Bewildering Conversations in the Kitchen, vol. xi

Posted on 11/26/2012 07:31:00 AM In:
"What are you doing Momma?"

"I'm trying to get you to go sit down and eat your breakfast."

"No, you're not.  You're trying to get me to go away so you can have some peace and quiet while you do something else."

You caught me, kid.

My thoughts: 

Thank Your Father, Kids*

Posted on 11/22/2012 08:17:00 AM In:
I picked up a few more thai chili peppers from weepy acres last night and brought them home to start a new batch of tabasco sauce.  I started cutting them up and I guess when they're a little bit dried out late in the season, they are quite a bit more potent than I'm used to.  The offputting gasses nearly blinded me. I had to open up the windows and leave the room while my eyes wept like I'd just seen a popular children's movie and reminded me why pepper spray is a useful self-defense mechanism.

Once I recovered and could see again, I put all the stems that I'd cut off in the garbage disposal and decided to peel some potatoes for the Thanksgiving dinner we'd invited some folks over to attend.  I don't love spending time with people on Thanksgiving, mainly because I'm usually just getting back from a conference around that time and I'm suffering from people overload.  I didn't have an excuse this year because my conference was a month earlier and it's hard to convince my family that my conference-PTSD lasts more than a month.  

So anyway, I tried to use the disposal to grind up the peels and hopelessly clogged the sink.  Yes, I know better, but lazy trumps smart in my world almost every day. So when the sink filled up with a brown murky liquid, I turned off the disposal and stuck my hands into the drain to clear the clog.  I pulled as much as I could out and finally realized the bulk of the clog was on the other side of the disposal.  The KingofHearts was still an hour away, and I didn't think it was all that fair to push my mess off onto him.  Instead, I took sink apart. 

I carefully put a bucket under the sink and pulled the trap, because I is smart.  I know that as soon as I open up a pipe under the sink all that awful water and ground up potato is gonna leak out.  But it didn't matter what I know because water and potato peels sprayed up an out of the pipes and covered every square inch of real estate under the sink, next to the sink, my face, everywhere.  I believe I actually pulled some potato bits out of my bra.  I finally located the clog - after taking apart three more pipes - and put it all back together.  I'll leave out the part where the sink leaked when I ran the disposal and had to take it all apart again to learn I'd put a gasket on backwards.  Put it all back together right this time and cleaned up the water/potato mixture off the bottom of the sink cabinet.  

Not sure about anyone else, but I'm not all that keen on having potatoes for dinner today.

But that's all just back story because about the time I finished up, I suddenly realized all the capsaicin from the peppers was in the water too and I'd stuck my hands into that pepperypotato water Idon'tknowhowmany times. And about the time I started to think about that, both my hands start to burn.  Holy crap, how they burned. 

This is why I should never be expected to handle Thanksgiving with other people.  The End.

Or something like that.

Apparently, it's an internet rule to post a list of things we are thankful for this holiday.  Here's mine.  Today, I am thankful for:

  1. The internet, who told me that soaking my hands in bleach water would help to counteract topical capsaicin burns.
  2. Oxycontin - just sayin'
  3. A rich supply of lotions to counteract the effect of soaking your hands in bleach water
  4. A new stove upon which to cook Thanksgiving dinner, should I ever regain my appetite
  5. Dishwashers and vacuum cleaners
  6. That my children actually listened to me last night when I asked them to stay out of the kitchen
  7. The concept of fried turkey.  Now if I could only incorporate THIS.
  8. A husband who gets up on Thanksgiving morning and can fix the furnace because sixty-five degrees in the house isn't all that comfortable and I was all I ALREADY FIXED THE SINK THIS ONE'S YOURS BUDDY.
  9. Having had the foresight to have purchased an extra replacement part even though everybody at the parts house mocked me last year when I asked for two furnace ignitors the last time our heater broke down so we didn't have to go out and try to find a new ignitor on Thanksgiving Day.
  10. Watching local Thanksgiving Day parades on cable access channels.  (Good to know you need to find a bathroom, local TV personality, but you might want to make sure your microphone isn't live when you ask)
  11. Burritos - no one can convince me these weren't served at first Thanksgiving 
  12. Pie
  13. These guys:

My thoughts: 

For Our Ears Only

Posted on 11/20/2012 09:17:00 AM
About a year ago, The Shortlings decided that they needed ways to discuss matters of great importance without parental intervention.  Ordinarily, I think most kids would probably just discover that talking in hushed tones or in another room would suffice, but not my kids.  My kids have carefully adapted The KingofHearts' mission statement: Making the complicated even more complicated since 2003.

They figured out that if one of them is downstairs and sitting next to a heating vent, while the other is upstairs sitting next to a heating vent, they can kindasorta hear each other talk through the heating vents.  This method of communication is about as effective as two tin cans on a string, however, and they need to shout loudly in order to be understood.  So while the decibel level of a normal conversation between the two of them when they're in the same room would be comparable to, say, a parrot in your living room or a bear with a chain saw; when they talk through the vents, they raise the stakes and hold conversations of jet airplane engine proportions.

Actual conversation overheard:

"Hey, it's really cool that we can talk privately like this, isn't it?"

"What did you say?"






Oh, irony, thy name is Kid.

But I guess their throats get tired eventually so they also invented a new language which could be used in front of The Parents when there's not a television program of phone conversation to down out.  This, typically, is reserved for the car when they need to talk without fear of being overheard and/or when I tell them to STOP YELLING ALREADY YOU ARE THREE FEET AWAY FROM ONE ANOTHER.  Sometimes they call it "Spanish," sometimes it's a "Fairy Language," sometimes they just call it their own, made-up Sister Language.  Whatever they call it, it ends up being worthy of a studio movie treatment starring Jodie Foster.

When I overhear them discussing it, they are clearly exceptionally pleased with themselves for coming up with this idea.  When you think about it, the idioglossia is brilliant: a secret twin language no one knows.  But the main problem with their otherwise brilliant idea is that they don't even know the language.  So it every sentence is said in the secret language, but then each sentence requires immediate translation into English, so I'm not entirely sure it really accomplishes what they set out to do.  

One day, while we were sitting in the car waiting on The KoH for something, I secretly recorded this.  It's like my own secret way of mocking them.

I'd point out the fatal flaw in their plan, but at least this way I'll always know what's going on.

My thoughts: 

Burn Pumpkin, Burn

Posted on 11/18/2012 09:00:00 AM
If you, like me, have spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out how to get the most of your Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns and prove to the world that you are ecologically conscious and capable of using every part of the animal... or if you just like setting stuff on fire... have I got an activity for you.  

  • a pumpkin
  • a cup of kerosene
  • a roll of toilet paper
  • a long handled lighter
  • and a nearby fire extinguisher in case of emergency
Put the toilet paper roll in the pumpkin, soak it with the lamp oil and light.  

This should provide at least ten minutes of good, clean family fun for you and your pyromaniacal family. That is, if your kids can stop bickering for ten minutes - which apparently wasn't possible in this case. (I have removed the audio for your convenience and my sanity.)

Cause if a girl can't go to Burning Man, at least she can dream up a reasonable facsimile.

My thoughts: 

Original Corn Rows

Posted on 11/17/2012 06:14:00 PM

My thoughts: 

Children of the Corn

Posted on 11/16/2012 06:16:00 PM

My thoughts: 

Karate Kid II

Posted on 11/15/2012 04:51:00 PM
We have had yet another karate belt advancement.  Hip, hip, yay!

The Dormouse promoted two more belts, and I am learning more about the karate world than I ever thought possible when I first watched Karate Kid as a teenage girl in 1984. Apparently there's much more to it than Ralph Macchio's adorable accessibility.  Who knew?

Aside: I am still boycotting the remake.  I'm sure Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan did fine, fine jobs in it, but I continue to be cranky that anyone dared to sully my teenage frame of reference and touch either that movie or Footloose.  Someday, I may make my peace, but probably not in this decade.

This time I brought my camera and even a long range lens, so I'll spare you the random thoughts and long stories and just share the photos (because I took a hundred of them and these ten actually turned out useful). Except to say how when they called the line for the belt promotions they called The Dormouse's name too soon.  She was told that she probably knew enough to promote two belts, but was reminded that it wasn't an automatic promotion school, so it was possible there'd be only one promotion and maybe not even that if her test wasn't good enough.  She had a few problems with her forms, so when they called her name in the group after the yellow belt promotion, we all figured she was being called up for the reds, which would have been the next color.  The KoH and I exchanged disappointed shrugs from across the room and figured it was a promotion, just not the one she'd hoped for.  But then we realized that there actually weren't any red belts being awarded that night and they were giving her the green.  It took awhile for that to sink in with The Dormouse, but when she finally figured it out... well... see for yourself in the penultimate photo.

The concentration on her face in these photos is astounding.  While you see other kids around her looking at their parents, the audience, other kids... The Dormouse looks like this in almost every photo.  If only we could figure out how to transfer that focus to her school work.

Lord, how I love this kid.

My thoughts: 

Ye Olde Pumpkin Farme

Posted on 11/14/2012 06:13:00 PM

My thoughts: 

Photo Random

Posted on 11/13/2012 05:14:00 PM In:
I take photos all the time and then leave them on my hard drive, hoping they will grow into a real boy blog post someday. Often, I eventually receive inspiration and use them.  Sometimes I just get tired of looking at them and the non-inspiration they are providing and I delete them out of hand. 

Here's a collection of things that I can't quite part with, but that probably belong in my recycle bin.

I heard talking in the kitchen the other day and found The Caterpillar doing a cooking show for her stuffed animals. I'd ask her to make me dinner, but I think all her sandwiches come with a bite taken out of them.

Perhaps I went a bit overboard at the pumpkin patch last month.

I think I may have a profession for her when she grows up.

Perhaps you'd have better luck in the winter if you just save up some money to fix your car.

Someone at work tried to order two (2) boxes of bubble wrap, but accidentally put twenty-six (26) in the quantity line.  Guess what Santa is using as his gift wrap this year?

I posted this somewhere else and then later thought, Wow, someone could really get the wrong idea about this.  So I will add that no children were harmed during this playdate, and she willingly participated, and the adults did immediately put the duct tape out of reach... after taking photos of course.

It doesn't take much to entertain The Shortlings, just a random Subway restaurant and a Sandwich Performer.  Just be sure there's a sneeze guard.

Most kids when you give them a box, they turn it into a toy;
My children turn a box into a bed. My children are weird.

@SoiDogSez is incredibly tolerant of my children... but she's not too fond of me.

Every renaissance fair everywhere would be successful if they do merely two things:  Invite The KingofHearts and sell Scotch Eggs

Last month was Breast Cancer Awareness month; I think "appreciation" is probably not the right word when you think about it.  Also: How much do I love that I took this picture with someone's boobs in the background without even realizing it?  So much.

Next time I need to break into someone's house, I'm totally bringing along The Caterpillar.

This was the thing the corn maze people gave us to tie it all together and motivate people to get to the end.  I desperately wanted it to say "Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine."

Now that we've finally cracked that Princess Lea Bun/Korean Towel Thing, I really need Monica to take me to the spa more.

Bonus: Video of my husband in an amusement park parking lot, acting like his old self and being an ass... but then I didn't have to say it twice.

My thoughts: 

Adults Behaving Badly

Posted on 11/10/2012 08:17:00 AM
Maybe it's not so obvious here, but among those who actually know me in real life, it's possibly been conspicuous that I have shied away from making any posts of a political nature in any internet forum over the past several months. I purposefully avoid politics and refuse to engage - especially on The FacePlace - because I don't believe it's possible to have a rational conversation in that forum where both sides and opinions are heard and respected, where it's okay to agree to disagree.  I find it highly doubtful that anyone has ever successfully used a Facebook post to sway the opinion of all their five hundred friends to their side, but I do know that it's super easy to alienate a lot of people you care about because you spent two thoughtless minutes typing and hit send.  No, no.  Facebook isn't a forum for political speech.  Facebook is for being funny on the internet.

I also completely avoid TV news.  Partially because I hate political pundits with a red, hot, fiery passion, and partially because we've limited screens in our house this year and I refuse to waste what little TV time I have on stuff I don't enjoy.  But that doesn't mean we don't pay attention to politics in our house.  We've pointedly let The Shortlings see us being politically involved and I often take them to vote with me because I want them to understand that in this country, we have a voice and this is one way we make it heard. 

We definitely have political leanings in our house despite my dislike of the two party system and refusal to identify myself as any one of them.  It's not possible for my kids not to pick up on that.  So I know that often what they think is colored by what they see me say and do.  I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.  But here's what I do make every effort to encourage: individual thinking and healthy respect of others.

The Dormouse has chosen the side of one political candidate or another and developed an opinion, however random, over the past few years.  We've never told her she was wrong, but I've always shared my personal opinion with her when she's wanted to know it.  During this election however, she took developing an opinion more seriously and decided she needed to know how she would vote if she could... on all the issues.  She wanted to know not only who was running, from school board to president, but also all the questions on the ballot.  I explained the pro and con views and she came up with an opinion on each thing from the rather complicated gambling initiative to whether the state should be able to borrow money to build a library.  Her opinions didn't always match what I think, but that wasn't the point.  Plus, where it really matters, I thought she came up with a bright, informed, fair decision. Isn't it funny how when people agree with us, we automatically tend to think those people are more intelligent than others?  Coincidence, I guess.

We also had many a discussion about whether The Dormouse would vote for one presidential candidate or the other... you know... if she could vote.  

The Caterpillar voiced her wizened opinion that when she turns eighteen, she will vote for Barack Obama.  I tried to explain that when she was eighteen, she'd be voting for entirely different candidates, but it was lost on her.  Next election cycle, maybe.

The Dormouse was a little more reticent about throwing her support behind a single person and quipped, "On one hand, it would be really cool if someone my same religion could be the President.  One the other hand, I think Mitt Romney's an idiot." 

This one knocked me back a step. 

"Oh honey," I said and took a deep breath, "He's not an idiot. He is a very smart man and he's completely qualified to be the President.  He wants the best for this country, just like Barack Obama wants the best for this country.  But they have two different ideas about how to make than happen, which is why there's even gonna be an election in the first place.  What's cool about this country is we all get to vote for the person we think is the best man for the job and then the person who gets the most votes, is the one who is chosen.  We all get to decide and then it's his job to do what's best for all Americans, no matter what our race, religion, personal opinions or how we voted.  I happen to think one person is more qualified to be the President, so I'll be voting for him, regardless of what his religion is, or what his family is like or what he looks like.  But either way, we respect all the people who are running and all the opinions - even when we don't agree with them." 

She agreed with me that that was the best way to handle it and then we went off to an event at church we had scheduled.  

Which, I think, was my only mistake in that discussion.

Over the past several weeks, people - adults, who should know better - have said such hateful and unkind things to and in front of my kid that I want to move to Australia.  She's come home from school asking me if it's really true that one of the candidates kills babies and what it means that one candidate will be spending time in hell.  That night, at an activity that was about collecting food for the homeless, she and I both heard a load of vitriolic, one sided speech from adults who should know better than to talk that way at all, much less in front of kids.  It's not that I haven't heard exactly the same nonsense over the past several months; it's that I expected better from these people.  Or at least I expected them to curtail it at a youth activity.

So I have a new rule:  don't go to church on election day.

I'm not unhappy with the results of most of the election items that affect me in my area, but I am downright livid about the behavior of people leading up to the election in front of their children.  In front of my children.  

It's time for that to change.

Look, I know that "idiot" comment didn't come out of nowhere.  She probably developed that opinion based on something she heard her parents (or some other adult she spends time with, but probablymostlikelyme) say.  I take responsibility for that.  That's not okay.  I had a long discussion with The Dormouse in the car on the way home from that activity and we talked about whether it was appropriate to talk about other people in that way. We both agreed it wasn't.  We talked some more about opinions and how it's okay to disagree but it's not okay to be mean an hateful and while we were talking, I instituted a new rule.  I never referred to a political candidate or an elected official using his last name only.  I always called him Mr. Romney, or President Obama or Senator or whatever the appropriate title was.   It may seem stupid but I feel like just that tiny adjustment in my speech - not because I was trying to be disrespectful before, but rather just because I'm lazy - made a huge difference in me meaning what I was saying about respecting all our elected officials and political actives. 

In our church, we tend to refer to people as "Brother" or "Sister" in order to remind us that we're all a part of one big human family (at least that's why I put up with it; I'm generally a first names only type of person).  A long time ago, a friend of mine was having a lot of trouble getting along with his boss and so he made the adjustment of talking about this man as "Brother Jones" -- not to his face or anything, not to piss him off, just when he was talking about the man to us.  He said it helped him remember that the man was a human being and someone for whom he should show love.  I don't know if it did anything to change the relationship, but it did change my friend and it made an impression on me.

Now that this election is over, I'm ready for the political contempt and acrimony to be over for awhile.  I'm nowhere near naïve enough to believe that's true, but a girl can dream can't she?  And I can make a difference for me and my family.

Here's the political acceptance/concession speech I wish I'd heard this week.

My thoughts: 

Bewildering Conversations in the Kitchen

Posted on 11/07/2012 05:06:00 PM In:
Dormouse:  "What's for dinner?"

KingofHearts:  "Whatever I make."

DM:  "Well, what are you going to make?"

KoH:  "Well, for you, I'm gonna make peanut butter, because I know you hate it."

DM:  "Aww...."

KoH:  "And for The Caterpillar, I'll be making... uh... broccoli and cat poop."

Caterpillar:  *in all seriousness*  "Well, I like broccoli, but I don't like cat poop very much."

Me:  "Well, at least we know she's your daughter."

My thoughts: 

It's the Year 2000

Posted on 11/06/2012 04:18:00 PM

The Dormouse has some sort of large school project each quarter.  This one, from first grade, is still, by far my favorite. But the one she turned in this morning was a close second.  

Their task was to invent something. They had to, in stages, come up with an idea, a schematic, a rationale for their product and finally, a mock-up of their invention along with advertising materials and their target audience.

Meet the Automatic Makeup Artist, or the A.M.A. for short.

Yes, folks that's a robot that applies your makeup for you while you concentrate on other things like watching TV, or reading, or maybe you're just too lazy to lift your hand to your face.  ¡Igual no más!  No more worries, just sit right back and the Automatic Makeup Artist will do it for you.  And you will be one step closer to living life with The Jetsons and a robot maid.

Because if you can't have a flying car, at least you can have ten more minutes in the morning to watch TV.


My thoughts: 

Storybook Horror

Posted on 11/02/2012 05:40:00 AM
A couple more photos from Halloween, mostly because little kids in masks fascinate me.  

The Shortlings' school doesn't celebrate Halloween because there are conscientious objectors out there, but they do have a "fall party" and "costume parade" which all the parents are invited to attend.  The way they get around this is to tell the parents that this is "not a Halloween costume parade" but rather a "Storybook costume parade" and the children may "come dressed up," but "not in a scary costume."  Instead, they should come "dressed as a character from a storybook."

This is completely lip service, because as we all know, every zombie, ghost, ghoul, mummy, wolf-man and horror movie character, while perhaps being a traditional Halloween type 'o costume, is also in a book somewhere.  So there's pretty much no oversight of costumes whatsoever. 

I do like the emphasis on reading, however, so I'm not about to complain.

My thoughts: 

Halloween Report

Posted on 11/01/2012 06:56:00 PM
About fifteen years ago, I bought this little guy at a craft store and painted him with white and black craft paint. He remains my favorite Halloween decoration of all time. 

And maybe Christmas decoration too, because sometimes I just put a Santa hat on him and leave him up until January.

Just showing you that because that's about as dressed up as I got for Halloween and I want to prove that I'm not a Halloween Scrooge.

Over the years, I've spent considerable time thinking up costumes and they tend to be in the nature of conceptual, minimalist, or at least inappropriate for the most part:

One year I went as a shower.

One year I wore a slip that I had ironed-on pictures of Sigmund Freud all over it. (Get it?)

During the year of all the anthrax scares I went to work dressed as Suspicious Mail.

But ever since Team Wonderland came along, I've not had time to obsess over my own costumes.  That is because all the energy that can be spent obsessing goes into obsessing about their costumes.

Some friends joined us for Trick or Treating and walked The Shortlings around the neighborhood with me.  Even they were more dressed up than me.

The rest of my family tends to over-costume themselves.  The Dormouse was a Blue Sorceress with about a dozen props you can't even see in this photo. 

That bottle around her waist was filled with glitter which she tossed at people indiscriminately.

The KingofHearts was a Medjai warrior:
Don't know what that is?  Well, my friend, that's because it's from a twelve year old movie.  But his costume is based on an outfit that Oded Fehr pushed his fine, fine body into and that's enough for me to never ever complain.

The Caterpillar was a witch.  But not just any witch:

she was a "Love Witch." 

I don't know what that is either, but I did not ask her to explain, fearing the answer.

The KingofHearts stayed at home to scare neighborhood kids pass out candy while rest of us walked The Shortlings around the neighborhood and criticized their candy-gathering skillz. Seriously, when we were kids, we had getting as much candy as possible down to a science.  We would have divided up the neighborhood and mapped out the fastest way to reach the most houses.  Then honed in our focus, running from house to house with the equation more time slowly walking between houses = less candy in our pillow cases at the end of the night seared into our pre-pubescent brains.  

Not my kids. These two poster children for ADD actually had to be reminded they were Trick or Treating at least a dozen times.

How many brown leaves lying in the street can one child stop to investigate?

At some point, someone at one of the houses yelled out to us while we waited at the curb for The Dormouse and Caterpillar to knock on her door.  She wanted to know what the adults' costumes were so I yelled back,

"Well, she's Merida and he's the Assassin."

"Yes, but what are you?"

"Oh me?" I hollered.  "I'm Mom."

It wasn't until blocks later that I realized I was still wearing The Caterpillar's headpiece from the school parade earlier in the day and she probably had every reason to think I was dressed as SOMEthing because of the giant spider perched atop my head:

Oh well.

Happy Halloween from:

The Whiny Witch

The Self-Obsessed Sorceress

My thoughts: 

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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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