Heroes

Posted on 9/30/2010 03:24:00 PM
This was a drawing project that came home from the unit the preschool did with The Caterpillar last week: Who are our heroes?

Sometimes, every once in a blue moon, when the stars are aligned, and the air is just right, having kids can actually be quite the ego boost.


Of course if I really thought about it, I'd realize that she views me as some sort of amorphous blob that encompasses and envelopes all it comes near like a black hole where not even light can escape. But let's not look at it that way, shall we?

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Poetry Corner

Posted on 9/28/2010 05:08:00 PM
Not to be outdone by all the grandparents who sent cards to The Caterpillar for her birthday (as her parents, we should be excused from the requirement of including a card with all gifts, amiright? canigetawitness?), The Dormouse realized that sending a card is A Thing, no thanks to our example, and made this for her sister's birthday:



Here's the transcription:
Sweet dreams, my little love
When you wake, wake above
Thou [sic] while you sleep, who
Loves you? Me!
Then you are turning 3!

The fact that she, at six years old, is a better poet than I am at fortymumblesomething, is, shall we say, demoralizing at best.

And that's all I have to say about that.

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Monday Morning Writers' Block

Posted on 9/27/2010 10:14:00 AM
Mondays have been difficult for me the past few weeks. Lately, I've been drudging through a Big Work Thing so taxing that just thinking about going back to work on Monday after a weekend off makes me want to split my gut open, remove all my entrails, and hang them above my office door as a warning to all those who might cross my path. I'm not really sure what about this project that would solve, but at least my feelings on the issue would be made crystal clear. What I really want to do is come up with a witty essay about something important to post here, but I'm afraid most of my brain cells are leaking out my left ear right now and all I can come up with is "Fire bad, tree pretty." (And even that's stolen.) Instead, here's a pretty picture:


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Planetary Alignment

Posted on 9/26/2010 10:08:00 AM
It occurs to me that one of the hardest things to capture is a good photo of two kids at the same time. This is why I couldn't let these pictures that have been sitting on my hard drive go to waste. How we managed to get three pictures on the same day where no one was pulling anyone's hair, sticking their tongue out at anyone, and just otherwise looking happy and not unpleasant or pouty, is beyond me. I'm taking it as a sign from the powers that be that these photos should be appreciated, celebrated, and remembered since, like the Harmonic Convergence, it may never happen again.




And for those who've complained that there are far too many kid pictures on this website and not enough whole-family portraits, may I present, The Girls With Their Parents:


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Feel My Pain

Posted on 9/25/2010 10:42:00 AM In:
Dormouse: "Momma, knock, knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

DM: "Lettuce."

Me: "Lettuce who?"

DM: "Lettuce in, it's cold outside!"

Me: "Ha, ha, very funny."

Caterpillar: "Momma, knock, knock."

Me: "Who's there?"

CP: "Banana chicken vulture butter princess book you're a wallet like a shoe like a dress."

Me: "...."

CP: "LAUGH, momma!"


Now imagine days and days of jokes like this.

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Cat: The Other White Meat

Posted on 9/25/2010 08:40:00 AM
When Monica came to my house and was, shall we say, creeped out by this impossibly tiny, yet startlingly lifelike representation of a sleeping cat, then took it secretively into the kitchen, I was pretty sure I'd eventually find it in some place obvious... like the oven... or the microwave. I just didn't realize how long it would take me to find it in one of those two places.


Note to self: purchase more microwaveable food. Stop going out to dinner so much. I don't really know what, just do something to make it be a world where this didn't live in my microwave for more than a week.

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Strange Bedfellows

Posted on 9/23/2010 01:14:00 PM In:
Thirteen things my kid has taken to bed to sleep with recently:
  1. a book
  2. a toy Cinderella mobile phone
  3. a wooden snake
  4. a plastic piece of broccoli from the play kitchen
  5. a spoon
  6. a hairbrush
  7. a barrette (not in her hair, just next to her on the pillow)
  8. a tiny plastic St. Patrick's day novelty cup
  9. a plastic dress up shoe (just one)
  10. a plastic fireman's helmet
  11. a rock
  12. a napkin
  13. a straw
In a related story, my kid might be a little weird.

Kinda make you regret spending all that money on stuffed animals, doesn't it?

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The Happiest Days

Posted on 9/22/2010 01:07:00 PM

From the pirate ship at Annapolis Harbor. I've always been much more a camping in the woods type girl than a lying on the beach type girl. But in the years I've lived here, I've really learned to love The Bay and the culture that surrounds it - almost enough to buy a boat. I'm sure you've all heard that quip: the two happiest days in a boat owner's life at the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it. But I'll bet there would be some mighty fine days in between too.

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I Only Say This Because I Love You

Posted on 9/22/2010 07:58:00 AM
I always figured the "You're Wearing THAT?" syndrome would eventually happen because we are, after all mother and daughter and that's just an inevitable part of the mother/daughter relationship. I just didn't think it would be so turned around backwards on me. Here she is irritated beyond measure because I made her put on this adorable romper and, in her opinion, "THIS SHIRT IS REEDICALUS!"


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Birthday Booty

Posted on 9/21/2010 01:39:00 PM
Warning: photo essay ahead.

For those of you who don't like the look-at-pictures-of-my-kids-type blog posts, please feel free to register your displeasure by clicking the little red "X" in the upper right hand corner of this window. I'm completely aware that this is the twenty-first century equivalent of inviting the neighbors over to look at your vacation slides, and I totally understand if you're not interested. The thing is, I promised some folks pictures of Part II of the birthday photo album and I aim to please... even if I'm just pleasing the one person in the world who wants to see them.



In our house when birthdays don't exactly fall on a day that was convenient for the rest of us, we simply reschedule them. For The Caterpillar's birthday, there was no one day that worked for everyone, so we dragged the celebration out for four days. Yesterday, we brought cake to her preschool for school friends. She was pretty excited about that. I have no pictures because I was a bit birthday'ed out by this time.

Mari, et. al., couldn't join us at Pirate Adventures, so they came by on Friday for cake.

Note to those of you who think this is a good idea: once those things burn down, you will find tiny bits of black charred matter All. Over. Your. Cake. So if you are picky about eating that type of thing, be forewarned.

Mari informed us that a true party needed to have "fancy decorations, papers falling from the ceiling, flowers (pink & purple), fireworks, a cake with a princess, and dancing ladies."


On a completely different day, we opened presents.

I wonder how long before she'll be able to pronounce the "th" in three so she won't leave the mistaken impression with the clerks in the grocery store that she's just been released from prison when she announces, "Hi lady, I'm FREEEEE!"

This is what it looks like when a "free year old" opens a card.

She was pretty excited about most of the presents...


that is until she figured out a good majority of them came with money and forgot all about sticker books and birthday cards.


But then again, a musical princess card that only plays the first eight bars of a song and drives your parents crazy every time you open it (and will be opened at least one hundred and thirty-three times that day) trumps $20 any day.

Thanks, Dad. (said sarcastically)

I'd tried to encourage The Dormouse to think about something to give her sister, because I want her to understand and enjoy the concept of gift giving. On the other hand, it really goes against my grain to take a kid to the store, have them pick out a gift for their loved ones, then the parents pay for it. It just seems like it misses the point.
I want her to think about gifts and give from the heart... what she can give so it means something. When mom and dad just buy whatever it is, it's a little harder to do that. But on the other hand (I think I'm up to three hands now... or is it "free" hands?), I realize it's not like she's making any money of her own at six so you have to help them be a little more creative. I'm still trying to find a happy medium on that front. Usually, when The Dormouse wants to give you a birthday present, she goes and rummages through your stuff until she finds something you already own, then she takes it, wraps it up and gives it back to you. This time I suggested she make something special for her sister or maybe promise her that she wouldn't fight with her for a week (that'd be a present for me as well). She didn't feel she had time for that. So this time she rummaged through her own stuff and gave the Caterpillar a purse and a ring which she was really quite fond of. It was actually very sweet.


If you haven't heard about Pillow Pets in the past six months, you either don't have kids, or you don't own a television machine - probably both. I'll give you a brief synopsis: The Pillow Pets commercial is groundbreaking in the fact that it is the first television commercial to employ the Willy Wonka technique of beaming crack directly through the television screen into the airwaves, through your kids' eyeballs and into their brains. I once saw a version of children's mind control fictionalized on an episode of Angel. I now know that this is not only possible, but real and happening several thousand times a day in the living rooms of America.

The minute The Dormouse saw the very first commercial she began asking for one.

She tried demure at first:

"Hello, pillow pets! I love you!"

Then subtle:

"Those look SO SOFT! I'd sure like one of those."

Practical:

"Pillow pets, are great for overnight trips, momma."

Thrifty:

"They make a great $20 gift, mom!"

Appealing to my compassionate side:

"Mom! I NEED that unicorn Pillow Pet. My neck hurts from sleeping on my regular pillow."

Then obvious:

"Please, please, please, buy me a unicorn pillow pet now, PLEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAASE!"

And as all older sister requests go, The Caterpillar decided she needed one too, so multiply all the above requests by two - one in a slightly less intelligible voice. Since several months had gone by and they were still actually interested in them, we went ahead and got one for her birthday... because, you know, I hear they make a great $20 gift.

When The Caterpillar unwrapped and opened the box, then finally realized what it was, she was excited, to say the least.

She rolled around on the floor with it like this for about ten minutes.

All in all, I'd say this birthday was better than most, but that might just be the Pillow Pet talking.


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Pirates of the Chesapeake

Posted on 9/20/2010 07:10:00 PM
Hey, remember when I had a baby... I don't know the exact date, but it seems like... oh... about two or three months ago?

Turns out that baby went and turned three years old without my consent.

I guess it's been a little bit more than three months.


Since we seem to have gone and created ourselves a Pirate-Themed-Child, we went with the old standby and had a pirate-themed birthday party again. This little gem was one of The Dormouse's favorite field trips in her camp last summer. She had a great time and talked about it for days afterward. I didn't go on that trip and wondered what it was like, so when we were thinking about what we could do to celebrate The Caterpillar's birthday this year, the conversation went something like this:

Me: "We could... take her on that Pirate Adventure thingy The Dormouse went on last summer."

KoH: "Isn't that for older kids really?"

Me: "Well, there's no age minimum and I think if we went on one of the morning cruises, there'd probably be more little-ittles... so it'd be more fun for her in that case."

KoH: "Aren't we overdoing the pirate theme just a little bit?"

Me: "Maaaybe... I suppose we could invite all her preschool and church friends over to have a party at Chuck E Cheese."

KoH: "Pirates it is."

Me: "That's what I thought."


There's a version of this in Baltimore too - apparently on that one in the evenings, they have adult-themed "Bring Your Own Grog" versions. I debated which to do, but ended up choosing the Annapolis-based one for two reasons: One) The Dormouse had sworn to me up and down that the one she went on was at the Baltimore Harbor so this might at least be different for her too since she'd been twice before, and Bee) I hadn't been to Annapolis in awhile. Once we got there, we learned that this was not only the exact one The Dormouse had been to twice but she knew it so well, that she remembered all the staff people's names. What a terrible source for information she is.

Anyway, Pirate Adventures turned out to be the perfect thing and I cannot rave enough about how worth the money this was. They have party packages, but you have to bring a lot o' kids to make those worth it and I learned my lesson from the Bounce House place I rented last year where only four of the fifteen kids we invited showed up, making the grand total about $eleventy-bajillion-dollars-per-kid. I've become a believer in the number of guests should equal the birthday kid's age method of guest list building. It was just our family, as it was last year, and we didn't opt for any of the special party rooms you could rent afterward, which was perfect for The Caterpillar and made it one of the cheaper birthday celebrations I've planned in my days as a Julie-Your-Cruise-Director-For-Toddlers.

The staff here were so fantastic with the kids that I can't even imagine the Baltimore version being half as fun as this was. When you arrive, they dress the kids up as pirates and paint their faces, arms and whatever other skin is still showing with "tattoos."


Because we are weird, we come with our own pirate girl outfits. The Caterpillar rejected hers however, because, "THIS SKIRT IS CHOKIN' ME!" and instead found a costume from the costume bucket. She still looked pretty cute.

The whole thing is an hour long cruise around Annapolis harbor in which the children learn how to talk like a pirate, find a note in a bottle, hoist the Jolly Roger, look for a map, find the keys to Pirate Pete's treasure chest, find the X that marks the spot, pull up treasures that are buried deep beneath the sea, discover and drink Pirate Pete's secret stash of Pirate Grog (ginger ale), and then defend the ship from that inimitable Pirate Pete himself by shooting water cannons at him to knock him off his rowboat after which, they do a Pirate Dance of Celebration.




I can't rave enough about how wonderful these folks were with the kids and honestly, that's what ended up being the most fun - watching the main staff person and the captain of the boat interact with the children. On our cruise, there were maybe fifteen to twenty kids, most between the ages of three and five. With that age group it's easy to lose them but I seldom saw a child drop focus. She had their rapt attention the entire time and each kid was given lots of chances to participate and constantly given reinforcement by hearing their names (all the kids were given "pirate" names -- Mad Dog Madison, Blackbeard Blake, etc.). If the staff member ever did think she was losing them, or maybe a couple were looking like they thought it'd be more interesting to climb over the side of the boat and cause an international waters incident, she'd just yell out, "All hands on deck!" This meant everyone must drop to the ground and make sure both feet and both hands were touching the floor. I'm considering using this at dinner time in our house.


I feel like I should take a moment here to say something about Three. So far, Three, you're not that much better than Two was. Two was cranky when it woke up and threw fits for no discernible reason or worse yet, for a reason which we all understood but just thought was ridiculous. Two was full of worries about not talking and screaming fits about the car going upside down and potty training in fits and starts with lots of accidents. I was hoping Three would leave all that behind, but when I picked up The Caterpillar from preschool today and she was wearing someone else's underwear, I think I came to the full realization that Three probably won't be suddenly different just because it's here.

But you know what?

That's okay, because this is what comes along with Three:


And I can live with that.

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Starflower

Posted on 9/18/2010 10:12:00 AM

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Late Summer Flowers

Posted on 9/17/2010 10:14:00 AM

These flowers remind me of one of Duff's cakes.

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We'll Smoke the Monster Out

Posted on 9/16/2010 10:05:00 AM
Since we've been having such nice weather this week, the Shortlings have been hot to go outside and play in the yard. Something odd has happened to our neighborhood in the past couple of years and there are actually other kids in it again. My neighbor, who raised his kids here, tells tales of when there used to be hundreds of kids coming to his house on Halloween night. When we first moved here, there were very few kids at all; I never saw them playing in their yards. But in the past couple of years, that's been increasing. I guess a lot of neighborhoods have cycles like that.

The Dormouse has discovered playing with the neighborhood kids this year and almost every day asked to go outside to play in the front yard after school where she holds court. Suddenly, two or three kids she knows will show up from out of nowhere and they all play basketball in the front yard or ride their bikes or chase slugs and talk about how valuable they are..(I'm not kidding about that last part, "Oh, that's a banana slug; they're not worth very much money. Look! A leopard slug! Let's catch it! They're very valuable. Now if you find a ghost slug, you have to keep it around because that's EXTREMEMLY rare." All this time we've been seeking after riches when we should have sought first for the kingdom of slugs.) For the most part, being older and mostly boys, the neighborhood kids are all pretty cool with The Caterpillar too and involve her in their play, something by which she could not be more impressed.


I'm all kinds of conflicted about this because I really want them to be able to go outside and play. The back yard would be a better option, but the logistics of our house dictate that you can't see them when you're in the house and they're in the back yard. Which means I either need to be outside with them and can't do stuff I need to do in the house, or I have to trust that no one will abduct them from my back yard while I'm not watching, something I haven't yet gained the courage to do.

When I was a kid, I remember riding my bike all over the neighborhood. We'd ride to friends' houses unannounced and stay for the day. We'd ride over to the elementary school with a sack lunch and climb up the trees to eat with the birds. We'd ride up to the local convenience store, buy a carton of sugar cubes with our hard-earned money and then stop by the house of the guy who raised Shetland ponies on his property and feed the whole box to the ponies. This probably seemed like a way bigger area when I was a kid than it was in reality, but I do know we were out of sight of my mother and our house a good deal of the time.

I don't feel comfortable letting my kids do stuff like this. It's not that there weren't threats and bad things didn't happen when I was a kid - because I remember that being part of my existence too - I don't exactly know what the difference is, but when my kids aren't in my line of sight, I don't feel comfortable anymore and I definitely don't feel like I'm doing my job as a parent. I don't think my mother felt this as keenly as I do now.

I tried one day to be all Nonchalant Mom and let The Dormouse ride her bike up and down the street with her friends because a) the other kids in the neighborhood do it and b) bike riding is way less interesting when confined to the thirty feet up your driveway and back. But we don't have sidewalks in our neighborhood and it's very hard to see kids running around if you're a car (or the driver of a car, for that matter). That lasted about fifteen minutes before they got in the way of a car and we made them come inside the front yard gate. "I'm just not That Mom," I finally decided, "they can stay in the yard."

The worst part about the decreased security of today (or at least the increased awareness of a threat; I'm never sure which) is not that I don't feel comfortable sending my kids out in the morning and not worrying about them until nightfall, nor is it that you have to drive them everywhere, nor that you have to actually make dates with their friends' parents so they can play together. No, the worst part about it is that I can't let my kids go outside to entertain themselves using kid-directed imagination and kid-conceived ideas. When I sit outside with them while they play, my very presence changes what they do. Because I am there, they constantly need to check in with me and involve me in their play. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing for me to play with my kids. I should do more of it. But there isn't a moment in their lives that's not supervised by adults. Adults who interject themselves in their arguments so they are never required to resolve the conflicts themselves. Adults who, even subtly, make suggestions or tell them that "that's not gonna work" or "please don't get ridiculously dirty" or "stop picking the heads off all the tulips" or "I wouldn't put all that mud up my nose if I were you." Sure, all of this is every parent's nightmare, but it's also kind of a right of passage for every kid. Try as I might to let them learn and explore and work things out on their own, the truth is if I am close by, the nature of what they do changes - it's the observer-expectancy effect for parenting. I'm not saying that's always a bad thing; I'm just pointing out that I got that kind of freedom occasionally as a kid and it seems like that's not a luxury my kids get to enjoy either because the world has changed too much, or because parenting focuses have changed, or because I'm just a big worrier and think someone's going to jump over my fence and attack my kids and I'm overreacting. That doesn't really happen, does it? Oh, wait.

For now, we're trying to find a happy medium. I let them play in the front yard, while I do what I need to do in the kitchen or the front room because I can see them through the windows. Sometimes I really watch them, sometimes I just have my third eye on them, but at least I would notice if something happened. They ride bikes in our crappy driveway, which is not really conducive to learning to ride unless you count having to push them out of the potholes every few minutes as part of the experience. It's not ideal, but it's the least distasteful choice I can find. That's kind of the problem with being a parent: you're constantly weighing your options.

The other day, they were outside playing with stuff in the yard while I was inside working. I watched The Caterpillar bring a bundle of sticks up to the front door and drop them there. Then she turned around, went back to the yard, and came back with another bundle of sticks. She dropped them there and repeated the process three or four times.


Either she's planning on burning the house down or she's trying to smoke us out of our holes.

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Daddy Gets a Pedicure

Posted on 9/15/2010 08:35:00 AM
It's only fair. I've certainly given my toes over to the cause more than once.



I find it hilarious that immediately upon putting her to bed, he went to the bathroom, found the nail polish remover and removed every stitch of red, glitter nail polish from his fingers. But by the time he got to his feet, he was tired and just thought, "Eh, no one will see it under my socks." That red, glitter toenail polish stays there to this day.

I asked, "What if you take off your shoes at work?" (It's a valid question for me. I often have to delay leaving work because I'd have to walk down to my car and I know my shoes are under some desk in the office but I can't remember which one.)

He scoffed, "I don't work in your office. That will never happen."

So please join me in praying that tomorrow, some barefoot-related emergency will crop up which requires him to remove his shoes in front of all the guys on the factory floor and wave his bare feet in front of their faces... for the good of the company.

I'd like to test his commitment.

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Almost Heaven

Posted on 9/14/2010 07:02:00 AM In:
We have some friends who just built a second home in the mountaintops of West Virginia and they invited us out last weekend to see the finished house. The weather was sublime and enough to sell me on the state entirely, though I know the winters are pretty unforgiving up there on that mountaintop.

Here's the view I had from the hammock I was sleeping in:


Maybe I should amend that to the hammock I was trying to sleep in, at least until eight bony elbows and knees decided they needed to share my peacefullness with me.

Right now they just use this place as a weekend getaway, but it's their plan that when they retire, they'll sell their property here and move there permanently. Taxes are cheaper, the cost of living is cheaper, traffic is almost non-existent, there's a nice community of people (though you wouldn't know it because they have several acres you can't even see the neighbors' lights from their house at night), it's quiet and gorgeous. It's so beautiful out there and all I could think was how smart they are to have made this investment now in their lives and how I'm going to have to be approximately one hundred and thirty-three before I can even consider retiring. Let's just say I had to work a little to hide my envy.

The girls had other concerns, which revolved mainly around the tree swing they had on their property,


and collecting enough acorns to last the winter.


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There's an App for That

Posted on 9/13/2010 06:06:00 AM In:
I recently got one of them there new-fangled smarty phones to replace my prior mobile phone which is pretty old. "How old," you ask? I still have doctor's appointments in there from when I was pregnant with The Dormouse.

I've put off upgrading my phone for a long time because, well, MY PHONE STILL WORKS and I'm very familiar with it. But mainly, it goes against my grain to buy new technology just new technology's sake. My husband and family have been complaining long and hard about how old my phone is and how I've been eligible for an upgrade several times now and how I really should just get a new one. I did like I always do and thought about it, agreed they were probably right... and then ignored that feeling because spending an hour or more in the mobile phone store? That seems like a lotta trouble and there's this couch in my living room that needs holding down.

A few weeks ago as I was pulling my phone out of my purse for some purpose or other, the antenna came off in my hand and I was forced to admit that... yeah... maybe it's time. (But just so you don't think I make rash decisions or anything, let it be known that I stuck the antenna back on again and used it for another two or three weeks.)


Since I tend to keep phones for six years or more, I decided to get the most advanced phone I could possibly muster. I couldn't really do that iPhone thingy that all the kids are talking about because our family's two other phones are with another provider (and... it's irrational, I know, but also because there's something about all that proprietary nonsense with AT&T that really chaps my hide). So I got the next best thing.

Let me just interject to say... OH MY GOSH, WHY HAVE I WAITED SO LONG TO UPGRADE THIS THING? If it were legal to marry your mobile phone in some states, I might just have to move to where I could make that happen. I can even break up with my husband via text message, "Sorry, honey, but I've met someonething else."

The thing that has fascinated me more than anything else about this new phone is the sheer number and variety of applications that you can purchase, download and install. I've spent many late hours at night scrolling through them and announcing to The KingofHearts, "Hey! Here's an app to help your schedule your staff if you work for the New York City Fire Department!" To which his response is, "Zzzzzzzz," because he's long since fallen asleep.

It's almost become a sickness for me. I think "I have everything I need on this phone. I don't need anything else. There isn't one other thing I could use. Wait, what's this? I need this! The ashtray app, these matches apps, this paddle ball app and this lamp app and I don't need ONE OTHER THING...
except this." I've already installed a metronome, a chromatic tuner, a decibel meter, a bubble that tells you when your phone is sitting level against something, Google translate, the Scriptures, IMDB, a bar code scanner, a currency converter, an application that converts almost any unit into almost any other unit, and just for fun, a cat that you can repeatedly slap in the face.

I'm sure you've probably heard by now about the
guy who saved his own life with his iPhone app during the Haiti earthquake. In addition to that, there are apps to help monitor your sleep schedule, help you find a job, track your baby's feeding and pooping habits, tell you when you're going to menstruate, and to help you help you contact your congressman. (I'm not saying those last two are related, I'm just sayin'.)

Here are thirteen applications I've come across that you might find a little less life changing:
  1. Car Locator: saves your location when you park and helps you find it later.
    (This brings back memories of a Sting concert from years past were we repeatedly listened to some drunk guy walk back and forth yelling, "Duuuude! I'm NEVER going to find my car!)

  2. Find My Phone: if you lose your phone, you just send it a text message and it will reply with its current address and GPS location.
    (Can I get one that finds my keys too?)
  3. Diagnosaurus: Search over 1000 differential diagnoses by organ system, symptom, disease, or browse all entries to hlep you search an accurate diagnosis.
    (For those who want to take hypochondria to a whole new level)
  4. Fake Call Me: Get out of awkward situations by giving yourself a fake-call. Schedule multiple fake calls to make it like really urgent to get out what every situation. Play pre-recorded voice when call is answered.
    (In case you don't have a friend -- or, I guess, if your friend is the one you're trying to get away from.)
  5. Stud finder: monitors disruptions in compass reading to identify screws in the studs in a wall.
    (I thought this was going to go a whole different way when I read the title.)
  6. The Girlfriend App: generates random lovey dovey type phrases to send to a significant other.
    (For the guy who wants to destroy his relationship, but doesn't really want to work that hard.)
  7. Dog Distractor Sound: custom sounds designed to be heard by a dog's ears only.
    (Call me crazy, but any app that starts with "WARNING DOG MAY EAT PHONE!" is one I don't really need.)
  8. DildoDroid: Offers you a variety of rhythms for all styles and all pleasures.
    (It... vibrates... enough said.)
  9. Bouncy Body: Draw a box around the body part you want to jiggle and shake your phone to see what happens.
    (Some people really need more to do with their lives.).
  10. Mood Tester: senses your touch, makes some calculations and then quickly displays your mood.
    (For those who lack the ability to self-assess... "I wonder if I'm happy today? Who... who can I ask?")
  11. Sex Offenders Search: Locates sex offenders and predators anywhere in the U.S.
    (Look, I used to work with sex offenders. You don't really need an app on your phone to find one.)
  12. How to Knot a Tie: shows illustrated instructions for six important tie knots and the bow tie. Have fun. (...and don't blame the app if it does not work for you anyway ;-)
    (It literally says this in the description.)
  13. Sniper/Shotgun: turns your android phone into a deadly sniper rifle. Load, shoot and hasta la vista baby!
    (I'd totally send this one to Sarah Palin, but she's probably already got one.)
  14. Stadium Horn: Air Horn. Foghorn. Sporting event. Special sports. Special World Cup. Vuvuzela sound.
    (Because who doesn't want more vuvuzela? No one, that's who! It's the "More Cowbell" of the 20th Century.)
  15. Big Fart Button: It's just that - a Big Fart Button! Press the Big Fart Button and play over 30 different random farting sounds. Simple yet hilarious.
    (Why is it whenever some new piece of technology comes on the market, the first thing someone does is figure out how to make it fart?)

  16. Pick Up Lines: the most fun and effective pickup lines at your fingertips.
    (You should probably also download the companion app entitled, "Top Ten Ways to Wash a Drink Out of Your Clothes.)
  17. Tazer App: Have fun with your friends by pretending they will be electrocuted.
    (Because I know whenever I make my friends think I'm going to electrocute them, they always thinks it's HILARIOUS.)

Yes, I'm aware that's more than thirteen things. I'm sure there's a justification for that somewhere on my units converter.

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Daddy Saves the Day

Posted on 9/12/2010 11:19:00 AM In:
Here's a camp sweatshop activity I only just got around to holding earlier this week when school was closed and both girls were home last Thursday. We started saving toilet paper and paper towel rolls some time back in July for this one and probably could have done it over the summer, except for that fact that no store in my immediate area seems to sell magnetic tape anymore. Sometimes I get stubborn about things like this: "I know for a fact that I've purchased magnetic tape at a Target before; I am NOT going to order it on the internet." And then my carbon footprint grows and grows as I drive from place to place and waste hours of my life looking for it, when I could have just ordered it in the first place and it would have been in my hands sooner and with much less trouble for everyone involved (me and the approximately two score of store employees I asked in a dozen different stores). I've spent way more in gas than I ever would have in shipping and handling. So much for stalwart resolution.



I finally found the magnetic tape at Michaels craft store last week, but I had to ask four store employees before one of them could tell me where it was or even if they had it. Save yourself some grief and order it now.

Here's a version where the ball doesn't actually fall off at the end.




If you're going to try this at home, my suggestion is to get ping pong balls because they are lighter. We started with just regular plastic balls that we had in the house, but quickly realized that they were too heavy for the strength of the magnet tape and knocked about half the tubes off the refrigerator when they dropped from one tube to another. I could never figure out how to use the mini mighty magnets we have on the fridge to keep the tubes from falling off without stopping the balls from rolling (although now that I'm thinking back on it, I see a way... geez I'm dumb). The girls were pretty disappointed.

"Ping pong balls are pretty light," I thought, "it's too bad we don't anything remotely resembling a ping pong table in our house."


So I texted The KingofHearts at work and asked, "Can you stop by Wal-Mart on your way home from work and buy me a package of ping pong balls?"


It's a testament to his patience, either that or he's just way too familiar with the goings on in this house, that I can text him some random request like this with no explanation whatsoever and his response is not, "What? Why do we need emergency ping pong balls?" and "Do I really have to go five miles out of my way to get THAT so life can go on peaceably," but rather, "How many do you need?"

Future husbands and daddies take note: This is how you gain points in your families' eyes.

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Marking the Day

Posted on 9/11/2010 08:46:00 PM
I've often wondered how long it took the government to recognize December 7th as an official, observable day of remembrance. I grew up familiar with and connected to Pearl Harbor Day for reasons I won't go into here, but never really thought about how long it was before it officially became one of those notations on the yearly calendars you buy at the mall along with Columbus Day and St. Swithens Day. I'm sure at first no one needed any reminder as the date ticked by each year. But eventually, it became a notation in the history books and at some point, someone had to officially decide that we would put some reminder on the calendars. I'd always assumed that was some government designation so formed by an act of Congress. Since the knowledge box is sitting on my lap, I just decided to look it up and it appears that National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day wasn't declared an official day of remembrance by the Government until 1994.

Um... what?

Professor Google must be off today, because that can't be right. I can't find any official federal record of it before that time. Feel free to school me in the comments if I've gotten this wrong, but did it really take fifty-three years for some official federal response to this? I feel a lot better about that
hole in the sky over Ground Zero now.

I've been a bit (okay a lot) maddened by the media as of late and I chose to mark this day by turning the radio and television off to avoid the fear- and hate-peddling that's been the majority of bandwidth on the airwaves recently. I can't listen to even one more second of attention given to people who do not deserve mine.

Instead, the girls and I made cupcakes and then we all took them to our local firehouse. They made cards for the "fighter fighters," as The Caterpillar calls them (of course, the rest of us all call them that now too), and they carefully selected firetruck cupcake liners, and red and yellow sprinkles -- because those are the colors of the fire truck, not because the cupcakes should look like they're on fire. Let's hope that was clear.

I have a great fondness for fire fighters. These are the guys who saved our house a few years back. These are part of the brotherhood of men that my neighbor (a retired fire fighter after thirty years on the force) has told us so many stories about. These are the people who ran toward those falling towers when everyone else was running away. These are people who put their own lives in danger daily to help save others' and protect their property. These are the people who should be getting all the attention on a day like today.





I just hope they don't notice how many times my girls stuck their fingers in the icing.


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Pavlov Would Be Proud

Posted on 9/11/2010 05:18:00 AM
This is why you have cats...



and kids.

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Holy Hair, Batman

Posted on 9/10/2010 06:11:00 AM
While at the RenFaire last weekend, we spent an obscene amount of money on hair braiding. It was a little more affordable last year when The Dormouse wanted her hair braided and The Caterpillar didn't have enough hair and/or care if her hair was braided (or on fire for that matter). But as of late, The Caterpillar has been going through a "braid my hair too" stage and every time I do ANYthing with The Dormouse's hair, The Caterpillar wants hers done... "and I want two braids... no three braids... no... FOUR BRAIDS!... five braids?" (It's a good thing she can't see the top of her head where I generally place one braid and am done with it.) So when they BOTH need their hair professionally braided at $mumbleImembarassedtosaymumble dollars a pop, it starts to add up. But we told them they could do it and I never like to go back on a promise, so we bit the financial bullet... and it killed both our wallets... to death.

The women who do hair braiding at these types of events are amazing. They weave bits of hair through their fingers (Go, Go, Gadget, Loom-Fingers!) and finish in ten minutes flat what would take me forty to do - with a finished product that looks twice as good. They can also do it while putting in their lunch orders, fishing out money for whoever's doing the lunch run, chasing my kids' heads around the room, and never once complaining that they won't sit still. I have not yet mastered any of these skills. What they can do with a tiny little bit of willow-the-wisp hair is nothing short of amazing:


Since I knew I was going to forfeit my lunch to pay for their hair anyway, I let The Dormouse choose the most complicated hairstyle they had available. Also, because I was fascinated by the possibility of this one in particular and wanted to watch how the girl would accomplish it.


See that? That's not just your normal three-strand braid. That is a braid made of five strands. It's like she weaved a little carpet over each side of The Dormouse's head. If I hadn't watched this girl and saw that it was possible, I'd have told you that you'd need four extra fingers to accomplish this one.


Since we spent a small fortune on these fine, fine braids, I let the girls go without washing their hair and sleeping on their hairstyles for several days or as long as was reasonably prudent, whichever comes first. This morning when they both woke up looking like members of the Holy Family in a renaissance painting, I finally took the braids out.

This was probably more exciting for The Dormouse than getting the braids in the first place because she knew she'd get to go the whole day with a giant mop of curls... something people in my Clan of the Stick-Straight-Haired People never get to experience.



This is what The Dormouse would look like if she had good hair. Sorry honey. You can blame Grandma... I know always did.

The Caterpillar's curly mop didn't turn out quite as well, but if they ever put out a casting call for a sequel to The Bride of Frankenstein called "The Frankensteins and Their Love Child Take Manhattan," I think I have a costume strategy for the audition:


The resemblance is uncanny, no?



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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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