Friday, August 27, 2010

Call me Fred. Or Barry.

This afternoon, I went out to tackle the green beast that is also known as our lawn in late summer.  (This would be the second time this week I've had to mow, for those of you keeping score at home.)  I geared up appropriately for the chore with my iPod and headphones and got to cutting.  I did the front and side yards to the strains of my Leonard Cohen playlist, but by the time I got around to the back, I needed something a bit more.... peppy.  Now, Kiddo has recently become enamored of a certain tune on Mommy's iPod, and it is a tune that is near and dear to Mommy's heart.  I first heard it when I was her age or a little bit younger, and I loved it from the very first bongo thump.  It's one that she has been requesting repeatedly for the past few weeks, so it instantly sprang to mind as I scrolled through my playlists.  Perfect choice!

The song of which I speak, of course, is that 70s classic Copacabana by none other than Barry Manilow.  I adored the song as a kid and still do now.  As a child, I was instantly smitten by the drama of the song (not to mention those bongos) and choreographed a dance routine to go with it.  Now, I'm teaching Kiddo the dance moves (and she is embellishing them with lots of added jazz hands.  Kiddo is a big believer in jazz hands) and she and I belt it out when we're driving around town, sitting at the breakfast table, hanging out on the lanai... it's an all-occasion bit of groovy joy.

Anyhow, there I was in the back yard.  Hubby had taken Kiddo up to the playground to burn off some energy, so I had the yard to myself (well, except for the squirrels and bunnies and jays and cardinals, oh and the bees - lots of bees).  I dialed up the Copa and pulled the starter cord on the mower.  (Incidentally, I always feel so.......... macho when I'm pulling the starter cord on the mower.  Especially when it takes a couple of tries before the engine actually catches.  Is that just me?)  I began merrily cutting my way up and down the back .40 and when the disco violins soared above the bongos, I started singing too.  Singing *and* dancing, actually.  Air bongos are pretty much mandated with the Copa, and that dance routine I've been doing for over 30 years now lives in my very marrow (plus Kiddo's jazz hands - she really is right about how jazz hands make anything better).  I think by now it is physically impossible for me to remain silent and still when the Copa is playing.  I've sung and shimmied to it in any form, including Muzak.  (I'm killer in an elevator - the acoustics are fantabulous, you know.) 

So, there I was, just like Fred and his hat rack

See the whole routine right here!

except instead of a jaunty neckerchief with matching red belt and socks, I was wearing a paint-spattered, 10 year old t-shirt over a boob-squashing sports bra and grass-stained sneakers, and instead of a hat rack, I had an old and decrepit lawn mower.  And jazz hands - Fred may've been a great dancer, but he really underutilized the jazz hands.  But other than those tiny details, I was exactly like Fred Astaire.

Naturally, it wasn't until after the last refrain "Copa.....Copacabana" had faded into silence and I was left with naught but the sound of my mower that I happened to catch sight of one of our neighbors.  Specifically, the lovely, older lady whose property backs up to ours, and who had apparently decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and breeze today to do a bit of gardening in her back flower beds.  The ones that are right at the property line, which means she had a front row seat for Heather-Fred-Barry and my dance partner, the lawn mower.  Totally busted.  Yeek.  I did what any self-respecting Fanilow would do in such a situation.  I waited for the next song to cue up and then treated her to a little Bandstand Boogie.  With plenty of jazz hands, of course.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

In which the kid breaks the house

Kiddo has been fortunate enough to have her own bathroom since we moved to this house.  We've been fortunate in that regard as well; it is really, really nice to not have to share a shower/tub with eighty zillion dinosaurs, Barbies, rubber duckies and other assorted tub toys, especially given the issues such tub toys and my nearsightedness have had in the past.

Anyhow, in Kiddo's bathroom (which is also the one used by any overnighting guests), there are three towel bars.  Two of them are on the walls in front of and next to the toilet and the third is in the tub area itself.  All three towel bars are set fairly high on the walls - she has to reach up to touch them.

Kiddo decided, shortly after moving in and beginning to use her bathroom, that it would be a most brilliant plan indeed to hang on the towel bars and/or the end pieces between which the bar itself is held.  Hubby and I both explained to her, on the several occasions in which we caught her in the act, that not only was this as far from a brilliant plan as possible, but it could cause serious damage to herself and the walls and she was (obviously) Strictly Forbidden from doing it, EVER.

Within the first year of living here, she managed to snap one towel bar - after several of the above warnings - and a second towel bar is now dangling loosely (of course she claimed no knowledge of how that happened) on the wall.  Clearly, our Strict Forbidding was only working for those moments when we were actually, physically in the bathroom with her to glare admonishingly while she was reaching up for the bars.  Hubby replaced the one bar and the second continues to dangle a bit precariously, while the third - the one in the tub itself - remained whole.

Around 5:45 yesterday evening (afternoon?), Kiddo went up to take a shower.  I started it for her, made sure the liner part of the curtain was inside the tub and then came downstairs.  Not one full minute later, there was a most tremendous crashing and clattering sound, followed immediately by  "MOOOOOOOOOOM!  I DIDN'T MEAN TO BUT I BROKE THE *incoherent sobbing*" that had Hubby and me racing upstairs.

Now, Hubby and I are lacking in the CSI type equipment with which to reconstruct the crime scene.  We have none of the fancy lasers or the fingerprint dusting kits or the swabs and chemicals to test with, but I'm sure if we did they'd have been positive for shenanigans, along with second grader-sized fingerprints and DNA all over the place.  Even without Grissom and his crew, we were able to deduce what had happened within the first few seconds.  Kiddo had apparently decided (once again!) to hang off the towel bar in the tub.  The towel bar that is made of the same substance as the tiles on the wall.  The towel bar that was one, molded piece.  The towel bar that was not just affixed to the wall, but actually into the wall.  We were able to deduce this because we found Kiddo standing in the tub, covered in bits of broken tile, grout and drywall, screaming and crying her head off, the shower still on full blast with the liner now out of the tub so that water was spraying onto the floor, the towel bar in pieces on the tub floor and bathroom floor and several shattered tiles in the tub and on the floor as well.  (Her living daylights, wits and bejezus, however, were nowhere to be found, because clearly she'd scared them completely out.)  Where the towel bar once hung there was naught but a gaping hole, minus several of the goldenrod tiles that had been there mere moments before.

I immediately turned the shower off, grabbed a towel and picked Kiddo up out of the disaster area, carrying her into our bathroom while Hubby dealt with the disaster area itself.  As I carefully picked bits of broken tile and drywall out of her hair and checked her over for injuries (none, thankfully), she began her Ultra-Super-Duper Symphony of Remorse, key of B minor.  Sample lyrics include

"I am so, so, so, so, so, so, soooo ashamed" 
and its counterpoint
"I am so, so, so, so, so, so, soooo sorry" (repeat ad nauseum)

"I didn't mean to do it."

It was the "I didn't mean to do it" that helped me most to not just melt into a puddle of goo in the face of the full-on Remorse Symphony (complete with tear-filled, big brown eyes and quivering lower lip, not to mention an expression of abject sorry).  Because, as Hubby and I both tried to explain to her, it wasn't so much that she didn't mean to do it, but rather that she didn't mean to get caught.  She wasn't accidentally playing Nadia Comaneci using the towel bar while mid-shower.  She wasn't standing under the spray, industriously shampooing when all of a sudden an unseen being propelled her hands up and onto the towel bar.  She wasn't suddenly surrounded by prehistoric piranhas who came shooting out of the showerhead, forcing her to jump up and cling to the bar as her only means of escape.

Nope, she decided to disregard not only the many Strict Forbiddings and the historical precedent of Kiddo Swings/Flexed-Arm Hangs from Towel Bar, Towel Bar Breaks.  She was hanging from the towel bar because she darn well wanted to, and the 45 year old towel bar decided it had had quite enough of *that* thankyouverymuch and came flying off the wall, shattering as it went.

By the time I'd gotten Kiddo taken care of and deposited her, sniffling and weeping and still singing the Remorse Symphony, into her bedroom, Hubby had cleaned up the mess in her bathroom, which included at least an inch of water on the floor.  I fixed dinner for Kiddo and then put her to bed.  I also levied the consequence of her actions upon her: No puppy next year.  (Now, please note we hadn't actually ever said with 100% certainty that we were getting a puppy next year.  All we'd said in the Puppy Quest matter - Kiddo's nearest and dearest, most fervent and passionate wish is to get a puppy and another kitten, but really, she'd make do with our current cat so long as there was a puppy on the scene - was that we wouldn't be getting one this year.  Kiddo extrapolated in her extremely optimistic way that this meant we'd be getting the puppy next year for sure.  We hadn't specifically disabused her of that notion, though in the back of the grown-ups' minds, a puppy was far from a sure thing next summer.  Now, however, there is no doubt - there will be no puppy in 2011.  This is by far the most serious and dire punishment we could give to Kiddo.)  We had a talk about listening to one's parents and how Daddy and Mommy don't just arbitrarily make up rules because we can, but because we do, in fact, know what is best in terms of keeping Kiddo safe, sound, healthy and happy.  (Okay, yeah, I know, sometimes we do just make up rules because we can, but hey, isn't that one of the hard-won perks of being a parent, to enact the Because I Said So! rule?)

Hubby did some research on the repair job our new hole in the wall is going to require.  Now, the bathroom is on the (exhaustingly lengthy) list of Rooms to Be Renovated.  However, it isn't next or even next-to-next on the list.  So, we don't really have the energy, enthusiasm or budget for tackling a full-on renovation in there right now, which would include removing all the heinous, goldenrod tile and retiling both the tub/shower area and the floor, along with stripping the hideous, 60s-butterfly-n-sunflower wallpaper, replacing fixtures (which will likely involve a lot of rewiring as well) and replacing the faux-marble-with-gold-veins countertop with an actual vanity.  We don't even have the energy or enthusiasm to just tackle the tub/shower portion of that project right now.  So, Hubby is going to try to patch the hole in the wall (we can see clear through to the studs - yowza) and then put in replacement tiles (which won't actually match the goldenrod ones, but such is life - the new tiles will serve as a reminder to Kiddo of What She Did, I suppose) and regrout everything.  It isn't like we could really make that bathroom any uglier, anyhow, and that way it will be functional (albeit minus one towel bar) again.

So, thus concludes the saga of how we became a real life Hole in the Wall Gang, courtesy of one relatively small seven year old breaking the house.  I was heartened by the comments on my previous post, especially the one in which someone else's child broke their house.  It's good to know that I'm not alone.  I just hope this is the last time we are faced with a hole in the house that isn't one of our own, purposeful making!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not *exactly* a bee in my bonnet

So last night I had a Girls' Night Out with my BFF.  We started the evening by swinging by Sugar Mountain Bakery Shoppe, where we had some delicious cupcakes as a pre-show snack.  The show was Estrofest, which stars one of my dear friends (who also is the mom of Kiddo's BFF - we met at a Gymboree class when the girls were still in diapers) and which I'd somehow not ever seen before.  The night concluded with a late dinner at The Winfield Grill with some of the cast and other assorted entourage members and then a drive home later than I've been out in aeons with a glimpse of a shooting star thanks to the Perseid Meteor Shower.  All in all, a perfectly wonderful night.  Good friends, good food and a lot of good laughs (seriously, if you're local enough to my corner of upstate NY, go to the Blackfriars Theatre and see Estrofest while you still can this summer, and then go see them again this winter.  Hilarious, hilarious, hilarious!  Norma Holland especially is a comedic wonder).

I could rave on and on about any or all of the above - the deliciousness that is an SMBS cupcake, the hilarity that is Estrofest, but none of that is the point of this post.  What I actually want to share with you is this:
During the show's intermission, my BFF, my Estrofest friend's husband (who is also my friend) and I stepped outside as the lobby was quite crowded and warm.  As we stood on the sidewalk chatting, I felt something land on my chest.  Now, I'd gussied myself up a bit for my big GNO, putting on a "fancy" top I haven't worn in years (bought it a few years ago because it caught my eye in a shop; got it home and wore it once to church but then decided it made me look pregnant and thus, developed a complex about it and put it away for like three years before deciding that I didn't care if it makes me look pregnant and pulled it out and wore it last night) with some linen pants and higher-heeled sandals and even slapped on some eyeliner and tinted lip gloss.  Now, wearing the fancy top meant putting on appropriate undergarments, in this case a Very Serious Bra.  We're talking plunging and décolletage-enhancing cups, padding, major underwire.  In this VSB, my bosoms are spectacular, if I do say so myself.  (Let me also point out that I encase them in the VSB only once in a blue moon, because the very seriousness of it lends itself to a fair amount of discomfort in short order.  This is no Playtex 18 hour comfy support type undergarment, to be sure.)

So, there the three of us stood chatting, out in the summer evening, when something landed on my chest, just north of the scoop-neck,  low-cut (at least for me) neckline of my fancy top, dangerously close to my spectacular bosoms.  I glanced down and swept a hand as discreetly as possible across my chest because, after all, one doesn't want to be seen out on a city sidewalk groping at one's own boob, spectacular as it may be.  I didn't catch sight of whatever it was that had landed on me, but as we were standing under some trees, I figured it was a bit of twig or leaf or berry and left it at that.  A few moments later, intermission ended and we filed back into the theater for the second half of the show.  The lights dimmed, the cast returned, hilarity ensued and................ I felt something move on my chest.  Well, not on my chest so much as inside my Very Serious Bra.


I shifted a bit in my seat, thinking that the bit of twig or leaf or whatever had landed on me must've plunged into my plunging brassiere instead of being dislodged when I'd swept my hand across the shirt, and then whatever it was inside my bra  moved.  As in crawled.  Inside my bra.  Across my left boob.

Oh.  My.

Here I was, in the middle of a row in a not terribly big theater, where they were picking volunteers from the audience for different things, with something crawling in my bra.  I didn't want to get up, excuse-me-pardon-me-oh-sorry-was-that-your-foot-excuse-me my way down the row and out to the lobby and restroom because given the dimensions of the theater and my proximity to the stage (and the exit to the lobby's proximity to the stage), that seemed to be a dangerous and disruptive thing to do (not to mention that I'd be faced with the eternal dilemma - does one exit the row with one's derrière facing the other seated patrons at close range or facing out, which in this case would've meant one's derrière facing the rest of the theater and actors).  I shifted about a bit and hoped that whatever it was would either crawl the heck out of my underthings or become fatally smothered between the padding and my skin.  The movement, after a few, terrible seconds, stopped.  Whew.  And then, a few moments later, it began again.  Crawling lower.  The lights went down, briefly, at the end of the sketch.  I took the opportunity to try to genteelly and discreetly swipe a hand into the edge of my top.  Nope, whatever it was that was crawling in there was far to low for any polite public squashing or removal.  Mind you, I'm not a Squasher of Living Things when they're crawling on the floor or wall or ceiling, much less when they're on my actual person.  But desperate times and all that - the crawling paused and continued, paused and continued.  Throughout the entire second act, I'd feel whatever it was crawling ever so slowly further south.  Now, I was fairly certain that no matter what the critter, it wasn't going to get any lower than the Formidable Underwire that ran along the southern border of the VSB.  However, I was also increasingly nervous that the critter might be of the burrowing or biting sort.  So, while I was laughing my head off through the second act, a small part of my brain was conjuring up images of deer ticks or tiny, poisonous spiders milliseconds away from deciding the underside of my left bosom was the perfect place to grab a meal or dig in some fangs.  I kept shifting and crossing my arms across my chest, trying to both be unobtrusive and get whatever it was that was crawling around my unmentionables to either evacuate or perish, with no such luck.

The second the show ended (conveniently enough with a standing ovation, so everyone was up out of their seats), I mumbled something about needing the rest room to my companions and took off for the lobby.  I got into the ladies' room, locked the door and whipped my shirt up to take a look.

It was just a bug.  A little, black, beetle-y bug.  Innocuous and non-lethal, it was nestled there where it had become caught by the Underwire Border.  I rescued it with a kleenex and then promptly smooshed it out of existence and inspected my chest for signs of trauma in the mirror.  Finding none, I readjusted my spectacular bosoms in the VSB, made sure my fancy top was back in its proper place and then fake-flushed the toilet and washed my hands, then rejoined my friends in the lobby.  (Side note: why did I feel compelled to pretend I'd been peeing when I hadn't?  Because I did feel compelled.  So strange.)  When my BFF and I left the theater and were driving to the restaurant, I told her about the Bosoms-Bug Encounter and she was equal parts amused and horrified.  So, of course I had to share it with you, my dear readers and whatever weirdos are googling the words "boobs" and "bra" or even stranger, "bosoms" ...

In conclusion, apparently you can dress me up, but you can't take me anywhere.  At least I looked spectacular for the occasion, though. 

Friday, August 6, 2010

In which I tell you of an awesome, "new" discovery

Let me preface this by acknowledging up front that I tend to be a bit, how shall we put it?  Late to the party when it comes to the hippest, most happening, latest things.  (See? I just used the word hippest which I'm fairly sure is no longer hip.)

Well, one of the things that is a new discovery (to me) that I wanted to share with you is this little thing called Pandora Radio.  Now, I apparently had already discovered Pandora's website once before, but it didn't take the first time.  (I only know this because when I rediscovered it, it turned out I'd set up an account for myself at some previous juncture and then promptly abandoned and forgotten the website entirely.)  I re-discovered Pandora as an iPod Touch app, and have become utterly smitten.  Smitten, I tell you!

So for those of you who are as un-in-the-know as I, let me tell you what Pandora does - it is a radio station where you get to pick all the music and then it plays the songs you want for you.  But more than that, it uses the info you've given to it about songs and artists you like and then comes up with other music that is similar and plays that for you, too.  There's a thumbs-up/thumbs-down feature that helps it tailor the musical choices for your own personal stations as well.  

It is so, so cool, y'all.  I (re-)discovered Pandora a couple of months ago, when I was looking through music apps for my Touch while we were in the midst of The Great Renovation Project, Phase II - Stripping and Painting, and I immediately set up a few different stations.  First, I made an 80s station.  (Duh.)  When Hubby got too sick of All 80s Music, All the Time, I obliged him by creating a Classic Rock station.  It was really darn delightful because by putting in the names of artists I liked (and then dashing over to my iPod mid-paint-rolling to thumbs up or down a particular song), it played classic rock type songs I enjoyed (The Eagles, Steve Miller Band) and not ones I haaaaate (the Horse With No Name song, for example).

I've created a few other channels, like Old Time-y Country (the Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakum, Kenny Rogers, Alabama) and the "J.J. Cazh" station (as Hubby and I nicknamed it thanks to the various Andy Samberg bits on SNL) which plays Jack Johnson, my friend Tulpen's boyfriend, Five for Fighting, Dave Matthews, the Wallflowers, and so on in that vein.


I made one more station - my Harry Connick, Jr. station.  Because I love me some Harry Connick, Jr.  Seriously love.  Have been a fan for decades (which makes me sound old, but it's technically true, so there you go).  As in, I've been a major fan since high school before When Harry Met Sally came out and he started getting really famous.  I went to the opening night of his first run on Broadway way back in 1990.  Actually, I was quite a Harry groupie in my younger years, and even met him several times.  (Nothing remarkably groupie-like ever happened, I must admit, although he did accidentally drive a remote-control car over my foot one time outside his tour bus in Syracuse.)  That was the same night he autographed this:

which I promptly had framed for an exorbitant amount of money (especially for a broke, college student, which I was at the time) and proudly hung on the walls of every college dorm room and apartment bedroom in which I lived from that moment forth until Hubby and I moved in together, when it was deemed no longer appropriate decor and thus has been living in the basement for the past 16 years.  (Sorry, Harry... if it meant you'd come and visit us - and hey, we have a piano! - then I'd totally hang it back up right this minute!)

Annnnnyhow, of course I needed a Harry Station, so I set one up toot sweet.  I added Michael Feinstein, Barry Manilow, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Frank Sinatra to that station as additional artists I like, and let her rip.

And do you know what I've learned since starting that station?  What Pandora has taught me?

That I am a big Michael Bublé fan.  Huge.  Now, please note that prior to setting up my HCJr Pandora station, I only had the vaguest idea of who Michael Bublé was - he floated out there on the far periphery of my knowledge.  I had seen him on SNL, where he was funny in that skit with Jon Hamm but as we were watching SNL off the DVR, as we do 99% of the time, we fast forwarded through the musical performances.  I'd caught snippets of his songs during my daily "Five Minutes To Try and Stay Current and Hip" (dang it, should I not be saying "hip" so I sound more hip?  How about "groovy" instead?  "Fly" perhaps - or with a ph like phat?  Phly?) in which, shortly after waking up in the morning, I start out watching one of the various iterations of MTV (thanks to which I have more than a mere inkling of who Lady Gaga is, for example) but within moments, I'm back on VH1 Classic where it is always 80s videos in the morning and odds are good that instead of seeing anything new and current, I'll find videos like Take on Me or The Reflex.  Ahhhhhhhh, sweet, comfortable nostalgia.  But I digress.  My point is, every time a song I didn't immediately recognize (or, more to the point, I didn't recognize that particular rendition, since 99.9% of this station is standards), I'd look on my iPod and voila, it was Michael.

So there you go.  Pandora is so awesome it gave me a new artist to lurrrrrve.  I'm not saying it doesn't have its occasional misstep, like the time I was merrily making pad thai to the strains of my Old Time-y Country station, when sandwiched between the Gatlin Brothers and George Strait came.... I Don't Want To Miss a Thing by Aerosmith.  ?!?!?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Aerosmith fan, but I don't want to hear a rock power ballad in the middle of my twangin' and pickin' and harmonizin' - not that I thumbsed them down.  I mean, I couldn't do that to my beloved Aerosmith, even when they popped up on the wrong station.  So, while Pandora isn't perfect, it's a pretty awesome discovery, at least for my groovy world.

Stay tuned for further "breaking news" of new discoveries I've made, like about the horseless carriage or the light bulb............