Friday, June 29, 2007

I felt like I lost the plot a little bit.

Tauropolus's adopted homeTauropolus did not originate from Chersonesos, but he came to his new land by the hand of an insidious receptionist who had sent him an Urgent message: Are you ready to mingle with some beautiful asian singles? Test the sweets of the life yourself.

Sawdust Shopkeeper, a brother who came in from overseas, dressed him in a large platinum chain and a Relief lasso, and supplied him with Inscrutable Scooby snacks, an Oat umbrella, and an answer casserole. The spot where he chose to build a fire-pit was slightly hilly, so his circle of godlike vessels leaned, like an intermediary, eastwards.

These shamanic love spells work. Was it grandiose classification? A waterlogged jump? The figures speak for themselves. “®É©¤k¤ý¤£¥i¯Ê¤Öªº¥[¤À­«ÂI!” A passing girl offers him a solution which enables him to drive home.

What she sees is a Yellow Cab, the exact type that delivers telegrams notifying that oceanography be truth. Howard then asked him if the tires exploded when they got in the car. His servant, Elijah, and the moon ensure that he told him. (Well, there is a lake, and a mountain range, and I suppose New York implies Formidable with zero.) It's a very tasty red; you'll probably have some trouble stopping drinking.

“CA, are you one of them?” The guy then asked Dee what he's got going on in his life. If you don’t know what those young kids are listening to at their discotheques, rinse the barley and add to the pan. The difficulty of the mark will determine the quality of loot. These evil men must be locked up for all their many crimes. I extirpate no caramel.

*

This post, including title, composed entirely of subject lines from spam emails (I added only the words in gray). Really, you could take any one of these and write an entire novel inspired by it. Maybe next November.

You want me to put that where?

swab the decks!
I have lamented before that whenever I go to New York, I get sick. I really don’t appreciate this because my trips there are for both business and pleasure, and it’s annoying to have either one disrupted by a vicious cold that turns into a sinus infection that turns into a barfathon prompted by the antibiotics that are supposed to be helping me get better. Plus, I hate the implication that my heretofore sturdy, city-tough immune system can no longer hack the mean streets (and subway cars) of NYC.

So. Next time I go, I’m bringing some Nozin. These wacky little sticks are billed as "sanitizers for the nose"--basically, the idea is to put up a no-germs-welcome barrier across your nostrils, since they otherwise put out a big old welcome mat for germs, viruses (virii?) and other cooties. It sounds squicky, but you basically take a cotton swab soaked with orange-scented, homeopathic liquid, put it just inside your nose and swish it around. It takes a minute to get the hang of the distribution system—you have to flick the swab’s handle and shake it a bit to get the liquid ready to apply, then snap the swab as if you’re going to break it in half to get the liquid to flow into the business end of the stick. (You can also just get it in a bottle and squeeze it onto a Q-tip yourself, but where's the fun in that?)

I got a travel pack of 10 doses to review, courtesy of the Parent Bloggers Network. I was already a couple of days into a cold when they arrived. It didn't seem fair to put them to the test once the snotties had already set in, but I had a deadline, people, so I did it anyway. And you know what? I could swear the cold was milder and shorter-lived than my usual cement-headed, leave-a-trail-of-Kleenex-in-my-wake, bitching-and-moaning-for-two-solid-weeks cough-and-sneeze fests. It was over in a week and never reached that kill-me-now low point where I couldn't eat, sleep, breathe, or otherwise function. Who knows if Nozin or plain old luck should get the credit, but color me a satisfied customer.

What I liked: The smell, and how it felt when applied. The active ingredient here is alcohol, so I was afraid the stuff would burn my delicate nose-al skin. But there is enough orange scent and vitamin E to counteract the drying effects of the alcohol.

Also the art on the packaging. I just think it's got a certain kitschy-cool appeal.

What I didn't: At a dollar a dose, the travel pack is way pricey. Go for the 60-dose bottle--it even comes with some cotton swabs.

Who it's for: Anyone who's regularly exposed to germs--travelers, teachers, parents--and wants to try to head off colds and other icks before they start. Faith in homeopathic products a plus.

By the way: Kristen said I should include a picture of my nose. I'm sparing you because I really can't top this little animated gif that Domestic Diva posted.

Parent Bloggers Network

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

HProxmysox

HP and the Deathly HallowsI work for the company that publishes Harry Potter. As you can imagine, things are heating up right about now. I do miss being in the office at times like this. Even though I have less than nothing to do with HP7, it's fun just to be on the periphery of something so big. (Yes, I will get a free copy; but no, I won't get it in advance.)

Lately I've been amused by the HP-themed logins on our site's message boards. I mean, these kids are creative:

looneylovegood01
grangergurl04
HermioneandRon4Eva!
Luna_the_Lovely
Crookshanks
LONGLIVEPADFOOT
the_sixth_weasly
worldsbiggestharrypotterfreak
hproxmysoxhehe
lightning_scar
bellatrix
luvinhp13_
FireboltGal_12
Harrylovah
hermy&ron4ever
hermioneisme

Who knew that Luna Lovegood had such devoted fans?

And are you a "Harrylovah"? (I'll still like you if you aren't. I enjoy the books, but I'm far from the worldsbiggestharrypotterfreak.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

A kid-free weekend: Let me count the ways

2: hours we traveled out of our way (but at least the forest/lake scenery was prettier than the endless farms that we should have been passing, had we not missed our turn)

1: sign I saw that caused me to regret not bringing my camera (a gas station called, I SWEAR, the “Kum&Go”). Oh good, a guy named Dave did take a picture.

1: unnecessary showers I took just because I could

8: times my son threw up while we were gone

3½: hours my dad spent on the floor keeping the vomitous boy company

180: extra minutes of television Jo watched while Grandma and Grandpa were cleaning up vomit

200: sit-ups my mother claimed to do while keeping vigil over napping, sick child

2: family historical sites we passed (Eau Galle, and my grandmother’s hometown – I have her class ring from the local high school, class of ’26)

40+: years that my grandmother’s former boss, an insurance executive who lived in the city which we visited, sent her a box of candy at Christmas

7: tapas dishes we tried, + 1 to-die-for order of blackberry-goat cheese empanadas with vanilla-thyme ice cream

2: things from home I missed (my Tempur-Pedic pillow and my electric toothbrush)

2: kids (+1 dog) from home I didn’t really miss, except I felt bad about the barfing

2: presents I bought for myself (pants, book)

4: presents I bought for the kids (fire-truck flashlight, kiddie gardening set, sunflower seeds, nasturtium seeds)

6: sections of the previous Sunday’s New York Times I brought with me

6: sections of the previous Sunday’s New York Times I actually read

*

P.S. Thank you all for the nice comments about our backyard. Of course you're all invited for a cold drink (beer, wine, mojito, milk, take your pick) anytime you're in Mayberry!

*

Also, I should say that Opie is fine. The throwing-up lasted a few hours, and then (apparently) he ate like a horse for the rest of the day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Right in my backyard

Since Julie asked, and since you saw the project in progress, here are a couple photos of the finished product:


pretty little tree
Detail of patio, bench, planter, and misc. tree. In background: fence designed to contain children + dog. All three have now demonstrated ability to escape. Next picture should rightfully be of me setting fire to a stack of $100 bills. It's a pretty fence, though, isn't it? And it keeps the soccer balls on our side of the property line.


the rear view There's the back of the house in all its orangey glory; the benches, the patio, and a bit of the new driveway. And of course, none of it would be complete without the purple Little Mermaid hippity-hop.

Happy weekend. See you Monday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Creationism meets potty humor

Jo: How do we make seeds?

Me: We don't make them, they grow inside fruits and vegetables and flowers and trees.

Jo: But who makes them?

Me: Nobody makes them, they have to grow from a vegetable or a flower.

[Repeat a few times until concept sinks in]



Jo: Then how did the first flower grow?

Me (totally copping out): Well, some people would say God put it there.

Jo: I know! God had a lot of seeds in his stomach, and then he pooped them out his butt!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Toothfully

Opie (playfully; he's just been eating penne jammed onto the tips of his fingers): I bite your finger!

Me: No biting. Biting hurts.

Opie: Biting hurts ... your FEEWINGS!

*

Whenever a child is injured or hurts another kid, our day care center issues an "ouch report." When I get one, usually I perversely hope that my kid is the victim and not the aggressor. Lately, however, he's been the frequent quarry of a serial biter--he is currently sporting no less than four mouth-shaped bruises as a result of this one classmate's toothiness. (The report never says who the perp is, but my kids will always rat without any hesitation.) One day last week, the teacher turned her back for a few seconds to find me the latest report. Right on cue, the biter chomped on another little girl's arm.

I love the center and I love the teachers. I think they are doing everything they can to redirect Biter Boy, short of assigning a full-time handler to watch his every move. I know the boy's behavior is age-appropriate, and there certainly have been times when my child is the one who bites. At home we spend a lot of time talking about how BB needs to use his words when he is mad, and how he is not a bad boy, but his behavior is bad. Still, I found myself trying to tell Opie not to play with him. Then I felt guilty about encouraging him to ostracize another kid at the ripe old age of 2. Because that hurts feewings.

I wished I hadn't said it as soon as the words left my mouth. What I really hope is that BB outgrows this phase soon. Not so much for Opie's sake, but for BB's own.

Edited 6:43 p.m. to add how much this post bit me on the ass: I quote from today's report: "lots of attempts to bite" and at least one of them was successful. Hello kettle? This is pot.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rare beast captured on film

It's Daddy in the wild!

Happy Father's Day to my two dads. Um... I mean my dad and my kids' dad.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mayberry ROCKS!

The other day Jeff and I got to hear a live performance of one of my top tunes. It didn't quite rise to the level of Suebob's ideal (there were two opening acts, for starters), but it was pretty close to perfect anyway. We started with dinner out (luxury in itself), then drove to the venue--a small outdoor amphitheatre along a riverfront, with a concrete plaza/dance floor in front of the stage and a grassy hillside facing it. We parked (for free) a block away. We got there two hours after the show had started (and almost an hour before the headlining act) but there was still plenty of room. We spread out a blanket on a patch of grass probably 75 yards from the stage.

While we were waiting for the band to come on we just sat there gaping at our good fortune (also at the band's bassist who came strolling along the path right in front of us). We'd paid $15 each to get in. There was plenty of food and beer for sale and even some pretty clean bathrooms (no line). We left our blanket and strolled the perimeter of the park to see what was there; when we returned our spot was still ours. The crowd was happy, kids ran around (not ours!--so much the better), the weather was beautiful. The band came on and put on a phenomenal show. We sang and danced and then wandered back to the car smiling when it was all over. We were home in 20 minutes.

Yeah. Sometimes Mayberry's every bit as good as New York.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wrong. Just wrong.

I have already admitted to name snobbery. Since several of you egged me on backed me up on that, I present the following gems I've come across just today:

File under repetitive redundancy: Bethany Ann Elizabeth
For devilish little boys: Daemon
Rhyme time: Aubree Kailee

And two oldies but goodies:
For crafty crimefighters: McGyver
Call the apostrophe police: A'lyvia

I've seen all of these in print. Doesn't it make you want to weep for the future of humanity?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Blue is the new apple

When I was pregnant with Opie, after I got past the 18ish weeks of wanting to hurl everytime food or drink crossed my lips (or didn't, which really sucked), I luuurrrrvvvved juice. My favorite breakfast was an Egg McMuffin with a tall glass of iced cranberry juice. (I had a whole rationalization worked out, whereby the healthful benefits of cranberry and protein cancelled out the grease and the ... whatever else is in an Egg McMuffin that I really, really don't want to know about.)

But oh, fruity fruit juice, I loved it so. And McMuffins notwithstanding, I did still want to make a weak attempt at at least try to eat healthfully, despite the obvious ingratitude of mini-Opie. So I spent a lot of time reading labels at the supermarket and hyperventilating over sugar content and phrases like "10% juice." Seriously, juice, why you gotta be that way?

Too bad I didn't know about TrueBlue juices back in the day. This stuff tastes good, it's got a ton of antioxidants (surely enough to do battle with the occasional McMuffin) and it comes in all kinds of fun flavors (blueberry pomegranate, anyone? Doesn't that just scream "cocktail"?). We like it on the rocks, in our freezer popsicles, and swirled into plain yogurt. While it does have some added sugar, it's real stuff from the cane, not from corn. I'm working to reduce our family's consumption of processed foods (this excellent summary from Magpie explains why and how) and products like this can help. I mean, I guess it would help the most if I grew my own blueberries in the backyard (organically, of course) and then crushed them into juice with my own two hands. But I do have my limits.

If you want to try TrueBlue for yourself, you can find a retailer and print a coupon.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My new career: Efficiency expert

It was when I noticed that the top sheet on my bed was on sideways—and decided not to fix it until the next time I wash the sheets—that I realized: “Efficient” is just “lazy” with a positive spin.

When I eat leftovers straight out of their Tupperware or ice cream from the carton: not lazy! Efficient—I save time, energy, water, dish soap.

Keeping about 25 pairs of shoes in a big pile by the back door: Efficient! No trekking all the way upstairs to find the ones we need. They're already right here!

Dealing with a dirty tablecloth by flipping it over to the clean side? Efficient!

Leaving dog hair on the floor? Efficient (it only keeps recurring, why not sweep it up every few days instead of every few hours?) and healthful!

What are you lazy about? I'm sure I can find a way to make it into a good thing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lunch through the ages

By the time I was about 7 or 8, my mom had me trained to pack my own lunch every morning. Smart lady -- she had two younger kids and a full-time job, so a little delegation was definitely in order. The best part was choosing a tiny bag of chips (Mom would buy a variety pack every week) to include with my PB&J. It was a good day if I got to the Fritos before my siblings did.

In 8th grade, I went through a phase of buying a bag of pretzels and a chocolate milkshake at the cafeteria every day. A couple of years later, I existed for months on the Calcium-Lover's Special: a few slices of Colby cheese stuffed inside a pita, a yogurt, and a carton of milk. (I know.)

I don't really remember what I ate in college. I guess whatever looked least gross at the dining hall. I do remember that when I had my first (ill-paying) job, I brown-bagged four days a week (hitting the diner with the other paupers on Fridays) and loathed it.

At some point even before we were married, I exacted a promise from my now-husband that he'd be in charge of packing any and all lunches for our future children. So far, he's stuck to it. Of course, we've yet to reach kindergarten, but there was an 18-month stretch at our previous child care center where we had to provide meals, and at our current place, we have to supply lunch once or twice a week during the summer when the kids go on field trips.

We'll see how it goes next year, when lunch provision becomes a daily chore. If the school's cafeteria fare meets both my standards (for nutrition) and my 5-year-old's (for taste), then Daddy might be off the hook. I have a feeling that things have changed a lot since my day--you know, in the "ketchup is a vegetable" era.

*

Check out School Menu and its parental counterpart Family Everyday, two sites that work together with school food services directors to provide and promote healthy eating and physical fitness for kids and their parents.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Boy on the Carousel

I fell in love with my husband because I knew he would be good father. We were not even dating at the time. In fact, I was dating his roommate.

Yes, that's right, I dated my husband's roommate. And it was a terrible relationship that should never have lasted the year and half that it did. But it brought me to Doug, and that was worth it.

I fell in love with Doug on a carousel. A big group of friends went to the local amusement park. We went on the carousel, and there was a small boy sitting on a horse that was next to Doug's. I have no idea where this child's parent was, but he ended up talking to Doug. The boy was having a hard time because the carousel wasn't starting, and Doug entertained him by showing him how to say "giddy up horsy" and hit the horse with the reins. And Doug did that until the carousel started and throughout the ride.

I fell in love with Doug in that moment. We had become very good friends while I was dating his roommate, and somehow ended up near each other on the carousel. And I knew that he would be an amazing Dad, and I wanted him to be the father of my children. But, because I'm an idiot, even after this, I kept dating the roommate, which was ridiculous.

But, 10 years later, he is the amazing father that I imagined on that long ago carousel ride. Very involved, and so in love with his little boy that he writes open letters to him. He leaves work every day at 5:00 pm just to spend an hour with Michael before he goes to bed. And sometimes then works late into the night to make up for that, but he refuses to not see his son before bedtime every night. When Michael was first born, Doug took two weeks off of work, and helped me with night feedings, and literally has been involved with Michael's care from day one. He celebrates every one of Michael's successes, big and small, and cries when he is hurt, sick, or sad.

I'd like to go back and find that little boy on the carousel and thank him. Because if it wasn't for him, I never would have noticed the amazing father that Doug would become.

This post is part of The Blog Exchange. Jodi is mom to a 2 year old, a part-time lawyer, and wife. She blogs at Jodifur about all these things and many more. Please visit her site, and you will see Mayberry's post. And thanks to Mayberry for being such a great hostess!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Destination: Union Square

At a glance:

Venture into New York City's Union Square Park, between 14th and 17th Streets on a balmy summer evening, and the entertainment is free and plentiful. Buy a soft-serve or a dirty-water dog, jockey for a spot on a bench, and sit back and enjoy the show. You'll be treated to an endless parade of Manhattanites trudging home from work, walking their dogs and their babies, displaying the latest fashions (both couture and curious). The concrete fringe on the park's north and east sides may be home to a farmer's market four days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday), but in the evenings it's a skate park. The grassy expanses within the square are less than pristine. Still, they're a welcome sight in the concrete canyons of this busy city. Listen to the street performers and feel the rumble of the subway below your feet: You're a New Yorker now.

Fast facts:
  • Subway: L, N, Q, R, W, 4, 5, 6
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC -5
  • Statuary: George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi
Jennifer's Monday Mission for today: Travel guide entry. I couldn't pass that up!

P.S. I took more pleasure than is probably reasonable in scanning for open wireless networks during this trip. Some of my favorite names: Lawstud3, Precious Taters Too, TaBoNe, and of course: 40 cats live in my UES apt.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Dads of the 21st Century

Originally posted at Jodifur as part of the Blog Exchange.

So Father’s Day is coming and I have a small bone to pick with Hallmark, American Greetings, and their ilk. A bone and a news-flash: I know you may find this nearly impossible to believe, but my dad does not play golf. Neither does my husband. Nor do they sit on their butts all day with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other. They do not fish, tinker with their cars, or obsess about sports in any way, shape or form. And neither of them owns a recliner!

Therefore: Father’s Day cards featuring the above don’t work for me and my kids. We come to the drugstore prepared to drop $5—maybe $10!—on cards for Daddy and Grandpa. And we find: nothing. I don’t want to tease my dad about his (nonexistent) TV habit; the man is far (far, far!) more physically fit than I am. I don’t want to give my husband a card with a necktie on it; he wears one maybe three times a year.

There are cards now for your grandma’s new hip and your boss’s new job and your neighbor’s new pool. How about some Father’s Day cards that branch out maybe a teensy bit beyond the ‘60s stereotypes? My dad was as close as he could get to a stay-at-home dad—two decades ago. My husband is one of the best cooks I know and is also the chief tailor/button-sewer-onner in our household. Any chance that we’ll find cards that really reflect our guys and how much they mean to us?

I doubt it. So we’ll be getting out the construction paper and markers and taking matters into our own hands. Nothing says “We love you” like toddler scribbles and some Dora the Explorer stickers—am I right?