch-n-sniff stickers, which were always hot commodities (the weirder or more exotic the smell, the better), the best stickers to get were the "puffy" ones, and the most prized off all the puffies were the ones with googly eyes. I would beg my mom to buy me a strip of the puffy googly-eyed stickers, so I could be cool like the other kids at school, and how she thought they were a waste of money. (We didn't get an allowance in my family, and this was before I was old enough to babysit and therefore have disposable income of my own, so other than money received from the Tooth Fairy or a benevolent grandparent, we were pretty much outta luck.) Thankfully, there was constant sticker trading going on at school, so I did manage to score some googly-eyed puffy stickers that way. (And eventually, they'd get old and split and sometimes a teensy piece of foam would fall out of the middle... I'd try to do repairs with glue whenever that tragedy befell one of my precious, puffy stickers!) When I did have a couple of dollars burning a hole in my pocket, I'd stand there at the counter, gazing at the rolls of stickers (while the poor clerk waited impatiently for me to choose, scissors in hand ready to cut my selection from the huge roll) and figure out exactly which was the best sticker selection and value for my money. I certainly didn't want to squander my cash on a less desirable sticker - it was always quality over quantity for me!

Does anyone else remember the big sticker craze of approximately 1980-82? Was this just a regional thing, or was it more widespread? Perhaps I'll google it when I have a few moments (ha, more like a few hours) to kill... Speaking of which, I'm working on a post about the google searches that have brought folks to my humble blog, so stay tuned - some of them are really.......odd.

Friday, September 19, 2008

When worlds collide part deux

Yes, I'm back - still here and not, as Hubby put it on the phone when I called him post-lunch, brimming with excitement, "chopped up in a million pieces in the back of some weirdo's trunk." Hee! Kristin was just as wonderful as I knew she'd be from stalking - erm, I mean loyally following - her blog and haunting her Facebook page as well. She was gracious, friendly, fun, as talkative and outgoing as I am, and also told me exactly how it is that all those big boats we see cruising up and down the canal manage to get onto the canal - I'd always wondered and now I know! Woo! Plus, she enjoyed the same kinda lunch I do, that being a cheeseburger and fries, though I opted for a cherry Pepsi and its caffeine over the milkshake, which, while delicious, wouldn't quite have given me the same caffeine boost. (Also, I would've wanted an Oreo shake, and I don't do Oreo shakes in public, because one of my things is how I never eat Oreos in public since I always, always manage to get little, black specks stuck between ALL my teeth. I didn't want to scare Kristin off before she'd even gotten to know me, after all, not to mention I don't like asking people "Do I have something stuck in my teeth?" at a first meeting!)

Anyhow, Kristin had her camera and some kindly gents who were walking through the parking lot post-lunch offered to take a picture of us both, along with a bunch (literally!) of humongous balloons that her daughter (who has the same name as my kiddo) brought home from an event last night. Kiddo is presently enjoying them in her room, which is how I have a moment to sit at the computer at this time of day...

So, yay to meeting bloggy buddies IRL and having them be wonderful and not Creepy Dudes who live in their mother's basement, and yay yay yay for new friends!

When worlds collide

Since I began blogging earlier this year, I've met many cool, new friends. Well, blogosphere friends, anyhow. This isn't new to me, and I suspect it is the same for many of you out there on the internet - you have two categories of friends, the online friends and the RL friends.

Now, I have met some of my online friends in real life over the years, mainly folks I've gotten to know on the various adoption-related communities I've been a member of for years now. It's always a little odd when the two worlds collide, isn't it? Reconciling the voice you've ascribed to a person from reading their posts and messages with the actuality standing in front of you - that's the one that always gets me. For example, for all that I've joked about the "aboots" and the "ehs" over the years with my friend Andy (I believe we've known each other online since '02 or '03), her Canadian accent was still surprising to me when we met for the first time last summer. (And this is with us being virtual twins, too!)

Well, today I'm meeting a blogosphere friend for the first time. We figured out that we live in the same town, so we're doing lunch at one of my favorite local lunching spots. I fully expect that we will have a good time and am not at all nervous that she's going to turn out to be some creepy dude named Bob. As it turns out, both her husband and mine were wary, asking each of us "Isn't it a bit odd to meet someone you've never met before?" But you know what? I'm not concerned one bit. I'm looking forward to meeting someone new and hopefully making a RL friend. (As you should be well aware by now, I'm hardly the shy, retiring type.) Of course, she may be worried that I'm Hannibal Lecter or at the least, a creepy dude named Bob... I've warned her that I *am* weird, but I swear, I'm harmless! I just hope she likes me - I do still get flashbacks to my nerdy, friendless, childhood days every now and again.

Stay tuned for how our lunch turns out...

Accidentally overtipping: the story

So, here's what happened. I was in line at the car wash, waiting for my turn in one of the hand-drying spots, when I saw the dude in front of me roll down his window to "direct" the kid drying his Volvo SUV. He then got out of his car and followed the kid around as the kid is hand-dressing his tires. I turned down my music and rolled down the window, the better to eavesdrop on what the guy was saying, because it is highly unusual for anyone to get out of their car at the drying stations and follow the car wash employee around their vehicle - back seat drying, as it were. When the kid finished - apparently to the guy's satisfaction, the guy pulled a stack of bills out and peeled one off, which he handed to the kid. The kid beamed and started thanking the guy quite profusely. The guy was getting back into his car at this point, but the kid's effusive thanks made him stop, do a double-take at the bill in the kid's hand, and then he reached over, snatched the bill back with a loud "Whoops!" and pulled his wad of cash back out, replacing whatever he had given the kid with a single. Then he climbs back into the SUV, slams the door and peels out of the lot without another word to the kid. The kid was red-faced and clearly embarrassed by the entire transaction, which made me feel for him, especially as I was the next one in his lane. It also made me wish I had something larger than a buck with which to tip him.

Now, I didn't see the denomination of the bill, just that it was multicolored, which means it was at least a $5. Could it have been a $50 or even a $100 bill? I suppose, given the guy's clothing and vehicle, not to mention his wad of cash. However, given the guy's general a-holeness with the whole getting out and the bossing the kid around on the drying and tire-dressing of his car, I wouldn't be surprised if it was a measly $5. The kid's reaction made me think it was probably a $10 or a $20, it wasn't the full-on shock of a much larger bill, like a $100, I think that would have warranted more of a jaw-drop, you know?

Obviously, that's what got me wondering about what I'd do if I had inadvertently overtipped someone. I'm a generous tipper by nature, and I think that unless it were a $20 or greater (not that I ever carry anything larger than a $20!), I'd let it go. In any event, the customer could definitely have used a bit more grace in the way he handled it. Yoinking the bill out of the kid's hand without so much as an apology just seemed so rude.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Burning question: What would you do?

Say you're at a car wash, one of the places where a real, live person towel-dries your car by hand when you're through the automated part. Say you intend to tip that person a buck, as is customary. After you roll down your window and hand the kid the dollar, he thanks you profusely. It is at this point that you look over at what you've handed the kid and realize you didn't give him a single, but rather a higher bill.

What do you do? Do you ask for it back? Let him keep the inadvertently generous tip? Ask for change? Would you let him keep it if it were a $5? A $10? A $20?

I witnessed this exact thing happen earlier this afternoon at my local car wash. I'll tell you what the man in the actual situation did, but first I'm curious as to what others would do in the same scenario...

Note to self re: feline emissions

Do not, I repeat NOT, allow the cat to eat any more little bits of bologna when making Kiddo's lunch.

The gaseous emissions that will blow, silently but forcefully, from her tiny kitty tush shortly thereafter are not worth the few moments of purring, happy, lovey cat winding 'round the ankles.

Hoo boy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


We just got back from our first apple-picking trip of the fall. (Well, okay, technically it is still summer for another week, and it is crazy hot outside today - shades of our trip to Florida last month in terms of temp and humidity - but still, once school is in session and apples are ripe, it's fall in my book!) Now I have a crisper drawer chock-full of apples and a sudden urge to fire up my beloved Kitchenaid and get cooking. I'm not quite ready for apple pie (though I do make a mean apple pie, if I say so myself) but definitely ready for some apple-y goodness.

Two apple recipes I tried for the first time last year that I'll definitely be doing again, likely sometime this week, are for Crock Pot Apple Cobbler and Apple Bread. Recipes below - I didn't invent either of these, so credit due to whomever did, they're both easy and deeeelicious!

Crock Pot Apple Cobbler

4 cups peeled, sliced apples (I like to use more tart apples myself - Jonagolds are my absolute favorite, but they're not ready yet, being an October apple)
4 cups granola cereal (usually one entire, small box)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons melted butter

Spray inside of crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Combine apples, granola and cinnamon in crock pot and mix well. Stir together honey and butter and drizzle over apple mixture. Mix gently. Cover crock pot and cook at least 4 hours until apples are tender.

(I have done the cobbler before without peeling the apples, and it is just as tasty! In case you're feeling lazy like I was...)

Apple Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups apples - peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup broken walnuts

In bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In large mixing bowl, place oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla and apples. Stir into flour mixture. Add walnuts and mix. Divide mixture between two greased 8-in. x 4-in. bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until bread tests done. Cool for 10 minutes on wire rack before removing from pan.

Now the second recipe is made for a stand mixer - your arm will collapse into a boneless puddle of goo if you try to mix it by hand, be warned. (Um, not that I'm saying this from experience or anything.... *innocent whistling*) It is a rather dry, very thick batter, so don't think you've done something wrong. It is so tasty! I like to add some pecans to mine, because who doesn't love pecans? (Though I suppose walnuts would be equally tasty... and if you have nut allergies, then forget about either!)

We also picked a pound or so of raspberries, which reminds me that I had a second crop of raspberries out in my little berry patch in the back yard. I wonder if the birds have beaten me to those - I ought to get out there and check!

If anyone else has any tasty apple recipes, we'll be up to our eyeballs in apples here at the Smith house for the next few months, so please, please, please share! I'll post my apple pie recipe later this fall, too, I promise!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I always knew I bled blue...

While Kiddo was taking one of her extra-long showers (a girl after her mama's heart, I tell you), I was bopping around the interwebz, catching up on blogs I read and that I'd missed with yesterday's sick day. (I'm a total Luddite - I don't have any sort of blog reader/subscriber/follower/list thingy. Which one should I do? Heck, I can't even figure out Google Analytics for tracking my minuscule stats; this is why I'm freaking out with Sitemeter being temporarily down. But I digress....) On my dear friend Lylah's blog, I read a great post in which she gives a link to a site called On the Issues. I clicked over and the word "quiz" immediately caught my eye. (I'm just that kinda girl - total sucker for a quiz. It really doesn't help any with my Facebook addiction. I go "Oh look, Andy just did a quiz on 80s TV shows - let me give that a try..." and half an hour later, there I sit. But again, I digress...) Needless to say, I clicked on the VoteMatch Quiz and chose my answers.

It really came as no surprise to me that my results indicated that by their measure, my political philosophy is Hard-Core Liberal:

Yep, that's me - I bleed blue. I've been called a "bleeding heart liberal" in my day - and not always meant in a complimentary way, either, and I know that my views (which, naturally, are the right views, right?) don't always line up with the majority. Heck, they don't even line up with most of my family - I was the first person in my immediate family to register as a Democrat and I swear my parents, while not outright disowning me, were sorely disappointed. And Hubby? Well, let's just say he is not cut from the same cloth as me, though he was more liberal back when we first met. Case in point - less than a month before our wedding, we were reading the Sunday paper and the magazine supplement had a quiz called "How Liberal or Conservative Are You?" Like I said, I can't resist a quiz, so I grabbed a pen and did it. When I finished, I handed it to Hubby (then still Hubby-to-Be) and had him answer it, while I looked over his shoulder and tsk-tsked his every answer. It's been almost 14 years since that quiz, but I do recall that on a scale of 1-50, with 50 being most conservative, I scored a 13 and Hubby scored a 31. They had little faces along the bottom of the scale, and I was right between Hil and Bill on the liberal end of things, whereas I believe Hubby was hovering near Pat Buchanan and Bob Dole. Yeah, I married him anyway... He is socially more liberal, which is really at the heart of it for me anyhow. As the VoteMatch results said, a high "personal" score (which they rate as over 60 - I was a 92) means that I "believe in tolerance for different people and lifestyles" and that is where Hubby is likewise more liberal. Fiscally, he may be more conservative, but at least he believes in the things I hold dear, like equal rights for everyone, even if his philosophy on things like government spending and the privatization of Social Security differs from mine.

So, yeah, the election's coming up, and I'm all out for Obama (in case the button in the sidebar didn't give that away already). (Interestingly enough, the VoteMatch results said my best candidate match would be Hillary Clinton at 65% with Barack Obama close behind at 60%. I still voted for Obama in the primary...) As usual, Hubby and I will likely cancel each other's votes out, since we've rarely voted for the same candidate over the years. I think it is still much more important to vote than not to vote, though. I have a friend who is the same age as me, and who has never even registered to vote. Every year at election time, I've chided him about this, and every year, his response has been that when a major election is decided by one vote, he'll register the next day. I just don't get that. Agree with me, disagree with me, vote for a Republican, Democrat or other, but sheesh, exercise your right to VOTE!

(By the by, this will likely be one of very few political posts ever on my blog. I'm not a "scream it from the rooftops" kind of a girl when it comes to politics - though I do have an Obama bumper sticker on my car - and this blog is my cyber-rooftop. I'd rather save my screaming for things like ranting at school bureaucracies, obsessing about my ridiculous hair and dreaming of meeting George Clooney... Also, if being married to a conservative Republican isn't proof enough for you that I'm an open-minded kinda gal, I welcome anyone here, even if your political views don't align with mine. Just please, if you are a US resident and are able to vote, do so on November 4th, okay?)

To our neighbor at the corner

(and with apologies to fellow New Jersey native William Carlos Williams)

This is just to say
that I am sorry I blew
those dandelions across your lawn

It is just that they
were so tempting,
six silver spheres swaying on slender stems

could I resist?

They called to me each day for a week, dancing
atop their slim stalks in the sun
pleading to be strewn, set free

And so I did
tromp across your
(meticulously groomed but for their presence) grass
one after the other
sending them scattering with a wish and a breath

Forgive me for spreading those seeds of the sunniest of weeds
across your emerald expanse
(Though it isn't as though I stomped on your spirea or plundered your pachysandra)

Truth be told, I am far more sorry
to have been surprised, mid-blow, too far off the sidewalk to pretend innocence
by your garage door opening, heralding your early return home
than by the crime itself

Now, I wonder, when you pass by as I wait
for the school bus on the corner
in front of your house
will you still wave?

Sick Day

Yesterday, I had my first sick day in over five years. "Whaaa? But I remember you complaining about being sick many times before, even on this very blog!" say you. True, true. It isn't that I haven't been sick at all in the last five years, for I certainly wind up coming down with most of Kiddo's illnesses (something to do with being Mommy the human Kleenex, I suppose). But yesterday was the first day that I actually had a sick day since Kiddo was born.

As in, I stayed in bed almost the entire day, save a trip downstairs for some food and getting up to shower in the afternoon. Hubby got Kiddo her breakfast and made her lunch (which I'd been too wiped out and feverish to make the night before, as I usually do), so all I had to do was get her onto the bus before I could go back to bed, and then I could stay in bed until it was time to collect her from the bus at 3:15.

Now, when I was working, I rarely took a sick day. I had to be really, really sick - I even went to work in the waning stages of a migraine, though granted, I don't know how productive I actually was during those moments... Anyhow, to give you an example of how little sick time I used, by the time we adopted Kiddo, I had accrued so many hours of unused sick time that I was able to take a month and a half off, paid, out of that stockpile. (Because, you know, when you become a parent through adoption, you're not necessarily going to get maternity leave, especially paid maternity leave...) But when I was really, really sick, nothing helped me kick the germies more than just huddling in bed with a box of Puffs Plus and possibly a fair amount of Nyquil coursing through my veins. That all changed once Kiddo came home. There is no "sick day" for a stay-at-home mom with a child at home. Yes, there certainly have been times that I've been sick, and times when Hubby came home or stayed home and took over the childcare duties so I could stay in bed, but it wasn't the same. (I'm sure all the other stay-at-home parents out there know what I'm talking about!)

Yesterday, with kiddo gone for the majority of the day, hearkened back to those pre-Kiddo times when I'd stay home, sick. I slept and slept. I watched some TV - I got sucked into the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet for a few hours (I am a sucker for Shakespeare, it's true) and then balanced that with half an infomercial about a "miracle" ceramic hair styling contraption and part of the Tyra Banks show. (Turns out that while I love her on America's Next Top Model, and oh yes, but I love that show - cannot wait for next week's makeover episode woo-hoo!, I am not such a fan of her talk show. It's a little too "Look at me, I'm TYRA!" for my taste.) I read and slept and ate some yogurt and cereal and blew my nose about a zillion times. Seriously - I could've recreated the Great Blizzard of '93 with the number of balled-up tissues I went through in a matter of hours. I did pop in on the internet a couple of times, but not for very long, as my head was pounding and much preferred the comfort of reclining on a pillow. (Yes, I know, I was pathetic - barely able to keep my head upright, yeesh.) Eventually, I went and stood in the shower until the water ran cold, then got dressed and shuffled off to the corner to wait for the school bus. That was the most taxing thing I did all day - walking to and from the corner.

While I miss many things about the way things were up until two weeks ago when Kiddo started kindergarten, having the chance to actually take a sick day and spend it in bed is definitely a silver lining to that cloud. I'm feeling a good bit improved as of today - still have a fever, but it is lower, and my head isn't pounding like it was yesterday (hence my ability to sit here and blog) - and I fully credit that to the ability to sack out and sleep it off yesterday.

Oh, and on the Kiddo IEP front - a quick update. We have an emergency CSE meeting set for first thing Monday morning that Hubby and I will both be attending. Also, the school managed to do Kiddo's full sensory diet both Thursday and Friday, and guess what? With the full sensory diet, Kiddo had two perfectly good days. Whaddya know - give her the sensory input that she needs, and she is able to be successful in school, imagine that... I'll let you know how things go after the meeting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Shaking off the funk

As you know if you read my last post, I'm not having a very good week. Today didn't dawn much better - oversleeping after a bad night's rest, a grumpy kid who pitched a fit over Mean Mommy making her drink her milk (MILK! For breakfast! Can you imagine? The horror!), the cat gacking hairballs up on the carpet in hard-to-see-but-easy-to-step-on-with-bare-feet places, then my bare feet, already insulted by cat barf-covered hairballs, being further injured by attempting to navigate the length of Kiddo's room, which is a veritable minefield of dinosaurs and safari animals chock full of pointy, sharp bits en route to feeding the Carny Goldfish Assassin Wannabe... Yeah, by 7:30 it really wasn't shaping up to be a good day. I managed to get the kiddo off to the bus stop with breakfast (however reluctantly) consumed, face washed, teeth and hair brushed and then I came back to the house (already appreciating the silence - no more tears upon her leaving) intending to curl up at the computer for a bit with a cinnamon roll and some hot chocolate (breakfast of champions!) until it is time to head over to school to do Kiddo's sensory diet. And....my computer decides to stop working. Just temporarily, it isn't actually broken, just everything stopped responding and froze right the heck up. ARGH!

That was enough to plunge my mood from "cranky" to "foul" and that just won't do!! I must shake off this funk - I hate stomping about in a bad mood (especially when the carpet is riddled with hairballs and pointy-edged, plastic critters). So, instead of heaving my computer through the window (think if I did that, Hubby would buy me a new one? Probably not, besides, I have approximately one gazillion photos on the hard drive I'd need to move over before it went flying...) I restarted and headed over to Youtube for a little help from one of my favorite comedic geniuses, the fantabulous Eddie Izzard. In case you are unfamiliar with him, let me share with you how he feels my pain on the whole computer thing:

(Warning: there is language in this clip that is well outside of this blog's typically PG/PG-13 bounds. There are F bombs aplenty. If you have delicate ears and/or children in the vicinity, do not click play.)

I feel better now. Okay, it was watching that plus eating a handful of Swedish fish that were calling to me from their bag next to my computer, but I'm gonna go with it - whatever works, right? At least I'm smiling, red-stained teeth notwithstanding. (Note to self: brush teeth again before heading over to school.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blog bling!

My new bloggy friend Kristin just awarded me the lovely blog bling now prominently displayed in my sidebar. Awww, thanks Kristin! We met in the blogosphere but it turns out we live in the same town (albeit on different sides of the same town) and as I've been thoroughly enjoying her blog, Twitter and Facebook updates, I hope that someday we can hang out in person. But, she might already've caught on to the fact that I'm a nutty nut who isn't above wearing jammies to the bus stop and singing enthusiastically in public, so maybe she wants to keep the blogosphere between us as a safe distance. I hope not though, 'cause she seems very real and funny and down to earth.

Anyhow, it now is my turn to bestow the bloggy love upon others. The rules for this one are:

1. The winner puts the logo on her/his blog.

2. Link the person from whom you received your award.

3. Nominate 7 other blogs.

4. Put links of those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message on the blogs of those you’ve chosen.

So, in no particular order, here are the folks I'm passing the blog bling along to:

My old friend (um, that'd be old as in "we've been friends since the dark ages of high school" and not old as in "aged" by the way) Da Nator over at Delectatio Morosa. She has been blogging for years now -in fact she was the first of my actual, RL friends to blog - and has made me laugh, cry and think over the years with her writing. (She also used to wander the halls of our high school with me, harmonizing on everything from Duran Duran tunes to songs we'd written together, and for my 15th birthday literally gave me John Taylor - of Duran Duran fame and please remember this was the 80s - on a silver platter. I'm not kidding.) You should at the very least check out her blog in a few weeks for her annual Definitive Halloween Candy List post, which is absolutely a must-read!

Not that he lacks for readers, 'specially compared to my teensy, little blog, but M. Giant over at Velcrometer makes me howl with laughter on a regular basis. Plus, he and his wife (my fellow Beat Cat friend Trash) are parents through open, domestic adoption just like Hubby and I are. I'd pass the award along to Trash herself, but she isn't blogging....yet. (Hint hint!)

One of my newer bloggy friends is Hot Tub Lizzy, of The Journey to the Hot Tub. She's a fellow SITSta and just one of the many reasons I *heart* SITS so much. I adore her blog and she's got two of the cutest girls around, and has offered, along with many chuckles, some good, practical advice as I was going through the throes of "getting Kiddo ready for kindergarten" and being clueless about what I was doing. Oh, and did I mention she's running for President?

Another old (as in junior high, high school, and college too) friend I'd like to award is Lylah at
Write. Edit. Repeat. Lylah is, like M. Giant, a professional writer, and her blog links to some of the other places her writing appears on Ye Olde Interwebz. She's a working mom/stepmom of five (count 'em - five!) kids ranging in age from baby to teen. Consequently, she has many good thoughts about the home life/work balance and how to juggle everything and still stay sane. Plus, she has always been a ray of sunshine since I first knew her back in middle school orchestra (I played flute, she played violin).

Continuing with the old friends, new friends theme, I'd like to pass this along to another SITsta and bloggy friend, Givinya De Elba. Her blog, Killing a Fly with a Ukulele is Probably the Wrong Thing to Do has been a real treat, and has shown me things like parental stress over kindergarten truly is universal (or at least planetary). Plus, she's from Down Under, so I always read what she's written in an Aussie accent (um, in my head).

While I'm reaching all the way to the other side of the world, Givinya's sister Crazy Sister also blogs and deserves some bling. Another mother of adorable kids and her parenting philosophy (also her blog's title) makes perfect sense to me: Graze If You Want To, But Don't Eat Dirt.

And last but not least, I'm bestowing this upon HappyHourSue over at Happy Meals & Happy Hour. Not that she needs more blog love thrown her way, but I'm telling you, since I first came upon her blog, it has become a must read for me. From her "words she made up" to her Guard Poodle and of course, the Bathtub Gangsta, she has me rolling on the floor with tears of laughter pouring down my face. Okay, that's not a pretty picture, but trust me, her blog is hilarity and wit personified. (Blogonified?)

So there you go, my contribution to spreading the bloggy love. Do with it what you will, y'all, but please know that you've brought me many moments (okay, hours if you add it up) of enjoyment with your posts over the years and have given me endless reasons to procrastinate on things like changing the kitty litter or risking my life to clean the kiddo's carny goldfish's tank or going to the gym... This one's for you!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Oh no, she didn't!

Oh yes, I did. I just walked Kiddo the bus stop, four houses up at the corner of our street, in my jammies. Granted, I'm not decked out in Victoria's Secret lingerie, just a t-shirt and pajama pants, and I had my barn coat on over them, plus I'd brushed my teeth and hair and washed my face. (I also put clogs on as the sidewalk is a wee bit too landmined with goose poop to traipse about barefoot safely.) So, it wasn't exactly "just rolled out of bed" (besides which, I've been up since just about 6), but it wasn't "ready to hop into the car and head out into the world" either.

Last year, when I was driving Kiddo to preschool every day, I always showered and dressed in actual clothes before heading out. Granted, sometimes they were just my gym clothes, but it wasn't like I was schlepping to preschool sans bra or toothpaste. There were other moms who frequently dropped their kids off while still in a jammified state, and I'll confess that I felt a wee bit superior upon occasion. But now, I'd venture that the school bus stop is different, especially if one is returning to one's home immediately thereafter and it is before 8:30 in the morning besides. Also, in not too many more weeks, we'll have to bundle up and no one will be able to tell if I have clothes or jammies on anyhow! (I did get called on my jammies by the other mom at the bus stop today. She said that she was jealous, actually...)

The main reason I wasn't so up-and-at-'em this morning was because I'm fighting a losing battle with a nasty head cold. All I wanted to do today was stay in bed, perhaps with an eye open to watch Matt and Meredith, but certainly not doing anything more productive. Obviously, I couldn't have my wish, what with the kiddo having to be roused, fed, glasses washed and hair done, supervised while dressing and toothbrushing, and making sure that she had everything she needed for school. She came home on Friday without her lunchbag, so by day 2 we already had made one emergency trip back over to school to collect a left-behind item. Couldn't have that happen on my watch, now could I? So, I was up but not necessarily so very at 'em, and yes, I did wear my jammies to the bus stop. A precedent was set, the slippery slope and all that, and I have a feeling that until I'm once more gainfully employed and needing to be on my way after the bus arrives, there will be many more mornings when my jammies strut the catwalk - erm, I mean sidewalk - to the corner.

I figure as long as I'm not still in my pajamas at 3 when the bus drops her off, I'm doing all right...

(PS - Still loving the bulbous bouffant from my previous post. It cracks me up every time. Hee! Oh and yes, they are Canadian, for those of you who wondered, eh...)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Word Nerd and the Bulbous Bouffant

I am a major word nerd. Seriously. I love words. I'm fascinated by their etymology and meaning. I especially love when a word is onomatopoetic or just has a good sound to it. (I love the way people speak, too - accents and such. I just love words in any form!)

This is why, I think, I've been so utterly tickled and charmed by this clip. A high school friend of mine sent it to me this morning. I don't know if he recalled from 20-plus years ago that I am a word nerd or if it was just something I'd written on my Facebook page made him think of this clip, but I thank him for it. (Thanks, Christian!) I've watched it several times today, and like it more each time. Hubby thinks it is amusing but isn't as drawn in to it - just now as he left the room, he called it "a bit absurd" (though he did watch it again over my shoulder.) I googled the group, as I'd never heard of them, and have learned that they (The Vestibules) have been around since the late 80s. I'm a little sad I didn't know of them earlier but happy to have discovered them now.

And with that intro, please enjoy the Word Nerd Hilarity that is Bulbous Bouffant:

Saturday, September 6, 2008

School days, school days

(Sorry, I've been meaning to post about the big First Day of School, but Kiddo and I both have been battling a pretty congestion-filled head cold - thanks, recirculated airplane air chock full o' germies! - and I haven't managed to finish this 'til today.)

So, the first two days of kindergarten are over. I must report that there were, in fact, tears on the first day, but I survived! Isn't that what you wanted to hear about? Oh, no? You wanted to know how Kiddo did, didn't you? She did just fine - I was the one who was crying!

Here she is, heading off for the school bus....

...and with barely a pause to say goodbye to Mom and Dad (photographing and videotaping, respectively), off she scampered onto the bus as soon as it pulled up to the corner.

She returned in as ebullient a mood as ever, bursting at the seams with tales of her first day. Friday was a repeat of Thursday, with great joy and excitement over school and sadness and disappointment that she doesn't get to go to school again until MONDAY. (Apparently, Kiddo thought kindergarten was a seven-day-a-week thing, not a mere five days like preschool was last year.) I wonder how long this "I LOVE school and can't wait to go back again!" mindset will last - sadly, I'm guessing not for the next thirteen years...

Also, on the first day? I followed the bus. I told you I was one of those mothers. I should point out that I wasn't the only parent following the bus - there were at least three cars behind me and one in front for the five minutes it takes to get from our street to school. Now, when I got to school, I didn't want Kiddo to see me. This was not the case for a lot of the other parents, who were forming a crowd to one side of the entrance that rivaled the crush of reporters covering the red carpet at the Oscars. One dad even had his video camera set up on a tripod on the sidewalk, all the better to capture his child getting off the bus and heading in to school. Seriously, it was nuts. I used the throng of camera-wielding, madly waving parents as a cover and watched Kiddo happily hopping off the bus and greeting one of her summer program friends, who is in the same homeroom, and then skip merrily off into the building.

I was pretty okay for this whole portion of events. I teared up as the bus first pulled away from our corner, but recovered quickly as I hopped in the van to chase the bus. I was dry-eyed on the sidewalk at school. I got home and walked into the house, and that's when it hit me. First of all, the house seemed somehow quieter and more empty than usual, which I know was entirely in my mind as I have been home alone without Kiddo many, many times before (every morning last year while she was in preschool, for example...) But it struck me as being different yesterday. Then, I spotted this:

Kiddo's teddy bear (the most beloved, since she was a baby, of all her stuffed animals), sitting forlorn and alone on the couch where Kiddo had abandoned him as she dashed off to school.

That's when I started to really cry. I cried for a good five minutes, truth be told.

But by Friday - Day 2, I was over it. Totally fine and dry-eyed as I waved Kiddo's bus off into the distance. I still felt at loose ends with so much time to myself, but I thought of it as a sort of vacation day. I mean, last year, I'd get home from dropping her off at 9:30ish and then would have to be back on the road to pick her up at 11:00, so it wasn't really all that much time to myself. Yeah, I'd work in some errands or hit the gym - I was efficient about it and had things timed to the second - but now? I'm back in the house at 8:12 and the whole day stretches out before me, since I don't need to be back at the corner until 3:05. It felt weird and not as liberating as I thought it would. I suppose I ought to kick my job search into high gear, so I have something to occupy my time more productively than browsing the stacks at the library (I came home Friday with five new books to read) or sitting and reading blog after blog after blog and playing game after game after game of Wordscraper over on Facebook. (Not quite as wondrous as Scrabulous, but I'm getting addicted to it nonetheless.)

It has been a long time coming, this first day of school - five years, in fact. But while I know in my head that it has been five years, in my heart it still seems like yesterday that Kiddo was still this small:

So, while I know that this BIG kid will come bounding off the school bus and into my arms every afternoon, I can't believe that this BIG kid was my tiny peanut not all that long ago... All this time, the First Day of Kindergarten has been this distant dot barely looming on the horizon, even as this last summer flew by to its end. Although I was preparing for it - buying the backpack, the lunch bag, the school supplies - and talking to Kiddo about it, when the day arrived, it still seemed to have snuck up on me, somehow. Now, I'm just relieved that it is behind me, and ready to hurl myself headlong into the next chapter of parenthood. I've already joined the PTA and if Kiddo wants to do Girl Scouts this year, I'll volunteer with the troop, too. As much as I looked forward to and enjoyed being a stay at home mom of a little kid, I'm looking forward to being the mom of a school-aged kid, too - the field trips, the sporting events, the dances and plays and recitals and later, the dances and proms and college visits. Okay, maybe I'm not looking forward to the college visit trips just yet.... One year at a time, right?

Now if someone could just tell me how to get my kindergartener to actually eat her food in the 25 minutes they allow for lunch in the cafetorium (auditeria? I know it is a combo word for the multi-purpose room, but haven't gotten down which combo it is), I'd be all set. Kiddo is skinny enough without skipping meals. (Seriously - I have been able to find exactly TWO pairs of jeans that fit her this fall - Children's Place "Skinny Straight" and Target's Circo brand "Slim Boot Cut" in size 5 are the only ones that don't make her look like she is an "After" picture in "Before" jeans in a weight-loss ad or go four or five inches past her feet. What's up with that?!) We had better success with Friday's lunch than Thursday, when 90% of the specially-requested bologna and provolone sandwich, grapes and Cheerios-Chex mix came home untouched (not to mention the mini-Milky Way bar - what kid skips the chocolate? I've got to work on her priorities, clearly). Friday, I'd say she ate more than 75% of her food, and she reported that she wanted to finish her mini-pizzas but the lunch lady told her she had to stop eating and go line up right away, so she couldn't. Maybe we should practice speed-eating at home? Kiddo is fond of dining at a rather leisurely pace... Any hints or tips would be welcomed!