Not Unlike One of My IM Conversations

Posted on 3/31/2010 05:30:00 AM
Yesterday was a rare day were both girls were home for lunch in the middle of the day. I, however, had a ton of work and opted to put lunch on the table and then head back to my seat on the couch with my laptop burning red marks into my thighs. But I couldn't resist transcribing the conversation that followed in in the other room.

Caterpillar: Please. Honey, come to the table and sit on your bottom. please.

Dormouse: *sigh* I know! I’m coming.


C: I’m gonna eat it.

D. Me too.

C: Do you want me to share one to you?


D: I already have one.

*quiet*

D: I like your belly button.


C: You like my belly button?


D: Yeah, it’s so bouncy.


C: I love you, Sister.


D: I love you too, but sometimes you’re mean.


C: I’m not mean to you, I’m just happy.


D: Sometimes you are mean.


C: YOU are mean.


D: See? There you go, being mean!


C: I’m not mean, I’m just happy. Sometimes daddy is happy.


D: Yeah.


C: He’s so funny.


D: Yeah.

*both giggle*


C: Is that funny Sister?


*quiet*


C: *sings* Hong Kong Booey, numberonesuperguy...


D: It's not 'Booey,' it's 'Phooey.'


C: Oh. *sings* Hong Kong Boobey, numberonesuperguy...

D: PHOOEY, not BOOBEY!

C: PHOOEY, not BOOBEY. OK!

D: OK!

C: *sings* Hong Kong Boobey, numberonesuperguy...

D: *slaps forehead*

C: My belly button is sticking out.


D: *sigh*


*quiet*


D: What’s today? The twenty-third?


C: No it’s the twenty-seventeen.


D: No! It’s the
twenty-third. See? Look here on the calendar, it's the twenty-third!

C: No! It’s the
twenty-third... oKAY?

D: I hear you.


*slience*


D: Arm wrestle me.


C: Wah!


D: I’m not sitting next to you anymore. Never again. *moves to another chair*


C: Ne-ver. A-gain. I’m gonna sit to my chair.


D: Fine.


C: Fine to me.


*quiet*


C: I eat a noodle off my arm.


D: Cool!

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We Who Are About To Dye Salute You

Posted on 3/30/2010 10:55:00 AM
Every year when we color eggs, we do something slightly different. I've spent years looking for the perfect egg dye kit. I've purchased tye dye egg kits, glitter egg kits, speckled egg kits, special chalks and crayons, egg-in-a-plastic bag kits, and a host of other Paas products. (What kind of a business name is "Paas" anyway? That word looks like it belongs on an item sold at Ikea.) All promising to give you professional looking, decorated Easter eggs that you'd be willing to show your favorite church ladies who'd ooh and ahh, and all the while, using the mere efforts and abilities of a two year old.

This year I wanted to try coming up with egg dyes on our own using natural ingredients, so we put on our alchemists' hats and had a little chemistry lesson. I did some preparatory research with
my family alchemist and learned that there are a ton of things you probably already have in your house to use for making egg dyes:






Tumeric, blueberry tea, beet juice, black tea, red onions, and some regular store bought egg coloring, just in case none of this worked and the kids were completely disappointed.

You basically boil whatever food stuffs you want to try in regular old water until the process steeps out the natural dyes into the water. I figured out that pretty much anything that stains your fingers is gonna make a good egg dye and some things that don't might work too. We had three small saucepans going on the stove top and a giant teapot of boiling water. Some of the things, like the ground tumeric and teas, I figured could just be put in a bowl and have boiling water added to it from the teapot. It would probably have worked better if I'd been able to boil each item by itself in a separate saucepan, but there are limited spaces on my cooktop.

Let's talk measuring: I didn't. I basically just walked around like a potions teacher from Hogwarts, leaning down and smelling things, amidst ribbons of steam twirling around my head, stirring and adding and inspecting until each thing met my very technical qualifications of
That Looks Right. If the infusion of something started to look a little weak, I added more foodstuffs, if I didn't think the volume of water would cover an egg, I added more water. It was all very precise.

Using the add a few teaspoons of vinegar to make the colors more vibrant theory I'd learned from commercial egg dye kits, I added a tablespoon of white vinegar to each bowl. I'd also read somewhere on the Interweb that you should add a little bit of salt too, so I stirred in about an eighth of a teaspoon to each bowl. I have no idea if either of these things made a difference. What I did learn is that the colder you let your liquids get, the less effective they are. I'd made the executive decision that we should let all the liquid cool down a bit so if they got spilled they wouldn't scald me anyone. But then we ended up having to boil more water to add to each bowl when it reached the temperature where the dyes stopped working. We boiled and bubbled until we had a nice selection of options:

and then commenced egg dying.
I'll stop right here and say that we didn't find anything to get those unnaturally bright Paas Easter egg colors, but what we did end up with was so much more interesting and surprising, that I'm going on record right now and declaring the whole project a success. The red onion peels, for example, came out more green than anything else. The beets, turned the eggs such a lovely shade of pinkish gray that I might be inclined to use on the walls in my bedroom. I think the most interesting thing was having no idea how the colors would come out and being surprised by the results. Here are some of our creations:

Left to right: tumeric, black tea, blueberry tea

The beet juice eggs came out very subtle with an unexpected lovely crackled or speckled texture, depending on the makeup of the eggshell. I was having a fight with my camera so this doesn't do it justice. There's a better picture of the crackle texture in the group shot above.

We also experimented with textures. I sent The Dormouse out into the wild to gather vegetation and we used some weeds and flowers to imprint a pattern on some of the eggs. We stuck the whole thing in a re-purposed nylon stocking and tied off the ends after placing the plant in with the egg.

Left, another blueberry tea egg with the leaf from a weed; Right, red onion skins with grass blades and fern fronds

I had way more fun with these and enjoyed the end result so much more than any of those dye kits that promise vivid or neon colors. I can also think of a host of other things to try to make other colors. We actually had bought carrots to try and use, but forgot they were in the fridge and never boiled them up. Maybe next Sunday?

I do know I'm done buying those kits.

Next up: Deviled Eggs for dinner.

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Easter Coifs

Posted on 3/29/2010 08:05:00 PM In:
One of the downsides of having a girly girl and not having actually been a girly girl, is the attention one must to pay to hair. For two score and some odd years, I have been in search of the perfect hairstyle.

Random hair stylist: "How do you want your hair cut today?"

Me: "Well, I don't like it like how it is."

"Do you want bangs? Tapered? Layered? Razor cut?"

"Ummm...."

"Keep it short? Grow it out?"

"Well..."

"Straight? Wavy? Curly? Tousled?"

"..."

"Colored? Highlights?"


"Look, I don't really know what all those things mean. I just want to wake up in the morning and have it look decent without having to... you know... like... brush it and stuff."

Hairstylist stares at me blankly.

"Just cut it however you want."


The perfect hairstyle to me is the one which requires the least amount of effort and makes me look like Michelle Pfieffer. I haven't found it yet, but I'll let you know when I do because I'm holding onto hope that it exists. Yes, Virginia, there is a perfect haircut.

Since The Dormouse cut all her hair off to donate two years ago, she's decided that her hair is as much an accessory as the latest Monolo Blahniks and would rather be Rapunzel than have a cute, sassy, easy-to-maintain bob. Which means I have to step up my hair fixin' skilz.

Fortunately, I turned to the Interweb - much as I do for television and movie trivia, general definitions, spelling, marital advice, and healthcare - and found a blog that I now have tucked securely in my Google Reader called Cute Girl Hairstyles. This helps me keep up with the constant requests of "Momma, can you French braid my hair? But not a boring French braid. A cool French braid." (At six, she still doesn't really know the difference from a French braid and a regular old braid -- and I still haven't explained it to her.)

We don't have church on Easter Sunday this year due to a church wide conference so yesterday The Dormouse requested an "Easter Hairdo" to wear to church that would make all her friends drool with envy. Here's what we came up with:



which is really just an idea completely stolen from this post.

So if you're like me and need a little remedial hair advice, check out Mindy's blog. But be aware that if you have two girls at home and the younger one sees the older one's hairstyle, she will probably want it copied on her own head. And if the hair distribution is a bit unequal in your house, you may have to find an alternate way to accomplish that hairstyle on the other one's head.

I suggest this:



It won't last long, but it'll make her happy enough.


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Actions

Posted on 3/27/2010 09:23:00 AM
Since both The Dormouse and The Caterpillar kept me up pretty much all night alternately hacking their lungs out (how THEY can stay asleep while doing that, but I can't is beyond me), I've been out of bed since before o' dark thirty. So to keep myself from breaking into a pharmacy, stealing all the Ambien and then overdosing on it, I pulled out my trusty PhotoShop and played around with some free actions I downloaded yesterday. I had a lot of fun doing different treatments but what do you do with them once you're done? So since my only friend is teh internets, I'm sharing them here.

Original:

Fun Black Action Orange:
Very Vintage:

Colored Vintage:

Colored Vintage Bent:

Comic:

Fan:

Out of Bounds:

Out of Bounds and Curled:

Rainey Day + Condensation:

Vectorize:

25 Photos:

Fun, huh? Now if I could only find a use for these.

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Ameriknish is Not a Potato Dish

Posted on 3/26/2010 06:28:00 PM In:
I'm a big fan of kids' music but it has to be the right kids' music. There's nothing that annoys my delicate sensibilities more than music that is unimaginative or that talks down to kids. (I'm looking your direction, Barney.) I don't care if kids don't know the difference (and personally, I think they do), they deserve well-written music performed by actual performers with real talent and real instruments rather than just any old tone-deaf cutie-pie lip-sync-er that Disney can manufacture because the parents are exposure whores and marketing figures it can sell a lot of lunch boxes and pillowcases with their face plastered all over. Woops. Have I come down to hard on one side of that subject?

If you don't have kids, you might not care about this, but if you, like me, not only learned about Trout Fishing in America several years before you ever had kids, but you also spent many a lunch hour sitting around the conference table with your colleagues singing these songs, it just might be your thing.



My favorite of their songs is one called "18 Wheels on a Big Rig."

Recently we've been working on counting with The Caterpillar, who still thinks seventeen comes after nine. And, as someone pointed out on the FacePlace, while she's correct that seventeen technically does come after nine, I'd like for her to learn before she turns twenty that there are some numbers in between too.

I was trying to think of songs that could help teach her to count (because that's what I do - when something is wrong in the world, I look for a song) and I suddenly remembered the "18 Wheels on a Big Rig" song and went to iTunes to download it.

Aside: How wonderful is it that we live in a world where you can be sitting in your living room and say, "Hey, remember That Song I Don't Know the Name Of by That Group I Can't Remember? I always liked that song. I should get it." And then after less than two minutes of Google searching and iTunes downloading, you will not only find the name of the group AND the song, but also own it and be listening to it with your family without ever getting up out of your chair. If the Internet were a man, I would marry it. I could also marry it in D.C. if it were a woman. I ♥ U Internet!

So I've had this song on my iPod for about four days now and it is currently the single most requested song when we get in the car in the morning to go to school. Prior to this week it was "Late for School" from Steve Martin's new banjo album, The Crow, which is one of the most awesome things I've added to my life in the past year. See for yourself:



Wow, this post has more tangents than a... something that has... a really lot of tangents
.

"What's something that has a lot of tangents?" I ask The KingofHearts.

"A circle can have an infinite number of tangents," The KingofHearts tells me. "So does a sphere. Also an oval. And oval could also be an ellipse though. All it is is a line that touches the slope."

"I know what a tangent is. I'm just looking for a literary image."

"Oh, I thought you were doing a crossword puzzle or something. Maybe a math test. We haven't been downtown to The Ellipse in awhile, have we?" *


Wow, this post has more tangents than a conversation with The KingofHearts.

Anyway, I looked all over to find a video of Trout Fishing... performing "18 Wheels on a Big Rig," but this is the closest I could come. Here's what they would look like if they were cartoon characters:




So as we were driving home today and The Dormouse requested "That Funny Song That's Not the Late For School Song" once again, we sang along. Our favorite part is the part where we try to sing along with "eye, eye eye, eye eye eye, eye vee, vee, vee eye..." and totally mess it up when it gets to the exes.

After the song was over, The Dormouse sighed, "Ooooh, I just LOVE that part."


Me: "Do you know what Roman numerals are?"

"Yes! Of course I do! I looOoove them!"

"You love Roman numerals?"

"Of COURSE I do. Roman noodles are my favorite!"

"I think you're thinking of Ramen Noodles. This is RO-man NU-merals."

"Oh."

"It's how they used to count a long time ago in Rome."

"Right. Numbers in Rome. Like if you were speaking Rome-ish."

"Pretty much."


*This may or may not be an actual, unembellished conversation, but I've had enough of them with him that go So. Exactly. This. Way. that I feel I can misrepresent it slightly for entertainment value.


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The Rural Juror

Posted on 3/25/2010 12:07:00 PM
Today, I have taken a day off work to do my civic duty and sit around in a room with a hundred or so other people who were also too stupid to get out of jury duty. Keep that in mind when you consider that whole jury of your peers providing the best possible carriage of justice plan inherent in our legal system.

The last time I reported for jury duty, I stood in line next to a woman who told me that she’d lived in the area for forty years and this was the very first time she was notified for jury service. Not just the first time she had to serve on a jury, mind you, but the first time she’d EVER gotten one of those letters in the mail that told you you have to call after six the night before to see if you have to come in. Since I’ve lived in this county, which has been a hair over a decade, I’ve been notified for jury service five times. FIVE TIMES. This is the second time I’ve had to physically go in. I realize if you don’t actually have to report, they put your name back in the pool, but FIVE TIMES? That seems even a tad excessive, even for my brand of karma.

I’ve never been one of those reluctant, “don’t want to serve in any way, shape or form” type of jurors. I really do believe it’s part of my civic duty. To boot, I think it’s also interesting to see and observe the process. But now that I have two children, oh how I understand the protests I’ve heard over the years. That $15 doesn’t even come CLOSE to making up for the disruption to my schedule and pain-in-the-assedness of having to be available all day on a week day but only if they tell you at the last moment they need you. For one, my child who is in preschool doesn’t have a regular preschool spot on Thursdays. That’s when I’m usually home with her so if I need her to be at school that day, I have to cross my fingers that there's a spot available and they're not at capacity. So I a) had to arrange with the preschool for her to be there today (but not, if I didn’t get called and I wouldn’t know if I were called or not until after the preschool closed on the previous day - and let me tell you, preschools are always thrilled with the “I might bring her, I might not“ plan.) and b) I had to pay extra for this day of unscheduled preschool.

The Dormouse is in school, and while you might thing that makes it easier, it actually complicates matters more. She doesn’t get on the bus until 8:10 am and gets home about 3:30 pm, but I have to report to the courthouse by 7:30 am and plan to be there until at least 5:00 pm - unless they decide to cut me loose before then but you don‘t get to know that until oh, about three minutes after they decide. So now I have to arrange and pay for before and after care for The Dormouse and work out a way for her to get to and from the school and the aftercare plan. I’m fortunate that where The Caterpillar goes to preschool, there is also a before and after care option for school-age kids. Doubly fortunate that they let me keep The Dormouse on the roles as a drop-in even though we don’t use the services. But it ain't cheap and DUUUDE, if I didn’t have that option, I would be scah-rewed because I have no friends or family in the area who would take her for me. Caring for children is not one of the reasons you get to opt out of jury service here. But dammit, it should be.

I am fortunate that I work on salary and my work provides leave for this type of thing. But many of the people among whom I’m sitting now are paid by the hour and are simply not getting paid today. So add to the expense of finding child care, the fact that many of them will lose a day’s wages as well.

I am also fortunate that I have a working vehicle. Many who live in my area rely solely on public transportation to get from place to place. As I left the house this morning at 6:00 am, braved the beltway traffic and then drove ten miles down a dark road where I didn’t see a single bus to a place that I’m quite sure doesn’t have a metro station near, and as I remembered that there were no directions to the courthouse using public transportation on the form I received, I was grateful for my car and keenly aware that many people had to get up way earlier than I did to get here. I am also grateful for run-on sentences so that this paragraph might come to be.

All that has gone to give me a new perspective on why people hate jury duty so much. And I have to say, I totally get it now. I think there would be a lot less trying to get out of it if they’d find a better process. Schedule it during school hours or half days or something. This can’t be the only option.

I figure after all is said and done and they’ve paid me the piddly $15, I’ll be about $75 in the hole but I‘m probably better off than about 50% of the people in this room. In the end, I donated my juror compensation to a charity because what's $15 more in a sea of cost and aggravation? If I get assigned to a trial that lasts more than an afternoon, I could be doing this all over again tomorrow. So thanks Civic Duty. Now go tell the next person to bend over.

When I got on the shuttle from the parking lot this morning, a woman sat down next to me and asked if I was going to jury duty too. I answered and then she announced, “You don’t know how much I didn’t want to come here today. I got my period for the first time in three years.” So I guess everybody has their issues.

The last time I reported for jury duty, I stayed all day, got picked for a trial and was in line to walk into the trial room when there was a last minute settlement and they sent us all home. It was the single most wasted day of my life but I was happy to do it because this was back before The Dormouse and I could sit around in a room and read a book without anyone interrupting me to ask me how to make something bold on their computer.

It does give you a lot of time to think though:

  • I'm pretty sure that clerk was here the last time I came in for jury duty.
  • I am not allowed to bring an iPod to the courthouse because it is a "signal receiving device" but I am allowed to bring my mobile phone and laptop as long as I am aware that I'm not to use either during the trial. Wait, huh? Couldn't I just also promise not to use my iPod during a trial?
  • Courthouses should provide a stronger wi-fi signal in the jury assembly room. Also: more outlets.
  • I know that my name(s) aren't that easy to spell or even pronounce for everyone, but some people have some really weird-ass names. I'm lookin' at you, guy-who's-legal-first-name-is-three-random-letters.
  • I'm pretty sure Stephen J. Cannell is also serving as a juror today. Who knew he lived in my county?
  • The entertainment value of people watching in the mall doesn't even compare to people watching in the courthouse.

The only time I was ever actually picked for a jury trial was while I was living in another state. During the selection process, there was a great deal of questioning us prospective jurors about whether we drank alcohol to excess or at all. I sat patiently through the “how often do you drink alcohol” questions, through the “how much do you drink when you do drink” questions, to the “do you think being intoxicated is a valid excuse for committing a crime” questions. And finally, in a display of logic I have yet to come to comprehend or understand, they put the tea-totaling Mormon on the jury. You'll see why that's funny in a minute.

The case was one in which two twenty-something guys had broken the windows of a store, cut themselves in the process, left blood evidence and fingerprints all over the place and stolen the cash register with all the money inside. Their defense was not that it wasn’t them, or that they were framed, that the evidence was compromised, the fingerprints were smudged, nor was it that they were simply just not guilty. No no. Their lawyer’s defense was brilliant in its craftiness. “They’re not responsible because they were so drunk, they didn’t know WHAT they were doing.” I think you can probably guess how that worked out for them.

After the trial, I happened to be in the elevator with the defense attorney and a couple of other jurors and he said, “Yeah, I wasn’t really surprised at all by your verdict, but… eh. What're ya gonna do?” At that very moment I made a mental note of the guy’s name and vowed that if I ever found myself under suspicion of a crime I did not commit, that he would be the last person I’d call.

My other memorable courthouse experience involved The KoH and I getting a marriage license. We had The KnaveofHearts in tow that day and brought him with us to apply for the court document. As we were heading into the building we had to pass through the familiar panel of metal detectors and bored security guards. Then six year old KnaveofHearts and I went first. We got through the entire process, had all the toys brought to entertain me a six year old scanned and inspected and then The KoH walked through. He was stopped because he had a three inch penknife in his pocket. They wouldn’t let him bring it in and they wouldn’t stash it for us, so we all had to go back through security, put the knife in the car and do it all over again. The KoH grumbled and muttered the whole way about how it was an unreasonable measure and you couldn’t kill anyone with a penknife and how (at the time) you could fly on an airplane with a knife a couple of inches larger than this so this seemed excessive to him and what was the big deal?

By the time we got our marriage license, it was sneaking up on lunchtime so we opted to stop in the courthouse cafeteria before we left and feed the boy. While we were sitting there, a middle-aged gentleman sat in light brown suit with a lawyer-type looking woman at the table across from us. They were pouring over some papers and talking. While I sat there eating my French fries, I watched another middle-aged woman in a skirt and suit jacket with a giant silk bow at her throat walk up to them. She stood quietly next to them until he noticed her and looked up. Then she slowly took her purse off her shoulder and... began to beat the man with it. He threw up his arms to protect his face as the woman she came in with yelled at her to stop over and over. The lawyer-type person, simply backed away. Figures. Security started to gather from the front door. The woman flinging her purse around and shouting obscenities saw them coming and immediately stopped, put her purse back on her shoulder, straightened her jacket and turned on her heels to her companion. “Now I’ll sign,” she announced and calmly and coolly left the cafeteria with her head held high.

As we left the building, The KoH stopped the security guard he’d given a hard time to (who’d responded to the cafeteria incident) and apologized for arguing with him about the knife. “I guess I get it now.”

The security guard laughed.

KoH: “Does that kind of thing happen often here?”

Guard: “Every. Single. Day.”

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Trivial

Posted on 3/24/2010 02:21:00 PM In:
Thirteen Randomly Odd Things I Know without a single Google search:
  1. The supervising hair stylist on both Leave it to Beaver and Alfred Hitchcock Presents was Florence Bush.
  2. The lyrics to nearly every song Al Jolson ever recorded.
  3. Humphrey Bogart had a wife whose name was Mayo.
  4. These drugstore curiosities/souvenirs from the Southwest are not actually plants that occur in nature, but rather one plant grafted on top of another.
  5. A criminal profiler was the person who broke the Atlanta Child Murders case.
  6. Alice in Wonderland started out as an impromptu story told to a little girl named Alice Liddell.
  7. The phrase "mad as a hatter" doesn't come from Alice in Wonderland but rather came about because hat makers commonly suffered from mercury poisoning from the felt they used in the 1800s.
  8. Siamese cats have colored points due to a mutation in an enzyme that is heat sensitive.
  9. Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre while John F. Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln Continental, made by Ford.
  10. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
  11. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was filmed at an active Psychiatric Hospital.
  12. There is a psychiatric terms for the fear of clowns: coulrophobia.
  13. The shortest complete sentence in the English language is "Go."

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Tele-Commuting

Posted on 3/23/2010 12:36:00 PM In:
Thirteen reasons I should not be working from home today:

  1. Out of food except for a block of cheese and a giant jar of peanut butter - eating both without utensils
  2. Shower? What for?
  3. DVR is empty except for twenty-eight episodes of Sesame Street
  4. Watched the garbage collector not pick up six bags; now looking for county online complaint forms
  5. Now know way more than I ever wanted to about Sally Taylor's life
  6. Had a philosophical conversation with a two year old about rice - learned lots
  7. Water bed way too cozy and inviting
  8. Easy access to unmonitored internet searching
  9. Open tub of butter cream icing in the fridge
  10. Overabundance of horizontal surfaces on which to nap
  11. Laundry mocking me from the basement
  12. Cats breathe too loudly
  13. Out of Diet Coke

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Signs of Spring

Posted on 3/22/2010 05:57:00 AM
My Daphne is blooming, if just a little worse for wear.

The ants are exploring the Narcissus.

And the ice cream man is back.

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From the Multicultural Committee

Posted on 3/20/2010 04:12:00 AM
The Dormouse performed in her school's Black History Presentation/Play yesterday morning and I took a few hours off work to attend.

We've had a couple of incidents in the past few months where The Dormouse came home with some obviously wrong information about Martin Luther King, Jr. - some stories that came so far out of left field, I had a talk with the teacher to figure it out. And then I had to sit down with her and tell her that Martin Luther King did not, in fact, turn green and die as a ten year old boy. Turns out she has a friend in class with... I'm gonna go with...
a gifted imagination as the alternative is that her parents are teaching this stuff to her and I simply can't accept that. So we've had several discussions, The Dormouse and I, since the beginning of the year about the civil rights movement and what it was all about. Which is all to say that I was anxious for February and Black History Month so they would formally address some of this stuff in class for the kids who don't have moms that are willing to look up civil rights march videos on the YouTube to prove that Martin Luther King, Jr. lived a few years past ten and didn't drown in a bog.

Each of the grades was responsible for a portion of the program.

The third graders held a game show wherein they read short bios, asked the audience "Who Am I?" and then waited for audience response. I was pleased to observe that my daughter was not able to identify Michael Jackson from his description but she was the only kid in the room who knew Rosa Parks by her description.

The second graders sang "We Shall Overcome" and "Ebony and Ivory." Both hilarious and wonderful.

The kindergarten kids dressed up in various costumes to emulate famous African Americans in history. The funniest was the little boy (Louis Armstrong) who for some reason had access to an actual tuxedo in his size and a real trumpet.


The preschoolers presented the "African Alphabet," which included hand colored pictures of all things African, like L-Lion, Z-Zebra, P-Pyramids, and F-Fashion.


The Dormouse's group, representing the first grade, held letters that spelled out "I Have a Dream!" and recited the following poem by Esther Yost:

We're gonna make that dream come true.
Let freedom ring, said Martin Luther King,
It's up to me and you.

It's not the color of your hair,
It's not the color of your skin,
It doesn't matter what you wear,
It's the character within.

I have a dream, said Martin Luther King
We're gonna make that dream come true,

Let freedom ring, said Martin Luther King
It's up to me and you.
It's up to me and you.

They each held a letter that spelled out "I Have a Dream!" and inexplicably announced their letters before their line in the poem, even though the letter didn't start their line of the poem as you would expect and, in fact, had nothing to do with the line whatsoever.


"I. We're gonna make that dream come true."

"H. I have a dream, said Martin Luther King."

etc.

It perplexed me, but, eh, whatever.


Then when they were all done, the girls (who were asked to wear their best dresses) curtsied and the boys (shirt and tie) bowed. Unbelievably cute.

But I have to say that the most memorable moment for me was when they all walked up on stage and The Dormouse, who has seen too many red carpet retrospectives on TV I guess, got to the stairs, stopped, and daintily picked up the hem of her dress to avoid stepping on it as she ascended to the stage, then lifted that hem up over her head and flashed every one in the room.

Wonder what she'll do for Women's History Month?


I'm in love with the fact that the only thing in focus in this photo is her head.


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How Fairy Tales Really End

Posted on 3/19/2010 01:15:00 PM In:
Couldn't resist sharing. You know my issues with fairy tales.

Cinderella:


Snow White:


Red Riding Hood:


Sleeping Beauty:


Jasmine from Aladdin:


Belle from Beauty and the Beast:


Arielle from The Little Mermaid:



Thanks to Monica for the forward.

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Incomprehensible

Posted on 3/18/2010 11:30:00 AM In:
Thirteen things I do not understand:
  1. Why some people spend more time and effort trying to pass work off to others than just do it and get it over with already.
  2. Why Survivor is still on the air.
  3. Why my cats will climb on top of me, sit down in my lap, stand up, sit down in a different spot, stand up, sit down in yet a different spot, stand up and then act surprised when I've finally gotten sick of their tiny pin-like feet boring holes in my body and knocked them off the couch.
  4. Why one six year old's normal talking voice is louder than almost one hundred adults in a restaurant
  5. Why anyone still cares about Jon and/or Kate Gosselin
  6. Why politicians, who know full well what political scandal looks like, don't use a tiny bit of good judgment.
  7. Why people continually offer to meet/babysit/have dinner/do whatever other thing without ever intending to follow through don't just stop offering.
  8. Why someone would choose to write a symphony in six flats.
  9. Chatroulette - the whole reason I love the internet is that people don't have to see me
  10. Why The Caterpillar's nose constantly runs every time the seasons change.
  11. How people on game shows can be so. damn. excited.
  12. Why I have to pay taxes on tax refunds I got last year which is money that was already taxed.
  13. Why my car can look so big from the outside and have so little passenger and cargo space in the inside.

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Depression is 9/10s of the Law

Posted on 3/17/2010 11:30:00 AM
There are days when I don't think I can do it anymore. Days when all I want to do is get some semblance of my former life back and make a decision without first considering how it will affect three other human beings and adjusting my desires according to how much extra work it will cause. Days when I want to get in my car and drive like I used to, not knowing where I'll end up and to have it be okay if I decided not to come back tonight or if I - gasp - wasn't home by three. No one's shoes to pick up, no one to teach a lesson to, no one to set an example for, just me and my own choices - good or bad.

Do all parents feel like this or am I just the only one supremely ill-fitted for the job I'm doing right now?

I realize these are my choices too. The choice to be in a relationship. The choice to have children. The choice to continue working so the mortgage gets paid in between jobs. I'm living with the consequences of those choices now.

It's not that I'd do anything different. It's just that some days I can't stop mourning the loss of something I don't feel I have anymore: the luxury of change.

But then I think of the little girl I never got to know. I think of this alternative - not having them - and decide that that... well... that's not an appropriate solution either.

And I find out that others feel the same way sometimes and weirdly, it makes me feel better. So I can go on.


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Toddler Diet

Posted on 3/16/2010 03:11:00 AM In:
Full disclosure: I did not write this. It just seems apropos, given yesterday's post.

The Toddler Diet

Day One
  • Breakfast: One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly. Eat two bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor. Take one bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes.
  • Lunch: Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (three sips only, then spill the rest).
  • Dinner: A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, four sips of flat Pepsi.
  • Bedtime snack: Throw a piece of toast on the kitchen floor.

Day Two
  • Breakfast: Pick up stale toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye.
  • Lunch: Half tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a handful of Purina Dog Chow (any flavor). One ice cube, if desired.
  • Afternoon snack: Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Then bring inside and drop on rug.
  • Dinner: A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour Grape Kool-Aid over mashed potatoes; eat with spoon.

Day Three
  • Breakfast: Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat one with fingers, rub in hair. Glass of milk; drink half, stuff other pancake in glass. After breakfast, pick up yesterday's sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, put it on the cushion of best chair.
  • Lunch: Three matches, peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up
  • Dinner: Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some red punch. Try to laugh some punch through your nose, if possible.

Final Day
  • Breakfast: A quarter tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes, add half a cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog.
  • Lunch: Eat bread crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.
  • Dinner: A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Leave meatball on plate. Stick of mascara for dessert.

Start over with day one.

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Trying Thai

Posted on 3/15/2010 09:50:00 AM In:
I'm not much of a true gourmand, as they say. But in recent years, especially as I've lived in Washington with an infusion of diverse cultures at every turn, I have come to appreciate good food more than your average joe. Washington, D.C. has no end of awesome restaurants serving traditional food from every corner of the world and it is my goal to eat in all of them. With The Shiftless Badger's help, I'm even learning to cook it occasionally. My theory on home made meals with fresh ingredients goes something like this: I know it tastes better. I know it's better for you. But I think you underestimate how much lazier than your average person I am and how I can't shake the idea that if it takes longer to cook than it does to eat, it's just not worth it.

Since The Badger is an honest to goodness, real live chef, I've been trying to use my affiliation with him to steal some of his knowledge. (Since he teaches cooking classes, he's made this quite easy.) So a couple of weeks ago I took a trip to suburban housewife-ville to attend a Thai cooking class he was teaching. We were schooled on how to make three really awesome dishes: Tom Yam soup, Pad Thai, and Green Curry Something or Other (I may or may not have stopped paying close attention by this time so you probably shouldn't quote me official name of the dish).

"That seems really easy," I said naively and immediately went home making plans to recreate these dishes myself.

Here are some of the things I learned in the process:
  • My kitchen, while largely unused, looks more used than most people's used kitchens.
  • Being required to explain your "Thai cooking credentials" to tipsy American mostly-stay-at-home moms has got to be irritating.
  • The Badger is quite possibly the most patient man on Earth.
  • The quality of food in Asian supermarkets varies widely from store to store.
  • Stock boys in Asian food supermarkets wait until the busiest time of the day with the most customers possible in the stores and THEN begin stocking their shelves; they also glare at you when you step over their boxes that are strewn from here 'till Sunday.
  • Fish sauce might be "Thailand's ketchup" but Thai markets in my area only have two bottles of it and they hide those bottles on the bottom shelf in the back of the store.
  • Those stores do not carry Thai chili pastes, curry pastes, or really pastes of any kind.
  • Those stores do, however, have an entire aisle filled with fifty-seven varieties of soy sauce... for your every soy sauce need.
  • You can't appropriately substitute three-year old curry powder left over in your kitchen for curry paste.
  • Cactus sugar makes a reasonable substitution for palm sugar (let's hear it for the desert dweller's ingenuity), but you will still be annoyed that you can't find palm sugar in any Asian market because palm sugar is awesome.
  • You can order Thai ingredients from Amazon.com and would probably spend less time waiting for the delivery than you would going from store to store looking for galangal.
  • Yes, I realize I could just use regular ginger, but that's not the point.
  • Fresh lemongrass is a gift from God.
  • Enoki mushrooms are only slightly less heaven-like.
  • Your children, who eat Thai food at any restaurant, will turn their noses up when you cook it for them.
  • Cut your tofu in really small pieces because those same children will try and swallow it whole, and that becomes messy later.
  • Your husband will patronizingly take a bite, claim to intend to take the rest for lunch tomorrow and then leave it in the fridge until you have to throw it out so don't make extra.
  • You will make an entire bowl of Tom Yam soup for yourself and that's fine because it is so awesome, it shouldn't be shared - plus you can put extra chilies in and no one with wussy taste buds complains.
  • Eating Tom Yam soup for three days straight does odd things to your digestive system.
  • I enjoy cooking but I enjoy much more having the Badger show up at my house with pre-purchased ingredients and having him cook them in front of me while entertaining me with stories.
I can't say I'm not better for the attempt at Thai cooking, but from now on, I think it'll just be for me. It's wasted on The Others. Obviously, they have a way to go before becoming true gourmands.

Which reminds me of a story.

The KoH and I were driving through North Carolina a few years ago and happened to drive past a restaurant called the Grits Grill. Across the outside of the building was a giant banner that said, "Try our Gourmet Grits! Cheddar, Bacon and Shrimp."

We were only mildly hungry at the time but I had to know what these people did: how to dress up a bowl of grits so much that it was no longer just a run-o-the-mill bowl of grits and could now be called, gourmet grits. So we went in to get something to eat and sat down at the bar (the fact that there was a bar, should have clued me in right off, don't you think?).

"I think I'd like to try your 'Gourmet Cheddar Grits'," I told the waitress after glancing at the menu.

"And I'll have the 'Gourmet Bacon Grits'," said The KoH.

She turned around, grabbed a bowl and slopped a ladleful of grits into it, sloshing some onto the floor. Then right in front of me, she reached into a canister with her bare hand and brought out a handful of grated cheese, which she unceremoniously plopped on top of the grits. Then she dropped the bowl down in front of me, slopping cheese and grits onto the counter. For The KoH's order, she repeated the same process, but instead of bare-handing a glop of cheese, she grabbed, with the same hand, a handful of Bacon Bits from a different canister and served his bowl up to him.

"Mmmm, gourmet." I said taking a bite.

I guess gourmet is subjective.

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Laundry Day, See You There

Posted on 3/13/2010 08:19:00 AM
When The Dormouse was three, I used to try and get her to help me with household chores. I'd give her a pair of socks and show her how to pair them together and simply fold them in half. She never really got it. Even now, at six, when she folds something for me, it's really just an elaborate method of balling it up into some unrecognizable form.

So imagine my surprise yesterday, when The Caterpillar, with her two years' life experience, toddled over while I was folding laundry, pulled all the kitchen towels out and began folding them in perfect squares, then put them "away" in the kitchen. This, THIS is why I had kids, people!


She even agreed to put some of the other clothes away that I had already folded.

Of course she may need instructions more specific than "put these in Momma and Daddy's room."


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Birth Control

Posted on 3/12/2010 11:41:00 AM
Sometimes I like to use my own little corner of the intertubes to educate and inform. So consider this entry a public service announcement: It may look fun to have a cute two year old around the house, but kids, before you go having pre-marital sex without protection, please keep the following in mind.

This Morning's Fit Schedule of The Caterpillar

6:30 am: Woke up (this is a gift actually; she usually wakes around 5:30). Threw a fit because she woke up.

6:32 am: Threw a fit because I took her out of her crib.

6:32:30 am: Threw a fit because I put her back in her crib.

6:40 am: Wanted milk; threw a fit because it took too long to accommodate that request.

6:45 am: Threw a fit about "a shirt." Still trying to understand this one - did not want another shirt on; did not want the shirt she was wearing off; did not want to choose her own shirt; just kept yelling "my shiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrt."

6:55 am: I turned on the television. Threw a fit because the channel wasn't immediately set to Big Bird.

7:00 am: Threw a fit because Sesame Street was broken into for station identification.

7:05 am: Threw a fit because Grover fell off something.

7:35 am: Wanted something to eat; I wasn't immediately available with the desired request; threw a fit.

7:37 am: Got into the refrigerator while I was in the bathroom; took out a gallon of milk and carried it precariously around the living room, sloshing milk and threatening to empty it all over the floor; threw a fit when I made her put it back.

7:40 am: Threw a fit because she wanted Apple Jacks and I gave her Cheerios.

7:45 am: Ate all the Apple Jacks; angry at world because there were no more; threw a fit.

7:55 am: Wants to put own shoes on own feet; I pointed out that she had them on the wrong feet; threw a fit.

7:56 am: Sent to time out; became curiously quiet.

7:57 am: I asked her why she was throwing a fit; new fit ensued.

7:58 am: Threw a fit because she drank all the milk in her glass.

7:59 am: Saw that I was writing something down in a notebook; grabs for it, saying, "somebody gave me that notebook;" threw a fit when I told her that it was mine.

8:00 am: Was told to get in the car; threw a fit.

8:01 am: I buckled her seatbealt; "I wanted to do it BY MYSEEEEELLLLF;" threw a fit.

8:04 am: Dropped her purse in the back seat of the car; threw a fit.

8:05 am: Big sister picked up purse and handed it to her; got purse caught on foot; threw a fit.

8:10 am: Big sister gets out of car to get on school bus; strangely silent.

8:10:30 am: Tried to swallow an orange slice whole; coughed; threw a fit because she coughed.

8:12 am: During car ride toward day care, begins yelling, "Don't put me upside down, Momma. Don't PUT THE CAR UPSIDE DOWN!" Threw a fit.

8:14 am: "I want to go to class day." "That's where we're going, honey." Threw a fit.

8:15 am: Wanted to open the door at class day. Stood directly in front of door while pulling handle so door would not open. Threw a fit.

8:15:30 am: Walked through door after I moved her feet. "I DIDN'T GET TO PUSH THE BUTTONS!!!" Threw a fit.

8:18 am: Get her coat off and settled down in her class with friends; say "OK, Baby I've got to go now, have a good day." "OK Momma, bye, bye." ::kiss:: No fit.

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Spontaneous Declarations

Posted on 3/11/2010 07:53:00 PM
Sometimes having kids is just a long, long exercise in being told what to do.




...and then sometimes having kids is just not all that bad.

"Follo the lines"








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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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