Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Liz: I don't understand pie crust.
Lisa: Oh?
Liz: First you eat the top off the pie.
Lisa: The topping? Like whipped cream?
Liz: Yes. Then you eat the middle part & the crust.
Lisa: Right. The filling & the crust.
Liz: So you eat all the way across and then BAM! Run right into a wall!
Lisa: Of pie crust?
Liz: Yeah! Then what do you do? I don't get that.

I played it cool... didn't say anything else... I didn't tell Liz that I've probably spent just as much time thinking about this very subject, pie crust incongruity, when I was a kid. Oh, yeah. Right. Who am I kidding?! I've spent way more time thinking about this than she has because I'm an adult and obviously I'm still thinking about it. Pie just doesn't work out! There is always too much crust; a veritable surplus of crust, if you will. Don't get me started on double-crust pies either, because that is just asking for trouble.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Discussing My Need To Discreetly Carry Small Quantities Of Substances

Don't get excited, I'm talking about salt. Specifically, real salt that I need to bring with me to certain houses because the residents only eat "healthy salt" which has reduced something in it, or I guess I should say not in it, to make it healthier. Sodium? Anyway, it tastes so metallic to me it's like licking the side of a battleship. I told Ken not to make a fuss, that I'd just bring some of my own full-octane salt & discreetly sprinkle it on my food as needed.

Lisa: I need one of those rings, I think they're called poison rings.
Ken: What is that?
Lisa: It's a medieval domed ring with a hinged lid & a secret compartment where witchy women would keep their poison.
Ken: Poison?
Lisa: Yes, you know, to sprinkle into an unsuspecting victim's drink. Like Iocade powder in Princess Bride. "Inconceivable..."
Ken: What? Iocane?
Lisa: Iocame?
Ken: Iocane! Iocane. It's I-o-cane.
Lisa: Iocade? Iocame.
Ken: Cane! Cane! with an N! There's no M! And certainly no D!
Lisa: Iocane. Iocane powder that I'd sprinkle into my husband's drink.
Ken: Yes.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Free Advice (From You) Friday

Did you realize all the other, probably cooler bloggers have special "days"? They have things like Self Portrait Tuesday and Self Indulgent Wednesday and one woman has Chuck Friday which is really just pictures of her dog. I've been tossing it around, wondering if I should get some "days" of my own and if so which ones I'd like. I've got a couple of ideas such as... Ask A Question Monday. Provocative Poll Tuesday. Bitch & Whine Wednesday. Thankful Thursday. Free Advice Friday. The one I'm really leaning towards right now is Advice Friday, though. Because it's Friday. And I need advice. Really I just thought up all of those other days so I could hit you with my problem.

Here we go. Ready? It's a parenting thing, so there really aren't any right or wrong answers because kids are total wingnuts and besides, it'll take years to know how they turn out. Most likely by then I'll be living someplace fabulous and will have forgotten all about who it was that suggested that thing that I did that ultimately drove my daughter to the pole.

The problem: My hysterical daughter is ruining our household. That's it in a nutshell. Well, she's not ruining the entire household all the time, just when she's hysterical, which is a couple times a week. She will Fah-reeeak out over something like, oh, let's say homework frustration. Her trigger level is very, very low, and then she gets LOUD.

Compounding the problem is that the other 4 members of our household are fairly rational, quiet, peace-loving people/dog. Also, we don't have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Our older child has taken after what we'll call The Swedish Side of the family. She's blond and more of a brooder. She has her moments, to be sure, but she's usually very calm, logical and given about 10 minutes will explain what's going on, why she's upset, get over it and move on. (And she's the teenager!) She's an easy kid and we've been totally spoiled by her mellow ways and we know it. She is a failure in only one respect, which is that she completely did not prepare us for dealing with The Little Spanish girl.

Li'l Chica is a passionate hot tamale who will start yelling and screaming and emoting like All. Get. Out. when she's angry or frustrated, which is the same thing in her case. The rest of us find this behavior highly irritating, annoying and upsetting. Once Chica really gets going, everyone gets involved, including the dog who will stand alongside the carnage that is a Chica meltdown and wring her paws, look worried and sometimes pee on the floor which definitely does not help matters in the slightest.

Last night we suffered a Homework Meltdown and Chica got rip-roaring loud and hysterical, just a yellin' and a screamin' until everyone else came running. We got frothed up until we were all yelling at each other about Why Chica Is Yelling. That's when she slipped out, went to her room, and did not do her homework (I believe she finished it later). We all stayed and got royally pissed-off at each other for various reasons which may or may not have anything at all to do with homework in the first place but mostly not. This is what she does. She creates an hysterical diversion so she can slip out!

My thought is that we all need to Simmer Down Now and not react to her in the first place. This is difficult to do, yes, and if we knew how to do that, I guess we would already be doing it. But for now, Chica is winning! She is making us all loco. Okay, not really crazy, but definitely quite uncomfortable, especially the dog. (I'm assuming the dog is the most upset because she's the only one peeing. So far.) One of us, who shall remain nameless, says we should "make her stop yelling" and another of us says that would be like trying to "make her stop breathing" because it's just something that she does. Oh, gosh. I just don't know. What do you think? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?

Wow. That got long, huh? I promise in the future to have Advice Friday be more concise and tightly edited. On the other hand, I feel a medium-amount better just having written it all out... You internets are lovely! You haven't even said a word and already I feel better! But, yeah, any suggestions would be most gratefully appreciated.

Madre de la Chica

Confidential to Maxx*: Happy Birthday! Happy Nano!

* name changed to protect the innocent.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Happy Birthday Norm!

The K-man and I would like to wish you a very happy birthday. My gift to you: I hope one of your pets dies. And I mean that sincerely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Much, MUCH Less Scary Elisabeth

I had a request, actually more than one, from more than one person, to puh-leeze take down the previous picture of Liz. Sigh. Apparently it frightened a few people. I don't really worry about what people will think when I do this stuff, because that's kind of the whole point, in a way. So I won't take it down. I will, however add a new photo of Liz, a much more classically "cuter" one taken when she was about... three? four? It was during those years when she got a new UM cheerleader dress every year because she wore them constantly. Now I ask you, which is more horrifying? A Junior Birdman Liz or a cheerleader-y Liz?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rebel Rebel

I'm rebelling and taking the day off. I'm not going to Giftmas shop or look at my list or finish decorating the tree or even do something as small as straighten a stocking. I'm not going to do anything you-know-what related. I might see if I can find a lampshade for that red lamp, finish up some laundry, mail a package that's been sitting here, pick up some groceries and vacuum upstairs. I might also run over to Kerrytown* if I have enough time.

Ahhhh.... that all sounds so good! HERE WE ARE PEOPLE! We're at the point where holiday ennui has so fully set in, my normal everyday life sounds really, really good. I'm looking forward to doing the above-listed activities. I can't wait to clean the bathroom! Last night I was enthusiastically loading the dishwasher (without being asked) and caught myself thinking This is so great! I love doing this! Why don't I normally enjoy this again? Oh yeah... because really? I'm just avoiding doing all those Christmas cards! Cool. Gotta look on the bright side. Today I get to empty the dishwasher!

* Kerrytown is a yummy little mall (for lack of a better word) we have here. I looooove Kerrytown. It's tiny and bustling and has just one, simply one, of everything.

[Edited to add: Emily stayed home from school sick today, so I couldn't get out. Mostly I stayed in and pottered. FYI pottering has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with pots, as in, I neither fashioned nor handled pots in any way. Rather pottering is much like puttering, except spelled with an "o" and since it also sounds vaguely English, is more dignified.]

Friday, December 09, 2005

Happy Snow Day!

My kids could not be more delighted that today is a snow day. Emily has already left to go sledding, after fielding her offers. Liz is getting ready to go too, but first she shares this...

If your nose is runny
And you want to kiss your honey
And you really think it's funny
Well, it's snot!

Happy Snow Day, Everyone!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Questioning My Religion

I’m starting to think numerology isn't real. I’m getting to that stage of life, perhaps, where one starts questioning these things. Take the other day for example. I was checking out a numerology booklet, which was really more like a single sheet of paper, but I'll refer to as a pamphlet, that came free in the mail. (Just take one tiny little feng shui class and be amazed at the mailing lists you get put on.) This thing said I could easily figure out the numerology main-deal number for myself, my family and all my friends. Then, after I know everyone's number, I can read all about how it correlates to their personality, strengths and weaknesses, and glean inside information to the depths of each person’s very soul, including my own. The pamphlet said that by utilizing this valuable information I would theoretically be able to improve my relationship with every person, dog, cat and/or goldfish/unicorn, dead or alive. Every single aspect of both my and their lives will improve dramatically and then we will all be oh so much better and happier. All I had to do was add up the corresponding letters for each person's name! I started right away.

First I did myself. Lisa Anne… Wait. Which last name should I use? I completely identify with my married name now, but wouldn’t my maiden name have had some influence? Which is more authentically me, my original-issue name or my sort-of-chosen, but really just came-with-the-husband name? The pamphlet's intructions were vague so just to be safe I did both and of course came up with different numbers; 8 & 3. So I read the skinny on both and they both fit, so I figured it must be like my horoscope. See, I’m on the cusp astrologically speaking, which means I’m very close to the end of one zodiac sign and the beginning of the next. That makes me a kind of hybrid, the rare and complex multiple personality situation of a Sagicorn, or someone with traits of both, just to make it more confusing and to take longer in the morning what with me having to read two horoscopes, but only if I didn’t like the first one, because really, who has time for such nonsense? (a Capricorn thing to say) On the other hand, having two choices is so much more interesting and freeing! It's all good! With two I can choose the one I like better! (a Sagittarius thing to say)

So then I did Ken. His was pretty straightforward; he’s a 9. Then I did a friend; also a 9. Wait. How can that be? No way are these guys the same. If I took out the middle names, things looked a little more promising, but of course the sheet, I mean pamphlet, was sketchy on that. I read about what makes a 9 be a 9 and when only considering those specific traits, I could see my way clear to agree with it that yes, they both are like that and they both do do that. Then I moved on to another friend, and she’s been married, um, let's say more than once. So I did all of her names in all combinations and they all came out the same! She’s an 8 no matter who she’s married to! Aha! Consistency! Yes! Numerology is real!

Then I did my sister, which totally fell apart with the name thing because hers were totally different for all of her different names in all combinations and none of them matched her personality. I was getting a little discouraged at that point and beginning to have serious doubts, which really isn’t in either of my numerology profiles or horoscope personalities... That's when I hit rock bottom and started considering that maybe, just perhaps, numerology isn’t real. Maybe it isn’t based on hard, scientific fact after all.

Then my sister called, excited because she'd bought a whole book on numerology and was busily figuring out everyone. Coincidence? Hardly! Especially since there's no such thing anyway. Al and I spent the rest of the afternoon* adding up names, finding people's birthdays, and basically decoding the universe. Everything makes perfect sense now! And it's true what they say... If you want to understand something, especially a subject as deeply complex and profound as numerology, you really do need to go buy the book.

* Ken: Not the whole afternoon, sweetie. I still got your stinkin' laundry done and mothered your children, so what's the diff? Kisses!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's Even More Amazing Because She's Almost Completely Deaf

The scene: Earlier this morning, Lisa rummaging through huge piles of Giftmas paraphernalia, whining about already being totally overwhelmed already by The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year already. Shelby, watching and worried about the situation, tries to help.

Shelby: Bark! Bark, bark!
Lisa: Don't bark.
Shelby: (stops barking)
Ken: You could be a dog trainer.
Shelby: (smiles at Lisa and wags tail)
Lisa: Don't look at me.
Shelby: (looks at floor)
Ken: Wow! You really could be a dog trainer!

Monday, December 05, 2005

New And Improved!! Now With LINKS!!

Perhaps you've noticed I've added a few things to the Shelby's Mum blog? Over there, on the left? Like below where it says Photos? Oh yeah, I bribed the Kenster by performing certain favors and yes, I feel kind of dirty and it nearly took an act of god, but dammit, I've got a Flickr photo link now. And it works. Most of the time. So. If you should happen to click on the Flickr thing, you will be able to see random photos I've taken! They are sort of organized, pretty much, kind of. I'm learning, okay? It takes freaking forever to upload photos, arrange & sort them, especially when I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what I'm doing and I'm too lazy to read the instructions. (When did that happen? I always, totally, used to read directions and followed them. Must be the nearing 40 thing and not giving a shit anymore?)

If you see something in Flickr you find objectionable, too bad. Unless it's a photo of you or your kid, in which case I'll happily take it down because I'm decent that way. The other thing, not all of the pictures are there yet. Say for example, you went to a wedding with me? And you know there was a really cute picture taken of you & your honey but it's not there? That's because I had a photo-uploading nervous breakdown and had to take a little break. Or perhaps you attended an event or holiday with me and you know for a fact that I took approximately 600 pictures but nary a one is represented? Again with the nervous condition called If I Smash My Computer Now, It Will Not Work So I'd Better Just Walk Away. Right now the pictures on my Flickr thing are a mere suggestion of the future fabulousness, okay? It will improve when I either start drinking a lot more and can cope better, or I keep slowly figuring out how to do this. But in the mean time... view away.

Second. I added, or actually Kenny my in-house wizard added a link to my Amazon Wish List. This is in response to the literally hundreds of family members who have pestered Ken unrelentingly for birthday & Giftmas suggestions for me. He's cracking under the pressure, people! Lay off of him, he doesn't know what I want anyway! Besides, I need him calm and rested for ongoing tech support and in case I ever decide to add any more exciting Links. He's best when left alone to play with his Legos and fantasize about our next Disney trip. I'm not kidding.

So go ahead and give it a look. Please let me know if you run into any big nasty bugs or if something doesn't work or whatever. I'll mix myself up a margarita and see what I can do. Thanks.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Emily Contemplates Theology

Yesterday morning Emily went to a real live church service for the first time. She stayed overnight at a friend's house and they invited her to attend services with them. The mother said her husband was a lapsed Catholic, and she'd always wanted to "believe in something." This is pretty similar to us, except Ken is a lapsed Presbytarian, although he swung all the way to atheism, and I also feel like I'd like to believe in something. I know Emily has definitely hinted at wanting to believe in something, so I let her go. Besides, the church in question is very liberal and one of the least "churchy" churches out there.

After she got home I asked Emily how it went. She said she loved church and that it was a lot of fun. She said they heard a story in Sunday school about David. She said "There is way more to it than what he did with one rock and that guy Goliath. He was also a terrible king who made a bunch of women leave their husbands and marry him to make his kids. He would also take people's stuff if he wanted it. He was a real jerk off."

Wow. My child learned "jerk off" in Sunday school. Liberal church indeed.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Skippy Situation or Time To Say Goodbye

A friend called this morning with an interesting situation; the humane disposal of an unwanted pet. We discussed it for a while and concluded the only reasonable thing would be for me to pose her dilemma to the internet. Hence, I am the spokesperson asking your opinion: What do you think should happen to Skippy The Mouse?

About a year and a half ago Skippy was purchased as a very young white mouse from a local pet store, where he’d been born several weeks earlier. He and two of his siblings were intended as dinner for the purchaser’s son’s snake. The snake, however, had other ideas. Apparently Hades* is a very discriminating snake with a delicate palate which does not include white mice. He wouldn’t eat them. So the father of the boy with the snake, instead of returning Skippy and his brethren to the pet store, set them free amongst the wilds of his cul-de-sac backyard. (Please remember we are not here today to judge anyone on his relative decency, humanity, compassion or stupidity.) This backyard just so happens to be next door to my friend’s back yard.

My friend was outside, enjoying a balmy summer’s early evening when she spotted something white moving in the grass. Upon further inspection she was shocked to realize she was seeing a tiny, white mouse. She and her son were charmed to discover a rather friendly mouse that did not try to run away or act afraid of them or have any other discernable mouse-like characteristics except for a tiny cute nose and adorably twitchy whiskers set upon a whimsical face framed by darling little mousy ears. She was smitten. She picked him up, brought him inside her house, thus rescuing him, and named him Skippy. She and her son took fine & loving care of Skippy. They kept him in his own mouse habitat, safe & comfortable. They fed him well on a diet of wholesome, delicious mouse food, fresh water and occasional cut-up vegetable snacks. By all accounts, Skippy’s is a very good life indeed, especially for a little mouse living on borrowed time.

Then Skippy began to mature and started acting like the fully-grown, sexually frustrated, pissed off & resentfully imprisoned male mouse that he is. This brings us to today, whereupon Skippy has become an unhappy, hostile adult mouse of the most disagreeable kind. He jumps. He bites. He attacks. He bites. He stinks. He is… unpleasant, to say the least. My friend and her son are gentle, thoughtful, kind & compassionate people. They have been reduced to muttering “I really hate Skippy” and “Get me the thick leather glove so I can change Skippy’s water” and “He just won’t die” and “How long can he possibly live, anyway?” (About another 2-4 years if the internet is to be believed, and why shouldn’t it?) There was even a short period of time when Skippy was, through a series of unfortunate miscommunications, neglected and denied food & water. But still, Skippy thrived. This mouse is a true survivor. Skippy is also a huge pain in the ass. The question to you, dear reader, is what should my friend do with Skippy? Suggestions so far:

  1. Toss him outside & let him figure it out.

  2. Grin & bear it. Continue caring for him until he dies a natural death.

  3. Try to find him a new home where a feral mouse will be warmly welcomed.

  4. Turn him loose in a location deemed likely to already support a mouse population.

  5. My personal favorite, return him to the store, by whatever means necessary.

  6. Other.

Actually, option 2 isn’t really an option, as there are other, extenuating circumstances which I am barred from sharing. Just know this, Skippy must go. At this point, he is wholly unwelcome and it is time for him to be scurrying along.

Note: The addition of a cat into this particular household is not an option for allergenic reasons. While a cat would certainly “handle” the Skippy situation in a natural, circle-of-life kind of way, foresight predicts a Fluffy situation would soon follow.

I put it upon you, my dear internet friends, what do you think? Ideas? Suggestions? Anyone want a mouse?

* name changed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Book Reports: Not For The Common Good Of Mothers

Core Democratic Values. You know what those are, right? All eight of them? And I'm sure you can define them both clinically & in your own words and then provide three illustrative examples for each? No? Then you must not have a 5th grader.

I know all about the CDVs because a few years ago I wrote a nauseatingly dull report all about them. I mean I helped my daughter write a nauseatingly dull report all about them. Now, three years later, I get to write it again. I mean I get to help my other daughter write it. Again. I was moaning about my predicament when Liz helpfully suggested "Mom, my report is still on your computer. Maybe you could just, um..."


Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hmmm... Apparently I Forgot To Post This Last Week In Our Shuffle To Leave

I just got off the phone with my three-year-old nephew, Wyatt. I was explaining how we're flying on a plane to come and see him tomorrow. He reminded me that they'd recently painted their house so it might be a bit tricky to locate. "Now it's a blue house, but last night it was pink."

We'll be there all week, including Thanksgiving. Wyatt says they have "lots of food so it will be cool." He also said after we all finish playing with cars then Emily, Elisabeth, Uncle Kenny, Liz and Auntie Lisa can walk with him to the park where there's a big slide. I just hope he isn't too disappointed when we show up with only two kids and no fluffy brown dog...

Thanks to Auntie Joannie, by the way, for saving my butt and graciously agreeing to watch my little fur ball while we're gone!

Happy Thanksgiving!
See ya next week!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Kenny!

Happy 40th Birthday Ken!

Aw, isn't he cute in his first grade picture? I really wish he'd still dress like this... so dapper!

When I married him he had gray hair, bifocals and his favorite restaurant was Bill Knapp's. (yes, it's a mixed marriage) But alas, Ken is officially an old dude now. That's the first thing he said this morning. And then he ate his first bowl of old guy colon blowin' cereal. If you see him today, ask him how it's going... and be sure to wish him forty more.

Kisses Kenny!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sooo Not-Cool

Just two days ago in an online poll asking for one word to describe me, Liz said I was "cool." She's what my sister calls "a young thirteen" in that she's perhaps a smidge behind other teenagers her age in a few things.

Today in carpool, a really good Prince song came on the radio. Of course I turned it way up, sang along and danced in my seat while driving as per usual. I was most of the way through the song when I noticed fiery-hot laser beams shooting out of Liz's eyesockets, burning holes clean through me and into the seat. Oh yeah. I was definitely getting the look. Not so cool now, am I?

Why He Makes The Big Bucks

Dr. Pediatrician: Your test is negative. You probably don't have strep throat.
Emily: Oh, that's too bad. I wanted to take medicine and feel better in one day.
Dr. P.: Hmmm.
Lisa: It seems some people get strep and others just don't.
Dr. P.: Yes, it's true. Just like ear infections. We don't know why.
Lisa: Interesting.
Dr. P.: Any other questions?
Emily: Yes. Why do humans cry when they are sad?
Dr. P. : Um... I don't know. I don't think anyone knows.
Emily: I think it's because... (very long explanation neither he nor I could follow)
Dr. P.: Interesting. I'm going to have to think about that.
Emily: Okay. Bye!
Dr. P.: (charmed) Bye!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No More Should

I was just thinking I should write a post, add something here to the ol' blog... and then I took issue with myself for telling me I should do something. I mean, who do I think I am, anyway, talking to me like that? I read somewhere how the word should creates...blame? shame? Something bad like that. Should is not a loving-kindness type of word. Buddhists never say should. Ever hear that little saying about how we are allowed to hate one person? (Buddhists probably don't go along with this part...) I think it'd be wise, at least for me, to go right ahead and allow myself to hate one word too. From now on, until further notice, my hated word is should. No more should! Should sucks and I hate should. And your little dog too!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why Don't You...

start whining & crying (just the right amount to wake me but not Ken) at 2:30 in the morning to go outside every night?

(Edited at noon on Sunday to add photo)

Friday, November 11, 2005


I bet it will feel really sucky for Jennifer Aniston when she opens up her Pottery Barn Holiday catalog and sees the Jolie bedding set and matching Jolie Giftmas stockings being offered.

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning!

Visions of breath-taking & indescribable beauty this morning:

* The young middle school couple, standing on the corner. She, vigorously swinging her arms back & forth, back & forth, not facing him directly, but smiling broadly. Him, nervously laughing and fully engaged by her.

* The woman who walks her matching water-type dogs whose breed I can't recall. The sunlight streaming majestically through the trees in bright golden beams of light that just catch the furry edges of her dogs, gloriously outlining them all in sharp relief.

* The house perpetually under construstion for as long as I've lived here. Today, the mailbox post newly handpainted with a delicate vine of ivy and tiny white flowers. The tender care someone used to decorate a post in front of a jumbled wreck of a house.

Why yes, I did have an extra cup of mood-elevating coffee this morning. Why do you ask?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Children Could Not Be More Different

Putting Liz to bed

Lisa: Liz, go to bed.
Liz: Okay.
Lisa: Goodnight.
Liz: Goodnight.
Lisa: I love you.
Liz: Love you!

Putting Emily to bed

Lisa: Emily, go to bed.
Emily: Do you think I should get a Ph.D.?
L: If you want one. Go to bed.
E: Do you think I'm smart enough to get one?
L: Yes. Now go to bed.
E: What kind do you think I should get?
L: The kind you want to get; you'll know.
E: Would you still love me if I commited a crime?
L: Yes. Go to bed.
E: What if it was really bad and I went to prison?
L: I'd be very disappointed, but I'd still love you.
E: What if I kill someone?
L: I...I... I'd still love you.
E: What if I tried to kill you? Would you love me then?
L: Uhhh... yes. I'd still love you. Time for bed!
E: What if I get a disability? Would you still love me then?
L: Yes. Did you brush your teeth?
E: Not yet... Why did you want to have children?
L: I just did. Go brush your teeth.
E: Do you regret having kids?
L: No. I love you very much. You need to go to bed.
E: I want to be a lawyer when I grow up.
L: Really! Why's that?
E: Because it's fun to handle things like solving problems for people.
L: You'd be good at that. Now go to bed.
E: Why do you want me to go to bed?
L: Because it's 10:30. It's very late! You need to go to bed.
E: Why?
L: So you can get plenty of good sleep.
E: But why do you care?
L: So you can be happy & alert tomorrow.
E: But why do you care so much about it?
L: Emily. Go to bed. I love you. Go to bed.
E: Okay, okay, okay... Jeez.

Wrapper Lust

Did you know Tori Spelling grew up in a house that has its own gift wrapping room? I don't know how I know that, but I do. Or maybe I made it up and now I think it's true. Anyhoo... access to a gift wrapping room is the only reason I'd ever be jealous of her. Or her parents, since I suppose the gift wrapping room probably belongs to them, but still. My giftwrap wrapping paper gift tag tissue paper ribbon & bows area is a disaster. That's to say nothing of my tangled sea of gift bags...

I decided in about April that I wanted to organize the whole mess by getting one of those Rubbermaid wrapping paper organizing things like my sister has. I liked hers because it holds a bunch of rolls of paper and it has a little storage area for bows and tape. Cool. Except I couldn't find one in April because no one sells it at that time of year because apparently no one wraps gifts in the spring? "They" only sell wrapping paper organizers during this part of the year, as Giftmas approaches. (I call it that now, Giftmas instead of Christmas because that is certainly how it can start to feel if one is inclined towards that direction. I wish I could take credit for coining the term Giftmas, but I ganked it from another blogger. (gank is a blog term for stealing something clever or amusing off another blog)). I've had to wait months to buy myself a Rubbermaid thing. Now that we are well into November, if they haven't already, then Target (for example) should be putting a bunch of those babies out on the shelves any day now.

I went online to see if it was time to run out to get my organizing thingy when, just this close to realizing my dream, I ran across something else. (see photo at top). May I introduce the elfa Gift Wrap Cart? Not only does it handle the paper situation and have a place for bows and tape, but there are special spaces designated for scissors, ribbons, a shelf for tissue paper and, god help me, drawers and hooks for gift bags. The best part is the clean flat surface on the top, positioned at the exact perfect height, where the actual wrapping of my gifts could happen all with the greatest of ease, just like at Tori's parents' house. Imagine how organized I could be if I had this thing! The one little catch is that it costs TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. Actually, it costs more than that, what with shipping & sales tax, which means I'm probably not going to be getting my very own elfa fantasy wrapping cart anytime soon. That is, unless Ken or I become successful TV producers.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Thread Count Sheets

Emily came into our room the other night at about 3 a.m. saying something about a bad dream. I said "get in" and went back to sleep. The next morning she didn't want to get up. I thought she was overly tired from a fretful night. She said it was my cozy-smooth sheets. What Emily wants for Christmas: "Thread count sheets."

Edited to add: I went out this very afternoon and got her some nice smooth sheets of her own, instead of the burlap ones she'd been using. I want her happy, well-rested... and in her own bed!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Plays Board Games

The fam just returned. I'd sent them all away for the evening as I was having a few of the gals over for a PBG gathering. Liz just came in and said... "I know what PBG means: Plays Board Games." I can't believe I haven't heard this one before! Nice try, honey.

My First Genuine Online Rant

I promised at the beginning there would be some occasional ranting. So far I've only whined a bit, but now I'm ready. WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH ALL THE LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL FUNDRAISING???? It feels like Fundraiser Of The Week at my house because it is. My kids have sold magazines, pizzas, t-shirts, more t-shirts, still goddamed more t-shirts, wrapping paper & candy, etc. (Please feel free to leave comments of any I've forgotten.) Oh, there's also the grocery store cards, which I participate in, btw. Plus we've eaten at Max & Irma's and Chunky Cheese, although I have to say, HND was there and he crawled around in the tunnels with his kids, so that was pretty nice... but anyway.

Now THIS. Emily has brought home a magnet that she colored her very own self. And it's kind of cute. If I'd like to purchase it I can send in five bucks. But if I don't want to purchase it? Then I have to send it back, within five days and clearly labeled so they either know who did not participate in the fundraiser du jour or so they will know who to harass to get their stupid fucking magnet back. I HATE THIS.

I don't want to get started on how much I pay in taxes for the priviledge of living here BECASUE IT'S A LOT. And yes, I support quality education, and they are building a new high school, and there was that messy business with the substitute teachers a few years back whereby they lost millions of dollars in a lawsuit, and I might as well toss Proposal A in there (or are we not pissed about that anymore?) and maybe all of that has absolutely nothing to do with ANY of this, and maybe if I could stomach going to PTO meetings I'd have a better idea of what's going on...

Maybe they really need the money and really need to have the kids sell all this shit. But I can't be the only one sick and tired of being hit up every few days! (That's to say nothing of the constant car washes all summer long and the little boys in front of Busch's with popcorn, and the little girls pretty soon with the cookies, etc.) The worst part is how the school is now pimping my kid, worse than usual, by getting her emotionally involved "creating" this thing, so she feels attached to it, genuinely cares about it and then goes about applying her big, brown-eyed pressure to try and get me to buy a magnet I don't want. When I don't want pizza or cookie dough I just recycle the order form, but this has now gotten personal. And that's what elevates the magnet sale beyond irritating & annoying to WRONG.

Besides, isn't it illegal to send something to a person unbidden and then insist that thay pay for it or arrange its return? Or is that only when the postal service is involved? Or does there have to be some kind of threat too? Is this extortion? Or a form of it? Harassment? Or some other illegal thing? LAR! Are you there, sweetheart? Surely you have a magnet, too. IS THIS LEGAL?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

L-I-S-A Con't.

Ken and Emily were playing around with one of his favorite goof-around sites www.acronymfinder.com when they found my name.

Ken liked: Local Integrated Software Architecture

Emily liked: Lost In Space Again

I'm not even sure what the first one means; the second one is, of course, the reality.

Gratitude: Small & Grande

Small: To the person in our neighborhood who handed out Take 5 candy bars. I'd never tried one or even heard of them until finding some in Emily's loot sack. I have a new favorite!

Grande: To the Post Office on Green Road for adding a fantastic machine that weighs packages & letters, and then with a simple swipe of the Visa accepts payment for postage. I can do whole postal transactions now without ever talking to a human! Or waiting in line! This has all but eliminated my irrational fear of the post office. I'll never have to deal with Tall Creepy Postal Guy ever again!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Housekeeping Tit, Err, Tip

Sooo... I found a great way to motivate myself to clean the house! This morning after checking on my own blog, I clicked the harmless-looking little button that says 'next blog.' Have you tried it? A few people have mentioned how this is a fun thing to do because "it's pretty amazing what's out there." I only allow myself one 'next blog' hit so I don't sit here all day reading blogs. Because that would be wrong. One time the 'next blog' was a Japanese teenager who really wants an Adidas wallet... Another time the blog was in some other language and I couldn't understand it or even decide what the language was...

This morning's 'next blog' was so random I couldn't figure out what it was. It said... something... but then it changed... and... I don't know. So I reasoned that one didn't count and I'd just click the 'next blog' button one more time. That's when I found Slutty Sally, the whore who blogs e-v-e-r-y-thing. I didn't realize what it was right away, of course. I just noticed that it was in English and the spelling looked pretty good, so I started reading it... and looking at the pictures... and then I couldn't stop because not only is Sally really really slutty, she's also a pretty good writer. But then Oh. My. Gawd. I went too far (no such thing for Sally!) and I could feel trauma starting to set in. I told myself it was definitely time to walk away.

The next thing I knew I was downstairs maniacally organizing my cookbooks and scrubbing out the already-clean microwave and sorting & doing laundry with new & amazing vigor, all just as fast as I possibly could with thoughts passing through my head of clean, clean, clean, must clean, must make it all cleeeeeean...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Trick or Treat!

Emily went trick or treating as a devil/angel hybrid. She was disappointed to see other kids with the same costume & thus declared it "not cool." But I thought it was perfect. Here she is with the little neighbor girl who isn't usually a hideous monster.

Clever Lizzie made her own costume & went as Madeline. People either knew exactly who she was or had no idea. Pretty cute, huh?

Halloween Update:

I didn't manage to go as Soccer Mom after all. I just did the usual, which was Harried Mom Pushing Kids & Husband Out The Door (So I Can Go Sit In The Driveway To Drink & Eat Candy). But I wasn't alone, so it wasn't nearly as pathetic as it sounds.

Our House Halloween Stats:
Beggers: approx. 25-30
Candy bars Shelby ate: 5
Wrappers to watch for: 4
Hours sitting in driveway: 2
Hours sitting in rain: 1
Cell calls from Away Team: 4
Supply runs to Away Team: 1
(dads ran out of beer)

We had a fun time; hope you did too!

Monday, October 31, 2005

One Day A Year

My costume this year: Soccer Mom! I’m a very stereo-typical traditional SAHM still married to my first husband with a dog and a minivan, for crying out loud. Being a soccer mom is all that’s missing from my cul-de-sac life, but these damn kids just won’t cooperate. They both refuse to play soccer. Unless I adopt an eager-to-please little kid from a different gene pool, Halloween is going to be my only chance.

Lizzie has never been willing to even try soccer. She got her first taste of team sports by playing t-ball when she was five years old. There is nothing more kind & gentle within the world of sports than Kindergarten t-ball. They don’t even keep score. Everyone’s a winner! Ken was one of the coaches, along with a highly-sympathetic vegan yogi mom, but Lizzie still said the whole thing was “too competitive” for her and besides, there was also way too much running. After the high-pressure demands of t-ball Liz refused to try any other team sports, especially soccer which is chock-full of all the things she’d despised about t-ball with the added threat of actual physical contact.

Emily played a year of soccer when she was in first grade. Her team had two coaches, both named Dave. Serious Coach Dave tried to get the kids to play soccer, i.e., run a lot, kick the ball, and pay attention to the game. Goofy Coach Dave was Emily’s favorite part of soccer by far. He made some effort to encourage the kids to play soccer too, but he also did funny faces & noises and was just so much fun all Emmy wanted to do was goof around with him. She had to be returned to the field more than once during a slow game, having wandered off to see what Goofy Coach Dave was up to. She also enjoyed mingling around on the field, chatting with the goalie or whoever else she could find available from either team. Her final word on soccer: too much running and not enough socializing.

Over the years my kids have participated in other sports like gymnastics, swimming, and karate as well as taken a lot of dance & art classes, but those moms don’t get any recognition. Politicians don’t pander to Ballet Moms and Karate Moms don’t have any street cred whatsoever. Halloween is really my only chance to move into the big leagues of Momdom.

Lawn chair
Lap blanket
Soccer ball
Minivan keys
Thermos of gin

For Ken

Q: What do you get when you divide the diameter of a jack-o-lantern by its circumference?

A: Pumpkin Pi

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The One That Got Away

Just a few minutes ago I found Kenny sitting alone in the living room, thumbing through his new Dell catalog. Remember that old girlfriend of his I told you about a while back? "Their song" was playing on the radio and he was kind of wistfully humming along to...Tainted Love. I crap you negatory, that was their song.

Year 'Round Cheer

While doing some early Christmas shopping, I found a hand-painted sign that promises to add a bit of unexpected wit and charm to my holiday decor. It says "Wanted: A Jolly Man Bearing Gifts" Now, maybe it's just me, but I'd really like that dude to be around ALL THE TIME.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Dream Upgrade

I have all kinds of strange things going on in my head anyway, believe me, but this is new. Now my dreams come complete with a soundtrack! I was already dreaming vividly in full color, smelling, tasting and feeling various things. I also have conversations with people in my dreams, work out problems and wake up with solutions. Best of all, sometimes I know I'm dreaming when I'm dreaming and can help guide things along in the direction I want. But this morning as I was waking up I could clearly hear that Hoobastank song, The Reason, playing in my head. It was loud, too, like the band was right there, jamming in my bedroom. At least my sleeping deejay self chooses songs I like.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Exciting Suggestions?

I recently realized I want more excitement* in my life. I mentioned this to KenDarling. He said "How about going to a poetry reading? Or you could randomly select a book from the library?"

Whoooo-hooo!! Oh, yes. He did too suggest that perhaps reading a random book would shake things up and make my life more exciting. Obviously I need outside help. Any ideas? Suggestions?

* Excitement: the feeling of lively and cheerful joy; exhileration. Nothing dangerous or beyond my usual moral code of ethics, please.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gettin' Comfable

We have these neighbors, see, and they walk right into my house. They just walk right in! They know the door is unlocked and usually their kids are in here when they do it. They sort of do the knock-knock-open-door-knock-knock-"hello"-walk-right-in-as-one-motion thing. It's kind of like Kramer except they don't head straight for the fridge, just the candy corn. The amazing part is? I don't hate it at all. In fact, I like it. Now. If you've known me for a long time you will be just as amazed at this earth-shattering development as I am. It's not so amazing that these people walk into my house, but that I let them and that I like it. I'm actually quite happy to see them too, standing there in the foyer looking around for their offspring and the dish of candy corn. Oh, and their dog does the same thing! If the door is left wide open, which my darlings are wont to do on a fairly regular basis, he just waltzes right in to visit with us and say Howdy. Maybe he's heard about the candy corn? I guess we've lived here long enough to be that comfortable. We've all seen each other's pajamas and heard each other yell at our kids anyway so... come on in! No secrets left with you people!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Courage: Afraid And Doing It Anyway

Today I felt so proud of Liz I thought my heart would burst. She’s always been a quiet kid, bookish and kind of shy. This weekend she forgot her Language Arts textbook at school, and she needed it for some homework. First she tried going up to the school, to see if she could get into her locker. But the school was closed. She came home defeated and I took pity on her. I know how much she dreads using the phone, hates calling anyone, asking for help, etc. so I said I’d call her studdy-buddy for her to see if he could loan her his book. She watched me make the call and leave a message. Then she did something amazing. She cold-called two other people, girls carefully chosen from the school’s phone directory. They’re both really nice girls, but they aren’t friends of hers, they just happen to be in the same class. Unfortunately neither of them was home either, so she had to leave messages. Then she decided to blow her mother's mind by calling someone else, a boy. She’s known this particular boy for years; he’s really a good guy, a friend of a friend and the son of one of my friends, but still. She called him, awkwardly, but she did it. She spoke to him and arranged to pick up the textbook. Then just to blow her mother's mind the rest of the way she went over to his house and picked up the book all by herself. After she got back, the phone started ringing. Everyone else, including her studdy-buddy, called back with book offers and details about the homework assignment. She talked to everyone who called, albeit quietly and quickly, but she did it. And then she sat down and got started on her work. Maybe if you’ve never been shy yourself, you won’t understand the significance of this story and why I’m so proud that Liz would push herself beyond her comfort zone the way she did today. When she was little Liz used to pause before doing something new and say “I’m finding my courage.” Today I saw her find even more of that courage and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Fireplace Smell

Yesterday I was chatting with my friend Bill when I noticed… a smell. It was a very pleasant smell, kind of like something…burning. He was telling me about a personal life drama of his but I was distracted wondering what that smell could be. It just smelled so good, like a fire, the good kind made out of nice logs, like hickory maybe. Pretty soon I was searching around my office for a smoldering tinder pile I’d somehow overlooked. I didn’t find any so I did a full-house burning-smell search. I didn’t find anything except when I returned it smelled like I had a fireplace burning in my office.

I asked Bill whether he ever smelled things that aren’t there. He gave a classic Bill-ish answer, which is to say he both agreed with me and was vague. He said “I think so.” I told him what was going on with the yummy burning smell and we both kind of sat there, his life drama on hold as mine unfolded, me concentrating fully on not becoming seduced by the cartoon-like tendril of scent that had formed and was wafting its way around me, tapping me on the shoulder, and suggesting I had a brain tumor, the kind that creates smells which aren’t there.

Then I remembered! I’d spritzed some room fragrancing spray stuff in my office earlier that morning. I sprayed some more and waited. It said Water Lily and Made in England on the bottle. Pretty soon....mmmmm. The Smell. We were both happy and relieved to not only have found the source of the delicious smell, but to know I could recreate it any time I want and I probably don’t have a brain tumor, and even if I do it’s just a tiny little one that makes Water Lily smell like Fireplace.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

We Played House When I Was A Kid

Emily and her friend are playing restaurant. Well, really it's a restaurant with a wine bar, called The Smoothie Shack. They make smoothies out of wine. (untapped market!) One of them is the owner/server/bartender. The other kid is the visiting health inspector, who of course has a lot of questions. She wants to know things like whether the Smoothie Shack allows children to come into their establishment, if they "card" people, what they do if someone is drunk, how many wine smoothies they allow each customer, and if there is a breathalizer kept handy. (They keep it hidden behind the bar so no one will play with it.) Their wine is very expensive. They allow teenagers to hang out, do their homework & watch TV, but they can't have any wine in their smoothies. The health inspector seems satisfied so far and it looks like the Smoothie Shack will remain open. What a relief.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Notice From The Kitchen Staff

To whom it may concern:

After the dishwasher purchase a few months back, we have since identified and exhaustedly tested the Theory Of Bowl Cleanliness. Findings: Said dishwasher does not, in fact, feature an area either designated for nor capable of washing and/or cleaning bowls. Therefore, we regret to inform you that we will no longer be able to offer soups, stews, ice cream, puddings, cold cereal, oatmeal, Cream of Wheat or other foodstuffs of similar viscosity.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

HUGE Gratitude

I'd like to extend great big huge helpings of gratitude to all the lovely folks at Bella Vino for finding my lost wallet and holding it safely "in the back." I noticed it was missing when I got to the check-out and it was time to, um, pay. I stayed amazingly calm* and started looking for it, retracing my steps. I'd lost it somewhere either in the store or outside where the pumpkins and flowers are displayed. Unbeknownst to me, the Bella Vino Lost Wallet Rescue Squad was on the case. They sprang into action and my wallet and I were quickly reunited. Everyone was so nice: the older manager guy who said this kind of thing happens all the time and I'd be amazed at what they find in the store; the young woman behind the deli counter who smiled and waved when she saw I'd been located as the owner of the wallet she'd found; the cashier who rang up everything and put it all aside for me because she knew I'd be back; the bagger who looks just like John Cusack and actually winked while saying I must be very relieved and that he was happy it had all worked out. No kidding! I'd already mentally cancelled my credit & bank card, said goodbye to the cash, mourned my kids' photos and started in on my side of the inevitable conversation with Ken:

"We have to cancel everything in my wallet because I lost it today at Bella Vino."

" I dunno... I guess it set it down somewhere."

"I thought I'd put it in the baby seat, but maybe I was carrying it."

"Noooooooo... I don't think anyone would take it."

"I don't know how, I just lost it."

"Well it wasn't on purpose, believe me."

"Only my wallet and keys. I was going to be quick, just getting a pumpkin and some yellow mums for the front porch. Remember I said I wanted yellow mums, that I thought they'd look pretty..."

"I am not changing the subject! It's still part of the same story."

"It is too relevant because I had to look through all of the pumpkins and the outside flowers which is a really big area. If you didn't know I was shopping for mums, you wouldn't understand that part, would you?"


Please go immediately and buy lots and lots of Bellas and Vinos because I'm going to become a regular over there from now on. We'll probably bump into each other and then we can say Howdy. Don't worry if you lose your wallet or purse or keys or gloves or umbrella or any of the other stuff the nice manager says people leave behind, because it's no problem for them. The fine folks at Bella Vino will work together as a team getting it back to you.

* outwardly calm, freakin' on the inside.

Pet Peeve Wednesday

Old Fashion Chicken Soup: Um, no. It's Old Fashioned, because it has been fashion-ed, see? The soup was made in the older soup-making way. Fashion has nothing to do with it. Chickens literally fly; they don't look fly. The chicken did not get all dressed & accessorized in the latest style, get it?

Ice tea: No, it's iced tea, actually. See, the tea has already been iced to make it cold. Like brewed tea or steeped tea or sweetened tea. Likely, the tea has actual ice in it, yes, but that isn't the point. I also realize it's difficult to pronounce correctly, but to write it on a chalkboard, or worse, print it on your menu? No. No. NO!

"I can help whose next." Or is it who's next? Either way... WRONG. I was a cashier in a filthy produce store and a bank teller in the roughest, poorest part of Pontiac when I was still young & sweet and still managed to say "May I please help the next person in line?" This is Ann bleeping Arbor, the snobbiest town in the entire midwest. Surely we can do better.

"I could care less." Really? You could? But you just don't want to? How 'bout you get back to me when you couldn't care less; then we'll talk.

Yes, I'm a total bitch. And your point is?

Guest Post

For the first time ever, I'd like to introduce a guest post written by Miss Emily. She thought about it for around two seconds and then answered the following question:

Who do you most admire?

I don't want my mom to be offended, but the person I most admire is Aunt Allyson. I admire her because she makes a lot of good choices and decisions in her life. I like that she's a vegetarian because I don't want a lot of animals to die and I think it's a better choice to be a vegetarian because I feel sorry for the animals. Another thing is that Aunt Allyson is left-handed like me. I think most people want to be right-handed because lots of other people are and they don't want to be different. So left-handed people are special because not as many people are left-handed. Also, she practically looks exactly like me when she was my age so I sometimes feel like I'm going to act like her when I get older. I'm very sure I'm going to have an old beautiful house like hers when I'm older and be very impatient like she is. And I'll have lots of boyfriends just for the fun of it, even if I know I'm never going to marry them. But then when I find Mr. Right, I'll will marry him on a beach, like Aunt Allyson married Uncle John. Also her favorite color is pink, she collects Barbies, she has two dogs and I want to have a little baby boy like her Wyatt, my cousin. And the biggest reason of all of these, is becasue she grew her hair longer than her waist. These are the reasons why I like and admire my Aunt Allyson.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Overheard: Elementary Carpool

Emily: Did you see the graffiti someone put on the wall by the gym?
Much Younger Carpool Girl: No. Who did it?
Emily: I heard a rumor it was that one kid? And his friend.
MYCG: Wow. What does it say?
Emily: It says Ida* is gay and Mr. GymTeacher** loves Miss MusicTeacher*** and Michael* s-u-c-k-s.
MYCG: What does gay mean?
Lisa: (holding breath)
Emily: It means... happy.
MYCG: Ohhhhhhhhhh. Huh?

* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of minors, although their names are spray-painted on the side of a building, so I dunno. I just feel better about it this way, okay?

** He's kind of weird and I don't want to give him the attention.

*** She's very sweet.

Friday, October 14, 2005

HND's New Rims

Okay, Hot Neighborhood Dad, I caught you out trimming your back forty last night and, um, what's with the eyewear? Those giant clear plastic goggles strapped to your head do not look good. Do you realize you look like a PowerPuff Girl, HND? or an Olsen Twin? Maybe there's a good reason, beyond you just like wearing them. Perhaps you want to protect your vison from any flying debris while cutting your grass? Or maybe you suffer from seasonal allergies? Oh, I know, when you finish mowing the lawn it's time for some deep sea diving! On the other hand, now that I think about it, you're obviously very secure to wear those things out in public, as you self-assuredly waltz back and forth across your lawn in broad daylight the way you do. Of course confidence is a most attractive quality. Which you apparently have in spades.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Reader Tally

Just so you know... Yesterday I mentioned (or perhaps bragged?) that I have three dedicated daily readers. But then Angie emailed to say she reads it too! So then I re-counted, and you can probably see why my kids choose to not utilize my assistance for math homework, because I came up with SIX. Oh yeah. I have six, count 'em carefully, six verified readers. Saa-weet-ness.

Moving On With His Life

Emily's class publishes a weekly newsletter that the kids design, write, edit and do not spell check all by themselves. I always look forward to reading it, to see what my own daughter has written and usually to laugh out loud at least once because of some brutally honest thing another kid has said. My current favorite article is from the My Dream Job column, a little piece written by a boy we'll call Jon because that isn't his real name.

But first, some background information: A couple of years ago Jon was "playground married" to a friend of Emily's for a year or so. Personally, I think they should have just stayed friends and focused on their education, or at least waited until graduating from third grade to settle down, but what do I know? I'm just a mom. Besides, it wasn't my daughter, so I stayed out of it.

The young couple was happy for a couple of months, but then little things started happening, small annoyances, differences of opinion, disagreements about PDA* and so on. Eventually they devolved to the point of constant bickering & fighting. After trying to work things out, Jon's wife "playground divorced" him. I suppose because he was so young, and he really didn't see it coming, Jon did not accept her rejection gracefully at all. He pestered her non-stop about getting back together, and when that didn't work he began stalking her, which he really didn't have the time or stamina for, so then he resorted to vague, passively-aggressive threats. His "ex-wife" had a passel of supportive friends, stood her ground and wasn't swayed to come back.

Finally Jon accepted the "divorce" and then primarily occupied himself by going around insisting that all of their mutual friends choose between them, of course siding with him. This was a resounding failure as no one wanted to take sides in the first place, and his high-pressure tactics certainly did not incline anyone to choose him, the demanding little "playground husband/extortionist" as I came to fondly think of him. Pretty soon the cheese stood alone, as they say. He was lonely & bitter for a long time, too long, longer than the duration of the "marriage" in fact, and seemed wholly unable to move on with his life. The only bright spot I could find in the whole mess was to hope he had learned something valuable & lasting early on, when the cost of such life lessons is a lot cheaper, monetarily anyway. No expensive lawyers, no alimony or child support payments, no stereo and/or computer equipment to replace, no hot car to buy for cruising younger, first-grade women to be seen with, etc.

But now, today reading the newsletter I see that Jon seems to have re-focused his energy on his studies, his career and his writing. (Yes, I'm finally winding back around to that.) In the newsletter he writes:

My dream job is to be a mechanic. A mechanic fixes cars and tunes them up. He might also beat it down for parts. A mechanic might be able to do that to customers cars and I would like to be one!

Such a nice boy. I wish him all good things, as I'm sure his very relieved "ex-wife" does too.

* Public Displays of Affection. I'm old.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Forty is... Fun? Fabulous? Fantastic?

To all three of my loyal daily readers, I apologize for the recently slim blog pickin's. I said when I started this thing I'd do something with it every day, and for the most part I have. Sometimes you just can't see it. Yesterday, for example, I spent hours uploading photos onto a photo-sharing site. It's going to be so cool once I also figure out how to link it to this blog. Someday I'll get it and boy, won't that be fun? I've also had some ongoing technical difficulties since starting this blog: a fried mother board, a virus, another virus, and a strange thing whereby my computer crashes ala the screen freezing "plaid." Excuses, excuses, I know. Be part of the solution, Lisa. That's what you are thinking, aren't you? I'm doing what I can by sending fistfulls of money to both Dell and the fine folks at Norton. My good computer karma is going to kick in any time now. See? Part of the solution.

Okay, and maybe there is just this one other tiny little thing, which is I can't seem to write anything funny or even mildly amusing when I'm mentally processing something, um, not fun. So perhaps there's been a little of that going on. And I'm pretty sure it could have something to do with my birthday which is now running, screaming down the calendar towards me. I'm going to be forty in just a few short months, you know.

A birthday equally divisible by ten does not just pass quietly by Shelby's Mum. Oh, no. Because that would be easy and for 39-ish years I've not been terribly fond of things (or people) unless they are difficult. Or I used to be until I realized what I was doing, and that 'difficult' is a different way of saying exhausting. If I'm going to be re-evaluating my life-so-far anyway, perhaps I might consider tossing out the philosophy of preferring difficulty? A song lyric rattling around in my head goes... "There's an obvious attraction to the path of least resistance in your life." I'd always thought this was a bad thing. Maybe not. Hmmm. Okay. Yes. Done! I now prefer to do things the easy way. Please alert the media.

I love the idea of seeing my life by the decade, and even naming them. My 20's are called The Sunny Times. That's when I had a lot of fun with my friends, got married, bought a house, and had kids. It was all very nice and cozy, a very good decade indeed. I liked it quite a bit. Then came the 30's which wasn't nearly as much fun, not by a long shot. It seems like, well, not everything, but many things that could fall apart, did. Maybe it should be called the Shit Hits The Fan decade... or Learn Things The Hard Way decade... or the Ignore Yourself And Bail decade... I can't really decide what to call it yet, which is fine because it isn't technically over anyway. I still have two months and 8 days to work it out. On the other hand, the easy way would be to simply say... I'll know. I'll know what to call it when I know. Whew. I like easy.

So I guess that's the 'problem' I've been wrestling with then, isn't it? Finishing up this terrible, er, challenging time and thinking about what I want my 40's decade to be. So far I know I want to have a lot more fun, laugh as much as possible, and release some difficult ideas & ways of doing things (and perhaps people). Oprah says turning 50 is when a women fully comes into her own and knows it. If I'm understanding her correctly, and even God knows how wise Oprah is, then she is suggesting one's 40's are best spent preparing for that. Which sounds really good, actually. Anyone interested in helping me celebrate the End Of Difficulty? I'm planning something...easy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Biggest Fan

Lisa: (singing while typing)
Emily: Are you going to join a band?
Lisa: What?
Emily: Or maybe you could start one!
Lisa: I hadn't planned on it...
Emily: Well, you should cuz you sound great!
Lisa: Really? Thanks!
Emily: Yeah, you should really listen to yourself.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Gratitude Big & Small

Big: Gratitude to my friend Sue for explaining highways in a way I can finally understand. Every single time I come back from Dexter I think of you walking in a circle, holding an imaginary steering wheel, demonstrating how I need to go around Ann Arbor. Finally!

Small: Actually, this one's pretty big too, but finding my way home is just a teensy bit more important... Anyway, gratitude to my friend Joannie for leaving so many lovely comments on my blog. I always look forward to reading them and I sooo appreciate knowing someone's out there.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Then Write About That

One of my favorite writerly tricks or maybe it's a philosophy, is simply called Then Write About That. As in, "I don't know what to write" or "all I can think about is my busted carburetor" or "but I'm so depressed" or "I've already used every good idea I ever had." Then write about that. I've tried to teach this to my kids, when they whine about not being able to do a writing assignment for this or that reason. I say it is perfectly alright to then write about that. So I've been sitting here for a day and a half, thinking about how I have nothing to write about and how I've started a few things about the wedding we are going to this weekend or how my hair highlights went dreadfully wrong but those pieces really are just shitty first drafts and not ready for public consumption and how I'd promised myself I'd add something new to this blog thing every day and maybe that was too lofty a goal or even a mistake since now I feel pressured but I did it to myself and have no on else to blame and how I've been reading too much lately and how I can only hear that writer's voice in my head now instead of mine and how that is the one thing people have said about this blog is that it sounds just like me and then I think about how I am giving up coffee because I'm pretty sure I'm an addict and I'll be damned if I am going to let a chemical I choose to ingest get the best of me but now I'm afraid that perhaps any creativity I ever had might just have been the caffeine talking and oh my god I have got to remember this in case someone ever offers me cocaine again because if this is caffeine withdrawl and with my family history then I don't even want to imagine what that withdrawl would be like much less the blow to creativity and how difficult it would be to find a good reliable dealer anyway and then it dawned on me to, um, write about that. So. What have you been up to?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Secret Hiding Place

Items in Ken's "secret hiding place" way up high, in an upper kitchen cupboard, far above the kids' and my heads. Where we will never look.

* Various Keebler Elf Fudge-y type products he buys and is unwilling to share because "the kids will eat them all." Duh.

* The "good" remote control clicker. Hmmm. The word CONTROL is right in the item's name... need I say more?

* Emily's baggie of candy from her own stinking birthday party. Again, "because she will eat it" and we wouldn't want that to happen.

* The wine foil cutter thingy. This one escapes me. Is he afraid we will... open wine with it? Lose it? Play with it irresponsibly by trimming the dog's toenails? Dull it by opening root beers and tearing into cans of pineapple juice?

* Rumored stash of Oreos. This one's only an urban legend as far as I can tell. I've never seen any Oreos, but I'm not sure about my kids and that one little neighbor girl. They kind of wink and nudge each other when "Oreos" are mentioned, secret pact firmly in place.

(confidential to Mrs. Sutherland: Scorpio!)

TP'd House

While dining out this evening (Max & Irma's PTO fund raiser), our home was vandalized... or so we thought. We returned home to find that our house had be TP'd with what looked like about 24 rolls worth of toilet paper. Upon closer inspection we noted that it was all still wrapped in plastic, and was neatly positioned on the porch with an accompanying Whitley's Nut Sampler. It only took a few minutes to figure out the TP and nuts were from our good friend Joannie! Boy, were we relieved to realize that not only had we not been violated, but our very classy friend had made good on her dog's unfortunate debt to us. Thank you so much, Joan! It is a honor and a privilege to know you, and yes, we still consider you one of our most treasured friends.

Oh, just one more thing... Ken wanted me to mention that the vertical hold on our bedroom TV seems to be messed up. We noticed Scruffy spent a lot of time near that television when he was visiting, and... well, it was working fine before he got here...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Who Would Win?

Liz: Mom, who do you think would win, Darth Vader or Voldemort?
Lisa: Hmmm?
Liz: In a fight, who would win?
Lisa: Who's Voldemort?
Liz: From Harry Potter.
Liz: Yeah. (rolls eyes) Which one do you think would win?
Lisa: I gotta go with Voldemort, since he's magic.
Liz: Yeah, but Vader has The Force.
Lisa: True...
Em: But Voldemort is made up, so Darth Vader would win.

Hidden Talent

Did I ever mention that I used to count things? Any and all kinds of things? I first consciously noticed I was counting when I was about 16, walking home from school. I'd count my footsteps or the fence posts or how many chickens I saw (we lived in the country) or all of the above. I stopped, or tried to stop, or mostly stopped mindlessly counting things after I found out it is perhaps in certain circles considered to be ever so slightly obsessive. I still catch myself counting every once in a while, but usually only when I'm bored. A nifty side talent honed from all these years of counting, is that I'm now able to instantly recognize symmetry. Example: The other day after having merely glanced at my crackers, I heard myself think hmmm, symmetrical crackers. As in, equal number of crackers on either side of the dark, center cracker. So of course I counted them. And would you look at that? Eight on the right, eight on the left. Now I just have to figure out how to share my amazing talent with the world, other than writing about it on my blog, that is.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Not A Party Until Someone Cries

Emily’s birthday is now officially over and all I can say is Thank you, Jesus. I have permission to say that, by the way, from a bone fide Don’t Mess With Me strong black woman of very good Christian standing. Her name was Willow and I used to work with her when I was about 22 and a bank teller. She was a tough, single mom with two kids and no help, who then adopted her orphaned & troubled niece and nephew. She was the no-nonsense mother figure of the entire office. When something went well, she would heartily thank Jesus and we would all feel a little better, both the believers and the heathens. The first time I said Thank you, Jesus I wondered if she’d be offended since my relationship with him was, well, non-existent. She said “there’s no harm in that, baby” because she still figured Jesus was standing right there helping me balance my teller drawer whether I believed in him or not. She then granted me lifelong permission to say Thank you, Jesus whenever I felt it appropriate. So I don’t want to hear any lip about using names in vain, okay? Because I could still find Willow, and believe me, you do not want that kind of trouble.

So anyway, Emily had a fine time at her party once we sobered her up and convinced her to attend. She’d been to another girl’s sleepover party the night before and of course she did not actually sleep. She was a wreck the day of her party. She tried to get into the spirit of things, helping with the decorations and so on, but we finally just had to send her to bed. She slept soundly for hours but then couldn’t wake up for the party. Emily is not especially known for being a sunny riser anyway, much less so when she's strung out from pulling an all-nighter. I’m pretty sure the first guests could hear her screaming “I don’t want a party!” and “Make them go away!” as they were arriving. So it was a bit of a slow start. Fittingly backwards, though!

All of the parts of the party Ken & I handled went very well. The backwards cake was adorable & delicious, the upside down decorations were festive, the pizza arrived just as we finished with the cake, the kids were delighted with their baddie bags, they had fun doing the backwards scavenger hunt, etc. Emily had a good time, enjoyed sharing her birthday with her friends, and generally reveled in being the birthday brat, which means being the ultimate center of attention for a day. Unfortunately though, and unbeknownst to me, a few of her little party guests had spent the last year becoming Mean Girls. There was so much drama at this party I’m sure there’s a Desperate Housewives joke in there somewhere, but I’m just too exhausted to try and find it. We had every soap operatic story line and plot twist a bunch of 10 year-olds could possibly pack into two hours. There were melodramatic tears, secret hidden tears, whispery side conversations, hurt feelings, a public snubbing, shocking revelations and enough generally bitchy little girl behavior to make me never want to do this again. I spent half my time consoling, cajoling, counseling, and soothing the wounded, which is a lot like a normal day, now that I think about it, just on a larger scale. But my part went great! Did I mention the cake was really cute? And oh my god, those baddie bags were a hit. And now it's all over for another year. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Evidence Photos

It started small... and then things got out of hand.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Let's Go Brogering (or not)

I just had the most fun at the grocery store near my house, you know, the one that rhymes with Broger’s? I know it doesn’t sound too likely, especially at that particular Broger’s but it happened. I went specifically to shop for goodies to fill loot bags for Emily’s backwards birthday party this weekend. A backwards party means the kids wear their clothes backwards, we hang balloons upside down, do all the party activities in reverse order, etc. Emily and I decided the ‘baddie’ bags should have unusual, strange, backwards-ish things in them as well. So I had a fine time wheeling around in Broger’s looking for inexpensive, odd items sold in multiples of twelve. I got asparagus spears, q-tips, tiny boxes of Nerds, a dozen kiwi, baby bottle nipples, fish sticks, men’s socks, etc. I lucked out because there were several 75% off clearance carts just brimming full of weird stuff they were practically giving away, so it was a very successful trip indeed. At the checkout I was careful to select the optimal-looking cashier, as always. I chose a cute young guy with a long pony tail, thinking he’d be cool and either see the whole thing as fun or he’d have that highly focused male approach to the whole thing and at least I’d get out of there quickly. As it turns out, he totally saw the humor in it after I explained to him how all this strange stuff was for a birthday party for my little girl, and he chuckled right along with me at how surprised and delighted those kids are going to be when they see all this weird stuff. Oh no, wait a sec, that’s not exactly what happened, because he was a total dick about it. In fact he somehow managed to be extra surly even for Broger's as he very dramatically scanned each and every one of my Twelve. Of. Each. Item. I am not a beginner, folks, not by a long shot. I know they can just scan ONE of each item and then key in the times twelve part. I, my own bad self, was a cashier a hundred years ago and we could do it way back then, so the mind just reels to think about what a state-of-the-art Broger’s cash register can likely do now-a-days. It was bad people, even for Broger’s. So I was standing there and started seeing that I had a choice. I could get upset and angry at rhymes with Boshua or I could still enjoy myself and try to help him out at the same time. And that is why I’m now writing to you, dear readers. If you are local and happen to be in the Broger’s on Blymouth Boad, and have the good fortune to have your purchases checked out by rhymes with Boshua, please do us all a favor and slide him an extra heapin’ helping of friendly, perhaps smile warmly and flash a little cleavage if ya got ‘em because I really think he could use the pick-me-up.

Friday, September 30, 2005



Also Why Don't You...

...take my slipper literally off my foot, so you can violently shake the living crap out of it, make it your beyatch, and then do the same thing to the other one?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Why don't you...

...bring every single last one of your toys into my office and drop them at my feet, trying to seduce me away from the computer?

Why don't you... then bring me other love offerings from around the house: a slipper, a small stuffed bunny, a Kelly doll (Barbie’s niece), and a pair of panties?

Why don't you... bark and get very excited every time someone signs onto Yahoo chat because it sounds like knocking and you're sure there's a visitor at the door, upstairs?

What I Did Today

Let the dogs out.
Let the dogs in.
Let one dog out.
Let the other dog out.
Let the dogs in.
Let one dog out while other dog thought about it.
Let the dog in.
Let one dog out.
Let other dog out.
Let one dog in.
Let other dog back out.
Let both dogs in.
Let one dog out while other dog watched.
Accidentally left door open…
Quickly located one dog.
Searched 15 minutes for other dog.


Canine Hotel

At almost any moment of the day, I can look down and see this. The attitude is "Perimeters are clear, all systems check, how 'bout we take a nap?"

The last few days it's this.

The attitude on the left is "sigh" and the attitude on the right is "Now what are we gonna do, Lisa? Are we going somewhere? Should I go get my bear? chipmunk? unstuffed ferret? tennis ball? your left shoe? Hey! Got any more of those baby carrots?! Carrots! Yay! It's all good! Party! Party! Par-tay!"

Meet Scruffy, whose name I believe is Dutch for persistent little bugger. We're just borrowing him for a few days, so don't get excited. If I ever thought Shelby was needy, I was wrong. She's attentive; this dog is needy. He wants my attention, lots of it, all day long. The only way I can get any writing done is to let him sit in my chair with me. I figured out if I perch towards the front of the seat, then he will wrap his long skinny self around the back of me and rest his chin on my arm. And I can almost type like that. He's very warm and snuggly, so I'm not really complaining. It just took me a day and a half of "Scruffy, get down" to realize if I'd just let him up, we'd both be a lot happier. He'll doze contentedly like that for upwards of ten minutes before he has to jump down and run off to check on Shelby again. Notice I said he has to run. Scruffy doesn't really walk much because running is better, faster and louder. I give him a lot of credit, though. Scruffy lives life to its full-tilt-boogie biggest & best. It's true what they say about short guys, they really do try a lot harder.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Nonna Dolce

I just ran into one of my favorite little Italian grandmas, Playground Connie. I said something really imaginative like "Hi Connie" and she smiled and said "Hi! How are you? Such a beautiful day; it makes everyone feel so good." I'd been thinking the same thing, but only about me. That's why I amore Connie so much.

Happy Birthday Emily!

Today my baby turns 10 years old. If you see her, please gush and make a big deal out of telling her Happy Birthday, okay? Emily's feeling a little sad because Liz (her idol) is gone on her school's Traverse City trip. I promised her we can do whatever she wants tonight, just the three of us, and that she'd have mom & dad's undivided attention. She wants to go to Red Robin for dinner (shudder) and open presents, so we shall. She's also having a backwards birthday party this weekend, and Liz will be home in time for that.

Right now, at ten, Emily says she wants to be a wedding planner/hair stylist when she grows up. She wants to plan weddings, and then she'll "get to do the bride's hair." Of course the other day she also said "the whole point of weddings is to be uncomfortable" so I kind of wonder about her future clients.

What I Would Ask You

Ever know someone you think seems pretty together and then you find out via either time or proximity they are just as goofed up, angst-ridden and bizarre as everyone else? And you feel a combination of relief and disappointment? Me too. That's really something, huh?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Very Bad Day

Just so you know… The swear words blocker is officially turned off now. That means I’m going to start swearing like a sailor when I feel like it, so deal. If you are of a delicate constitution, and cannot tolerate a well-placed curse word, then I suggest you go elsewhere. Capise? Also, since my kids have taken a look at the site, have seen that it’s lame and uninteresting, they won’t be hanging around here anymore. Ironically, now it’s going to get a lot more interesting...

Yesterday was a bad day. I’m usually loath to say that, to condemn the rest of a day during that day, but now that it’s over and with the benefit of hindsight, yeah, I’m cool saying yesterday was A Bad Day. I’ve been generally miserable for the last week or so and yesterday bit it big time. I tried, I really did, or I thought I did. I made some pathetic attempts at doing Things To Feel Better and they all reversed and bit me in the ass.

1. Yesterday I tried sleeping in a little, thinking that would help. It did not help. It just made the morning more chaotic, what was left of it by the time I got up. This is, of course, because all the same shit had to get done, just with less time. When just barely awake, it did sound like a good idea though, so I can see how I fell for my own “logic” on this one.

2. I tried talking with a friend. That did not work at all. Really what I needed was some sympathy, but since I was on a downward spiral anyhow, I went to a not-so-sympathetic person. Our conversation quickly became a debate, which would normally be fine because I enjoy that kind of thing. But I forgot this person will do anything to win, including going into forbidden territory, but only to mock me about it. And so now Ye Shall Be Punished. That means I’m not talking to you for A Long Time, which is likely to be 3-4 days. This serves three purposes. First, it punishes you, in my mind anyway. Second, it keeps me from making the same mistake, which is talking to you when I don’t have all my emotional shit together. Third, hopefully it gives me time to get out of my funk so I can think more clearly and do better in the next debate.

3. I didn’t leave the house. Like sleeping in, this always seems like a good idea at the time too, but resoundingly, overwhelmingly it never is. I didn’t see any humans other than my family and dog. They are all wonderful, and they tried to cheer me up or at least not make things worse. (see above) They succeeded, and I have to say working on my daughter’s Ojibwa book report with her was the highlight of my day. If you have kids, I’m sure you can see the perspective in that, right?

4. Since I was on a roll, and to be even more self-destructive, I ate terrible food yesterday. I drank only coffee, nothing else. Actually, I didn’t feel too bad physically, but I know this is so not good for me. And I didn’t realize I’d done it until late last night when it was too late. What was I going to do then? Steam up some green beans as a late night snack? When the Funyuns are sitting right there? (Okay, I lied. I didn’t have any Funyuns. I just thought it would be funnier than admitting I had some Ritz crackers. See? Funyuns = funnier)

5. I didn’t go for a walk with Ken. We go just about every evening. I thought about it, and then didn’t ask him. He’s still a little under the weather, but like Shelby, he will almost always go for a walk. So I missed out on connecting with him, having his undivided attention for 30 minutes away from the kids, getting some exercise, and leaving the damn house. Score bonus points for this one!

5. I stayed up too late. I kept trying to find something good in that damn day yesterday, to validate its existence, to resurrect it, to make it count for something. But it didn’t. It sucked all the way around. But I kept thinking… Maybe if I just write about it? Maybe if I make something look prettier? Maybe if I read something funny? Maybe if I troll the internet for another hour? Um, no. Sometimes giving up is the best thing one can do.

I don’t know how to wrap this up, other than to thank you if you’ve read this far. I feel better writing it all down, I really do. And so far today has been better.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Bringer Of The Bacon (and Bread)

Ken knows I've been a little, um, grumpy lately, so today on his way home he surprised me by picking up a special treat. He brought home two orders of fresh, delicious bread from Real Seafood, my favorite. In case you don't know? This is hot, buttery, garlicy Muir bread, aka, perfection in bread form. We sat in my office and ate it with even more butter and it was very, very good, indeed. Low carb? Hell, no. Yummy? Definitely. Both the bread and the bringer.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Happy Birthday Dad!

Hi Dad,
This is my web log, or in geek speak, blog. I call it Shelby's Mum and it's kind of like an online journal or diary of what's going on. It's all Lisa, all the time. Except for when I talk about other people, places, things or ideas. Anyway, take a look around if you'd like. It's all fairly clean right now, too. But on the off chance you find something you don't like, it's all because of Allyson. She told me to do it.

Did Greg give me that stuffed dog in the above picture? For some reason I think he did... Anyway, I've always especially liked that picture and so that's why I chose it.

Hope you have a Happy Birthday!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ken Is A Very. Lucky. Man.

This here? This is the breakfast tray I brought to Ken this morning, because he's sick and wanted Cream of Wheat. I can't eat the stuff, it makes me ill just thinking about it, so I don't. I just make it. For him. And then I put it on a pretty tray with a cute matching napkin and his favorite Legoland mug with his name on it, and hauled the whole thing upstairs. Because I'm good like that. And besides, he looked kind of cute in his honeymoon t-shirt.

Now. I will tell you some of the things he said to me last night. And still, please keep me in mind, the one with the shlepping of the hot food, all the way upstairs and down to the far end of the hall...

"This weekend I'd like to go do some guy things. Like maybe go to a casino with Norm, or get a drink with David, or pick up some hookers."

When I questioned that, he said...

"I need to spend time with guys, doing guy things. Because usually I spend my time with... you. And you're like a good friend."

WTF? And then, just to make it all better, we somehow started talking about an ex-girlfriend of his...

"I knew within the first five seconds I saw her, she was ideal for me. She walked into my FORTRAN programming class & she just looked so confident, secure and intelligent. And she sat in the back, which intrigued me."

Yeah, but did she make Cream of Wheat?