Get out the cheese and sleep

Posted on 8/31/2006 09:47:00 AM
Like a lot of parents, I suppose, we have a bedtime ritual. Before Dormouse was born, a friend of mine had a child and read one article about sleep and became convinced that she knew everything there was to know about putting a child to bed and that there was only one way to do it. Don't let him/her sleep with you or he'll grow up unloved with no friends and only qualified for the job holding the SLOW sign on the side of the road. (We are obsessed with the SLOW Sign Job in my house.) You must have a ritual that you follow to. the. letter. every. night. If you don't, all will be lost and the world will implode. The child should never be allowed to cry so pick it up the moment it begins crying or it will feel unloved. The child should never be picked up when it's crying or you're teacing it to manipulate you. Don't hold your child to sleep or they won't learn to sleep on their own. The list of do's and don't about sleep - and contradictory information - go on and on... and you know what? None of them work.

One day early on I was talking to my neighbor (who has grown grand-children now and successfully raised her children to be mothers and fathers without the aid of six subscriptions to parenting magazines) about all the do's and dont's about sleep and I mentioned that I really liked to hold my daughter until she drops off to sleep and how I know that's wrong and I'm probably being selfish so I should stop immediately because all the experts say so, and she practically yelled this at me:

"You will have precious little time to hold your child over the span of your life. If you want to hold her until she falls asleep now, then do it! You know your child and what she needs more than anyone else. Damn what the books say."

To date, this is the best advice I've ever received from anyone about parenting.

I decided she was right and continued to hold her and sing to her every night. And you know what? I learned more than just whether or not to rock my kid to sleep. What I learned was this: every child has unique needs, preferences, and requirements. It worked for me to hold her to sleep each night. And guess what: she didn't develop any sleep disorders because of it. What we got out of it was our own routine. One that didn't conform to all the books, but one that grew into and out of what worked and continues to work for our child.

Now bedtime is a kind of family time for us, she has a bath, roughhouses with Daddy a bit, gets ready for bed, we read some stories together, say prayers, and then she chooses which parent will "get" to "rock" her (it's a competition, which I'm much less into but more often win... that's probably why I can say that), which means, hold her in a chair and sing 2-4 songs of her choice to her before she climbs in bed and gets kissed goodnight and left with one CD of lullaby songs to fall asleep to. That's generally how it goes, but sometimes there are variations in the routine and she is mature enough to handle them because we've never been crazy fanatic obsesso's about doing in that exact order or exactly at the appointed time. I still read a ton of parenting articles and websites because I'm still never sure what bit of brilliance will work in my situation with my child at this particular point in time. However, although I'll admit that what I've read and what I think has probably shaped what we do and when we do it somewhat, what stays in the routine is much more defined by what she needs and asks for than what requirements I've independently placed on the process.

And so... all this time later, we still have this routine. And no matter how bad of a day we've had, how much I've yelled at her for being willful and not minding, or how much I simply haven't been there on the days when she's in preschool, we have this together time where all gets forgiven, forgotten and resolved to do better the next day.

Last night this song was added to the list:

"Momma, please sing the cheese song."

"Baby, I don't know the cheese song. What are you talking about?"

"The one that goes 'get out the cheese and smile'."

Huh?!? "I don't know that one. You sing it for me."

And then in a perfect variation of a Haydn trumpet fanfare, complete with broken chords, she sang:

"Get out the cheese,
get out the cheeeeese and smiiiiiillllle."

I repeated exactly what she sang, which pleased her enough to crawl into her bed and almost immediately drop off to sleep. Apparently that'll be a part of our routine now too.

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Welcome Jesse!

Posted on 8/30/2006 12:00:00 PM
born August 28, 2006
2:17am
7 lbs 8 oz
20.5 in long

...and none too happy about any of it. Or perhaps he's just afraid that big sister will bite him.

Congratulations Kristen and Scott!

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Get ready to wiggle, just not too much

Posted on 8/29/2006 07:21:00 AM
The KingofHearts and the Dormouse were invited to one of the premiere events of a toddler's life this week. A Wiggles concert. I did not attend, I was playing for a funeral service that night, but below is my retelling of the accounts I was given from KingofHearts and Dormouse.

If you have never heard of the Wiggles, you have missed a phenomenon. I'm not saying it's something you didn't want to miss, but it's a phenomenon just the same. I've heard several stories about how the Wiggles came to be and am not sure which of the rumors about their inception is more accurate... that they were a failed boy band in Australia who got too old and had to adapt, that they all got early childhood education degrees but liked to sing more, they hated children's television programming in Australia and wanted to do something really educational for their families... and then there are the inappropriate theories that we've come up with on our own which aren't even based in rumor or conjecture. KingofHearts and I are bad people. Anyway, the Wiggles are a
Dormouse favorite and we knew that we could not pass up the chance to see them.

The first hilarious part of the evening was that Greg, the Yellow Wiggle, wasn't even there. Apparently earlier in the week, he'd collapsed from exhaustion, took a couple of days' break but tried to go on with the tour and then collapsed again that morning. They took him to the hospital. This sparked many lame jokes about how the Yellow Wiggle did too much Wiggling.

They played a video feed showing a puffy and pallid Greg from his hospital bed... explaining to the kids why he wasn't going to be there and introducing "Sam" the substitute Yellow Wiggle who was going to do a great job. I heard later that they sent Greg home to Australia. It was actually pretty impressive that they gave the kids credit and didn't just try to pass off the dark haired fake Wiggle to the kids as Greg.

The Wiggles also have mascots, as any kids' band must, I suppose. There is Wags the Dog; Captain Feathersword, who in what I assume is an attempt at a non-violent message, carries a sword made of feathers; Henry the Octopus, who has an undersea band of fish and crustaceans; and Dorothy the Dinosaur who wears a lace hat and eats roses. How random is that cast of characters? We've been watching for a couple of years now, and I still cannot figure out what each of those have to do with the other or how they came up with them. "Hey, you know what this show REALLY needs? A rose eating dinosaur." "Yeah... that's it... that'll put us on the map, mate!" (Inset fake Australian accent here.)

KingofHearts swears that Captain Feathersword was nipping at the keg before the concert started. He kept forgetting the words to the songs and cracking the other remaining Wiggles up. In a part of a song where he's supposed to make an animal noise and they go on singing, he let out a 3 minute stream of brays, barks and whinnies, completely stopping the song and leaving the other characters looking lost. At one point in the concert, the good Captain holds out his feather sword and it shoots confetti out all over the first 6 rows of the audience; we've seen this happen on the television show. This night when he did the same thing but held the sword a little lower than usual... which made it look like... well, um... let's just hope this was lost on the kids.


They had trouble keeping the scenery upright. They didn't seem to know what song was next. Dorothy seemed to not be doing well in her suit and had to keep leaving the stage, we assume to take off the giant head and breathe fresh air. (Lightweight.) In what I believe is a genius mechandising idea, in the lobby they sell bones for the kids to give to Wags the Dog and roses to give to Dorothy the Dinosaur. Throughout the concert, the Wiggle Minions go out and collect them from the kids in the audience and bring them to the characters. Then I'm sure they take them backstage and back out in the lobby to resell to the very same kids who bought the first ones. But in this event, they couldn't quite get the minions out there in time, so they just announced "If we don't get to you to collect the bones and roses, just leave them on your chairs and we'll pick them up after the concert." Wha?!?!?

All in all, Dormouse had a great time, KingofHearts got a huge laugh, and I kind of wish I could have been there. Amazing how I was almost as excited about this as I am about seeing Jon Stewart next month. Parenthood changes a person - and not necessarily for the better.

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But it has so many pretty pictures

Posted on 8/28/2006 10:25:00 AM

This just overheard from the living room:

"Daddy, who sent us this beautiful book? I like it."

"Honey, that's the phone book."

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Waxing Poetic (or Waning)

Posted on 8/27/2006 09:04:00 AM
So maybe it's that Dormouse will soon turn three, maybe it's Monica's countdown and the possibility of her having a new little one around, maybe it's my recent brush with death, but lately I've been totally and stupidly waxing nostalgic about when she was tiny.

She's grown so much in these three years, I can hardly believe that that tiny little premature baby who wouldn't gain weight is right at this minute in the other room by herself singing "Ceeee-lebrate Good Times, C'mon!" and putting together a 25 piece puzzle. And what is even more impossible to believe: I've survived it. I don't have any illusions that I'm the greatest mother out there. I'm lazy and selfish and I watch too much TV and I can't seem to configure my life so that I could stay home with her full time and I allow people to make me feel guilty about that and I have no patience for 2-year-old tantrums and I don't want to sit around with other mothers and talk about parenting twenty-four hours a day and I don't like Barney or Dora or Disney Princess stories.

But I do believe that I've never done anything quite as important as being her mother. I've never done anything quite a difficult or quite as satisfying. It's amazing to me, knowing myself as I do, that I can still say that even after three years, the last two weeks having been particularly difficult in the momma-needs-more-patience arena. There is nothing easy about parenthood. I knew that going into this whole experience, just not quite as intimately as I do now. But it's still worth it. You just find rewards in different places: the maple syrup covered kisses, the random 'I love you mom' in the grocery store, the inappropriate amount of enthusiasm displayed when daddy announces we might go to the mall.

Last night while we were having dinner, I was waxing aloud about how much she's grown up. Having a discussion with her is like talking to a peer. She said something particularly 35-year-old-womanish and I said, "You have grown up sooo much. How did you get so big?"

She reflected for a moment and then cocked her head with the spoon mid-way from her plate to her face and said,

"I ate a lot of food."



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Crayzee Crayfish

Posted on 8/26/2006 03:58:00 AM
The KindofHearts came home the other day and claimed he was threatened by a crawdad at work. I don't know why this tickles me so. He was getting out of the truck in the parking lot and saw something moving on the ground. When he looked down, he saw a very misdirected crawdad with one missing claw. The other claw was waving up at him in a menacing crawfish stance as if to warn him he'd darn well better stay away or he'd get his toenails clipped. Or at least that's what KingofHearts assumed it meant.

But how much do we really know about the language of crawdads? Perhaps it was extending a hand of welcome. "Hey buddy, I see you're new around here, want to go check out the pond scum?"

Maybe it was looking for a handout. Or perhaps it had a terrible nicotine addiction and was simply looking for a light. I can even imagine it pointing to KingofHearts's watch to remind him to get inside before he was late. Oh, the possibilities.

Whatever it meant, KingofHearts didn't stop to try and talk to it. He picked it up and put it in the creek bed nearby then went on his way. Never knowing that he'd missed his chance to finally know the great secrets of crawdad existence. Sigh.

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Burnin' Down the House

Posted on 8/25/2006 09:52:00 AM
Last Thursday night, KingofHearts spilled some Linseed oil in the basement while working and mopped it up with some old rags and threw them on top of the garbage can to dry.

Now, we both grew up in the Southwest and were inundated by Public Service Announcements about how if you put oily rags in a can and don't let them completely dry out, they can get hot and smolder and cause a fire. I, in particular, vividly remember the dramatization of the guy who wiped up motor oil in his garage, threw the rags in an oil can and burned down his house. Then the sad fire chief walks into the camera frame shaking his head with some ‘don’t let this happen to you’ such lecture. So we really should have been able to avoid what came next.

Apparently, they weren't spread out enough to dry, because some time in the night, they heated up and combusted on top of the garbage can. The garbage can, which was conveniently (for the fire at least) filled with wood scraps and other tasty flammables, thereby providing an excellent fuel source.

3:30 Friday morning, I was awakened to KingofHearts yelling "Get the baby, there's a fire in the house!" I guess he'd heard the downstairs smoke detector go off (I had actually just gotten to bed and somehow slept through it – I guess a couple of nights of insomnia can kill you after all) and discovered a large fire in the basement when he went to investigate. I later learned that this was after he stumbled around for a minute or two trying to find the watch with the alarm that he thought was going off and wondering why someone was burning toast. He finally woke up enough to take in the facts.

I grabbed Dormouse and a fire extinguisher and KingofHearts grabbed the phone and dialed 911 as we ran out of the smoke filled house. By the time we got outside, all the smoke detectors in the house were sounding, not just the one downstairs (nice - timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance, you know) and there was much too much smoke to go back and use the piddly little kitchen extinguisher on the fire, although I did go back in and scope out the situation once. At least I had the sense to decide to let the professionals handle it and came back out when I could barely see down the stairwell enough to guess that in the last couple of minutes the fire had about doubled in size.

So we waited outside on the grass for what felt like hours, but I'm sure wasn't more than 5 minutes, for the 2 engines, 1 hook and ladder truck, and 5 fire chief SUVS to show up, kick in the basement door and extinguish the fire. All in all, we feel very blessed and grateful to be alive and unharmed. The firemen found the cat, tried to get her out of the house; she scratched the hell out of one of them and ran BACK DOWNSTAIRS, but we found her about three hours later, hiding under the bed in the least smoky part of the basement, scared but unscathed. There's quite a bit of smoke damage and we will probably need to repaint most of the house to get rid of the burned plastic smell that we've already become so familiar with (we already shampooed all the carpets, washed every piece of fabric we ever owned, and thanks to some very kind people from the Church repainted the living room within 48 hours), but the fire started right next to KingofHearts's "flammable liquids" cabinet so if he hadn't woke when he did, giving the fire even 10 more minutes to spread, that would probably have eventually caught fire and my guess is we'd have had some major structural damage to deal with.

The fire took approximately 20 seconds to extinguish with a fire hose, but I was floored by the amount of care they took in ensuring that it hadn’t spread anywhere else. They put ladders up and climbed all over the roof to make sure there was nothing smoldering in the attic (even though the fire was in the basement and it was obvious it hadn’t spread far) and they opened every closet and every single cabinet and drawer in the house, then opened every window in the house to let the smoke out. The firemen were amazingly swift, thorough, and efficient and I love them all.

Here are some random things that I remember from the 60-90 minutes that ensued:

  • The first officer to show up asked KingofHearts where the fire was (“In the basement”, we said) and then asked if the basement door was open. KingofHearts, in what I can only assume was a mixture of confusion and adrenaline, replied, "No, my keys are in the house... do you want me to run back in and get them?" The officer said nothing, blinked once, and went past him down the stairwell to kick the door in without ever breaking stride.
  • I now know the importance for the things and people in my life, as this is the order that I thought about stuff in: KingofHearts (must be ok for now because he’s yelling at me to get up), Dormouse, Cat, Violin. The violin came a bit later and after we knew they’d put the fire out – I snuck around the side of the house and peeked through a basement window into the room where I keep it. It appeared dry and uncharred. (Later, I thought about how hot it must have been in the room and opened the case to check whether the glue had melted or something like that… it hadn’t even gone out of tune. If that’s not an advertisement for a $500 Mustang Violin Case, I don’t know what is.) Throughout the whole time, I thought of and was concerned for no other possessions, not even photo albums or keepsakes.
  • Dormouse pretty much thought it was a big amusement park ride and was fascinated by all the lights, hoses and masses of people going in and out. She now can give an amazingly dramatic rendition of the experience, complete with impressionistic dance reenactment of "Daddy's blue trash can, melting to the ground".
  • One SUV pulled up and when they opened the back hatch, someone's tennis shoes fell on out on the ground. They remained there for the duration of the experience. This is probably the clearest memory I had of the night.
  • Another SUV pulled up directly onto the front lawn of the neighbor across the street. All I could think about was how badly the lawn would be damaged the next morning and whether they would know why.
  • After about 10 or 15 minutes of standing in the yard watching firemen go in and out of the house, KingofHearts quipped, "Hmmm I wonder where John is? (our retired fire fighter neighbor who lives across and street and knows every time match is struck in the neighborhood) I'm disappointed he's not here yet." John showed up by our side not about 3 minutes after these words came out of his mouth. He also spent about 3 hours later in the day helping us clean up.
  • At one point, I overheard one of the firemen ask another one "Where's Mike?" The first guy said, "Oh he's in the back of the van sleeping; he couldn't quite wake up." I’m guessing one more guy to add to the 25 or so who were in and out of that house probably wouldn’t have made a much of a difference and Mike probably knew that.
  • After the fire was extinguished, I heard the chief barking orders to the rest of the men, “OK – go in and open up the house…” and then as if an afterthought yelled, “BUT. DON’T. BREAK. ANYTHING!” It didn’t stop them from breaking a couple of things, (and frankly, I wasn’t going to complain) but I was glad to not have to replace any windows.
  • After all was said and done and KingofHearts and John went downstairs to survey the damage, I was walking through the kitchen and noticed that my digital camera, which I had placed on the counter the day before was missing and the battery charger was pulled out of the wall. I stared at the empty space in disbelief as I tried to convince myself that firemen did NOT just steal my camera after putting a fire out in my house. Why would they want my camera anyway? And they knew they had to put a battery in it for it to be useful? I was so confused. I had finally decided to just to chalk it up to experience – after all, they probably saved my house… if they wanted my damn camera, I wasn’t going to complain – when I thought to ask KingofHearts if he had it. He had taken it downstairs to take pictures in case we needed photos for an insurance claim. I. Am. A. Horrible. Person.

Here’s my most poignant memory of that night: After the fire was extinguished, but even before the fire department was gone, I said to John, “We’d like to do something nice for these guys… maybe bring them dinner or something. What do you recommend?” John, a 31 year veteran of the DC Fire Department, hemmed and hawed and said, “Well, if you brought them dinner, a lot of them might not get to eat it while it was hot if they get a call and have to go out… some of them might be off duty by then too…. Actually I don’t know… no one ever did anything like that for us.”

Me: “You mean in 31 years, no one ever came back to thank you for saving them or their family or their property?”

John: “Nope.”

Amazing.

KingofHearts and I finally settled on two large sheet cakes from Costco and a Thank You card, which we brought over around lunch time that same day. There were actually even a couple of guys still there who had been on duty at our house. They were incredibly nice and kind and we shook each of their hands.

Moral of the story:

First. Run, do not walk, to your nearest home improvement store and buy smoke detectors for every bedroom in your house. And then buy a few more for the other rooms. And then buy just one more for good measure. They probably saved our lives.

Second. Go by your local firehouse and bring cookies, lasagna, whatever…. and thank them for what they do everyday. These men are incredible.


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Putting the Pieces Together

Posted on 8/11/2006 04:26:00 PM
A colleague at work gave us a stack of puzzles that her kids didn't use anymore and thought that Dormouse might like them when she was older.

Right... older.

By the end of the second day with them, she was already putting the more complicated ones together with only minimal help from me. She really doesn't need our help at all but she likes the attention. She'll get a puzzle down, put it on the floor and look up at me and say:

"Momma can you puzzle it up with me?"


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Breakfast in Bed

Posted on 8/06/2006 04:21:00 PM
"Here mom, I made you breakfast." She proudly proclaims as I hear the refrigerator door shut and she comes around the corner from the kitchen.

She could not be anymore pleased with herself and looks at me expecting to have appropriate praise lauded over her commensurate with the enormity of this moment.

"Here's some some eat-y yogurt for you." In our house, yogurt is either "eat-y" yogurt (meaning you eat it with a spoon) or "drink-y" yogurt (meaning you drink it from the bottle). And, no, I have no clue what to call that weird yogurt that comes in a tube like wrapper which you squeeze out... "get all over the place" yogurt, perhaps?

She walks up to the chair where I'm sitting and hands me....

a pint of sour cream...

and a spoon.


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Goldiblock and the One Lamb

Posted on 8/05/2006 03:34:00 PM

"What's your Bear's name?" I say pointing to the brand new stuffed teddy she made at a special event at pre-school. She's holding it proudly in her arms along with an inexplicable tiny stuffed sheep that none of the other kids seem to have.

"Goldiblock."

"Are you sure it's not Goldilocks?"

Looks at me like a third arm just grew out of my head. "No... it's GoldiBLOCK."

"What's your sheep's name?"

"Goldiblock Sally"

"Why is it's name Goldiblock Sally?"

"Because she's a SHEEP." Rolls eyes and walks away from me.


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Faith is the Substance of Strawberry Milk

Posted on 8/04/2006 04:22:00 PM
As of late, we've been trying to get Dormouse to drink more milk and to do this, have been using that age-old parenting trick: bribery. Pour a couple of tablespoons of chocolate or strawberry syrup into a normal glass of milk and voila... you've magically transformed it into a container of calcium that any kid will willingly down. She's also been really into her independence lately, so she tries to do everything she sees us do. (If you know the KingofHearts and I... scary!)

Yesterday, she decided that she wanted strawberry milk and that she was going to make it herself. Somehow while I was in the bathroom (why do they always do stuff when you're in the bathroom?!?) she managed to achieve the following complex process of steps:

- Open fridge
- Get full gallon of milk out of fridge
- Get cup off counter
- Pour milk into cup while only spilling a couple of tablespoons
- Leave gallon of milk on floor and refrigerator door standing open
- Get spoon out of drawer
- Stir milk in the cup

It was about here that I walked in on her. She proudly exclaimed that she was "making strawberry milk" and took a big drink then looked up at me completely befuddled. "Mom, my strawberry milk is just milk!" Although she'd managed to get through the entire procedure, she'd missed the step of putting the syrup in and was totally surprised when, after stirring her glass of milk with a spoon as she'd seen me do dozens of times, it didn't magically turn into strawberry flavored milk.

It makes me think about all the stuff kids just have to take on faith. She never questions how the television works, it just does, bringing with it JoJo's Circus, those creepy Higglytownfolk who store random paraphernalia in their pants, and any number of other sweet, sweet, coma-inducing children's programming. (In fact, she's taken to referring to pretty much animated program as "the Disney Channel" - evidence, I'm convinced, of the eventual mind control and global domination we will all one day witness from the Evil Corporation Disguised As The Happiest Place on Earth.)
The remote control - still a novelty to me given my persistent childhood experience of parents yelling at me to come in the living room only to be asked to change the channel on the TV when I got there - is just a way of life to her. She neither questions how it works, nor wonders why things like the cordless phone doesn't also control the idiot box.

Computers are just a way of life for her. She watches me while I'm telecommuting and asks who I'm talking to. I've never had to explain that my coworkers are not tiny beings inside the box, she just gets it... and then hands me an envelope saying, "Mom, I'm gonna send YOU an email."
I know that this won't last forever. That one day, just knowing THAT things are the way they are won't be enough. She'll start to question WHY. And then, it won't be good enough for Mom to just say "don't eat the grass, honey, if everyone ate the grass there wouldn't be any left for the rest us to enjoy". She'll want to experience life for herself and learn on her own and it'll be about things much bigger and more important than whether she gets Strawberry Milk with dinner or has to wait until afterward.

I'm just hoping that I can put it off for at least a couple of years.

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And now I'm the one calling it in...

Posted on 8/04/2006 12:45:00 AM

Couldn't think of anything good to write today, but I did actually compose something for Monica's blog here:

http://cootiecountdown.blogspot.com/2006/08/break-from-family-circus.html


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Inappropriate Songs to Teach Your Two-Year Old

Posted on 8/02/2006 04:23:00 PM In:
One Tin Soldier

Oh sure, it's a pacifist-themed folk song and you think it might be socially conscious of you, but here's what you'll hear sung at 90 decibels while you're pushing your sweet little cherub in a cart in the grocery store:

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor! Go ahead and cheat a friend!"

"On the bloody morning aaaaafffff-teeeer...."

For some reason, these are the only lines of the entire song that are understandable.

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Thanks President Bush, for the Tantrums

Posted on 8/01/2006 04:24:00 PM
NG says:
LORD OH LORD IT'S SO FREAKING HOT, WHAT AM I DOING OUTSIDE?

Moan says:
why are you outside? you freak!


Good question. I am sitting outside in the 2 square foot corner of the deck that has shade on it after half our cherry tree broke off and came down a few weeks ago. Why? Because of global warming.

My mother called the other day on a tirade. The Line to Remember from this phone call (there's always at least one) was this: "I'm 15 years bitchier than I was 15 years ago and it's all because of global warming."

Allow me to attempt to explain my mother's logic as this actually does make sense to her. First thing you have to know: she hates hot weather. She's recently moved from Phoenix to Huntington Beach and due to the heat wave that's also affecting um... Minnesota, among other places, it's been 105 degrees in California too. But according to my mother, the heat is following her. "I swear if I moved to Alaska in December, it would be 105 degrees there too." This was then followed by the observation that this is all the current administration's fault for not doing anything about the global warming problem and how could the Bush not understand that she'd be a whole lot less cranky if it were cooler. So in conclusion, Mother is bitchy because she's hot, it's hot because of global warming, politicians are responsible for global warming, ergo, President Bush is responsible for her bad mood.

My daughter has been particularly bratty as of late, mostly because she won't take a nap. It's too hot. Like 105 heat index hot. Ordinarily, my Raised in Arizona Snobbishness would be mocking people out here on the East Coast who can't handle the heat. 105 heat index?!? Try 110, 115, 120 DEGREES... on a regular basis. That's already hotter than your piddly 97-degrees-jacked-up-to-seem-hotter-than-it-actually-is. I won't even mention that summer when it got to be 124. Planes were grounded because it was TOO HOT TO FLY. We had about a dozen relatives visiting from Idaho and wouldn't you know, that was the weekend the air conditioner decided to break down.

"Yes, but it's a dry heat, isn't it?"

"You betcha... sticking your head in an oven is a dry heat too, but I don't see too many of you Marylanders moving your sofa into the kitchen to be closer to it."

But I digress. Dormouse. Brat. Yes... Normally, she is a great kid. But lately here's how our conversations go:
Me: What do you want to drink, milk or orange juice?

Her: Milk
Me: OK, here's your milk.
Her: I want orange juice! WAAAAH!

You see what I'm up against. Last night we had a 2 hour tantrum when I tried to explain exactly why Daddy's clothes did not belong in the wading pool. So anyway, I am outside this morning watching her in the wading pool and hoping she'll wear her out so she will take a nap and therefore not be so cranky by 6:00 when the Bewitching Hour of Tantrums begins. Maybe it's the non-stop arguing and time-outs of the past 3 days speaking, but frankly, I'm inclined to agree with my mother for once. My daughter is bratty and it's all the fault of President Bush.

But this all started me thinking: what else could I blame on the current administration? It seems unfair that only my mother and daughter get in on this Great Justification.

I was rude to the grocery store clerk this morning: well could you blame me? Global warming!
My yard is unkempt and the grass is too tall: Don't complain to me, talk to President Bush!
PMS: I always thought Dick Cheney had shifty eyes.

It occurred to me while sitting in my tiny spot of shade and wiping sweat from between my thighs and the bottom of my laptop that I've been really missing out by taking responsibility for my own actions and mood. From now on I plan to shift blame to the least likely object/person I can find and let everyone else sort it out.

I think I'm onto something here. You'd better stand on the other side of the KingofHearts.

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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