String Theory

Posted on 1/31/2007 12:20:00 AM
One of my favorite bloggers, MetroDad, has a continuing theme of posts he calls Chaos Theory where he manages to take several small tidbits and unrelated subjects and shove them all together in one post, then make it sound like there are well thought out transitions and real segue ways and leave you with the idea that the whole thing was meant to go together from the onset like a Seinfeld episode. I admire his ability to do that.

You won’t find that kind of competence here. Instead what I've got today is several small morsels that have been floating around in my head the last few weeks, all on the same subject. Unfortunately I haven't been able to mold them together into one cohesive unit or expand the individual ones for a decent post. And so I present:

String Theory - the Opposite of Chaos Theory

Oh and by the way... all those of you who are, at this point in time, composing in your heads a comment that will school me on the fact that String Theory and Chaos Theory are not polar opposites and that this is like comparing apples and broccoli can save your breath (I'm looking your way, KingofHearts). My eyes will roll up into the back of my head and a small string of spittle will eventually appear in the corner of my mouth as I snore through it. Both you and I know I'm speaking metaphorically here.

It’s no secret that I have a
love/hate relationship with Disney and that my tomboyish, GI Joe-loving, Barbie-abhorring, Pink and Purple-eschewing set of chromosomes have somehow combined with my husband’s (which I always assumed to be somewhat similar in taste) to create a girly-girl nightmare in dress up clothes. My daughter has totally fallen prey to Disney’s Princess Marketing Scheme and is obsessed with all things princess and princess costuming. Each day she comes home from preschool and makes a beeline for the treasure chest where we keep all the dress-up clothes. From then until bath time, it’s a long parade of one dress after another, scarves, shoes, magic wands and tiaras. But not crowns... princesses do not wear crowns. (I'm surprised you didn't know that.)

Of Course I Look Great, What Did You Expect?
Our neighbor stopped by the other day to chat and bring us some goodies. The door opened and she took one look at him in the doorway and immediately began stripping all her clothes off on her way to her bedroom. She returned seconds later donned in sparkly, taffeta garb. Our friend exclaimed, “Wooooow! Look at you! You look just like a princess!” To which she replied matter-of-factly: “Uh huh. Told ya!”, then sauntered off to survey her princess-ly domain.


Look, But Don't Touch
Scene: Daddy comes home and enters the room as he returns from work to a purple-clad fairy princess type with a purple flowing cape and says "Oh, you look lovely. Can I give you a kiss?"

*scoffs* "No."

"Why not?"

*answers with Valley Girl accent* "Daa-aad... Because I'm in a der-essssss." *rolls eyes, walks away*

Perhaps This is What Civil War Reenactors' Daughters Do While Waiting for Them to Break for Lunch?
After being allowed to watch the movie Cinderella and sitting in rapt attention throughout, when the credits began to roll, she ran impulsively to the dress-up chest and came back in a Blue Ice Princess outfit with fur collar with two shoes with pink plastic heels and clear plastic uppers in her hands. She put one shoe down on a chair and sat on top of it, then handed the other to me. I took it. "No mommy! Drop it! Drop it on the floor. Now!", she shrieked with life-and-death urgency. Afraid that her head might soon spin around and start spewing pea soup, I immediately dropped it like I'm-still-single-and-it's-a-bridal-bouquet. She reached behind her and pulled the other shoe out from under her bottom and said in the sweetest voice imaginable, "But wait.... I have the other slipper." Obediently, I put the other shoe on her foot and she exclaimed "It fits!", and danced away.

I'll Have a Blue Christmas
Around Christmas-time she and I purchased two holiday-y dresses for her new church outfits. We chose ones that seemed a little festive for the season and worked for some of the events we had planned, but could work the rest of the year too. She was extremely excited to pick them out herself in the store and couldn't have been happier. But later, whenever it came time to wear one of the dresses to a holiday occasion, she inexplicably only wanted to wear the old blue dress that she'd had for over a year. I coaxed and cajoled her to wear one of the new ones, but she would have none of it. Several arguments and several events later, I finally let her put the blue dress on. She slipped it on and immediately spun a circle and mused to herself, "It'll be a dream come true.", which is exactly the moment I realized that the blue dress reminds her of Cinderella's dress at the ball... and that's why she wanted to wear it.

Pray for me that this phase will end soon. Right now, if I cut myself, I'd probably bleed pink.

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A Hard Day's Night

Posted on 1/30/2007 08:18:00 AM
Top fifteen things heard at my office retreat/staff meeting the other day that sound like they should be a joke but, in context, aren't:

  1. "We need a good speaker - something dynamic so they won't fall asleep."

  2. "What if we just tell them attendance is mandatory? They'll fall for that, right?"

  3. "When someone absolutely needs some nipple gongs for their lecture what are you going to do? You gotta get it for them."

  4. "I can't believe you've never heard of nipple gongs!"

  5. "It probably wasn't very nice to leave them all sobbing and in tears and then immediately say, OK, now on to association business, do we have a quorum?"

  6. "Don't you think that the volunteer positions should be paid or does that make it no longer a volunteer position?"

  7. "If this is called a retreat why are we still in the office?"

  8. "We just can't use the word research in the title of the research presentation because no one would come."

  9. "Maybe we should just ask them: Would it piss you off if you were presenting in here? How about here? Here?"

  10. "We should have music for when the winners walk up to the podium. "
    "You mean like the music that was played last year?"
    "There was music?"

  11. "People claimed that there was not enough food outside the hotel last year. So, maybe we can ask next year's city to build more restaurants."

  12. "People seemed to love all the new products."
    "Did they buy them?"
    "Not really."

  13. "They didn't like having the performances in a bar which is odd because there are a lot of lushes in that group and I would have thought that'd be a big hit."

  14. "They need a pep-talk, but we don't want to talk down to them, so let's just give out some awards and call it a ceremony."

  15. "Maybe we should put a sign on the office door to keep people out that says, Staff Use Only... or better yet, it could just say, Men's Room."

And that kind of amusement, ladies and gentlemen, is why I love (and hate) my job.


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I Think A Career in Cheerleading Might Be In Her Future

Posted on 1/27/2007 06:32:00 AM
We are making grand efforts to learn letters in our house these days. Basically, she's got down what the letters are, and generally what they say, with the occasional exception of the stupid ones. Aside: Why does the English language have to be so difficult? What's up with "C"? If it usually says "ca", they why don't we just pronounce it "key"? And why does "C" even need to have a hard sound if we've got "K"? I know there's some linguistic expert out there reading this who's going to try and explain it to me, but frankly I don't care unless you can explain it to a three year old and have it make sense to her.

The Dormouse is now taking the kinesthetic approach to letter recognition. Here are some of the more recognizable ones:

"L"
(That's Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs in the background - a common visitor in our home.
If it weren't for Discovery, I'm not sure I'd know anything about the world.)

"E"
A somewhat sad looking "W".
Hey, it her mind, I'm sure it looks exactly like the letter she's envisioning.

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Once There Wasn't a Snowman

Posted on 1/26/2007 10:33:00 AM
Having grown up in the Southwest where there was no such thing, I love snow. It's probably simply because of the fact that I never saw it, had to live in it, drive in it, or put up with it for four to six months of the year that I feel so strongly about it. Growing up, when I talked to my relatives in Idaho and mentioned that fact that I find winter the most beautiful time of the year, they would all roll their eyes and sigh, "Oh... that's because you've never had to live in it. If you lived here in the winter, you'd learn. Summer is where it's at. You guys in Arizona are lucky - you get, like nine, ten months of summer." And then I'd roll my eyes and say, "Oh... that's because you've never lived in Arizona in August or seen the thermometer climb to 124 degrees. If you lived here, you'd learn." I guess perspective is all in what you get used to.

Washington has one of the best climates I've ever lived in. You get all four seasons. You get a nice fall, and taste of snow, some beautiful spring days and a few good beach outing days in the summer. Oh sure it gets miserably muggy during certain parts of the year, but my theory about the weather in Washington is if you don't like the weather, just wait awhile, it'll change. And it always does... sometimes within the next twelve to fourteen hour period. We get enough snow here to have the experience in winter, make a snowman or two, get a couple of days off work, but generally it doesn't stay around long. It's the best of both worlds. The only time I remember snow being a real problem in the ten years I've lived here was during the blizzard of '96 when Mayor Barry's brilliant snow removal plan was: Spring.

The Dormouse is really into the snow this year. Really. When it snowed a half inch last Sunday, she ran circles in the living room, screaming at the top of her lungs, "I can't believe it! I can't believe it!" I tried to take her and some neighbor kids outside to make a snowman that afternoon, but the snow was too dry to pack and the only way I could even make a snowball was by scraping the wet snow off the still warm hood of our car. Once that goldmine was gone, I was out of ideas and we just resorted to throwing snow at the kitchen window to entice my husband to come out and play.

By the next morning, the little bit of snow on the ground had turned to ice and was not suitable for snowman construction either. This disappointed The Dormouse to no end. KingofHearts tried to make it all better by saying, "I'll snow again later and we'll make a snowman then." Which The Dormouse took to mean, "I will make it snow again on demand and if I don't it will just be because I am mean and not because I can't control the weather."

She woke up the next morning at three am asking to make a snowman. Then again at five. Then again at six. Then when we got ready for class day and work, she couldn't understand why she had been promised snow and no one was following through on that promise.

Exercise in futility #331: Trying to explain to a three year old why you can't predict the weather.

"I want to build a snowman."
"I'm sorry honey, but the snow all melted."
"But Daddy said I could build a snowman on Thursday!"
"I'm sorry honey, but Daddy can't predict the weather."
"Whyyyyyyy?"
"Because one general truth about the world we live in is you can't predict the weather and... oh never mind. Daddy's just mean."

So last night when we got a few flurries, I maximized the opportunity and we immediately went outside. There still wasn't enough for a snowman, but we did get to catch snowflakes on our tongues and 'take a walk in the snow'. Good thing too, because fifteen minutes later, it had stopped and all the snow on the ground had pretty much melted off. I managed to quell the addiction for a little while though and that's worth several non-whining moments that I'll appreciate later. And I learned that when you forget to turn your flash off while taking pictures in a snowstorm, you get some pretty nifty effects.



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Nice... Posture

Posted on 1/25/2007 12:21:00 AM
Did you ever have the impression that you're being condescended to? You know, when someone's just clever enough to say something in a way that even if you're sure they're trying to insult you, you can't accuse them of it because, technically, they didn't say anything wrong?

I just got back from an orchestra rehearsal. There's an interesting story behind this concert... it was scheduled many months back but since that time, our regular conductor found out that another group he works with would be in China during the week of our concert. A good dozen people that play in our orchestra also play in this other one too and... well.. c'mon, if it were you and you had a choice between playing in China and a community college auditorium in the suburbs? Who wouldn't choose China? No one, that's who.

So anyway, we have about a dozen substitutes for this concert, many of them principal players, as well as a substitute conductor. This guy comes with an excellent resume and seems to be really nice, but it's clear he is used to working with more upper level groups, so it's interesting to listen to his suggestions for improving Beethoven. Every time we stop and he has to comment on something we did badly, at the same time he'll say something positive that we did as well. I'm unused to this as most conductors don't operate this way, so it makes me question his motives - like maybe he thinks that he's working with the skeleton crew as it is, so if he doesn't stroke our collective ego just a little bit, we'll all get up and leave and then where will he be? Maybe he is just a genuinely positive person, but after awhile it became clear that he was stretching to find something positive to say:

"I like the way you're trying so hard to play this section right, but you can relax."
"Can we play this... um... what's the word? Oh... musically."
"Really good job in that section where you have all the rests."
(for the non-musicians in the bunch, a rest means you don't play anything)


I was waiting for a "You're all sitting very straight in your chairs" or a "Wow everyone managed to get to the right rehearsal hall! Go team!" but he stopped short of that.

I think I may employ this tactic with people I work with: "Wow you managed to do that all by yourself? Yay for you!" and "I like the way you prioritized the parts of your job you've asked me to do for you, that's very helpful."

Or the nosy acquaintances who ask if we're trying to have another child: "You know, I wouldn't have the guts to ask someone I only barely know if they're having planned sex around the dates of her menstrual cycle. You sure have a lot of courage!"

Or the lady in Costco who, frustrated that Costco was crowded, simply rammed her cart into mine (with my child inside it) instead of simply asking the seventy-five people standing in line to move aside for her: "I read that it's bad for you to keep your inappropriate emotions bottled up... you must be very healthy."

Maybe I need to consider this a little more, but in the meantime, I like the way you're using your elementary education to read my weblog instead of doing something constructive. Good for you!

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Having a Ball

Posted on 1/24/2007 06:37:00 AM
If there were secret recordings made in my house like there were in Nixon's Oval Office, they would have picked up this exchange the other day:

voice 1: "Daddy, is this Momma's ball? It's so soft."

voice 2: "No sweetheart, Momma's balls are made of brass."

voice 3: "Momma's ears work pretty good too."

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Here's Your Sign

Posted on 1/23/2007 07:06:00 AM
Another striking InterWeb confession: I used sign-language with my child.

Yes... I am that mother.

Frankly, I don't care what you do with your kid. I don't care if you teach him Spanish. I don't care if you only speak to him in French and your husband only speaks in Portuguese and both of you only use English when speaking with others in the community (and yes, I knew a family who did this). I don't care if you only teach your kid to communicate in grunts and gestures until he's seven.

For me sign language made sense. See, I'm a therapist and I've seen how many of my learning disabled clients in the past were able to communicate better once they were given some way to communicate that didn't involve the complicated musculature and higher learning processes of speech. Plus, I had to learn all that crap in college, so using it with my kid amortized the cost of my tuition across a broader scale.

When my seven month old who could only at that time say "ca-ca" - which we assumed (read: hoped) meant "cracker" - was screaming in frustration and I lacked the motherhood gene that gave me the ability to interpret which cry meant what, I taught her a couple of easy signs to help me out.

She learned "more" which eventually meant all food for her. She learned "water". That was pretty much it at first. And surprise, surprise, when she was hungry or thirsty instead of screaming her bloody head off because stupid mom couldn't figure out that the high-pitched "waaah" that goes up at the end means 'it's time to eat' and the histrionic "waaah" that has the same intensity throughout means 'I need a change', she signed the sign she wanted and my husband and I immediately knew what she wanted. I admit it was more out of laziness on our part than anything else. No guessing, no wondering... heaven.

She did not learn to speak any later because she relied on signs instead of words. (And given that at three now, she Never. Stops. Talking. That might have actually been nice. I'm just sayin'.) And I don't really believe she learned to speak any faster than she would have without the sign language. It simply made that time before she had the ability to speak a katrillion times easier on all of us. So sue me.

After having it drilled into my skull like a trepanation for the first three years of my child's life, I've come to understand that there's no one perfect way to parent a child. There's no be-all and end-all, hundred percent right parenting choice and people who try to tell you that x, y and z is the only way to do it, THOSE are the people you should worry about the most.

Now that my daughter no longer needs to use sign language to communicate, I still use it with her occasionally. These days, I'm hoping to get a couple of seconds of eye contact from this poster-child-for-ADD who can't hold her head still long enough to meet my gaze when I'm trying to talk to her. I figure she has to look at me to see the signs I'm using. It also makes for really good communication at church when I need to yell at her, but I'm also trying to teach her to be reverent. "Come here and sit down now!" in sign language disturbs the congregation much less than when I do that mom-whisper thing that actually rates 60 decibels higher than if I'd just said it out loud. And I love that when I see my kid from across the playground, all I have to do is sign to her to put her coat on and get ready to go, rather than have to chase her down, tripping over ten other kids in the process so I can get close enough to her to yank her back by the arm and listen to my instructions.

Last night we were teaching her the difference between the sign for mother and father. Me: “See? For 'Mother' you put your thumb on your chin and with 'father' you put your hand on your forehead."


The Dormouse says:

"Mother” *signs mother*

“Father” *signs father*

“aaaaaand… Grandma!!!!” *puts her thumb on top of her head wiggles all five fingers like a rooster's crest*

At least she's not calling her "ca-ca".



Grandma


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Diary of a Preschool Dropout

Posted on 1/22/2007 07:19:00 AM
The lunch conversation at my office is fascinating. We cover everything from television shows and menstrual cycles to politics, religion and solutions for the energy crisis. If only the Pentagon had recordings of our midday tête-à-têtes; there wouldn't be any concern regarding what to do about Iran because we came up with a solution months ago.

The other day one of the moms in the office was talking about her son's second grade school project. He had to build... (da, da, daaaa) "A Structure". (read with melodramatic-like quality of the teacher in The Christmas Story who assigned Ralphie's class "A Theme".) He had to build it from scratch and he had to use real elements of masonry to complete the project. They'd stressed about it for days and finally settled on a castle. They used real miniature bricks (from a kit) and real mortar to put them together. The resulting project was a three-walled building that you could look inside and point out the various design aspects and rooms. They'd finally completed it the night before and she was anxious to know if her she and her husband... ahem... her son... had received a good grade on the project.

As she was talking, I joked, "So what style castle did you... I mean he... build? Tudor? Gothic?"

Without a beat she said, "Oh, it's actually closer to Edward the First."

*attempts not to swallow tongue* ".... um, what?"

These days The Dormouse isn't doing anything quite as complicated. Her assignments out of class involve things like "The color of the week is purple... please have your child wear purple on Wednesday." And, here is my confession to you, InterWeb: I cannot even accomplish This. One. Thing. How on earth am I going to erect a non-Tudor style castle later on?

Each week there's a letter that goes out to the parents, outlining the lesson plans for the week and activities that the kids will be involved in. The letter usually is printed Monday nights after I pick her up. Some of the late-comers get it Monday night and it's distributed to the rest of the parents Tuesday morning. We are not there on Tuesdays, so I don't get the letter until Wednesday morning and am already a day late and a dollar short when I come in on Wednesday to learn that my child should have brought a favorite book about an animal and be wearing something that starts with the letter "W". So Wednesday is pretty much a wash. We're not there Thursdays either, so the only chance I have to make my child look compliant is Friday.

The first week she was in this class, Friday was "Green Day". (The color, not the band.) Children were asked to wear all green. I totally forgot. The Dormouse was wearing a lovely yellow shirt and blue jeans. I told her to tell the class that yellow and blue make green when mixed together.

Last week, Friday was "Wild Rumpus Pajama Day". The children were asked to come to school in their pajamas for a pajama party while they read the book Where the Wild Things Are. I completely forgot this as well and only remembered when I dropped my fully clothed daughter off in the midst of children wearing footie pajamas and Dora the Explorer slippers. Feeling guilty, I turned around and went home to get her pajamas, brought them back and changed her in the bathroom. I was 45 minutes late for work that day, but she was wearing pajamas when I left her, by golly!

This last Friday was "Show and Tell Day" - each child may bring in a special toy to share with the class and tell them why it was special and they would be learning the letter "D", so bring something else that starts with "D". I remembered this one in the parking lot of the preschool before getting out of the car. Eyes darting frantically around for something to bring inside, I quickly rejected the empty Diet Coke can, the crushed-up Nerds box on the floor and was reaching for the paperback book on Ancient Greece with the cover ripped off that had come with the last kids' meal she'd had at Chick-Fil-A, when I realized that she'd brought "puppy" in the car to accompany her on the ride. Score! Shaking it in front of her face as we walked to the door, I told her, "This is no longer 'puppy'. He's 'dog'... dog with a 'd'."

Recently, The Dormouse began an extra phonics program in addition to the regular curriculum in her preschool. This was a compromise between me and the teachers who, when she was ready to move up from the two-year-old to the three-year-old class, they suggested skipping her up to the four-year-old class because they thought she was too advanced for the things they were doing with the three-year-olds. I didn't really feel comfortable going down that road this early in her life and said I prefer if she stayed with her same-aged peers for the time being. So they suggested this option for putting her in an extra program where she'd be taken out of class twenty minutes a day to do some pre-reading activities but she'd do it in small groups with other kids in her class that were "more advanced". They bring in another teacher to do this and it costs an extra $100 a month. (I've since discovered that these other 'more advanced' children met rigorous standards: their parents paid the course fee too. Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure all that moving her up nonsense might have just a ruse to get me to pay the extra $100... I think I got hosed.) Each day they learn different letters and slowly they will work on blending the letters together and other pre-reading skills.

So now, instead of simply forgetting Wednesday and half-assing the Friday assignments, I also have to remember that in her Phonics Class, they are learning a different letter or concept in addition to the things they are learning in her regular classroom. And there's the requisite assignment for each one of those. Today, she is supposed to be wearing red and something that starts with "M" and bring a favorite toy that starts with "Q" and be prepared to say a friend or relative's name that starts with "S"... all while standing on one foot on a balance beam. (Okay, I admit I made that last part up; I'm just glad I didn't also put her in the gymnatsics course.) I forgot it all until after entering the classroom with her hand in mine.

"Can't I just teach her what a flying buttress is and be done with it?" I said to the teacher who looked at me dubiously.

I am so screwed when she goes to real school.


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Playing Telephone with a Toddler

Posted on 1/20/2007 03:55:00 PM
The Dormouse: "We have to go see Charlotte's Web today because it's starting soon at the mall."

Me: "Oh really? You know that do you?"

D: "Uh, huh"

Me: "And you know that because...?"

KingofHearts whispers to The Dormouse: "Tell mama, 'Because I saw it in the newspaper.'"

D: "Because I saw it in the newspaper."

Me: "You saw it in the newspaper? But you can't even read."

KoH whispers to D: "Tell mama, 'I may not be able to read but even I know what a picture of a pig looks like.'"

D: "Daddy knows how to read of looking like a picture pig."

Oh well, all the words were there, just not in the right order.

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Don't Know Much About History

Posted on 1/19/2007 12:01:00 PM
What I do know is these things I learned this week:

  • When you go to work at 10 am on a holiday, your usual 45 minute commute will be cut to 6 minutes.
  • Going to work at 10 am on a holiday when no one else is in the office to bug you and the phones aren't ringing, means that you will get four times as much done as you will when you go to work at 7:00 am any other day.
  • If you're going to threaten a punishment, be prepared it's one you can live with when it comes time to dish it out. In other words, when you argue with a three year old who won't eat what you've prepared for dinner and you tell her if she doesn't eat it she'll have to go to bed without supper, then you actually have to make her go to bed without supper when she doesn't eat it because you don't want to lose yet another parenting battle. And you will be the one with the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
  • When you go to the ER and wait three hours in the waiting room without being seen and then go home in frustration with no treatment, you will still get charged a fee by the hospital - even if you only spoke to a triage nurse.
  • Oh sure, you think you're being a cool mom by making green eggs and ham for breakfast one morning, but what you don't realize is that normal colored eggs will never be acceptable again, so stock up on the green food coloring.
  • Also, no matter how hard you work on the green eggs recipe, they will only ever be slightly-less-than-acceptable because you have not found a way to color the in-tact yolks green and leave the albumin natural for the "white part on the side" and serve them sunny side up.
  • If you yourself discover a $200 error in your 2004 state taxes, and you send in a check pay that $200 difference... unsolicited... before they even noticed the error... and they might never have noticed... they will still charge you a late fee because you didn't pay on time.
  • If you think a pediatrician, several lactation consultants and a surgeon all agreeing on the same thing makes it true... better think again.
  • Losing weight is not accomplished by drinking nacho cheese through a straw and eating donuts for an entire day (in fact, just maintaining your weight is not accomplished by these actions).
  • When people call that you don't want to talk to and haven't heard from in ten years acting like your long lost friends and closest relatives, you can get them off the phone faster if you just pretend there's no hard feelings between you. And then you don't have to talk to them anymore.
  • The opposite of love is not hate, it's apathy.
  • You can get more work done when you don't have seventeen meetings scheduled to talk about how much work you need to do.
  • You can finish blog posts faster if you don't keep getting distract... wait what was I doing?

An education I'm not all that sure I'm a better person for having, but an education nonetheless.


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But I Do Like College Hummus

Posted on 1/19/2007 07:58:00 AM

"I don't want to eat that."

"Why not?"

"I don't like college cheese
."

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Dr. Google Could Have Told Him That

Posted on 1/18/2007 05:40:00 PM
In my ever-amassing arsenal of information about why Google makes a better doctor than actual humans who have been to medical school, I present the following:

The KingofHearts went to see a physician the other day to talk about treatment for migraines he's been having and had this discussion with the physician who saw him.

Dr: "I'm going to write you a scrip for perscription-strength Motrin. These are 800 mg pills so they should be a lot better than the over-the-counter stuff."

KoH: "What's the difference between taking one of those and four of the 200 mg pills you buy over-the-counter?"

Dr: "Oh that's the same thing."

KoH: "So why do I need this then?"

Dr: "I guess you don't."

No further questions, Your Honor.

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Inappropriate Songs (volume 9)

Posted on 1/18/2007 10:29:00 AM In:
As a kid, I loved the Roald Dahl books. Particularly the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory series. I loved how he could tell a story without talking down to kids - something most children's books today simply don't even try to accomplish. Bad stuff happened to the kids in Wonka's factory but Dahl gave his readers enough credit to be able to handle it and move on without worrying he would, as my elderly friend used to say, "hurt their little mental blocks". As a kid, I so appreciated that.

I saw the 1971 version of Wily Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a kid and loved it. It was such a visual masterpiece and at the time there was nothing else that looked even remotely like it, with the possible exception of The Wizard of Oz. For the rest of my life, whenever I've been flipping through the channels and happen to catch it on television (especially if I come in after they enter the factory) I'm there for the duration - I have to watch the rest. I loved how Gene Wilder chose to play the Wily Wonka role just the tiniest bit sadistic and I absolutely love the song "Pure Imagination" sung in the chocolate room. It's melodically beautiful and feels good to sing and though Wilder never had the strongest or most pleasing voice, as an adult and a musician it occurs to me now how well he performed it: with Fred Astaire-like with perfect phrasing, pitch and delivery. I think of all the musicals I've seen and played, it's still one of my favorite songs from any of them.

When I heard the Tim Burton version was coming out, I couldn't wait. I knew that Burton would exceed the visual masterpiece I remembered and I'm always fascinated to see Johnny Depp's interpretation of anything. I knew it would be completely different than Wilder's, but no less fun. While Wilder played the role creepy, Depp was strangely weird and awkward. And we loved it.

I bought the 1971 version for The Dormouse when she was still very young, thinking it would be some good nostalgia for me and she'd enjoy it at some point. Then at her second Christmas, we also acquired the Tim Burton version. I hadn't realized how much they'd affected her until she was 15 months old, just beginning to speak in complete sentences, and picked up a subscription card that had fallen out of a magazine and went into a little house we'd made out of a cardboard box and I heard this emanating from within:

*booming low voice* "Close the gate!"

"What I got Mr. Wonka?"

"I got a golden ticket!"

"Let's go see the fractory!" (not a misspelling; she said it that way for ages)

She was barely verbal and we had no idea she'd even really been watching, much less paying enough attention to reenact scenes. That was the first time I ever saw my child pretending or using her imagination in any obvious way and it still fills me with wonder and makes me smile every time I think about that experience.

These days Veruca Salt figures prominently into her fantasy life and I often walk past the door to her room in time to catch her yelling, "I wanT iT...... Nooooooooooooooooow!" as she jumps from her bed into the imaginary garbage chute. Other times, she'll announce in all earnestness and with a perfect British accent, "Daddy, I want another pony." at the dinner table.

I haven't quite figured out which version is my favorite. The songs from the new version are lyrics taken directly from Roald Dahl's book, while the lyrics from the 1971 version are hilariously dated and decidedly UNpolitically correct. My favorite is the Veruca Salt verse from the Oompa Loompa Song:

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-do
I have another puzzle for you
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-da-dee
If you are wise, you'll listen to me

Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who's to blame

The mother and the father

Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-da
If you're not spoiled, then you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do


Who could get away with writing that and making it accessable to a bunch of soccer moms in this day and age? You gotta admire those big brass ones.

When The Doormouse was in her pre-verbal stages, we were serenaded with this line: "Ooompa loompa, doom-pa-dee-daddy" over and over. And over. And. Over. It reminded me of the professor I had in 18th Century theory course in college who would walk over to the piano while lecturing, play a V7 chord, and walk away, leaving us with no resolution to the dominant. He thought it made us pay more attention; it was worse than dragging nails across a chalkboard to a bunch of music majors. My daughter rivaled him in sheer pest-i-ness as she taught me the meaning of an...tici...pa..............tion by repeatedly singing half of a phrase for months on end.

Based on the same song, this game was spontaneously created in the car the other day:

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... truck"
*guffaws*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... shoe"
*giggles*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee... cracker"
*giggles more*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee teeth"
*gales of laughter*

"Oompa Loompa Doom-pa-dee spoon and fork"
*gales of laughter, knee slaps*

"Momma, we're so silly, aren't we?"

So thanks Roald Dahl, Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Danny Elfman, Mel Stuart, Gene Wilder, Walter Schraff, and Leslie Bricusse for occupying such a substantial place in my family's life and giving us so many memories that will last longer than the movies or the books. Without you all, we'd probably all be singing the Barney Song at my house... and that would really be inappropriate.


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Necking

Posted on 1/17/2007 07:06:00 AM
"Hi Momma."

"Hi honey."

"Look at my neck."

"What am I looking at?"

"I'm wearing a bow around my neck."

"Okay."

"Put your arm around my neck, Momma."

*I reach around and put my arm on her shoulder and around her neck*

*testily* "Moooooom! Don't TOUCH my neck!"
*stomps away*

Apparently, It was a test... and I failed.

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Just to Set the Record Straight

Posted on 1/16/2007 07:08:00 AM

On Saturday after reading my post on Friday, I received the following phone call from my mother:

"She didn't really call him a bitch, did she?"

"No mother. That was sarcasm."

"Oh... That's kind of what I thought, but I just never know with your sense of humor and all..."

I'm funny dammit! Tell your friends.

The End

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Or Maybe We Did... I'll Never Tell

Posted on 1/15/2007 12:13:00 PM In:
Things my daughter and I did not do while my husband was out of town this weekend:

  • Eat every meal in front of the television
  • Watch the end of the movie that I was pretty sure he hadn't yet seen and send it back
  • Declare Saturday "Pajama Day" and not get dressed until 4:00 pm
  • Wonder if his plane had gone down or he'd crashed the rental car because I hadn't heard from him after he landed, but then keep forgetting to call and find out
  • Take down the Christmas lights... on Saturday... in pajamas
  • Allow more than a few people at church to suspect that I didn't really know where he was and there might be problems in our marriage when they asked about his absence
  • Lie diagonally across the bed to sleep
  • Sleep with the bedroom window open
  • Drink milk from wine glasses
  • Refuse to go to the grocery store even though there was only mustard, orange juice and a tub of butter in the fridge
  • Stay up until two am watching Living with the Kombai Tribe on the Travel Channel
  • Sleep from two am to four am while Sweeney Todd played on the DVD player
  • Go to a conference and drink warm Nacho Cheese through a straw on a dare
  • Help my daughter make cookies "for Daddy" and then eat half of them
  • Miss my husband despite the wonderful fact that I had the house to myself while he was gone

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Inappropriate Songs (volume 8)

Posted on 1/12/2007 03:29:00 PM In:
This one is a Dormouse favorite to have the KingofHearts sing at bedtime... the words and music are fairly unremarkable, if not really a lullaby... but certainly not the most inappropriate thing my child has had sung to her. I purposely have not learned the words to this song... and only partly because I do not have that much free time to set aside in the next year and a half. It is the one sure way to get The Dormouse to allow KoH to rock her at bedtime.

KoH: "Who do you want to rock you? Mommy or Daddy?"

DM: "Momma!"

KoH: "Are you SURE???? Remember.... Momma doesn't know the words to Continental Suit."

DM: "Oh... right. Nevermind. I want Daddy to rock me!"

Or at least this is how KoH imagines it will play out when he starts that conversation. Usually it starts off similar... but by the last sentence diverges and really ends with, "Nope... Momma, will rock me. Now get me a drink, bitch!" Or something to that effect.

I've included the entire lyrics - of which there are not a few - below, just in case anyone out there wants to learn them and sing it by heart to his or her own children and report back on its effectiveness. Or because... there might be some other people out there crazy as us and, frankly, I'd like to know I'm not alone.
But to sing it like the Dormouse, every time you read "Continental Suit" you must pronounce it like she does: "country lentil soup".

The Cowboy in the Continental Suit
Words and music by Marty Robbins


Well, he walked out in the arena all dressed up to the brim
Said he's just came down from a place called Highland Rim
Well, he said he came to ride the horse the one they called The Brute
But he didn't look like a cowboy in his Continental Suit.

We snickered at the way he dressed but he never said a word
He walked on by the rest of us as if he hadn't heard
A thousand bucks went to the man that could ride this wild cayuse
A meaner horse was never born than the one they called "The Brute."

The horse that he was lookin' for was in chute number eight
He walked up very slowly, put his hand upon the gate
We knew he was a thoroughbred when he pulled a sack of Dukes
From the inside pocket of his Continental Suit.

He rolled himself a Quirley and he lit it standing there
He blew himself a smoke ring and he watched it disappear
We thought he must be crazy when he opened up the gate
Standing just inside was fifteen hundred pounds of hate.

The buckskin tried to run him down but the stranger was too quick
He stepped aside and threw his arms around the horse's neck
He pulled himself upon the back of the horse they called "The Brute"
Sat like he was born there in his continental suit.

The Brute's hind end was in the air, his front end on the ground,
Kickin' and a-squeelin' - trying to shake the stranger down
But the stranger didn't give an inch - he came to ride "The Brute"
And he came to ride the buckskin in a continental suit.

Well, I turned around to look at Jim and he was watching me
He said, "I don't believe the crazy things I think I see
But I think I see the outlaw, the one they call 'The Brute'
Ridden by a cowboy in a continental suit."

The Brute came to a standstill - ashamed that he'd been rode
By a city cowboy in some continental clothes
The stranger took his money and we don't know where he went
We don't know where he came from and we haven't seen him since.

The moral of this story - never judge by what they wear
Underneath some ragged clothes could be a millionaire
Ev'rybody, listen - don't be fooled by this galoot
The sure enough bronc-buster in a Continental Suit.

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Beware: Plague

Posted on 1/10/2007 12:41:00 PM
Today is the first day in a week that I've managed to claw out from under cover of my death bed and face the world. In one way or another, I, or someone in my household, has been sick since September. It really got bad over New Year's weekend, when I was too sick to attend the party we'd been invited to and instead went to bed in a Tussionex-induced fog at 5:00 pm and slept right through until 2007.

Aside: Mmmmmmmm, hydrocodone. Why is it I didn't know about how great this drug was before now? How could someone have not told me about it? I am considering dipping M&M's in it for the next couple of weeks and having one or two every couple of hours when I get stressed about the mountains of work that have been piling up on my desk in my absence. I'm not sure it'll help me complete my To Do List, but I won't care. Could it be that there are other drugs that I never knew were quite so wonderful as well? Oxyconton? Birth control? Cialis? Fill me in, Interweb, because I cannot adequately describe the ecstasy of taking simply one sweet, sweet teaspoonful of Tussionex and then being able to sleep without dreaming about a guy trying to start a chainsaw over and over again, only to wake up and realize that the chainsaw sound that finally woke me up wasn't in fact, a chainsaw, it was me coughing.


My child, who'd been to the doctor twice in one week and finished an entire course of antibiotics, became sick - again - after I stupidly let her pediatrician talk me into giving her a flu shot before she was completely over the last crud she had. Yesterday, after spending a particularly bad night coughing all through the wee morning hours and waking up feeling like I just entered my first rowing tournament, we still weren't feeling better. So in desperation, I declared war on the germs in my house. I took The Dormouse to preschool, called in sick from work, turned off the heater and opened up all the windows in the entire house. I washed bedclothes, dishes and clothing. I bought a carpet cleaner and cleaned the stains in the carpet. I cleaned off the kitchen counters with bleach. I scrubbed the kitchen floor with Pine-Sol. I even cleaned the windows. A more miserable cleaning lady you've never seen as I went coughing through the house, either bundled up or stripped down to my underwear, depending on the effect of my fever at the time. I finally finished and sat down to survey my unusually clean domain. Then I took a double dose of cough medicine and went to bed.

I knew rationally that this probably isn't going to make me or mine well, but it felt good to at least do something. But guess what? This morning when at 7:30 (sleeping WAAAY past my usual up-an-at-em time) when the Dormouse woke me up birght eyed and bushy tailed with "Rise and shine Momma!", I felt 150% better. And so did she.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I'm gonna use this to justify putting a line item for "maid" under the Healthcare and Insurance section of my monthly budget.

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Free Assessment of Your Physical and Emotional State

Posted on 1/09/2007 07:23:00 PM
This overheard from the other room tonight while the KingofHearts was getting the Dormouse ready for bed:

"Honey, what book do you want me to read to you tonight?"

"Daddy, I want Girls Hold Up This World."

"OK, I'll read it."

"No Daddy. Momma has to read it."

"That's okay, let's not bother momma, I can read it."

"No Daddy, you're too tired and clumsy to read this book. Momma has to read it."

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Gray's Anatomy

Posted on 1/08/2007 08:59:00 AM

"Momma, am I touching your boob?" *pat pat pat*

"Honey, I know I don't have a bra on and all, but that's my stomach."

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I Don't Have Crabs and Am Jealous of Those Who Do

Posted on 1/07/2007 11:56:00 AM
Congratulations to Monica, who, when I IM'd her with my new theory that "crabs" was just a darn funny word and would make any essay more interesting, took me up on my challenge to work the word into a blog post for the day. Not only did she use the phrase, but imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was the title of her post.

Congratulations Moan! I'd give you a prize, but it was crabs... and apparently your kid already has some.

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Gettin' Hitched

Posted on 1/07/2007 09:26:00 AM
Excuse me while I slip into 80s teen vernacular for a sec, but:

Dudes! They are totally remaking The Hitcher!

I'm not much of a scary/slasher movie aficionado and never really have been. They don't scare me. I don't "buy into" movies very easily and if they're not really, really good (really), I tend to focus more on the art of movie making rather than get caught up in the story. So instead of figuring out how to stifle a scream and still look cool or how I will sleep later with that image trolling around in my brain like most folks, I ponder the plot holes and directing mistakes while I watch. And, let's face it, there's a reason the Frances Ford Coppolas of the world generally don't touch this genre: script integrity comes at a higher commodity than scare value. While my teen-aged peers emerged from movie theaters showing any sequel of Poltergeist or Friday the 13th saying, "Holy crap, did you jump as high as I did when the werewolf popped out from inside the kitchen cabinet?", I usually had something to add like, "I know! ...he was waaaay to big to ever fit in there unless he'd been well-schooled in the art of contortionism before getting bitten and.... why are you all looking at me like that?"

But this movie was different for me. I saw it late one night in 1986 with some friends across town in some apartment complex I'd never been to before. I drove there by myself and the movie scared the ever-lovin' daylights out of me. Never before or since has a movie affected me that way and I still can't understand why... I only know that I'll never eat french fries again without dumping the entire box out and giving them a good look over before putting one in my mouth.

When I went out to the parking lot after the movie ended and the party broke up, I walked a full circle around my car and checked underneath before unlocking the door and getting in. On the lonely drive home, I happened to see a man hitchhiking on the side of the road and had to use all my self-control to avoid turning the steering wheel toward him and running him down, just to be safe.

I've chosen never to watch the movie again since that day for fear that either a) it will scare the crap out of me again and it'll be months before I can attend a late night orchestra rehearsal without forcing my husband and three year old daughter to come along as bodyguards or b) I will not, in fact, be scared again and will realize how stupid of me it was to have ever been affected by it in the first place. Either way, I figure, I lose.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a trailer on television the other day for what looks to be an almost exact remake of the movie that scared the bageezious out of me twenty years ago. In the Rutger Hauer role (who played it so creepy, he's joined the ranks of Tom Beringer in Platoon for actors I will never take seriously in another role because they will forever be that guy to me), we now have Sean Bean, Britain's answer to Mel Gibson in the 90s. In the C. Thomas Howell role, we now see Zachary Knighton and it seems that the girl factors a whole lot more into this version (she even gets a last name in the credits) and isn't the one to play the part of the rope in the Semi-Tug-o-War. But other than that, some of the clips in the trailer look so much like the scenes from the original (exactly, EXACTLY, I tell you!) that I don't think I'll be able to stifle my curiosity and sit this one out.

Now the real question: who's going to drive me home from the theater?

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Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall

Posted on 1/05/2007 01:23:00 PM
So here's what would be a funny story, if it didn't make me look so sad.

I have a colleague who went on an extended trip overseas a few months ago. This is someone I really only see and work with once a month or less, but we have a fairly good working relationship and we both have cats, so there's something we talk about occasionally.

The month before she left, she let me know what her out of town schedule would be so I could know when to expect her and we chatted about the Preparing For The Trip and how it was all going. She complained that she couldn't find anyone to feed her cat while she was away and didn't know what to do. I suggested her husband, since he would be staying home. There was a whole sub-story about how he refuses to take care of the cat while she leaves and all her kids are too far away to come over daily.

I wisely left alone the fact that her lazy-assed husband couldn't be bothered to pour some kibble into a bowl once a day and scoop out the litter box a couple of times. Finally,
I said, "Well... if you don't find anyone, give me a call and I'll come by - you don't live that far from me and I could stop in on my way to work." She ended up finding some kid in the neighborhood and I never needed to go over. Whew! I only meant to sound nice, not actually be nice.

So anyway... speed forward a couple of months... I've totally forgotten about the cat offer. She gets back from her trip and I see her a few weeks later. I spend hours, HOURS I tell you, hearing about the trip. Which, I can live with because it's an interesting location and I know I'll only see her and thus hear this story once this month. I said something to the effect of, "Bring a couple of pictures next time you come, I'd really like to see some." She made a special trip to come back the next day and show me all 600 photographs she took. No one else in the office was this lucky, just me.

Fast forward another few weeks. I always send everyone in my office one of our Christmas cards... just to remind them funny and creative I am and to put all their store bought, lameo cards to shame, you know? It's a thing. But I digress. In the past, I've included her on the Christmas Card List and this year was no different. Over the Christmas break, I got an email from her at my personal email address referencing my card and asking all sorts of questions about it: "I didn't know _____ happened to you? How did ________ turn out?" Which I answered.

Then suddenly, I started getting tons of email from her. Funny forwards... little updates on her schedule and plans, feel good messages for the day....
So the other day, I'm musing to the KingofHearts about this - not that it bothered me or anything, I'm just wondering aloud why she's all of the sudden acting like we're friends or something.

He starts asking questions, and I tell him the cat story. And the Christmas card story. And the vacation photos story. He shakes his head and tsk, tsks, me - then says,
"Well, whatcha got yourself there, my dear, is a 'friend'."

Me: "OH MY GOSH, SHE'S KIND OF MY FRIEND!"

Is it wrong that the first thing I thought was "How can I work this to my advantage?"

And the second thing I thought was "This would make a funny blog post!"


Is it any wonder that Monica, who's first comment when I told her this story was "how could you pawn her off on someone else?" and random bloggers who don't know what I look like are the only people with whom I have anything close to a friend-type relationship?

Just one further example in the long list of Reasons I Am Damaged.

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How to Make My Child Do Anything

Posted on 1/04/2007 06:19:00 PM
"Mom? Do princesses read books?"

"Yes, honey."

"Mom? Do princesses wash their hands after using the potty?"

"Yes, honey."

"Mom? Do princesses eat all their dinner?"

"Yes, honey."

I think I've finally figured out a way to make this obsession work for me. Eureka!

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Wanted: One Gold Bikini

Posted on 1/03/2007 12:54:00 PM
Just before Christmas, we attended the KingofHearts' office Christmas party. This is the first Christmas he's been working at this job and wanted to make a good impression by introducing his family around.

It was an interesting experience, me being there as arm candy and needing to keep my mouth shut occasionally. Like when the subject of George Bush came up... or when it became obvious that everyone at the table was either a Star Wars or a Star Trek fan and there was a lengthy debate as to which was better.

No one asked, "What do you do?" and I'm glad, because try explaining a) my career and then b) what I actually do at my job to a bunch of folks who work in a gun factory. Then throw in that I work from home two days a week and watch every one's head explode as they try to grasp that concept. I managed to get out of the building without insulting any one's job, hobbies, child rearing abilities, past times (e.g., single-handedly ridding Northern Virginia of it's population of deer.), and without my child pulling down the curtain for the puppet show and I am proud of that fact.

A couple of days later, one of KoH's colleagues who was seated at our table that night came past his desk and stopped to say how much he'd enjoyed meeting our family. Then added, "And don't take this the wrong way... because I mean it only as the highest of compliments, but..." then blurted out, "Your wife looks like Princess Leia."

Um..... yeah.

Not, "Your wife looks like Carrie Fisher."
Not, "Your wife reminds me of Princess Leia."
But, "Your wife looks like Princess Leia."

What does one do with this kind of information? I know he meant this was a compliment, but I'm having a hard time taking as such. I'd almost let the whole thing go until I saw this on New Years' Day:

PASADENA, Calif. Jan 1, 2007 (AP)— Nature's grandeur was on full display at the 118th Rose Parade on Monday, featuring a bounty of floral creations that included a fire-breathing dragon protecting a castle, hummingbirds hovering over blossoms and a frog trying to lap up some water...

One of the highlights was the three-piece "Star Wars Spectacular," an entry that celebrates the 1977 release of "Star Wars," the first film in the sci-fi saga. About 200 stormtroopers led by Darth Vader marched down Colorado Boulevard as Ewoks swung from trees and waterfalls cascaded down the side of the garden planet Naboo.

The parade's Grand Marshal was "Star Wars" creator George Lucas who rode in a 1911 Pope-Hartford, Model Y.

"We've lived here all our lives and never been to the parade, but this year we just gotta see Mr. Lucas," said 51-year-old Robin Romero of Hacienda Heights, who frequents "Star Wars" conventions across the country. "This is the 10th time I'll see him (Lucas) in person. It's going to be so cool to see the stormtroopers march..."

Source: ABC News

So this brought the subject up all over again. Why do I look like Princess Leia? Why would someone think I look like Princess Leia? Why would that someone then tell that person's husband she looks like Princess Leia?

Perhaps at next year's party I'll leave the gold bikini at home and go with the basic black cocktail dress.

Does this gold bikini make my butt look big?


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Farewell to a President

Posted on 1/02/2007 01:28:00 AM In:
Yesterday on New Years' Day, we got up early and traipsed on downtown to see a President lie in state.

It wasn't that big a hardship on me to get up that early on the day after New Years' Eve, mostly thanks to some heavy duty cough medicine which I took at 5:00 pm the afternoon before and then slept through until the next morning, missing the entire countdown to 2007. But I did force my husband and child out of bed and made them come with me as well. They were good sports about it.

President Ford is the first president I was aware of as a child. My memory of him doesn't go back to the Watergate stuff, but I do remember him being in office and running for [re]election. I was in second grade and we had a school-wide mock election to teach kids about the election process and democracy. We all went behind makeshift curtains and voted like 40% of us would really do when we were older. Ford won Hawthorne Elementary's election, but not the United States'.

I remember him falling down a lot... or rather the joke in the news that he fell down a lot; he probably didn't fall all that much, it was just highlighted by the Chevy Chase sketches on Saturday Night Live. I remember when there was an attempt on his life by Squeaky Fromme. What a weird time. (Like now is normal, right?)

As I got a couple of years older, my mother told me about the whole Watergate thing and showed me clippings she'd kept from the papers during the time period. I remember being incensed (like much of the rest of the country) that he pardoned Nixon. I felt Nixon got away with it and that it wasn't right or fair. But now I understand a little more about the whole period and I think he made an incredibly courageous decision. I feel badly for this basically good guy who didn't seek this office or any of the situations he found himself it, but simply took it on when it was thrust upon him. I am impressed by his attempt to heal the office of the president - even when he knew it would be unpopular.
In a televised broadcast to the nation, Ford explained that he felt the pardon was in the best interests of the country and that the Nixon family's situation "is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must."
I still don't know if I'm completely over the childhood indignation around the fact that he pardoned Nixon, but I understand why he did it.


So for some reason, when I saw that he'd be lying in state on New Years' Day, I felt that I just should go.

It was an interesting experience. Since we got down there so early, there was no line at all. We walked (and walked and walked) to get to the only entrance to the capitol and passed a sign that said the estimated wait from that point was six hours. Thank heavens for partiers' need to sleep in, because we filed past that sign and another that said four hours and another that said two hours, right up to the front of the line and the metal detectors. The metal detectors that detected a forgotten pocketknife in the KingofHearts' pocket and kept him from going in (he was told he could go in if he gave up his knife, but he wouldn't get it back... apparently the knife holds more sentiment that President Ford for the KingofHearts). He waited outside for The Dormouse and me.

The whole thing was fairly anticlimactic, if you think about it. Once inside the capitol, we quickly filed past President Ford's casket in the rotunda. No stopping. Seriously don't even slow down, because a guard will yell at you, even if you are just bending down to talk to your child about what you're doing there - because you should have done that before you came, I guess. We separated into two lines and went past in a circle on each side. That’s it. Yet thousands of people came over the past two days to do exactly what we did: walk by in silence and exit out the other side.

Just before leaving the rotunda on the other side, a woman stood at the end of the line. She said, “Thank you for coming.” and shook my hand warmly. I did not recognize her and assumed she was perhaps a Senator or a representative of the capitol or something. I later learned she was President Ford's daughter, Susan Ford Bales. I wish I'd known at the time and thought to say something to her, but I have no idea what that would have been.

I'm not really even sure what I have to say about all this. I just wanted to be a witness to history for a minute. To make the point that this basically good guy who tried to help the country deserved my attention and recognition. To take a minute to remember why I love my country and how grateful I am that I live in a place where the goal is always to try and honor everyone's individual freedoms, even if we aren't always successful. That's all.

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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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