Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

(That'd be Kiddo with two of her three stuffed lions, Ectobert, the World's Only Yodeling Lion - he says "Yodel-ay-hee-ROAR!" - and Baby Simba. Daddy Simba didn't accompany us to the pumpkin patch this year.)

Now, it may be that I'm grumpy this morning because I'm sorer than I ought to be for my age - I feel closer to 87 than 37 and have been popping Advil like Skittles - after working the Fall Fun House obstacle course at Kiddo's school yesterday. (I caught kids coming down the zip line and set them on the ground for about 3 hours, held the edge of the cargo net "Spider Web" and spotted kids for about 1.5 hours, and also helped kids cross the "troll bridge" ladder for a bit.) I just feel the need to vent for a brief moment about Trick or Treating. You see, our house is in a small, child-filled neighborhood. I have NO problems handing out candy to small children. I love it, as a matter of fact - I have Hubby take Kiddo out ToTing specifically so I can stay home to hand out candy and oooh and aaah over the costumes. (And we do good candy here, too - name brand, good mix of options - this year we have Milk Duds, Starbursts, Whoppers, Snickers, Twix, Reese's PB cups, Three Musketeers and Kit Kats.) My big Halloween gripe is the folks who have no business ToTing coming around and expecting candy. Like the older kids (I'm talking teenagers) who don't even dress up, just turn up with a pillowcase and think they can get candy. Worse, the adults who bring around a pillowcase and claim to be ToTing for either an infant in a stroller (I mean *infant* as in tiny, little baby who has no ability or reason to be eating candy) or for a supposed "child back at home" - sometimes the teens do this one, too. "I'm ToTing for my sibling/niece/nephew who couldn't come out tonight." Apparently there are a large number of children who can't come out in person each year. Now, I ought to just put my foot down - only give out candy to the kids, and maybe I'm grumpy enough today that I will this year, but in past years, I've rolled my eyes but given out candy anyhow. Hubby insists that I hand the candy out and not let the children pick which one they want, as some kids don't honor the "one piece per kid" request and grab a large handful. (Lest you think we're total Halloween Grinches, we get a LOT of ToTers - we've had to go back to the store for more candy in previous years. This year I bought almost $20 worth of candy. That's a lot of freaking candy.)

So, this year as always, Hubby will take Kiddo out through our neighborhood, and I will stay home for the candy-handing-out. I'm really hoping this is the magical year that no non-costumed, older kids and/or adults come around... At any rate, once Kiddo is in bed (usually by 7:30) I turn off all the lights and stop answering the door anyway. Since this year Halloween is Friday, I may extend the candy-giving-out a little bit later, but by 9pm I'm definitely done no matter what.

What do you think? Doth the lady protest too much and I truly *am* a Halloween Grinch for begrudging teens and adults and "double baggers" who are ostensibly ToTing for someone else not present the extra candy? How old is too old for Trick or Treating? (My mom stopped us from going out after 8th grade. By then, there were other Halloween festivities we partook of anyhow.) How late do you plan to hand out candy tonight?

Grinch or no, I do sincerely wish everyone a fantabulous Halloween! Now I've got to get my little lion off to the school bus before I head back over to school myself for another round of the fun house, followed by her class party and the big costume parade! Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We were the 80s!


So, Where Are My Angels is hosting We Were the 80s Day tomorrow, and I want to play! However, I'm going to be busy at Kiddo's elementary school Fall Fun House, so I'm starting a little bit early. (I know I could post-date this post, but I want to get my link into her Mr. Linky, and I don't think I can do that ahead of time. Besides, maybe this will spread the word and encourage some other of you out there to participate!)

Now, the rules are to post photos and talk about things we either miss or remember from the 80s. Well, I was in junior high and high school during the 80s (class of '89 - holla! Yeah, it *is* my twentieth reunion coming up in May....shhhh!) so I am all about the 80s.

I thought I'd start out by sharing my most treasured memento of the decade:

It's mighty old, but I think you can make out the wording. Yes, that is my actual ticket stub for my first ever pop/rock concert, and that concert was none other than the kings of the 80s pop music scene: Duran Duran, and at Madison Square Garden no less! You'll note we were in the 25th row. That was on the floor, in the center. 25 rows back from the man I was going to marry. You remember him, don't you?

Yep, I was going to be Mrs. John Taylor. Mmm-hmm. Oh, what a fantastic show that was... I confess, I have a Duran Duran playlist on my iPod even now! (Even if I've come to my senses as an adult and have replaced John Taylor as my dreamy crush with the much more appealing George Clooney - erm, I mean my Hubby. Yes, Hubby, the love of my life, *that* is who I meant, the man I actually married and all....)

While I was a faithful fan of the Fab Five, I also adored many other artists who were big in the 80s. a-ha, Culture Club, Madness (okay, they weren't really that big here in the US, but still, I loved them), Tears for Fears, Howard Jones, Huey Lewis and the News, the Cars, I could go on and on and on - all of them take up space on my very 2000s iPod, which certainly takes up a lot less room than my record album collection used to back in the 80s... Two of my biggest loves, though (and also still to this day) were David Bowie and Billy Joel. I won't scan in all of my ticket stubs from their concerts - and I do still have them all! - because there are way too many, but I will show you this fantabulous picture of me, circa 1989, rocking one of my other favorite 80s items:

Ah, the concert t-shirt. Was there anything better? I never spent my concert-going money on the souvenir programs, but I *always* got a t-shirt. Now that was back in the 80s when you could get a good shirt for less than $15. Last time I saw Billy Joel (at the Carrier Dome a few years ago), the cheapest decent shirt was $35. That's a wee bit nuts, y'all. (
I've still got most, if not all, of the concert t-shirts I acquired during the 80s - and 90s for that matter - but alas, they were purchased for a much more slender, less well endowed me, so in the drawer they remain unless my latest gym regime actually performs major miracles... Maybe Kiddo will want to wear them when she's a little bit older. I mean, by the time she's a tween/teen, they'll definitely qualify as vintage!)

Now, my parents never had cable TV when I was growing up (indeed, they didn't have anything beyond broadcast television with the good ole antenna-rabbit ears combo until the early 00s!), so I was utterly deprived of MTV. The horror, the tragedy! I would soak up as much MTV viewing as I could whenever I was at a more fortunate friend's house, and would rent music videos from the local video store, you know, actual videotapes of videos or concerts...

Those are two of my biggest memories of the 80s - the music and MTV. Bigger than the hair (which was large - and I was a Jersey Girl, so that added extra volume to the mix too), bigger than the fashions, it was the music. Even the great 80s movies, like Pretty in Pink and Breakfast Club, tied into the music. Come on now, who can hear a snippet of If You Leave and not instantly think of Andie and Duckie (and stupid Blaine - how could she have ditched Duckie for blah, boring Blaine?!) at the prom?

Okay, so I guess another favorite part of the 80s for me would be the movies, too. The Brat Pack films.... Ferris Bueller... Batman (with Jack Nicholson as the Joker)... When Harry Met Sally... The Princess Bride... Say Anything (thanks for the reminder, Smoochiefrog!!)... Even that classic holiday must-see, A Christmas Story, premiered in the 80s! I spent a lot of my free time in the movie theater back in the 80s, that's for sure! (Of course, that was back when a ticket cost well under $5!)

I suppose no self-respecting Child of the 80s could post about the 80s without sharing the quintessential high school experience: prom pictures. I mean, we all know how much fashion ROCKED in the 80s, right? Right? So, here you go, me at the junior and senior prom (I've cropped out my dates, because I'm not sure I'd be entirely thrilled to find old pictures of myself posted on the internet without my knowledge....):

Above is from right before my junior prom in May, 1988 - the first formal I ever attended. Unfortunately, it wound up being the night before my grandfather's funeral. He had dropped dead of a heart attack (unexpectedly, as well - I mean, he hadn't been ill or anything) and not only was he the first of my grandparents to die, but I was singing at his funeral service. Made for a less than stellar prom experience all around, I must say. I do remember spending a few good chunks of the evening crying in the bathroom at the hotel. Also, and prior to my grandfather's untimely death, I was pissed off at my mother for not letting me get the dress that I really, really wanted to get. It was red, which was (and is) my favorite color. Mom said it looked like, and I quote, "a streetwalker" and this pink dress was the compromise, which my mom deemed appropriate for a young lady. Secretly, I felt a bit Gone With the Windian in it, what with the full, crinolined skirt and poufy, off-the-shoulder bits.

And senior prom. 1989, baby! I searched everywhere for a better shot of this dress, because it was a thing to behold. A true 80s fashion. You see, it was what they call "intermission length" which meant it came just to my knees in the front but then tapered down to my lower calves in the back. It also had some "pouf" to it, and I'm sorry you're missing that part of the dress. You also are missing the white stockings and black, 3 inch heels I wore with it (despite being the same height as my prom date when barefoot - I towered over him ala Mr. and Mrs. Cruise...). Yeah, I took the white and black theme of the dress a wee bit far... At least you *can* see the sleeves - aren't they phenomenal? I looooved them. I wonder if my parents still have this dress in their attic...? I know I came across the pink one years later (which still smelled of the Polo cologne my date had rather liberally applied to himself that night) but I don't know what happened to this one. (Note to Lylah, in whose room this picture was taken: do you happen to have any pictures from this prom? Like one of me in the whole dress? You wouldn't believe the pictures I dug up while looking for stuff for this post - I could keep my scanner busy for days! Alas, none of the whole dress, though!)

Okay, I'm going to leave you with one more picture of something I remember from the 80s. Now technically, this wasn't a universal 80s experience, but watch, I can make it relevant to the wider, nostalgic world:

This is me from August 1988, with my Grand Champion ewe at the NJ State Fair. How on Earth is this relevant to the 80s for more than just because it happened then? Kindly notice my jeans, specifically the bottom of them. Yes, I pegged my jeans, even for 4-H. I was *that* stylin' dontcha know! We had a dress code for 4-H that I consistently pushed during high school wherever I could. And nobody, no how, was going to tell me I couldn't peg my jeans! (Nowadays, I'm all about the boot cut jeans. Much more forgiving on my less-than-stick-like legs!)

Okay, I shall leave you awash in 80s nostalgia with this:

So now, 'fess up - which member of Duran Duran or the Brat Pack were *you* going to marry?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In case I need some character witnesses,

you guys will all vouch for me, right? 'Cause I swear I was TOTALLY joking when I was checking out at Lowe's earlier this afternoon, acquiring supplies for the Fall Fun House at Kiddo's elementary school, of which I am in charge. By supplies, I mean eight, count 'em, EIGHT, rolls of duct tape. Nothing else. (This was per the P.E. teacher's request; the FFH is held in her gym and apparently nothing short of duct tape will stick to the walls.)

As I was setting roll after roll of duct tape on the counter, the cashier's eyes were growing wider and wider and her carefully-plucked-to-one-hair-thickness eyebrows were going further and further up her forehead. So, I grinned, gave her a "what can ya do?" shrug, and said "Well, you know, the time-outs just aren't working, and I've got to do something to get my kid to behave..."

I swear to you, she believed me. She looked positively panic-stricken and utterly horrified, and her eyes began darting about, as if to flag a passing CSM on the down-low to call 911 or CPS or something. Even when I explained the true purpose of my duct tape extravaganza and produced the PTA's tax-exempt certificate to back up my story and purchase, she still seemed quite suspicious. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she copied down my license plate number off the parking lot surveillance cameras and calls me in. So, like I said, if I get hauled off for allegedly duct-taping my child into her room, you guys have my back, right? Right?

Honestly, I didn't think it was that outrageous a remark to make, or I wouldn't have made it. When I related this anecdote to Hubby afterwards, he said "That was pretty ballsy of you to say" and I was a little "Huh?" because, you know, Hubby knows me and my sense of humor and I really didn't think it was that bad. I mean, this is me, the one who, with Hubby, told the social worker with a straight face that our discipline plan was to lock our children in the basement and if that didn't work, then we'd go to the beating with pointy sticks during our adoption home study interview. She knew we were kidding... Maybe it was my hair. It's larger than usual today, thanks to the weather and the wind, so it was looking a wee bit more "mad scientist" than usual...

(Oh and PS - Lowe's was my last stop for the FFH shopping spree. I hit the mega-jackpot at Michael's, with ka-razy sales on their fall decor. I felt like I was on Supermarket Sweep or something, with the amount of stuff I was cramming into my cart. It was all 70% off or better, so WOO-HOO!! That left me enough money - after picking up the duct tape, of course - that I'll be able to feed our volunteers donut holes and possibly even cider on Thursday and Friday. Woo!)

In other news, the child for whom multiple rolls of duct tape are required if you believe me the way that poor, teenaged cashier did brought home her school pictures today. Despite the fear that HappyHourSue struck into my heart with this tale of Picture Day, Kiddo's picture is pretty darn cute. So cute that I'm mightily tempted to post it here on my blog for the world to see. I'm just a little paranoid about the pervy internet weirdos... (I seriously get some mighty weird Google search hits - folks that have NO business poking about my poor, little blog ramblings!) I'm considering posting it.... we'll see. But at any rate, like I told Sue in the comments section of her blog (which, btw, if you haven't checked it out, you must - she is hilarious despite her questionable cougar crush on various Jonas Brothers), my theory of School Photo Karma turned out to be correct. Because I myself never took a cute school photo in my life (they were Fugly with a capital F - I mean, I've never been pretty, but the school pictures were an extra level of YIKES!), Kiddo is apparently going to be blessed with decent pics herself now. (This year's kindy photo is only her second; last year's preschool picture was also cute.) So, whew on that and if you're on the family-n-friends list, be looking for a wallet sized beauty to be heading your way shortly...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jane Fonda's got nothing on me!*

Lately, I've been feeling kind of like this:

Which leads to me feeling like this:

But when catching a glance of myself before my eyeglasses were mercifully removed to get in the shower this morning, I saw this:

I knew I had to do something. So, I re-resolved to get my assorted rolls-n-dimples over to the gym regularly, starting today. (I must be firm with myself or I'll never go.) And so I put on my workout clothing and sneaks, threw Kiddo in the car, drove up to the corner (hey, it was cold, besides) and as soon as I'd seen her onto the bus, I drove immediately over to the Y, do not pass go, do not spend the morning snacking and blogsurfing.

Once I'd left my stuff in a locker, I decided to get the bad news over with. You see, along with the whole "not exercising regularly" thing I've had going on, I've been eating worse than usual of late, as well. Kiddo is on a Cheez Doodle kick, so I've been using that excuse - "they're for her lunch!" - to buy and keep Doodles in the house. And I've been eating the majority of them. Me, not Kiddo. I parcel them out so sparingly to her - a mere handful in one of those itty-bitty snack-sized baggies - but the bag has been empty before week's end nonetheless. (Pardon me while I lick the telltale orange powder off my fingers....) It isn't just Cheez Doodles, either. This month, between PMS and stress from all the ongoing ridiculousness with the school district's IEP noncompliance (and yes, that *is* still going on - how happy I will be when we've moved to another district for next year!!), I've been eating and eating and eeeeeeeating. Like I said,

So, I was expecting to find a gain of at least four or five pounds when I hopped on the gigantic, "slide the weights over much too far to the right" old-school scale in the Y locker room. At the best, I was hoping to have remained at the weight I was when last I hopped aboard the scale, which was during my last big working out kick too many moons ago.

Lo and behold..... I've LOST six pounds! SIX POUNDS! From doing NOTHING except blogging and eating and blogsurfing some more... Perhaps it is my extremely fast typing speed, but apparently blogging appears to really be burning calories...

Now, don't worry, I didn't take this weight loss as a sign I should immediately head for home and plunk myself down in front of the computer with a bowl of Cheezy goodness at my side. I was so excited, I made a beeline for the elliptical trainer and pounded out a little over a mile and a half in less than half an hour (it helped that I was totally absorbed in the Today Show, as I forgot to grab a book on my way out the door this morning). Considering I usually average a 20 minute mile on the elliptical and that I hadn't worked out in eons, doing 1.7 miles in 27 minutes was pretty good! I headed towards the weight circuit, but it was chock full of people so I wound up bagging that plan and headed off to get a haircut (my bangs were halfway down my nose) instead.

I plan to continue this routine of putting Kiddo on the bus and then heading straight to the gym in the morning and see whether I can purposefully lose some more weight between now and, say, my birthday (mid-December) or Christmas... That way when I take to the dance floor at Hubby's office holiday party this year, his coworkers won't see this:

Heather's Holiday Party Dance Moves

And with any luck (I know, it isn't luck, it's hard work and dedicated effort...) I might be able to say goodbye to a few chins and a jeans size or two!

* Yeah, I name-checked Ms. "Haven't been an exercise guru since the 80s" Fonda in the title of this post. It was between her and Richard Simmons. Sadly, my Workout Mavens References are all woefully out of date. If anyone has a suggestion more current (Susan Powter? Suzanne Somers and her Thighmaster?) I'd be happy to hear it! In the meantime, Jane stays...

In the land of the free and the home of the brave

Someone stole my Obama/Biden yard sign. Took it right off the metal frame. It was the only yard sign of any political affiliation in our entire neighborhood, so I don't know if someone objected to my politics specifically, or just to the political signage in general. Either way, I was ticked. (I also checked with the county Democratic Committee and found out they still have a supply, so I can get a replacement if I can find the time to drive downtown and get another one.)

I stormed up here to my computer and was all ready to fire off a soapboxy rant about the stealing of my sign when I saw this post over on my dear friend Coco's blog. Now that I've read this definite food for thought, I'm not nearly so fired up to complain about my sign being stolen anymore. Warning, the post is NOT easy to read.

So, yeah, all in all, I guess I'm just glad I live somewhere where I have the option of putting a sign supporting my candidates of choice in my yard, or on my car, or on my blog...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hello, my name is Heather...

...and I'm a blogaholic.
(your cue: Hello, Heather...)

Seriously, y'all, blogging is so much more than a passing fancy to me now. Back in March, when I staked my claim on this little corner of the blogosphere, I thought it would be a fun, occasional thing with which to occupy my time. I'd been regularly following a handful of blogs - some for years now, mostly belonging to friends with whom I had a preexisting relationship. You know, people I already knew who had started blogs of their own. I thought it would be fun to start my own blog, maybe share some laughs or thoughts or ramblings (as we all know, I'm really good at rambling) with my friends the way they'd been sharing with me. I've belonged to some message boards and private internet groups for years now, going back to when Hubby and I were starting the adoption process, and blogging seemed a natural extension of my online "life" (I feel the need to use quotes there to distinguish from my REAL life....) And narcissistically speaking, doesn't the world want to know my most navel-gazing of thoughts? My feelings on parenting, current events, life and George Clooney? Hmmmm?

I should've realized right away how very dangerous this blogging thing would be for me. It started, innocently enough, with the addition of a site meter to my blog. 'Cause, if you blog and no one is reading, did the post happen? (You know, like if a tree falls in the woods....) Then, I became a wee bit obsessed with the number of hits daily to my site. If it went over ten, I flipped out. MORE THAN TEN PEOPLE checked out my blog? Woot! I started checking out my site meter info first thing each morning when I turned on my computer. I tried not to "sully" the number of hits by actually visiting my page, because *I* don't count. Yes, I was avoiding my own blog, just lurking about in the background, working through my Dashboard.

That validation was enough at first, that simple knowledge that somewhere out there, someone was stopping by my blog. At first. Soon, I wanted more. "If I'm getting twelve or thirteen (or on a good day, TWENTY *faint*) hits a day, why am I only getting one or two comments (usually from my established friends)?" I thought to myself. "Why aren't more people commenting?" And there it is, the warning sign I think my fellow bloggers recognize: I was becoming a comment junkie. I'd pore over my site meter's stats, looking for repeat visitors - lurkers who'd never left a comment. I agonized over my posts, editing and tweaking them, polishing them 'til they shone, hoping that if I wrote just the right thing in just the right way, my comments section would fill up. I created a favicon and a button for my page that folks could add to theirs if they so desired (and I don't think anyone has yet!) I added widgets to dress my blog up. I changed my layout. I scanned the referral site info on my site meter - what places were bringing eyeballs to my page? Where were my viewers coming from and did they come back again?

It was around this time that I came across a web community called The Secret is in the Sauce. That is the point at which my blogging addiction become life threatening. Okay, not life threatening, but definitely housework threatening. I mean, who has time for such things as scrubbing soap scum off the shower walls when there are blogs to be read? (
And it isn't just SITS, either, there are other sites out there, like Blog Around the World, and communities like BlogCatalog and Blogher. Whew.) SITS led me to blog after wonderful blog. My bookmarks menu (yes, I was a blog reading Luddite - I had no blog reader) was longer than Rapunzel's hair. Not only was I finding a new blog each morning via their daily Featured Blog, but I'd read all the roll call comments, click on the profiles of commenters who'd written funny or witty or meaningful comments, then browse their blogs. Of course, then I wasn't just reading blog posts, but the comments on those blog posts, and then continuing with the clicking through to profiles of commenters, going to their blogs, reading their posts and their comments and so on and so on and so on.

You know this vicious circle, right? I know some of you out there do...

There is yet another level to this, sort of like the chaser to the blogging. Twitter. A whole new place to post and read. Twitter is like a mini-blog or like Facebook's status updates on speed. There is the added challenge of only having 140 characters per Tweet, too - kills extra time when you have to edit creatively to get your thought into 140 characters! Of course, Twitter just feeds into the ultimate (at least, as far as I've sunk as of now) level of blogging obsession:

The followers.

Oh, how I long to go back to the day when getting a comment or three was enough. When seeing that I had more than 10 hits on my blog after a new post went up. Because now, I want it ALL. I have followers, but not that many. I see some blogs with dozens and even hundreds of followers. And Twitter is even crazier - there are people with thousands of followers. I can barely keep up with the dozen or so I follow! And yes, I admit, I want more followers. Right now, I have seven. Seven lovely folks out there who admit to publicly following my blog. What I wouldn't give for twenty, or fifty, or even a THREE-FIGURE number of followers!

Will it ever be enough?

So, to sum up, the dangers of blogging include:

- an unhealthy obsession with your site meter/counter
- Blogger Envy: when you discover a new blog that you adore, but at the same time, are more than a teensy bit jealous that this blogger writes wittier, funnier, deeper or just plain better posts than you do. Also extends to those with better blog layouts (in my case, likely because they have actually spent real money to have a professional design their blog layout) and those who are competent with Photoshop and post hilarious illustrations along with their writing.
- a Commenting Addiction, which can happen both ways: not only can you become easily addicted to bloggers' crack (aka comments) and not only feel the rush of elation when you have many, many new comments (like those glorious days when my blog was featured on SITS and BATW), but the subsequent crash when you have no new comments. This ties into
- New Post Despair, when you publish a new post and it garners few or no comments. You begin to second-guess yourself, to worry - am I not smart enough? Funny enough? Meaningful enough? Too self-absorbed? Too rambly?
and finally:
-Follower Addiction: when it just isn't enough to watch your site counter climb, but you want actual, true, professed followers and that number can't ever be high enough either!

There are those Mythical Ones, those bloggers who either get paid to blog (well enough to make a living at it, even) or who get the fabled Book Offer (with decently sized advance) to gather their bloggings into an actual book. I try not to think about them, because that will just lead me to crawl into bed and cry, and if I were hiding in bed, I wouldn't be able to blog! Well, at least not unless I had a laptop, anyhow...

Oh, and I ought to mention, I finally did start a blog reader. I just did the one through Blogger, so it isn't fancy, but at least it is streamlining my blog reading. Also, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get Google Analytics to work for my blog. I need to hit Hubby up for help with that one - or else just content myself with my free site meter. And, to show you the ultimate evidence that I'm a blogaholic? Blogger was being funky yesterday for a while, not allowing comments to publish. This occurred during my morning blogsurfing, and I got so frustrated with not being able to post comments on the blogs I was reading that I created a Word document and SAVED the comments so I could go back and post them on the appropriate blog later. Yep, like I said, my name is Heather and I'm a blogaholic!

This giveaway really sucks ;)

No, really, it does. In the absolute, BEST way, mind you...

The fantabulous folks over at SITS have posted November's giveaway a week early, 'cause that's the kind of wonderful chicks they are. And the prize?

A Bissell Healthy Home Vacuum Cleaner.

No, wait, let me try that again (sorry, I'm still waking up here):

(*cue choir of cherubim and seraphim*)

Seriously, y'all, I could really, really use this prize. You see, we kill vacuums in this house. I'm not kidding. Our very first vacuum cleaner, a bridal shower present from my beloved Nana, was a behemoth of a machine. That thing had more horsepower than our car at the time (which, granted, was a 10 year old Ford Festiva, but still). It had headlights. It had attachments of every shape and size. I was in love. (Um, mostly with my soon-to-be Hubby, of course, but more than a little bit with the vacuum, I must admit.) I was sure that this would be the vacuum I'd be using for years and years to come. Not so much - it was dead a mere 5 years later. Like, smoking dead. I wish I could tell you that the next vacuum we bought, the one to replace that Bridal Behemoth, is still with us. Nope. Not even its replacement. I am pretty sure we're on vacuum #5 since the early 90s. And our present vac? It's starting to whir ominously and make scary sounds. Plus, (and I shall not name the brand, but suffice it to say it ain't Bissell!), it has a major design flaw that has driven me batty for the past 3 years - the hose is so easily knocked out of place (theoretically, it is "easy to remove the hose for adding attachments") when vacuuming with the machine that one winds up vacuuming an entire area of carpet and wondering why the suck isn't sucking, then one notices the hose has been knocked loose/out of its spot and one starts cursing while re-vacuuming with hose now firmly reattached. One doesn't want to curse when one is the mother of a preschooler, y'all. It isn't pretty or appropriate. Also, when one doesn't want to be vacuuming in the first place, particularly, because vacuuming cannot be done while blogging, or reading blogs, or commenting on blogs, so the last thing one wants to do is have to vacuum the house twice. Oy.

So, what I'm saying here is, we desperately need a new vacuum. One that really, really sucks. And this one? Oh, *swooooooooon* it would be amazing. Plus, the giveaway will be announced on December 1, mere days before my birthday. What could make me happier? (Well, winning the George Clooney picture that was given away during the Blogathon would really have made me happy, I'll admit, but this vacuum would definitely be better for the overall state of my house and family........) So, I must work very hard to summon up my SITS Giveaway Mojo once more and win this vac!!!

As I really, really, reaaaaalllllllly want to win this vacuum cleaner, I shouldn't tell you this, but I will, because SITS is so terrific that you really need to become a part of it if you aren't already. You too can win the vacuum cleaner. Yep, you have as much of a chance as I do, alas. Just go right over here and check out the post, then go here to read the community rules, then toss a leopard-n-pink button onto your sidebar and join the fun!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brain-befogged updates-n-rambling

Kiddo informed me over breakfast this morning that what woke her up in the wee, small hours was a dream that her one arm had stretched and was a lot longer than the other one. She further explained that she had this same dream repeatedly throughout the night, which explains certain, sudden movements she was making where she'd throw her arms out and then toss about. She said in her dream, she tried to line her arms up and couldn't get them both to be the same length... Methinks this dream was planted in her head thanks to the Tooth Fairy's delivery of the Stretchy Frog (click for a picture - Kiddo has the red-eyed tree frog) that Kiddo had so long coveted. (Note: Kiddo is excited to have freed up a spot now on her list for Santa, as this was one of the four things on this year's list.) Kiddo majorly *hearts* the Stretchy Frog, but I betcha anything it was the whole stretchy-ness of the frog that implanted the thought waaaaay down deep in her subconscious that led to the one arm stretching dream. (Nightmare? Hard to say.)

The crazy cat clearly exhausted herself from her middle of the night, Chicken Little, It's the End of the World as We Know It carryings-on, and spent the entire day up until about 10 minutes ago passed out on the couch. At least someone in this family got to take a nice, long nap today... She's now attempting to help me type this by sitting half on my lap, half on the edge of my pull-out keyboard tray and repeatedly pressing the space bar and alt key. Thanks, Peep McFuzz.

Since I've already opened the TMI door with my Pitchforking Aunt Flo reveal in the last post, I must put in a plug for the World's Greatest Maxi-Pad. (And heck, I don't think I have any male readers anyhow - if I do, holler and I promise I will never post of such things again!) I won't go into too gory a detail here, but let me just give a major shout out to the Always folks for coming up with these. Seriously serious protection from Aunt Flo's evil ways.

We have officially had our first snowflakes of the fall - the Weather Channel is rarely wrong, and once again they were right. Kiddo watched our Local on the 8s forecast with me this morning, and grew extremely excited at the thought of snow falling while she was at school. I tried to explain that this was not going to be the kind of snow she was envisioning, but I think she may still be a bit disappointed to not be able to follow through with her post-school plans of creating a snowman family ("with different hats and noses for each, Mommy!") and then having a snowball fight. I, on the other hand, am hoping for one last, extra spell of Indian summer, though I know we're full-on into the downhill slide to winter... Kiddo will have plenty of days (months, actually, as we tend to be snowy from November through April, and sometimes from late October right into early May) for snowpeople creation, so I don't mind her being disappointed right now!

The other night on Jeopardy (yes, I do still watch the show, despite having come in second - my less harsh way of saying "lost" - when I was on) there was a category that totally cracked me up. In my present foggy-brained state, I can't think of the exact category title, but the answers were all words that sound weird without their typical prefix. Like "couth" for "uncouth" and "plenish" for "replenish" but the one that cracked me up most of all was "gruntled" for "disgruntled" - I never knew that gruntle was an actual word! Anyone else? (Besides, I mean, Alex Trebek - he really does know just about everything; as of the season I was on the show, he'd taken every contestant test for 19 seasons and had never failed one. The man is legitimately smart, y'all.)

As my day has not included a nap (confession: I watched a couple of episodes of Miami Vice I had TiFauxed a week or two ago when I could've - should've! - been trying to sleep), I'm dragging right now. I have to bundle up and go collect Kiddo (who took Stretchy Frog to school with her to show her friends what wonders the Tooth Fairy hath brought) from the bus stop, and then I'm going to change into my jammies and stay in the rest of the day. I know I'll try to stay up to see Hubby when he gets home, but I'm not sure I'll make it... I laid off the caffeine by 9am. Caffeine really gets me wired, and if I have it later in the day (say, after 2pm), I'm guaranteed not to sleep, so I'm just foggily wandering through life for the rest of the day 'til I can go to bed. Kiddo will enjoy it, as Overtired Mommy tends to evolve into Very Silly Mommy. I sense Opera Day coming on.....................

In closing (boy, I'm managing to really ramble on here considering I don't have a heckuva lot of important things to say - another symptom of Overtired Heather), let me say that I never thought that Sylar would become one of my favorite characters on Heroes, but he totally has! And I'm glad that Leanne won PR (which I finally watched off the DVR over the weekend), though if Korto had won I'd have been happy, too. I'm still rooting for McKey in ANTM, though Marjorie has some seriously intriguing weirdness to her, as does Elina. I'm really, really happy that Michael asked Holly out (I adore Amy Ryan. No, I haven't seen Gone Baby Gone yet, but she kicked ass on The Wire.) and I hope that Roy's reappearance this week doesn't spell trouble for Jam. And, ONE MORE WEEK until 30 Rock is back, woo-hoo!

Okay, I'm out of here. I've probably managed to ramble my way out of keeping any followers at all. (Though, I do finally have a blog reader and now I'm following all sorts of y'all, woo-hoo, I feel so coooool!) I promise, I shall not post again until my brain has rested!

Whatever the opposite of "Bright eyed and bushy tailed" is...

...I'm that this morning. (At least I *think* it is morning - all the clocks in the house tell me it is nigh on 6:30 in the a.m. but man, is it still the pitchest of black outside!)

Starting around 11:30 last night, the wind picked up. Ferociously. Apparently Mother Nature was in one baaaaaad mood. The wind whipping leaves and sticks and Halloween decorations up the street was enough to freak our cat the heck out. Now, she's crazy to begin with, and not the smartest feline ever to walk the face of the Earth. (I've lived with cats since I was a baby, so I have experience with both Smart Kitties and Dumb Kitties. As much as I adore our current cat, she is of the latter variety for sure.) I don't know if it was the addition of the fact that Hubby wasn't home that took her over the edge or what, but our cat was acting as if the apocalypse were upon us, yowling piteously at the top of her tiny lungs and tearing about the house, knocking things over in her mad scrambling.

As I am automatically one who, while normally I sleep like the dead, cannot sleep soundly when Hubby is away (this has been true since we first began cohabiting lo those many years ago) and who also thinks every noise heard is the band of Vicious Axe Murderers breaking in downstairs (or heck, even upstairs via the windows) when I'm home sans Hubby overnight, the cat's middle of the night antics were somewhat less appreciated than usual.

Then, what I had dreaded and feared most of all yesterday? It happened. Kiddo was awakened by some combination of Mother Nature's wind theatrics and the Crazy Cat's yowling antics and began calling out and crying. She wanted me to snuggle her. I wanted to get some shut-eye. Yep, I did it. I caved. She wound up in bed with me around 1:30. She's still there, sound asleep, sprawled perpendicularly across the bed with her head jammed under my pillow and ninety percent of the covers. Did I mention her Niagara Falls impression? Yeah, thought so.

To top everything else off, that witch Aunt Flo dropped by with a red-hot pitchfork aimed squarely at my lower abdomen and back. This meant the various Kiddo appendages that jammed their way into my body were merely competing to cause discomfort.

All total? I think I may have gotten three hours of sleep. Three. Hours. Me, who happily goes to bed no later than 10pm and doesn't get up until at the earliest, 5:30. Sometimes even 6:30. That equals a minimum of seven and a half hours of sleep that I usually get on any given night.


So, if you are startled by the sight of a bleary eyed zombie, hunched over and clutching her midsection, shuffling towards you and mumbling incoherently at the grocery store later today? Don't be alarmed. Hubby is going to be home (albeit late) tonight, and I will be back to my usual self tomorrow. I'm planning on going to bed pretty much when Kiddo does tonight - in separate rooms - and not getting up 'til morning! In the meantime, let's see if the one-two combo of Midol and Mountain Dew does anything to get my blood pumping, as I have to get Kiddo up and at 'em for school!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Filled with dread...

Hubby is out of town tonight. Kiddo, who I kept home from school because of a cold she's been brewing, has been campaigning all day to take his spot tonight. I am filled with dread at the prospect.

Now, it isn't that I don't love snuggling with my child. It isn't even that I mind the way she twists around in her sleep, invariably winding up perpendicular to me with a foot jammed into my armpit or a knee/elbow combo in my ribcage. Truly, I can handle that. I wound up sleeping in bed with her every single night while we were in the hotel in Florida last August. It's not even that she snores or hogs the covers and pillows.

It's this:

Except, instead of water cascading over a rock ledge, it is snot cascading down my beloved Kiddo's face. Snot and germs galore.

Yeah, really do NOT want that inches away from my face all night, dampening my pillow and befouling my flannel sheets. I mean, I've been Mommy the Human Kleenex all day today, so it is highly likely I'm contaminated with her germs already (despite fanatical handwashing, liberal use of hand sanitizer and several vigorous applications of Lysol to various rooms). I just don't want the Niagara Falls Nostrils snuffling into my room and beseeching me to snuggle all night long. I admit, I am virtually powerless against the charms of my child in the night, even when she's sporting the Glazed Donut Monster (tm Bill Cosby) look.

Hoping against hope she falls deeply asleep and doesn't stir until morning...

(Oh and the good news is this cold hasn't been nearly as bad as it seemed like it was going to be - *knock wood* - so unless her symptoms are dramatically worse in the morning or she begins running a fever, she is totally going to school. So much for the kindergarten perfect attendance award!)

What I think I'll get for all my nieces and nephews for Christmas this year...

This seems like the perfect gift for the under-five crowd, dontcha think? I mean, what kid wouldn't want their very own set of Junior Bagpipes? (Complete with instructional finger chart and songbook, so I'm sure they'll be making beautiful music in no time!) And with five nieces and nephews (and a sixth on the way), they'll practically make a complete Pipe and Drum Corps... Oh, that would mean getting at least one of them a drum, though... Maybe it could even be like a new century Partridge Family, except with bagpipes and without David Cassidy, and they could someday possibly compete here......... A girl can dream, right?

This would, by the way, be a gift in honor of my aunt. You see, one year at Christmas my aunt (who always gave us the coolest Christmas presents) gave my youngest brother, who was around 3 at the time, a fireman's helmet complete with flashing light and siren, that he then proceeded to put immediately upon his head and turn on before running circles around the living room and later, the dining room while we were eating our Christmas dinner. Someone eventually made the brilliant suggestion that he take it outside - all the better to see the cool lights out in the darkness - and thankfully he did, but not before we all were seeing spots in front of our eyes from the strobe-y light and ears had begun ringing from the incessant siren. (Oh, and note to the brother in question: just because the baby isn't due until the spring, don't think I won't get a set of bagpipes for your family, too - they'll keep!)

Besides, as I live over five hours away from all of my siblings, I won't be around to hear their rehearsals.... Mwah-ha-ha-ha-haaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

I wonder if the website will give me a volume discount?

PS on the Tooth Fairy

***UPDATE*** The Tooth Fairy has decided that for this momentous FIRST tooth, Kiddo will be receiving a small toy that she has been coveting for many months and she was planning to request of Santa, along with a note from the TF. For subsequent teeth, she will be receiving a dollar - one of those gold Sacagawea dollar coins, most likely. We have a pile of them from stamp vending machine change, enough to get us through the next several teeth, anyhow. Kiddo is still (it's now almost 7am the next morning) sleeping, as she is coming down with a cold so I'm not waking her up for school. Can't wait to see what her reaction is to the TF when she eventually wakes up!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Paging the Tooth Fairy...

Look what happened at school today!!

Kiddo reports that one of the aides pulled the dangling tooth out after lunch (I did give her apple slices, so she was eating crunchy, tooth-loosening things today) and that the nurse then wiped the blood away and gave her one of those tiny, plastic tooth treasure chests to save the tooth in - the same exact one that I used to get whenever I had a tooth pulled as a kid. (For the record: I had thirty-three teeth pulled, not counting my wisdom teeth. I mean baby and adult teeth that weren't left to fall out on their own. Somehow, wisdom teeth just don't seem to count in that regard...) Kiddo reports that it "didn't really hurt" - her exact words - and that she was happy to have it out.

So, paging the Tooth Fairy, we need you to make your debut appearance here tonight!

Funny that something as small as this

can move me to tears, but it did. My little kid is growing up so darn fast! *sniff sniff*

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book recommendation

Our public library does a reader review thing, where they paste a sheet of paper inside the back cover of a book for readers to rate and comment on the book when they've finished it. From time to time, I will check out a book solely based on the ratings and comments. Usually, I tend to agree with the majority opinion - I only will select a "random" book if the rating average is at least a 7. The book I just read this afternoon was one of these selections. However, this was the first time I'd flipped a book open to the reader review page and seen such unanimously high marks given. Twelve of the thirteen spots for reviews were completed, and the lowest rating given, on a scale of 1-10, was a 10. Most of the reviews were a 10++ or higher (there was a 10++++++ at the upper end) and the comments were all similarly raves. How could I not give the book a try?

So, I read it today and am pleased to report that it lived up to the buzz from the back cover reviewers. It is a novel, not really traditional "chick lit" and not romance and not mystery, just a good, old fashioned story. I love discovering new-to-me authors and plan to check out more of her books (she's written several others) when I head to the library tomorrow to return this week's stack.

The book, which I'll gladly recommend to you now (as I know you're all dying of suspense, right?) is The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani. If you're looking for a good weekend read or a waiting-in-the-carpool-lane/at-football-or-hockey-practice read, this would be an excellent choice! If you do read it, let me know what you think of it. In the meantime, I'm about to fill in that last reviewer's spot inside the back of the book with my verdict.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Speaking of cute, little birdies...

To go along with the retelling of how my grandmother gassed her beloved canary (see below), I have another bird-related item to share.

Hubby was watching the show How It's Made, which we love here at our house, while he was cooking dinner tonight. He called Kiddo and me downstairs to watch something he'd just seen. He said it was the best How It's Made segment he'd ever watched, and after watching it twice (because I just couldn't believe my eyes the first time), I have to concur. Thankfully, some intrepid souls (who obviously share our amazement at this whole thing) have uploaded the relevant segment to YouTube.

Check these chicks out! Seriously, this is wild!!!

I mean, I guess it makes sense that there are commercial hatcheries, but isn't that the craziest thing you've ever seen? Kiddo and I were cracking each other up by narrating the chicks' journey down the various contraptions: "Whooooooooa! CHUTE!" etc... hilarious!

Of course, this didn't stop us for a second from enjoying the chicken and sausage pasta dish Hubby whipped up for dinner. 'Twas delicious!

Nana and the Canary, an Allegedly True Tale

Cast of characters:
Nana: an elderly woman, well meaning but more than a little bit flaky
Kitty: Nana's much put-upon neighbor
Bob: crotchety pet store owner
Tweety: Nana's beloved pet canary
Yogi: Kitty's one year old golden retriever

Scene 1. Nana's kitchen, early afternoon. Nana is pacing back and forth, worried.

Nana: (to herself) I just don't know what to do... I've tried everything I can think of... They didn't really teach us about canaries back in nursing school... What should I do? I know - I'll call Kitty. (She reaches for the telephone and hits speed dial 1.) Hello, Kitty? It's Nana. I'm worried about Tweety. He doesn't seem...right. Can you come over and take a look at him? (pause) I know you aren't a vet, but you are a nurse... I mean, you were until you retired last must remember about these things better than I can! (increasingly frantic) PLEASE, Kitty, please come take a look, I don't know what to do and Tweety just isn't right! (pause) Okay, thanks, see you in ten minutes.

Scene 2. Kitty's kitchen, early afternoon. She hangs up the phone and sighs in exasperation.

Kitty: Honestly! I don't know what else I would do with my time if I didn't have Nana and her crises to worry about. To think I thought I'd get some work done in the garden today... (She whistles for her dog.) Yogi! Come on boy, let's go for a ride in the car. We're going down the hill to Nana's house...again.

Scene 3. Nana's front yard, about 20 minutes later. Nana is standing at the end of her driveway, peering anxiously up the road for Kitty's car.

Nana: Where can she be? She only lives a mile away! I could've walked there from here by now, and I'm almost 86! Oh hurry, please hurry.... Oh, here she comes now. Thank goodness! (She waves frantically as Kitty pulls up and gets out of her car.)

Kitty: (to Yogi, under her breath) Good thing she was standing out here waving; it isn't as if we haven't been here a million times before! (Aloud) Stay, Yogi. Good boy. I'll be right back. Hello, Nana, where's the bird?

Nana: He's in the house, come on, quickly!

Scene 4. Nana's kitchen. Kitty and Nana enter. Classical music is blaring from a radio on the counter next to the cage. Kitty peers into the cage, but it is empty.

Kitty: (shouting above the music) Can we turn this down a tad, Nana? I didn't know you were going (she switches the radio off) deaf in your old age, too! Now then, where's the bird?

Nana: (distracted) Oh, Tweety likes the radio, and I thought it would cheer him up. Usually, he starts singing right away, as soon as I put the radio on - that classical station is his favorite. But today that didn't even help. I thought he might have an ear infection - I mean, birds must have ears even though we can't see them, right and if they have them they could get them infected, right? - so I turned the radio up to be sure he could hear it. Oh dear, I hope he is all right...

Kitty: (mildly annoyed) Where is he, Nana?

Nana: (continuing as if Kitty hadn't spoken) Well, the other day, I noticed he had this...this THING on his foot. Like a growth or something. So, I tried to soak it with Epsom Salts a few times a day to see if that would help it, but it didn't. That's what I did for old Joe when he had ingrown toenails, and it always worked for him. You remember my husband Joe don't you? We were married 53 years when he died. He would've known what to do for the bird's foot. So, this morning, when I checked his cage I noticed Tweety could barely move. He was just kind of holding on with that one little foot, he couldn't even hop over to his food dish. He could barely stand upright when I put him in the Epsom Salts bath. That's why I thought he might have an ear infection - from getting the salty water in his ears, since he kept tipping over into it. Canaries apparently aren't water birds, like ducks, because he wasn't floating really at all. Joe Junior always got ear infections when he went swimming - swimmer's ear, the doctors called it. I told that boy being a lifeguard was a silly choice for a summer job for someone who was so prone to swimmer's ear infections, but he wanted to hang out on the beach and show off for the girls, you know? What could I -

Kitty: (exasperated beyond all patience) Nana!!! WHERE IS THE BIRD???

Nana: (startled out of her monologue) Oh! The bird. Well, Tweety was shaking, so I thought he had caught a chill from the water. So, I put him in the oven to keep him warm until you got here. (She notices the look of shock on Kitty's face and grows alarmed.) I didn't turn it on very high - I put it on the lowest setting, "warm" that's all. I just couldn't stand to see him chilled and shivering.

Kitty: (as she rushes across the kitchen to the oven) Nana, when did you put him in there?

Nana: (upset) Right after we got off the phone. Oh dear, you don't think it is too warm in there for him, do you? I mean, aren't canaries tropical birds? He should be used to the heat...

Kitty: (peering into the oven and thinking quickly) Nana, I think I'd better take Tweety to the vet. Why don't you get me a shoe box to put him into?

Nana hurries out of the room. She returns moments later with a shoe box. Kitty reaches into the oven, snatches out the very dead bird, and quickly hides the corpse in the shoe box. Nana is in tears.

Kitty: (firmly) Nana, I'm going to take Tweety to the vet right now. You stay here, I know you don't like riding in the car with Yogi. (She leaves, box in hand.)

Scene 5. A local pet store. Kitty enters, clutching the shoe box. Bob stands behind the register, a surly expression on his face. He is aimlessly thumbing through an issue of Cat Fancy.

Bob: (slightly more than a grunt) Can I help you?

Kitty: Yes. (She places the shoebox on the counter next to the register and removes the lid.) I need to buy a canary that looks exactly like this one.

Bob peers into the shoe box.

Bob: What happened to this one? It smells a bit...funky. Almost like...(sniffs loudly into the box)...gas.

Kitty: It died, obviously. Of...old age. Do you have a bird here that looks like it?

Bob: Yep, sure do. Do you want me to dispose of this one for you, too?

Scene 6. Kitty's car. Kitty pulls up in front of a grocery store. The new canary is in the shoebox on the front seat, and Yogi is sitting in the back seat.

Kitty: Yogi, you stay put. I just need to run in and pick up some milk. Can't afford anything else, now that I'm out $95 for that damn bird! (She gets out of the car and heads into the store.)

Scene 7. Grocery store parking lot, seven minutes after Kitty entered the store. She approaches the car carrying a grocery bag holding one gallon of milk and Soap Opera Digest.

Kitty: Oh no - what the ??? (She looks into her car with much anxiety.) Damn it, Yogi - those are FEATHERS, aren't they?

Scene 8. Bob's Pet Store.

Kitty: Hello again. I need you to sell me another bird that looks like the one I just bought.

Bob: (suspiciously) You need another bird? Lady, I'm not selling you another bird! What the heck happened to the one I just sold you 15 minutes ago?

Kitty: (frazzled) Well, if you won't sell me another bird, can I have my first bird back?

Scene 9. Nana's kitchen, three hours and a half tank of gas later. Kitty enters carrying the shoe box.

Kitty: (with forced brightness) Here you go, Nana. Good as new! (She places the new canary into the cage.)

Nana: (relieved) Oh goodness, Kitty, I was worried - you were gone so long! I was afraid something bad had happened to my precious Tweety!

Kitty: Well, the, uh, the vet had to operate and it took a while, what with the anesthesia and all... So the vet bill was pretty high, too, as you can imagine...

Nana: (not really listening) Oh yes, operations...those do take a while. I remember when Joe Junior had his tonsils out. He was in the hospital three whole days! And he didn't care a whit since he could eat all the ice cream he wanted. I thought it was down right irresponsible of that hospital to give him something as unhealthy as ice cream for three whole days! (to canary) You don't want any ice cream, do you, Tweety bird? No, birdie boy doesn't want any ice cream. He just wants his radio. (She switches on the radio. Classical music begins blaring as loudly as before.) There you are, Tweety.

Kitty: (shouting above the radio) Like I was saying, Nana, the vet bill was pretty high. It came to a hundred and ninety dollars. I paid it for you, of course, since you weren't there, and I knew you wouldn't want Tweety to go without treatment...

Nana: (completely distracted) Yes, yes, of course you did. Well, thank you so much for your help. To show my appreciation, here's a loaf of zucchini bread I baked earlier today. The zucchini came right from my own garden... (She stares intently at the bird.) He looks a bit strange, doesn't he, Kitty?

Kitty: (somewhat panicked) Strange? What do you mean, strange? I mean, he is still... uh... recovering from the anesthesia... that must be what you mean, right?

Nana: Oh, yes, that must be it. Well, thanks again for your help Kitty. Here's your bread. You probably want to get Yoga home for dinner, poor thing's been in the car all day, he must be hungry.

Kitty is so relieved that Nana didn't realize she is now the owner of a completely different bird that she grabs the bread from Nana and bolts out of the door.

Scene 10. Kitty's garden, three weeks later. Nana has dropped by to visit and has been chatting at Kitty for the past hour. Kitty is bent over her petunia bed and is doing her best to ignore Nana.

Nana: anyhow, Joe never liked birds at all, and so he probably wouldn't have minded if the bird had dropped dead from his infected toenail. God rest his soul.

Kitty: (suddenly tuning in to Nana's words) What?! The bird died after all that?

Nana: (confused) What? My bird died??? What do you mean?

Kitty: (also confused) You said "God rest his soul" just now. You mean your bird's soul? I thought that the bird was fine - should've been after all the money I forked over for it...

Nana: No, no, not the BIRD'S soul, Joe's soul. You know, we were married 53 years before he died... (Suddenly looking intently at Kitty) But now that you mention it, you know what IS strange about the bird?

Kitty: (stomach instantly knotting) Wh-wh-what?

Nana: Well, ever since his operation, he has stopped singing to his classical music station. Now he will only sing when I put the radio to the country and western station. Doesn't that just beat all?

The end.

The above tale is based on a true story. Only some names and minor details were changed to protect the identity of the well-meaning and not at all put-upon relatives who came to Nana's rescue in the Great Canary Gassing and Replacement.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Forsooth! No, actually, forTOOTH!

Kiddo has gone to the dentist faithfully every six months for years now. (Thankfully, she also is cavity-free, woo-hoo!) At her last visit, Kiddo was quite concerned about the possibility of having a loose tooth. Her best friend, who is a few months older, had a wiggly tooth that fell out a few weeks after our trip to the dentist, and more have fallen out since then. The dentist looked at her x-rays (done last November) and informed us that (1) Kiddo isn't likely to have any loose teeth until she is closer to seven years old, based upon the way her adult teeth were progressing in their development, and (2) that she is definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY going to be a candidate for braces when those adult teeth do start appearing.

Somewhat mollified by the fact that we'd have some time before we had to deal with reality (2) since reality (1) was purportedly far off in the future, I have spent the past six months peering admiringly into the mouths of Kiddo's friends and other friends' kids, complimenting the wiggliness of their loose teeth and oohing and aahing over the gaps that were subsequently appearing in their smiles.

Which is why the sight of this:

shocked me into speechlessness (and let's face it, I am very, very rarely at any loss for words) earlier this afternoon. I don't know how long that tooth has been loose, and Kiddo seemed to be as surprised as I was by the discovery. Hubby was the one who noticed, as we were having lunch today (Kiddo had a half day so we drove over to the side of town where Hubby works and met him for lunch as a treat) and Kiddo opened her mouth to take a bite of her fruit salad. He actually saw this:

more than he noticed the actual tooth in front of it being loose all on its own. As soon as I returned from liberally ketchup-ing Kiddo's hot dog, he pointed it out, that monstrosity of an adult tooth crowding on up into view. I was, to say the least, very surprised by the sight.

Yeah, more like totally gobsmacked. My first thought was "Oh, Kiddo bonked herself in the mouth at some point and *knocked* the tooth loose... surely that can't be an adult tooth right there...." but no, there it was, a legitimately loose tooth.

Now, I suffered through over a decade of major orthodontia myself as a child (having that second set of adult teeth, as I did), and I am therefore a relatively experienced judge of impending dental wonkiness. This, my friends, with the ginormous adult tooth jutting up completely behind instead of under the baby tooth? A wonkiness red alert! So, while prediction #1 may've failed, I am fairly certain that the dentist's second prediction is soon going to come true in a big, expensive way. Good thing we've added Kiddo to the dental insurance!! She has her 6 month check up in a few weeks (ironically, we usually go within a week of Halloween - last year we went November 1st, of all the days to go to the dentist!) and I can't wait to hear what the dentist has to say about the newest state of her mouth.

In the meantime, the most pressing matters here at the house are WHEN will the tooth actually fall out and WHAT will the tooth fairy bring her? (Grandpa in NJ thought it was hilarious to tell Kiddo that the TF brings kids $100 for their first tooth. Mommy then told Grandpa that the TF also bills the grandparents for that service. Thanks a lot, Dad.) Kiddo, having just finished reading Ramona the Pest in which Ramona loses her first tooth and gets a whopping dime from the TF, has much more reasonably low expectations. Okay, we might cough up a dollar or perhaps a small toy type thing instead, but she's not getting any major cash, as much as my dad claims inflation. (Kiddo is now reading the first of the Paddington books, and professing, as Hubby and I both did at the same juncture in our lives, an overwhelming passion for marmalade.) I just really hope the tooth doesn't fall out at school, because that could be a major disaster. (DC - if you're reading this, be prepared! I'll letcha know if the tooth's still hanging in there come Monday morning...) I just hope it doesn't come out in her sleep (I remember wiggling my loose teeth with my tongue in bed at night) and then disappear, either down her gullet or into the cosmos. That baby tooth is miiiighty tiny! As a child, I once lost a tooth while spending the weekend at my grandparents' house. I saved it in a baggie to take home and leave under the pillow for the TF, rightly guessing that she wouldn't know to come to Nana and Pop's, and my grandmother had the audacity, when she came upon the baggie with my tooth tucked carefully into my suitcase, to throw it out!!! I was beyond distraught, and called my parents hysterically crying about how Nana threw my tooth out in the garbage. (Nana just didn't get what all the fuss was about. I don't think my dad and aunt ever were visited by the Tooth Fairy as kids...) Fortunately, Mom explained a loophole through which we could write the TF a letter explaining the lost tooth, and the TF came through - I had a quarter waiting under my pillow that next morning after arriving home. (Took me a loooong time to forgive Nana for that egregious crime, though...) While I'm sure Kiddo would understand such an explanation, I'd hate to have to give it to her for the very first lost tooth!

I ought to confess, I got a little choked up over this unexpected development. I mean, yeah, it could partly be due to PMS, but this is such incontrovertible evidence that Kiddo is getting BIG, and I wasn't expecting this for another year or two at least, so *sniff sniff* it got to me. (Kiddo is not quite yet five and a half...)

So, that's the latest development here in our corner of the world. After lunch (which she spent mainly looking at her tooth in the compact mirror I carry in my purse), Kiddo called all the relatives and friends to share the news, then put on her lion costume and we hit the pumpkin patch for our annual Halloween pictures. They're ridiculously adorable, if I do say so myself, so if anyone wants to see 'em, let me know and I'll hook you up. As always, I'm not posting them here because of the internet weirdos and all that, blah blah blah.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Burning question: Phone calling etiquette

Okay, faithful readers, lurkers and random passers-by who turn up from the vast expanses of the internet, I have a burning question for you.

What time of day is the earliest/latest you think is appropriate to call someone on the phone? I'm not talking about family or friends, nor am I talking about telemarketing (there's NEVER an appropriate time for them, is there?!). I mean for business or other such more "formal" stuff. For example, church related business or PTA/school related business.

I ask because I'm in charge of Kiddo's elementary school's Fall Harvest Fun House, and I therefore need to organize many, many volunteers to assist with the event. Now, here at Casa Smith, we tend to go to bed on the earlier side than most people. I'm aware that not everyone out there is ZZZZZing at 9pm, but that's not unusual for us! (On the other end of things, our alarm clock is set for 5:30am, so it isn't like we're utter sloths. Early to bed and early to rise and all that..........)

I've always thought that 8:30am was the earliest one should call a non-family-member-or-friend. I'm a little hazier on the evening. I don't like calling people after 7, personally, but I don't think it is rude to call someone before 8pm. The added wrinkle I'm stressing about is the fact that these obviously are parents of younger kids - I mean, the school is pre-K through 2nd grade - and therefore they, like us, are dealing with baths and bedtime in the evening hours, and then sleeping kids. I would never call anyone after 9pm unless it was an emergency, or unless I knew for an absolute fact that it was okay to call that late. But then, if you call between, say, 5:30 and 7, you are potentially running into people's dinner time, and that is equally intrusive and impolite.

At this point, I'm using email as my initial contact since I have email addresses for all but one of the volunteers. My back-up plan is to just call folks during the day, which will likely mean leaving many, many voicemails. Of course, the flip side of this is that we will have to deal with the return phone calls. I don't like saying "please don't call my house after 7pm...." but I have done that before, and am thinking maybe I should again. Last night, our phone rang twice after 8pm, as Hubby and I were finishing up dinner and heading to bed.

So? What do you think? How late would you call folks if you were me? What is considered rude? What do you think if someone calls your house after 8pm? Help!

I'm Too Sexy! No, really!

So, while browsing around new-to-me blogs of SITStas I met during the Blogathon yesterday, I came across a post on NJDecorator's blog that linked to the quiz "What is your Karaoke Theme Song?"

Of course I had to take it immediately! I've been known (albeit in my much younger, pre-parenthood days) to go out to bars explicitly because they had karaoke, and I've been known to get up and sing - without a drop of alcohol in me, by the way. I think karaoke is fun (should I not be admitting this in public? Hmmmm...) and I enjoy watching it as well as doing it. Anyhow, this is what my quiz results told me:

Your Karaoke Theme Song is "I'm Too Sexy"

You're a total goof ball and a bit of a nut job. You don't take yourself seriously at all.

And while you may not be the greatest singer, you're the first to volunteer for karaoke.

You have a wild and unpredictable sense of humor that always gets people cracking up.

Irreverent and rebellious, your humor knows no bounds or limits. You enjoy shocking people.

You might also sing: "Like a Virgin," "Ice Ice Baby," and "Hey Ya!"

Stay away from people who sing: "Sweet Home Alabama"

What's Your Karaoke Theme Song?

Whaddya think? Sound at all like me? I never have actually sung I'm Too Sexy for karaoke before, but if I ever have the chance for karaoke again, I might have to give it a shot! (My usual karaoke songs - if I'm singing alone vs with a group of friends - are Desperado and Copacabana, by the way...) Oh, and for the record: I actually kinda dig Sweet Home Alabama. I definitely wouldn't avoid someone who was singing it...

While I'm on the subject of the Blogathon, I want to officially congratulate all the mega-giveaway winners yesterday! Most of all, I want to send out my deepest congratulations to Nikki Crumpet for winning the one thing I wanted to win most of all.... the autographed George Clooney picture! (*stifling a sob*) Whoops, did I turn a teensy bit green with envy there? What can I say, of all the fantabulous prizes offered in the giveaway, I wanted George's picture most of all...

The blogathon was really fun (if an utter time-suck in terms of productivity for, you know, my real life) and I've now extended my blogroll significantly. I really need to figure out the whole "blog reader" concept because the list of blogs I check out on a daily basis is getting out of control! Anyone with hints in that regard, please share!

I shall leave you with this, since it's now running through my head:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SITS Blogathon

(To the tune of My Favorite Things, with apologies to the Von Trapps and Julie Andrews...)

Comments on blog posts
so cleverly written
Heartfelt and cheering
and thoughtfully given
Seeing my site meter soar
like a bird on the wing,
These are a few of my favorite things!

Finding new blogs created by wonderful women
Laughing and crying from what they have written
Women whose playlists can cause me to sing,
These are a few of my favorite things!

When there's housework,
Or my kid is whining,
Or when my hair's gone mad...
I simply escape to my computer and SITS
and then I don't feel so bad!

Givinya de Elba is an Aussie with zing!
Hot Tub Lizzy's campaign's quite a thing!
Eudea-Mamia is a new friend and Ronnica is too

If I ever need a laugh, I read HappyHourSue!

All of these bloggers have a Secret they share
(No, not a "secret" - that's a capital S up there)
The Secret? I'll tell you, so no need to fuss!
It's a fantabulous website made for comment junkies like us!

The Secret is in the Sauce brings us bloggers together
No matter how messy our homes are or how bad the weather
They feature great reads and great giveaways too
(I've even won twice, no, really, it's true!)

So if you are blogging and feel all alone
No need to burn through all your minutes on your cell phone
Just become a SITSta (guys are welcome too!)
And soon heaps of saucy comment love will head right to you!

Featured bloggers and saucy blogs galore!
Contests and giveaways, too.
If you're looking for great reads (or avoiding your chores)
then SITS is the site for you!

I love SITS! (And not just for the chance to win an autographed photo of George Clooney, either!) Once again, let me give a shout out to the creators of SITS, Heather and Tiffany - you guys ROCK!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Of memories and manatees: meandering miscellany

Well, we're two thirds of the way through a three day weekend, and I have lots of odds and ends rattling about in my brain, none of which in and of themselves feel worthy of an entire post. I shall, therefore, collect them all here in what is guaranteed to be a long-n-rambly entry. Without further ado, let the rambling commence!

First things first: want some fun-n-exciting bling for your blog? Check out the brand spankin' new button I made over there in my sidebar on the left! You can copy the code to your own blog and be the first on your block to have my spiffy button!

Kiddo fell the other morning, on our way to the bus stop. She was, as per usual, ignoring my repeated suggestions that she walk, not run, down the sidewalk and BAM, down she went, tearing a hole in her pants and skinning knees and palms. She was more upset by missing the bus and having to have Mommy drive her to school than she was upset about her injuries. (I was more upset about the ruining of an almost-new pair of khakis, myself.) To cheer her up, I told her the following story, something I'd forgotten about for years but that popped into my mind as I was comforting her and getting her cleaned up:

When I was in kindergarten through second grade, I walked to school along with a group of other children in the neighborhood. One day in mid-October when I was in first grade, my grandmother (who was staying with us as my parents were unavoidably out of town) decided she would drive us instead of having us walk. It was cold and rainy and we had school pictures, so we were all dressed up and looking spiffy. This was a treat regardless of the situation, so the six or seven of us kids gleefully crowded into her old, boat-like sedan. (I'm not sure what the car was - I'd have to ask my dad or my uncle. I just recall it was dark green, large, four door and had those fins on the tail lights that have always struck me as really cool. Remember, this was the mid-70s.) Two girls sat up front, leaving the other four or five of us plus my younger sister to jam into the back seat. This being back in the era before seat belt laws were mandatory and also due to the large number of grade schoolers wedged into the back, none of us were secured by any means other than by being squished in place by our companions. I was on the far right, up against the door. Nana pulled out of our driveway and headed through town to school. As she steered around curves or turned corners, the row of us in the back would sway against each other, and we exaggerated the amount of "tipping" as kids are wont to do in such cases. Well, a little more than halfway to school, we turned and everyone shoved over into me, and the next thing I knew, the door I was pressed up against opened up and I went tumbling out of the car! I landed face down in a drainage ditch full of sodden, muddy leaves at the side of the road. I scrambled up in time to see the door swing shut as Nana completed the turn and then kept on driving. Convinced that she would stop at any second and back up to retrieve me, I stayed put. I was unhurt, but my dress and tights were filthy and I was covered in bits of leaves from my hair on down to my shoes. I was amazed when Nana didn't stop or turn around to come back for me and instead drove on out of sight. I later learned that even though all the girls were screaming for Nana to stop, that I'd fallen out of the car, when she glanced in the rearview mirror, all she saw was that the door was closed and that there were a bunch of heads in her view. She was convinced that we were playing a trick on her and that I was just hiding. It wasn't until she pulled up at the school, several blocks later, that she realized I was not, in fact, still in the car. She dropped off the rest of the girls and circled back to find me, pissed off and shocked beyond tears to have been deserted as I was, standing on the side of the road. She collected me and brought me home to change, and then proceeded to add insult to injury by making me wear an outfit that was not the one my mother had carefully selected before her trip for class picture day, and one that I didn't even much like. Inexorable as my grandmother was, she didn't even have the good grace to either apologize or allow herself to be guilted into a trip to the 5 & 10 for consolation candy, either.

Kiddo was shocked by this story, mostly by the fact that none of us had seatbelts or were in booster seats like the first graders she knows use today. It was one of the first times that she ever truly seemed to get the concept of "back in the day" - to her the seventies are the equivalent of Little House on the Prairie to me, I guess!

We've been enjoying some serious Indian summer weather this weekend, so how did Kiddo and I take advantage of it today? By going to the movies, of course! (In my defense, we were outside for a good portion of the day yesterday and plan to be outside all day tomorrow as well, and she played in the back yard for a decent amount of time today too.) Hubby had some work to do (being in the financial services industry, needless to say, there is never an end to the work in these ridiculous and scary economic times), so I took Kiddo over to the local IMAX theater where the movie Dolphins and Whales 3D: Tribes of the Ocean is playing to give him some peace and quiet in which to concentrate on his work. I'd seen an ad for it in the paper earlier in the week, and Kiddo is all into 3D movies after our trip to Disney World, where we saw "the Donald Duck movie" and the Muppets 3D movie more than once, so I thought this would be a cool, albeit expensive, thing to check out. Turns out it was indeed cool - at times it seemed like the gigantic whales were coming right at us and we really got the feeling of being underwater with the various animals - and educational as well. The fact that stuck with Kiddo the most? Manatees, due to their diet consisting mainly of vegetation, are very flatulent creatures. Yes, we were treated to the sight of manatees farting (oh sorry, "tooting" in Kiddo parlance) underwater, in glorious, 3D technicolor. The gas bubbles - they're coming right at us! (And yes, Kiddo tried to pop the bubbles, as she also reached out to pet various dolphins and whales and she even squeaked back in "dolphin talk" to the pods on the screen a few times.)

Kiddo broke her glasses on Friday. I'm not sure when the actual breaking occurred, but while she was washing up before dinner, she looked down at her hands and - clink! - a lens popped out. The frame itself was broken, right at the temple, which is a first. I chose these specific frames for their super-bendy properties, and as we've been in to the optician's office about once a week since August when she got her glasses for adjustments, I think it was a good investment since this was the first actual break. Luckily for us, the frames are under warranty so replacing them will only cost us $5, and even luckier, the optician put Kiddo's lenses into one of the "demo" frames so she has glasses to wear in the interim. The loaner pair were the runner-up choice when Kiddo was picking out her frames; they're the same frames except in purple (hers are pink) and seeing them on her as we have since yesterday morning, I'm very happy we did choose the pink, as the purple are much more "HELLO! WE'RE HERE! ON KIDDO'S FACE! YOO-HOO!" than her regular frames. Once we find out if she will need glasses for the long term (we go back to the eye doc next month), I think I'll get a spare pair for a back-up just in case they can't do a loaner pair the next time her frames break. I remember all too well from my own childhood how often glasses break, so I'm sure there will be a next time!

I'm presently in reality TV heaven, with my three favorite reality shows all on right now. I am addicted to The Amazing Race (and seriously, are these teams the stupidest contestants ever on the current race? The mistakes they make, it's like they've never seen the show before - read the flippin' clues, folks, yeesh!), Project Runway (I'm totally rooting for Leanne and absolutely cannot stand Kenley) and America's Next Top Model (McKey is my favorite, though Marjorie and Elina are both possible contenders). I'd love to do The Amazing Race, but never, ever could. Number one, I'm not in nearly good enough shape; number two, I have that whole issue with heights which always is at least one of the Detours or Road Blocks; and number three - the big one - I couldn't bear to be away from Kiddo for a whole month (I don't think they allow families to join teams down in Sequesterville, so even if we were the first team eliminated, I still wouldn't see her for way too long). Maybe if they do another Family Edition someday, the three of us could compete together...

Just so you don't think my brain is entirely rotted by reality TV viewing, I've been reading, too - grown-up books, not just my beloved Entertainment Weekly and Ramona the Pest (Kiddo's developed a penchant for "chapter" books thanks to her kindergarten teacher reading them Junie B. Jones books at school). The book I'm reading right now is quite interesting - My Lobotomy: A Memoir. (The link takes you to an NPR story about the author.) As the title says, the book is the memoir of a man who had a lobotomy as a child, and as an adult, gained access to his medical records while on a quest to learn why he was lobotomized (there was no valid reason, his stepmother who hated him was the driving force behind the whole idea!) and how his father could have let it happen. It is hard to read in some places, but from the preface, I know there will be a good outcome at the end - as good an outcome as there can be for someone who had to endure such a horrible miscarriage of medicine and justice, so I'm going to finish it.

Last week, Kiddo went on her first kindergarten field trip, and I was one of the moms who chaperoned. (The other two chaperones are the class moms, and boy, was I bummed to learn that I'd missed out on the opportunity to be the class mom myself! I totally wanted to be the classroom parent - actually, I'd always dreamed that I would be the classroom parent when my children were in school, the way my mom was for me and for my sisters when we were little.) Anyhow, we were standing in the classroom while the kids were sitting at their tables before the field trip, and one of the other moms asked me which kid was mine. I pointed Kiddo out to her and she looked from Kiddo to me, then said "Oh yes, you two look like each other, I should've been able to figure it out." I responded "Well, it's actually purely coincidental that we resemble each other at all, because Kiddo was adopted." I didn't say this with any snark or tone, mind you, I said it easily with a smile on my face, but sure enough, the other mom looked quite discomfited by hearing this and began to stumble over herself in an attempt to correct what she perceived to be her faux pas. As I sincerely took no offense and didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable, I went on to say that I too was adopted, and growing up, I didn't in fact resemble my family - they're all tall, light haired, light eyed WASPy looking people, and I'm not particularly tall, and am dark haired and dark eyed. I also told her that Kiddo's birthmother and I have some resemblance to each other, and that even though Hubby and I were completely prepared for our child to not resemble either of us at all, by pure chance, we do "blend" as a family. I mean, no one has ever questioned whether she is our child or commented on Kiddo not looking like she "matches" us, anyhow... So, I tried to put her at ease, but I guess the larger world is still unused to the world of adoption and views it therefore as some Big Deal, so as soon as she could, she excused herself and went to the other side of the room, and then didn't really speak to me directly again the rest of the day.

Here's the thing: it isn't a Big Deal. I grew up with this, the "sticky issue" of genes and resemblance, and I know it can make people uncomfortable to discuss. But, what is the alternative? Should I just have nodded and changed the subject? Ignored the comment altogether? Lied? I don't think so. Throughout my life as an adoptee, I never avoided the subject when it came up, and I refuse to treat it like the elephant in the room it can otherwise become. So, since Kiddo was born, I've chosen to always take the honest route, even if it is the less comfortable route, and give credit where credit is due. (Kiddo certainly does NOT get her artistic abilities from me, for example, but from her birthfather, who is quite talented artistically. Likewise, her gorgeous brown eyes, while they may look similar to my own, come from her birthmother, who looked like a cross between Catherine Zeta-Jones and Valerie Bertinelli back when Kiddo was born.) I don't want Kiddo growing up thinking that there's anything wrong with her genes, wrong with her heritage. I guess I haven't figured out the proper amount of finesse yet, but I will continue to be open about giving credit where credit is due when it comes to Kiddo's biological family - they are the ones who created her as she is, after all.

Finally, thanks to everyone for your comments of support and encouragement with the ongoing struggle to ensure Kiddo's needs are being met per her IEP at school. The latest is that I've been assured that there will be a temporary sub who will be trained by Kiddo's occupational therapist in the classroom for the coming week to do her sensory diet, and then the permanent person is supposed to start next week. I've been asked to come to school next Monday morning to meet with the OT and the new aide to make sure everyone's on the same page about what needs to be done for her sensory diet. I didn't think it was so vague or unclear, what with it being spelled out step by step and having a checklist and all, but apparently the lack of compliance with the IEP is being chalked up to a "miscommunication issue" between me, the annoying parent, and the school/school district. I'm a little annoyed (as befits my title, right?) about the buck-passing and refusal to accept responsibility that is going on at their end. I'm frustrated because they really seem more concerned about not getting in trouble or taking the blame for the noncompliance, rather than being concerned about failing the children for whom they are responsible, which should be the priority, you know... it really isn't a miscommunication at all, but whatever - so long as Kiddo's needs are being met, that's all that matters. Right?

Okay, that's enough for now. I guess this was enough for a couple separate posts - hope your eyes aren't crossing with fatigue! I'll end by saying keep an eye out for my blog on Tuesday when I'll be taking part in something exciting that is happening over at the fantabulous SITS - it's going to be wild and even includes chance to win an autographed picture of George Clooney, be still, my beating heart!