Gadgety

Posted on 3/31/2011 08:25:00 PM
I've loved taking pictures since I took my first photography class in junior high school.  That being said, I'm under no delusions that I'm actually a good photographer.  I realize I could improve my skills a whole bunch with the right equipment and some decent instruction (read: not spending less than two seconds flipping through the manual and then giving up), but I neither have the money nor the time to actually follow through on any of those empty promises I make about how THIS year, I'm gonna take a class. And possibly... I lack the desire as well.

A few months ago, I bought a new camera.  I upgraded the lens from the standard offering to one that gave me better options for aperture choices.  While it's a much better lens, I've constantly struggled with the fact that the lens is physically a little bit too big for the built in flash and it throws a shadow across the bottom of the frame.  I have access to a better flash, but I don't know how to use it either.  So, I've solved the problem by creatively cropping the shadow out (or at least trying) or just ignoring it altogether.   Obviously the trick would be to learn to use the camera without the flash, and I'm working on that.  But there are just sometimes when it's not possible.  

Enter Photojojo and their nifty little gadget, the Pop-up Flash Bounce. It's a little like the old film canister camera hack, in that it makes a flash look much more like natural light, but it also solves that pesky problem of removing the lens shadow at the bottom of all my flash photos.
See?


Totally different.


I am thrilled to fix this problem by throwing a mere $30 at it rather than, you know... actually improving my skills or something.  

Just one more way the Interweb has improved my life (and, perhaps, made me more lazy but in some circles that could be viewed as an improvement as well).

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Say Cheese

Posted on 3/31/2011 08:12:00 AM
Maybe not completely thrilled to pose for a picture to thank Grandma for the hats.


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Kinder Music

Posted on 3/28/2011 05:39:00 AM In:
It's no great secret on this weblog that I'm a big music nerd and have every intention of passing it along to my children.  That's okay, because I think knowing that Ludwig von Beethoven wrote his Heilingastad Testament in 1802 around the time he was writing the Eroica Symphony is way less nerdy than to have memorized all the lyrics to songs with no music and poems written in The Lord of the Rings... something both my Kiddles also know.  Sigh.  They just don't have a chance.

Aside: The KingofHearts thinks this Raising-A-Nerd Approach to parenting is a good thing because it will make them virtually undateable when they get to teenagerhood and that means less for us to worry about.  My theory is it will just make them available to the popular boys and the nerdy boys alike and then we'll just have twice as many boys to worry about.  Thoughts?

A few weeks ago, the orchestra I play with took on Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade for the first concert of the new year.  The KingofHearts has for sometime now been telling The Dormouse about Sheherazade and her tales.  For awhile, he was spinning a bedtime story each night a la One Thousand and One Nights... always left "to be continued" with the next night's story.  I assume he does this so The Dormouse will let him live to see another day.  

Anyway, she heard me talking about playing Scheherazade, and asked if she could come hear it.  When she was really little and more portable, she came to my concerts a lot and The KoH would sit near the exits so he could take her out the second she started to make noise and/or leave at intermission.  But sometime around the age of two, she lost the ability to immediately fall asleep in situations with external noise.  Respecting other concertgoers' experience was not topping her list of priorities so we stopped bringing her for awhile.  Lately she's been more interested in listening to classical music. So now that she's seven and able to understand the need for behaving and keeping quiet, I thought I'd give her a chance again and see how she did sitting with a friend in the audience of Scheherazade.

It turned out to be a great experience for her.  She loved getting dressed up, having a night out alone with Momma and staying out late.  I gave her a kid-appropriate intro to programmatic music and played bits of the piece for her in the car on the way to the concert venue so she'd know what to expect.  We talked about what the different sections might represent.  I figured that would be the end of her desire after having to sit still for two hours, but apparently she had enough pictures in her head to remain interested by the time we actually played and she was not only well-behaved throughout, but also thoroughly enjoyed it.  In the car on the way home, she asked to hear it again and as I cued up the iPod and started it again, she said dreamily, "This is exactly how it was.  It sounded just like this! Ahhh..." and trailed off.  (Sometimes I think I'm parenting Louisa May Alcott's version of a child and not the real-life 21st century kind I was supposed to get.)  The next day, her audience companion told me she had explained to him that "in the opening statement of Scheherazade, there was a tune that is played over and over again.  Sometimes, it's a little different each time, it goes higher or lower or it changes a little bit... and that was kind of like all the one-thousand-and-one stories Scheherazade told over and over."  My 19th Century Theory teacher from college would be so proud... of her... not me... because I would never have gotten that right on a test without help.

My concert this week was a scattergory of musical eras, from Beethoven's 5th Symphony to Copland's Rodeo, to a brand new tone poem that most of the orchestra members didn't even understand.  The composer wrote it for us and would be present for our World Premiere of his work.  New music is always hard to play because a) there's no recording to reference and b) even the most seasoned of classical musicians cuts his teeth on music that was written two hundred years before his birth and therefore new musical ideas are sometimes hard to accept.  I'm a huge fan of 20th Century music, but even I had a little trouble "getting" this one.

The Dormouse asked to come again and since it went well the last time, I agreed.  While she focused on the difficult decision of What to Wear (she finally settled on a "dress that looks like cream" and some "very grown up looking" earrings, which when anyone commented on, she reminded, "They're CLIP-ONS."), I prepared her for the Beethoven and Copland, but there wasn't much for me to do with the new piece.  Instead, I explained it was a tone poem about vampires.  I told her this was a brand new piece and she would be among the first people in the world to hear it so it was really exciting.

The composer happened to be in the lobby as we entered so I introduced her to him, thinking that might make it at least more interesting for her to connect it to a person.  She shook his hand said, "I've never met a REAL LIVE COMPOSER before!"

He thought that was pretty funny and we headed into the hall. 

Afterward, she and I were leaving and ran into the composer one more time.  I stopped to congratulate him and thank him for the experience and he looked down at The Dormouse and asked, "Well, what did you think?"

"I.... [pause] LOVED... [pause] IT!" (Miss Melodramatic)
He said, "Well that's great!  What was your favorite part?"

"The Vampire Song.  It was the best one!  I was imagining that the chimes I heard toward the end were the clock and it was getting to be dawn and the vampires had to get back inside before the sun came up."

"You're exactly right.  That's what I meant that to be."

"And the screeching sounds, I didn't think they were people screaming like my Mom said.  No, they were the sounds of the vampire as he turned into a bat."

He looked surprised.  "Well, that's what I meant that to be.  Most adults don't get that. I'm glad you liked it."

"I did.  It was better than Beethoven."

"Kid, you should be a music critic.  I'm gonna put that on my resume:  'Better Than Beethoven.'"

I'm not sure what I'm more impressed by: her ability to catch onto musical images and themes, or her ability to kiss up.  

This, from the child who doesn't remember to flush the toilet about 40% of the time.

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New Use for Clutter Around the House

Posted on 3/27/2011 04:38:00 PM
Remember those Say hello to Neon commercials in the mid 90s?

hi


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Looking Down at Spring

Posted on 3/25/2011 02:01:00 PM In:
(click to embiggen)

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Hair-larious

Posted on 3/24/2011 08:47:00 AM In:
Some folks at church were sitting in the pew front of us last Sunday.  They have a little boy who was going nuts ninja-ing, car racing, and just generally making a lot of noise.  

"That's the worst things about boys," the mom said, " they're so rambunctious.  They just never calm down."

I reminded her that girls have their worst things too; so you just traded it for a different worst thing.

"What's the worst thing about girls," she wondered.

The KingofHearts and I glanced at one another and then answered in unison, "THE HAIR."

You might just assume that we were both on the same wavelength and our marriage is that close, but not ten minutes before leaving for church that day, I'd combed and dressed The Caterpillar's hair just the way she wanted it.  She took all the hair bands and doo-dads out within two minutes of my completing the task, handed them to me and then threw a Big Stupid Fit because I wasn't willing to put it all back in five seconds later.  I told her that if she was going to take her hair out two minutes after doing it, I wasn't going to keep putting it all back - that was The Rule.  

She stomped into the bathroom screaming and then suddenly stopped.  The KoH wondered what had ended her tantrum so quickly but I had an idea.  So it didn't really surprise me when she came back a minute later looking like this:

If you won't do my hair, I'll do it BY MYSELF.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

One of the best things about having girls is constantly entering a room and finding little scenes set up for you to interpret.


I choose to believe that Barbie's daughter got unwittingly mixed up in the human trafficking trade and is now awaiting her fate in a Thai prison where they serve her one large bowl of gruel per day.  She doesn't seem  too unappy about it though.  It's one of those happy Thai prison experiences... like the sequel to Bridget Jones.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

The Caterpillar has taken to playing the piano in the morning after The Dormouse heads out for the bus.  Her current favorite song is, "E - D - C" which she very carefully picks out on the piano keys and plays as determined as humanly possible.  Then when she finishes playing those three notes, she yells, "Hooray! I DID IT!!" and makes crowd and applause noises.  She's at least ready for a job playing with Keyboard Cat.


blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

I taught The Dormouse to make Coffee Mug Cake a few days ago.  There were squeals of delight as the cake rose like a skyscraper out of the mug while in the microwave.  She wanted a photo, but every time we opened the microwave door and no matter how quickly, the cake sank back into the mug like a frightened turtle.  We must have wasted a good twenty minutes, trying different combinations of readying the camera, having one of us throwing open the door and the other taking a picture as soon as possible.  This was the best we got... which isn't that impressive.   



What is impressive is a couple of decades ago, I would have been doing this with film and wasted about $50 in spent photographs before I got one this good.  We also would have had to wait a week in between film rolls to see if the pictures even turned out.  Instead, I grabbed this one shot of the cake to post here and deleted the other twenty photos we took.  Additional cost to me: $0.  Entertainment value for my child:  Priceless.

The digital age makes life better in so many ways, but this is something I don't think anyone ever thought about.

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Fun for a Girl and a Boy

Posted on 3/22/2011 08:13:00 PM
Whenever I think of lame activities like my Make a Bug craft, the musical soundtrack that runs through my head is this one from the old Ren and Stimpy Show.



I've been singing this song a lot this week, because in addition to the Army of Totalitarian Government and Safe Harbor for Eggshells, we also invented:

"Cuphands"


...in which we tape plastic cups to our hands and toss egg-shaped bean bags back and forth. Because OF COURSE WE DO.

That egg is about to land dead square in my cup.
I want you to know that I am the Champion of Cuphands.


I suppose you could do this without the tape, but it keeps everyone from cheating. It also ensures that we will not be able to play again until the skin on the backs of the Shortlings' hands grows back.

We also invented "Summertime Sledding."

Due to work schedules and inappropriately-timed weather events, The Dormouse never got to go sledding this winter and we haven't heard the end of it yet. Seriously, if I could order up a giant snowstorm, knowing how much it would bug all the rest of you, and how it would incur the wrath of the entire Washington Metro Area, I would totally do it just so I don't have to hear One. More. Time. how she "never got to go sledding" said in high-pitched kid-whine.

The KingofHearts ordered a big ol' pile o' mulch this Spring. It's super cheap and/or free from the county but if you pay them an additional fee, they'll send a truckload of and just drop it in your driveway. It's only a fraction of the cost of purchasing mulch from a nursery and you don't have to clean out the bed of a pickup afterward... also... we no longer have a pickup. So WIN-WIN, I say.

The Dormouse immediately declared it her "mountain" and began sledding down it.


The helmet is really an unnecessary precaution, but I like to set standards for behavior.

Now all the neighborhood kids have learned the joy of Surfing the Mulch Pile too. I'm sure their mothers would be less-than-thrilled about the amount of dirt they brought home in their socks with them, but at least one of their mothers is in the hospital at this very moment having a baby, so I'm pretty sure I'm safe today.



I'd say we got our $50 worth even before the mulch goes on the flower beds.

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I Used to Feel Super*

Posted on 3/19/2011 08:54:00 PM
Tonight we were treated to a Super Perigee Moon outside our front door. I'm sure my astrology friends will correct me if I'm wrong (and yes, I meant to type astrology instead of astronomy because it bothers them so damn much when I do that and... well, that tickles me) but if my high school science class knowledge serves me, the perigee is the point on the orbit at which the moon is closest to the Earth (the apogee is the point at which it's further away). The moon is full tonight about an hour away from perigee, so it should look larger and brighter any full moon since 1993. When The Dormouse asked me when this would happen again I told her "probably not in my lifetime," but it turns out that Professor Google says it'll happen again in 2016 so I was Wrongy Mcwrongerson about that. I guess Mark Twain is still the only one who can predict his death by astronomical events.

I took my camera and tripod out in the front yard and took about fifty pictures, trying to get a photo that showed both the definition and the color we saw in the sky. Sadly, this was the best I could do. To the eye, the moon was a gorgeous burnt yellow color and no matter how I messed with the settings and the ISO, I couldn't reproduce it with the camera. I thought about throwing a tint over the whole picture in Photoshop but that just seemed like cheating. Finally when the neighbors began to stare at the crazy lady in the yard pondering the sky for twenty minutes and my feet were numb from standing in the grass barefooted, I gave up and settled on this:


Good news though... NASA says that while the Moon looks fourteen to twenty percent larger and thirty percent brighter than it normally looks, this celestial event poses no danger to the Earth. Whew.

My feet are another story.


*points to whomever can place the post title

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Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Posted on 3/19/2011 02:50:00 PM
The Shortlings were driving me nutso the other day so I cut apart an egg carton, threw some pipe cleaners, glue and markers at them and told them to make bugs. It kept them busy for about forty-five minutes. Mission accomplished.

Interestingly, though, their idea of "bugs" turned into some sort of caste society with a King, several Princesses and appropriate crowns for each level of importance based on appearance, hair color and antennae size.


Would that they are never actually put in any position of power in the world. I can see them declaring themselves Presidents for Life, dressing in crazy outfits and sicing their egg carton army on some unsuspecting puppet state.

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Still in a Row

Posted on 3/18/2011 03:56:00 PM

Maybe I could channel this energy into something useful... like setting up chairs in a hotel ballroom.

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May the Road Rise to Meet You

Posted on 3/17/2011 03:25:00 PM
The first pen pal I ever had was an invisible leprechaun.

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Spade and she was very Irish. Though I honestly don't remember, I'm guessing she was first generation American and her parents has immigrated from Ireland. There are a lot of people I've known over the years who were proud of their ancestry, but I don't think there was anyone more proud of who she was and where she came from than Mrs. Spade. She spent loads of time telling us how things were different in Ireland and how the people there lived. She talked about their customs, their food, their music, the beautiful countryside... she lived and breathed Irish culture. It was who she was and it permeated most aspects of our lives with her.

Mrs. Spade created this mythology in our classroom. She invented a leprechaun named Malcolm who became her classroom mascot. She had worked out this whole back story about him, where he lived, what he wore, his brother's name, how he came to America, etc. He was very small and shy, which explained why he would never appear in person. But he loved children and sometime
s he would bring things to the classroom when we weren't there and leave them for us.

And here's the thing: we kids believed in him like we believed in Santa Claus. We never saw him, but we were often privy to his handiwork. Sometimes a small treat would appear in our desks. One day we'd come into the classroom and there'd be a cookie on each of our desks but all the chairs would be knocked over on their sides. Then we'd find a letter from Malcolm on the black board apologizing because he'd come in to leave treats for the class but his brother, the Loki of the family, knocked all the chairs over. He was always apologizing for his brother, it seemed.

Mrs. Spade had a station set up in the classroom where we could write notes to Malcolm and
she promised to deliver them after school every day. Because of Malcolm's shyness, you see, she was the only one he'd talk to. He was too embarrassed to meet us himself, but he loved to write and he'd answer any letter he received. So we'd write our notes and hand them over to her so she could take our notes to his secret tree (or is that the Keebler Elvers?) and deliver them. Then the next day, we'd get a note back from Malcolm in handwriting that looked suspiciously like Mrs. Spade's. I still have a few notes from Malcolm saved away. In one, I had apparently told him a story about my little brother running out the front door naked after a bath, because Malcolm sympathized with me and told me how his brother had done the same thing, but he'd stopped him before he got out the door.

Now I realize it was all an elaborate ruse to get us kids to practice our writing but I forgive her for it.

I loved Mrs. Spade... and not just because of Malcolm. She was the kind of first grade teacher everyone hopes for: creative and sweet, loves to be around children but cares most about whether they learn, able to keep discipline in a classroom but never lost her patience with any of us. The thing I think I remember most about her was that she was as proud of my Polish heritage for me as she was of her own Irish heritage for her. She was really the first person who taught me that concept of ancestry and to her, to be from somewhere meant something. I imagine that Mrs. Spade is now no longer with us, but I remember her fondly whenever I think about her.

This all came screeching back to me today as The Dormouse walked in the door after school. She threw her hands into air and did a few fist pumps.

"WOO HOO!"


Me: "What's up?"


Her: "It's St. Patrick's Day and THE LEPRECHAUN VISITED MY CLASSROOM!"


"Really? What happened?"


It all came tumbling out of her mouth in one, breathless, stream of consciousness paragraph: "He knocked a few of our chairs and we had to pick them up. He pulled papers out and threw them all over the floor so we had to clean up the papers and figure out which paper belonged to which student. He pulled all the books off the shelf and left them all over the floor, so we had to pick up all the books and put them back on the shelves in the right order. He left green fingerprints all over my homework papers and he left a puddle of green pee on the floor! We had to find some floor cleaner and clean up the green pee. Then he opened up the window and jumped out, I guess, because the window was left open so we had to close the window."

I'm kinda glad I only got a cookie.



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First of the Daphne Blooms

Posted on 3/16/2011 03:29:00 PM In:

I'm still trying to nurse it along. The KingofHearts cut off all the dead and/or dying portions after the snow this year and last year tried to kill it. Despite the fact that I had no knowledge of his plans and this happened while not in my presence, I felt a distinct pain in my arm at the precise moment he cut a third of the trunk off. But then the next day, this little dude popped out so I'm willing to forgive him for maiming my baby and maybe admit that he knows what he's doing... a little.

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Instilling Fear Early; It's Our Only Hope

Posted on 3/14/2011 05:54:00 AM
Have you seen the Red Robin commercial where the dad walks into the teenage girl's bedroom while she's lying on the bed writing and says, "How about we go to Red Robin and get a burger when you're done studying?"

Then a teenage boy hiding behind the curtains pokes his head out and says, "Yum!" Then he looks at the Dad... and back at the girl... and says, "I'll call you!" before he jumps out the window.

Here, see for yourself:



So that was on the other day and as the Dad says, "No he won't," The KingofHearts agreed aloud that no, the boy wouldn't, in fact, be calling the girl back.

"Why not, Daddy?" asked The Dormouse.

"Because you are never, never, never, ever, EVER allowed to have a boy in your room," The KoH answered.

"What will happen if I do?" she wondered.

He was succinct, "I have a bat and a shovel and I know how to hide the body."

Dormouse: "Mine or his?"

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In My Daughters Eyes I Am... Well, Odd

Posted on 3/13/2011 08:53:00 AM
The Dormouse brought home a school assignment this weekend wherein she had to interview someone and then write a biography about them. Some of the questions were provided by the teacher and some were to be created by the students themselves. Since the only other people home besides me were the cats (and when she asked these questions of the cats, they were quite repetitive), she decided to interview me.

I thought briefly about making up all my answers to try and confuse and baffle her teacher, and believe me, I had some good ones, but then I realized that my actual, truthful answers to her questions were at least as disconcerting. So I went with truth in the end. Here is her completed biography:

My mother is [name redacted to protect my interests, but know this: she insisted on using my maiden name rather than the name I've carried and used for past fifteen years. Take note of that, husband: nothing is permanent. Then we had to take a brief time-out from the interview process while I taught her to spell it.]. Alice's age is 43. Her b-day is [redacted] in North Dakota. Her hobbies are music, photography animals, family and history. Her pets are cats. She's had cats all her life. Her favorite possessions are: violins, drums, and books. Her jobs, she was: bakery, secretary, singing waitress, country band, prison, mental hospital, prison again, nursing home, school, and non-prophet. Her favorite food is ice cream. Her plan is to travel all over the world. The # of places she's been is 11 places. Her favorite book is The Fountainhead. Her wish is for everyone to be happy. A person she admires is Itzhak Perlman because he overcame adversity. Her favorite childhood toy is the circuit board toy. Her favorite color is black and favorite flowers are daphnes, plumerias, and croci.

There are many things that need to be said about this paragraph:

1. I love that, to her understanding at least, my responses sound like they range from your basic right wing nutjob to bleeding heart liberal in the same paragraph. It makes it harder to pin me down.

2. Apparently my birthday changes depending on what state of the union you happen to be in.

3. Many aren't familiar with the lesser known Photography Animal Hobby, but once you teach them to use their little paws to press down the shutter, it's actually quite rewarding.


4. I'm not sure how family got to be a hobby. But if you calculate the amount of time I spend doing it, I suppose it counts.

5. We had a lengthy discussion about how many dogs, gerbils, rats, mice, fish, crabs, salamanders, horny toads, boxes of beetles, and cicada skins attached to my shirt and worn as jewelry that I also had as a kid. I guess only the cats registered. Or maybe she was just embarrassed.

6. That's actually what I said when she asked me about my favorite possessions. It was a required question provided by the teacher. I was stumped. Who's asks that? What I really wanted to say: money and the three bodies buried in my basement under the concrete.

7. I love that it looks like I became a Bakery early in life because it reminds me of an old episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Drat, I wish I could find a video clip of that episode somewhere.

8. I'm dying to know whether her teacher actually infers that I worked in a couple of prisons and mental hospitals, or if she instead chooses to believe I had a lengthy prison term broken up by a short stint in a mental hospital. Either way, I think this makes me scary enough.

9. She's wrong about my being a Non-Prophet. My abilities to predict the future and speak with deity are indisputable.


10. I don't really care if everyone is happy. This is my real wish. But I thought it would take too long for a seven year old to write it down. The Caterpillar had a slightly different wish.

11. Not that I'm all that protective about my plans to circumnavigate the globe, but I feel the need to point out that the number of places I've "been" should actually read the number of places I've "lived." (I was only counting states, not different cities, and I think even that might be underestimating some.) I've actually been to quite a few more places than that. Her take makes it sound like the only places I go these days are home, work and a variety of ice cream shops. Which is not at all true. Sometimes I have to stop at the gas station in between.

12. I really did love that circuit board toy when I was a kid. But then it seems I was kind of a geek from day one.

Edited to add: When the teacher corrected her paper, she told The Dormouse that she'd left out a comma in between the words "singing" and "waitress" and put a big red mark on the page because clearly she must have met I had one job singing and a different job as a waitress. The Dormouse told her it was not an error because her mother really was a "singing waitress" and then came home and asked me to send a note to her teacher so she wouldn't mark her down for punctuation. I can't quite decide whether it's more worth it to me that my kid has a good grade on her homework, or not to have to admit to an adult professional person that I was, in fact, a singing waitress. I gotta figure there'll be other chances for her to turn in papers at school, right? Interestingly, the teacher did not feel the need to add a comma between "photography" and "animals." She must be a closet teacher of photography to animals too.

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The Whole Truth

Posted on 3/12/2011 09:11:00 AM In:
Thirteen things The Caterpillar has said recently that there's probably a bigger story behind, but honestly, I don't want to know.

  1. "Momma, I wish I wanted to make pancakes for you."
  2. "I don't eat bugs."
  3. "I like that doctor. He's a good doctor." Me: "What makes him a good doctor? " Her: "He didn't poke me in the ear."
  4. "Oh. that's sooo inappropriate."
  5. "You're tap dancing on my last nerve, catty."
  6. "If someone says, 'Are you God?' then you hafta say 'YES!'"
  7. From the other room after a loud crash sound, "Don't worry! I'm all right!"
  8. The Dormouse: "What is your fondest wish?" The Caterpillar: "I wish to someday have a Carpet Mayor."
  9. "We don't kick our friends. We don't bite them either."
  10. "I wanna do a dirt project!"
  11. "All the people on the TV says, 'Yeaaaaaah!' That's like baby talk."
  12. "You cleaned up the house Momma; so here's ten pennies." "Well, thank you... um... where'd you get ten pennies?" "From your purse."
  13. "I'm a princess girl dog who doesn't wear pants."
  14. Bonus: "Momma, can I watch a movie?" "Not right now, hon." Walks away mumbling, "I could take you to court."

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Pavane for a Dead Princess

Posted on 3/11/2011 11:38:00 AM In:
Soooo busy. Sooo overwhelmed. Time for a minutiae post.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

"What's that smell?"

"What smell, momma?"

"It smells like body odor and feet."

"??"

"It smells like something died in here, but before it died, it did three hours of hot yoga first and then rubbed Limburger cheese all over itself and then sprayed a grandmother's perfume to cover the smell."

"But Momma, I don't smell anything... except my Princess Perfume."

Exactly.


blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

I recently undertook a project to paint the trim in our kitchen and eliminate a c
olor from the palate. I liked the old color but since we painted the cabinets and put new linoleum on the counter tops, it doesn't quite match anymore. We originally chose the colors in the kitchen to match our china, which we seldom use, so it's not all that obvious anyway. In order to paint the trim around the pantry door, I asked The KingofHearts to help me take the door off and we put it in the corner of the dining area. Then I decided that we really need a new door altogether, so I never put it back on. It's ugly, but getting stuff out of the pantry is so much more convenient. It's almost as nice as that month we had the refrigerator in the living room.


Next up: do something about that awful stove.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

It is quite possible that The Dormouse would like to learn how to train a dog. We don't have a dog collar, or a leash, or a dog for that matter... but I think that The Dormouse has found a way around that.



blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

Our friend, Uncle Matty, came by with his girlfriend last weekend and The Caterpillar asked him to braid her hair. Always the renaissance man, Uncle Matty agreed and she brought him a comb and a spray bottle. After a few minutes Uncle Matty's girlfriend (Aunt Matty?) was unhappy with the time it was taking him to accomplish that task, so she took over the other side.


It's quite possible that they each have different hair braiding techniques.

blahblahblahblahblahblahblahblah

Speaking of hair, yesterday, I decided to take a shower so I called the babysitter to make sure The Caterpillar didn't get into any trouble while I was in the shower
(OK, I put cartoons on the TV). Five minutes later when I came out, I immediately knew something was wrong, but it took a few seconds to piece together what. Here's my thought process:

Oh, there's The Caterpillar sitting sweetly on floor.
She seems to have a pair of scissors in her hand.
She's still watching Captain Planet.
Huh, I should vacuum the floor, there's schmutz all over.
That schmutz looks alot like strands of hai... WAIT A SECOND!

So yeah. After three years and six months of life, The Caterpillar finally got a haircut. The downside is she gave it to herself, while instead of looking into a mirror, she was looking into pictures of a blue-skinned man with a green mullet and five United Colors of Bennetton kids with 90s-era cartoon hair.


The upside is I found a new place to store the scissors: on top of the refrigerator.

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Tripod?

Posted on 3/10/2011 08:49:00 AM In:
"Momma, what do you call a cow with three legs?"

"Um.... I don't know, honey, what do you call a cow with three legs?"

"A dead horse."

Well, at least her sense of humor is on it's way to becoming something we will one day share.

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Meanwhile on the Mall...

Posted on 3/06/2011 06:36:00 AM In:

About four or five times a year I have to explain to someone that here in D.C. when we say, "let's go to the mall" we don't mean, I need a pair of shoes, a $22 uneven haircut and an unnaturally covered pretzel.

The National Mall is a rare area of downtown D.C. where there aren't government buildings crammed into the tiniest patch of open space. And the misconception that's it's a shopping mall is so widespread that the park service even addressed it on their frequently asked questions.

The Mall was part of L'Enfant's original 1791 plan but he imagined it a bit differently. L'Enfant wanted it to be the central axis of the city's monumental core... the "Grand Avenue." It was to run west from the Capitol, directly south of the President's home to its terminus at a large equestrian statue of George Washington. (Personally, I'm kinda glad they scratched that last one - I've never been a fan of that whole historical figures re-imagined as Greek gods school of thought.) According to L'Enfant's plan, the Mall was to be "four hundred feet in breadth, and about a mile in length, bordered by gardens, ending in a slope from the houses on each side." Over the years, the concept for the Mall changed many times and the grounds were re-appropriated and used for a multitude of purposes, public meetings and rallies long before Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War, rail road through ways, bivouacking and parading troops, producing arms and slaughtering cattle. In 1909 they removed the train depot and tracks and restored some of the original idea, putting back the large grassy area and planting four rows of American elm trees at the perimeter. The Mall would then be bordered by what they called "public buildings." These public buildings eventually became the series of museums in the Smithsonian Institution system and there are more than fifteen national museums and gardens as well as a few government buildings sprinkled in for good measure. Now there's even Wi-Fi coverage on the National Mall.

But still no DSW.

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I Haven't Seen a Crocus or a Rosebud...

Posted on 3/05/2011 05:32:00 AM In:

Croci are just about my favorite of the early spring flowers. And not just because I always sing that song in my head whenever I see one, but that's probably a big part of it.

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Deck Accomplished!

Posted on 3/04/2011 05:10:00 AM
So, apparently, your dad does know how to build a deck.





Notice how all these photo views are systematically chosen to avoid showing the massive piles of trash that are in our yard?

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Duh. Skiing!

Posted on 3/03/2011 12:39:00 PM
*Thanks to Charlie Sheen for the best post title ever.

A few weeks back Monica reminded me of her
New Year's resolution to learn to ski.

"Why?" I asked.

I don't think she ever provided me with an acceptable answer, but like most of Monica's schemes, I agreed to be a part of it without much question and scheduled a day off work to go learn to ski with her. I do what she tells me, folks. It's better that way.

When I told The KingofHearts about my plan to go skiing for Monica's birthday, he was incredulous:

"Have you even TOLD Monica that you DON'T KNOW HOW TO SKI and you've never been skiing before IN YOUR LIFE?!?"

"Um, actually, I kind of do know how to ski and I've been skiing a few times."

"When did you ever do that?"

"When I lived at the bottom of a ski resort. I had a life before I met you, you know."

This, from the person who was convinced I was a fantastic soccer player who could wipe the floor with native players, not because he'd ever seen me play soccer or heard me talking about playing soccer, but because I lived in South America for a couple of years.

I skied for the first time in high school with a church youth group trip. I had never done anything of the like before and my skiing companions assured me I wouldn't need lessons, they'd teach me. What this meant was, "I'll help you put on your skies and then forget that you don't know what you're doing and drag you down a run with so many moguls, you'll need a new suspension by the time you get to the bottom." So until this week, I had never had a ski lesson. I don't remember much about that first trial by fire. I don't really even know how well I skied but I think I managed to stay above the snow and I know I didn't fall down the mountain or anything. (Relax, folks, he's all right.) What I do remember is standing next to Robert Redford while in line for the ski lift and him being kind of a tool. Though I suppose I'd be a tool too if there were a bunch of hyperactive teenagers trying to get me to take my sunglasses off.

Back in the 90s... fine, 80s, when I was in college, I went skiing with friends a few more times because a ski resort was ten minutes up the hill from the school I was attending. I'm confident I went up that ski lift more times in the summer to have a picnic than in the winter to ski down. Near as I can tell, that was the last time I was on skis... sometime in 1987 or 1988. Since then, I've gained a few pounds, developed a healthy fear of death and thanks to my last pregnancy, lost all ability to balance while ascending a simple set of stairs. Needless to say, I wasn't confident in my skiing abilities after not having been near skis in mumblesomething (I can't even bear to do the math) years.


But I looked confident.

I say this by way of full disclosure because every time Monica tells the story of our ski trip, her estimation of how I under-represented my abilities at the outset of the day starts more and more to resemble a pool shark trying to hustle someone for his last dollar.

Though I'll admit the mechanics of the sport came back to me fairly quickly, the truth is, every time I look at the video of me skiing, I have to check and make sure there's nothing wrong with my computer because I appear to be moving in slow motion.




Other highlights of the day: Sonny Bono jokes, near constant Charlie Sheen quotes all day long and Monica yelling "Superstar" and flinging her ski poles in the air at the end of each run, threatening to put out the eyes of anyone who had the misfortune of being in our section of the mountain.

I can't imagine why no one wanted to be around us.

Jealous.

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Commas Matter

Posted on 3/01/2011 06:21:00 AM
Me: "What are you making for dinner?"

The KingofHearts: "Chili-dogs, baby, chili-dogs."

The Caterpillar: "BABY CHILI DOGS?!?!"

Punctuation saves lives.

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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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