Friday, August 29, 2008


I really like Obama. Here's the thing: I want a president who is intelligent and thoughtful. To me that is far more important than what kind of experience he has or doesn't have or even what his specific plans and ideas are. I want to be confident in him as a person, to trust that he will seek out the information and advice he needs, weigh it carefully, and make smart decisions. I believe Obama will do that.

I'm impressed that McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, even if is all calculated to win him votes (and I don't disagree that the Democrats did the same). I wonder if he'll win over some undecided women or former Hillary supporters by doing so. But he might also lose some hard-core Republicans.

And also, for the record, I am really over Jennifer Lopez spouting off about training for a triathlon "because she wants her babies to be proud of her." AS IF.

Agree/disagree/opine on your own in the comments ...

ETA Sunday 8/31: The more I think/read about Sarah Palin, the more I feel like Tree does.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gut-busting and gut-boosting

It's a little eerie how these PBN products have dropped into my life so serendipitously this summer. First we had the Hanes underwear so perfect for a tender little waistline, and now we have Yoplait yogurt: another must-have for a post-infection, antibiotic-crammed little gut. We needed to rebuild the healthy bacteria in our 6-year-old's body, and yogurt is the perfect choice. The only problem: Too much sugar, and we'd undo all the goodness of yogurt (hello, digestive unpleasantness).

Review (and giveaway!) over at The Full Mommy today.


And! I'm guest-posting over at Mrs. Chicken's. Click over if you want to hear about my idyllic childhood. Thanks to my lovely hostess!

Lady of leisure (ha)

After months of hemming, hawing, ranting, and raving, I quit my job last week. It was so hard to snip that final thread. I've had this job since before my kids were born, before we moved to Mayberry, before I got married. I've been through 8 bosses in my 8-year tenure, and only one of them (#6) was worth staying for. When she left, I knew things would change, and probably not in a way I'd appreciate. Still my heart sank at the thought of voluntarily leaving a job that allowed me to work in my chosen industry, part-time, from home, 1000 miles from the office.

But sometimes telecommuting isn't enough, you know? So, the end, I gave my notice. I'll still be there (well, here/there) through the end of next month, but having one foot out the door is awfully nice. Meeting request? Decline! Annoying task? Forward! Old email I never did follow up on? Delete! Yoga class during business hours? Don't mind if I do!

I have some freelance work lined up--including developing a new site that'll be live in a few weeks, so I'll share it with you then (because my paycheck depends on its traffic!). I'm not going to give up working altogether. As I've often said, a big reason why I work is to justify sending my kids to child care. Not to pay for it, but to validate my need for them to be out of the house at regularly scheduled intervals. So they'll do their thing, I'll do mine, and we'll meet back up again for our usual end-of-day R&R. Which usually involves neither resting nor relaxation, but we like it anyway.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Slacker mom goes back to school

In eight days I'll have a first grader in da house, and: a) I have done next to nothing to prepare and b) I'm pretty darn fine with that. It's like having that second baby. For the first one, you spend 47 hours trying to pick out a stroller and another 47 washing all the newborn clothes (the ones my jumbo-size infant didn't even fit in anyway) in that silly baby detergent. When the second one comes along, he gets the hand-me-down stroller and his clothes get washed next to the socks your husband wore the last time he mowed the lawn. And you know it's okay.

Really, there are just a few basics that a new baby really needs, and the same goes for first-graders. Backpack? Last year's is fine, and so is the lunchbox (actually, I think we ended up with about four of those last year). School supplies? Ordered through the PTA last May. Clothes? Her closet is overstuffed as it is. In a few months, if I realize she's short on jeans or tights or long-sleeved tees, I'll fill in the gaps. Underwear? Covered. The only thing left to do is replace the gym shoes we bought a year ago.

Occasionally I have a fleeting moment of "shouldn't I take her shopping, make a big deal out of it?" Then I decide: Nah. There are plenty of other ways to celebrate the occasion, and most of them don't cost a cent.

... today's confession brought to you by PBN and Hanes Kids.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ready for takeoff

A boy, his vehicles, and one shark.
SFO, July 2008.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

There's Victorian, and then there's VICTORIAN

Photo Week, III: For the first part of our San Francisco adventure last month, we stayed in a lovely flat in Cole Valley that I'd found on Vacation Rentals By Owner.* It was tastefully decorated and conveniently located in a nice little residential/retail district (there was a wine and cheese shop directly across the street ... what more could you ask?). The plan was for our family to stay there from Saturday through Thursday, and then I'd decamp to the W for BlogHer and Jeff and the kids would head home.

When we had to extend their stay because Jo was in the hospital, we couldn't remain at our nice apartment, since it was already promised to some other lucky vacationers. The children's hospital gave us a list of hotels to try. We eventually found a room at a place near Japantown. It was small, clean, friendly, reasonably priced, and apparently had been decorated by a refugee from Lady Mildred's Victorian Theme Park and Former Brothel.

A sampling (with apologies for the poor quality--my husband went snapshot-crazy):

That last one was on the ceiling. Thankfully not in the bedroom. Be sure to notice how the "gold" "leaf" is flaking off.

*Highly recommended. If you are going away, with kids, for more than a few days, and won't be staying with friends or family, consider renting a house or apartment. For the same price as a hotel (often less) you get a full kitchen, separate bedrooms, a living area, and sometimes even laundry machines, a yard, and extra bathrooms. We've done it successfully in San Diego, San Francisco, and even Paris (before kids).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Almost famous

Thanks to my dealer Jenny for hooking me on Photofunia, an addictive toy perfect for Photo Week.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Blind item

Okay, Day 2 of Photo Week and I am totally cheating by 1) using an image that isn't really a photo and 2) using kid art that isn't even MY OWN KID'S. Jo received this from a classmate and it is too fabulous to keep to myself (it is also one in a series of five).

See if you can guess what superfamous performers are depicted here and what's happening in this scene. If you get it right I will send you a sticker from the dentist's office and some valuable cents-off coupons that my husband brought home from work.

Monday, August 18, 2008

View. Master!

We picked up this beauty on our last visit to Jeff's mother's house and its Attic o' Treasures. It was hers when she was a child -- so it's, like, an actual antique, but it still works. The spring on the advancing level is so tight that Jo can barely depress it far enough to move the story along, however. Parental involvement required.

We have a whole box of slides, too, each with "7 three dimension full color pictures": Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Disney on Parade, and travelogues from Rio de Janeiro to "Pennsylvania: The Keystone State."


I decided this is going to be Photo Week, since I am overwhelmed with work have lots of pretty pictures to share. And since great minds do think alike, Aimee announced that she's starting a photo contest. So check it out, shutterbugs.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dating myself for your benefit

And when I say dating myself: I mean in the "omg how old am I" sense, not the "dinner and a movie" sense.

Moving on. Waaaaay back in the day, when I still used floppy disks and a cassette-tape answering machine, I used to go to Kate Spade sample sales. This must have been in about 1993 or 1994, because the Kate Spade brand was just taking off. It was only bags, not all this other stuff they sell now. (And with each successive sale I went to over the course of a couple of years, the crowds got crazier and the prices got higher.)

Anyway, that first sale was the best one ever. I walked out with 7 or 8 bags (some for me, some bought on behalf of friends, some for gifts) and I don't think I even spent $100. I got at least three of the classic, short-handled, rectangular purses--a black nylon, a brown suede, and a cotton plaid. I got a small, drawstring evening bag. I got a larger black bag with longer handles. I could have died happy that night.

These days, I am a lousy bargain shopper. I am all about convenience and I am usually happy to pay for it. I wish I could be a good thrifter like these amazing women. Instead, I keep my old, out-of-style Kate Spades in my closet, remembering the thrill of that first sample sale and waiting for those boxy shapes to come back into fashion.

Thanks, PBN, for inspring me to take this little walk down memory lane!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Homage to Shel Silverstein

Joanna Jessica Ginger Mae Brown
Just couldn't make that medicine go down.
She tried it with cake and she tried it with jam
She tried it with cheeseburgers, turkey and ham.
And though her parents pleaded and cried,
She said "my throat closes up from the inside."
And so they tried candy and ice cream too
And straight-up chocolate syrup, that magical goo.
Still nothing could get her to swallow that stuff
Not even a spoonful of marshmallow fluff.
Her parents, they threatened, punished and held
Her down while spooning in liquid that smelled.
She spit and she thrashed and she stuck her tongue out
'Til the neighbors wondered what the fuss was about.
Her parents gave milk, both chocolate and white.
They gave apple juice, orange juice, try as they might
The girl couldn't bear it, the stuff tasted so bad
They all felt they'd slowly go stark raving mad.
Then after two days of cajoling and crying
Little Jo relented; she said "I'm trying."
And she did it! She sucked down every offending drop
Her parents rejoiced 'til their hearts almost popped.
Jo finally earned stickers and treats and a doll
And anything she wanted on a trip to the mall.
So sick children, remember Joanna Brown
And find a way for those meds to go down.

The two days following Jo's second hospital visit were almost as bad as everything that led up to them. She categorically refused to take her antibiotics and it was miserable. We tried everything from reasoning and pleading to physical force and peer pressure (Tacy contributed a video demonstration to the effort). We tried punishments (which led to me locking doors and unplugging televisions) and rewards and threats. We tried every kind of masking agent and flavoring substance known to man. I seriously questioned my ability as a parent. I cried at the counter at Walgreen's.

I don't know what it was that flipped the switch. Either Jo got tired of fighting, or she realized she really didn't want to go back to the hospital after all, or she realized we would continue to try to force the stuff down her throat for two solid weeks if we had to. And yesterday evening she took her last dose. I've never been so happy to toss an empty bottle in the trash.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Via Wordle (click on it to see it bigger), which I found via Mimilou.

This is an image derived from the RSS feed of my blog. How perfect is it that "child" appears right in the middle, connected to words like "love" and "thought" and "nasty" and "normal" and "responsible" and, of course, "sucked"?


Today's PSA:

Hoard is not the same as horde.

Chic is not the same as chick.

Pore is not the same as pour.


Words that sound better with a British accent:



I'm finally a-Twitter. I'm afraid this is a slippery slope which inevitably leads to me neeeeeeding an iPhone.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Haiku Friday: Revenge of the mod cons

Laptop battery
dies, DVR won't record,
AC blows warm air

What is next? Am I going to be washing clothes in the stream and cooking over an open fire? I need my technology!

Haiku Friday

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yes. I think that would be a VERY good idea.

The other day I had a babysitter come over for a few hours to play with Jo so I could get some work done. To my delight, they decided to make a lemonade stand together. (I mean, I was delighted that someone else was making the signs and squeezing the lemons and sitting out on the sidewalk shilling sugar water.)

That night, Opie announced: "Tomorrow, Jo can have a lemonade stand and I will have a ... a ... a BACON STAND!"
"Step right up, folks! Get yer crispy fried pork products right here!"

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Asking for trouble

It became painfully clear during recent events that my husband and I don't work very well together in a crisis. Instead of giving each other the extra love and support we both deserve, we tend to argue and snap at each other. Teamwork is not our strong suit, at least in times of stress.

I know this is normal and it's actually, to some degree, a reflection of the strength of our relationship (we lash out at the safest person, the one we run the least risk of permanently losing). Things blow over and we get along again.

But this experience did leave me less sure about my expressed wish for a third child. In the worst moments of Jo's convalescence I thought, I cannot do this ever again. How could I want another child, when it would open me up to that much more possibility of fear and hurt and worry? When the frustrations mounted and turned everyday communication into bitter bickering, I thought again: This proves it. Another child could split us up. I can't be responsible for wanting that.

And then, a week passes, and the memories start to mutate and muffle and pretty soon I'm back to: Well, that sucked. That sucked a lot, but it's over now and we got through it and we're fine. Good, even.

So does that prove that we can triumph over challenges? Or that I'm good at rationalization?

I wonder.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


at community theater production of High School Musical*:

"I love Footloose! It's, like, my favorite older movie."

*One of several bribes rewards offered to a certain little patient in return for choking down 6 daily doses of nasty antibiotics.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tzedakah for little Catholic girls

When I saw the Learning Cents bank on Cool Mom Picks, I wanted it for my daughter immediately. The bank has three compartments, so kids can earmark their money for spending, saving, or giving (tzedakah in Hebrew). And at only $20, I thought it was a very good use of my own spending money.

Now, on those rare occasions when we remember to give Jo an allowance--and on the much more frequent occasions when she receives a gift of money--she cheerfully deposits it into all three parts of her bank. It's such a simple, clear way to show her that we need to prioritize saving and giving just as highly as spending.

(Opie gets an E for effort for his suggestion, during a recent discussion about giving away gently used toys: "I don't really like my piggy bank anymore. We can give that to children who don't have one.")

Typically Jo uses her giveaway stash for the fundraisers that she participates in at school and child care (and we match whatever she contributes). But after her recent hospital stay(s), I'm going to suggest that we make a donation to one of the charities that helped her, or a similar one that benefits sick kids. On her first night at our local children's hospital, her bed was made up with a quilt from Project Linus and a teddy bear from the Starlight Children's Foundation. These small touches really helped an institutional room feel more friendly, and she snuggled up with that quilt every single night.

You know I had to participate in this Blog Blast from Parent Bloggers Network: It benefits Generation Cures, an online community for tweens designed to teach them about altruism and about medicine and science. The site was created by Children's Hospital Boston.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A little comic relief is in order

Some months ago we watched an episode of Zoboomafoo in which the final joke went like this:

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Panther who?
Panther no pants, I'm going swimming.

This, as Julie will attest, has now become the family tagline. A guaranteed way to make Opie guffaw is to bring out "panther no pants" and append anything you want on the end:

Panther no pants, I'm going to California.
Panther no pants, I'm going to the grocery store.
Panther no pants, I'm going to the moon.
Panther no pants, I'm going to make the doughnuts. (He doesn't get that one, but I do.)

His favorite version (he was the first one to say this, I have no idea where he got it): Panther no pants, I'm going to college!

I hope so, buddy.

So: Panther no pants, I'm going to have a good weekend and I hope you do too. We are home from the hospital and Jo is slowly getting used to the idea that yes (panther no pants!), she's going to take her medicine. She's scabbed and bruised and a little skinny but she's going to be just fine.