Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mommy Weather.

Today's Mommy Weather Forecast brought to you by WMOM and the Diaper 5000 Storm Tracker.

TODAY: Hazy with a chance of timeout. Emotional temperatures may experience sudden drops to below freezing. Storms likely in the afternoon around nap time, but clearing by dinner as the storms are blown out of the house on wine-fueled breezes.

If I am the weather in my home (and I am, bow to my might!), then my kids are the storm chasers. No neatly groomed and coiffed weather persons, they. Neither are they talking heads in front of a blue screen making practiced arm gestures indicating a fast-moving front of "Mommy's PO'd that the playroom's a mess." They aren't even the field reporters standing under a failing umbrella while Lego debris pelts them from the ground up. "Folks, it's very dangerous out here in the kitchen where the storm is currently centered. Authorities suggest you evacuate to the playroom or your bedrooms. From WMOM, SAHM-TV, this is Whiny Progeny, reporting."

My kids are brasher and braver and, one might argue, more desperate than that. They want to know not what's happening now with Mommy Weather, but what's about to happen. They employ precise, scientific "pinging"* technology to determine not only the location of a potential mommy storm center, but its conditions and potential for damage.

Helen and Bill were ready to confront devastating tornadoes in the name of saving lives, but an oncoming mom whose children dumped rice on the living room carpet and poured her coffee in the toilet? They are frozen in fear, poor souls. Run! Pic here.

My storm chasers will send out scouts---it helps if you imagine two or three kids bouncing along in a battery powered Jeep Power Wheels toy, hanging on for dear life as they tear through the house in search of a Mommy Front. Oh, the drama! Will they survive? Will their truck be overturned when they careen over an errant sneaker? If they do hold on, they will probe the front with shrill calls of "Mommy?" until they receive storm feedback. Then the hard work of turning data into forecast begins. Storm conditions are classified in one of the following ways.

  • Category 1 Mommy: Responds to a ping with "Yes, sweetheart loveykins, my wittle numnums angel?" or similar. Potential for unexpected embraces is high. Might be serving ice cream, getting out the paints, or cuing up a feature length animated film and serving popcorn. Hums or sings and dances. Possible chance of timeout < 0%.
  • Category 2 Mommy: Responds to a ping with "Yes, honey bear?" or similar. Might be preparing a sugary snack, getting out the Play-Doh, or cuing up a feature length animated film. Hums or sings. Possible chance of timeout up to 10%.
  • Category 3 Mommy: Responds to a ping with "Yes?" or similar. Might be preparing a healthy, but kid-approved snack, getting out the crayons, or cuing up a Nick Jr. show. Might hum. Possible chance of timeout up to 30%.  
  • Category 4 Mommy: Responds to a ping with "What?" or similar. Might be serving water and carrots, throwing out the Play-Doh, or cuing up a PBS show. Might grumble or yell. Possible chance of timeout served in your bedroom up to 75%. 
  • Category 5 Mommy: Responds to a ping with "Get away from me!" or similar. Might be serving herself chocolate chips and Pringles, burning stuffed animals, tossing children's DVDs like ballistic Frisbees. Will certainly grumble, mumble, and likely shout and cry. Possible chance of giving everyone in the house, including herself and the dogs, a timeout in their respective bedrooms is 100%. 

Hope you're in for sunny skies today. Things are looking like we've got a 50% chance of "don't make me repeat myself" here in my house. Better bring the Pringles, just in case.

*Thanks to my friend Debby for a pinging discussion yesterday that inspired today's post.

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    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    I Am Stupid: The time I changed my name.

    In the year I was born (1982 or so), Nicole was the thirteenth most popular name for a girl. At one time, in my grade alone, there were two other Nicoles. One was Nikki, another was Nicki, and I was Nicole. I couldn't even glory in the first name, last initial combo: Nikki D. We all had last names that started with "D." By which I mean the entire school, not just the Nicoles. It was, after all, a public school in an urban town in northern New Jersey, where only the odd man out didn't have a last name that began with De, Di, or Do.

    I moved three times within the same town, to a new school each time, before 7th grade. No matter where I went, there was already a resident Nikki. When I moved for the last time and began middle school in a new borough, I still couldn't make Nikki stick. I'd been a Nicole (Greek for "not Nikki") for too long. I gave up trying to be Nikki.

    I didn't give up on trying not to be Nicole.

    I was never certain who I wanted to be. A docksides wearing preppy with turltlenecks in earth tones? A coolly detached, grungy chick with a penchant for Salvation Army clothes and flannel? A neon bright hipster with funky-punky tastes in music and boys? A hopeless dork with change-with-the-wind identities and values? Bingo.

    What 14 year old girl wouldn't feel like she was experiencing reverse puberty in these trendy boy magnets? Thanks, Sperry, for my lonely freshman year.

    Never one to let a nagging thing like public shame and ridicule stop me from making a huge mistake, I decided that my first semester of college was the perfect time to redefine myself in the most important way. I would adopt a new name, and, by the power of Grayskull, transform into the Norm Peterson of the student center.

    At 17 I resembled an overweight man with a sloppy tie and was about as popular on the college campus. Pic borrowed here.

    I was stupid, but only just enough. I picked my middle name, Leigh, because I thought I could sell a piece of reality. I told the people I met, strangers ready to embrace my Leighness, that I'd gone to school with a lot of Nicoles (too true) and therefore I'd always gone by Leigh to avoid confusion (until now).

    After establishing my shiny new self, I started about the business of acquiring new friends. I began to pledge a sorority. I met people before class to compare homework. I joined campus groups. And not one single time did I successfully respond to the name "Leigh." When people wanted my attention, they would start with a "Hey, Leigh!" When that failed, they'd repeat themselves, maybe wave and begin to trot over to me. They'd come up behind me saying, "Leigh?" It wouldn't be until they tapped me on the shoulder that it would dawn on me that the person from my Intro to Lit class who'd been gesticulating in my direction was talking to me.

    I took the high road, of course. After a few weeks of seeming like a nearly deaf girl or, worse, a habitual stoner who didn't know her own name, I copped to the truth and came out to my acquaintances about my real name.

    Well, maybe it's more accurate to say I took the road less traveled, not so much the high road. I avoided all the "Leigh" folks I'd met, made all new friends, and pledged a different sorority. Because Nicole? It means "victory by avoiding the people." And Leigh? It means "what happened to that girl from Intro to Lit?"

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Whould you like some Eau de Hospital to go with your blog award?


    Let's get ready to randoooooom. Keely,  the Un Mom, is the originator of RTT. If you really want to be entertained, head her way. Check out the other bloggers who like to share random little somethings on Tuesday.


    Shouldn't "would" be spelled "whould"? Look at it and tell me it doesn't feel right. Like how "vacuum" should be spelled "professional house cleaner."


    While I was making dinner last night Beans told me that I was the "Best food maker." Completely understandable, therefore, that she wouldn't eat any of the food I made.


    Sometimes, when the world is quiet and I am not immediately engaged in the whims of four ankle biters, I imagine that I'm an extravagant drunk who watches reality TV and eats only finger foods. I'm ashamed of myself.


    I have a hand cream called No Crack. While it works wonderfully at keeping my often washed hands from turning into desiccated mummy's claws, it smells like hospitals smell. When I turn in for the night it works even better than feigning a headache when I'm just not in the mood. It is to the Hubster's libido what garlic is to vampires. Or what Paula Abdul is to television.


    Dear, kind Nicki at The Loaded Handbag gave me the Irresistibly Sweet Blog award a while ago. Thanks, sweet thang! (See my "All I got you was this hug" page.) Terms as follows: give it to some one else and list five guilty pleasures.

    Five Things I Hate to Love

    1. The TV show Charmed.
    2. Jeff Goldblum, what? He's sexy. No, not as The Fly, but still.
    3. The Charlaine Harris novels. You know which ones (*mumble* Sookie *mumble*). 
    4. Vanilla Ice
    5. Trans Fats. Not, like, on a spoon. You know, in foods I know I shouldn't be eating.
    I hereby bequeath this award to:  Jess at Ramblings of an Emotional Idiot. She's incredibly sweet for having given me approximately 5,303,012 blog awards AND she's a dedicated blogger. She's pretty fearless about blogging both personal vignettes and her in-process fiction. I'm not so brave.
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    Saturday, January 22, 2011

    A Product of Silence: A letter I don't intend to send

    This is an A Product of Silence post, which is hosted by Kristine at Wait in the Van


    Dear Richard Neer,

    Do you remember that WNEW-FM, New York's radio station ("Where Rock Lives") played Alice's Restaurant every Thanksgiving at noon? I do. It may not have been every Thanksgiving, but it was every one that I can remember from my childhood with my father. And it was played the Thanksgiving shortly following his death in 1997. I cried for the entire 18 plus minutes. As you're familiar with the song, you'll recall it's not exactly a tear-jerker.

    In the summer we'd listen to the Firecracker 500 together. I'd dread the moment when Stairway to Heaven would yet again take the crown as the most voted for song in the countdown. I lived for the moment when Lola would play: "I'm not the world's most masculine man, but I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man, and so is Lola." That was pretty far out for a kid growing up in the homophobic 80's and early 90's.

    My dad loved them all. Every damn song. He'd attached a memory to most of them. I learned about him because those songs were like a diary of his. People Are Strange when he was starting a new school year at 15 years old. Much later, when the classic rock format made room to share air time with some contemporary rock, it was Sheryl Crow's 1993 All I Wanna Do, just in time for his mid-life celebrity crush and ear piercing.

    When we spent our summers and every other weekend together, WNEW was the one experience we shared that wasn't painful for either of us. I loved most of the music my dad did, just like I loved his NY Mets. (To be 9 again and to relive the '86 World Series! The irony of my now citizenship in Red Sox Nation is not lost on me.) I listened to the Blues Brothers, to the White Album, to Jethro Tull. I knew what it meant to get the Led out. I knew that I would hear the same familiar songs over and over. Even if their subject matter was in one context inflammatory (war, what is it good for?), those songs bought a few minutes of ease between my father and me. He didn't have to wonder what to do with me and I didn't have to wonder how much I was disappointing him.

    I watched my father roll joints and drink beer and take his insulin while listening to CCR and The Steve Miller Band. I watched him roll joints and drink scotch out of plastic bottles which he poured into plastic cups holding diet sodas while he waited for his blood sugar results to pop up on his glucose meter. He drank, and toked, and drove me around to do things that I was supposed to enjoy but rarely did. Listening, memorizing the lyrics, was something I could do instead of think about what constituted normal in some other divorced father's one-bedroom apartment.

    He didn't change, my father. He kept t-shirts from his road racing and super marathon days for decades, unworn, sitting in boxes in the closet. He used everything he owned until it disintegrated. One can only conclude that change was painful for him. The changes to WNEW, the self-conscious, embarrassing way it stopped and started as a more contemporary rock station, then a shock jock outlet, began before my father's first heart attack a few days before Thanksgiving 1996. I'm not blaming you or the station. Still, those dying gasps of a once-upon-a-time, career-making music station---he took that personally and it hurt him in a way from which he proved unable to recover. You shouldn't have guilt, Richard, he was equally wounded by the myriad other injustices in his life. By the time he died alone in his apartment from his second heart attack in the first days of October 1997, you'd not yet said your goodbyes to the WNEW listening audience. Like my own farewell to my father, that would come later.

    There's a version of my life of which you and your DJ colleagues are a big part. There was an auditory ignorance that always existed between my father and I that we both needed because hearing ourselves and the way our relationship was playing out was too awkward and intimate and inappropriate. We had you instead. And we had Dylan, and Santana, and The Stones. We had Clapton, and Hendrix, and The Dead. I'll never be sure how well I'd have liked them if I'd been left to my own devices, but they were steadying in their familiarity. I will never be able to separate the music from the father I knew and the man I might never have liked if left to my own devices.

    With fond regards,

    Nicole Shaw, Mark's daughter

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    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Agita is not an island off the coast of Italy.

    Agita is Italian-American slang for an upset stomach. But that doesn't paint the whole picture. If you grew up in Jersey, there's a good chance you already know that agita is what you get when you are on speaking terms with your dysfunctional family and are forced to break bread with them. Imagine you had to eat with the Bundys from Married with Children. Our kids' eating habits and restaurant demeanor make the Bundys look like the Osmonds.That's agita. You're hosting a holiday dinner for your divorced mom and dad and their inappropriately younger flings, the uncle with the fecal incontinence, and your pregnant teen who has recently embraced voodoo, while house-sitting a neighbor's blind cats---all seven of them. That's agita. But you'd take the cats over my kids. I'm saying, if you eat out too often and you're looking to hire a family of six to do some aversion therapy with you, we're your team.

    Not us. This is the family across from us that we curse under our breaths because they are show offs and probably sedate their kids with allergy medicine before dining out. Pic here.
    That's why our post church outing last weekend was such a novelty. Dining in public is, as a rule, something we'd choose to do only if getting smacked about the head and neck with pillowcases full of raw sewage wasn't an option. Yet, the Hubster had taken Bee for a successful lunch to Bob Evans a while back and we thought, "We don't actually have bags of sewage to hand, so why not?"

    It seemed like a good idea at the time, but so did parachute pants. It has a cheap kid's menu. It serves breakfast all day ("Pancakes for lunch, Daddy? Yipee!"). They cater to families. On paper, it looked like we might pull off a fun family meal. A word to those who prefer to dine without the je ne sais quoi that children add to the experience: If the restaurant has crayons and kids menus cum coloring pages, skip it. Bob Evans has crayons and an entire booklet full of kid's games; you've been warned. With that kind of gratis kid gear we hoped the entire crew could enjoy a nice lunch out and mom and dad might leave with dignity intact.

    As it turns out, it's an immutable law of physics that dignity and bendy straws cannot occupy the same dinning room. Bob Evans has a rainbow assortment of bendy straws.

    Still not us. At least, I don't think it is. Pic here.

    Let me tell you that there is no scenario in which our family can be adequately seated, entertained, fed, and shoved out the door without at least five of the following mishaps. A cup brimming with a sticky liquid will be thrown on the floor or tipped across the table. Someone will cry very loudly and without consolation. My husband or I will unwittingly invade your personal space while bending over to retrieve fallen crayons, utensils, toys, and children under the age of two. The children will fight over cups, specifically, whose is whose. Someone will lick the salt shaker while someone else will maul open a jelly packet. Our children will not sit quietly and patiently while we have our attention turned to the task of cutting 4,328 bite-sized pieces of everything, including the applesauce. Someone will get exactly what they ordered and complain that it's all wrong. And you, intrepid dinner, will not enjoy bearing witness to our mayhem.

    Bingo, you found us. Pic here.

    We won't be returning to the Bob Evans. We've decided to give the eating out option a rest until the children move out and we can sit at a table for two in another country.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Do they give out Gloden Globes for best weather in a delayed school opening?


    Let's get ready to randoooooom. Keely,  the Un Mom, is the originator of RTT. If you really want to be entertained, head her way. Check out the other bloggers who like to share random little somethings on Tuesday.


    Over the holidays, Zippy wore a Christmas shirt that said, "Elf Sized." Daddy asked her if she was an elf. Was she going to go live at the North Pole with Santa?  Not for all the toys made in China. She's still asking us, "Do I have to go live at the North Pole?" I'm thinking it's a smart kid who wants to avoid getitng in the sleigh with a tubby guy in costume who hands out toys and candy. In any other context he'd be on a sex offender list.


    I had a migraine yesterday. Today there was a delayed school opening. Two hours of nausea and blinding head pain or two hours of unscheduled "free" time at home. I'm not so sure I see the difference.


    Just to mix things up, keep thing fresh and exciting, our school delay was the result of freezing rain, not snow. What will that wily Mother Nature pull next week? Sleet?


    I didn't watch the Golden Globes. I didn't plan to, really. I'm not keen on watching an entertainment awards show during which I'm reminded of how little I get out without kids. "Oh, Tangled! We saw that! And Toy Story 3. That was a good one. Who's Colin Firth? Was he in any Harry Potter Movies? Is Black Swan a Disney film?"


    I've learned from my neighbor that he's a mountain climber. Not a hiker, he climbs big mountains that are snow drenched and take days, maybe even weeks, to scale and return from. He told me about carrying two tents for the trip. He can set up a camp, hike to a higher altitude with another tent and some basic supplies, sleep for the night and then return to the lower camp to get the rest of his gear. Sometimes this can take a few days. Climb and set up second camp, sleep, descend to original camp, grab life sustaining gear, climb back to second camp, fight off frostbite, sleep, descend, grab a Starbucks and the rest of your gear including the first tent, and climb back up and sleep some more.

    Huh. I'm impressed. But can he carry two loaded laundry baskets from the basement up to the second floor while balancing a cup of coffee without spilling it and dodging toys and children that are littered about his feet? Well, can he? Take that mountain man.


    If you haven't tried Random Tuesday Thoughts for yourself, maybe today's your day. Click on the button at the top of this post and join the fun. Whee!


    And now, a plug for my blog. Would you, please, go click on that banner at the bottom there? The one for Top Mommy Blogs? One click equals one vote. You can vote once a day. I have no idea what will happen if I break the top ten (I'm around 75 now). I like to imagine that a bell will be rung some where in the blogosphere and an angel will get it's wings.

    Also, provided that you are over 29 and blog, you can go join Studio 30 Plus and vote for Ninja Mom Blog in the Boomerang Awards. I'm nominated for Best Mommy Blog, vote for me, will you? If you don't tell them it's not always a mommy blog, I won't either.

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    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Why don't colleges offer a BS in Grocery Shopping?

    I've become a bit of an apple juice nut. Not in terms of my consumption, in terms of my label interrogations. I'm looking for apple juice that does not contain apple juice concentrate from China, which, is a powder it turns out (the concentrate, not the country). I'm not going to lie. I understand the shipping expediency of having a powdered juice concentrate; I drink reconstituted powdered beverages frequently enough. I just always imagined apple juice concentrate as the bubble bath of the juice world: A few squirts in a tub and a vigorous mixing process and---voila---apple juice. The more you know, eh?

    Somewhere along the way (most likely a snippet I gleaned from National Public Radio in a singular moment when the kids were not screaming about the degradation of minivan confinement) I heard that I shouldn't drink apple juice made with concentrate from China. Bad, they said. Must remember! I thought. And I did remember. I remembered not to buy apple juice that has "China" stamped anywhere on its curves or printed among its ingredients. Chinese products equal an early death or life-changing illness or learning disability or uni-brow for my kids. Chinese products equal poison. But I neglected to jot down in my memory the why part of the equation.

    That didn't stop me from boycotting Chinese sourced apple juice.

    As I scrutinized apple juice labels in the grocery store recently, it occurred to me that not remembering why I was doing so made the exercise a bit silly. Yet, that's how I conduct most of my grocery shopping. I commit to a purchasing paradigm and toss the bit of reason behind it. I think maybe my brain is getting too full for the details. But ditching the wherefores hasn't stopped me sticking to my script.

    I buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible, here's the caveat, and convenient. I'm not heading to Farmer Dung's Out-of-the-Way, 100% Organic Farm Stand and Alpaca Clothing Galleria for $7 strawberries plus the cost of half a tank of gas. Luckily I shop at a grocery store with a fair organic produce selection. There I buy, as a rule, organic berries, apples, and leafy veggies. Never organic bananas. Even though they might only be 10 cents more per pound. Somewhere I recall hearing that the banana---either because of the thick peels or because of the low amount of pesticide applied to them before harvest, details I don't have room for---aren't worth spending my organic dollars on. I have not confirmed this. I haven't even questioned it. I can't tell you if it's based in fact or urban produce legend. (Did you hear about the cauliflower that plays host to Albino Baby Leaf Leg bugs that will eat your eyes?)

    This idea that China equals evil drooling blob kids and organic equals sparkling unicorns escorting my children to Harvard is just my brain's way of pushing aside all the facts so I can get the job of food shopping for my family done before next Spring. It's not the only place I streamline. Have you bought eggs recently? I'm bracing myself to start buying organic, free-range, cage free, eggs from laying hens living at a poultry spa and resort. So simple, right? I want to buy eggs that are laid by animals that were free to frolic outside the 9 inch by 9 inch cage and never ate hen meal made of, well, other hens. But when it comes to the cage free business, it's a crap shoot. I can't always get cage free eggs that are also organic. Okay, fine. How about those omega-3 eggs that are cage free? No? But they might be organic? And what about brown, organic eggs? Only in extra large? Right, well, I didn't bring my egg buying algorithm with me to the store today, so I'm just going to buy these Egg Beaters, m'kay?
    Milk: puberty starter or yummy with chocolate syrup? And the syrup. I can get the full-sugar version with added calcium. A good thing,  right? But if I buy the sugar-free version, I get a lower risk (presumably) of raising fat, pre-diabetic, sugar-obsessed kids. Yet, there's the inherent risk of feeding my kids calorie free sugar substitutes that probably will be found to cause Cancer someday or maybe cause early onset snarky teen. Or maybe are made with apple juice concentrate from China.

    Take low fat or light foods. Have you actually eaten nonfat cheese? It's a travesty against taste. It's a foul, nearly inedible product that I will never buy again. So I go light or lowfat with all of my dairy needs, unless we're having company because nothing says you care about your guests like goat cheese and full fat sour cream dips. Those light dairy products, however, often have added things that have naught to do with cheese. Like, maybe, granulated cardboard. Hey, I'm no food scientist.

    What if I did go back to school to get a degree in nutrition? It seems to me I'd need to take refresher courses every five weeks or so. Eggs are good for you! Until next month! Eat more bran, but not if you're half human. A glass of red wine a night is heart healthy, but not with those cheese puffs, lady. Put down those conventional grapes, pick up those avocados. Minnows are a super food. Chilean sea bass are drug mules. Imported olives are suspected Taliban sympathizers. Kraft Cheese and Macaroni Dinner found in the sea cliffs among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Well, that way lies madness. Back to my don't ask don't tell approach. If you don't ask me what's in my apple juice, I won't tell you that I don't remember.

    When the Hostess Web site claims, "Since being introduced in 1947, Sno Balls have become an enduring icon enjoyed by generations of snack cake lovers who can’t get enough of the delicious and distinctive marshmallow, coconut and chocolate cake combination." They mean this very package is from 1947. It endures.

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    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    I feel like an empty chair.

    I've been awarded, again. I know, it's like you're my entourage and we ride around in limos acting badly and drinking Cristal. We hang with stars of sound and stage. We sometimes forget to wear underwear when the paparazzi are around. We set trends and occupy VIP spaces everywhere we go. Except most of us probably have to be in bed by 10 or we can't function in the morning.

    Not us. Gee, I don't feel like I'm missing out much. You? Unless you like rehab and house arrest ankle monitors. Pic borrowed here.

    Let's try this. We are like famous morning show hosts and our personal assistants show up each morning with custom-made coffee beverages and vegan lingonberry scones. Hair and make-up people add luster to our locks and shave ten years off of our faces. We're cute, perky, and broadcast to millions of homes. Except probably we'd have to get up much earlier than we already do and we might need to consider showering every day.

    Also not us. But I think that's my monthly wine consumption in a disturbing pictograph. Remember folks, if your range could boil water in 90 seconds, you too would have time to drink that much wine and have a rock hard bod like Kelly. Pic here where it has a real photo credit and everything.

    Maybe our celebrity stems not from our good looks and winsome personalities but from the gravity and compassion of our words and deeds. We might be heads of volunteer organizations that provide food to the hungry in war-torn nations. We might be on the prow of a juggernaut ice-breaking vessel in the artic surveying the ice caps to measure the results of global warming. Oh! We are famous pacifists. We hail from a country governing through oppression. Our distinguished career as scholars and social activists gets us thrown in jail. And the way we are martyred for our beliefs wins us the Nobel Peace Prize, except we have to send furniture to accept our medal because the Chinese government won't grant a conjugal visit with our wife nevermind an all-expense paid trip to Oslo.

    We are not even as worthy as Liu Xiaobo's chair. Honestly. Where have we gone wrong with our lives? You think it has something to do with the wine graph? Pic borrowed here.

    Hm. Maybe we're just blog addicts. Anyhoo, thanks to I'm So Fancy who gave me the Stylish Blogger Award. Go to my "All I got you was this hug." page to see the award. I can only assume it's been awarded on the merits of the ever stylish naked bathtub Barbies in my header. Thanks! I appreciate the love, I really do.

    Looks like the award rules state that I have to tell you all 7 things about me (don't you people have enough Ninja Mom TMI by now?) and award this honor to 15 other bloggers. Sheesh. Fifteen. I'll aim for that, let's see how I do.

    Seven Somethings
    1. I love bread pudding.
    2. I hate touching newspaper with damp hands.
    3. I want to try on super expensive designer jeans but haven't because I fear they will live up to the hype and I'll bankrupt our family with a pricey pants addiction. 
    4. If my life permitted, I'd go back to reporting for a local newspaper.
    5. I've always wanted to try making Beef Wellington. 
    6. I'd like to take singing lessons. 
    7. I always wanted to name one of my daughters Harriet. Or Penelope. I also like Lucy, Alice, and Wendy. I think the main reason I kept having kids was because my name list is so long. Not a good reason, it turns out.
    15 (or way less, who we kidding?) Bloggers Who Are Also Stylish (or at least favorites of mine) and Who I've Not Awarded Before Now (or have and will do so again because it's my blog)

    1. Nicki at The Loaded Handbag. Or have I awarded her before? Who cares. She actually is stylish and a great writer and photographer and remains the Nicki I wish I'd been ten years ago.
    2. The Defiant Marshmallow, he's on a blogging journey to find himself in an otherwise purposeless life. No. But I like the drama. Probably he's man enough to accept being stylish or at least for taking stylish pictures.
    3. Elly Lou at BugginWord. Hello! Ukes are the style royalty of the string instrument world.
    4. Miss Yvonne at Yo Mama's Blog. I laugh when she posts. I like that in a blogger. Humor is stylish.
    5. Jules at Mean Girl Garage. Just check her header, stylish, no?
    6. Absolutely Narcissism. I just dig her quirky, crazy personality. And the fact that she's not afraid to flaunt her style.
    Look at all that style. I won't go on because you might be overwhelmed by your own mediocrity. I know I am.


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    Thursday, January 13, 2011


    I recently bought some Spandex blend workout pants---the yoga type not the Olivia-Newton-John-in-Grease type. I bought them because it's too cold for shorts and I don't do a whole lot of leg shaving in the winter. I need to protect other fitness buffs at the family YMCA from the danger of my shiv-like leg whiskers.

    Smoking on the elliptical helps boost your cardio. Well, that's what I heard. Photo of ONJ in her shiny sex suit here.

    I'd been putting off this purchase for a few weeks. I'm just not comfortable wearing clingy, stretchy pants at the gym. I do not have a clingy-, stretchy-friendly rear view. Nor am I keen on putting on a shapeless, bulky pair of sweatpants that were last fashionable when neon and MC Hammer were in. See my dilemma? I workout so I can avoid burning shame when I have to don athletic wear in public. But which will hurt my Y cred more? Nasty man sweats or Sausage Pants ("I never saw such tight pants!")? I think it's safe to say that I probably shouldn't have a Y membership.

    I do the bulk of my clothing shopping at Target. I'd love to tell you I treat myself to designer fashions, but I rarely shop in stores that don't also sell gallons of milk. At Target they have a host of Champion brand Spandex-blend pants. It's as good a selection as any---unless you know of a store that sells gym pants that are guaranteed to make my booty "licious"---and so I picked up two pairs.

    At home I slipped into my wide waist band, slightly boot-cut althletic pants and a special feeling grabbed hold of me. I felt unfettered. I felt loosened from the denim confinement of my carpool life. I felt cotton-blend stretch allowing my thighs to breathe a sigh of relief. My contour skimming feel good pants. What was this feeling? I felt, I felt Spand-sexy.

    Have you ever watched the TLC show What Not to Wear? They would never approve of the Spand-sexy yoga pants. The show's hostess, Stacy London, would never encourage me to attend the PTA meeting in my yoga yummies. Clinton Kelly, her co host, would probably soil his ascot if he knew that I cruised the produce aisle in these pants. But I'm here to tell you what those fashion gurus won't. Yoga pants are more than comfy, they are like beer goggles you wear on your legs that make you feel like (a) you're wearing magic hug pants and (b) you're Kelly Ripa.

    I choose you, magic Kelly Ripa hugs. I choose you over real style, real fashion sense, and real waist bands with belt loops and zippered flys. I choose to pretend that years of cellulite puckering my buttocks are erased in the smoothing tug of Spandex across my rear. I choose delusion. Now that I have winter appropriate workout pants, I might even choose to work out my DVR instead of get my sweet pants sweaty at the Y.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Girl Scout cookies, dog wills, and other things you can buy with your allowance.


    Let's get ready to randoooooom. Keely,  the Un Mom, is the originator of RTT. If you really want to be entertained, head her way. Check out the other bloggers who like to share random little somethings on Tuesday.


    All three of my girls are now getting an allowance for some chores around the house. I'm new to the allowance-giving game. I settled on a figure that, according to my more experienced allowance-giving friends, is roughly equal to the GDP of China. Who knew $4 a week for a five-year-old was overly generous? If only there was an allowance minimum wage to rely on.


    We left our dog Clyde outside for two hours last night in single-digit (or nearly so) temperatures. He had scratched out most of the words to his last will and testament in the snow-caked front yard before we remembered he was out there. "To Bonnie I leave my mostly chewed blue tennis ball which I've hidden in under the couch in the living room. Also . . ."


    We begin selling Girl Scout cookies this Friday. Bee, our Daisy Scout, has set a reasonable goal of selling 4,920, 923 boxes of thin mints. I think she'll get a patch and a real live pony if she can make it to 5 million.


    I was reading an older post on The Defiant Marshmallow's blog. It linked to this post, which linked to this piece from the New York Times. The Dunning-Kruger effect, why some of the people you've broken up with believe you when you say "It's not you, it's me." Too much science for a Tuesday morning? It's not you . . .


    Yesterday I launched the Character Assassination Carousel. I'm very excited about it and I think it has the potential to change the way that we make fun of inexplicably beloved children's literature. Check out yesterday's post, or visit the Character Assassination Carousel page. You, too, can pick apart kiddie lit for a cheap laugh!

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    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Character Assassination Carousel: "The Giving Tree"

    Mr. Shel Silverstein
    Where the Sidewalk Ends
    Runny Babbit Land

    Forsaken Forest
    Land of Painful Reality

    Re: That damn boy

    Dear Mr. Silverstein,

    It has recently come to my attention that I am a fictional character. As such, you'd expect that I'd not be able to write you a letter because (a) not only am I fictional, I'm a stump and (b) you're dead. But here we are in the blogiverse where all things are possible. And so I ask you, can you give me a rewrite?

    I understand that you're a very popular author and that some of my fictional brethren that have come to life through your writing are actually quite pleased and lucky to be a apart of the English-speaking cannon of children's literature. I discovered through your Web site (another neat trick for a dead dude) that there's a lion who ends up noshing marshmallows and punctuating a few hides with his shotgun. There's a collection of topsy turvy animals lead by one happy-go-lucky (or is it lappy-ho-gucky?) Runny Babbit. There are rhinos and giraffes, all of whom seem to be a bit better off than I am.

    Or didn't you notice. You see, I had a boy once. And I loved him and he came every day and, well, I would do anything for him---as any tree mother might. And he loved me back. Why not? I let him climb and swing and collect my leaves and eat my apples and no that's not a metaphor for something icky.

    But when it came time for him to discover human girls, I was soon forgotten. Sure, he and that tramp would lounge in my shade and---I can barely stand to remember it---k-i-s-s. I sure hope she didn't think I'd share my apples with her. She'd have had another think coming. So the boy and the tramp went off and did what young folks do and I settled back in to the business of being a tree. I'd had enough of human mothering. Right? I mean, give a boy a crown of leaves and he'll take a branch.

    Yet, the boy came sauntering back into my forest to see me. I was all, "Climb, swing, have an apple. Have you been eating? You look skinny. Have another apple. Why don't you write?" And the boy was all, "S'up tree, I need some cash to take my lady to the movies and k-i-s-s in the d-a-r-k. Yo." So, because I'm a softwood at heart, I gave him all of my apples to sell so he could take the tramp out to TGI Fridays and then to see I Know What You Did with the Zombie Vampire Werewolves Last Summer. You think he'd send a thank you, but no.

    Well, as long as the boy was happy, who was I to complain? Except, he wasn't happy. Well, join the club, fauna, do I look happy? Did he even ask? No, but he did ask if he could take my branches to build a house for him and some new bimbo. "I want a house," he said. "I want a wife and children," he said. I said, "Go ahead, cut me, see if I care. No, no, never mind my silent screams." And he did, and still, I tried to see past my ill fortune and love him anyway, because someday, I hoped, he'd appreciate my sacrifice.

    Fast forward a few decades (not a Christmas card, or a photo of his family, or a phone call on my birthday, as if his fingers were broken) and he's back again---the sad sack. "What, no wife in tow? Where are your kids, or did you figure out that they will use you up and leave you to wood rot?" I asked him. "I'm old and whiny and tired and woe is me," the boy says. So, sure, he wants to cut down my trunk. The very last thing I've got left so he can sail off to find himself or find a new tramp or more money---but not to find compassion or simplest manners. Like, could he have thought, "Do I really want to destroy this tree for my midlife crisis boat?" Hasn't this guy heard of environmentalism? I bet he even drives a Hummer. Eats only off of paper plates, I'd wager.

    And still, I'm a giver. I give. And when he was really not so boyish anymore, he came back to me. I was very ready to hear him say, "It's all you! You've been the reason I've been able to eat, make money, live in adequate shelter, and canoe my way through the pain of my wasted life. I've come back to grovel in the dirt at your stumpy form. I've come back to heap apologies and praises on you. You're the best mom a boy could have."

    He didn't. He said he was old, toothless, and suffering from sciatica and mild dementia. He was incontinent and arthritic and boy could he use a quiet place to rest. Before I could protest, he parked his bony rear on my stumpy, ruined self. And how I hated him.

    Or, at least, I wanted to. But you, you Mr. Silverstein, have doomed me to be forever "happy" to have an ungrateful brat of a boy come and sit on me for all literary eternity. You have lead generations of kids to believe that mothers are to be consumed and discarded. That we---tree or human---are to be wrung out, used up, neglected, ignored, and abused. So, if you ever loved your mother, fix it. If you ever felt a pang of guilt for condemning me to being the metaphor for perfect motherhood through complete subjugation to one's offspring, then you'll do me this favor: Splinters.

    Bite me,



    Like riding on the Character Assassination Carousel? Then hold on to that ticket, our next installment will be courtesy of the witty, talented, damn good Oswald cake baker, Kristine at Wait in the Van. Stay tuned to Ninja Mom for news of the February installment from Kristine.

    Character Assassination Carousel is coming.

    You know that children's book in your house? The one that gives you hives every time one of your offspring asks to read it? The one that seems to be a favorite among booksellers but that you'd like to see banned from public libraries or burned? You're not alone.

    The Character Assassination Carousel is comprised of an elite team of bloggers who have set their wits and their typing fingers to kill. The Carousel makes its debut later today when I take on a neglected tree momma and her ungrateful brat of a boy.

    For more on how the Carousel works, go to the Character Assassination Carousel page.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    20-Second Memory Loop Stasis.

    "Mom, can I have a . . ."

    There are few things uttered here that don't start with that phrase or its cousins. Can I have . . ? Will you please . . . ? Momma! Help me now! The blanks are filled in with need-fulfilling flotsam.

    I accept that my role is one of the provider, the fixer, the middle woman. I'm like a personal assistant to Anna Wintour, the infamous fashion editor who The Devil Wears Prada was modeled after (see the real Anna Wintour acting like a devil in The September Issuse). I fetch like a dog and I'm hanging with the whiniest people since The Jerry Springer Show.

    Most kids need to purge their desires every few minutes or their wee brains might explode. Therefore, while one asks for milk another is queuing up her request for a TV show, and the original beggar is now looking for a snack. These kinds of demands come often enough that most caregivers are stuck with a running to do list of tasks that should take no longer than 20 seconds each: Hand a child a toy, pull out a box of graham crackers, help someone flush a toilet. But when a care giver's mind is trying to keep a running list of requests 100 items long, it can get stuck on pause.

    As I was standing in my kitchen yesterday, twirling aimlessly trying to remember if I was supposed to be making peanut butter sandwiches or collecting an errant toy for the toy parade constantly making the circuit in my living room, I realized that there's a particular dysfunction affecting my memory: 20-Second Memory Loop Stasis.

    Twenty-Second Memory Loop Stasis is a newly recognized mental illness, not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) because I'm the only person who recognizes it as an illness. But that doesn't mean I can't launch a national television-commercial campaign aimed at acquiring thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of would-be sufferers to unite and file a class action lawsuit against---who else?---children.

    My commercial might go a little something like this*:

    Have you or has a loved one ever raised, help raise, or been in prolonged contact with children? Have you or a friend or a loved one ever fetched endless items at the behest of a toddler? Have you or someone you know ever stood still in a busy room wondering what in God’s name you entered that room for in the first place? Have you ever loaded your pants pockets with mini erasers, stray pen caps, a blob of Play Doh, four pennies, a headless Barbie, two AA batteries, and a piece of day old bagel and left it all there because you were distracted by a child fighting over a broken crayon with another child? Do you find yourself repeating small task lists over and over in your head like a mantra  because the alternative would be to feel your overwrought brain dribble out of your left ear? 

    If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions you may be suffering from 20-Second Memory Loop Stasis. This affliction is newly diagnosed in the medical and psychological fields. Otherwise healthy, mentally fit people are finding that they are no longer able to recall and act on tasks and requests if they cannot do so within 20 seconds. These sufferers’ brain chemistry has been altered by constant exposure to adolescent need distributors, also known as children. These Adolescent Need Distributors are engaged in sending out a constant stream of requests, in much the same way that bats hunt for insects using SONAR. Children, however, use their Need Distribution Systems to determine the whereabouts of their caregivers and to exert their desire to be indulged at the turn of each and every whim.

    A class action lawsuit is now being organized by the Law Offices of Spankum and Howe. Call us now to receive your free 20-Second Memory Loop Stasis Information Packet and DVD that explains what 20-Second Memory Loop Stasis is and how you can be in touch with doctors conducting 20-Second Memory Loop Stasis evaluations. Find out if you or a loved one need to be treated for this debilitating disorder. The DVD and Information packet will be mailed to you at no cost and  includes information about Adolescent Need Distributors, also known as Children---what they knew, what they covered up and how victims can go about recovering financial compensation or compensation in the form of corporal punishment. We believe we can help you and your loved ones during this terrible time and bring the children of the world to account for their crimes. Don’t hesitate, call us now.
    *I modeled my commercial after the many Mesothelioma (insert disease associated with a lawsuit here) commercials I am always seeing on TV. I need to send a particular shout out to these folks, from whom I borrowed some of my script. I would have made a video of myself acting in this commercial if Roo hadn't thrown our digital camera in the tub a few nights ago. Feel free to send me a Flip video recorder as a gift.

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    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Bad table manners: Ensuring Roo never marries.

    There was a time when I brooked no undue mess at my table. It was a time when the floors remained mostly clean in the area surrounding the high chair and the table was not covered in a film of peanut butter. Those days a tossed salad (literally) would earn the hurler a timeout. Those were the times I like to refer to as B.R.---Before Roo.

    It's not enough to say that Roo is a slob; he picks his nose with mac n' cheese stuck to his finger. There's isn't yet a word that captures the volume, extent, and foulness of his mess-making in relation to food. For example, and this is the mark of a pro, friends, I brushed Roo's teeth yesterday approximately one hour after he'd finished his breakfast of bacon and eggs. As I was encouraging him to say "ah," he leaned over the sink and spit out pieces of bacon he'd been sucking on for the last 60 minutes. Because, really, who doesn't like to pack their cheeks with salty pork?

    There's no mystery about Roo's abominable table manners; he's the youngest of four small kids and the Hubster and I are too busy/exhausted to do the hard work of parenting at dinnertime. We want to jump up from the table and snatch his plate away before he can Frisbee it across the room, but we are engaged in the refilling of bottomless juice cups (Sisyphus has nothing on us). Or, we'll have put our first lukewarm bite of meatloaf in our own mouths, preventing us from declaring, "Roo! Don't touch that!" This explains why so many of his sisters' meals end up on the floor by his hand. He eschews fork and spoon for forefinger and thumb. Bowls are also hats---cereal or soup included. His shirtfront is a napkin and his pants sponges for spills. He's the supreme Slopahontas because we can barely eek out the will to give a fig about his cloddish ways never mind correcting his behavior.

    This is not Roo; my boy would be smiling. This is the boy who will grow up to be Roo's college roommate. He will cry then, too. Thanks you here for stealing this pic and using it on your blog without attribution.

    I fear that he will never find a nice somebody to settle down with becasue by the first date the open-mouthed chewing and supping of gruel directly from the bowl will scare potential love interests away. I see a future studded with camp bunk mates who insist he sleep out-of-doors. I worry that he'll have a string of college roommates who will shun him for sleeping on top of cookie and cracker crumbs, which, he'll later breakfast on while he wakes and stretches. The pest infestation potential for his dorm room is kite-high. He will be head pest.

    Hope abounds, however. There's no future that can't be altered by the judicious application of shame. I know Roo's still a bit young to be concerned about what the people around him think of his slovenly habits. But the time is coming, and soon, when the Hubster and I can relegate the job of teaching Roo not to be a social pariah. We can hand it over to his sisters! They will be only too happy to point out his every flaw and grossosity. They will delight in highlighting his poor habits, "Ew! Who wants to see that? Nobody, Roo!" They will ridicule him into submission. "Roo, you're disgusting, stop picking your nose at the table." Or, "Who invited a cow to dinner? Oops, that's Roo chewing his cud." Maybe just, "You have cooties, pig face!"

    Of course, there's a chance that he will enjoy raising the yuck bar and escalating his sisters' taunts in the process, causing a rift among the siblings that is not repaired until my tragic demise, at which point they will all learn to love each other again, until the after burial repast during which Roo will eat potato salad with his fingers. It goes without saying that if these manners keep up, he will attend my funeral unattached.

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