Thursday, January 31, 2008

I may be a freak, but I'm a skinnier freak

Call me a freak, but I do not like coffee. Never have and at this point, don't think I ever will. And for the longest time, I had no interest in tea either. This was very disturbing to most people I encountered in my college and post-college days.

THEM: "What do you mean you don't drink coffee? Or tea?"
ME: "Well. I don't drink coffee ... or tea."

This was difficult for them to grasp. Occasionally I would say that I drank hot cocoa just to get them off my back.

Eventually I did start drinking tea. It was either the trip to Ireland or the first Starbucks chai latte that did it, or possibly a really sore throat. I've since moved beyond the milk and sugar, and can and do drink tea straight up.

In fact, I usually drink 4 to 6 cups a day. So a book called The Ultimate Tea Diet? Was right up my alley, even though I am not dieting, have never dieted, and generally do not believe in diets.

Get the full review at The Full Mommy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Evidence that I am descended from hillbillies

Since Aimee posted her goofy musical picture, I am going to post mine. In one of those blogospheric coincidences, I just received it the other day.

paging emmett otter!That's my grandfather on jug, my uncle Steve on washboard, my dad (and his mustache) on banjo, and some other dude on bass.

Anyone else have a musical skeleton in the closet/family tree? Bring it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thank goodness for Sheila

I'm still cold but I spent the better part of the weekend embracing the weather instead of fighting it. We took the kids sledding on Sunday. My friend Sheila is a class-A rounder-upper and event planner and she put together a cross-country ski outing on Saturday. I hauled out the skis that I haven't used since my childfree days (they still fit! yeehaw) and we spent the afternoon gliding through a nature preserve. As we were setting out on the trail a fresh-mouthed 8-year-old asked me if I had ever been on skis before. I refrained from answering "Yeah, before you were born, ya little twerp" or from otherwise letting her comment crush my groove.

My best/worst ski outing (I'm still talking about cross-country here -- all of my downhill outings have been "worst." I am not cut out for that), mentioned briefly here, was in Moosehead Lake, Maine. The lodge we stayed at had yurt-to-yurt trails so the idea was, you ski around all day and then sleep in a yurt at night (your belongings having been magically transported there by snowmobile, about which more later). I soon learned that a canvas tent, even one equipped with a wood-burning stove, was not really ideal for a February night in Maine.

The trails, however, were amazing and so was the people-watching in the lodge. Snowy trails attract two diametrically opposed groups: the cross-country skiers and the snowmobilers. The skiers wear natural fibers (corduroy knickers and knee-high wool socks: hot!), eat granola, and probably listen to NPR. The snowmobilers wear space-age synthetics in space-age colors and I'm guessing they like the country music. Seeing these two groups mix (or at least occupy the same room) is a fascinating character study.


Segue on the word "character": my lovely cousin's mother-in-law just died. Doesn't she sound like a remarkable person? I'd never met her, and really hadn't known much about her (Ozarkian jigs! Fishing! B29 bombers!). I'm sorry I'll never get the chance now.

Photo from the Utah Ski Archives via

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Can't ... post ... brain ... frozen

This post from last year pretty well sums it up (I see I reached the breaking point a few weeks later in '07 than I have in '08).

I knew what I was getting into when we moved here. When Jeff was considering taking the job that brought us to Mayberry, his company flew us here for a recruiting visit. In January. The temperature never rose above 5 degrees F the whole time we were here and I think there was about a foot of snow on the ground.

It was also the first weekend away, alone, we'd had since we became parents nearly two years before. We ate nice meals, we shopped leisurely, we drove around and looked at houses 3 times the size of our apartment that we could actually afford to buy. We went to a chamber music concert. We stayed in a really nice hotel. Need I say more?

Those wily recruiters. Look where it got me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Late to the party because of the party

What with all the hoo-ha over the teeny weeny peenies, I missed observing a couple of other important events in the blogosphere and the world. Luckily, I can count on all of the rest of you to pick up the slack:

Jessica and Julie P. wrote movingly about Martin Luther King, Jr.

Alex wrote about Blogging for Choice Day.

Dozens of you wrote to support WhyMommy on her big day, and she came through with flying colors.

And that is worth celebrating -- yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Aww! His first pee fountain!

In honor of the impending arrival of mothergoosemouse's little boy blue: A story.

The minute you give birth to an infant of the male persuasion you learn (and you are informed about three dozen times a day, anyway) that their boy parts are to be covered at all times. Something about exposure to the open air makes their little firehoses want to perform.

During one of Opie's very first diaper changes on his very first day home from the hospital, my mother was doing the honors while Jo and I looked on adoringly. Because, you know, it takes two adults and a preschooler to change one teeny weenie newborn. Of course, since it had been over 30 years since Grandma had unwrapped a boy diaper, she forgot the Take Cover rule. Opie sensed an opportunity and let fly with a targeted stream. He managed to hit:

  • the pack-n-play
  • the living room wall
  • the living room floor
  • and his sister's face
  • (her hair too)

So Julie, be sure to stock up on the cloth diapers and use them to cover the danger zone any time the little guy is mid-change. Tacy and CJ, I advise you to keep your distance.

xoxoxoxo from Jo, Opie, Jeff and me!


It's a baby shower and you are invited! Grab a button and post anytime today in honor of one of the blogosphere's favorite writers ... and the biggest surprise of her life.

(And there are prizes involved, to boot.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

You-gotta-be-kidding below zero

go pack go Jeff goes to the big game

The ticket was free, but he easily spent its face value on cold-weather gear. Let's hope he makes it back with all his fingers and toes.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Haiku Friday: Little pitchers

Just thought you should know
I know something you think I
don't. Kids have big mouths


Twice in the past few days, while I haunted the coatroom, kindergartners have blurted out info that I'm guessing their parents would rather not have bruited about. One was a child who said that her mom might be sending her to parochial school soon. The other was a boy who told me that his parents were considering a move ... not such a big deal except that his mother is a teacher at the school, possibly even Jo's teacher next year. (Him: "They're thinking of moving to the place with the first Montessori school." Me: " ... Italy?" Him: [vzzzzhhh sound of words flying over his head].)

Word to the wise: Don't say anything about anything in front of your kid.


All from yesterday:

Opie, to day care director: I'm going to see Dr. B___. He takes care of my whole body!
Opie, to doctor: I am getting a big boy bed. I am not going to get out!
Opie, to neighbor: My big boy bed is upstairs. It is a tiger cage!
Opie, to teacher: When you come to my house to a football game party you will need a ticket. [Note: There is no such party]

Haiku Friday

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dollhouse attacker returns

JO'S ROOM (AP) -- Several members of the Doll family were found clinging to their second-story windows this weekend, after an apparent repeat attack by the giant baby that has previously wreaked havoc on their home.

"He's even bigger now, but I know it was the same baby," said Mrs. Doll, who was unhurt in the incident but remains traumatized by the sight of her two youngest children teetering halfway out of the master bedroom window. "I could just tell by the steely glint in his eye, and the pudgy fingers that so cruelly grabbed my children and husband and stuck them in all the window frames."

Firefighters rescued the Doll family and doctors say they will suffer no long-term effects. The family vows to remain in the home, despite the threat of yet another giant baby attack. "If we leave, it's like the baby wins," said Mr. Doll.

"At least this time he left our pets alone."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Buck you, Gym

We made a pilgrimage to the mall yesterday to exchange all our ill-fitting/disdained ("I don't like turtlenecks, Mommy. I will never wear those ever") stuff. We came out pretty much even at Macy's but somehow at Gymboree I exchanged three old items for four new items and ending up spending $50! (Time for another WTF haiku.)

Now here's the thing -- because all the gift receipts went missing in the Christmas frenzy, my mother-in-law just gave me all the regular Gymboree receipts. I have three of them and each one is about a foot and a half long, because she was buying for three kids on behalf of four different adults.

It's also GymBucks time. I have an insane number of GymBucks now: 250. That means I could buy $500 worth of overpriced clothes for the low price of $250.

My kids don't need $250 worth of clothes. They don't need 25 cents worth of clothes. I am no good at shopping ahead for upcoming seasons either (I rarely buy them clothes, period--their grandmas are so very generous). I know the sane thing would be to just throw the coupons out but it feels too much like throwing away actual money. I also know this is quite possibly the most bourgeois problem I could describe. But, what should I do ... can I sell these things on eBay? Donate them somewhere? Would it be worth buying a bunch of stuff then reselling it online or at a consignment store? Do you want them? Halp.

Friday, January 11, 2008

My position may be softening ... slightly

I posted whinily about extracurricular activities a few months ago, but I confess that the last two days have me considering a change of heart.

Yesterday, Opie started swimming. It's been months since I've enrolled him in a class because he was very iffy about participating before (unlike big sister, who's always been a happy little goldfish/kipper/shrimp). This time, he loved it. I felt a little weird with this nearly 3-year-old in a pool full of infants, but he had a blast. He sang, he blew bubbles, he kicked, he scooped his little hands, he counted "one ... two ... FREE!" and jumped in fearlessly. Sometimes he even counted "onetwofreefourfivesissebbenainineten" and then jumped. The first thing he said to his teacher this morning, just before regaling her with the Motorboat song, was "I went swimming!"

It's allllmost worth having to shower him in the squicky locker room afterward.

Then today, Jo had a 90-minute art class and I spent the whole time reading magazines and drinking tea (Opie was still at school). Tomorrow's her turn for swimming, and since I don't have to go in the pool with her, I'm counting on more tea and more magazines. Now that's what I had in mind when I shelled out for these activities.

Of course, after I got home today (with both kids in tow and hours of child-juggling and dinner-preparing ahead of me) I realized I had intended to devote the afternoon to some research for a freelance job. Oops. Monday it is, then.

(Mostly unrelated photo: from the Georgia Aquarium last spring.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Reporting for duty

Have you ever served on a jury? I think everyone should. When you live in Manhattan, you get a summons every two years on the dot. Luckily, mine was for a criminal case (civil case = snore) and I didn't yet have any kids or big job responsibilities. This was back in the days when jury duty meant a lot more "sitting around in the courthouse reading magazines waiting for your name to be called" and a lot less "call this automated voice to see if we need you."

So I got put onto a case. The perp was an alleged drug dealer. A bike cop--why that detail sticks with me, I don't know--watched him holding fort inside a pizza place (or a pizzeria, as true New Yorkers always call them) over the course of several hours. The cop described customers entering, money changing hands, and each customer being apprehended, a few blocks away, with drugs in hand. The bike cop summoned a squad car and the dealer was arrested, given a quick pat-down, handcuffed, and put into the car for a ride to the station.

Once at the station, the car was thoroughly searched and a bag of drugs was found under the seat in the back. The question was, could we the jury be certain enough that the dealer had ditched his goods there to convict him? Or was it, as his lawyer argued, possible that they belonged to some other person who'd ridden in that car that day?

What struck me most, then and now, was how seriously we all took our job. We were a real cross-section of New Yorkers (well, we lacked some corporate titans and skinny socialites but we were at least of all ages, races, and education levels). It was a really straightforward case but we took our time discussing its merits and debating the guilt of the accused. The best part was when we considered whether the man could have sneaked his stash under the seat of the squad car while handcuffed. A tiny old lady volunteered that she had tested this out at home by putting on her own handcuffs and stuffing something under the cushion of her couch!

We voted to convict and I still remember how my heart pounded as I affirmed my vote aloud in the courtroom. I knew it was the right decision (the judge, in thanking us for our service, agreed as much) but it still felt scary to be in a position to send someone to jail. It took me a week to breathe normally again.


I posted at The Full Mommy about our holiday hits and misses -- click over to find out what we liked and didn't.


What are you reading tomorrow? I have too much to choose from: Sunday's New York Times, a pile of magazines, this month's book club assignment (Jane Austen's Persuasion), or my next PBN review title. It might depend on the weather. If it snows, as is predicted, I think Persuasion is the way to go. And if I read it with a cup of tea, I'm killing two birds with one stone.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Haiku Friday: WTF edition

tiny angry zit
embedded in an eyebrow
how can I zap you?

crib escape artist
why do you choose the highest
end to crawl over?

daughter has cough drops
in pocket? fill out this form
in quadruplicate

feeds kids organic
diet, but leaves vacant car
running for an hour

need server for work
first email says it's down, next
one says it's stolen

Haiku Friday

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Creative number-crunching

My brother is an artist who makes works out of data. He has been recording his latitude and longitude every hour on the hour for the past decade and has created several artworks based on this information. He's also plotted the approximate location of every member of our immediately family, plus his wife, my husband, and now our children, for the past 10 years as well, and created works from them too (one is pictured).

So every January he asks me where we've been the previous year. I just tallied it all up for him.

I took 13 overnight trips this year:
6 with the whole family
3 with one child
3 with friends
1 with my husband
1 alone

That's 45 nights away and 34 airplane flight segments, but only 4 hotel stays. Five were business trips, but all of those also included good friends and good food so I feel guilty even calling them business trips (not guilty enough not to submit a T&E, though. Somebody had to pay for the Internet access at the W).

I went to New York four times, Chicago three times, and my husband's hometown three times. I went to two places I'd never been before (Atlanta and Minneapolis). I went to two places I've lived before (New York and my parents' town).

And I also learned there's a whole world out there left to see. Miles to go in '08 (or at least San Francisco). See you there ... or somewhere.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What do gay cars, crazy architectural renderings, and I have in common?

So the Blog Exchange assignment is "Best of 2007." I think my partner is on the road so I'm going to put up my post right here, but you can click the BE link to find several more good reads on the topic.

Now. What exactly was the Best of 2007? I can't talk about the best movies because I think I saw two new releases this year (both of them on pay-per-view on my couch). TV shows? You've probably already heard of "Project Runway." Music? You did see my music meme post, right? Books ... did I mention I read The Count of Monte Cristo this year? I did? Also it wasn't published in 2007. Never mind.

In fact, I think every "best of 2007" list in the world has already been done. Top PR blunders, best gay cars, top new organisms, sexiest athlete wives, most interesting webcams, craziest architectural renderings, and 15 different accountings of top buzzwords.

What could I add to this genre?

  • Best ways to entertain a little boy in an airport? (#1: dry, crumbly muffin.)

  • Best family history find? (#1: The annotated Barbie clothes dresser).

  • Blurriest ice shanty pictures? (#1: Mayberry's shantytown).

  • Best unintended innuendo at the doctor's office? (#1: Your T&A Journey.)

  • Top toilet interviews? (#1: Jo's video, of course.)
Best ways to end 2007? A party with 12 adults, 9 kids, 2 babies, and a platter of blueberry martini jello shots. Happy New Year to all my friends and family, online and off. Here's to 2008!

Photo: Quentin Jones,