Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm baaaaaaack...

Vacation: Unplugged 2008 is over and we are home. We had a fantabulous time, as evidenced by the fact that we have already booked a return trip to Walt Disney World for next August. Less than a year away... woo!

Much to tell, but right now
I'm beat. I've already spent way too much time going through the 220 emails that hit my inbox while I was unplugged and also catching up on all my Facebook Wordscraper games. (While not quite as wonderful as Scrabulous, I am finding myself getting addicted...) So, for now, I will leave you with this one shot (out of the several hundred we took and which I have yet to begin sorting through). This is me on the Spinning Teacups at Magic Kingdom, which I rode twice in a row with the fam, per my promise made earlier this summer that I would. If you find yourself less than awestruck by the amazing photography job, bear in mind I took this of myself while Hubby and Kiddo were spinning our cup for all they were worth.


This truly sums up the week: Hot and sweaty (this photo was taken before 10:30 in the morning, and we already were drenched in sweat), a little dizzy, a little crazy and having a great time!

More to come tomorrow, I promise, including Manpris: a fashion don't? and Is food really that much more exciting when it is shaped like mouse ears? Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Woo!!!!!!

The house is clean. The dishwasher is empty. The litter box and fish tank are sparkling and fresh. The bags are packed. The boarding passes are printed. The cat/housesitters have the key and instruction sheet. In just eight short hours, we will be getting up (yes, that means 4am!) to head off to the airport. We'll be breakfasting while on our layover in Baltimore and then lunching at DISNEY WORLD! Woo!!!!!!

We're bringing Hubby's laptop but will not have internet access (the Mouse wants $10 a day for high-speed interwebs access, oy) and Hubby's even turning off the email/internet feature on his Blackberry. So, dear blogosphere friends, this means radio silence from me for the next seven days. (I didn't think it was fair to have the Crazy Cat/Housesitters also cover blogging duties...) That means this is ciao until Sunday. Incidentally, this will be the longest I've gone without any internet access since Hubby and I went on a weeklong cruise back in January of 2000. I'm twitching already! It will be nice, though, to have a break from everything that isn't part of the Magic Kingdom...

I wish everyone a delightful week, and I'll see you with my mouse ears on next Sunday!

Feline groovy

Our cat, she is crazy. Seriously, she is out of her tiny mind. Well, that's assuming she had a mind to begin with. Ever since we brought her home from the shelter as a wee kitten, she's been nuts. Mostly in an entertaining, lovable sort of way, but not entirely.

Some of her less endearing behaviors include:
  • Refusing to drink any water that isn't running from a sink faucet. Preferably one of the upstairs bathroom sink faucets. This includes refusing to drink from the $60 fountain cat water bowl (with filters even) that we bought for her. She will refuse to drink water to the point of actually being dehydrated, even with a clean bowl of fresh water available to her. Also, the water must flow from the faucet at a certain rate of drip - not too fast or slowly. (Yes, we leave that upstairs tap dripping for significant chunks of time, despite the damage to our water bill and the environment for that whole wasting water thing.)
  • Peeping. This is the term we've coined for her incessant meowing. Well, not really incessant, but at odd hours of the day and night, enough to be very irritating. It never is because she needs anything other than company or entertainment, it is because she wants a chat or someone to wake up and pet her in the middle of the night. She meows really, really loudly, insistently and lengthily when she is peeping. In the middle of the night, I can eventually convince her to settle down next to me in bed and trade peeping for purring, which is obviously much preferred for being more conducive to sleep.
  • Impersonating the Tasmanian Devil (or as it's known in our house, "speed bullet train kitty"). She will tear around at breakneck speed, sprinting up and down the stairs, leaping onto and off of furniture and generally going nuts. This tends to happen in briefer spurts and is often a result of her deciding that her tail is out to get her, so she tries to outrun it. (She attacks it as well, and we know how well that works, don't we, cat owners? The tail always wins!)
  • Expressing her displeasure by peeing on our bed. That's right, I said peeing on our bed. This happens infrequently, but really, once is too frequently for anyone to discover a drying puddle of cat urine under the comforter, isn't it? She never pees anywhere else, other than her litter box, of course. This seems to happen for one of two reasons: when she feels her litter box isn't clean enough (so yes, we make a highly concerted effort to keep it sparkling fresh at all times) and when Kiddo has, in the cat's opinion, been annoying. Try as we might to keep Kiddo from bothering the cat, what the cat views as "bothering" is usually just the kiddo's attempts to play with her. It's just that our cat has never really been fond of Kiddo from the moment we brought her home from the hospital. (The cat is one year older than the kid, and therefore predates the kiddo as a member of the family by a year.)
She has other quirks, as well, like a fondness for water that is unseemly in a feline (she's been known to get into the tub while one of her humans are bathing or showering) and an insistence upon barfing up hairballs in the weirdest places, instead of on the linoleum where it is easily cleanable. (Okay, that last one may not be so much of a quirk as random chance - when one has to gack up a hairball, one has to gack wherever one is, be that curled up on the back of the couch or under the bed. I guess that one is more wishful thinking on my part...) She also has an obsession with being ON things: for example, if there is one tiny item, say a sock, on top of the bed, she will curl up on top of the sock, or if there is a piece of paper on the floor, she'll curl up on that. She also likes to be up high - some of her favorite spots (besides her bed on top of Hubby's tall dresser) include the top of one of the bookcases in the living room and on top of the kitchen cabinets. Now, our cat is healthy, spayed, active, kept entertained, well taken care of and none of her behaviors are anything related to ill treatment (unless you count the Kiddo's mere presence in the house as treating the cat badly), and other than the peeing on the bed thing, her irritating behaviors really aren't intolerable. That isn't to say that we wouldn't really enjoy some behavior modification, mind you...

And behavior modification is what I wanted to tell you about now. It seems (knock wood) that we have found something that calms the Crazy Cat down, drastically lessens the peeping and Taz-like behaviors and even lessens her insistence on dripping-from-the-faucet water. What miracle have we discovered? A little product called Feliway. Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone, dispersed either via spray bottle or diffuser. It is veterinarian-recommended and purports to lessen undesirable behaviors (like peeing outside the litter box) with a high success rate. The pheromones it simulates are the "happy" ones, the ones that calm a kitty down. With our upcoming vacation (which will be the longest we've ever been away from Crazy Cat, though we have a cat sitter so it isn't like she'll be home alone, just not with us) and the fact that Kiddo isn't going anywhere anytime for at least another 13 or so years, I finally convinced Hubby that we ought to give the Feliway a try. (Hubby was a bit reluctant as this stuff is rather pricy.) I found the diffuser at a significant discount on Amazon and we ordered it. Our cat is one who gets a big reaction from catnip (or "kitty crack" as we call it where Crazy Cat is concerned) so I thought perhaps with her sensitivity to catnip, she'd be more predisposed to react well to the pheromones.

Well, it arrived last week and we promptly plugged it in up in our bedroom. (One diffuser covers a 600 square foot area.) Crazy Cat's bed is on top of Hubby's dresser, and we put the diffuser in the outlet right next to the dresser. It has only been a few days, but already we're noticing a marked change in the levels of feline crazy. She is much calmer, hasn't peeped in the middle of the night, instead choosing to skip the yowling and go right to the snuggling next to me and purring, and she didn't even freak out last night when the faucet was accidentally shut off (my bad - I was getting myself some water around 1am and wasn't awake enough to realize I'd closed the tap all the way). She even is much friendlier towards Kiddo - since we plugged the Feliway diffuser in, she's only hissed at Kiddo once, as opposed to "every time the kiddo walks within 2 feet of the cat" as before.

So, is Feliway the magical cure to our cat's insanity? I guess time will tell, but Hubby and I are pretty darn convinced! Woot!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Check out this giveaway!

The ever-fantabulous SITS gals have pointed me over to a great giveaway here. Kiki & Lele Handcrafted Jewelry shop is full of adorable things - some of them even are personalized! You really ought to check it out! I've already entered because that Say What You Mean Cuff bracelet must be mine, but I was the very first commenter on the post for the giveaway and when does number one ever win? I mean, yes, number one usually means the winner, but somehow not when it comes to blog post comments for giveaway contests... Anyhow, the shop has lots of cute stuff and I plan to direct various family and friends' attention that way come mid December, which is when Heather's Big Gift-Receiving Time of the Year begins. (Yes, my birthday, Christmas and wedding anniversary are all within a 4 week period.)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fairly Fantastic (and a Friday Five)

So, we're back from the Great NY State Fair. I'm still kind of brain dead a whole day later - it was a much longer trip than we'd planned. Long, but FUN!

Without further ado or promise of decent coherence, here's the photo recap!

One of the first things we did after arriving at the Fair was stop by the State Park Something-or-Other tent, where the kids were sucked in with the lure of making their own bug masks. The two choices of bugs are both bugs that travel inside cut wood and the point was that these are bad bugs who are invasive and non-native, and so you should never move firewood from one place to another. Or maybe it was any wood - I kinda missed the educational portion of this whole thing as we don't presently own a fireplace for which we'd need wood. I do know that all three of the kids opted to make the Emerald Ash Borer mask...

This is Kiddo showing off her mask. The thing that struck me funny about this entire endeavor was that one of my most common nicknames for Kiddo is "Bug" which is short for either Lovebug or Bugaboo (also things I call her frequently). So while she was diligently following the nice State Park Bug Ladies' instructions and making her mask, I was chipping in with various tips and suggestions like "Bug, why don't you use the crayon instead of the marker?" and encouragement like "Good job cutting out those eyeholes, Bug!" It was weird yet funny. (Then again, I do occasionally get looks from strangers when I call out "BUG! Time to go!" or some such thing like when we're at the playground, so I guess not everyone thinks "bug" is a term of endearment....)




Here's Kiddo and her two best friends, all Emerald Ash Borer-ed out! The State Park Bug Ladies also gave each kid some frighteningly realistic bug tattoo sheets, but we opted to "save them for after we get home and bathed" which wound up not happening last night (well, we got home, but didn't do any bathing as the kids were out cold by the time we pulled into the driveway) so now I'm kinda hoping Kiddo forgets I have the tattoo paper tucked away somewhere and we won't find ourselves flying off to Florida with a partially faded, scarily accurate looking bug crawling on her hand/arm...



Something new at the Fair this year was a bear show. It was billed as being educational, but please, you can say the bears are "demonstrating how they'd cross the stones in a river while fishing in the wild" but the bear still is really just doing tricks, I mean I'm fairly sure that in the wild, bears neither ride bicycles or play basketball, nor do they wear muzzles and harnesses (however cleverly disguised they are to look like wreaths of flowers). The kids still were loving every second of the show, though, so cynical Mommy just hushed up and snapped some pictures.



There will be butter! Lots of butter! Strangely fascinating as ever, the butter sculpture rotating away in its refrigerated display case... And to answer Hot Tub Lizzy's question from my earlier butter sculpture-related post: this year, for the first time ever, the sculpture is going to be melted down and recycled into bio fuel. (Bio-fuel? Biofuel? You know what I mean, right? Clean burning, non-gas related fuel.) Apparently 960-something pounds of butter ultimately will make 96 gallons of fuel.



We saw some of the 4-H agricultural exhibits (I always request and am indulged by my companions in a stroll through the sheep barn, where I go all misty-eyed from nostalgia) and also walked through several of the exhibition halls. More exciting than the ag barns in the kids' opinion was the petting zoo, where they love to feed the critters. Here's Kiddo feeding a zebu. (Also sometimes spelled cebu, as in the VeggieTales' Song of the Cebu, which invariably takes root in my brain as soon as I see the cebu at the Fair.)




Of course, no trip to the Fair is complete without hitting the rides over on the midway. They set up the kiddie rides in their own mini-midway, which is really, really nice. Not only does it place all the "you won't be too short for this one" rides in excellent proximity, but it is less crowded with drunken and/or slack-jawed yokels (as only those yokels with kids head into this section) and it lessens the pleas for "Oh can't I go on THAT one Mommy?" while the pleader is looking longingly at some Horrifying Contraption o' Barfing-or-Death. Here are the kids on the dragon coaster - Kiddo's the one (the only one!) with her arms in the air:



You may note that the kiddo's shirt changed color partway through the day. Well, her first shirt was utterly filthy and also rather damp (from beverages more than sweat or sunscreen) by the time we were done with the post-lunch fried dough break, so she changed. All the kids changed clothes again when we got into the car to head home, because somehow they just get soooooooooo dirty on Fair Day that us moms now pack at least one extra set of clothes for each person traveling in the car.

Last but not least, no trip to the Fair is complete without that ridiculously overpriced, yet somehow irresistibly delicious, fresh-squeezed lemonade. After thoroughly hydrating the kids with grape Hawaiian shaved ices (aka a slightly less chemical-filled alternative to the Sno-Cone) that were approximately the size of their heads, the moms stopped at a lemonade stand on our way to the exit and indulged in a drink for the road. My friend kindly honored my request to take a quick pic of me with my newly acquired beverage.....



Yes, I know, I know: totally hot. Literally - I was melting. I sweated off my sunscreen at least twice over the course of the day, and by this point was also covered in a fine layer of grit as well. Apparently that is the one thing that tames the Wolverine Van Beethoven hair, by the way: massive amounts of sweat and midway dust. Sadly, this is not readily available in any hair product line I've found... Aussie or Pantene needs to get on that asap!

So, at about 7pm, with lemonades in hand, we pulled the wagons full of exhausted, grimy kids to the parking lot after one final restroom stop, just in case. However, we woefully underestimated the amount of liquid contained in the approximately 5 pounds of shaved ice each kid had ingested immediately prior to our departure, and we hadn't gone more than half a mile out of the parking lot when the "I've gotta pee! NOW!" chorus began from in back. We stopped not once, not twice, but thrice for roadside emergency potty breaks. (The third time was in an underlit and weedy Park-n-Ride lot in the pitchest black of night. We could barely see the kids, much less whither went their pee... Peeing by minivan headlight: not an experience for the weak of heart!) To their credit, each time we stopped, copious amounts were produced so no one was bluffing just for the fun of having the moms stress out about "will we make it?" while trying to find the nearest, safest spot at which to pull over. Gotta love traveling with kids and their little, wimpy bladders...

So, that was our trip to the Fair this year. There were other highlights, like the kids getting up close and personal with some sea lions - Kiddo and her one friend got kissed right on the noggin by them! - and other assorted fun like the kid-sized bumper cars (no adult driver or rider necessary!) and the cut-outs that made the kids look like the world's cutest sheep, goat and cow, but those photos are too easily identifying-able for Kiddo and her friends, so they won't be going up here. (They will be up on Facebook in a little while...)

Now before I conk out for the night (dang, I'm getting old that I'm still wiped out from yesterday, though to be fair, Kiddo and I had a busy day that ended with a vigorous, hour swim), here's the Friday Five - Fairly Fantastic Edition!


1) What's your must-do/see stop at a fair? Mine is the sheep barn, as I mentioned, oh - and any good musicians, too. This year the kids got down and boogied to a great Dixieland Jazz quintet.

2) Favorite ride at the fair? Mine would be the swinging chairs and the giant slide.

3) Favorite fair food? Gotta go funnel cake here, though the kettle corn is also tasty...

4) Favorite fair beverage? You know I'm all about that lemonade!!

5) Fairs: love 'em or hate 'em? Obviously, I'm in the LOVE category!

As always, please feel free to play along with the F5, either here in the comments or over on your own blog (let us know if that's what you do so we can see your responses)!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's like buttah

This:

(photo from the syracuse.com website - credit: Dennis Nett/The Post-Standard)

is what Kiddo and I will be gazing at in person tomorrow. We are making our annual pilgrimage to the Great New York State Fair with Kiddo's best friends (and their mom) and the annual butter sculpture is always a must-see. (Also, it is located in the building with the delicious chocolate milk bar, insane amounts of ice cream and cheese, what more could a dairy junkie want?) This is the 40th year for the State Fair butter sculpture - the first butter sculpture I saw at the NY State fair was back in 1989, and I've never gotten over seeing that much butter, carved into art or otherwise. It is definitely a sight to see! (The fair's website also promises live carving of blocks of cheese this year, which could be interesting...)

We always have a great time at the Fair, regardless of the weather or the crowds. This is the first year we've gone on opening day, so that should be exciting. There are lots of new attractions/entertainment too - bears on bicycles! Highwire acts! - so I'm certain we'll be well entertained. We moms have got our game plan down (2 wagons, cooler full of water, first aid kit, back-up clothing for kids and moms) and with any luck, by this time tomorrow night I'll be posting my own pictures of the butter sculpture and all the other wonders of the fair. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This is one way to spend a Sunday afternoon...



Yep, that's me on the far left of the "Spring!" ride at our local amusement park. (It really deserves its exclamation point...) This was my first time on it, despite being season pass holders to this amusement park for the past two years, and Hubby had to capture the moment for posterity as he couldn't believe I was actually willingly partaking of this ride. (The kiddo, who rode the Spring! with me, had been on it before.)

In case you haven't read through my archives, I have a bit of a thing about heights. (Hence Hubby's astonishment at my willingness to get on this contraption.) I'd like to say I was brave and confident enough to make it through the approximately 2 minutes that the Spring! bounces up and down and up and down and up and down.........


Sorry the close-up is a bit grainy - Hubby was shooting with our new camera for the first time and was playing around with various settings. However, even with the fuzziness, I believe you can still clearly see that yes, I am screaming my fool head off.

The things we do for fun........

(The Spring! still beats going on the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Spinning Teacups, both of which fall squarely in Hubby's domain.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Princessification = a whole lot of glitter

Before I go any further, I feel obliged to give a disclaimer: I am a very conservative parent. Really square, strict, old-fashioned, stodgy, uptight. I freely admit this. For example, my five year old has never watched High School Musical or Camp Rock and doesn't know who Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers are. She's never seen a PG rated film and even several "classic" G rated ones yet either. I am very stringent in what I feel is appropriate for her, more so than most of the rest of the parents of five year olds from what I can tell... It may be naive, but I believe in preserving the innocence of childhood as long as humanly possible, even if the larger world will be invariably crashing into our more innocent life soon enough now that Kiddo is starting elementary school. It just seems to me that kids grow up way, way too fast these days and there's plenty of time to worry about grown-up things, and precious little time to just be a kid.

That being said, the kiddo was invited to a birthday party that totally goes against everything I believe is appropriate for a five year old, and we went to it today. It was a "Perfect Princess Ball" party held at a children's salon and spa over on the ritzy side of town. Needless to say, I had reservations from the get-go, when the birthday girl's mother was first describing the party to me, but the kiddo overheard her and was really, really excited at the prospect, so I said she could go. It wasn't until this morning, mere hours before the party, that I googled the name of the salon to find out its exact location and clicked on the link for the party that I really started getting icked out. Hubby looked over my shoulder at the website's description of the party and rolled his eyes, but at that point it wasn't like I was going to tell Kiddo we weren't going, so off we went, me with teeth gritted in advance.

I'm happy to say that it wasn't as bad as I expected. Well, actually it kinda was, but I
exerted influence wherever possible to make it less Jon-Benet and more "oh this is fun if not exactly age-appropriate" in terms of the makeup and nail polish.

Yes, makeup and nail polish. The party started by each girl picking out her princess gown - Kiddo immediately and unequivocally decided upon the Cinderella gown (which is odd because she's never professed any specific favoritism among the Disney princesses, though when pushed she'll name Ariel, Cindy, Jasmine and Belle ALL as her equal favorites). Good thing they had multiples of the various gowns because I think four of the seven girls chose the same, pink gown (I think it was the Sleeping Beauty gown..?). Then after the moms helped the girls change into the princess gowns, they each had hair, makeup and manicures done. (Yes I am throwing up a little in my mouth to say that 3, 4 and 5 year olds were having manicures.) There is one official "Princess Up do" that is done at this salon and fortunately all the girls had long enough hair to accomplish the style. (Had I been an attendee at such a party in my childhood, I wouldn't have been able to have the up do as I always had short hair. I guess they just would've glitter sprayed me and been done with it and I am sure I would've been sorely disappointed.) Once the hair was secured in the official Princess coiffure, it was shellacked to the nth degree with spray-on glitter. Kiddo chose gold, but silver was also an option, and one could probably have grabbed a ball of glitter out of the air when all heads were duly sprayed. Then it was on to the makeup and nails chair, with more teeth gritting on my part... I gently steered Kiddo away from the Eff-Me Red nail polish that was her first pick to the clearish-light pink glitter polish. The girl doing her nails was shocked that by the ripe, old age of five, Kiddo had never had a manicure. (I have put polish on her toenails, but never on her fingernails yet. It just never seemed necessary, somehow... Also, I'm not a mani-pedi kind of chick myself. I've had exactly two manicures in my life - other than doing my nails myself - once for my wedding and once when I was going to be on Jeopardy.) Then it was time for the makeup application - again, I steered Kiddo away from the "Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby" or "Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver" colors. Kiddo opted for a light, light pinkish eyeshadow and blush and blue (!) glitter lip gloss that actually looked mostly clear though still quite glittery once it was on her lips. Then the girls got their "Princess glitter stars" on their cheeks, which were applied via a tool that strongly resembled a branding iron (!!) and they were ready for the catwalk.

Yes, I kid you not - a catwalk. Kiddo referred to it as a "stage" as did the other girls, but it was in fact a catwalk. The girls did a few group dances, like the Hokey Pokey and the Limbo (under a fuchsia, feather boa, of course) and then were all given their Magic Princess wands and taught the three things they needed to know to be princesses: How to wave, how to wave their wand and how to curtsy. Once they were officially schooled in all things Princess, they lined up behind the beaded curtain and one by one were called forth to walk onto the catwalk - erm, I mean stage - and be crowned and sprinkled liberally with "fairy dust" (because seriously, there may have been entire centimeters of the girls left uncovered with glitter at this point). While they did their walk-n-wave post-crowning, one of the assistants read off information gathered during the hair and makeup portion of events.

For Kiddo, she said this:

Introducing Princess Kiddo from the Kingdom of OurTown. Princess Kiddo's number one kingdom rule is to always have fun and play together. Princess Kiddo's favorite royal activity in the castle is playing with her safari animals and if she could have a royal pet, she would have a royal puppy.

(A lot of the other girls said their number one castle rule was No Boys Allowed which is something I am guessing they were prompted into a bit by the salon assistant... I don't think these girls are quite at the "boys have cooties" age yet, are they? Kiddo certainly isn't - she loves playing with boys and girls equally. A kid is a kid is a kid to her...)

After the crowning ceremony was over and all the girls had their marabou-trimmed tiaras firmly planted upon their glitter-bedecked up dos, the princess posse posed for their group photo (we were all given keepsake copies in a cardboard frame) and then had to change back out of their gowns before cupcakes (topped with about 4 inches of pink icing and sprinkles - perfection on a plate in Kiddo's opinion), juice boxes and present opening. Then, hyped up on sugar and with clouds of glitter wafting all around, we were released back into the wild, where the kiddo was probably visible from outer space due to her copiously beglittered state reflecting in the sunshine. Whew.

So, not as wholly inappropriate as I'd feared it would be, but still not my number one pick for a birthday party. Kiddo informed me that she enjoyed the "puffer" the most, as we were heading for home. I asked her what she meant and she said when the girl put the pink stuff on her cheeks to make them puffy. Ah, puffer, right. She also enjoyed dancing in the big dress (and seriously, what little girl doesn't enjoy spinning around in a full skirt? I know that was always my sisters and my favorite thing to do as kids in our Sunday best) and being a princess and wants to have her next birthday party there (of course). I'm just hoping she'll forget alllll about it by the time next May rolls around! I guess I'm glad we didn't just not go, but boy, not exactly my cup of parental tea. I was a little bit concerned when she wouldn't stop talking about the makeup and hair and was insisting on not washing it off or undoing the up do when we first arrived home, but then after a couple of hours (during which time she played with her safari animals while dressed in her Snow White gown out of her dress-up trunk) she grew tired of it and wanted her hairdo undone. It took some serious scrubbing in the tub, but she was mostly glitter-free by the time she went to bed. I'm still coated - collateral damage from the princessification...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five: What's cookin'? edition

One thing led to another today and I'm barely getting this done before it becomes a Saturday Six! A lengthy discussion with the kiddo about the love I feel for my KitchenAid yesterday while we were baking peach bread prompted this culinary edition of the F5:

1) What is your favorite kitchen appliance?

2) What is a gadget/appliance that you thought was a must-have, but then you haven't actually used?

3) Where do you get the recipes you use to cook? The internet, cookbooks, TV shows, family/friends, none of the above, etc?

4) Are you a "follow the recipe exactly" kind of cook or more of a freelancer?

5) Do you have a favorite or new but exciting recipe? Care to share?

My answers....

1) As I told the kiddo yesterday, my commercial, 5 quart KitchenAid stand mixer is my most beloved appliance. Hubby gave it to me as a Christmas present about 10 years ago as an upgrade for the smaller, 8 cup KitchenAid that we'd gotten as a wedding present. (Mine is actually the cobalt blue that I linked to above - love the color as well!) I seriously cannot fathom baking without my KitchenAid, and I've done many other things - from meatloaf to mashed potatoes - in it as well. I don't have any of the extra attachments beyond the three it came with originally, but that's probably for the best as I can't envision myself, say, grinding my own sausage or what-have-you.

2) There are two such appliances in my house that come readily to mind. The first is the cappuccino maker I gave Hubby as a birthday present back when we were still dating, that he did use for a few months but I don't think has seen the light of day in probably 15 years. The second is a pasta-making set of rollers and presses that seemed way, way cool when I was enthusiastically putting it into my basket at Williams-Sonoma to give to Hubby for Christmas that we've never taken out of the boxes or used once. (I think that was sometime within the last decade or so.)

3) I do have a cupboard full of cookbooks (the cupboard above the stove; too high up for most other things so it became the cookbook/phonebook storage spot) as well as a binder of recipes I've printed off the internet or collected from various sources (our local newspaper has interesting sounding recipes in it at least once or twice a month) or people. If I'm trying to find a recipe for something, though, my first stop these days is the computer, where I'll go either to the Food Network's website to search, especially if it was something I saw on a show, or I'll just type it into Google and see what comes up. This was how I found the peach bread recipe Kiddo and I quite successfully made for the first time yesterday (most of the loaves were presents for her teachers/therapists for the last day of her summer program, we had one loaf left over for ourselves and it is delish). I also have a few recipes that have been in the family for a while that my mom passed down to me, like for my grandmother's fruit cake (made with fresh fruit and more of a pie almost, not the legendary-stuff-of-jokes kind popular at Christmastime).

4) I'm definitely more of a freelancer, given to eyeballing amounts and adding/subtracting at whim, mostly when I'm making something I'm familiar with. I tend to stick closer to the recipe the first time I make something, then freelance once I have the basics down.

5) Here's one for a spinach salad (not my own creation, but I've modified it over the years from the original as the freelancer that I am) that I've made for many a potluck, party, shower or dinner and there is never any left over at the end of the event:

2 bags of baby spinach leaves (variations suggest romaine lettuce or cabbage instead)

1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels (I will use more, probably closer to a full cup)

1/2 cup slivered almonds (again, I use more, probably closer to a full cup)

2 packages of Ramen noodles (I use the chicken flavor but I don't think it matters which kind really)

1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained (yet again, I use more - I like lots of STUFF in my salads)

1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries) (ditto here - more is the word!)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter

Crumble the Ramen noodles (no seasoning packet, just the noodles) and saute them along with the almonds and sunflower seed kernels in the butter until lightly browned. Drain/pat off excess butter with paper towels. Add to spinach and toss with dressing (below). Once thoroughly tossed, sprinkle oranges and craisins on top. Enjoy!

For the dressing, combine:

1/2 cup oil

1/4 cup vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)

1/2 cup sugar (I actually use a little less, maybe 1/3 cup)

1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (original recipe calls for one, I tend to use closer to two. I also use low-sodium soy sauce, full-strength)

As always, please play along either on your own blog (and let us know here that you have) or in the comments for this post. Hope everyone has a great weekend - I'm off to watch the Olympics!

Meme tag for six random things

Okay, sorry for the delay - my allergies were kicking my butt last night so I took some benadryl and promptly went all fuzzy-brained and yawny. I opted for bed instead of blogging.

Without further ado, here are my Six Random Things per Carrie's tag:

1) I talk to myself. Aloud. A lot. Even in public. (When the kiddo is with me at least I look slightly less crazy - it looks like I'm talking to her and not just myself...)

2) My dream retirement scenario involves moving somewhere hot and dry, like maybe Las Vegas. If we did retire to Vegas, I'd want a retirement job working in a piano bar - one of those sing-along places. I think that would be really, really fun. (This would require a very early retirement, as those types of places don't exactly hire the over-60 crowd...)

3) I asked my husband out on our first official date. A week after we met, I called him and asked him if he wanted to go see The Last of the Mohicans, which was opening that weekend. We went to Pizzeria Uno for dinner, saw the movie, then went to Friendly's for dessert. (I didn't just randomly call him; I'd heard from various mutual friends that he'd been asking about me and seemed interested... I'm not that brave or bold!)

4) I bite my nails - have my entire life. I have stopped biting my nails several times, but never for good. Horrible habit and I hate it, but I still do it.

5) Sunkist soda makes me burp excessively. (As children, my sisters and I called Sunkist "Burpkist" instead. Ah, the rapier wit of the under-10 set...) Side note: if you click on that link, you'll discover just as I did that no amount of "hip" marketing can make certain products cool, I'm laughing my head off at the official Sunkist site now!

6) I can't kill anything that is big enough to have visible guts upon its demise. Fruit flies and gnats, no problem, but anything larger, no way. If I must kill a bug (like because the kiddo is flipping out for example), I use a ginormous wad of tissue or toilet paper and then the back-up flushing-down-the-toilet and/or disposing of outside method.

I'm gonna be bad right now and not tag anyone specific, mostly because I'm running late right now. I'm off to take the kiddo to her last day of farm school, then I'll be back to do a Friday Five!

Noooooooooo!

This is NOT the news I wanted to wake up to this morning!

Though I suppose that it will give me extra time to get a sitter lined up...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brain going in a million different directions...

First of all, I just got tagged by my bloggy pal Carrie to tell you six random things about me. Considering I'm not too far past doing my 100 things for my 100th post post, I'm feeling a bit dry in the random things dept. BUT I will live up to the challenge..... I just need a bit of time to think about it first. (Um, I also have to get moving so I can pick Kiddo up from farm school.)

I promise I'll do the meme before the end of today though!

In other news, my brain just won't slow down. It is juggling entirely too many balls at the moment and I'm afraid they're all going to drop. I'm starting to stress out about the whole job situation. So far, no one wants to hire me part time and while it is flattering that folks would want to pay me to be around full time, I can't do that now. ARGH! All of a sudden it feels like the clock is ticking down here and I still haven't lined anything decent up yet.

Speaking of clock ticking down, it is exactly three weeks until the kiddo starts kindergarten. There was a bit of an issue (okay, it wasn't "a bit" but actually a rather sizable mess of red tape annoyance) with her IEP, but I wound up gluing the phone to my ear and meeting with a few folks in person yesterday and now have everything set, I hope, for the fall. An extra shout-out to K. the Amazing OT for all her help with creating and writing up the kiddo's sensory diet for the fall. Also to A., the kiddo's summer teacher who has been a great advocate and given excellent, timely assistance with all things elementary school-related (she teaches at Kiddo's elementary school for her regular job, and just does farm school for the summer).

Related to school, I am trying to figure out what backpack to get for Kiddo - she loves the wheeled kind but I'm wanting something sturdy and lasting, so I'm thinking of my beloved Land's End (free shipping through today) but the wheeled ones are ridiculously expensive. I've got to get it figured out by the end of the day so I can get the order in....... If anyone has brilliant backpack (oh and lunch bag/box) advice, I'm all ears, please share!

I've also got to start buying all her back-to-school required supplies, and clothes for the fall, oh and did I mention we're going to Disney World in less than two weeks?

The good news is I found a dollar under the front seat of my car this morning. That means just $9,999 to go 'til I can dine with George Clooney!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This is what good OT for SPD looks like:



This is the kiddo inside a "Body Sox" during her OT session today. (I happened to stay through her OT session and was messing around with my new camera, so this is a sort of "two birds with one stone" thing - Look! A picture from the new camera! Look! A picture of the kiddo!) This is a great way for her to get her system regulated and calmed, and I'm really glad her (amazing, wonderful, can't speak highly enough about) OT for this summer has one and uses it.

What? You aren't satisfied with that picture of Kiddo? Okay, here's one more:


Seriously though, I'm not planning on posting any good, identifying sort of pictures of Kiddo here on the blog for the whole, wide world to see (and I get hits from every last corner of the globe, too) but if you're jonesing for more pictures of the light of my life, shoot me an email and I can hook you up with my albums over at Facebook. (Unless you are a weirdo of the pervy sort, in which case, sorry, or if you already are a Facebook friend o' mine, in which case you can see all the albums already.) And it must be said, my kid is seriously cute. Yeah, I'm biased but in this case, it's just plain fact. Plus, her new glasses? Flippin' adorable. She got them today and thankfully, she loves them (so far) and hasn't given us any grief about wearing them. Whew. Now let's just hope that they work so she won't need eye surgery!

Monday, August 11, 2008

"This is going to hurt me more than it will you."

That's one of those things parents say to their kids, usually when doling out some punishment that invariably seemed like it had to be much more painful to the kid in question, and that kid could never imagine how this punishment could possibly be worse for the grown-up involved.

Well, tonight was one of those "This is going to hurt me more than it will you" moments for me. The trouble occurred during gymnastics today. Now, she had been doing pretty well prior to this class with sitting still, listening to the teachers, all that good stuff. (I was asked to stay and observe for the entire session, unlike the other parents who were requested to leave after dropping their kid(s) off, I think mostly because the teachers, two college-aged girls, were uncomfortable with having a kid with SPD - especially Type I, the Sensory Modulation Disorder type - without extra supervision in the class. Granted, I'm 99.99% sure that their entire knowledge of SPD comes from the minute and a half talk I had with them on the first day; they brushed me off at the time but I think it made them nervous nonetheless.) We always talk in the car on the way to gymnastics about how if Kiddo doesn't behave, we will leave.

I want to digress for a moment here to talk about how we discipline in our family. The discipline system that has worked best for us has been the 1-2-3 Magic system. If you aren't familiar (and I do highly recommend it because it works so well for us) basically, the child gets to a count of three to modify their behavior, and if they don't make the needed adjustment, game over at three. Some offenses are an immediate "three" and the child doesn't get a second and third chance to correct. A typical consequence is an immediate time out, or else the ending of whatever activity was going on at the time of the three count. We also talk a lot about choices and consequences - Kiddo can choose to behave one way or another, and the consequences of each choice are X or Y. Nothing revolutionary, but it works for us. Additionally, I should mention that we are not a corporal punishment family. We have never, ever struck the kiddo and do not intend to ever do so. (I suppose I should further note that my parents did believe in spanking, and did spank us when they felt the situation warranted.) We began using 1-2-3 Magic at our pediatrician's suggestion when Kiddo was in the throes of some very Terrible Twos, and it improved behavior quite dramatically. So, 1-2-3 Magic has been our main system of discipline for almost 3 years now.

Anyhow, the kiddo missed class last week because of the head lice situation, so she'd had a disrupted routine.
Now, consistency is key for most children, I daresay, and I know for an absolute fact that it is extremely important to a sensory processing disordered kid like Kiddo. She also had an incident at her summer program this morning - another child pushed her into a pile of mud, water and goat poop, getting her quite muddy and upset - and she had generally been a bit cranky regardless of anything else. So, we had the odds a bit stacked against us even as we walked into the Y.

The kiddo was not doing a great job at controlling herself from the moment we got out of the car - she was pretty hyped up. Despite our pre-class talk (during which she "Yes Mommy"ed me repeatedly) and my strict reminder that she needed to stay calm and quiet before class started, she took off running as soon as we entered the gymnasium. Uh-oh. I spoke with her twice in the 4 minutes before class started, warning her each time that she needed to stay calm and focused or we'd be out of there.

Do you see where this is going? *sigh*

It completely didn't help matters that some of the other kids in the class were utterly misbehaving today, either. They were messing around, goofing off instead of sitting quietly in their "butterfly" positions and watching the teachers. There are a few kids in particular who always goof off, and I've spoken with Kiddo about how she should just stay away from them instead of letting them suck her in to the misbehavior. (I know, wishful thinking...) Today, the teachers were giving out the consequence of missing turns and the kiddo missed two turns for goofing around in the first half of class. I went over after the second time she was skipped over and spoke with her again. This time I started a count and told her if she hit three, we were leaving.

With about five minutes left to go, the class was at the balance beam, which is close to where I was sitting (with a lot of the other parents - the side of the gym was full of folks waiting to collect their kids at the end of class). Kiddo got up from where she'd been told to sit, moved over and sat down next to this other little girl who is generally a huge instigator of bad behavior and then looked over at me, all "Ha ha, what are YOU going to do about it?" as I glared. Sure enough, the second the kiddo's butt hit the mat, the other little girl started pushing Kiddo and generally roughhousing. I called over to Kiddo that this was TWO. She looked at me, snorted and went back to roughhousing. I stood up menacingly, in that Mean Mommy way. She pretended not to see me. By this point the other little girl was leaning into Kiddo's face and blowing on her, hard. Kiddo looked over to see if I was watching - and I was, and still standing as well. Then she leaned over and began blowing a spitty sort of raspberry with her tongue sticking out at the other girl.

Oh no, she didn't.......... Yep, she did. I walked over to her, bent down and said "You are on TWO. You need to behave RIGHT NOW or we are leaving." (Yes, there were only about 4 minutes left in class at this point - Kiddo wasn't aware of that.) In response, she rolled her eyes, stuck her tongue out AT ME and told me with her most major Junior Wiseass attitude "You go AWAY, Mom." She then proceeded to continue blow/spit at the other little girl, who was cracking up and totally egging her on.

Oh NO she didn't... I told her "That's it. That's three. Stand up, we're going."

And this is the point at which this particular disciplinary consequence began to hurt me more than it hurt her. You see, the kiddo doesn't get embarrassed by her extreme behavior. Not even in hindsight. (Boy, I hope that age - the age of being embarrassed in front of her peers - comes soon.) She immediately began screaming at me "I'm not leaving! I want to stay and have FUN with my FRIENDS. You go away, Mommy!" and then in almost the same breath, added "I want a last chance! I'll cooperate!"

This is where that split second of "Oh man, it would just be so much easier to cave in and give her another last chance" ran through my head. We were right in the middle of the gym, the kiddo was squalling loudly, eyes were riveted to the drama, and I was fairly certain that if I did relent, the kiddo would toe the line for those last, few minutes of class.

But.

Relenting is so, so not the right parenting call, right? I will admit, there have been times when Hubby and I both have caved a bit and given her "one last chance" (so, essentially, going to four instead of three, by repeating the "two" count) but this was not going to be one of those times. Kiddo had been disrespectful to me and to her class. The screaming was entirely uncalled for (oh ha ha ha...) and the telling me to go away plus sticking her tongue out at me was also completely unacceptable, and Kiddo knows that darn well. Furthermore, she knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that spitting at anyone is never, ever okay.

So, with grim determination, I hustled her off the floor and over to the bench where her sandals were sitting next to my purse. She decided to kick things up a few notches and began screaming even louder. At this point the entire gym was frozen, except for the reverberations of her screeches around the cavernous space. All eyes on us. I stayed utterly calm and kept my voice low. Kiddo broke away and made a dash for the mat, sticking out her tongue at me and telling me "NO, I'm going back with my friends now!" I caught her before she'd made it more than two feet. I calmly gave her the choice of putting on her sandals herself or having me do it. She snatched a sandal out of my hand and threw it at me.

I then gathered up the sandals and my purse and picked her up. This began the walk that always seems so much longer when one has a tantruming child... that walk past all the collected onlookers. I did catch a few sympathetic glances among the "Huh, that lady sure is nuts" looks. Whatever, I'm not parenting to impress y'all, Looky-Loos, I'm parenting my child in the hopes that she will grow up to be a kind and respectful sort of person. We got out into the hallway, Kiddo still yelling bloody murder, and I set her down on a bench to try once more to get her shod. No go - more throwing, yelling and then hitting me. I scooped her up and carried her for The Long Walk Part Two: Out to the Car. We definitely turned heads (and probably induced several headaches; I know by this time my own skull was pounding). Whenever the kiddo screamed at me that she wanted to get down or go back to class (which at this point was over anyhow) I calmly and quietly repeated that her behavior was unacceptable and we were going home.

She tried once more to get away from me, barefoot, in the parking lot. She attempted to accomplish this by biting me on the arm that was holding her. If I had set her down at that point, I am certain she would've run, without looking, back towards the Y. I got the door to the van open as quickly as possible and strapped her into her booster seat. She proceeded to tantrum all the way home (coming perilously close to making herself throw up from the extreme levels of drama, which really didn't help anything). When we got home, I carried her (still barefoot) inside and set her down. I then grabbed the largest trash bag I could find and headed upstairs. I wound up doing a Stuffed Animal Round-up, collecting every last stuffed animal (or as Kiddo calls them, "guys") and putting them into the bag. Kiddo was by this time sitting on her bedroom floor, watching. I then ran the shower, got her into it and washed as she snarled every mean thing she could think of to me - "I only like DADDY and NOT you!" "You're NOT my friend ANYMORE!" "You're SO MEAN to me, Mommy!" - dried her off and got her jammies on and teeth brushed. Then I told her it was bedtime and that her guys were in Time Out until tomorrow.

By this point, Remorseful Kiddo had reappeared. I stuck to my guns and sent her to bed regardless, though I did accept her apology and reassured her that I still love her, no matter what, even when I'm upset with her and she's upset with me. She got in bed but was still awake a half hour later, so I let her come downstairs and eat dinner before returning to bed (obviously, with no bedtime stories or evening TV). I do not really like the idea of sending a child to bed without dinner, I mostly just wanted her to calm down first - though if she had fallen asleep as she sometimes does after a tantrum, I wouldn't have gotten her up again just to eat.

So, that was my evening today. Yes, I really think it hurt me more than it hurt her, too. I mean, besides where I now have her teethprint in my upper arm along with various scratches and bruises caused by her during the meltdown. She won't bat an eye at going back to the next class - there will be no embarrassment on her part to see the people she was wigging out in front of so completely today. I, on the other hand, will feel somewhat embarrassed, but hey, nobody said being a parent was easy, right? While debriefing with Hubby when he got home, I was glad to hear he agreed with me that removing her when she hit the three count was the only call to make. I was tempted to ignore the behavior, but who does that really help? It might make things easier for me (like the other parents who just idly watch while their little darling acts up something fierce - hello, dad of Spitty McPushyhands, wanna do something about it? Possibly keep your eye on your little darling as she goes wild instead of keeping your eyes on your BlackBerry? Yeesh!) but Hubby and I feel like we need to stick to our guns and stay consistent with the rules. Sometimes, it just isn't too fun being Bad Cop.

Here's hoping tomorrow is a better day for Mean Mommy and the Drama Queen...

Today, I almost kissed the mailman!

I almost kissed the mailman today. I managed to restrain myself to a giddy "WOO-HOO!" which I'm sure both he, his wife and my hubby appreciated.

You see, I've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of a certain package, and today was the day it arrived! At first, I thought I'd gotten my hopes up for naught - again - because there was nothing other than boring, old mail in the mailbox and I saw the mail truck heading off around the corner. But then, about five minutes later, I went to empty the recycling out into the bins in the garage and I could've sworn I heard an engine idling in the driveway. I went back inside just in time to hear the doorbell ring, and ta-da!!! The mailman had returned to deliver my eagerly awaited box right to my front door.

What was in that box, you ask? The most awesome, tiny, RED digital camera and the Target gift card that I won over at The Secret is in the Sauce. I love this website anyway, because through the SITS community I've found all sorts of cool blogs and "met" all sorts of cool fellow bloggers. SITS is all about spreading the comment love, and I admit I am a comment junkie! (Hint hint y'all - I have lurkers stopping by from all over the world and I'd love to have you say hey!) SITS also does really cool giveaways, like the ones I won for the gift card and the camera. The ones that arrived today in the box that I swept out of the mailman's hands and for which I almost kissed him.

Instead of smooching my trusty local postal carrier, instead I shall send a cyber-smooch shout-out to the fantabulous ladies that are responsible for SITS, Tiffany and Heather:


Thanks so much for the prizes!! You girls rock!!!

(Now I'm off to see if the battery for my new camera is charged yet so I can start taking pictures! If it isn't, I'm going to wander over to Target's website and start shopping! Woo!)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rolling...



This is hilarious. The creator of this clip clearly had a lot of time on his hands, but still, genius, pure genius. (Obama '08!)

If you prefer your Rickroll a little less politically based, this one's pretty dang funny, too:



(The YouTube link title for this one says "Hilarious Muppet Bloopers!" and then, BAM - Rickroll, Beaker-style!)

How not to get the Angelina Jolie look

At 12:04 this morning, when the house was dark and quiet, I heard the kiddo's door open. As usual, I went from soundly asleep to wiiiiide awake (the kiddo rarely gets up in the middle of the night) and bolted into the hall to see why she was up. Turns out she was thirsty, so I sent her back to bed and fetched her a cup of water from the bathroom. When she finished it, she asked me to snuggle her, so I climbed in bed with her to cuddle until she fell back asleep.

I love cuddling the kiddo, especially now that she's too big to hold the way I could when she was a baby. I was dozing off to sleep again myself when BAM! Kiddo's head jerked back all of a sudden, catching me right smack-dab in the upper lip.

OWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! I screamed (on the inside - it was the middle of the night, after all). Aloud, I just whispered quietly to the kiddo that I had to go. She was mostly asleep again by that point, so there were no objections. I stumbled (without my glasses and with the nightlight in the bathroom burnt out, so in much darker dark than usual) into the bathroom to survey the damage. Squinting at myself in the mirror, the injury didn't look too bad. I opted to skip going downstairs for ice and instead rinsed out my mouth with water (my lip got cut a bit on my teeth - Kiddo has one hard skull!) and went back to sleep.

When I woke up this morning, I could see the damage much more clearly (having my glasses on also helped). Besides the fact that it was hurting, I had a sort of Angelina Jolie thing going on in my upper lip region. I tried ice and Advil - which did bring the swelling down - and then I tried Listerine to cauterize and numb the cut area on the inside. For the record, you should NEVER try to swish with Listerine when you have an open mouth wound. OWWWWWWWWWW!!! I yelped once more - again inside my head, because I didn't want Hubby to know the brilliance of my Listerine plan. (Hey, it seemed like a good theory at the time - kind of like using peroxide on a cut, you know? I figured it would sting a bit, as Listerine does because, you know, it's Listerine..., but then it would feel better. Um, no.)

My upper lip injury wouldn't have been quite as big a deal if I hadn't been signed up to sing a solo in church this morning. I was a little worried that the cut would really bother me when I was trying to sing. I also wound up serving as worship leader this morning, which meant reading a nice, long passage from the Bible immediately before singing. (It also meant doing the opening prayer, which I did off the top of my head and which I fear may've sounded a bit like Ben Stiller saying grace in Meet the Parents...



Okay, it wasn't quite that awkward, but it sure wasn't eloquent!)

At any rate, the song went okay. (Once again, I was glad that our choir director/accompanist is one of those people who is able to transpose keys in his head and whip up an accompaniment out of thin air, because that meant I could sing the song - Through it All, an oldie but goodie - without having to go into my head voice once. I definitely prefer taking the easy way out and staying down in alto-tenor range whenever I can!) By the time church was over, my lip was really hurting, so I'm going to hit the Advil bottle again shortly.

By the by, this is not the first time I've been conked in the face by the kiddo's skull. This wasn't even my first fat lip caused in this manner. (The worst Kiddo-Noggin-Conking injury I incurred sent me to the urgent care clinic to check for a broken nose. It wasn't broken, but it did re-deviate my septum, which has led to fewer sinus infections in the winter ever since, so: woo!) Hubby thinks it is all my own fault because I will roughhouse with the kiddo (SPD major sensory seeker = a kid who loves to play rough) and nine times out of ten, this is how my skull-on-face injuries occur. (Okay, I'll further 'fess up that at bedtime last night, the kiddo also bonked me in the face, but that wasn't nearly as bad as the middle-of-the-night hit - more of an "ow" than an "OWWWW" type bump. So, yeah, it actually was a two-fer that gave me my aching, Angelina lip by morning.)

I think I need some ice cream. For medicinal purposes, of course - to help relieve the pain and swelling. Yep, definitely LOTS of ice cream, and no more Listerine...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Hmmm, think I can raise $10k by 9/2?

I really would love to come up with $10k by September 2nd - oh, and I'd need to renew my passport in a very expedited way and get a plane ticket, too.... But it would totally be worth it. Why, you ask? To make my dream come true - in other words, so that I could dine with George Clooney!!!

*swoon*

And hey, the money would go to my personal choice for US Prez to boot, so really, it would all be in the name of supporting change for America and just one more way to show I'm a good Democrat...

Now, how to convince Hubby that I really need $11k (might as well round up - a girl's gonna need some new clothes and possibly some liposuction for this event) and that he'll have to hold the fort for a few days? Hmmmm.....

Friday Five: Olympic Edition

In honor of the Olympics starting today, let's have an Olympic Friday Five! Please play along, either by answering in the comments here or on your own blog (be sure to link back so we know where to find your responses)!

TGIF everybody!

1) Which are your favorite: the Summer or Winter Olympics?

2) What Olympic competitions do you most enjoy watching?

3) Who is your favorite Olympian?

4) What is your most memorable Olympic viewing experience?

5) Are there any particular Olympians you are rooting for in the Beijing games?

And my answers:

1) I like both seasons equally, I think. I can't pick a favorite!

2) My favorite events to watch are gymnastics, swimming, diving, skiing and skating (figure and speed). I also will watch other events, like track and field or volleyball or what-have-you, but I don't follow those; it's more of an "oh look, this is on and I can't find a rerun of any Law and Order family episode I haven't already seen" kind of thing.

3) My favorite Olympian of all time would have to be Greg Louganis. I watched every minute of his competitions in both '84 and '88, including the infamous dive where he cracked his head on the board. (Watching that still makes me wince!) Besides being an incredible athlete, he also was adopted, so we have that in common (um,whereas on the "incredible athlete" part we have nothing in common, that's for sure). I had the honor of meeting him once when he spoke to the media at Cornell while Hubby and I were living in Ithaca. Hubby used his radio credentials to get me in to the press conference, and afterwards I had a chance to speak with Mr. Louganis (I just can't bring myself to call him "Greg" like we're actually friends or something) and he also graciously signed my copy of his autobiography.

Other favorites would be Nadia Comaneci and all the members of the '84 Men's Gymnastics team. I followed the 1984 gymnastics competitions very closely and became a fan to the point that not only did I continue to follow their individual careers, but I went to see American Anthem in the theater (Mitch Gaylord, swoon) and I also saw Rad, which had Bart Conner in it, albeit not in the theater as it never played near me. My sister and I did rent the movie several times the summer it came out on video though. Heck, I even watched the team compete on a celebrity edition of Family Feud! (Another wince-inducing moment was when Tim Daggett snapped his leg at the World Championships a couple of years after the '84 Olympics. I believe that ended his competitive career, though he and Bart Conner have both popped up on TV as commentators over the years since the 80s....)

Oh, I've kind of got summer sports on the brain here, but I also was a big Brian Boitano fan back when he was competing...

4) I'd have to say it is a tie for me between the night the '84 US Men's Gymnastics team won the gold and the day that Greg Louganis won the gold medal after that horrible head-cracking.

5) I'm really rooting for
Michael Phelps and Dara Torres in particular this time around.

And now, I will leave you with an appropriately themed LOLcats picture:

cat
more cat pictures

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eye carumba: the outcome

First, the good news: the kiddo totally cowboyed up and didn't fuss one bit for any part of the exam, including the dreaded eye drops (two in each eye, no less). This eye doc did an extremely thorough exam (it lasted almost 90 minutes!) and the kiddo enjoyed the parts where she got to wear 3-D glasses and look at different pages to see what "jumped out" at her and where she got to look in the various machines, too. Plus, they had Lion King playing there, which the kiddo knows by heart and was thrilled to get to watch - we don't allow TV during the day so that was an extra treat!

Now, the frustrating news: This eye doctor immediately detected an issue with Kiddo's eyes. The same issue that we've thought we've noticed (in our admittedly inexpert opinions) since she was an infant. The same issue we've taken her repeatedly to the other eye doctor for checking for the past five years. ARGH. We had no reason to not believe what the other eye doctor was telling us, but now I wish we'd trusted his opinion less and had sought a second opinion sooner. Thank goodness the kiddo's OT suggested we get her checked out by someone else, or we still would be blindly traipsing along (pun intended) with her having vision issues.

So, the verdict is that the kiddo has exotropia in both eyes, more so the right than the left. It is intermittent, which is good, and not in both eyes simultaneously either, which is also good. Treatment options to start with were either patching or glasses. We opted for glasses, and have now ordered the kiddo her first pair. (They're PINK! With SPARKLES!) They were crazy expensive - more expensive than my own Mega-Magoo specs - but they're warrantied and the special, super-flexible and bendy kind that hopefully will withstand the kiddo's SPD sensory-seeking and klutzy behaviors. The glasses will be in next week, so she'll have time to get used to them before school starts.

The bad news to the verdict is that glasses and patching each only work 50% of the time. The eye doctor (the new one - we're NOT going back to the other one now!) will re-examine the kiddo in 3 months and will determine at that point if we need to just keep going with the glasses or if we need to look at surgery. Boy, I hope the glasses do the trick.

We're really selling the whole excitement factor on the glasses to the kiddo. So far, she is viewing it as a treat to be able to wear glasses (that are PINK! With SPARKLES!) just like Mommy and Daddy (and Grandma and Grandpa in NJ, Gramma in FL, Grandma G and Grandpa A, several of her aunts and uncles.....) and was upset that she couldn't wear the sample pair home today. We're gonna keep focusing on how cool and exciting it is, and hopefully when she gets the actual prescription lenses, she will be good about wearing them and this won't turn into a battle of wills. (Especially for the amount that these PINK! With SPARKLES! glasses are costing us............)

So please keep your fingers crossed that these glasses do the trick and no surgery will be required down the road! (Um, and that the kiddo wears the glasses without a struggle, too!)

Eye carumba!

I have to take the kiddo to an eye doctor appointment today. This is not her first time going to the eye doctor (actually that is why I'm more than a wee bit frazzled at the thought - Experience, she is a good teacher) but it is the first time going to this particular eye doctor, so there is also a bit of "fear of the unknown" added into the mix.

You see, the kiddo? Not such a good eye patient. This despite having accompanied me to many eye doctor visits (when I was dealing with my horrific eye malady over the past year) and having seen Mommy being brave and calm and not freaking out at all over more horrible eye examining than she ever would be subjected to in her own exam. When she's watching me as the patient, the kiddo is positively fascinated. She's also helpful, pitching in to read the lines on the eye chart for me so I don't have to and asking me "better? worse? One or Two?" She always wants a turn looking through the doctor's side of the machinery (he's never let her though) and loves to play with the giant, 3D eyeball model in the exam room. (Whoops, where'd that cornea go?) When my exam is done, she climbs up into the chair requesting a turn, even. Oh yes, she looooves going to the eye doctor... as long as she isn't actually the patient.

Unfortunately, the kiddo seems to be having problems with her vision and thus we are headed to the eye doctor again. This is actually a second opinion visit; we just suffered through her routine check-up two months ago. She's been going to the eye doctor since she was an infant; Hubby and I thought that her eyes weren't quite lining up and focusing in the same direction and the pediatrician thought he saw what we thought we saw, so eye exams are old hat to her by now. (There also is a family history of eye issues on her birthfather's side, which added to our concern.) The eye doctor we've taken her to for the past five years has consistently reassured us that there is nothing wrong with her vision beyond being slightly farsighted (not enough to require correction), and that what we see when we think her eyes are wonky is merely an optical illusion caused by the fact that her eyes are shaped slightly differently. We've always accepted this and felt reassured, but earlier this summer, Kiddo's occupational therapist shared with me her concerns about the kiddo's vision, specifically that she has noticed Kiddo is squinting "a lot" and that her tracking seems to be off, especially in the one eye. (That'd be the same eye that we thought wasn't quite in tune with its mate back when she was a baby...) So, I got a referral to a new pediatric eye doc and made the appointment. Which is for today. Which is why I'm filled with such anticipatory dread right now.

Two months ago, Kiddo was all about telling me how much she was looking forward to it being her turn to go to the eye doctor. "I'm such a brave, big girl, Mommy!" (famous last words) she kept telling me. "I don't even CARE about the eye drops!" "It is MY turn to read the letters, Mommy, so you have to be quiet!" "I get to sit in the chair today!" It was all good until the eye drop bottle came out. Then, as always, things got ugly.

Have I mentioned that my kid is that kid when you're at the doctor? Yeah, I thought so... Well, she's that kid at the eye doctor, too. The one who is screaming SO loudly that you think surely they're stabbing her with hot pokers, if not plucking out her nasal hairs one at a time or doing that horrible finger torture they did to my beloved George Clooney in Syriana. All over the eye drops - things she sees me putting into my own eyes twice a day (down from six times a day, and she saw that too). And her eye doctor is a pediatric specialist, so his office is a child's paradise - toys, toys, and more toys! Flat screen TVs on every wall (which always seem to be playing one of the Shrek movies, something Kiddo hasn't been allowed to watch at home yet, so there's the thrill of the forbidden too)! Overflowing candy dishes on the receptionist's desk AND in the exam rooms! None of that matters to her once that tiny, little bottle comes into view.

Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to this morning's trip. I will feel obliged to warn the doctor (sotto voce) that she doesn't take well to the eye drops, so if they have a soundproof exam room, they should put us in it. I've been working on a list of bribes - erm, I mean rewards, too - things I'll gladly promise the kiddo if only she doesn't scream. If only she cooperates. If only she'll be good. Oh please, let today be the day that she is good. Ice cream for dinner! Play Doh in her bedroom! Two TV shows tonight! Anything, just please, no screaming! I am so not above trying to induce good behavior via lavish bribes in situations like this...

So, if you hear a piercing shriek echoing across the Great Lakes in a few hours, you'll know the source. I apologize in advance for any eardrums that may be ruptured. I'm also fervently hoping that this second opinion agrees with her regular eye doctor and there is no problem... Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm faviconed, woo!

While cruising around the blogosphere just now, I came across a new SITS member (well, new to me) and on her blog, I found a post that made it very easy to make my own favicon - for free, no less. So, thanks to Carrie and her helpful, easy-to-follow post (and for doing all the muddling through to figure it out and save time for folks like me!), I now have my kiddo's footprints, as taken in the NICU shortly after she was born, as my blog favicon. Granted, though Kiddo was a peanut when she was born (in the 4lb neighborhood), the footprints are a wee bit smaller, being 16 x 16 pixels and all. But they're hers and now they're my favicon instead of the Blogger B. Woo!

Poetic parenting...

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me -
Anything can be happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

~ Shel Silverstein

It's funny, I was just reading poems to the kiddo from my beloved, old copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the above poem is one that I had marked as a possible quote for my senior year high school yearbook page. (I went with a few other, more obscure quotes instead - Dylan Thomas and David Bowie if I recall... I'd have to dig out my yearbook to get the exact ones.) Back then, I took this poem to be a "don't let the Man hold you back" sort of euphemistic fist-shaking, all full as I was of teenage know-it-all-ness and rebellion. (Side note: I was utterly convinced at the age of 16-17 that I knew it ALL. I was so, so sure of this. Now, at 36-37, all I'm sure of is exactly how much I don't know. *sigh*) Now, when I reread this poem for the first time in a while, I see it much differently than I did with my arrogantly teenaged eyes. Now, it speaks more to me as a parent, (which, granted, I wasn't yet, back then) and it strikes a totally different chord reading it as a mother.

Some days, it feels like all the parenting I do amounts to is a steady stream of NO, DON'T, SHOULDN'T and MUSTN'T... I don't particularly like those days (does anyone?) but it has to be done. It can be wearying, I imagine for both of us - I don't like sounding like the broken record (um, skipping CD? what is the 21st century equivalent for that particular expression?) and I'm pretty sure the kiddo doesn't like hearing it over and over again. It is a big part of parenting, though, to teach the rules and to make sure that they are followed. All those mustn'ts and shouldn'ts have their reasons, and those reasons are valid. (We MUSTN'T cross the street without looking both ways... We SHOULDN'T eat dinner before washing our hands...)

Now, for me as a mother, I try to be sure that the MUSTN'Ts are balanced with the ANYTHING CAN BEs. I want to be sure to nurture the kiddo's hopes and dreams, to encourage her optimism and confidence. I want to inspire her as much as keep her safe and "in line" though some days that is easier than others.....

The kiddo didn't really have much of an opinion one way or the other on this one. She much preferred Dirty Dan, the world's Dirtiest Man, who never has taken a shower. And for the record, her favorite Silverstein work is A Giraffe and a Half (at least so far in her life), which she's had memorized since she was three.

I'll leave you with one more Silverstein poem out of A Light in the Attic, and then I'm taking the kiddo up to the pool for a swim while the sun is still shining and the rain clouds are gone for a while (it's been one rainy, stormy summer here):

Here Comes

Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Chirping robin, budding rose.
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer,
Gentle showers, summer clothes.
Here comes summer,
Here comes summer -
Whoosh - shiver - there it goes.