A Meme Worthy of Someone of My Advanced Age

Posted on 6/30/2009 06:34:00 AM In:
A friend put this up on her Facebook page recently and since I don't really do "The Facebook" due to a particular set of circumstances that involves nosy and/or over sharing people and perhaps a lack of judgment which allowed people I work with to figure out that I had a Facebook page, I shall post it here.

Tired of all of those surveys made up by high school kids? Here are questions for the people who are a little older...


1. What bill do you hate paying the most?
Day care. Especially during the summer when there are two kids to worry about. They are Sucking. Me. Dry.

2. Do you miss being a child?
I have very little memory of being a child. Maybe that's because I have something to repress, but more likly that I just have a poor memory.

3. Chore you hate the most?
Moving the dirty dishes my husband left on the counter twelve inches downward into the empty dishwasher.

4. Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner? Romantic dinner? People have those? Actually, back in my life BK (before kids), I remember coming home from work one day and having The KoH meet me at the front door, wearing a suit and tie. When I asked what the heck was up why such a nice surprise, he ushered me into the kitchen where he'd covered the kitchen table with newspaper, purchased a half bushel of blue crab, diet coke and mallets and lit candles for ambiance. We gorged ourselves on blue crab and never left the house. I know this looks awful to those who have never spent any significant time in the area; it did to me when I first moved here. Blue crab is not for the faint of heart, but once you get used to it there's nothing better -- especially with someone you love who doesn't mind mustard on your cheek.

5. If you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
I'd buy better shoes.

6. Name of your first grade teacher?
I talked about her here - question number eight.

7. What do you really want to be doing right now?
Oh any number of things... sitting in a spa in the middle of the day with no bills and no need to work and no requirements, might be nice.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian.

9. How many colleges did you attend?
Officially, two.

10. Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
Because I haven't yet gotten dressed and this is what I was wearing when I went to bed.

11. What are your thoughts on gas prices?
I have a longstanding disdain for the entire gasoline industry.

12. First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
I don't use an alarm to wake up. It's a genetic defect where even when I plan to get up hours before my usual wake up time, I wake up fifteen minutes before the alarm goes off. Handy when you're planning a trip... sucky when you haven't slept two hours straight in months and you can't make yourself sleep in even when you have the chance.

13. Last thought before going to sleep last night?
Oh sweet, sweet quiet. This is my favorite time of the day.

14. What famous people would you like to have dinner with?
Thomas Jefferson, Al Jolson, Igor Stravinsky, Ayn Rand, Humphrey Bogart, Anne Sexton, Jon Stewart, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Truman, Alan Alda, John Cusack, Frank Lloyd Wright, ...and then I'd probably need to invite someone who was a cop to control the fight that will inevitably break out over dinner.

15. Have you ever crashed your vehicle?
More times than I care to list here. For awhile, I started to think of cars as disposable.

16. If you didn't have to work, would you volunteer?
I'm pretty sure I might be involuntarily committed if I didn't find something to do. I would really love the chance choose what to do though.

17. Get up early or sleep in?
See above genetic defect comment. A couple of weeks ago when I was sick, The KoH got up and took the girls into another room and closed the bedroom door and I took a codeine pill to quell my coughing and went back to sleep. I slept until almost 10:00. It was the only time in the last thirty years that I've done that.

18. What is your favorite cartoon character? Jinks
the Cat. It's random and esoteric, and I know it dates me. I care very little about this. I'm also a big fan of Tom and Jerry, but not the ones where they're friends. Those ones suck.

19. Favorite thing to do at night?
Watch old movies - like from the 1940s and 1950s. The reason this is done at night is because when I watch during the day, everyone complains that I'm watching black and white tv and then talks through the dialogue so I can't hear anything.

20. When did you first start feeling old?
I'd say when I was about eight.

21. Favorite lunch meat? Pastrami.

22. What do you get every time you go into Wal-Mart? A newfound vow to never go to Wal-Mart again.

23. Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
No, but I do think it needs some work. Marriage doesn't exactly have the greatest track record as far as being respected by those who have been entering into it for the last couple of millennia.

24. A favorite movie you wouldn't want anyone to find out about?
I gave you a whole list of them not too long ago.

25. What's your favorite drink?
Very cold Diet Coke... ah sweet ambrosia.

26. Whom from high school would you like to run in to? My opinion about high school and high school reunions is that the people I want to keep in touch with, I already do. And the rest of them? I don't really care to see, or they'd have been in the first group.

27. What radio station is your car radio tuned to right now?
NPR. It's the only legitimate news source I listen to.

28. Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
Ugh. Can I just respectfully abstain from this one?

29. Worst relationship mistake that you wish you could take back?
Oh, there's one or two in there.

30. Do you like the person who sits directly across from you at work?
That would be a lawyer in a different office and I don't feel I know him well enough to render an opinion. But I do often stare at him through the window and try to make him laugh. He comletely ignores me.

31. Have you ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purposes?
Yes, but it was a bit too late.

32. Last book you finished reading? Michael J. Fox's Always Looking Up.

33. Do you have a teddy bear?
Yes. It is dressed in a fedora hat and a trenchcoat... it's name is Humphrey Beargart.

34. Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?
On a bus in the gran chaco.

35. Do you go to church?
Yes.

36. How old are you?
41

37. Have you ever been arrested?
Not yet.

38. Have you ever attended a public protest against a major corporation or a government? Yes.

39. Do you feel that your type of employment traps you or liberates you? Golden handcuffs.

40. Is voting a duty, a privilege, a right, or an option?
Thanks to our form of government, it's all four.

41. Have you ever sat on a jury? Yes. I love this story. The case was two guys who broke into a tire store at night and stole all the money in the cash register. Their lawyer wasn't arguing that they were innocent. Instead the defense was, and I'm not kidding about this, "These guys were so drunk, they didn't know WHAT they were doing." And, then, in a startling move of brilliance, they did not object when, during the jury selection process, they asked all the prospective jurors their opinions and personal choices on drinking and alcohol and then proceeded to put a Mormon on the jury.

42. Have you ever seen someone die?
Yes. Enough said.

43. Are you making any preparations for old age or for retirement?
Yes, but I fear what I'm able to do will still mean I cannot retire until I'm ninety-nine.

44. Do you have children?
If you don't know the answer to that question after reading this blog, you haven't been paying attention.

45. Have you ever served in your country's armed forces?
No, but my husband has - and being a spouse of someone serving is a service unto its own. I have the utmost respect for spouses who are married to military personnel and make it work.

46. How is your relationship with your parents different from what it was when you were a child? I think there's a natural progression of that relationship as people grow up and it's inevitable that it will change. The problem is that most people refuse to accept that.

47. Have you ever had a substantial conversation with a homeless person?
Yes, but I'm afraid he will not remember any of it.

48. If life is "a journey", then where are you going?
Off the rails?

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She Hearts the Internet Too

Posted on 6/29/2009 06:42:00 AM In:
Whoever said "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," didn't know how right he got it when applied to me and The Caterpillar. We did this for about a half hour last night.



Here, she's crying at first because The KnaveofHearts has unwisely decided to try and move to a different video, thinking that if she enjoyed that... she might also like this. That theory did not fly. So he goes back to the preferred video and all is right with the world again:



What was she looking at? See for yourself:


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Sleep Happens

Posted on 6/29/2009 06:41:00 AM
Even when you least desire it.


Moms, however, always desire it.

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Outdoor Projects

Posted on 6/29/2009 06:40:00 AM In:
Day four of Camp Sweatshop: Water the Grass


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For the summer, we managed to get both the Large One and the Small One into a summer camp situation for three days a week (and the same three days for both of them at that... an even more problematic endeavor). They both started that this week. I've learned that as much as I might have complained about the price of day care for one child who's under two, having two children in an all day program is MAD kind of pricey.

I have a wealth of respect and awe for single parents who have more than one kid and manage to a) parent them effectively at all and b) put them in any kind of a day care program while they work that doesn't completely negate more than three quarters of the salary they earn. I've written about our reasons for keeping a two salary income before -- really, I could quit my job and stay home with the kids full time and we could eek by on The KoH's salary paying only for what we absolutely need, as long as what we don't need is health care, college fund contributions, retirement, and you know... more than two meals a day. But my job offers a certain kind of flexibility that makes it feasible for me to keep working while not feeling like my kids are suffering too much. Basically, I'm not a WOHM (Work Outside the Home Mom) or a SAHM (Stay at Home Mom) or a WAHM (Work at Home Mom); I'm some absurd combination of all three that makes me totally appreciate what each of these groups has to go to every day and more thankful than I can communicate that don't have to do just one of those things all the time.

Years ago I saw some investigative news piece on families with two incomes. They brought a financial analyst in to work with a family where the mother and father both worked because they needed both incomes to get by. They never saw each other because they worked opposite shifts; when he came home, she went out the door. They had to use babysitters when their schedules didn't match up. Their lives were incredibly stressful. Their kids had educational needs they weren't fully meeting. They were barely making it anyway. So the financial consultant took a look at all their income and expenses and did a detailed analysis of everything: child care, clothing, travel, food, toys, utilities... everything... just to see if there was anything they could change. At the end of it all, they basically figured out that if the mother (the one with the lower salary in this case) quit her job, didn't use a babysitter, cut out the added expense of gas and clothing for her job, and made just a few adjustments in how she ran the household (which she would now have time to do because she wasn't working), that it was basically a wash. The analyst sat them down at the kitchen table, laid it all out for them and said that she was only bringing in something like $40 a month after factoring in those expenses that are secondary to her having a job. She sat there with a look of shock on her face as it sank in and then burst into tears and said, "You mean I've missed all this time with my children for FORTY DOLLARS?"

I'm forever mindful of that scene as we continually try to navigate and reevaluate our own finances and decisions about working. I love my career and though I often don't like to admit it, I get a certain fulfillment from my job. But I would quit it in a hot second if I didn't see it being the best thing for our family and my girls. I am well compensated for what I do. I'm a crazy multi-tasker. This works for me and my family. I know it wouldn't work for everyone. I'm just incredibly grateful to be able to be in a situation where I have the choice to actually do what works best for me and my family. And I reserve the right to complain about my situation anyway.

It may very well break us - this three days a week, all day child care thing, but they are loving it. The Dormouse is getting to do a TON of cool trips and activities and she's already been to Six Flags, the pool, and a park with a carousel and a train: the trifecta of five-year-old hopes and dreams. While The Caterpillar isn't allowed to go on the outside the center trips, they have some good experiences lined up for her age group too and she's doing really well with the extra socialization. Her speech is coming along nicely these days (as I'm typing this, she just looked at the TV and said "Awesome!") and she's learning to get along with other kids her age (exposing them both to peers has always been my biggest weakness... that's what you get when you're given a hermit as a mother, sorry girls, take it up with the Big Man in the next life). So fortunately, the extra expense is just a three month thing and when The Dormouse goes back to school (First grade. Let me repeat that: first grade. One more time for the cheap seats... FIRST GRADE!! This just seems wrong for a child that was only born three weeks ago and... What?... It was longer than that?... Well I think you must be mistaken because it doesn't seem like five years to me.), we can all loosen our belts and stop subsisting on Ramen noodles (the staple of the American college student) and leftover Cheerios we found in the sofa cushions (I may be exaggerating just a bit.). (I also may have used more than my fair share of parentheses in the last paragraph.) (Let's be honest. I probably used more parentheses in the last paragraph than I have in the entire last year of writing.) (Suck it, high school writing teacher, I'm an adult now and I can totally break the rules if I want.)

Wow, that big digression started out as just a way to explain that while last Monday was day three of The Summer of I Promise To Be A Less Sucky Mother, Friday was day four because in the middle of the week the girls were at camp.

And on day four of Camp Sweatshop, Camp Suckless Mothering (or perhaps I should just amend that to Camp Suck Less Mothering for legal purposes), we turned this:


Into this:


Without one compliant, whine, fight, or screaming match. It's amazing what can be accomplished with some music, a plan, cooperation, and a Mary Poppins attitude.

If I get good enough at this, maybe I can quit my job and rent out my children to clean your house for income.

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Workin' at the Car Wash

Posted on 6/27/2009 06:09:00 AM In:
Here are the results of day three of The Summer of I Promise To Be A Less Sucky Mother -- that is, Monday. If you're keeping track and realized that Saturday was day two, remember that Sunday doesn't count, because, you know, Jesus and all. (Yeah, I don't know what that means either, I'm just tryin' to fill a page here.)

After we made caterpillars from egg cartons (and, by the way, that craft is so old that I'm pretty sure it was devised by cave women as a way to keep their children busy while they made pterodactyl egg omelettes, but it is still a big hit and probably the reason it's endured as long as it has), I couldn't stand one more craft that would simply add to the piles and piles of garbage-turned-treasure that has become my living space. So I declared to my summer camp director (aka the voice inside my head) that spending more time with my kids could also mean getting stuff done. Then we put on grubby clothes (and yes, I know that The Dormouse is wearing a DRESS in these pictures; that IS what she considers grubby; tell me again how she's really mine and not the mail woman's? Because I'm starting to wonder if all the memories I have of being in the hospital during her birth were perhaps a post-hypnotic suggestion) and washed my car.

We had only been at it for about five minutes before The Caterpillar insisted that the same level of care and attention must be given to HER car and she ran off with the hose, the rag and the soap bucket to take care of the Snuggle Bug, leaving me to wonder if she would one day turn out to be Cameron Frye's father from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.


Should I get all the old cloth diapers out now so she can continue this level of detailing or would you say that's going a bit too far?

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Nowhere Near a Boardwalk

Posted on 6/26/2009 07:00:00 AM In:
On day two of The Summer Of I Promise To Be A Less Sucky Mother (last Saturday), The KingofHearts had a rare day off so we took the clan to the beach. Originally, I tried to go to Highland Beach in Maryland because I thought that with it's history, surely there might be some other cool things to do and we might tour a couple of interesting Frederick Douglas sites or something when we got tired of swimming and picking sand out of our swimsuits.

I should have been tipped off by the distinctive lack of web pages about anything in or around the area but we drove there, undeterred. Turns out, not only are there no sites on the historic registry where Frederick Douglas once lived or even slept, but it's also a private community with a private beach for residents only, no parking and not a single business in the immediate area. While I suppose it's possible that we just never found the tourist center (and if that's true I know that the Internet will rise up and correct me) basically the message we got was: we don't want you here.

So we drove up the road a piece to a public beach I knew existed because we'd been to it before.


This photo was taken shortly before the heavens opened and threatened to force us to turn our car into a boat and row back home. The Dormouse and The KnaveofHearts had a great time swimming in the Bay, which, personally, I prefer to the ocean. The waves are less punishing in the Bay when you're under four feet tall and brackish water is way nicer to swim in than salt water. You can actually go in and get wet if you've shaved your legs anytime within the last month without going, "Ooo, ow, ow, ooo, ooo, ow." The downside, however, is that any blisters, sores or mosquito bites will not be magically healed by the end of the day in bay water like they are in the ocean.

This was The Caterpillar's very first time at any water bigger than the hot tub we have on the backyard deck and she was a bit taken by the grandeur and beauty that is the Chesapeake Bay...


...and then proceeded to play in this puddle for the next two hours:


We finally managed to get her to sit for a picture to make it look like she might have actually gotten in the water, so that she could one day tell her children, "See? I wasn't afraid to go into the ocean when I was your age... look here at this picture. Now you try it."


But it was only a slightly larger puddle.


It's okay baby, there'll be other trips to the beach.

"Don't patronize me."

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Runucuwhat?

Posted on 6/25/2009 07:45:00 AM

We planted some of these in the front yard this year and The KingofHearts told The Dormouse what they were, then promptly forgot the name. Her, not so much, though, so whenever he's telling someone what he planted this year, he always stops and says, "Hey kid, what's that plant I planted that I can't remember the name of?"

And The Dormouse pipes in, proud as a peacock, with "Runuculus."


Wikipedia tells us:

Ranunculus (pronounced /ræˈnʌŋkjʊləs/)[1] is a large genus of about 400 species of plants in the Ranunculaceae. It includes the buttercups, spearworts, water crowfoots and the lesser celandine (but not the greater celandine of the poppy family Papaveraceae).

It goes on further to explain:

The term sardonic (sardanios), "bitter or scornful laughter", is often cited as deriving from the name of the Sardinian plant Ranunculus sardous, known as either σαρδάνη (sardanē) or σαρδόνιον (sardonion). When eaten, it would cause the eater's face to contort in a look resembling scorn (generally followed by death). It might also be related to σαίρω (sairō) "I grin."

How did I get to my fourth decade not knowing this? What did people in caveman times do without the Internet to enrich their lives as such? I guess that's why people spent so much time writing on cave walls.


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And In a Related Story...

Posted on 6/24/2009 06:31:00 AM
...I'm not terribly fond of Chef Boyardee ravioli either.



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That Looks LIke Tutti Frutti

Posted on 6/23/2009 09:13:00 AM
"Honey, I think it might be time for you to stop sniffing all the scented markers."

"How did you know I was smelling them, Momma?"

"Oh, just a feeling I have."


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To Say I'm Excited Would Be an Understatement

Posted on 6/22/2009 02:09:00 PM
Whenever Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up, even it it's just to clip each others' toenails, I will pay money to see that and the title of this blog should be enough to tell you about my Alice in Wonderland obsession. So how excited do you think I am for this to come out? So much so, that I am stealing these images off the web and posting them here, simply so I can go back and stare at them day after day.

Johhny Depp as the Mad Hatter

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen

Anne Hathaway as the White Queen

Matt Lucas as Tweedledee and Tweedledum

Mia Wasikowska as Alice

Add to that a cast of characters that includes some of my favorites: Stephen Fry as the Cheshire Cat, Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar, Christopher Lee as the Jabberwock, and Crispin Glover as the Knave of Hearts and I'm simply schviting with anticipation.


Some other views of Tim Burton's Wonderland:


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Why I Hate Cheese Curls: 101

Posted on 6/22/2009 07:44:00 AM
Sure they look all inviting and innocent on your plate:


But neon orange lipstick on a toddler is not nearly as attractive as you might think.



I'm just sayin'.

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The Only Good Children...

Posted on 6/21/2009 05:55:00 AM
...are sleeping children.


Enjoy your Fathers' Day! We will too... now.

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Respect the cruller. And tame the donut!

Posted on 6/20/2009 12:23:00 AM
But if you have cats in the house, guard the cupcakes.


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Sliders

Posted on 6/20/2009 12:20:00 AM In:
My goal for this summer is to spend more time with The Dormouse. I have to admit that over the past several weeks okay months, I've spent more time yelling at her than talking to her, more time brushing her off than listening to her, more time being generally irritated by her than appreciating her existence. Basically, I've been a crappy mother to her and I need to try and change that.

It's hard, once your kids get to school. The Dormouse's last day of school was this week and I can't believe this year is over and done with. I can't believe that nine months ago I
put my four year old on a bus and wondered if I was doing the right thing for her. Now I wonder if it was the right thing for me.

I've felt like this first year in school has hurt our relationship. Where before I spent a lot of time with her, talking to her and doing things with her, and sometimes I even felt like I was kind of rocking this motherhood thing, now my basic interactions with her have become all about getting her out the door in the morning and then getting ready for tomorrow in the evening. She wakes up and I start on her to get ready, eat, eat, EAT, for the love of all that is good and holy, EAT!!! (I have never seen a child who can drag out eating a bowl of cereal into a two-day adventure like this one), brush your teeth, get dressed, wait a minute you were dressed a few minutes ago why are you now in your underwear again, no you cannot wear a ballgown to kindergarten I don't care if you are reading a book about a princess, you are going to miss the bus child get dressed now, I don't care if you were planning on going to school in your bathing suit you're going to have to put some clothes on and no you can't wear your bathing suit under your clothes even if there's a chance it might rain so don't bother asking, oh and by the way you may not wear my shoes to school either so get THAT look out of your eye. You know, your basic get ready in the morning stuff. What? You don't go through that too?


Then when we all get home and there's barely enough time for dinner, homework, bath and she's in bed before I collapse into my own bed and realize I haven't exchanged a single sentence with her that didn't involve me telling her to do something. It's been even harder the last several weeks as I have been learning what it might be like to be a single mother. (Answer: it sucks and I'll be very happy when The KoH finishes up his part time employment opportunity scheme that was supposed to help us earn the money to add a full bathroom in our basement, but looks like that may not happen since I now believe that finishing this current employment opportunity is one of the actions that will signal the end of the Millennium -- and by then no one will care if we only have a half bath in the basement.)

So I am announcing it here, on the Intertube, that I might have some kind of accountability to follow through on my resolution. I plan to be a better mother from here on out. I do not want to miss these years of seeing the wonder in her eyes. I don't want to lose the chance to find out what she thinks about things. And I definitely do not want to establish a pattern where we simply go through the motions of being a family and then later when she's older I'm simply the annoyance in her life that she won't be able to talk to about life, decisions, and choices she has to make. I believe that's a pattern that gets set
years before a child gets to be a teenager and if we keep going down this road, those years are going to be much harder on us both.

So.... on her first day of summer, I took her to the library. And then when we got there an hour before we could go in because I have no idea when the library actually opens - I am that out of touch - instead of going home and getting in a few more minutes of work on the computer, we hung out at the park and in the garden and we examined all the flowers to find out exactly where the pollen is in each one and we followed bees to see which flowers they'd go to and then we checked out books to read together.


Then we came back to the house and made these for Daddy for Father's Day.

If you click to embiggen, you'll see these are cupcake and brownie sliders, icing condiments and sugar cookie french fries. No credit goes to me for this brilliance, by the way... idea was totally and completely stolen from Bakerella, who does a much better job of making them look real than we did, even up to the .pdfs she provided for the serving ware. What a nice lady.

All in all, not a bad first day's effort. Now for the rest of the summer.

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Here, Piggy, Piggy

Posted on 6/19/2009 03:21:00 PM In:
This is a bit long, but worth the watch and maybe the most creative thing I've ever seen on the internet.



The person who did this obviously does not have children in the house and a lot of time on his/her hands. I'm green with envy.

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You Can Leave Your Hat On

Posted on 6/19/2009 06:12:00 AM
I was cleaning off my hard drive and thought you all might like a break from the All Kitty All The Time News. So now it's time for something completely different: my kids. (insert evil laugh here)

This is an unhappy Caterpillar being told to pose for an Easter photo. See? The post title is funny because it's less Tom Jones singing, "You can leave your hat on" and more three adults and a five year old yelling at her, "No no no no, baby, LEAVE YOUR HAT ON!!!"


And I know this isn't a particularly great photo, it's cropped badly because neither of them can hold still for a nanosecond and trying to capture the both of them in a frame where they are fully encompassed in the viewfinder is harder than trying to put bicycle shorts on an elephant. Plus the background is busy and, and, and.... I've tried to fix it a thousand different ways in PhotoShop, all of which have basically failed... but there is still something about it that makes me love it with all my heart.


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I usually try to keep away from using children's programming to turn my child into a TV zombie, (hey! I try. I may not be successful, but I try) but this morning has been particularly fraught with tantrums and my ears needed a break. So I just turned on Sesame Street to try and quell screaming fit number thirteen of the morning, and this is on. The Caterpillar is transfixed and so am I:



Neil Patrick Harris, would you marry me?

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Adopting a Kid Can't Be This Hard

Posted on 6/18/2009 08:52:00 AM In:
Another use for a high chair:


Good heavens, that high chair is so filthy I almost dread posting these pictures lest the health department cite me for inappropriate food handling practices. Of course, the cats in the kitchen wouldn't be looked upon very highly either.

For those who have been asking, I think we have finally settled on names for the cat children. The girl (in the picture above, she's in the front) is Nellie - but sometimes we call her Maggie. We seem to be using those two names interchangeably at this point and they both fit her fine because she ignores them each equally well (she is a cat, after all). The boy is Barker. Benjamin Barker, to be exact. I personally, don't think either name works for him but when we try different names on him they don't fit either, so I think we're going to leave his name as such. When we call them, we just say, "Here, kittykittykittykittykittykitty," anyway. The Caterpillar just calls them, "No, no, no, no, no!" So it doesn't really matter what their names are in the end.

And yes, we can tell them apart - most of the time, anyway. They have slightly different shaped faces; hers is more round and she fits the applehead definition better. His is slightly more triangular in that wedgehead Siamese way. It will be interesting to see what they turn out to look like as they grow up. They have slightly different coats - his is shaggier. But the real difference is in their personalities and you can tell which cat jumps up on the
bed in the morning even before you open your eyes. She is the rowdy - the one whom curiosity will one day kill. She'll be the one we find perched at the top of the closet hanging from the bar or inside the dishwasher. He is the love, which would be nice if his version of being affectionate didn't involve trying to stick his head inside your nose while you are sleeping. They also purr differently. His purr is like a finely-tuned motor, "Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." Her purr, however, goes in fits and starts, "Purrrrrr *pause* purrrrrrrr *pause* purrrrrrrr *pause* purrrrrrr."

They've been a ton of fun so far.


I also promised some folks the adoption story.*

*I just wrote what's below and am now coming back to this point to say, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here" because, oh my goodness, did I ramble on, and I don't really have the wherewithal to edit it down to something that might be entertaining or efficient to read so you may just want to skip it altogether. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "I'm sorry for writing you such a long letter. If I'd had more time, I would have written you a short one."

When we started looking for the kitties, I had a couple of ideas for my wish list. I did not want a pure bred cat from a breeder. I also did not want a cat from a pet store. So that left getting a cat from a rescue, a humane society or another pet owner. I really wanted a kitten. Partly so the girls could have the experience of watching a kitten grow up, but mainly because my theory about animals is the same as my theory about kids. When you watch someone else's kid, you are also watching all the habits and baggage that comes with them. Everyone has Stuff They Can't Deal With and therefore stomp out of their kids at a young age. But my Stuff and your Stuff is not the same Stuff. So when I'm around my own kids that I've raised, they're less likely to push my buttons with Stuff I Can't Stand. Similarly, when you adopt an older animal, you're also adopting all their behaviors, experiences and baggage. That's fine if everyone in the house is an adult and can learn to deal with the unique personality traits of a cat who bites too easily because it was treated too roughly, but when there are children in the house, that's a little more iffy prospect. If they all grow up together, they all learn from an early age to deal with one another and the bad habits they acquire are usually bad habits we can all live with. That's my theory anyway and no one ever disregarded a perfectly good theory just because it wasn't true.

I originally was looking for one kitten and that was all I really wanted to handle for now. I like the idea of having two cats so they can keep each other company when we're gone during the day, but I thought I'd just get one now and a couple of years down the line consider another. I also thought it would be great to have a Siamese, since I'd had Siamese growing up but I'd been scouring Siamese rescues all over the country for months and I learned two things: kittens are hard to come by and it's amazing how many tabby cats they have listed as Siamese. Not that I was completely dead set on getting a Siamese and nothing else, but there are plenty of tabby cats right here in my neighborhood, so shipping a cat from Colorado that they called a Siamese but was really a tabby seemed like overkill.

Finally, after several months I gave up on the Siamese idea - I just couldn't find the right cat within a fifty miles radius so I just decided to look for cats at our local humane society. That's when I saw the cutest little Flame Point Siamese kitten and decided I had to know more about her. I clicked through her information and found that she was at a Siamese rescue not twenty miles away from my house. I emailed the woman and learned she wasn't involved in the Siamese rescue network and she'd been right there all this time. So I scheduled a time to come see two of the kittens she had at the moment, the Flame Point and a little Snowshoe.

Here's the thing about people who love animals so much that they are willing to take in scores of strays that aren't even theirs: They are ka-ra-zee. I'm not really trying to dis them here. I think there's a special place in heaven for folks who are willing to love and care for a whole bunch of God's creatures. I consider myself an animal person and I couldn't do it, so I think people who do are a breed apart (no pun intended). But, and I've heard this experience from many others who have adopted pets from rescue families, they get a little attached to "their" animals and then start acting like they have the power of God in a bottle and and can only choose someone to adopt the animals who is at LEAST as good a pet owner as themselves... and since there is no one as good as them, that's a difficult proposition.

I went to this woman's house to meet the kittens and took The Caterpillar with me so I could gauge how they'd react to her. We talked about my experience with cats, did I know about Siamese and how they were different, the set up of my house, how I intended to keep the animal safe from the children and vice versa, did I believe in declawing them, would I let them go outside, what kind of litter and food I liked to use... I felt like I was on an episode of Law and Order: Special Animal Unit. I met the two cats and loved them both, but I really liked the idea of the Snowshoe more than the Flame Point - mostly because she had told me that another family had already put an application in for the Flame. So I filled out the paperwork to adopt either... four pages of paperwork that required a complete accounting of cats I'd owned in my lifetime, how long they lived, how they died, a letter from my previous vet and three references from other animal owners who could make an assertion about what kind of a kitten (not "cat" in general, but "kitten") owner I would be.

Then, I heard nothing. For weeks.

Finally, I emailed her and asked if she had everything she needed and/or was someone else applying for the kittens too. She responded that no, no one else wanted the kittens and that the first family who had applied for the Flame had backed out. But she was wrestling with the dilemma of whether or not to give one of the kittens to our family because one kitten she felt was too timid and would be afraid of my children, while the other kitten was too rowdy and rambunctious and might scratch my children. I said, "You never met Lizzy, I see," but she didn't find that amusing or reassuring. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more while she wrestled with her conscience and consoled herself with the fact that she had ten other cats in her house and none of the humans living there had any olfactory sense left.

Then two things happened. One, she finally contacted some of the people on my reference list and both my vet and my other references came through with ridiculous and glowing praises about what a way I have with animals and how any cat would be lucky to have me as a cat mom and how I could deal with a difficult animal's behavior and you better put on your cowboy boots if you want to read the rest because it's going to get pret-ty deep in here. And two, she found out that she was getting six more cats that week.

So we went back to her house - this time, the whole family - and after a twenty minute car ride where I instructed The Dormouse NOT TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE SMELL IN THIS WOMAN'S HOUSE IF YOU VALUE YOUR LIFE JUST DO NOT BREATHE IF IT BOTHERS YOU, we walked in and met two little Seal Point brother and sister kitties. I've always been partial to the Seals and they seemed to be completely at home with the girls so we decided that Providence was telling us we needed not one, but two cats and these were the cats for us. And suddenly, perhaps because we had previously been deemed worthy, or maybe because she realized she had to get rid of at least a couple of cats or they all might gang up and eat her in her sleep, she let us walk out with them that day without even a "What are you going to feed them?" I did however, have to sign an agreement that included, among other things, If I decide not to sterilize the cats when they are old enough, I promise to pay a $500 breeder's fee (each) and If the cat gets lost I promise to look for it.

And the rest is history.

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Cat Tree = Big Hit

Posted on 6/17/2009 06:00:00 AM In:
Despite an iffy start, they like it, they really like it.


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Descending

Posted on 6/16/2009 06:12:00 AM
I came across this video clip on YouTube the other day and as I watched this kitty, I had this amazing feeling of deja vu.



And then I figured out why. The Dormouse goes down the stairs this way too. See?


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Differences

Posted on 6/15/2009 07:57:00 AM In:
If there was ever a difference between my two children, it can be best described by this picture and this picture alone:

We took the whole fam-damily to the movies on Saturday (Land of the Lost, but that's another blog post) and then had lunch afterward. There are so many outdoor malls that have these types of fountains around the area now and I knew we'd be near one at some point during the day, so I packed extra clothing and a towel just in case. Turns out it was a good idea. Although here's a tip: when you pack extra clothing, make sure you put all the clothing in the bag because if you don't, you will be faced with the dilemma of letting your baby run around in just a diaper in public making you look even more trashy than you are or putting the big girl's shirt on the baby and running into a nearby store and buying something for the older one to wear.

Both my girls are very outgoing, social children. But there's a big difference between their approaches. The Dormouse runs headfirst through the doorway of life without waiting to find out whether or not that doorway might be a mirror, or on the seventh floor of a building or perhaps a painting on the side of a mountain put there by a clever road runner to thwart her efforts (but it wouldn't matter anyway, because she'd just leave a Dormouse-shaped hole in that mountain).

The Caterpillar, is just as interested in every- and anything, but she prefers instead to check it out first. Walk around the outside, peer through the door a couple of times, stick her head in for a second and pull it back out, and then maybe, just maybe, but only if she's ready, step through the doorway and take a gander at what's really on the other side. She participates in life, but prefers to start off as the onlooker; at least at first.



As I sat on the steps near this fountain on Saturday, I watched my two children and their different styles of being, and was simply fascinated by the truism of what I observed.

The Dormouse:

The Caterpillar:
(it's hard to play in the fountain with only one leg - click to embiggen)

Dormouse:

Caterpillar:

Dormouse:

Caterpillar:
(I love the look on her face here - you have to enlarge to see it.)

Dormouse:
(I'm so thrilled I got this shot right, I cannot begin to tell you - click to embiggen for full effect)

Caterpillar:

Dormouse:

Caterpillar:

Dormouse:

Caterpillar:

Oh, how I love these two girls.


The Dormouse:
The Caterpillar:

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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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