Monday, September 28, 2009
*Will I need surgery to have breasts? Why does a woman want surgery to have bigger breasts? (after I explained what boob jobs are)
*Why did your then two-year-old sister stare at her food on the table but didn't hesitate to eat it off the floor?
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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She asked, "Just like mint soup?"
"Yeah, like mint soup." I added she sounded like a poet.
"What's a poet?"
"It's when a writer uses words to make them sound pretty."
"I thought a poet was an animal," she said.
"Yeah, that too."
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Image via WikipediaSome days I strive to be just like Donna Reed in my quest for perfect motherhood. Other days I feel more like Sylvia Plath, who at least made her kids peanut butter sandwiches before she gassed herself to death.
When I found out my first child was a girl, I thought, oh how sweet, I'll have hours of enjoyment brushing her hair every night. Nope. She runs away screaming if I even come near her with a comb, brush, or even a plastic fork to get the knots out.
When my second daughter came along, I thought, oh how sweet, they'll have hours of enjoyment dressing up in fairy costumes and having tea parties. Nope. They'd rather wrap themselves up in towels, put their hair up in ponytails and play Sumo wrestlers.
Since Donna Reed kept a pristine House of Order, I first vow to keep on top of laundry. But my girls go through more wardrobe changes in a day than Cher, Madonna and Mariah Carey combined. Costumes are strewn all over the master bedroom. Wigs adorn lamp shades. The buffet table back stage serves only M&Ms and grape Popsicles.
You know the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Raoul Duke wakes up in the hotel room wearing fisherman boots and a dinosaur tail? He wades in a foot of water and sighs, "Oh Debbie," to Debbie Reynold's shrine at the altar. That's what my living room looks like.
Most days I maintain a nurturing voice like Donna Reed, but I still lose my cool. I knew I had to stop cussing in front of my kids when my then 4-year-old asked me how to spell DAMMIT on the fridge with magnetic letters. Another time my older daughter said, "I'm so sick of this crap!" And I had a REALLY hard time explaining that crap isn't technically a bad word but used in that manner it is. Which really frustrates the crap out of me.
Regarding my appearance, I maintain a somewhat demure Donna Reed-like manner in my choice of fashion. But with some young women that my girls encounter, I can't cover their eyes quick enough.
One evening, I took my daughters to a restaurant called Texas Loosey's. I had "Kids Eat Free" coupons so silly me for thinking it might be family-friendly. Our waitress comes to the table. She's dressed in a bikini, leather chaps with the derriere hanging out, belly ring, and a cowboy hat (cover your head dear, Lord knows we don't want you to catch cold). My youngest took one look and said, "WHAAAAAT?"
When the day is over and we settle down, we do have those moments that probably would make great sappy television. We get together and I'll read a book like Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born, or anything by Karma Wilson or Eric Carle.
We also have in-depth conversations on what it's like to be different ages. My oldest daughter asks me what age I'd like to be. Not to let on that I want to be anything different than I already am, I say, "I want to be 41." She, at age 9, replies, "I want to be 14." And my youngest, whom I dub "The Princess of Non-Sequitur," says, "I want to be a donut."
And then my need for Donna Reed subsides quicker than a commercial break.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The worst thing about the internet is that anybody can say anything they want to for the world to read.
Hence, I created A Jackass's Guide to InterNetiquette
1. Don't namedrop. Why? Unless you have something unique and interesting to say about a celebrity, No.One.Cares.
Nobody really cares if you saw Mario Lopez at the gym, or Dean Cain at Venice Beach, or Elliot Gould at the post office (all of which happened to me by the way. See? See how annoying that is?) I'm all for hearing great stories about great people, though, so if you're going to say something, make it worth reading.
Here's an example from one of my internet friends Sam from Mayberry:
I actually got to meet Paul Stanley with my wife and kid at Wentworth Galleries a couple of years ago.
We bought a print of "Green Planet" and Paul was extra cool to my little girl, Kenzie.
She told him that she was just starting to play bass and he asked how old she was and she told him 11. He then said he had a son that was around the same age and that the two of them should get together and jam.
Without missing a beat Kenzie looks him dead in the eye and says, "Hey, sounds good. I'm always lookin' for people." To which he laughed heartily.
2. Think up comebacks quickly. You look like a loser if you wait more than 24 hours to say whatEVER to someone who typed an emoticon with rolling eyes.
3. Never say anything you wouldn't mind getting beat up for in public.
4. Don't make fun of what anybody does for a living, or what someone doesn't do for a living. Stay-at-home moms work harder than you ever will. So don't try to intimidate us with your nasty remarks from your big scary keyboard.
5. Never tell anyone they're wasting time on the internet and they should spend more time with real people. Because look around you. You aren't exactly the social butterfly yourself.
Follow these 5 simple rules and you'll be a well-rounded person in virtual AND real time.
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"It's not just that you're never coming back to me, it's the bitter way that
I was told." -- Elvis
Costello, "The Comedians"
Elvis Costello sure got around in 1989. He had a great album called Spike, a hit song "Veronica," and wrote "My Brave Face"for Paul McCartney. But the one song I most remember Costello for, in spite of an illustrious songwriting career, is "The Comedians" for Roy Orbison's album, Mystery Girl.
All these songs were hits at the same time I dated my ex-boyfriend, fiancee, whatever you want to call him. Always a ring but never a date despite everyone asking us when the BIG DAY was.
He took me to a wedding in which he was a member of the party. I sat at my table fuming while watching him dance song after song with a beautiful brunette bridesmaid who sang at the wedding. He asked me, "Isn't she a wonderful singer?" This is where the phrase, "Dance with the girl you came with" found its literal meaning.
I watched them dance, and when I they stopped I thought, maybe, just maybe, he'd ask me to dance. Yet, DJ played another song and they kept dancing.
Before I sat down to watch these comedians, his brother helped me with my chair at our table. When he struggled with pushing me in, he said, "My brother's right, you have gained weight!"
Wow, how many blows can a gal take? The kicker was that I wasn't even fat, at least from my 41-year-old self today looking back 20 years . I just didn't fit into that skinny '80s aerobic biker short and leg warmer ideal.
It was after Marilyn Monroe but before J.Lo when curves were embraced; that horrible Jane Fonda-type era. Not only was Fonda Hanoi Hanna, she helped throw young girls into body obsession.
There were so many songs that year that helped me overcome this breakup. One was "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" by Tom Petty on Full Moon Fever. It's practically a copycat of Roger McGuinn's performance of the same song. No matter. All that really mattered were the lyrics:
Now I got to say
That it's not like before
And I'm not gonna play
Your game any more
After what you did
I can't stay on
And I'll probably feel a whole lot better
When you're gone
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Image via WikipediaHolly came up with an astute analogy on writing the other day. She said it's like an ice cream sundae: writing is ice cream, people reading it is chocolate syrup, and getting paid is the cherry on top.
Think about it. You can enjoy the ice cream by itself by just writing. It's even better with the toppings. But you don't need the cherry to delight in the entire experience. I think, how does she do that? How is she on this earth for only ten years and come up with that? And why didn't I think of it first?
Maybe when I need to discipline her I take away her books. And for that I have to thank Paula Danziger and her Amber Brown series which got Holly to not only start reading but to enjoy it. She related to the second grade character whose best friend moved away which happened to Holly in second grade also. Amber grew up but didn't get past 4th grade because sadly Danziger passed away from a heart attack in 2004.
I mentioned to Holly that some day she could continue the Amber Brown series but she said no. Her current project is a comic book series called Die Barney, as in the purple dinosaur. I'm not sure whether to be proud or disturbed. I'm banking on pride.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Image via WikipediaI helped out in my daughter's 4th grade writing class the other day. Their assignment was to write about their favorite place after listening to the teacher read Grandfather's Journey. My favorite place is of course my hometown of Kenosha, WI but I made a list of my favorite places I visited for a brief while.
These places are where I felt cool energies, a sense of belonging, and supernatural communication:
Beale Street, Memphis,TN: I was there on a summer night in 1985 with my cousins. I took a pic wearing a blank tank top dress, a bad perm and wayfarers by the statue of Elvis. We ate ice cream by BB King's blues bar. I was seventeen so I wasn't old enough to go in. We sat on a bench by a cobblestone road watching a raspy-voiced blues woman and a lanky dude with mirrored sunglasses who stepped in and played acoustic guitar. I felt like Elvis as a young kid watching them.
Forest Lawn Memorial, Los Angeles, CA: I loved this place in my twenties when I needed poetic inspiration. An inscription there reads not to consider this place a cemetary but a living memorial to those who passed. It's a place for artists to write, paint or just think. There is a replica here of the old Boston church where Paul Revere warned of the coming British. I also sat by Stan Laurel's grave many times. You think such a giant of old time comedy would have something elaborate but it's just a gravestone with a bench next to it. Stan and I had lots of conversations there.
Laguna Beach, CA: I drove the PCH here on August 27, 1998. An amazing sunset showed itself of orange, red and purple clouds. I remember the cliffs and waves while listening to "Frozen" by Madonna. Another day I got a toe ring and thought I saw Andy Warhol walking on the beach. I also spent the afternoon of New Years Eve 1999 with my best high school friend Tammy. We ate crab cakes at a seaside restaurant where she took a pic of the last sunset of the millenium. It was cold but she, also a Wisconsin native, refused to wear a jacket. She was determined to spend New Years Eve in a tank top and sandals.
Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA: The swallows return there each year on my birthday March 19 and the city celebrates. Cowboys stand in the street and shoot toy guns in the air. I'm not sure why but I'm sure it's historic. I visited there on my 31st birthday when I was 3 months pregnant. A friend and I walked through the little chapel with votive candles burning. There is something about Catholic churches with their stained glass and burning candles that create such a supernatural atmosphere. You can sense the priests that founded the mission in that chapel and understand their purpose.
Please leave comments on what your favorite places are and why. Supernatural or sentimental, places that are not of this world, anything. I'd love to read them.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Image via WikipediaHalloween is like Christmas to me. I await the Great Pumpkin on Halloween's Eve, waiting for him to drop down my chimney with his presents wrapped in gold Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and silver York Peppermint Patties.
I assign Halloween names to the members of my family. I become Scary Bones. My husband Tim is Grim Bones. Holly turns into Hollow Bones. And April finally transforms into October Bones.
Here are a few of my favorite Halloween things:
Reading Halloween books to my girls, like Here They Come and Goodnight Goon.
Making crafts with the nouveau riche Halloween colors: bright purple, neon green, and magenta. No more just black bats, orange pumpkins, and white ghosts. Crafts are now all about witches' striped stockings, pink and black skull and crossbones, and bedazzled goblins.
Halls Fast Relief Ginger Ale cough drops. I even look forward to colds because that means I get to soothe my cough with these and get in an extra nap. Or two.
Fun-sized candy. A comedian whose name escapes me asked, "Are these candy bars really the size of fun?" To me they are. Especially when we skip the regular size and buy the whole bag, knowing, like Lay's potato chips, we can't stop at just one.
Day after Halloween marked-down candy. It's like sugary irony to buy candy after our houses are filled to the crown moulding with lollipops, Snicker bars and that awful candy corn that I hate but my girls love. In fact, we walk down the aisles thinking if we see another Spongebob candy crabby patty, we're gonna puk....hey wait! Is that fun-size Nestle crunch bars 75% off? SCORE!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Image via WikipediaKindergarten is not so much about academia. Students learn at different levels of their letters, sight words, numbers and math. Kindergarten is more learning how to get along with others. It's like social etiquette for kids before they lose themselves in online worlds and develop no techniques for when things don't always go our way.
This proves that All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum is still true today:
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.
I volunteered for 2 weeks so far in my child's class. After homeschooling her prior to kindergarten, she learns now that she doesn't always come first. She's reminded to make good choices while playing with others and uses "I" messages. Instead of saying, "You cut in front of me," she says, "I feel sad that you cut in front of me." The other child then says, "I'm sorry."
Wouldn't it be awesome if adults did that too? Especially during rush hour?
I used to have a zillion dreams about going back to elementary school. And now I know why. Sitting in on the class and helping children learn teaches me also. In fact I think I'm learning more than teaching.
One such thing I found is to never give up on a kid who might be a troublemaker. They have gifts that haven't revealed themselves yet. One child I taught told me everything I needed to know about Leonardo da Vinci though his behavior skills need improvement. Another girl doesn't get along with the other kids but she's a gifted artist.
Social skills are learned. We aren't born with them. And change doesn't happen over night. Like any skill, it's a process that improves slowly with a little (or should I say a lot) of divine help.
Monday, September 7, 2009
We celebrated the not-so-official end of summer at Oceanside. The girls wonder why we can't go to the beach year-round. We can, of course, we can't just play in the ocean. The water gets cold and icy in the winter months and we freeze on our long walks back to the car. But they say that's okay, they still want to swim no matter how cold it gets.
And at that moment I realized we raised California girls. Not born in Wisconsin like my husband and I. This time of year Wisconsinites don their green and gold Packer parkas in time for football season. They buy fresh new ice scrapers for their car windows. They make sure the chains and anti-freeze are ready for the drive to work. There's none of this, "Boo-hoo, we can't go swimming in the ocean in January. Wah!"
But the best part of living in California, amidst the deep depths of the recession and high gas prices, is the view. We might pay sky-rocketing prices in mortgage but look! We have the ocean!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
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No matter how hard you work, if you don't get paid for it, it's not considered a job. Part time jobs are few and far between these days so instead I volunteer at my kids' school and my church. I do it because I love it not for monetary gain.
An unnamed loser on an internet message board once told me, "At least I have a job. Do you ever leave the house?" Hell hath no fury like a stay-at-home mom scorned. Instead of engaging in a flame war, I ignored him at the time. But then he insulted another member's daughter and let's just say that karma's bite in the butt is a little painful to say the least.
Truth is, I never put hardly any energy into any job that I was paid for. At least I didn't get a lot of enjoyment over it. But I get enjoyment out of the jobs for which I volunteer.
It was Ronald Reagan who spoke of the spirit of volunteering in Temecula. It must be contagious because I didn't get into the spirit until I moved here.
I help kindergarten kids learn their letters and numbers. I help elementary kids write compositions. I teach Sunday school to elementary kids and plan crafts to teach them about art through God. There's hardly any art classes in school anymore, so if there's the next Picasso it's my duty to find that talent and bring it out.
If I were paid for any of these things, I doubt I'd derive as much happiness as I do now. As a volunteer, none of this work is a chore. I do it out of the kindness of my heart. And to keep an eye on my kids. Over protective? Maybe. But never unhappy.
I work at a circulation desk in the library at University of Wisconsin Parkside typing a love letter to my future husband. Probably not the best way to use library resources but nonetheless:
CIRCULATION SUBSYSTEM COMMAND: HI TIMOTHY, I THOUGHT I'D TYPE YOU A LETTER. I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH. I WOULDN'T TRADE YOU FOR THE WORLD. (You see already I don't fare well in my poetry writing class) I'M BESIDE MYSELF IN HAPPINESS (that should be with not in but who checks grammar when you're in love?)
YOU'RE A VERY TALENTED PERSON AND I HOPE THAT TALENT CAN SPILL OVER INTO MY LIFE (because it's all about me, you know). YOU KNOW THAT SAYING THAT OPPOSITES ATTRACT (cliche number 3)? I DON'T BELIEVE IN IT AT ALL. I DON'T THINK WE'RE OPPOSITE AT ALL (make it nice, say it twice.)
WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON THAT I COULD JUST SPIT (how romantic!). WELL, NOT REALLY SPIT BUT IT'S A NICE FEELING ANYWAY TO BE LOVED. NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN IT SEEMS EVERYTHING FALLS IN PLACE (funny, that's exactly what I said to my previous boyfriend.)
BY THE TIME I GRADUATE, I'M SURE WE'LL ACCOMPLISH WHAT WE'VE SET OUT TO DO (it took a while after graduation day but yeah, we did it). AND WE'LL HAVE EVEN MORE TO ACCOMPLISH. IT'LL BE LIKE A NEW RENAISSANCE (that was the first big word I learned in college.) AND MAYBE WE'LL BE TRENDSETTERS, WHO KNOWS?
Have you died from insulin shock yet? No wonder my husband's diabetic.