Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A day in the life of a Superbaby

It isn’t easy, being Captain Adventure.

First, you’ve got the cupboards that need exploring.

And adjusting.

And rearranging.

Then there’s the movies. They’ve got to be taken off those shelves every single day, rain or shine.

And let’s not forget to mug for the camera, too. Nice cape, Captain Adventure.

But at least at the end of the day, there’s always some quality television to take a busy superbaby’s mind off the daily grind.

Yes, it’s a long, long, hard, hard day. All that cake isn’t going to eat itself, either.

Tough life – but somebody’s got to lead it!

Friday, July 22, 2005

How embarrassing

My groan of the day. “My” congressman, Richard Pombo, took a $2,000 brib- er, contribution, from Chevron – one week after CNOOC slapped it’s $18.5B all-cash bid on the table trying to purchase Unocal. Read all about it.

I can just hear the conversation around the big glossy table at Chevron: “Damn! It’s a superior offer! I know, quick, cut a check to a few congressmen! They’ll know how to stamp it out!!”

Oh, how embarrassing. I mean, honestly people! Could we at least put a little time and distance between the issue at hand and the bribe? If I were in charge of bribes, there would be at least a 90 day gap between the issue and the bribe. For Pete’s sake, I wouldn’t cut a check while the issue was still being talked about even on the local news, which is usually too busy discussing the appalling state of the bus routes and how some guy is pissed off because a school is building a fence behind his house to deal with such heady matters as international business and oil drilling.

And let’s say it really wasn’t connected. It was just a standard check, written every June 29th whether a major deal is in peril or not. Hokay – but don’t you think somebody should have hesitated a second and said, “Hey, this might look kinda bad, don’t you think? Maybe, just maybe, we ought to rethink this particular check right now…?”

While I’m on the subject, could somebody please explain to me why it’s OK for a company to contribute to a politician in the first place? I know, I know, I’m being na├»ve and simplistic again. But can I just ask: why is the guy who is supposed to represent the people getting his largest donations from corporations?

Just askin’.

And, if I send him $25, do you think he could do something about the express lane at WalMart, which seems to always be clogged down with people bearing far more than the 11 items or less?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Yet another time-wasting quiz

You want to see the ugliest yarn in the world? Check it out. Here it is. Believe it or not, I knitted a little dress for Eldest out of this stuff, when she was only two years old and couldn’t defend herself against such affronts to her dignity.

Dear God.

Ugliest. Dress. Ever.

I have no pictures of her wearing the final product because, praise the Great Mother, I came to my senses when I saw the finished product, realized it was ugly beyond all reason and donated it. It’s probably still in the bottom of a missionary barrel somewhere in Nigeria. Note of irony: I have no pictures of Eldest wearing this dress - yet I was knitting it while everybody else in the room was doing Creative Memories stuff. Typical, isn't it? Normal mothers take pictures to remember things, what do I do? "Oh yeah, I remember that trip to Florida, I was knitting up that ugly little green dress with the putrid yellow and vomitous orange splotches...let's see, I used these #2 needles and as I recall it was all one piece to the underarms and then went to a faux-smocking at the bodice..."

I have only one defense, and it is a pitiful one: the yarn was on sale. It was very nice yarn, quality-wise, and it was on sale for 75% off. Can’t imagine why…{rolls eyes}

But that's not what brought up this post. What brought is up is the result of an online quiz, of which there must be at least sixteen zillion at this point:

You are Mohair
You are Mohair.
You are a warm and fuzzy type who works well with
others, doing your share without being too
weighty. You can be stubborn and absolutely
refuse to change your position once it is set,
but that's okay since you are good at covering
up your mistakes.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Mohair?! Oh, man! It is second on my list of ‘ugh’ yarns to knit with, right after ‘fuzzy novelty yarns that wear like sandpaper but look cool’.

Don’t get me wrong, I love mohair. It’s a marvelous choice for those lighter-than-air shawls designed to be worn to the opera in San Francisco on frosty autumn evenings over your sleeve-impaired gown. A garment that looks like nothing more than a cobweb can be warmer than that big old woolen jacket your SO is sporting in his oh-so-manly way.

But to knit with? Oh, ack. It sticks, it slips, and if you make a mistake, well, learn to love it because it is not going to come out quietly. Give me a nice feathery cashmere any day. Same warmth, same lightness, less uber-stubborn-sticky-ness.

But no. I'm not chic enough to rate cashmere. I get mohair. Sticky-slippy-stubborn mohair.

Oh well. It could be worse. I could have ended up as one of those feathery novelty yarns that are hell on earth to knit with and produce things that can't be worn against the skin without removing most of it...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Holy Einstein, Captain Adventure!

I cannot believe what just happened. Captain Adventure really scares me sometimes – not in the “I’m about to kill myself by leaping off this high point I’ve gotten to” way, but in the “I am so much smarter than you could ever be” way. Sometimes, I honestly envy people who have ordinary, boring, dull little bulbs for children.

So one of his favorite pastimes is pulling all the movies off the shelf. It is a time-honored infant tradition – the moment they have the mobility to do so, off to the shelf it is, and off the shelf they come.

This morning, the moment his adorable little pork-chop feet hit the playroom floor, he headed for the shelf. I don’t worry about it much, honestly – of all the stuff he can find to amuse himself, it’s a fairly benign activity. I can get them back on the shelf in no time, and frankly I’d rather let him do that for a while than move on to his second favorite activity, which is defeating all the child-proofing latches and so forth in the house.

So he surveyed the shelf with a critical eye. Then he reached out and pulled a single video off the shelf, Baby Shakespeare (a current great favorite). He made his way over to the TV and began hitting the TV with the video box. Nothing but noise happened. He pondered for a moment. Oh wait, that isn’t right. Ha, what was I thinking?

So he took the video tape out of the box (which in itself is an impressive feat of manual dexterity for someone who still accidentally shoves his food up his nose half the time during meals) and began trying to push it into the TV. Hmm, still not working. Let’s see. How does this work again?

He tried putting it on the side of the TV. He tried pushing it under the TV. He tried to get it on top of the TV, but he isn’t tall enough. Thwarted!!

Right. Well, that’s it. Time to call in the big guns…

So he crawled over to me, pushing the tape in front of himself all the way, then sat up, holding up the tape in one hand and putting the other on my knee imploringly.

“Mah-muh! Mah-MUH!!” he announced, wriggling the tape in the general direction of the TV.

Good Lord.

I mean…

Good. Lord.

Think about the cognitive display here. He saw the picture on the box and recognized it as ‘his’ show. He knew that it was supposed to go in the TV…somehow. He realized that taking it out of box would be helpful for viewing purposes. Then he tried various methods of getting it into the TV and, when it failed, he came to me for help. Came to me, rather than sitting in front of the TV screaming and crying to call for me, which is the traditional infant method of summoning assistance.

And then he acted all adorable and charming, which is a sure way to get what you want out of mom.

I am in so much trouble here.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to swallow a handful of gingko biloba pills and down a couple cans of tuna. I need all the help I can get…

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Captain Adventure and Me

I think it’s time for Bacon Bit to shed his infant name and move on to his toddler handle. And I think the toddler handle is Captain Adventure.

Captain Adventure is a climber. Captain Adventure is a flyer. Captain Adventure…is a faller.

Yesterday, Captain Adventure was exploring his realm. Clutching the coffee table, he made his way from one end of the room to the other, talking and chuckling all the way. I was watching him with half an eye while reading the newspaper as he made the circuit once, then twice.

The excitement of cruising around the coffee table palled swiftly. So he moved on to other pursuits, first the great fun of pouring all of the blocks out of the Rubbermaid box, then banging them LOUDLY on the coffee table while singing “BAAAA BAAAAAA AAAAAAH BAAAAAAAH!”, then putting them into the shoes neatly lined up on the fireplace.

After pulling the shoelaces out, however, he really was out of ideas. Out of sheer desperation, he moved on to pushing the Rubbermaid box around the floor. He vanished from my sight as he passed in front of the sofa in the playroom, but I could hear the Rubbermaid scraping along on the Pergo.


I looked up, and he was grinning at me from over the top of the sofa. As our eyes met, he shrieked with delight and began clawing his way to the very crown of the sofa, a.k.a., the liftoff pad. The stinker had used the box to climb up onto the sofa. And now, he was heading for a header.

I jumped up, got tangled in my chair and landed in a most undignified manner on my hip. Ow. Disengaging from the killer chair, I scrambled on hands and knees the short expanse from the kitchen table to the sofa just in time to catch him as he plummeted from the top.

He laughed, he burbled, he thumped me on the back, shouted, “Mah-muh! Mah-muh!” and attempted to bite me on the shoulder. He felt it had been a great success. He felt great about it!

I felt nauseous. I thought I needed a nitrous pill. I began plotting a way, any way, that I could go back to the nice, quiet safety of the cubicle farm. How, I asked myself, could I swing hiring a babysitter to take these gut-wrenching moments for me? How quickly could I get back to work? Could I start today?!

But the moment passed quickly. Once the phantom image of his beautiful little face smashed to bits on the Pergo faded from my inner eye, I recovered my balance. I chuckled (albeit wryly) about his utter lack of fear, and started plotting trips to Six Flags. I have a feeling Captain Adventure and I are going to rule Six Flags!

Meantime, however…I think I’ll just make sure that Rubbermaid stepstool doesn’t get left on the floor when he’s done taking all the blocks out of it.

Cleaning up after the superhero is, after all, the time-honored duty of the faithful Sidekick.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

How the pioneers stored their DVDs

One of the best ways I’ve found to save money on this and that is to stop in the middle of any task – no matter how mundane – and ask myself if there were a way to do it cheaper.

But that’s boring.

So instead, I started asking myself how a pioneer would have handled this. If it doesn’t give me a burst of tremendous cost-cutting insight, it at least will give me a chuckle. Let’s see: how would a pioneer have solved the problem of movie storage with a curious infant in the house?

To get in the right frame of mind, first you have to imagine that you can’t run to the store. The store is something that happens once, maybe twice a year. Take the crops in, pick up a couple things, back home you come. And until next year – improvise.

So, what would the pioneers have done when they really wanted to finish mopping the playroom floor, but their Clorox Ready Mop was out of pads and cleaner? (Yes yes, they didn’t have Ready Mops, just work with the spirit of the thing here!)

Well, they’d have to just scrounge around for substitutes!

Hmm, well, let’s see. I’ve got paper towels and a spray bottle of cleaner…no! Wait! Hold the phone! I’ve got a plain cotton flat diaper, I can fold that around and tuck it in like a pad – it holds better in the hooks, has a ‘scrubbier’ surface, and it won’t tear up if I get a little crazy trying to get the apple juice up! And I’ve got some Lysol hard floor cleaner designed for the Floor Mate (which I’m not using because it is extremely noisy and it’s only 5:35 in the morning and I’d really rather not have all the Denizens downstairs rubbing their sleepy little eyes and saying, “Whatcha doin’, mommy? Can I have juice? Can I have cookies? Can I have cake? Chocolate? Juice? Mommy? Hey! Lookit! Puddles!!!! {jump splash jump splash}”), but I’ll bet if I just dilute it a bit with water in the empty Clorox bottle – viola! Saaaaaaaaaay, it works pretty good. And guess what? That cloth diaper is washable, and the $7 bottle of concentrated Lysol will refill that bottle at least fifty times, if not more. (And, it smells better than the Clorox stuff, IMHO.)

16 pads and a bottle of Clorox cleaner runs me $9 and will get me through about, oh, three weeks of cleaning. I’ve just saved myself $12 a month without giving up one whit of convenience. Hot dog!!

Good old pioneers. Still a source of inspiration in the modern world.

Now. On to the more pressing question: How would they have stored their DVDs…?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Homework, homework, homework

I graduated from college, with honors, back in 2002. I got the honors by doing homework. Lots, and lots, and lots of homework. I did all the homework I was ever assigned, which my fellow classmates regarded as being somewhat mental. And as I walked across the stage to shake hands with the dean and receive my diploma, the long yellow tassel rubbing my neck raw and thumping around my waist proclaiming my rabid dedication to homework, I confess that I had one thought dominating my brainwaves: Woo hoo! No more damned homework!! EVER!!!!

Well…not exactly so.

I just got done helping Danger Mouse with her homework. First, I carefully penned her name across the top of it, then handed her the pencil and said, cheerfully: “Now, YOU write your name!”

Hmm. Well, it looks…sort of like writing. Sort of. A little bit wild, a little bit crazy, but you can make out the general form of letters. Especially if you happen to know what word it’s supposed to be.

We then moved on to the actual meat of the homework: find the top item in the stack and circle it, then the bottom item in the stack and put an ‘X’ through it.

Anxiously, not wanting to pimp her gig by pointing or continually asking, ‘What’s on top? What’s on top?’ I watched her survey the stacks. The pencil quivered a moment, then zoomed: circle, X, circle, X, circle, X, circle X! “Done!” she shouted proudly. Then she held up a tiny hand and, with utmost seriousness, imparted the following information: “But mommy, now we need to turn it over.”

“We do?”

“Yes. Because, well, the fact is, mommy, a lot of times…there stuff on the back, too!”

Hey! Guess what? There was stuff on the back! Find the kid in the striped shirt, then circle the kid in front and put an X through the kid behind said kid in the striped shirt.

In spite of the trickiness of the authors, who made one line face one way and the next another, Danger Mouse managed to correctly circle and X the kids.

And that, friends, was the homework for this morning. Tonight, I get to hassle Eldest about her homework, which is to write an essay regarding her best friend. Then I get to listen to her read it aloud, offer corrective criticism, point out misspelled words and interesting grammar and so forth. I also get to help Danger Mouse write her name a few times on lined paper (oh goody, more ‘mystery letters’) and perhaps do another sheet or two of circling things on top, bottom, around, between, and among other things.

Done with homework? Did I really, honestly and truly think I was done with homework?


Not only am I not done with homework, I’m not going to be done with homework for at least twelve more years. At least.

But you know what? I don’t really mind. Homework is a kind of connection with my kids. Off they go to school, learning and growing without my direct input. Sitting with them to do homework, listening to Eldest’s essays or supervising Danger Mouse circling and X’ing puts me back into their learning lives. And in the chaos of our Den, it gives me time that is utterly individual with them.

Besides. This homework is enjoyable. Not like my old homework. “Discuss implementing multiprotocol communications without the use of a router.”

Hmm. Couldn’t I just, you know, circle the router in front of the hub, and put an ‘X’ through the one behind it?

Friday, July 08, 2005

On the trail again

I like trail mix. Let’s just put that right up front. I like trail mix. I like good old-fashioned trail mix, the kind I used to take with me when I was an avid hiker and backpacker. I don’t need dried guava or Peruvian flame-dried raisins or anything like that in there. Peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds, maybe an almond or cashew or two. I could live on the stuff.

But it can be ridiculously hard to find. Well, let me rephrase that. Trail mix isn’t hard to find. Every supermarket has trail mix. What they don’t seem to have is Good Old Fashioned Cheap Trail Mix.

Peanuts, raisins, sunflower seeds. Maybe some carob (if you must, I’d prefer not), maybe a few banana chips (why, oh why did those become ubiquitous in trail mixes?!).

But oooooooooh nooooooo. They throw in a desiccated pineapple chunk or two and some sugary thing that’s supposed to papaya and suddenly it’s a “gourmet tropical blend”. Or they add little blobs of hardened soy yogurt or something (blech). And oh, by the way, that’ll be $2.49 for a five ounce bag.

Harrumph, I say to myself. I’ll make my own damned trail mix, I say to myself. I’ll just get a tube of sunflower seeds, a bag of raisins and a can of peanuts.

Then I eat the sunflower seeds on the way home, decide to make oatmeal cookies with the raisins and feed the peanuts to the husband and Boo Bug, both of whom will eat darn near anything.

Drat. Foiled again.

Well, guess what I just found? I just found {fanfare} BulkFoods.com. They’ve just gotten on my rather short list of Favorite Online Places to Shop.

I found them because I was on the make for cocoa powder. Well, they sell cocoa powder in 5 pound, 25 pound or even 50 pound sacks. Oh yeah, baby. Free shipping and a $4.95 packaging fee for your entire order? Hot dog.

But! While I was there, I started looking at what-all else they had in bulk – after all, the $4.95 was for the entire order, so might as well see if there’s anything else I could use while I’m there. Chili powder, curry, granulated garlic, yeast…hel-lo what’s this? ‘Student Food’?

Friends, it is trail mix. It is nothing weird, Ye Olde Basic trail mix. Raisins, Peanuts, Sunflower Seeds, Cashews, Pumpkin Seeds and Almonds.

I got a smallish bag, 5 pounds for $13.

My God, is it good. It is…just…so good. The raisins are beautifully plump, the nuts are crunchy, they didn’t leave out the salt (they have other mixes that do, but to me – trail mix is salty).

I could live on this stuff. I’m serious. I could totally and utterly live on this stuff. I’m having to use a measuring cup when I’m getting myself a ‘snack’ of it, because a single serving is ¼ cup and left to my own devices I’d be just sitting down with the whole 5 pound bag in my lap snarling at anyone who dared approach.

Their dried fruits are also very good. The dried apricots don’t taste like pure sulfur. They taste like {gasp} apricots.

And when I throw in the fact that the entire order cost $4.95 to ship to me…the prices are pretty darned good.

We are pleased. And telling ourselves that we are not “pigging out on trail mix”.

We are consuming our “energy food”, in order to get us through our busy day.

That’s our royal story, and we are sticking to it.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Left, left, LEFT at Albuquerque

I have officially gone around the bend. Shoulda turned left at Albuquerque, but instead went forward and ended up in Loonyville. Today, after going to the Dollar Store and WalMart to purchase all the assorted whatnots Eldest and Danger Mouse need to start school tomorrow, I go to the school to discover which classroom Eldest will be in – unlike Kindergarten, there is no warm-fuzzy-meet-your-teacher deal here. Nope. The room assignments were only posted Saturday. You get what you get, suck it up and walk it off.

So I park. I walk up to the office. I zero in on the classroom assignments posted on the office window.

Now, this is a year round school. There are four tracks: red, blue, green and yellow. Eldest and Danger Mouse are on green track. So I go to the green track postings, scan my eyeballs over the columns until I find ‘3rd grade’ and begin looking for Eldest’s name.

Hmm. No Eldest. Neither 3rd grade class has an Eldest in it. Hmmm…oh, no way, they did not switch her over to blue track or something…?

So I go to the blue track, scan for 3rd grade, scan for Eldest. Nothing. Yellow track, nothing. Red track, nothing.

Dear God. Eldest is not on any class roster?! B-b-b-b-b-b-b-but…they told me I didn’t need to do anything, they told me that unless I wanted to change tracks or schools I just brought her back next year and it was all good, she’d just advance her grade and so forth and if I was supposed to do anything well, it was news to me!

Thoroughly freaking out, I checked twice. I checked a third ti-

Um. Third grade?

Uh…let’s try…second grade – ah! There she is! Room XYZ. Hokay.

I laughed so hard at myself I just about couldn’t drive. Ain’t it just typical? Half the time I’m grousing that their childhood is zipping past too fast, the other half I’m trying to advance them an entire year in an instant’s time.

On a (sorta) related note: Eldest was with my Gran over this long weekend, and Danger Mouse with my mom. They all returned home safe and sound this morning – and the holes were patched. Funny how I can spend a week muttering that I just can’t wait until Grandma shows up to take {kid’s name here} outta here for a damned minute…then spend the entire time they’re gone missing them and worrying about whether they’re having a good time and…

Friday, July 01, 2005

Task List du Jour

Here it is. Here is my list of Fun and Excitement for the day:

1. Clean dishwasher
2. Clean & disinfect microwave
3. Scrub stove burners / grates
4. Wash lampshades (! – c’mon, that’s just mental)
5. Laundry
6. Ironing
7. Go through Handle-it-handle-it drawer (this would what most people call “pay bills, do filing”, but I have this drawer where I shove all that stuff
8. Run antivirus software
9. Yardwork: mow lawns, trim roses, weed, de-spider play equipment and rehedge the stupid shrubs
10. Cancel AOL
11. Clean out toy box, donate 98% of everything to kids who will actually play with said toys instead of just leaving them all over the stairs
12. Clean downstairs. All of it. Because in spite of having already done it once earlier in the week, it now looks as though nobody has ever done it in the sixteen years that this house has stood in this spot.
13. Clean upstairs. All of it. Including peeling up the drywall that got into the carpet and dusting all the drywall off the furniture.
14. This one is my personal favorite: Clean the window runners.


OK, you know what? I really need to get a life. Washing the lampshades? Cleaning window runners?!

Come ON.

And I know there is no way in hell that I’m going to get to all of that today. In point of fact, five of those things were supposed to have been done earlier in the week. But I was…busy.

As I am right now. I would be getting on with things, but I’m chatting with you instead.

So. How’re things…how’s your cat? Your mother in law? Your aunt’s mother in law? You cousin’s dog’s nephew’s mother in law?

Greeaaaaaaaat, that’s greaaaaaaaat!

{glances around, notices that house elves have not yet appeared to do all this for her}


OK. Well, guess I’d least better go pretend I’m thinking about actually doing some of this stuff. I would just ignore it, but I can’t. it will bug me, no use pretending it won’t. So I guess I’ll just…go do it.

Just as soon as I’ve checked to see if I can beat my high score at Big Money today…