Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lucky bum

Overheard from the bike trailer/peanut gallery: "[giggle] I see Mommy's bumper*! [giggle, giggle]"

Opie, trying to push past the barricade I have created with my rear end to prevent him from exiting a restaurant booth: "Cuze me. Cuuuze me. Cuze me bumper!"


Today was one of those "I really lucked out with this job" days. I spent most of it surfing the "kidlitosphere," blogs by teachers, librarians, journalists, and other miscellaneous lovers of children's books. I'm working my way down through this blogroll and -- wow.

Next up: Crafty moms. Not so much the ones that rock the grownup crafts, like Supa (she knits! she sews! she paints! she gestates!), but the ones who have clever ideas for kiddie projects.

If you have any faves in either category, I'd love to hear about them. Also any ways to remove tomato-soup stains. I have done the Shout-soak-wash-repeat cycle on one of Jo's dresses at least 10 times and it's still hanging on. If I can't get it out the dress is fit only for the costume box.

*Daycare-speak for derrière.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

My tree-hugging siblings would be so proud

and so would anyone else green, along with you future MILFs and cycling chicks. I've used the bike trailer for the past few child-care runs and plan to keep it up all spring and summer. No pollution, a mini-workout, and the kids think it's fun. Win, win, win.

I don't think I need to explain how blissed out I am that spring is here. We spent almost all day Sunday outside playing, chatting with the neighbors, and making feeble attempts at yardwork. The kids were so worn out that they conked out before 7 p.m. (!) so I had time to read a few chapters of my book* and take the dog for a nice walk before it got dark. Yesterday was crazy warm and I took my laptop out on the porch for part of the day, played with the kids outside after school, and then ate dinner with them at their kiddie picnic table. That's one benefit of a long, cold winter -- we sure appreciate spring when it does show up.

*Book update: Page 844, and we postponed our meeting for a week. So there's a chance a might even finish it in time.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The music meme. Or, thoroughly busted.

As a know-it-all teenager I thought that the way to stave off old fogy-dom was simply to continue listening to top-40 radio. Because then you would continue to be cool.

And that, my friends, is my excuse for the lameness which follows. Instead of the seven songs I'm listening to right now (because really, that list would be "grandpa songs [the CD my dad made for the kids] track 1, grandpa songs track 2, grandpa songs track 3," etc.), I give you the seven songs that are guaranteed to make me smile, sing along, and usually bust a move too.

1. When Ragtime Rosie Ragged the Rosary: I've already written about why I love this one.

2. Stacy's Mom from Fountains of Wayne's Welcome Interstate Managers. Because it reminds me of Tacy's mom, and because we used to drive by the store that inspired the band's name all the time when we lived in New York.

3. Stand from REM's Green. College nostalgia I.

4. Walking on Sunshine, Katrina & the Waves. If this song doesn't make you happy then you have a heart of stone, is all I'm saying.

5. Here Comes My Baby, Cat Stevens on the Rushmore soundtrack. If I have to pick just one from this compilation, this is the one.

6. Sweet Child O' Mine. GNR, baby. College nostalgia II.

7. Who's Your Baby Now from Mark Knopfler's solo album Sailing to Philadelphia. Enchanting, lyrical, lilting, love the whole album.

Thanks, Bon! If anyone else out there hasn't played yet and wants to, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Thundering into spring

not just a thunderstorm - a French thunderstorm ( years ago this week, I bumped into a neighbor who's married to an ob-gyn. Making small talk about my impending delivery, I said I hoped the coming full moon would do the trick. "Or maybe we'll get a thunderstorm," she replied.

I'd never heard that before, but she swore that she, her husband, and his colleagues over the years had noticed a significant uptick in births during and just after storms. Thunderstorms are a summer phenomenon, I thought; the snow is just barely receding. There's no way we'll get one now.

Sure enough, a few days later thunder clapped through the sky, lightning flashed, slashing rain fell, my dog curled into a tiny ball, trembling and panting. And my baby ... stayed firmly put. He didn't emerge until more than a week later.

Tonight we ushered in spring with a rousing storm. This time, no restless baby kicking at my insides, keeping me guessing on when he'd come and who he'd be. Now a toddler demanding "more boom!" Now a tiny boy following his big sister's lead, hovering over a terrified dog, patting and soothing. "Okay, Fah-ee. Okay." Now a blond head nodding to sleep on my shoulder as the lightning bursts through the window blinds. Now my own Opie.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ye olde mommyblogger standby

1. Reverse psychology: Start 'em young.
Jo and Opie are playing in her room. I'm listening from the kitchen over the baby monitor. Jo wants to come down, but Opie doesn't. So she tries this sly little ploy: "Opie! Wanna go upstairs? Yeah? OK! This is downstairs here. That way is upstairs. Let's go! Let's go upstairs!"

2. Was it Rick? Maybe Mick? Slick?
I'm changing Opie's diaper. He starts to sing (calendar notwithstanding) "Ho ho ho, who wunna go, ho ho ho, who wunna go? Up onna housetop kick kick kick, down frew da chimmey wi' good saint ... ... ... SANTA!"

3. Never mind what I was going to say about your shoes, then
At preschool:

JO: Megan, those are some spiffy pants!
MEGAN (wailing): Miss Ruuuuth! Jo said she's spitting on me!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Real moms have big dreams

Or, two memes in one! Thanks to Kristen at The Mom Trap for her Real Moms meme, and to Magpie Musing for the books Q&A.

My big dream is to finish this book. Or to read in general. I love to read, I identify myself as a reader, I was a double major in English and French literature, for God's sake. And yet it is a huge struggle for me to read one novel a month for book club, even when it's not a monster like this one (The Count of Monte Cristo, weighing in at 1400+ pages). Then there are the dozens of magazines I want/need to read for work, and the Sunday New York Times that thuds onto my porch every week (I should've taken a picture of that stack--some of it dates back to January).

But I refuse to believe I am not a reader. Someday, maybe when I'm stuck waiting around in my car for the kids, I will read at my usual rate again. Either that or I'll have to move back to New York and start commuting by bus again.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Trade paper, for portability without total flimsiness.

Amazon or brick and mortar? Usually brick and mortar because I wait until the last second.

Barnes & Noble or Borders? No Borders 'round here so B&N it is.

Bookmark or dog ear? Bookmark if it's the library's. Dogears in a book-club book (if I own it) where I want to be able to refer back to several passages.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? By author. Random would just Not Do.

Keep, throw away, or sell? Give away, usually. Sometimes via Bookins.

Keep dust jacket or toss it? Keep. And I am so with Magpie on the uselessness of jackets for kids' books. Why?!

Read with dust jacket or remove it? Remove.

Short story or novel? Novel.

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry. But that's partly for professional reasons. I look forward to reading the Lemony Snickets with my kids when they're bigger.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? At chapter breaks or, more usually, when interrupted.

Buy or borrow? Depends. I like to own the book club books at least until I know how I feel about them--then I might pass them on to someone else.

New or used? Used if I can get through Bookins. Haven't found a good used bookstore here yet.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Usually reviews (or other press coverage) and recommendations.

Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Tidy please.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? Nighttime is the only possibility. Usually while I am brushing and flossing.

Stand-alone or series? Stand-alone.

Favorite children's book? That's very hard to say. But our whole household loves 10 Minutes till Bedtime, by Peggy Rathmann.

Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? Have you heard of that Rathmann book? Or how about another children's book, the totally surreal DeZert Isle by Claude Ponti?

Favorite books read last year? The Time-Traveller's Wife.

So far this year? I finally read Elie Wiesel's Night.

Favorite books of all time? A Prayer for Owen Meany. The Poisonwood Bible. The Little House series (as in ...on the Prairie). My Antonia. A Tale of Two Cities. The Age of Innocence. The Hours. Interpreter of Maladies. Charlotte's Web.

Least favorite book you finished last year? I didn't think Kite Runner was as fabulous as everyone else did. I thought the plot turned on a huge coincidence, which is a really lazy device.

What are you reading right now? The Count of Monte Cristo. Only 1100 pages to go.

What are you reading next? Whatever the book club pick for April is. (Also, it will be my turn to suggest a book club book soon--recommendations welcome!)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Small vehicular victories

Blink and it's done

Unfortunately, no one has puked in my car in the past week. Or discharged a dramatic poo-splosion. Or even backed into me in the drive-through lane, causing me to spill my chai latte all over my lap and my upholstery.

So that means I didn't get to test out all of these snazzy Blink products. Still, I do drive a mom-mobile littered with candy wrappers, used Kleenex, and unsticky old stickers, plus stray macaroni noodles and dried beans that have jumped off precious works of art. I still have beige leather seats that (now that spring is finally, sort of, springing) bear both salty white and muddy brown footprints in sizes "small" and "smaller." And I still occasionally transport a dog with a slimy nose.

But hey! You wouldn't know it now that I've cleaned up my act. I've relocated the garbage into a handy Trash Tosser drawstring plastic bag. The small but long-lasting Mess Lifter wipes took care of my grimy seats. And the very cleverly packaged Smudge Cleaner (it's a small spray bottle with a built-in pocket holding a stack of dry wipes) worked a charm on the nose prints. I even tried it out on the kitchen window next to my toddler's chair--the one that's been coated with fingerprints and unidentified food substances for weeks now. Goo begone!

What I liked: A big part of the appeal of these products is their good-things-come-in-small-packages design. Each container is small--six inches or so across--and can be clipped on to a seat back or door pocket or stuffed into the glove compartment. The products I tried worked effectively--the wipes were small, but long-lasting (I cleaned two kitchen windows with just one Smudge Cleaner, and wiped down almost all my leather seating with one Mess Lifter).

What I didn't: Keeping all these gizmos in my car makes it feel more cluttered, which pretty well defeats the purpose. I don't want to clip the boxes to the seat backs because then my kids will be able to get at the goods--and I'm sure you can imagine why that isn't good. My glove box and center console are already, of course, overstuffed. I solved this problem by using one of the Tidy Totes--Blink's reusable mesh bag--to contain all the containers.

Who it's for: Any parent (and I include you dog moms and dads here too) who wants to get ahead of the pigpen-on-wheels syndrome that can take over the family car at a moment's notice. Note that all the products except the mesh bags are disposable, which may not be acceptable to the greenest among us. The good news is that, as I noted above, one tiny wipe goes quite a long way.

For a chance to win your own batch of Blink products, enter the Mess Makers promotion. Grand prize is a digital photo package--we're talking two cameras, a camcorder, a printer, photo paper, and processing.

Parent Bloggers Network

Monday, March 12, 2007

Certainly no need to check the calendar today

courtesy University of Georgia Parking Services. Not really my car Moms unite against Daylight Savings Time! Who's with me?

After a nearly 30-minute struggle to drag (literally and figuratively) my children from their beds this morning, I finally get them to school. As I'm changing Opie into his slippers I spot a police car through the side door. "Look kids, a police car!" "Why is there a police car at our school, Mommy?" "I don't know...OK, time to take Opie into his class!"

You know what the police car was doing? Giving me a parking ticket. Directly in front of the school. Where I (and every other parent) have been parking every morning and afternoon for three solid years. Granted, right underneath a no parking sign, but I uh, guess I thought it didn't apply to me or something. Also: this block contains the school on one side, and TWO houses on the other. What's with the draconian parking laws?

Wanna know how much a parking ticket is in Mayberry?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

A study in cracking me up

Read this post, and you'll see why I nominated it for the February ROFL Awards organized by Chicky Chicky Baby, Metro Mama, and Izzy.

I've enjoyed Jennifer's blog, under the ponderosas, for months now. She has a special talent for both loving and describing the natural world around her, and for sharing it with her kids. But as the nominated post proves, she also has a sly sense of humor that is not to be missed.

Jennifer, email me to claim your prize (a lovely bit of HTML code)!

All the news that's fit to blog's say I worked for a website devoted to kids' reading and learning, which was part of a major media/publishing company. And let's say that company wanted to create a newsletter especially for bloggers, pointing out fun, interesting, new stuff on the site. Would you want to read it? How often? What would you want it to include? What would make you say "enough of this damn spam?"

I'd love to hear your thoughts. And if you want a copy of such a thing if and when it does materialize, please leave me your email address in the comments or at mayberrymom2006 at yahoo dot com.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Haunting me

Whose dumb idea was this?

damn you thin mints

Monday, March 05, 2007

Injecting a little dose of cul-chah

I’m noticing a theme here. It’s a little like freshman year in college. Aside from their nonstop eating and their habit of strewing their belongings far and wide and deep, my children are studying the following subjects:

1. Music of the 20th Century
Both love listening to and playing music. So I thought it would be fun to take them to a free concert at our library a few Sundays ago.

(I’ll pause now for you to laugh at my idealism.)

Yes, I thought that I could scoop up my almost 2-year-old son literally seconds after his nap ended, toss him in the car with his almost 5-year-old sister who only thinks she doesn’t need a nap, and hustle them into a large room crowded with strangers where they would be expected to sit quietly and listen to more than an hour’s worth of jazz.

The band was billed as a “gypsy swing” ensemble so I guess I was picturing singing, dancing, trumpets, saxophones — all kinds of both ear and eye candy (they LOVE this boogie-woogie dance video). In reality, it was two guitars and an upright bass. And the musicians were excellent. It’s just that for two preschoolers, the excitement of watching and listening to them faded after about 10 minutes (not so coincidentally, about as long as it took for them to consume the cookies they grabbed from the refreshment table on the way in).

Since we arrived at the last minute, we were sitting on the far side of the room away from the door (and the cookies!). There was no way out unless we walked directly in front of the band, in the 3-foot aisle between them and the first row of seats. Instead we made our way to the corner, alongside the band were the kids could see a little better and also spread out, stand up if they liked, even dance a bit.

The drawbacks? Also located in the same place were a baby stroller filled with enticing items (juice boxes, toys, blankets) belonging to another family; a wheeled walker delicately leaning against the wall, ready to topple over at the slightest touch from an inquisitive toddler; and the emergency exit, armed with ear-piercing alarm. Oh, and the band’s amps, speakers, and power cords. Needless to say, I spent most of my time chasing Opie away from danger zones and shushing him when he said “Home! Jacket! Car! Wan’ go home!” At least Jo was pretty happy to lounge on the floor and listen quietly, especially once she was promised more cookies on the way out.

2. Art History
When we went to see my parents, we decided to visit an art museum. (Again, I pause.) The exhibit was called "Monet in Normandy," so in the car on the way there I talked to Jo about what we would see. I was hoping to drum up some excitement.

I started giving her what I thought was an age-appropriate lesson in Monet and Impressionism. I told her that we would see lots of pictures of flowers and beaches and places outside. I told her this painter loved painting outdoors and that he was always trying to notice different colors, and how the color of something (like a flower or the ocean) could change depending on whether it was morning or afternoon, sunny or cloudy. I told her how he would line up a series of canvasses and work at them for a few minutes at a time, switching as the light around him changed.

I told her how he used a lot of small little brushmarks to create his pictures, and how if we looked at them from far away we would see a scene that we could recognize, but if we got up close we would only see little dots. Here she jumped in. "I know about those dots! It's called pointillism!"

Good grief! Okay, so a real art historian would say that Pointillism isn't the same as Impressionism (it came later) but still, I was... impressed. Turns out she learned it from TV. Naturally.

Meanwhile, Opie had absorbed some of the excitement and chirped, "I see paintings! I go museum see paintings! I say ‘HI paintings!’"At the exhibit itself, results were mixed. Both kids did pretty well at walking through the galleries (or at switching from stroller to floor to Mommy to Daddy, repeat) and looking at the paintings, but I was glad that the museum wasn't yet crowded. I later figured out why Jo seemed a little disappointed. Turns out she was hoping to see the Mona Lisa! Apparently the episode of Blue's Room in which Blue and company visit a museum taught her about "masterpieces," and she was on the lookout for one.

Our apologies to M. Monet, but apparently his water lilies didn't qualify.

3. Literary Criticism
Jo and her friend H. are playing in a tent.

H: Come into the tent, Jo! It’s our club!
J: Yeah! Our book club!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

When Photoshop goes bad

If you happen to have the latest issue of Cookie magazine (which I only do because Jeff brings it home from work--let's be clear on the fact that I would never pay money for it), please turn to page 37.

Oh wait! It's online.

Look at the picture of the mom in her sunny yellow dress, holding a naked one-year-old in each arm.

Now look more closely at the little boy on the left. It's not as obvious on screen as it is in print, but he has been completely emasculated by an overeager airbrushing. I realize that it would not be cool to publish a picture of this child's meat & potatoes, but seeing him without them is freaking me out.

And furthermore, it looks like the older child is using unnaturally prehensile toes to try to sneak a look up his mom's skirt.

Round of sarcastic applause to the photo editor on this one. Of course it's hard to get a decent picture of two babies and a preschooler. But you should have kept on trying.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

When Ragtime Rosie Ragged the Rosary

Originally posted at Blooming Yaya as part of the Blog Exchange; our assignment was to write about a song (or compose one of our own, as Bobita did).

Really – it’s a song. You can Google it.

Don’t most kids grow up singing goofy novelty tunes from 1911? No? Just me? Huh. You didn’t dance to this song at your wedding reception? Just me again?

You missed out. My dad is a musician—a banjo player and a singer—and this is one of my favorite songs from his exhaustive repertoire. Composed by a man named Lewis Muir (or maybe Edgar Leslie), it goes like this:

Old Parson Lee from Tennessee
In accents loud and clear
Said “Folks I’m awfully sorry
But our organist ain’t here.
I’d like to get someone to volunteer
To help us out”

Well a gal named Ragtime Rosie got up
And said that she could play
The Parson seemed delighted
And said “Just step this way.”
The congregation bowed their heads to pray
Then came a shout

When Ragtime Rosie ragged the rosary
Deacon Alexander started in to reprimand her
But he turned around only to see
That instead of prayin’ Rosie had the folks a-swayin’
That tune so sweet
Was such a treat
It charmed their feet and set them
Dancin’, prancin’
Ragtime two-step ‘til old Parson Lee
He forgot his sermon and began to squawk in German …

That’s from memory, but it checks out. This song was always a huge hit with me and my brother and sister when we were kids. It has a great beat, fun rhymes, and rags (har har) on how boring church can be. Perfect! (You can listen to a sample--look for Track 12. Disclaimer: Not my dad.)

As a child I thought it was cool that my dad was in a band and we could go see him perform (another of our favorite tunes was something called “Chili Bom Bom” because tee-hee! He said “bum”!). As an adult, I’m very proud of both his talent and his role in preserving an important piece of Americana: traditional jazz from the early 20th century. It goes way (way, way) beyond “When the Saints Go Marching In” and believe me, my dad has the LPs, CDs, and sheet music to prove it. He also has some pretty good stories. Here’s one from his site.

In 1963, we played at a joint on Chicago Ave., between State and Wabash. We had just finished playing the Saints as our closing number. A guy with a beret walked in and wanted us to play the Saints. Persuaded by the $50 tip, we played it again. Sometimes on Fridays (Saturday morning!) we would go down State St. and play for tips at a gin mill that was open until 5 a.m. We asked Freddy the Frenchman (as we quickly named the big tipper) to go with us.

We were driving down State and one of our guys asked Freddy what he did for a living. He said "I'm a professional thief" and pulled a pistol out from under his jacket! We told him we had changed our minds about playing more and dropped him off on a corner. We went on down to the club and started playing.

A little while later Freddy came in. He hung around while we nervously began to pack up. He said he didn't like the piano player (not one of our guys) and if he didn't stop playing he would shoot him! Our guys rapidly packed up and started to leave. I was the first one out the door! Freddy started shooting up the joint, grazed the piano player, and robbed the bartender. Two of our guys tackled Freddy as he left the bar and held him until the police arrived.

My dad’s not Catholic, but I’m pretty sure he was saying a few rosaries that night.

Dirty Laundry ~ Kickin' It MY Style!

I make my living in the college halls
Accused of crushin’ students’ balls
But wait a minute, housework calls…
Got too much dirty laundry

Well I could have been recluse
But I wound up here
Moppin’ floors and washin’ dishes
I think I need another beer
Come and wipe away my tear
Got too much dirty laundry

Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me all around

I’ve got the dinner-prep and bath-time
All before five
Let me tell ya 'bout the sink slime
Splashed up in my eye
This stack o’ dishes oughtta be a crime
Still there’s dirty laundry

Now I gotta change a diaper
Cuz it’s drippin’ wet I gotta get a phone call
A student, I bet
Get the wetwipes, break a sweat
SHIT!! The dirty laundry!

I think I really need to figure out
What's going on
Just made the second phone call
Cuz hubby’s not home
For this, the bastard will atone
Fuck the dirty laundry

Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me when I’m down
Kick me when I’m up
Kick me all around

Hi! My name is Bobita and I am visiting today for the March Blog Exchange! Usually, you can find me over at my place, Blooming Yaya, where there is no shortage of complaints about dirty laundry (even without the help of Don Henley!). Please head on over to my place where Mayberry Mom is singin’ her tune today!

If you would like to be part of next month’s Blog Exchange, please click the link above or the button in the sidebar…why not join all the fun?!