Bewildering Conversations Overheard in the Kitchen

Posted on 1/29/2014 03:59:00 PM In:
Dormouse: "You're acting weird."

Caterpillar: "I am weird."

Dormouse: "You just said you were weird!"

Caterpillar: "There's nothing wrong with that. I was born weird."

Dormouse: "You weren't born weird. You were raised weird."

Caterpillar: "True."

Dormouse: "And there's nothing wrong with that."

Caterpillar: "True."

On the one hand, I'm glad they have such a healthy sense of individuality and self-esteem.  On the other, I kinda wish mine didn't have to suffer.

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Another Fine Fettle You've Gotten Us Into

Posted on 1/27/2014 02:32:00 PM
We decided to get a new car last week.

And by "car," I mean, something I refuse to call a sport utility vehicle because a real man knows a station wagon when he sees one

And by "we," I mean The KoH

And by "new," I mean new to us because I haven't purchased a new car since 1990 when you could actually get a new car for six grand.  

And by "decided" I mean, the old car gave up the ghost and we pretty much had to end the Game Of Chicken we've been playing with The Universe about which of our crappy cars needed to be replaced first.  My biggest fear was that we'd replace my car and then his would immediately die.  Or vice versa. 

But then we had to travel on Christmas day with short notice, which cost an arm and a leg and two more arms and seven more legs and we only have eight legs to work with unless you count the cats and I'm pretty sure a cat leg is less valuable than a human leg, so we decided not to do anything about the new car at all.  Instead we would just wait until one of them did actually die and that would force our hand... which happened about one week after we got back from our trip.

Me to universe: "Suck it Universe, we win! Or... kinda.... somewhat."
Universe to me: "Oh you think you can win in a Game Of Chicken with The Universe?  Think again."

Because about two days after the newish car was brought home, our washing machine started leaking. Which was good because it meant the water in our basement was COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!, but bad because it meant we needed a new washing machine. 

It's like a washing machine you bought for $35 at a garage sale seventeen years ago isn't built to last anymore. Geez.

And then we needed a new dryer too because the one we bought for $50 at a garage sale seventeen years ago has been making noises like a cat had gotten stuck inside it and we have just been ignoring that by closing the basement door and leaving some food on the floor underneath the dryer for months. Or years.  I forget which. So we got a new washer/dryer set... or newish, thanks to Craigslist, because, honestly.

This is all to explain why I need to call a doctor because we are HEMORRHAGING MONEY.

I have been trying to make the best of it by messing with The KoH's car when he's not looking.  

Because he got a new car and I did not.


Also, because I think it hates me.  This is what it told me the first time I drove it.


Incidentally, that package of car auto lashes came with this insert and because find it hilarious, I shall now type out the marketing blurb that is shown prominently on the cover sheet.


Etle all the "under" installed,just need to put the torn paper will be posted on its headlights on you.your headlights when he put up a scroll Etle of all the eyelashes,it is in fine fettle,inspirited,love the charm,and became a power in the road goes,there will be very high Turns head looked

 I have no response to that.

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And Yes, We've Already Done the Pet Rock

Posted on 1/23/2014 09:15:00 AM
The Shortlings wrote out, and added to, their Letters to Santa/Wish List Of Things They'd Like For Christmas throughout the entire month of December.  They started with a modest list of one or two things and then every time they saw a commercial on television, they immediately ran to the kitchen table to add that item to their list.  My intention was to take a photo of these lists, but then I realized that they read like an airline pilot's protocol handbook (Aside: how much do you want to read a book titled Cockpit Confidential? Because I know I do.) and are so detailed and lengthy, a photograph wouldn't communicate it properly.

As such, these lists weren't exactly representative of things they really wanted, but rather a documentation of their streams of consciousness throughout the holiday season.  If Santa wanted to learn anything about their true desires, he would have had to sift through their lists and extrapolate from things they actually talked about for more than five minutes to figure out which items were things that they really wanted vs. things that Big Advertising had downloaded directly into their brains.

I looked at The Caterpillar's list multiple times before I realized, toward the end of the month, that she'd helpfully divided her list into three sections: "Toys," "Pets," and "Other."  

The Toys section had the obvious things; I won't bother you with that one.

The Other section contained items that are totallynottoys, like Heelys, Tinkerbell's Pixie Camper, Cool Baker, something that says "Bots with Tall Heels" which I have yet to figure out, a bell from Santa's sleigh, and A Rainbow.

A few days later, I realized that under Pets, she had written, "A Girl Green Anole" which might be a bad idea since The Dormouse already has a boy, "A Hamster" and "Pink Furbee."

Santa brought her a pet of the non-living variety in the form of an electronic pet that won't ever shut up, but when I got up this morning and found her pulling cotton balls out of the bag, naming them, and making leashes for each one, I wondered if we should have maybe paid more attention to her live pet requests. 

Weirdo.




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Snowler Vortex

Posted on 1/22/2014 05:01:00 PM
I'm sure that as soon as I admit this, there will be a great swell from the interwebs and an uprising will begin, but I actually love winter and snow and everything that goes along with it.  I might feel differently if I lived somewhere else where winter lasts longer, or if I'd ever seen snow growing up, but even the worst snowstorm we get here is almost always is followed by a quick thaw and clear roads quickly thereafter so I can still allow myself the luxury of getting excited like a kid whenever I hear snow is in the forecast.  Even when it means it brings the entire city to its knees.

This morning, I woke up and opened the back door to survey the new fallen snow over my back yard to see this:
 

The entire inside of the storm door was completely iced over.  And you know what?  Even that was beautiful.  But I think I need some new weatherstripping.

What I'm not too excited about is spending day six with The Shortlings out of school and inside the house.  It's not all due to the snow.  Friday was a teacher planning day.  Monday was a holiday.  Tuesday, school was legitimately closed; it was actually snowing. Today was cold, but sunny and beautiful, but it was the requisite we're still closing even though there's no good reason for it day.  So I can't really blame it all on winter.  More on winter's poor planning. 

Yesterday, while the snow was still falling, the cats spied this guy sitting on the telephone wire outside the window and tried to claw the glass out to get to him.


I opened the door a crack and he perked up a little, but wasn't really worried.


Basically, both the cats and the kids operate in the same fashion: clamor and whine for hours begging to go out and play in the snow, then when the door is finally opened and they are tossed outside, walk five steps into the white stuff, freeze, and gingerly turn around to come back inside, stepping exactly in the center of each of the five footprints.  

I timed The Shortlings' "snow time" today: four minutes.

My kids are wussies.

So are my cats.

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Minutiae - phone photo edition

Posted on 1/17/2014 08:13:00 AM In:
Every once in awhile I get nervous that I'm going to randomly lose all the photos on my phone and I transfer them, one by one to a computer... so I can lose them there.  It takes several hours sometimes.  I've taken a lot of photos over the past several months and let me tell you, if I hadn't kept these photos, oh the holes that there would be in my life.  There would be whole... seconds of my existence that I would have forgotten.




I rented a car to go to a conference a couple of months ago and this is what I ended up with.  Then Monica and I insisted on driving it with the top down all weekend even though it rained the entire time.  So if you saw two crazy ladies speeding down the highway in a convertible trying to avoid raindrops... yeah that was us.  And we were having a great time.
I've also decided on the one requirement in my next vehicle: side view mirrors that shine a little horsey on the ground when you open the door.
If you ever need to keep your kids busy while you're making Thanksgiving dinner, I highly recommend giving them the task of making butter.  Additional plus when they're done: OHMYGOSHHOMEMADEBUTTER!
A few weeks before Christmas, we were in a pet store looking at the animals and this Chameleon followed my finger all around his cage for like... minutes, which I assume is a long time for a chameleon.  The kids were amazed. This is my Christmas present homage to that experience.
My Christmas morning view of the sunrise could have also made for a nice Delta Airlines advertisement. Good thing because my Christmas day was no Norman Rockwell painting.
We took a friend of The KoH's to see these lights this year and while we were there, I got separated from them.  Then I ran into a missionary I know and started talking to her.  She asked what brought me there and I said, "Oh he's got some friends who wanted to see the lights; they're around here somewhere."  Then when she finally ran into The KoH, she came up to him and said, "CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FRIEND!"  Like it's the first one he's had in his life.
This guy came to stay with us sometime around September.  I'm embarrassed to say how recently I put him away.  Or the place of honor in my living room that he occupied.
 
KoH: "Someone should tell them how that looks. 
Me: "Oh, I think someone knows exactly how that looks."
While we were in a Children's Museum in Salt Lake, we got to play around with green screen technology.  The Dormouse's shirt was contra-indicative.
She was good enough to have been in the Anchorman sequel...
if I allowed her to watch that movie.
She did her own hair.  Can you tell?
Last month I was in a pub with some colleagues after a conference and the bartender drew pictures in the heads of their beers.  This Johnny Rockets waitress brought the same experience for the under-10 crowd, this time, in ketchup... and G-rated.
If there's ever a real Zombie Apocolypse as The KoH fears, we'll be protected by our laser cats.
The stack on the left is actual mail that needed to be delivered to me. The stack on the right is my junk mail intake even after having signed up for every anti-junk mail program that I could ever find online a year ago.  This will all go directly into the trash can without being even opened.  If you want to know where to start making a difference to create a greener society, I've got a good suggestion.
Welcome to the BWI shuttle bus. Not responsible for forgotten items like hats, scarves... or children.
I asked The KoH to find me some money for the parking meter and this is all he could fish out of his pockets.  It's like living inside an episode of The Little Rascals.
Polar Vortex at work: Reverse Vampire Kittiez seek out sunbeams for sustenance.
I heard some music therapist crashed the AAS conference in D.C. this month in order to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson speak.  His topic was based on the idea that there is a grass roots rising in science and love of science is up and coming in the cultural zeitgeist.  I'd like to think that had he known there was a random non-astronomer in the audience, her very presence would have proved his point, but she probably didn't speak up because she was afraid of getting kicked out... would be my guess.
   
This is the view I have of The Dormouse over the table in every restaurant I've eaten at in the past year.
I just figured out my phone does this.  We're in an A-ha video!

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Drunk Under the Christmas Tree

Posted on 1/14/2014 11:05:00 AM
This week I uncharacteristically allowed The Dormouse to take some pictures with my camera while we were waiting for a event I was photographing to start.  It's not that I don't trust her with it, nor that I think she shouldn't have the experience of using a real camera, I just can't stand the thought of "Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom?" every five minutes for the next six months and whenever I cave and let her use my phone, Kindle, camera, [insert technological device name here], that's exactly what happens.  Even if she qualifies every request with "just this once."  It's like with an addict, you don't let an addict have just a little taste to take the edge off, "just this once" because you know within a surprisingly short period of time, you'll be carting them off to rehab at your own expense.  

Anyway, she ran around and took a bunch of photos of the Christmas tree that is inexplicably still up in our church foyer and some of them are pretty good.  

]

Although the excellent clarity on this one highlights the horrible plastic tree they insist on keeping year after year at this church.

I love giving kids a camera because there's always a new perspective on things.


Now to prepare myself for "Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom? Can I use your camera, mom?" for the first half of 2014.

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Shrink Wrapped

Posted on 1/13/2014 04:25:00 PM In:
I  bought a new lens for myself for Christmas, which has inspired me to take photos again.  I archive all my digital photos on an external hard drive by month and year because it's the only way I can think to file them.  And the last few months of the year had markedly fewer photos then usual.  It's also inspired me to play around with them in PhotoShop a little more. 

Here's the original, which I loved, but was kind of boring.


And my artistic interpretation via the plastic wrap filter in PhotoShop.


This is what winter feels like to me.

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Fake Reflection

Posted on 1/12/2014 09:09:00 AM In: ,
Playing with graphic filters in PhotoShop to try and salvage some pictures that I know aren't great, but still persistently like anyway. Because I am delusional and not able to recognize when it's time to give up. Here's a Sunday morning image.


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Minutiae - Caterpillar edition

Posted on 1/11/2014 07:48:00 AM In: ,
Over the winter break, I spent way more time with my children than is socially acceptable. Finally we came home, started back to school for one day and then a Polar Vortex came our way and closed or delayed school for, in this order: snow, freezing rain, and then just plain cold. I have lived in a lot of places, a few miles from the Canadian border, in the middle of the the Sonoran desert, but in all those places, I have never seen school closed because it was too cold - not because the roads were bad, or the heat in the school building didn't work... the sun was out and roads were dry, it was just cold.  I'll wager that a lot of children would have been warmer that day had they gone to school. I know the overworked furnace in my house would agree. 

But since I've spent so much time with my children this month, I've learned something.  The Caterpillar is really funny. Hence, a minutiae post completely dedicated to her.

 
The Caterpillar came home with a catalog from the book fair, and pointed out a new book she'd maybe like to read called Fly Guy Meets fly Girl.  The KingofHearts took one look and said, "Does he meet a girl and then completely lose himself in her and forget all about his best friend and never talk to him again or return his phone calls?"

Me: "Um... maybe you're projecting just a bit onto Fly Guy?"

KoH ignoring me: "Well, does he?"

Caterpillar: "I haven't read the book yet, Dad."


The first grade performed a Winter concert the week before school ended, which I was obliged to attend.  No problem though; it was hilarious.  Especially when they sang I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus and the action they performed with the lyric "I saw Momma tickle Santa Claus" made it look like Momma was tickling Santa underneath a completely inappropriate place.  I really wish I had video to show you on that one, but I was too slow with my camera.

The Caterpillar is still in dance class.  She doesn't practice all that much at home, but uses every spare moment while waiting in line to perfect her Twist.


And then leaps through the air like a gazelle when it's her turn.


Of course she landed about two inches before that puddle that she was so gracefully leaping.


I like to put together a puzzle during Christmas and haven't been able to the last several years, so I spend a ridiculous amount of money on a puzzle to do on New Year's Day and started to set it up.


Me singing: "♫Puzzling.♪" (that'll make more sense if you watch this show)           

Caterpillar: "I think mom's had too much sugar."


We were having dinner at some restaurant together when I looked over to see The Caterpillar repeatedly taking bites out of a lemon wedge that came with her water and making these faces.




"Why do you keep eating the lemon if you don't like it?" 


"Oh, I like it. It's just sour."
 
 
As a school assignment, The Caterpillar brought home a disturbing book about having to move away from your home and leave all your memories and friends.  She had to answer some questions for homework after reading it. The KoH generously helped her with her writing.

KoH: "Why do you think they were gonna move?"

Caterpillar: "Because she had a new baby and she probably wanted the baby to have a better life."  

KoH: "Ah. We were gonna move when you were born but then we realized we didn't care if you had a better life." 


The cactus candy grandma sent for Christmas was a big hit. 



Though not completely understood by The Caterpillar.



A couple people have commented on the lack of human bodies in my pictures at Temple Square here and asked how I managed to get all the people to move out the way while I snapped the shutter.  Well, here's where you make insomnia plus jet lag work for you because the entire time we were in Salt Lake, I never woke up later than three thirty am.  This is early even for me.  We flew on Christmas day so on Boxing Day, for once, everyone else woke up with me.  Rather than sit in a hotel room twiddling our thumbs until breakfast could be served to normal people who sleep until it's light outside, I bundled up everyone and we went over to Temple Square for sunrise.  Which turns out to not only be the only time you can walk around there without tripping over a hundred plus people, but also a great time of day to take photos of Christmas lights.  The Caterpillar looked like Ralphie's kid brother Randy after we dressed her and put The KoH's scarf on her, but she was warm enough. There was only one problem.



"Dad? Is there a washing machine at the hotel?"

"I don't think so, why?"

"Because I have a really runny nose and you're probably gonna want to wash this scarf before you wear it again."



The whole trip we took was difficult mostly because at one point or another everyone was sick, cranky or both.  At some point, we stopped into a WalMart to buy acetaminophen for The Caterpillar who had a fever.  I plunked her into the shopping cart and tried to quickly navigate the store so we could get out of there and get where we were going, while she whined that she wanted to sit in the chair... or walk... or Idunno... whatever was the easiest thing to do was just not acceptable to her at that moment in time.  I stopped in the middle of the aisle and put my face down to her level and said tensly,

"Look, I know you don't feel well.  No one does.  I know you're cranky. Everyone is.  But we have events we need to be at and there's nothing I can do about it and you can either make this easier or harder on yourself and everyone around you.  It's your choice.  So I'm gonna need you to cowboy up just a little and help us get through this day. Can you do that?"

She looked at me with no life in her eyes, put one finger up in the air and circled it slowly like a cowboy swing a lariat and said, with no enthusiasm whatsever, "Yee.... haw."


This is the face of someone who is trying desperately to cowboy up at a wedding.

  

Speaking of learning to cowboy up...



When one cannot find one's pillow a hotel room in the middle of the night, one simply makes do.


I said later that day to The Dormouse, "No, sweetie, I have no idea why you didn't sleep so well last night," knowing full-well it was a bald-faced lie.


If there's a way to insert yourself in the middle of a conversation, 


The Caterpilllar will find it.



By the time we were ready to head home after a week of travel, hubbub, illness and chaos, the smallest things began to amuse us.  Also, I envy the core strength I no longer have.




We both have Kindles and agreed to let The Shortlings use them to keep them quiet on the plane becuase if you've flown anytime in the last two decades, and you are a parent, you know that as soon as you approach the gate with any child under fifteen, you immediately get the stinkeye from every other passenger who will be on that flight.  Even if your child is the best behaved thing on the planet, people will judge you for having one and having the audacity to bring it on a plane as if you should have found a children-only flight to stick it on or at least have the decency to put it in cargo.  This annoys me because I have endured many annoying plane rides sitting next to adults who were smelly, drunk, twitchy, take up more than their fair share of space, talk loudly, talk constantly, or who are just downright disturbing in some way, but I never assume that every adult I see who walked away from the airport bar will automatically disturb my peace when I sidle up to the gate.

Anyway, The Caterpillar wanted to play on my Kindle, which has markedly fewer games on it than The KingofHearts' Kindle.  I handed it over to her.  She tired quickly of Sudoku and crossword puzzles and handed it back to me, forlornly.  "Don't you have any ACTIVE games?"



One of the airplanes we took (and there were many) had monitors in the back of every seat and some free programming.  The Dormouse and I entertained ourselves by watching about eleventy hundred TED Talks throughout that leg of the trip (best plane entertainment EVER!). The Caterpillar, I believe, assumed this position about five minutes in and didn't wake up until the flight landed.


You could turn the screens on the seat backs on or off with the touch of a button below the screen.  When the plane finally hit the ground, The Caterpillar woke up and we got up from the very last row where we were sitting to deplane.  The Caterpillar and The Dormouse led us and walked up the entire length of the aircraft while The Caterpillar, one by one, turned off each and every monitor on the plane.  And The Dormouse followed behind her back, turning each and every monitor back on.

We should have just named them Order and Chaos.



I know she's only six and shouldn't understand the joke here, but I'm not sure I can say that that's true, given the look on her face.


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Santa 2013

Posted on 1/11/2014 07:35:00 AM
This is the first year we didn't actually make it to see Santa in any official capacity with fancy outfits.  Next year on December first, I plan to unplug the phone, draw the blinds and turn off the lights and pretend we are out of town until January first.  That way we might have some control over the comings and goings our holiday.  But we did happen by Santa on a street corner, so at least we didn't miss him altogether.  Posting for posterity.



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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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