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Thursday, September 30, 2004

The most handsomest

Everything I ever needed to know about good self-esteem I learned from my son.

Today Monkey is having his class pictures done. Last night, I asked him if he wanted to help me pick out what he would wear. He's coming up on 5 now, you know, so I figured he might want to have a say. Little did I know.

"Let's try on this shirt," I said brightly. He eyed it and then slipped his arms in. It was too big, on account of you don't actually grow all that fast on the all pop-tart diet. "Okay, not this one. Take it off, please. How about this red one?" That one fit, and he spun around for me to admire him.

"This one is very handsome," he told me. "Do you think I should maybe wear a tie?" I raised my eyebrows. He pointed back into the closet. "There's a tie hanging on that hanger. I think it would make me even more handsome." I bit my lip to keep from laughing and brought the tie out for his inspection. "Oh, diggers and trucks! This is perfect!" he exclaimed.

I couldn't resist giving him a squeeze as I laid the shirt and tie out on his chair. "Okay, honey, go brush your teeth, please."

"Okay, Mama." He trotted out to the bathroom and then spun around and came back, a single finger perched in the air to signal a matter of great importance. "Um, Mama?"

"Yes, love?"

"Which pants will I be wearing?" I choked just a little, but managed to keep a serious face.

"These jeans, I think," I said, showing him the jeans I'd taken out before we picked the shirt. He tilted his head at his dungarees and shook it ever so slightly.

"Mama, don't you think I would be even more handsomer in some nicer pants with my red shirt and my tie?"

"Oh!" Clearly I hadn't realized the can of worms I'd opened, here. "Well, maybe you're right. Shall I pull out a pair of church pants, do you think?"

"Yes, please." He watched me like a hawk while I dug through his pants drawer, and pulled out a pair of cuffed khaki chinos.

"Do you think these are okay?"

"Yes, those will be lovely." (I swear to God I am not making this up. If you have never seen a small boy declare his pants lovely, you simply have not lived.) "Um, Mama?"


"Do those pants have the... uh..." he was gesticulating wildly, and I waited. "The ummm... thingies... that are for trapping a belt?"

"Oh! Belt loops?" He brightened.

"Yes! Belt loopses! Does it have those?"

"Yes, these pants have belt loops. Do you suppose you need a belt as well?"

"Mama," now the rolling of eyes; yes! Clearly I am so brain-damaged, my ability just to breathe with regularity is astonishing. "Of course I need a belt to look handsomest!"

"Okay, that's fine, I'll take out your belt, too. Anything else?" He pondered for a moment.

"Nice shoes?"

"They're downstairs in the mudroom. I think you're all set, buddy."

"Okay. You are going to be buying lots of my pictures because I am going to be so handsome you can't stand it, I think."

At this point, I had to laugh, because it was a necessary release to prevent the melting of my brain and heart from excessive adorableness. "I think you are exactly right, Monkey."

Fast forward to this morning. Breakfast was peppered with practice smiles and running commentary on how he would not paint today, and he would be very careful not to get dirty, and he wondered if any of his friends would be nearly so handsome as he. (Probably not, we concluded.) Chickadee doesn't have photos until next week, so she ate in sullen silence and whispered to Monkey that his tie was stupid when she thought I wasn't listening. This didn't produce even the slightest damper on his mood of self-adoration, thankfully.

We arrived at the bus stop and Monkey went to each of the three neighbor girls, in turn, to announce, "I am wearing a tie today. Because I am handsome." He took their giggling for agreement, and threw his arms around my legs as the bus arrived. "Bye, Chickie!" he called out. Then: "Mama, I am so excited to be so handsomish for pictures. Let's get me to school!"

I brushed his hair one last time and gave him a kiss as he ran off to show his tie to his friends. "Ohhhhh, Monkey, don't you look handsome!" gushed one of the teachers.

"Yes!" he agreed. I should be embarrassed, I guess. But why? He's very matter-of-fact about his elite status. His joy is contagious. He is--after all--the most handsomest. We should all be so kind to ourselves.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Grocery beatitudes

Blessed are the "Shopper's Club" specials: for they shall fill thy freezer and pantry.

Blessed is the glorious crockpot: for it shall prepare delicious meals with minimal effort.

Blessed are the children who will refuse to eat the bounty of the crockpot: for they are cute and therefore shall not be slain.

Blessed are the toaster pastries: for they shall sustain The Child That Never Eats.

Blessed are the hurricane-ravaged groves of Florida: for they shall raise the price of orange juice and vex the nations.

Blessed are the multigrain rice cakes: for they are cheap and give the illusion of providing healthy snacks for the little children.

Blessed is the salad that comes in a bag: for it shall be tossed with the snip of the scissors.

Blessed are the large brown eggs: for brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh. (You're welcome for sticking that commercial jingle into your brain.)

Blessed is the cheerful cashier: for she shall punch three $25 spots on thy rewards booklet even though thou only purchased $63 of groceries.

Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for the children still will refuse to eat: but now there is a vast array of sustenance for them to abhor.

Sins of the Mir

I am still chuckling after reading Jay's confessions for the week. He has invited fellow bloggers to step up to the confessional as well, so here goes.

I have recently sinned, both in action and in my heart. This past week alone, I:

  • Told Chickadee the atomic fireballs are all gone. They aren't; they are in my nightstand drawer and I have been eating them steadily while watching TV before I go to bed.
  • Avoided several friends when they called and told them later that I was out, hoping that they would then believe I truly am busy and not sitting around wallowing.
  • Scanned multiple items at Target and when I decided I didn't want them, left them by the scanner instead of putting them back.
  • Told my son that if he woke me up again I was going to take his blanket away and possibly make him sleep outside.
  • Forgot to tell my mother that I received that package she sent. (Hey Mom! Got it! Thank you!)
  • Thought of a kick-ass invention idea for the Invention Convention and am trying to figure out how to get Chickadee to think it's her idea and develop it without me actually telling her, because that would be wrong. (Okay, I'm not sure I'm sorry about this one, if I can really manage some sort of subliminal suggestion scheme that works.)
  • Received neighbors' mail in my mailbox, decided it didn't look important, and threw it away rather than walk back outside and either deliver it or leave it for the postlady.
  • Fantasized about my Culligan man delivering more than soda ash.

Like Jay, I'll take suggestions on my proper penance.

Return of the Tired

Let's take a quick inventory of my day thus far, shall we?

12:00 (Midnight): I think to myself, I should really go to sleep now.

12:45: I actually turn out the light.

1:25ish: I look at the clock and wonder why I'm still awake.

2:17: I am awakened by snivelling.

Him: *snivel* *whine* *whimper* *snotsucking*
Me: Huh? Wha? Monkey, what's the matter?
Him: I can't find teetee! Waaahhhhhhh!
Me: Oh, honey. It's okay. C'mon, we'll find him.
I get out of bed and follow him back to his room, where we commence searching for ye olde nasty comfort rag in the serene glow of his Thomas night light.
Him: It's gone! It's gone! My teetee! Gone! WAAAAHHHHHHHHH!
Me: Hang on, I'm still looking....
Him: Teeeeeeeeeeeteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Me: AHA! Here it is, buddy. It was stuck between the sheet and the blanket. Okay, now come lay down and go back to sleep.
Him: Teetee? You found teetee?
Me: Yes, baby. Here. Lay down and--
Me: ????
Me: I am going to try very hard not to get angry at you right now, but it is the middle of the night and you need to stop this and go back to sleep.
Me: Yeah, okay. Good night. I'm going back to bed, thankyouverymuch.

Those of you without kids? Run out and have some as soon as possible. This is way better than just getting to sleep at night. Yes.

I ended up going back to my bed and down to his room again a few more times before I could get him to be quiet. There's nothing like a few laps in the middle of the night, I say. Now you all know the secret to my youthful figure. And that's how it was that...


7:41: Crap, I never got groceries. Lunches... lunches... who wants... crackers? Yummy crackers! With... um... raisins! Yes! And... napkins! And a juice box! And... pickles? Oh well. They never eat what I pack, anyway.

7:58: We round the corner to the bus stop (in the car, on account of it is still pouring) in time to see the bus come around the opposite corner and start slowing for the stop. Yesterday's little assisted-drag to the bus stop apparently didn't scar Chickadee for life, but did teach her something, because that girl hopped out of the car, waited for my signal to cross, then sprinted over to the bus, turned and ran back to me, kissed me, and ran right up onto the bus. Ahhh.

8:08: Monkey kisses me good-bye and runs off to play with his classmates.

8:22: I return to the house and have a refreshing and nutritious breakfast of... granola bars. I really need to get to the store.

11:29 (now): I finally leave for the store. Because that's the sort of immediate action kinda woman I am. Look out, world! I have coupons!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

All the fun you can fit in 2.25 rooms

I cleaned the bathrooms tonight. I guess I was needing a little boost, a little reassurance that I do actually take care of things around here once in a while. Also they were starting to smell weird.

I'd told myself that the toilets were merely victims of hard water. Those blooming science experiments sprang up overnight, really. It's not like I'd neglected to clean for weeks or anything. That would really be gross, don't you think? Yes it would. So it must be the hard water. I have no idea what the Culligan man is doing here. Perhaps we have wild monkey sex in the basement in front of those large tank things that are most certainly not a water treatment system.


I set to cleaning, revelling in the unfolding cleanliness and fresh scent as I scrubbed. Nothing beats a clean bathroom in a house with small children. It's a fleeting joy, yes, but quite lovely. I started in the downstairs half-bath, of course, because it's the smallest and easiest to clean. The biggest challenge in that bathroom is locating and hanging up the hand towels. Monkey prefers a hand washing method akin to sprinting, and it often results in towels yanked from the rod and left languishing behind the door. Chickadee, on the other hand, often confiscates the towels for various purposes and I'm lucky to find them at all. In other words, I scrub the toilet and wipe down the counter and sink and change the towels and I'm done. That's just the warm-up.

Upstairs, I tackled the kids' bathroom next. I found myself having a flashback to my own childhood. The house I grew up in had a blue bathroom. Everything in that bathroom was blue, including the sink. One of my chores was to clean the bathroom sink, and I invariably thought to myself--as I scrubbed the field of toothpaste dots off the blue porcelain--that all sinks into which toothpaste is spat should be white. But as I started cleaning the children's white sink I realized that colored sinks may serve an important purpose. It's possible that if the sink were a color other than white, I might have gotten my lazy rear in gear and cleaned it sooner. As it was, I spent the bulk of my time in there chiselling away at the toothpaste. Toothpaste in the sink, which I'd been able to ignore until I was armed with Clorox. Toothpaste on the mirror, which I'd known was there but hadn't felt like acknowledging. Toothpaste on the floor and the counter and the door, which made me wonder if I should perhaps tape the children to the floor and put cones on their heads (like the ones they put on dogs so they won't eat their stitches) every time they brush.

Finally all that was left was my own bathroom. I've always considered the master bath here to be a full bathroom, but I've since been informed that a bathroom with a shower stall and no tub is a 3/4 bathroom. So, I'd done the half bath, the full bath, and was on to my 3/4 bath... which seems like it should've been somewhere smack dab in the middle, complexity-wise. I know what you're thinking. Surely after Toothpasteville my bathroom was a relative cakewalk. But here's the thing. I'm the only person who uses my bathroom. That leaves me free to clean in there even less often than I clean the rest of my house.

I'm considering shaving my head. Cleaning up the accumulated hairballs and scraping the congealed hairspray-and-dust shellac off of my counter does that to me. Bleah. But on the upside, I've got a nice buzz going from the mildew remover I used in the shower. Woo!

I'll be admiring all 3--sorry, 2.25--rooms once again before I go to bed. Once the kids get up, all bets are off. My little slice of accomplishment will disappear in a fine mist of toothpaste splatter. There's a brilliant metaphor in there, somewhere, but I am far too distracted by all these shiny faucets to figure it out.

This is the alternative

That denial thing sure was fun while it lasted.

Did you know that it takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs? It's true. I know this because I am brilliant. Or because it says so on my Sorrento Trivia Stringster, because there is very little food in the house and I'm eating string cheese. 3,000 cows dying for football? That's just wrong. I protest! I shall go on an all-bacon diet in support of the bovine community. Because I care.

It's raining, which is enough to put me in a funk under the best of circumstances. I should be delighted that it waited to start until after the kids were off, this morning, but instead I am obsessing over the fact that I sent them to school in their matching Veggie Tales fleece jackets instead of in their rain coats. Further proof of my substandard mothering skills, and all.

So I have spent my morning doing my hermit impression--which, really, is coming along quite nicely, but needs a bit more practice to achieve perfection--which means I have not gotten the necessary groceries or made any of those important networking contacts that everyone assures me will land me that great job. (Which great job is that? I have no idea. But I'm assured that I will know it when I see it. Personally I fear it's on the other side of a bright white light, but that's another story for another time.) Now I am steeling myself for an early pick-up of Miss Chickadee so that I can take her to the therapy appointment that I demanded when calling her therapist last Friday.

Me: We don't have an appointment scheduled until the middle of October. We need one now. She's not doing well, I gave it some "adjustment" time like you suggested, and she's just getting worse.
Therapist: Hmmm. Well, what's going on?
Me: Besides the usual? Besides the defiance, the screaming, the crying, and the lashing out? How about her daily trips to the nurse with her mystery ailments? How about the big hole she cut in her dress today for which I am seriously considering locking her in the basement??
Therapist: How about you bring her in on Tuesday?
Me: Fine. Good.
Therapist: How about you consider some Valium, also?
Me: No thanks, I'm kind of used to these feelings of rage and inadequacy, now.

Okay, those last two lines are fictitious. But as anyone with a young child in therapy knows, any child therapist worth her salt is as much in the business of teaching the parents how to more effectively parent the child with problems as she is in the business of treating the child. And on Friday, I was in serious need of intervention. It had been a long week.

The kids went to their dad's for the weekend, Sunday night was uneventful, yesterday went off without a hitch. Now how long will it take me to learn that no good deed goes unpunished? This morning was one struggle after another because--oh, yeah--I had committed the cardinal sin of forgetting for one day that I have a difficult child. (Skip the hate mail, please. I love that little girl more than life itself, but no one is ever going to accuse her of being easy.) This morning was my refresher course. And so it came to pass that we parted on very poor terms this morning, which probably means she had a rotten day at school, which means that picking her up early is something I'm not exactly relishing. But the therapy part, that's good, of course. If I don't kill her before we get there.

I have grown to quite adore the other mom with whom we wait for the bus. Her daughters are delightful, and she herself is a take-no-nonsense yet kind woman. She witnessed this morning's fiasco (which culminated in Chickadee--who was sullenly refusing to traverse the last 60 feet or so to the bus stop--being dragged by me over to the waiting bus and placed bodily inside, while she cried; yes I am the world's meanest mother) without passing judgement and then comforted me after the bus pulled away. Meanwhile, Monkey skipped in little circles around me and patted her dog and little cartoon birds and butterflies danced around his happy-go-lucky head. The other mom gestured his way and said, "He's really different than she is, huh?"

"Yep," I agreed. "God decided to cut me a break the second time." We laughed. She was sympathetic and encouraging. I felt a bit better.

Now, as I try to prepare myself to head out into the rain to face the child whom I cherish but rarely feel capable of handling, I wish things were different. I wish things were easier, for both of us. But--as a wise friend of mine is prone to saying--it is what it is. Yesterday was a gift and today it's time to get back to reality. We'll get where we need to be. And it could be a lot worse. I could be one of those 3,000 cows.

Monday, September 27, 2004

In which I prosper (and profit!) through denial

I could tell you about all of the things I should've done today, but since the denial thing is working out so well for me right now, I can't. What responsibilities? What job hunt? What paralyzing panic?? Tra la la! Oh happy day, happy day, let me tell you all about my happy day. I'm sure I can return us all to my regularly scheduled angst tomorrow. But! Today!

Today I received an early morning invitation to go shopping. Oh, dear. My little cartoon devil hopped onto my left shoulder while the cartoon angel perched on the right. As I held the phone to my ear and considered my response, they battled it out.

Devil: Shopping! Yay!
Angel: Money is tight right now. Do we really need to go shopping?
Devil: Shopping! Love! Shopping! Fun!
Angel: Do you hear me? We can't afford it right now.
Devil: Shopping! We're going shopping! Yay!
Angel: Jesus loves you. But you have the IQ of a sea sponge.
Devil: Shopping!! Buy! Stuff! At... Target? On clearance!
Angel: Let's go.

So I accepted, and my friend came over to pick me up. While I was waiting I did a quick inventory of what I needed. Well, it did appear that both kids could use some socks. And Monkey was low on undershirts. There. I could shop for things we truly needed--and not very expensive things, at that--and help my friend shop (she had a much longer list) and have a nice day. My friend arrived with a bagful of undershirts her son had outgrown.

Devil: Ack! One less thing to buy? Damnit!
Angel: Wasn't that sweet of her to bring those? So thoughtful. Think of all the money we can save, now.
Devil: More money to spend on other stuff! Shopping! Yay!

We stopped for coffee, which she purchased. (The only thing better than really good coffee is really good free coffee.) At the first store, I bought a 6-pack of socks for Monkey and some underwear for me. My total: $7. I also acted as fashion critic and bargain hunter for my friend, who ended up with two stuffed bags to my petty purchases.

Second stop: Target. I don't know how long we were there. We just kept going until the cart was overflowing. Heh. Time tends to stand still in Target, you know. I shared all of my standard how-to-find-the-deals wisdom and once again managed to make sure my friend was making multiple purchases while I bought... more socks (this time for Chickadee). I also found a 16" oscillating fan for $3.74. So my total at Target was a mere $8 while my friend's bill ran to three figures (but look at all you saved, I crowed).

After that was the children's consignment store, where I didn't find anything I needed. Then it was off to return some of my friend's previous purchases at yet a third store (because she had foolishly shopped without me and I had since found her more, cooler stuff for less money). Declaring the day's adventures successful, we headed back to my place.

While stashing some of her children's Christmas presents in my basement, we negotiated the sale of some of my stash. Get your mind out of the gutter. I agreed to sell my friend a few of my previous finds. She ended up with more toys to check off her list and I ended up with a nice crisp $20 bill. Then she left, inviting me to bring the kids over to swim after school.

It was now nearly time for the bus, and I had accomplished... ummm... nothing. Did I want to take the kids on a playdate after school? Were there other things I should be doing?

Devil: It's sunny! And hot! And Summer is over and this is probably our last chance to go swimming!
Angel: Don't we have laundry to do? And cleaning? And maybe a job to look for?
Devil: Laundry? Look at all those new socks! No need to launder! And have you noticed how everything just gets dirty again when we clean?
Angel: Haven't we spent enough time playing today already?
Devil: Isn't today already a wash no matter what we do now? Goooooo swiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmiiiiiing!

So we went swimming. And stayed for dinner, which I did not have to cook. Both children ate like there was no tomorrow. And Monkey ate broccoli! Which was proof positive that I made the right choice. Or that I have entered into some sort of pact with Satan himself. But I do not care. Because tra la la and whatnot.

Somehow I managed to extract the children from their play, get them home, administer showers, do the bedtime stuff, read a chapter in our book, and get them into bed clean and happy and exhausted, only five minutes past bedtime. Without a single meltdown.

Let's recap: I spent the entire day shopping; got to spend time with a friend whom I haven't seen in quite a while; purchased a few necessary items; helped out my friend and reduced my ridiculous toy inventory; had a lovely evening of exercise and fun; made it to bedtime with nary a tear or crisis. And ended the day $5 richer.

If this is being bad? I don't wanna be good.

Devil: What're we doing tomorrow?
Angel: Oh shut UP.

Sunday, September 26, 2004


I don't know why I didn't put it all together, sooner. The answer has been right under my nose all along! Actually, right on my toes.

Part of my employment woes, you know, are that I don't want to return to the sort of job I used to hold. And I'm having some difficulty convincing potential employers of my credibility for other sorts of jobs, the types of which usually require extensive previous experience. But now I know what job is calling my name and I will have no trouble breaking into, on account of my undeniable talent in this area.

I'm gonna be a... a... what the hell are those people called? I'm gonna be one of those people who name nailpolish colors!

The idea took shape in this way: I was doing my toenails, earlier; taking off the old polish and applying the new. And as I perused my rather impressive assortment of polishes, I realized that the colors I favored last season and the ones I typically reach for, now, are very different. How so, you ask? Well it's really quite the delineation.

Last year, I wore the following: Ink Chrome, Pink Chrome, Think Pink, Bronzeberry.
This year, I have consistently reached for: Diamonds, Twilighting, Purplexed, Techno.

Now you may be thinking, surely the difference is based on color palette, somehow. Perhaps I have adjusted my tastes to suit this season's hottest styles. Well, that would be a logical thing to think, I suppose, if I wasn't sitting here in clothes I purchased ten years ago. Fads, schmads, I say. I am not motivated by "the latest thing" very often. No, my friends. The difference lays not in the colors, but in the monikers.

That's right. Bombastic is the new black, ladies!

And who better to name a bunch of nailpolishes in obtuse and specious ways than yours truly? That's right! No one! Because I? Eat words for breakfast! No, not Alpha-Bits. I meant... oh shut up.

I was born to take this industry by storm. I'm very excited about it.

Look again at the polish names I listed earlier. In last year's list, I'm betting you can read the names and know what colors you're getting. In the second list--with the possible exception of Purplexed, which is excused on account of being such a cute and adorable play on words--I daresay the average human would have no idea what colors are denoted. And therein lies the beauty of it all.

Diamonds? Kind of a peachy rust color. Twilighting? Silver sparkle with a hint of lavender. Purplexed, yes, is purple; but the darkest purple possible, kind of an oil-prism-in-a-puddle dark. And Techno is light green. Of course.

I am bursting with ideas for next season's hottest colors. I'd love to share them all, but I can't divulge all of my secrets, you know, because of copyright considerations. Also, outstanding warrants. But anyway. I can share a chosen few if you promise to keep it under your hats. Do you feel all warm and fuzzy now?

First, I will find just the right color to dub Conflagration. Oh yes. Next? Just wait til everyone is wearing Frenetic. Uh huh. But all the ladies on the catwalk will be sporting Clandestiny! (See how I brilliantly merge 'clandestine' and 'destiny' for that one? Sometimes I astound even myself.)

Best of all? While my new vocation will bring me fame, fortune, and oodles of money, it should still leave me with ample time to blog. And paint my toenails.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

When insects attack

I have angered the athropods. I have made one too many of their brethren go splat beneath my shoe, sucked up too many important members of their legions in my vacuum. Now? I am a marked woman.

Pride should prevent me from relating the details of my wasp encounter earlier today, but since when has that ever stopped me? So. If you must know, I was outside mowing my lawn, and I guess I must have disturbed a nest when getting close to the bulkhead in the back. As I turned away from that spot, a wasp landed on my sock and stung my ankle. I flicked it off and ran around front (not knowing how many of his brothers were also in pursuit), and saw a second wasp on my sneaker. So I kicked my sneaker off in the driveway and ran inside. After what I thought was a reasonable period of time, I went back outside to retrieve my shoe. But the wasp was still on it. So I carefully shook him off and moved a safe distance away and put my sneaker on. And got stung a second time (sneak attack). I went back inside. Watching my leg swell, I summoned all my courage. This was hardly fatal; I would go out and finish mowing. I went out back and started up the mower again... and was immediately stung a third time inbetween the first two stings. Whereupon I admitted defeat (or screamed and cried, whatever) and decided that I was finished for the day.

When I hobbled inside--noting that three wasp stings on the same leg adds up to a heck of a lot of pain--I found that a veritable horde of earwigs had congregated around the threshhold. While I'd been dancing with wasps, they'd all sent out the signals to their distant cousins that now would be a great time to come on in and get comfortable, because I was gonna be too slow to do anything about it. I managed to evict just one; the rest are now hiding in here, somewhere. Let's see... they came in the mudroom door, which means they're probably all hiding in our shoes waiting to pinch off everyone's toes.

In the meantime, I appear to have yet another infestation of grain moths, which means that tiny little moth larvae inch their way across my kitchen ceiling with disgusting regularity. Every time this happens, I get all ikked out and end up throwing away half the food in my pantry in a desperate attempt to dispose of moth headquarters. I rarely find the source. Each tiny worm gives me another grey hair.

And let's not forget my musical friends! I estimate there to be at least a dozen crickets singing the blues in my garage. When I open the garage door--day or night--I can watch the crickets run in as if this is the grand opening of the first cricket McDonald's or something. They resist my attempts to shoo them back outside, and so late at night they can be heard mournfully chirping about their sad fate, left to perish amongst the empty cardboard boxes and gardening tools. Do you speak cricket? I think they may be saying, "We know the Big Macs are here. We'll keep looking."

If you see a cloud of locusts headed my way, don't worry. Maybe they'll eat the earwigs and scare the moths. Of course, they might try to kill me, but I'm not worried. I shouldn't have any trouble fighting them off with my swollen, venom-filled leg. Ow.

Three more reasons

Yellow jackets who are pissed that I've been spraying their hives all Summer.

Go ahead. Ask me why that's three reasons.

*whimper* Lawn's mowed.

And now... a word about Fall

Hatred. Maybe even complete Hateration. Hatingnessism, perhaps.

Oh, did you want more than that? Picky, picky. It's always more, and then certain people come around here accusing me of being verbose. Which I just don't get, as I am so loathe to prattle on about myself. HAHA! Sorry, that was a little too much sarcasm, even for me. Ahem. Okay, regardless, so many of my fellow bloggers have been waxing philosophic about their deep love for Autumn that I do feel I must elaborate.

Now, for normal people, Spring is the season that is hardest on the allergy-prone. And I have trouble with my allergies in the Spring, too. But for reasons that I don't understand--mainly because I haven't thought about it too much--Fall is much harder on my allergies than any other season. The onset of Fall finds me wandering around with squinty, itchy eyes and an aching face that feels very much as if my sinuses were filled with caulk. You're not going to catch me breaking out into a spontaneous rendition of "I Feel Pretty" in the Fall. Add to this the fact that the kids are back to school and already bringing home every cold germ in the western hemisphere, and I am just not a happy upper respiratory system.

Yesterday, I was driving to my therapy session, and realized that I was quite wheezy. Having a lot of trouble breathing, in fact. So I whipped out my albuterol inhaler and had a couple of puffs. Problem solved. Well, wheeziness solved. New problem: my entire body was now shaking and jittering with an audible buzz. My hands shook, my thighs trembled (not in a good way), my toes tapped, and I was dizzy. I spent the first half of my session giggling at glass-breaking pitch and reassuring my therapist that I had not developed an amphetamine habit, it's just that albuterol makes me a little wiggy. TEE HEE! OH DID MY BOUNCING LEG KNOCK OVER YOUR PLANT? TEE HEE! I'M SO EMBARRASSED, I'M SO TEE HEE SORRY!!! ALSO TEE HEE DEPRESSED! TEE! HEE!

Let's review: Please choose between breathing easily or not being a total asshat. Hmmmm. That can be a tough one.

But! You say. Surely I am enjoying the Fall foliage here in New England, an area famous for its splendorous displays in this season. Yes. Sure. I have no job, dwindling savings, high-maintenance children, and an ex who stubbornly refuses to fall into a large pit in the earth and be consumed, and some red and yellow leaves make me realize that I am but an insignificant speck in the great circle of life.

Tee. Hee.

Also? Those pretty leaves? Very pretty on the trees, I'll grant you that. Not so pretty on my lawn. And pine needles... don't even get me started. (Oh, hey! I think I just figured out the allergy thing. Didja see the little lightbulb going off over my head? I'm allergic to pine. Ding ding ding!) Not so much pine in the Spring, I'm guessing. But nowadays, there are about eleventy gazillion pine needles falling in my yard. And those pine needles need to be raked. Otherwise, all of my grass will die and the neighbors will tie me to my basketball hoop pole and bludgeon me to death with pinecones and buckets of sealcoating because by the way I never sealed my driveway this season, either.

I tried to outsmart the whole Fall Raking Extravaganza, last year. I started out with a regular rake and about five minutes and sixty-seven sneezes and five or six really inflammatory obscenities later decided that was not working for me. In that period of time, I had successfully raked an area about a foot square. That left me... ummm... an acre minus a foot, to go.

So, being the logical person that I am, I hopped online and searched for a tool to expedite the raking process. And lo, what to my eyes should appear, but the Rake-O! And at a bargain closeout price, no less! This contraption was a big wide thing with wheels on each end and prongs inbetween, designed to be pushed, rather than pulled (less strain) and about three times as wide as a conventional rake. So I ordered myself a marvelous Rake-O. But I should've Known-O that the Rake-O was a piece of Crap-O. I Tried-O to make it Work-O, but my stupid Rake-O would move about a Foot-O before it got Stuck-O. Complete-O and Total-O waste of Money-O. Yo.

Next was The Wrangling With The Ancient Rider Mower, which spends most of its time in my shed housing the local insect population. This mower has been professionally fixed on three occasions and jump-started and otherwise home-tinkered on countless others. The only thing it is good for is dying. At dying, this mower is a real champ. Naturally, it was broken when I struck upon my brilliant idea to hook up the feed tube and mulching bins and just suck up my yard debris. At the time I had a relatively mechanically-inclined assistant on hand to help me, and between the two of us we were able to more or less rig the mower as a gigantic yard vacuum. A few hours later, clean-up was complete. Woot!

This year? The rider is broken again. My assistant from last year suffered a demotion (I'll let you figure out which letters were stripped from his assistant status) and is no longer on hand to fix the infernal thing. I am watching each leaf and pine needle fall and trying very hard not to weep.

Of course, when the weepiness really threatens to overcome me, I just have a couple of puffs on my inhaler. TEE*sob*HEE!

Friday, September 24, 2004

I'll send you a postcard from hell

So, um, where was everybody last night? I cannot believe that my jovial party invitation didn't yield more takers. Go figure.

As always, my true love Kira was on hand. This is why she is my true love. And while I was happy to wallow, I find that hard to do when Kira is around. She brings out the best in me. If by the best, you mean the penchant for heartlessly having fun at someone else's expense, of course.

[We have some conversation about my daughter, and my frustration therein.]
genericmir: And I wish the ex would DIE.
genericmir: I'm going to hell.
kiwords: LOL
genericmir: LOL
genericmir: You should SEE his profile on Match.
genericmir: He sounds like Prince Charming.
kiwords: I was telling someone today, I don't want to HURT my ex, I just wish he'd DIE. See?
genericmir: I totally get that.
[Then, a bit of discussion about the recent excitement in Kira's world.]
genericmir: I was seriously tempted to post the ex's entire personal ad.
genericmir: But I stopped myself.
kiwords: OH, you know we're DYING to see it!
genericmir: He sounds like a FINE catch, lemme tell ya.
genericmir: I have never heard so much bragging and embellishment in my entire life.
kiwords: I BET! If only you could insert in his bio "PS I am a big huge LIAR."
[multiple snarky comments from me unsuitable for a family blog deleted]
kiwords: Oh dear. His bio interspersed with your clarification...ROFL
genericmir: LOL
genericmir: Wouldn't THAT be a treat.
genericmir: heehee
kiwords: Except posting his ad would up the chances of him finding your site.
genericmir: exactly
genericmir: So you wanna see what he wrote? Cuz I am DYING to share it with someone.
genericmir: heehee
kiwords: OH I DO I DO!
[Text of ad deleted, but Kira's comments while I share it with her are priceless. Imagine these interspersed into the cutting and pasting of a looooong text.]
kiwords: Ok, I would hate him.
genericmir: heh
kiwords: It seems like he might HURT himself, what with the way he READS and IS INCREDIBLY ACTIVE, all at the same time.
kiwords: Wow.
kiwords: Oh the RESTRAINT!
kiwords: ROFL
kiwords: I cannot BELIEVE you were able to NOT POST THIS!
kiwords: Ick! Ick Ick Ick!
genericmir: Get this: Appearance best feature: Calves
genericmir: CALVES!
genericmir: I love a man with some juicy CALVES!
kiwords: Ok, I just spit on my monitor. ARE YOU HAPPY?
genericmir: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!
genericmir: VERY!
genericmir: THis is cheering me up IMMENSELY.
kiwords: I saw this GUY the other day? And WOW, he had HOT CALVES! I was ALL WET over his CALVES!
genericmir: LOLOL
kiwords: I got the BEST CALVES OF 2004 CALENDAR the other day! WHOOOEEE!
genericmir: Oh... baby... yeah... that's it... oh my gooooooood... your CALVES... are soooo... CALVISH!
kiwords: I just loooooove the way they...um...curve...right there from the BACK of your knee to...um your ANKLE! FLEX, BABY!
genericmir: I can't believe I'm touching your CALVES... I can hardly breathe... is it good for yooooouuuuuu???
kiwords: And there's this PATCH here? Where the HAIR IS RUBBED OFF! WOW, How....BRISTLY!
kiwords: ps we are going to hell.
genericmir: I notice your calves lead down to your freakishly tiny feet... oh wait, NO I DON'T... because I AM MESMERIZED BY YOUR CALVES!
kiwords: Where we shall laugh and still have better company than we did when married.
genericmir: Sounds good.
[Still later, after we compose ourselves, and make fun of his picture.]
kiwords: That entry would turn me right off. I mean, he probably doesn't realize this, but it screams "CONTROLLING, COLD, EGO MANIAC"

Have I mentioned that I heart Kira so very, very much?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Party time!

There's a party at my house tonight. You're all invited! Unfortunately, it's a theme party. Specifically, a pity party. So you all may bring cheese, and chocolate, and crises; and I will supply copious quantities of whine and bread pudding, and we will watch the season premiere of ER and take a break from wailing about our difficult lives to make snarky comments about how ER just hasn't been the same since George Clooney left.

It promises to be quite a night. I hope you can come.

But first! I must settle the children in with the babysitter, who will entertain them for about fifteen minutes before putting them to bed and eating all of my food. She also likes to drink my Diet Coke With Lime--which is fine with me; I'm a good sharer--but it remains one of the great mysteries of the ages what she does with the cans. Maybe she eats them. They are never anywhere in view. After this happened a few times, I searched the trash and the recycling. I can't figure it out. Perhaps she thinks her consumption of my liquid ambrosia will anger me, and so she seeks to cover it up. Oddly enough, I'd rather she drink twice the quantity of soda and leave the stupid Go-Gurt tubes alone. After she sits on Thursday nights, I invariably find myself running late in the morning and packing lunches, only to discover that there is only one tube of Go-Gurt left. My kids love Go-Gurt. For an adult or a teen? Well, it's only two ounces of yogurt. I'd think anyone over the age of 8 could resist the lure of yogurt in a tube. Maybe I'll just ask her to please eat two if she must indulge, because that at least leaves me with an even number.

So, I will get the kids ready for bed, kiss my consumables and my offspring good-bye, and head off to choir practice. Where many lovely and well-meaning people will ask me if I have found a job yet. Also the creepy old widowed guy will ask me far too many personal questions and I will end up insulting him right to his face in ways that he doesn't quite get. Because I am the model of a good Christian. And while all of this is happening I will smile and assure everyone that I am just fine and the right job is out there waiting for me, and please do not worry yourselves because everything is great! Let's sing now!

And then I shall come home and give the sitter a bunch of money to thank her for eating my food and watching my television, and then we can start the party. Woooo!

I should stop blogging now

I fear that I can blog no more, for there is no way to top the information divulged in my last post. That was the pinnacle of my comedy career (and, technically, I didn't even have to write the funny part!). I should just stop now, because what would be a logical follow-on to that??


Oh, except maybe selected excerpts from his entire profile? Yeah, that might be good. Also the part where his lower age bracket for women is thirteen years younger than himself (ikky! ikky!), but still, no. I've had my fun at his expense.

What I will share is this: there's a very good reason why I was content to lash out at him, yesterday, and enjoy stirring up a few laughs at his expense. Nay, as long as I'm going to do this, I'll do it right. There is a reason, probably not even a good one. My willingness to post what I did was a direct result of huge amounts of frustration and anger.

I have often spoken of how my ex bridles at the slightest hint that he is anything less than a stellar father 110% of the time. To hear him tell it, he's raising these kids single-handedly, rather than swooping in a couple of times a week to feed them chocolate chip pancakes for dinner. That's annoying. But I'm used to that. What is infuriating to me is how--in crisis times when I really could use some assistance--it is always all about him and never about the kids. So, when I really need some support? I invariably find myself faced with an additional fire to put out, rather than anything akin to helpfulness.

Last night when the ex called to talk to the kids, I got on the phone with him to explain what had happened with Chickadee. I pointed out that this was the second time in less than a month that she had pretended to be sick to get out of school. I was asking for input on whom to call first, her teacher or her therapist, when he heard her wailing in the background.

Ex: Why is she crying? Is she okay?
Me: She's fine. She's crying because I told her we're not going to Family Information Night, because she's "sick" and needs to go to bed early.
Ex: Family Information Night? What's that? Why wasn't I informed??
Me: Ummm, it's kind of like a fair, with stuff for the kids, and then booths for the parents about the PTA and stuff.
Ex: You should have let me know! What if I wanted to participate? You're supposed to keep me informed!
Me: Um, Ex? It's Wednesday night. Don't you work late on Wednesdays? Would you have been able to come to this?
Ex: No, but that's not the point--
Me: And do you have a deep interest in the Junior League, the Newcomer's Club, or Scouts?
Ex: The point is that I am supposed to have the option to participate in everything!
Me: No, the point is that none of us are going and you are making a big deal out of nothing.

He then asked to speak to his children. No further input on how to handle this brewing situation with Chickadee was given.

Welcome to divorced parenting. I'll be your host. As the custodial parent, you can expect to tend to all the crap that is part and parcel of child-rearing, be the enforcer, the day-to-day provider, and the magical solver of all problems, while your ex-spouse complains about missing face time at a school event he never would've given a second thought to while you were still married.

Allow me a moment to indulge my petulant inner child: It's not fair.

Last night, I lay down in bed with Chickadee and tried to pry from her anything that might be bothering her. I told her I love her, over and over (she needs so much reassurance these days), but that it's not okay to pretend to be sick to get out of school. I told her she can tell me anything but we have to be truthful with one another to get problems fixed. Today, I play phone tag with the teacher and the therapist. I chat with a friend who also has a high-maintenance child and compare notes. The teacher calls and has no idea what the problem might be, but for not the first time I wonder if this very old-school teacher is a good match for my very complicated daughter. My heart is heavy with the knowledge that my child is crying out for help that I don't know how to give.

Last night, the ex got off the phone with me and called his mother to complain about me. Can you believe how she just leaves me out of these things, he probably said. Who does she think she is! I'm a very involved father! This morning, he went to work with donuts on his mind. Tra la la.

It's not fair.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Frightening would be an understatement

So I was chatting with my dear Jilbur this fine evening, and she asked me for my zip code. I gave it, along with a snarky comment about how she must be sending me a sympathy card (it's been that kind of a day). Nope, no card. What she offered, instead, was a link to Match.com profiles for available men in my area.

Now that, dear readers, would've been scary enough. Some of those pictures reminded me that I am indeed a stranger in a strange land. Heh. But the ultimate horror was not to present itself until later, as I continued to page through with a mixture of fear and fascination.

I wondered; how can you really know someone from the information they choose to present to you on a dating website? These men could be animals. They could be killers, rapists, WWF fans, taxidermists! How would you know? How would it be possible for someone like me--a skeptic, at best; a pessimist, at worst--to bridge the gap of disbelief and allow that not only are there good, available men out there, but they are advertising themselves this way? Perhaps I am being a snob, I told myself. Perhaps I should at least allow for the possibility.

Whatever infinitesimal chance at open-mindedness I'd had was erased by a single profile. The gentleman in question sounded fabulous. Great education, varied interests, funny, and a father to boot (waxing smitten on his kids, no less). He claimed to love a multitude of romantic activities that I haven't had the pleasure of since long before my marriage. He sounded to good to be true, really. Because he is.

Yes, the ex has a profile on Match. Given his penchant for science fiction, I guess the majesty and extent of his truth-bending shouldn't surprise me. The clincher? In the same sentence where he claims to be a very devoted father, he gets the kids' ages wrong.

P.S. Adding a clarification: I neglected to share that a couple of weeks ago the ex claimed that he and the MOB have decided to "just be friends for now," which I of course took to mean she dumped him. But I was sitting on this info because I wasn't sure it was true. According to Match he's been active in the last day, so I guess she's history.

Meanest. Mama. EVER!

Ways to not impress me with your supposed illness: talk non-stop in a low, gravelly voice to demonstrate how ill you are; devour the contents of your lunch bag and ask for more; ask to go outside to play; complain about staying inside; complain about not getting to watch television; later torment your little brother about what little TV you did get to watch in his absence; insist that you feel fine now in spite of how tragically afflicted you were just minutes ago; pitch a screaming hissy fit when you find out that no, we will not be attending "Family Fun Night" tonight on account of--oh, that's right!--you're sick.

Things that will happen to you when you've executed all of the above and more: television will be taken away; you will complete all work sent home by your teacher plus some extra worksheets I just happen to have; you will find a way to make up to your brother that you've been so pissy (writing "OUTSTANDING" on his latest artwork was a clever solution, I'll grant you that); I will loudly inform our friends on the phone that no, we won't be there tonight, because you are far too sick to go out, but please enjoy the festivities without us; you will have the first shower and a bland dinner and go to bed early.

Any suggestions on how to delicately word a note to the school letting them know that I'd prefer not to be called unless there is delirium or vomit?

Maybe it's a big magnetic field... of suckiness

This day is shaping up just swimmingly, lemme tell ya. It's 11:15 and I haven't even had a shower yet. It's that kind of day.

I woke up with a sore throat. No biggie. Just the start of a cold, most likely. But it didn't put me in the most stellar of moods, I suppose you could say. So the fact that the children were rather, uhhhhh, high-spirited, let's say, this morning, was perhaps not fully appreciated by my cranky self. Nevertheless, they were washed and dressed and fed and ushered out the door at the appropriate time. I packed lovely lunches that no one will eat, and even wrote Chickadee a touching note on her lunch napkin (making use of that age-old term of endearment, "Mrs. Grumpy Gills").

I returned home fully intending to take a shower, first thing. But I should probably check my email first... and maybe catch up on blogs... and golly I am really tired and yucky-feeling, maybe I'll just lie down for a little bit.

There are very few perks to being unemployed. Freedom to take a nap when you feel crappy is one of them.

Nestled snugly in bed, dozing, I glared at the phone when it rang. Have I mentioned my deep and enduring love for Caller ID? I heart my Caller ID. My true love Caller ID let me know that this was a lady from church calling, most likely about the bible study group I'd missed last week but that was meeting again today. I was not in the mood for a guilt trip or even exchanging pleasantries, so Caller ID and I decided to let the machine pick up. Problem solved.

Only, things did not go according to plan. Ordinarily my answering machine treats callers to my most cheerful self saying something along the lines of, "Hello! You have reached 555-1212! And this is NOT the Department of Motor Vehicles! HAHA! But if you're calling for us and not the DMV, leave us a message and we'll call you back! Tralala! Bye!!" I'm blessed with the number most often misdialed when folks are trying to reach the local DMV, so it's not as bizarre as it might seem, although I promise it is at least twice as chirpy and annoying as it reads.

So, the phone rang and rang and then I heard the click as the machine picked up, and instead of transmitting my beautifully-crafted message of joy and love and suburban wit, the greeting sounded like this:

For some inexplicable reason, my caller hung up without leaving a message. Perhaps because she suspected Satan was now inhabiting my answering machine. It's hard to know.

This was perplexing, sure, but I was still only about half-awake and I thought to myself, "Perhaps my darling children have been fooling around with the machine and accidentally recorded a new message. How charming." And I was all set to go back to drooling on my pillow when the phone rang again. Caller ID identified the caller as "Smallville, Town of."

One of my friends teaches at the high school, and when she calls me from school it comes up as "Smallville, Town of," but this was the middle of the morning and she never calls me then. Between the second and third rings my feeble brain managed to piece together that if the high school comes up that way, there's an excellent chance that all of our schools do, too. Like, perhaps, including the elementary school?

"Hello, Mrs. Chickadee's Mom? This is the nurse at Small School. I have Chickadee here in my office, and she's complaining of a sore throat. She has a very low fever, 99.2, which is sort of borderline."

I adore my children, you know. It's not that I'm insensitive to them in times of sickness. But my daughter? Is a bit of a hypochondriac. She'd been fine this morning at breakfast. Trying not to sound too much like a horrible parent, I asked the nurse if she could give her some tylenol and send her back to class. She agreed that that would be fine, she'd administer the tylenol and call me back if Chickadee wasn't feeling any better. I thanked her and hung up.

Hmmm. Tylenol sounded like a good idea. I took some, myself, and went downstairs to have a look at my answering machine. I replayed my greeting and this time it sounded very much like someone had extracted the digital chip, put it in the blender with a few minor demons, and cranked it up to "ice crush." Weird. Just for kicks, I hit "PLAY" to listen to my saved messages:

That first message was pretty old, but I really don't remember anybody leaving that as an important missive. Hmmm. The chip is scrambled? I don't know. Great. This is just what I need. What I want most in the world right now is to have to buy a new answering machine. Fabulous! Yay! Perhaps I could also stick something sharp in my eye so that I can make this feeling last!

What I need is some caffeine. A nice hot cup of tea will make me feel better. But so would lying back down. And being the woman of action that I am, I opt to head back to bed... where the phone wakes me about .035 seconds after I fall asleep. Only this time, my answering machine--set on tollsaver mode, also known as "if there's already a message, pick up immediately"--picks up before I can get to the phone, spews its garbled confusion, and the caller hangs up. All before the Caller ID even has time to identify who it was. But lucky for me, then my cell phone starts to ring! So I get to run down the stairs!

"This is the nurse again. Something is wrong with your phone, I think. Anyway, Chickadee isn't feeling any better. Could you please come pick her up?"

Out I go to pick up my dying swan (who seems fine, if a little pale), and it occurs to me on the drive back that on the off chance that anyone tries to call me about a job, they are not going to be able to leave me a message. I start to hyperventilate. We arrive home to... the blinking "new message" light on the machine. Oh dear lord, no.

"BEEEEEEEEP. Hi, Mir? I think there's something wrong with your outgoing message. Anyway, hope you can join us for bible study today!"

So, apparently some sort of cosmic event scrambled all the existing messages on my machine, but now it's fine. Interesting. I'm sure I'll want to spend some more time thinking about it, but for right now, who wants a popsicle?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

My tax dollars hard at work in public education

Perhaps I'll just theme today "Perplexing Conversations I Have With My Offspring."

Me: So how was school today?
Her: Undefectable.
Me: What?
Her: Undefectable.
Me: C'mon, honey. What did you do today?
Her: Un. De. Fect. Able!
Me: Ummmm. Okay. What do you think that word means?
Her: That it's not, y'know, affected by, um, stuff.
Me: And how is that at all relevant to your day at school?
Her: It just is.
Me: Uh huh.

At this point, I started thinking maybe she's smarter than I'm giving her credit for. Maybe she's getting at something that is simply beyond my ken, rather than being silly. I will just let the matter drop, and ponder my daughter's gifted and quirky nature.

Her: Mama?
Me: Yes, honey?
Her: Can I eat my lunch? I'm hungry.
Me: Didn't you eat your lunch at lunchtime?
Her: Nope, I didn't have time.
Me: You didn't have time? Why not?
Her: I was busy.
Me: Busy with what?
Her: I was pooping!

Sometimes? It just does not pay to ask.

Where will you be six weeks from today?

You'd better be at the polls, my friends. (If you'd like to skip that, the only acceptable alternative is giving me large sums of money, you know.)

Just a friendly little Public Service Announcement, courtesy of my favorite civic-minded hussy:

The U.S. presidential election is EXACTLY six weeks from today. Are you registered to vote yet? If not, then why not?

FOUR sites to get you to register to vote, and to get your friends to register, too:

Just Vote.

Federal Election Commission.

Rock the Vote.

Declare Yourself - Register to Vote. They're trying to get 1 million signatures, and so far are only at the halfway mark.

Please register, and tell your friends to register. No matter what your party affiliation, it all means nothing without the participation of our citizens.

Register today.

And then VOTE.

(And then, you know, if you still wanna give me money, that's cool, too.)

Little Boy Lost

My son is all about repetition. But as he gets older, his needs become more complicated, as do the scenarios he invents. A year ago, we started thusly:

Him: Mama, say "I wish I had a little boy."
Me: I wish I had a little boy.
Him: Wah! Wah! Wah!
Me: Oh, little boy! Where did you come from?
Him: I'm lost!

This would then be followed with liberal doses of snuggling and tickling. Time passed, and the drama started taking on a life of its own. It started sounding more like this:

Him: Mama, say "I wish I had a little boy."
Me: I wish I had a little boy.
Him: Wah! Wah! Wah!
Me: Oh, little boy! Where did you come from?
Him: I'm lost!
Me: Oh, you poor thing. Where are your parents?
Him: My parents died!
Me: Oh, that's sad! Would you like to come live with me?
Him: Okay!

His sad tale continued to grow, and so it was more or less on autopilot that I had the following discussion with him, this morning, as we walked home from the bus stop:

Him: Mama, say "I wish I had a little boy."
Me: I wish I had a little boy.
Him: Wah! Wah! Wah!
Me: Oh, little boy! Where did you come from?
Him: I'm lost!
Me: Oh, you poor thing. Where are your parents?
Him: My parents died!
Me: Oh, that's sad! Would you--
Him: In the flood. They died in a flood.
Me: Wow. That's very sad.
Him: And when they built our house, all that they were selling then was straw, so they built our house out of straw, and then it blew down in the storm.
Me: Goodness. So, let me get this straight. There was a storm that blew down your straw house and your parents died in a flood?
Him: Yes! Wah!
Me: My, my. Well, I'll see you around.
Him: Mama! Ask me to live with you!
Me: Oh, sorry. Okay. Would you like to come live with me, little boy?
Him: Yes. Maybe. What kinds of toys do you have?
Me: Toys? I don't have any toys. I have some rusty nails you could maybe play with.
Him: Maa-maaaaaaaaaaa!
Me: Um, I mean, I have Rescue Heroes!
Him: I like Rescue Heroes!
Me: Oh, good. But first you have to go to school. Let's go get in my car.
Him: What's school?
Me: It's where you go and get tied up and beaten all day. You'll love it.
Him: I'm just a baby, you know.
Me: Well, this'll toughen you up. Get in.

We were opening the car doors when I realized that two elderly women had been walking around our circle behind us. From the looks on their faces, they'd heard every word. They didn't seem all that amused, either.

I smiled and waved and offered them some bread pudding. They mumbled something about calling CPS and ran off. Huh.

Monday, September 20, 2004

The misbegotten bread pudding

I feel like I am filching from Bakerina, in using this title (and you must read her Tale of the Accidental Pie if you haven't), but I guarantee my tale will be much less intricate, interesting, or gastronomically delightful.

And with an intro like that, how could you not read on? I'm a whiz with a story hook, no?

So. The sad, lonely challah bread I found at the store. I made it promises of greatness and brought it home. Little did I realize that, oh yeah, there are other ingredients involved in bread pudding, many of which I neither thought to purchase or had on hand here at home. So I pulled out my first recipe and realized I was missing half of the ingredients for which it called. Well, look, there are plenty of fish in the sea (even the sea of bread puddings). I will simply find a different recipe that is more in keeping with what I have available here in my modest pantry. Also I will steer away from the recipes which call for egg yolks because I hate separating eggs and then wasting half of them. So I looked through all of my cookbooks. Then I poked around on the internet for a while.

Then I concluded that no matter which recipe I used, I was going to have to improvise.

What better way to improvise than to enlist the help of one of my favorite assistants? Yes, while Chickadee played at the neighbors', I reality-checked my recipe tweaks with a 4-year-old who thinks pop-tarts are the perfect food. It seemed like a good idea at the time. And my expectations were low, so what the heck.

First, I apologized to the challah. (I wanted to pretend I thought I was doing something lovely for it, but what with the High Holidays and all I figured it was best to be honest.) Then I buttered the baking dish and sliced the challah into strips, and let Monkey rip it into cubes. The recipe called for only 3/4 of the loaf, but I let him have at the entire thing because I figure only about 3/4 of it ended up in the dish. Then I started mixing up the custard, and that's where I started offending the culinary deities. I had no cream; I didn't have enough eggs. I poked around in the pantry and looked up substitution charts and melted a whole lotta butter and pulled out some white chocolate and eye of newt and mixed it all up.

"Can I lick the spoooooooon?" begged Monkey. Visions of nursing him through a night of salmonella poisoning danced through my head. I tried to buy him off with a piece of white chocolate, but he was unimpressed. Oh well. Into the oven it went.

Chickadee came home and I set out dinner: roast chicken, asparagus tips, and apple wedges (we're still working through those never-ending apples). The complaining began. I reminded the children that there was bread pudding in the oven for dessert, for anyone who ate a decent dinner. They kept complaining, but did eat a fair amount. Then: the moment of truth. I cleared the dinner dishes and went to take out the pudding. The children stood as close as I would allow, and watched me pull the pan from the oven.

"That's not red!" protested Chickadee.

"Bread pudding, honey."

"Oh. Why is it all lumpy?"

I tried to explain that this was not pudding that comes in a big creamy blob in a little plastic cup. She was skeptical. And really, I'd been there for the creation of this thing, so I couldn't say much to assuage her fear. I had no idea if this would tempt the tastebuds or be just another experiment gone awry. It smelled good, though.

The suspense continued as I hustled the kids through showers and into their pajamas, and then we headed back downstairs for dessert. I dished it up. The kids watched me expectantly. I took a bite.

It's yummy. The children both preferred the crusty top to the custardy bottom, but they both ate it. Would you like the recipe? Here it is: rip up a challah loaf into a baking dish. Put a pot over medium heat and melt some milk, sugar, spices, vanilla, white chocolate, some other random stuff, and a whole mess of butter. In a separate bowl beat however many eggs you have. Temper the eggs with the hot mixture, combine, and pour over the bread cubes. Bake for an hour in a water bath. See? Easy. No, I cannot give you measurements or any more detail than that. Yes, you should say thank you to the challah for being sturdy enough to stand up to that sort of brazen mistreatment.

No, you should not make this if there are only three people in your family. It serves... ummmm... twenty? At least? I don't know. Guess what we're having for breakfast tomorrow?

Hey now

Blogrolling appears to have woken from its stuporous slumber. Praise be.

Chickadee did indeed survive the day, and I got my kiss... after she told me she didn't want to come home with me. Hmph. Since when is playing with three neighbor girls more fun than hanging out with me? What? Always? Fine. Hmph. I walked back home from the bus stop, alone, to the calls of "Nice backpack!" from the neighbors who were putting blacktop on the driveway. The thing I do for that little ingrate.

I'm off to pick up the child who loves me....

Monday, Monday

I would love to tell you that I haven't blogged yet today because I've been busy getting a job, or being pampered at a spa, or winning the lottery, or being wooed by the man of my dreams. Alas. None of these are true. I haven't blogged yet today because I have been very busy with, um, boring stuff.

When we got up this morning it was 40 degrees outside. But the forecast claimed it was going to be 70, later on. I managed to talk the shivering children out of their sweaters and snowsuits, but the originally planned t-shirts and jeans weren't thrilling them. By the time we made it out the door, each child was wearing no less than four top layers. Any guesses on how many of those 8 pieces of clothing will make it home this afternoon? Anyone?

The bus was early and Chickadee ran to meet it, never even saying goodbye, nevermind a kiss or a hug. This, of course, convinced me that some horrible bus accident or school explosion will happen today and Chickadee will die and I will live the rest of my life regretting that this morning I told her she eats oatmeal like a cross between a sloth and an orangutan instead of giving her a kiss and telling her I loved her. I may have forgotten to take my meds last night.

After I got Monkey situated at school, I returned home to finally take a shower. I could've showered this morning before taking the kids, but that would've involved getting up even earlier. And did I mention how cold it was this morning? Anyway, aside from my legendary butchering of my ankles while shaving my legs, a shower doesn't usually result in bodily injury, for me, but I was in rare form today. Somehow I smacked my elbow against the wall hard enough to make me see stars. It still hurts whenever I bend it. (Yes, Dad, I know--don't bend it.) So then I got ready pretty slowly because it can really slow you down to whimper and swear while you're trying to get dressed and such.

Then I remembered that we were down to the last pop-tart (horrors!) so I did a grocery run. Sadly, I didn't go to the grocery store, but instead went to a large, faceless, soulless megastore which happens to carry pop-tarts for way less than the supermarket does. There I pondered such timeless quandaries as "Why does a 5-count Swiffer Duster pack with a handle cost less than half the 10-count Swiffer Duster pack without a handle?" I do my best meditative thinking there. I also picked up a loaf of challah off the "Oops, we baked too much!" rack. It looked so sad and lonely. But I just made french toast this weekend, so I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe I'll try a bread pudding recipe.

Top it all off with a trip to the bank to deposit the tardy child support check, and there you have my extremely thrilling day. Don't everybody wish they were me, all at once. It could cause a rift in the space-time continuum, or something.

Next up: an intensive narration of the process of filing my nails. Just as gripping as this entry! Don't miss it!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Lemme tell 'bout this ex-boyfriend of mine

(I have titled this post thusly for the pure, evil joy of knowing that at least one past boyfriend is reading my blog and probably jumped out of his skin when he read that.) (Sorry, hon.) (I'm laughing with you, honest!)

Break-ups tend to be messy things. I mean, here's this person you've loved--for some period of time, at least--and now either you're telling to them to get lost or they're telling you they don't love you anymore. No fun, either way. And even in the case of a "mutual" split, there's nothing fun about parting ways with someone who used to make you feel pretty.

Then, perhaps, there's the temptation to go back. He's changed, you tell yourself. Or maybe I just didn't give him a fair chance. Maybe things are different now that some time has passed. Deep in your heart of hearts, you know it's a bad idea. But some past loves are hard habits to break. Up until now I have never split with someone only to reunite later; I'm pretty good at making a clean break. But this one guy is different. I know he's bad for me but I still miss him, terribly. I have hoped against hope that things have changed, even though I know that's not rational.

When times were good, they were the best. I spent money on him, he spent money on me. Being together was easy and effortless. I was organized and he helped me keep everything going smoothly. Likewise, he was always telling me what an asset I was to him. It was grand.

I don't know when things started to fall apart. He stopped responding to me, somewhere along the line. There were promises broken, again and again. He was busy all the time. I dunno. I guess things like that happen, but it all started feeling like a lot of time and effort and money for nothing in return. Life's too short for that, you know?

But lately, he's been saying he wants me back, and I've been considering it. I know the pitfalls are there waiting for me, but I just keep thinking maybe this time it'll be different.

Oh eBay, why do you torment me, so?

You know how he lured me in, right? First it was the amazing deals, the thrill of the hunt and the glory of the snipe and kill. Then before I knew it, I was selling, myself. Yes. It's true. I want to tell the whole story! Pride be damned! So there I was, selling away, making a pretty penny off my kids' outgrown clothes and such. I was living the American dream.

But I should've known it couldn't last. The fees went up. Buying went down. And then--oh, God, it's really hard for me to relive all this--there was that whole thing where suddenly the whole world had internet access, and suddenly it was like "Wow, who let all of these morons onto the internet?" Before I knew what had happened, the magic was gone.

I would list a SIZE 4 GYMBOREE DRESS LIKE NEW and he just stood there and watched as the emails came in, good lord, first it was "What size this dress is?" and then "if you should please this dress brand is for sale?" (huh?) and "I want to bid on this dress but is it in good shape?" and "Could you please mail me the measurements of this dress, neck to hem, shoulder to shoulder, waist to hem, wrist to ankle, nipple to butt cheek, and also count the polka dots because if there isn't an even number our religion prevents us from wearing it?" There was just no end to the stupidity, and for what, I ask you?? So that my auctions could end just a few dollars above the starting bid, and then the buyers would either mysteriously vanish from the face of the earth or begin a steady stream of communication designed to drive me insane? ("Dear seller, I will be sending Paypal shortly" followed by "Dear seller, how do you sign up for Paypal?" continued with "Oh, I guess I can't do Paypal then, how about I send you my gum wrapper collection?" and finally "Oh well you don't have to be such a bitch about it, yes yes, auction terms, whatever lady, I'll send you a money order whenever I feel like it. Maybe. Could you please mail my package out today?")

I tried to work it out, for a while. I did. But my last batch of auctions, I had more non-paying bidders than people who followed through. So I ended it. No more, I said. And I walked away. It was liberating, in a sense.

Today I've been cleaning out closets. And yes, I very much enjoy my friendship with my local children's consignment store, but it's not the same. It doesn't make my pulse quicken. The consignment store is fair, I suppose, given the middleman component... but the money is never as good. (On the other hand, I never get stiffed.) I filled several bags of items for the consignment store but I have a stack of high-quality, excellent condition, name-brand items that I'm considering--just considering--taking back to eBay.

It'll be different this time. I know it will. Really.

Shut up.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Not bad for a rainy Saturday

I've just finished crawling out from under six (6!!) loads of laundry. Ahhh, my soft comfy cotton bikinis! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! You are cheap; you cover my bottom; you do not wedgify me (yes, that is a word, because I made it one); you are soft and stretchy and do not cut off my circulation. I love you, and you love me; and I promise not to let the laundry go so long, next time.

There is something gratifying about cleaning and folding and putting away what feels like every piece of clothing in the house. But still, it's not really a festive way to spend Saturday night. Especially when you've had the grueling day that I had.

The kids and I managed to stay busy, inside, today. They watched a movie while they ate lunch and I tended to some chores. Afterwards, we decided to break out Chickadee's crayon maker. This was a birthday present that she received months ago. Somehow we'd never gotten around to using it. But it seemed like a fun rainy day activity. C'mon, guys, let's whip up a batch of crayons! After that, we can churn some butter and maybe pull some taffy! I'm all about being rustic.

Out came the box, and mere hours later I had wrestled the crayon maker from the packaging. First, I read the instructions in French. Then I remembered that I don't know French, and found the leaflet that had the instructions in English. The first thing I noticed is that this contraption does not include the lightbulb. Not that you really need the lightbulb... unless you actually want to use it... to make crayons. But no matter! Because I am ever-prepared! And it takes... ummm... a 60 watt bulb! No problem! Wait. A 60 watt "small base" bulb. A chandelier bulb.

For whatever reason, I actually had a chandelier bulb. Phew! Crisis averted. So we got the bulb installed and read the directions and dug out the baggie of broken crayons that I have been saving for just this occasion. Chickadee carefully picked through the bag and assembled her chosen pieces in the melting tray. We consulted the directions again, closed it up, and started the timer.

Nothing happened. Well, the timer ticked, but the bulb didn't come on. My daughter gave me all sorts of helpful direction while I tried to troubleshoot: "Mama, maybe I didn't put enough crayon bits in!" "I think maybe we should hit it a little?" and my personal favorite, "You must have done it wrong!" It turned out that she was correct; while wrestling with the bulb, I'd unplugged it. Whoops. Okay, we plugged it in, and there was light!

The kids stood there and stared at the apparatus expectantly. After about 30 seconds, Monkey wandered off, while Chickadee whined that it was taking too long. I agreed to sit and watch with her. It wasn't long before we spotted some melting. How exciting! But, hmmm. There are three slots for making three crayons at a time. One of the slots was filled with liquid crayon. One was about half melted, and the other remained stubbornly solid. I flipped through the instruction manual again, where it clearly stated that only Crayola brand crayons should be used for their superior melting ability, blah blah blah.

Marketing ploy, right? Alas, no. My baggie of broken crayons? I have no idea what's in there. Some of the crayons are Crayola. Some are RoseArt. Some are generics from restaurants. Some probably aren't crayons at all (old, petrified candy?). I have no idea. And Crayola was not joking about wanting you to use Crayola crayons in their spiffy crayon maker that runs on a high-tech chandelier lightbulb.

The timer indicated that it was time to crank up the melting platform to allow the wax to pour down into the waiting crayon molds. We cranked; it poured. Sort of. One of them poured. One of them poured a little. And this little piggy went "wee wee wee" all the way home. No, wait, that's not right. (But I've always wondered about that. Does that mean the pig peed all the way home? And if so, why??) No, the last one didn't pour at all, because none of the crayon bits had melted because by gum they were not Crayola brand crayon bits, but inferior unyielding crayon bits made by devil-worshippers.

Chickadee's chin started to quiver just a bit. I rushed to assure her that this was just our first try. We'd wait til the wax cooled and see what we had, and of course we could try again and the second batch would be even better. She nodded, trying to be brave. I sent her off to play for a few minutes, and then she returned and we opened up the mold, together. The one successful crayon broke as we took it out. Chickadee picked up the halves--one in each hand--and intoned, "This was quite disappointing."

"Yeah," I agreed. "Kinda sucky." It was a teachable moment, but as you can see I didn't really learn from her mature example.

I felt we all needed a little pick-me-up after the crayon debacle, so I made bacon for dinner. I mean, I made whole wheat french toast for dinner. And a little bit of bacon to go with it. Please note for the record that although my son has been known to elevate picky eating to heretofore unknown heights, his father has somehow taught him to adore bacon. I'm so proud. He is truly my son. I got a little teary, watching him sway back and forth in his seat in pork fat rapture, humming just a little, as he stuffed bacon into his little face. Chickadee made sure that every molecule of her bacon was coated in syrup before it went into her mouth, pausing every now and then to say, "This is really yummy."

All in all, an acceptable day. Thank goodness for the healing power of bacon. I mean, sure, it would've been nice if the crayons had worked out. But I have clean clothes, I have bacon, and I'm not complaining.

Rolling in dough

I'm rich! I'm rich! The ex came to pick the kids up for swimming lessons, this morning, and brought me the child support check. Only three days late.

Let's go blow it all on fast living and shiny things! Or, you know, the mortgage. Either way. I'm flexible.

My ex has never missed a child support payment. Neither has he ever once paid me on time. It's a charming little tribute to his passive aggressive tendencies. I always get the money, but I always have to remind him.

Have I mentioned that I'm really, really looking forward to being gainfully employed again?

Friday, September 17, 2004


It was a particularly rough evening 'round these parts. If you happen to be a rather emotional, precocious 6-year-old, Friday nights are not your time to shine. In that case, Friday nights would hallmark the end of an entire week of being your most wonderful and obedient self for the school community, and starting about when the bus drops off on Friday afternoon would be a good time to unleash a week's worth of angst and votriol upon your unsuspecting family. The result? Four hours that feel like forty.

You can understand, perhaps, how relieved I was to finally tuck the children into bed. Poor Monkey was safe for the first time all evening (in bed, there are no grumpy big sisters who thwack your head if you look at them wrong). Chickadee did the standard dragging of the feet during bedtime preparation... followed by histrionic sobbing related to everything from supposed remorse about her earlier behavior to broken crayons... and of course topped it all off with the classic "but I didn't know I had to go potty, before!" move ten minutes after lights out.

The temptation to curl up in bed, myself, was strong. But I had things to do, and it was only 8:00. So I busied myself in the quiet, hoping to clear my mind and my to-do list before turning in.

thump THUMP thump thump THUMP

Craptastic. Which child is doing calisthenics? My money is on the demon girl, but it sounds more like the boy's room. Hmmmm. Maybe if I ignore it, it'll stop?

thump... thump... THUMP THUMP THUMP

Is it possible to have a cardiac event at 33? I'm about one Mama tantrum away from a coronary, I'm thinking. I've had it. It's been a long week and I just don't think I can handle even one more confrontation where I try to convince the little people and myself that I am in fact the person in charge here.

THUMP thump thump thump THUMP

I'm glad I didn't see the look on my face as I flew towards their rooms. My guess is that one glimpse would've turned any living thing to stone. I threw open the door to Monkey's room, first.

Sound asleep.

Well, at least now I knew. I flung Chickadee's door open, triumphant.

Also sound asleep.

What the...?

thump thump thump THUMP THUMP THUMP!

Know what else Friday nights are good for? Moving big heavy things. In the dark. Across the street at the neighbors' house. I was so embarrassed about all the nasty unmotherly thoughts I'd just been having about my angelic slumbering children, it didn't occur to me until now (a couple of hours later) to wonder if the neighbors were being robbed. Oh well. I suspect they are just noisy and inconsiderate. Yes. Casting doubt on my beautiful babies, that way. For shame.

Can't sit still

I'm feeling pulled in a hundred directions today. Maybe it's because I need to sit down and pay bills (and I would rather do almost anything else). Maybe it's because the lawn needs to be mowed but it looks like rain. Maybe it's because I have a whole list of things I should be doing and I can't decided which one to do first. Maybe it's because Blogrolling seems to be having a freak-out and I can't sit here and read blogs and get my daily fix.

Then again, maybe it's just because I'm nearly out of clean panties. Thongs... nature's little reminder that you shouldn't wait until all your comfy undies are in the hamper to start some laundry.

You're welcome.

The bus needs to get here earlier

This is Mir. This is Mir wrangling children on a school morning before she's had some caffeine. Any questions?

Me: Put that Polly down and get yourself downstairs to eat right now!
Her: But she wants to come too!
Me: FINE. But get down here.
Him: Vitamin! Vitamin! Vitamin! Vitamin!
Me: I'm getting it, buddy.
Her: Mama! Come look!
Me: What? No! Come down here!
Him: Gimmegimmegimmegimme!
Her: Mama! You have to see!
*Monkey drops his vitamin on the floor*
Me: Chickadee! Has Polly done something amazing and stupendous that is far more amazing and stupendous than all the things she did upstairs? Did she come to life? Is she wielding a little knife? If the answers to these questions are "no," I don't care.
*Monkey drops his vitamin on the floor*
Me: Put that in your mouth right now or I'm going to put it in your ear.
Her: Nooooo! But she did something you can't do! She did a double flip down the stairs and you couldn't do that!
Me: Yeah, well, that's because I'm not made of plastic.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Reality returns

Even a really fulfilling Target run can only carry a girl so far.

Is the entire world populated with idiots, or do they just all congregate in Human Resources? I know some perfectly nice, decent human beings who work in HR. But I am beginning to suspect that they really don't; like maybe they made it up and are really drug runners, or something, because the level of pure imbecility I'm encountering in my job search is astonishing.

I just received an email from Big Company regarding my application for employment. I've left so many messages for my contact, I assumed that this was a message in response, or--at the very least--some sort of information-bearing missive. But I was wrong, because this email was a form letter to me and everyone else who interviewed there on September 1st. This mail states, among other things, that they've had so many interviews it will naturally take them a couple of weeks to sort through everything.

My math skills aren't fabulous, but hasn't it already been a couple of weeks?

I know, I know; I should take this as good news. It means I'm not out of the running, yet. But come on, people! Don't refuse to return contact for two and a half weeks and then send along a cheery note about how you're working really hard and please stay tuned. For one thing, we all know that stack of resumes has been sitting on the corner of your desk, untouched, while you spent an entire week on the phone trying to arrange for flavored coffee in the breakroom. And for another thing, signing off with "Please do not respond to this message!" kinda negates the warmth and fuzziness you were attempting to convey.

Other job-related things that are pissing me off today:

Spelling: You want me to work for you? Try to convince me that you're at least a high school graduate in possession of a spell check program. Don't typo all over your listing and expect me to be impressed.

Mystery: There is a time and a place for being vague. Your job ad is neither the time nor the place. If you don't list the actual position and/or locale, I am going to assume your operation is sleazy and the responsibilities therein unsavory.

Flexible schedule: A flexible schedule implies that your schedule is, you know, flexible. When did third shift and every other godawful permutation of working in the dead of night become euphemized as being a flexible schedule??

"Local": A job site which shall remained unnamed but may perhaps rhyme with "got slobs" gives you the option to search in either a single town or to check a little box to "include surrounding areas." If I fill in my town and check the box, 95% of the matches with which I am then presented are jobs located in Boston. It's true, Boston is a surrounding area for me in much the same way that Los Angeles is a surrounding area if you live in Silicon Valley. Yes, I am aware that there are lots of jobs in Boston. No, I don't consider that to be local.

The Navy Reserves, already!: GET OFF OF MONSTER! NOW! There is no one with sufficient brain damage to visit Monster, see all of your cheery, bolded ads, and run right out and enlist because goshdarned if being a restaurant manager for Uncle Sam doesn't sound like a mighty fine time. What a waste of money and space.

It's becoming more and more clear that the only position suitable for a person of my grace and superior mental capacity is benevolent dictator. Perhaps I can find myself a nice island nation somewhere in the tropics.

Bargain high, baybeeeeee!

Last night was rough. As predicted, the "magic call" never came, and once the kids were in bed, it was just me and the apple crisp.

And, truth be told? I'm kinda all apple crisped out.

This morning I decided I needed a little TLC from someone who really loves me. So, after I got Chickadee on the bus and Monkey settled in at school, I headed to Target. You can't be sad at Target. That's a fact.

I was just in time to see the price team start to mark the backpacks down from 50% off to 75% off. This, my friends, is undeniable proof of God's love for us. Do you feel it? I sure did. My pulse is still racing, a little.

My current deal with the kids is that at the beginning of each school year they get either a new backpack or a new lunchbag. This year they got new lunchbags (purchased on clearance, last year). But of course we'd gone to Target for other school supplies and each child had made their preferences for new backpacks emminently clear to me. And because I am the meanest mother in the world, I gently responded with, "Tough. You got a new lunchbag. Move on."

But today? Brand spanking new rolling backpacks for each of them. The ones they'd already picked out. Well, that's not entirely true. My children opt for "character" items, given complete freedom. I tend to shy away from character stuff because then when the next character comes along, the current one is thrown out of favor. Also, Monkey is into superheroes that make my eye twitch a little, and I may not be able to change the fact that he is cursed with a defective Y chromosome, but neither do I need to buy him licensed Spiderman gear. So I do "encourage" (read: insist) that they choose items with slightly more generic themes; bugs or flowers or something that won't become uncool as soon as a new show premieres on Nickelodeon.

(I know someone is going to bring this up, so: Chickadee's Hello Kitty backpack was puchased last year after hot debate, which Little Miss Chicky herself was able to settle by pointing out, "Mama, she's just a kitty. Just a kitty, sitting there. How could I stop liking her?" And so far, so good. But her current obsession, Strawberry Shortcake, needs to go away very soon.)

So it was with much swooning and fluttering of my heart and trembling of my knees that I picked up the flower bag for Chickadee and the frog bag for Monkey and realized I was getting both of them for under $10 total. And should the children balk at these selections, next year? I will help them to see the light. As in, I will inform them that these are the backpacks we have and I am not buying any others and there are children starving in China so hush up, eat your pop-tart and knock it off, already.

I would have been happy with only that. But I am here to tell you that Target loves me so much, it never wants me to leave with less than a cartful of goodies. There were Dymo label makers for 75% off (how popular am I gonna be when everyone else is giving mugs and candles for teacher gifts and we're handing out these?), and organizational folder bin thingies, and all sorts of Targety goodness. Thus my faith in the world was restored.

Because, sometimes--to quote my dearest Kira--shallow is deeper than me.