Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Recap

December 19, 2009

Start Christmas shopping. You heard me. Start. We even got a non-relative baby sitter for the occasion. Poor Megan. The first thing Morgan asked her to do, even before we left, was put in Jaws 2.

Target and the mall. Target was fine and major milestone. The mall was annoying to say the least. We went into Gap and had to walk straight back out because it looked like a hurricane had hit. H&M was organized, but practically bare. I'm giving huge kudos to Crazy 8, because it was neat, well-stocked, and plenty of choices.

Three hours later and we are eating dinner at Moosehead (without kids!) and I'm realizing, we still don't have a single person finished.

December 20, 2009

Cousin's Christmas at Aunt Charlie's. This is the second year we adults did a White Elephant gift exchange. Actually, let me back up my story. Earlier in the week, I am informed that my grandma is again getting ready for her death bed and sent home a Dancing Santa with my parents that I had given her many years ago with her instructions to return it to me.

"No thanks. That's all you."

Dad asked me if I wanted to use it in the White Elephant, but I had already wrapped my two gifts, so I told him he was welcome to use it.

Back to the exchange. I got first pick. I go for the package with the cool decoration on the outside.

"No, not that one."

Too late. I opened up my own damn Dancing Santa. Oh yeah, that one is coming back to someone next year.

Things I love about Cousin's Christmas at Aunt Charlie's:

1. Life-size nativity is alive and well.
2. Blaming the baby for suspicious smells.
3. No child proof cups.
4. Jake and Katie attempting Christmas carols with the kids.
5. Uncle Mike still complaining about the gift he got last year (which had been my contribution).

December 21, 2009

I start wrapping gifts while watching Holiday Inn. The first of many loaves of bread. Scott gets to bed around 1 AM.

December 22, 2009

Scott puts together the last freezer meal for the Great Grandma's gifts. Finally, someone I can scratch off my list.

Manage, with Morgan's help, to get the sugar cookies decorated. Not pretty, but very yummy.

Scott bakes more bread. At this point, there is no clock, because we have no more time to sleep.

December 23, 2009

Christmas shopping at Crocker Park. Finally starting to get somewhere. Leave my purse on the counter of Eddie Bauer and don't notice until I get into Banana Republic. I'm actually impressed that is the only back tracking I had to do.

Invite the Turtles over with Uncle Matt to have carry-out.

Watch Jaws 2. Again.

Wrap more presents.

December 24, 2009

Scott and Matt take Morgan to the West Side Market to get fresh ingredients for Christmas Day dinner. But don't forget the fish balls and anchovies for Gramy. Nothing says Christmas like a good fish ball.

I tackle Toys R Us at 8 AM, which was surprisingly pleasant, other than there was a shopper running around yelling at all the employees, demanding they pay attention to her. Yes, I waited until the last minute, too. Notice I am not acting like a lunatic.

This concludes my Christmas shopping until I realize I had meant to buy the girls bean bag chairs. That means another trip to Target with the girls. But I managed to get a stock boy to carry them to the front for me and bring them out to my car. I almost got away with it, but since the Toys R Us packages were in the trunk, only one of the chairs would fit, so the other had to go into the passenger seat.

Luckily, Morgan just thought it was another bag of stuff. A pretty purple bag with flowers on it, but I guess she's never seen a bean bag chair before.

Here is where it gets hairy. We get home from Target with exactly an hour and a half to get ready. I have to wrap a couple presents that are going with us. And give the girls a bath. And get them dressed. And have my own shower and get dressed. And pack the "diaper bag". And I was trying to make sure the house was semi-picked up before we left. Yeah, that last one didn't happen.

Managed to do all of the above in 2 hours before heading to my Mom and Dad's. Get there a little before 3 to open presents with my immediate family, plus new additions. 4 o'clock. Hmmm...still missing an entire branch of the family tree. I won't say who, but just know that I could have been cleaning my kitchen up or wrapping more presents from "Santa" in the amount of time we spent waiting for you.

Zoe opens the first of SIX babies she will receive. Hopefully, not setting her up to become the Octo-mom in the future.

Have to ask others to deliver our present to Granny and Ray, while we make our way to the Turtles.

After Morgan helps Uncle Gary get his oxygen tank set up things fall into place and I'm able to breath again.

Until we take the girls home, set up cookie and carrot plate, put girls to bed, wrap more presents, and set presents out. Which was able to be accomplished during one and a half viewings of A Christmas Story.

December 25, 2009

Santa has arrived at Lake Road. And Wolf Road. Get home a little after noon and the girls take naps while we prepare to have everyone over at 4:30. For the record, that was not an appropriate amount of time. I'm thankful Scott is the chef and all I had to worry about was cleaning and organizing the presents so they fit nicely under the tree.

Of course the vacuum decides to break, just as I am getting to the Potter hair fiasco, but Scott manages to fix it before running to the store for ice.

Things we did after company arrived:

1. Finished sweeping.
2. Set the table.
3. Scott changed his clothes.
4. Cleaned the downstairs toilet and sink.
5. Prepared the salad.
6. Cleaned the kitchen. (Seriously, every cooking ingredient and utensil)
7. Watched Jaws: The Revenge, which Morgan had received from Santa.


"I don't know what to tell you, except it's Christmas and we're all in misery." Ellen Griswald.
"Woopee! A Zeppelin!" Randy (Ralphie's brother).
"I think we're gonna need a bigger boat!" Chief Brody.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

10 Days To Christmas

This past weekend I organized the "Hats, Gloves, and Scarves" bin. I have one of those. It's the bin with all the random items of winter apparel that aren't our first choices, but have to be turned to when the others have gotten waterlogged or have been mischievously hidden by garden gnomes.

In my parents house, this bin has been around for centuries...okay, decades. And anyone that visited their "cousins/friends in the country" can vouch for its existence.

Because one snow mobile ride gone bad, one hour of ice skating on the creek, or 15 minutes of pelting Little John with ice balls, and your own gloves/mittens are done. That's it. You are doomed to the bin. And the bin is bad. It is bad in a two-pronged fashion.

Prong one. We didn't want those gloves anymore. That's why they are in the bin. They most likely have a hole somewhere in them and they most definitely are ugly as sin. And god forbid you get stuck with mittens.

Prong two. You will never find a matched set. Go ahead. Search for hours. The only way you will be successful is if you happen upon an old set of my mothers. White knit gloves with blue and pink flowers crocheted into them at a length up to your elbow. And none of us want that. Except, now that I think about it, those gloves would look really cool with my long camel coat. Other than the fact that they have holes in them.

Hats are another story. You will definitely have to wear one that either has a HUGE pom pon on the top of it or covers your entire face like you are planning a jewel heist. In the past, hats were a non-issue, because as soon as you sat on the sled, the dog would steal it from your head anyway.

Scarves, you have the option of long-enough-to-swaddle-yourself or so-loosely-knit-you-may-as-well-not-wear-one. Either way, you can guarantee to get a mouth full of dog hair in your first breath.

Outside the bin there is the coat rack. The coat rack covers the gamut from Dad's old letterman jacket to snow pants Mom wore to Peak and Peak in the 70's.

On the ground is another cardboard box of wool socks, which if you're desperate you can wear as mittens, but you will run into the same problems as previously mentioned.

Yes, we often looked like your corner homeless person. But when you're flying over drifts at 40 miles per hour...steering a sled so it hits the ramp you just built...or sweeping the snow off the ice to have a game of really couldn't matter less.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

17 Days To Christmas (I Think, Lost Count)

Have to take a little break from memory lane. Nothing says a special occasion like water pouring out your kitchen light fixtures.

The first time this happened was the day of my cousin's wedding. We actually had already moved to our new house and were in the process of selling the old one. I believe we had an Open House scheduled for the next day, which is a good thing, or Scott might not have gone over there until the next weekend.

Today's story starts a couple weekends back when I notice the bathroom floor has become a moat for discarded socks, one of Zoe's 10 toothbrushes, and the endless supply of dog hair.

A closer inspection found that if you didn't turn the shower faucet just so, it would drip water down to the rim of the tub, and unfortunately flow out instead of in. Four Home Depot trips later and problem solved.

This brings us to today:

5AM-ish or some other god-awful time well before the butt-crack of dawn - Alarm goes off for Scott to head to the gym for his swim and he hits the snooze.

Sidebar: The number of times the snooze is hit is proportionate to the amount of time I add to my own internal wake up call. For instance, if I tell myself I will get out of bed at 6AM (which is just foolishness, really), each time Scott hits the snooze, I add on at minimum 15 minutes. Considering he tends to hit the snooze at least twice, I typically get an extra half hour of sleep more than I intended. That is, if the devil's spawn doesn't force me up first.

5:45AM-ish - Scott gets out of bed.

6AM - Scott is on the phone leaving a message for his office that pipes have burst in our kitchen and he is not going in.
Sidebar 2: I thought it was kind of him to call his office before coming up to tell me the bad news. Unfortunately, I'm a light sleeper in the morning, so I was up and down the stairs before he finished his message.

Water is, in fact, dripping from the kitchen ceiling and light fixtures at not quite an alarming rate, but enough to be pretty certain the day is going to suck.

On the positive side, I had to move all those things off our counter anyway to clean behind them prior to Christmas. This actually forced me to do it. And to realize how much bigger the kitchen looks when I don't have crap laying all over the place.

7:10AM - Scott's first trip to Home Depot for a plumbing manual. I put Dad on speed dial. Considering there is electricity involved, I decide to work from home in case 911 (and a plumber) need to be called.

8AM - It is determined that our faucet leak was not fixed so much as diverted to a more secretive location.

8:30AM - Second trip to Home Depot for part and ceiling paint. As we are walking out from the self-checkout. Random female cashier yells. "Hey, dude, welcome back."


Fortunately, the rest of the repairs are not blog worthy. Part was replaced, leak was stopped, ceiling and electrical was dried. And all without having to do any demolition or call my dad for advice. We must be getting better at this stuff.

And by we, I am by no means implying I do anything other than tell Scott what I would do if I were him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

20 Days To Christmas

I should have know life would get in the way of having a consecutive countdown. Oh well.

For me, Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's was the highlight of the holiday. No matter what Santa brought us the next day.

After a candlelight service we made our way, often through treacherous snow and ice, to the toasty warm goodness of the BB (AKA Grandma's basement).

Did I say toasty warm...make that the outskirts of hell's dominion. The wood burning stove would be cranking so hot by the time we got there, you would have thought we were on an undiscovered island smack in the middle of the equator. Uncle John would be down to his undershirt in minutes.

Grandpa would always try to put fear into us grand kids by letting us know Santa wasn't coming because he shot the fat man's reindeer the week before, or maybe even Santa himself. But we never believed he could do a thing like that. (Plus, he made the same threat about the Easter Bunny, so it was very suspect.)

As we got older, we could hear the tell-tale porch door open and knew Uncle David had just snuck out the front in a hopelessly worn costume with pillows shoved in wherever possible. But when were in the throws of oblivion, we impatiently waited for one of the aunts or uncles to say, "Do you hear that? I think I hear sleigh bells," or something equally cheesy.

We'd run to the windows and wait until his face appeared, waving and carrying his sack of toys (unwrapped, of course) before we started acting like even bigger idiots than we had been.

In later years, when we knew it was only Uncle David dressed as Santa, not the real Santa, we would take turns making sure that everyone could see the pillow poking out from the back of his pants. This would be caught on the behemoth VHS video camera and played back later that evening, in case it wasn't funny enough the first time around.

The funny things is, there really weren't that many presents opened on Christmas Eve. One from each Aunt & Uncle, one from Great Aunt Evie and Uncle Speed, one from the Sivinski's, who were honorary Kirschner's for the night, and one from Grandma and Grandpa, which later turned into envelopes.

As in, "Charlie, time to pass out those envelopes." Which we each got to open, but then immediately had to hand over to our parents.

And yet, as soon as that night was over and we were making our way back through the snow storm to home, I always felt like Christmas was over too. I knew when I woke up, I'd have more presents to open, but the big show was over. And that was okay. I could wait until next year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

23 Days Till Christmas

Last year we started decorating our house in the C9 multi-colored lights a la Charlie Brown Christmas, complete with Santa blow mold on the front porch. We call it going "retro" and it reminds me of my days growing up on North Main.

I only lived there until I was 5 or 6, but my best friend lived there "forever" so I never really left. She lived two doors down. Her mom let me eat Count Chocula and her dad jumped out of planes into his back yard. So definitely cool on any given day.

They would probably laugh at me calling it retro, because I don't think they ever traded out their C9's for the white icicles and inflatable monstrosities that have taken over. And even though I've missed going over in these last few years since we've had kids, I take comfort knowing that everything still looks the exact same...except they did take down the wall checkered in cork and mirrors, which is a bummer.

Let me set the scene:

Widest tree known to man. Almost more like a very tall bush, which it may have been, because it was really hard to see.

First wrap it in more C9s. Not kidding...outdoor lights on the indoor tree. Then I think there may have been ornaments of a popsicle stick nature, but again, hard to see. Blue and silver tinsel roping from the top to bottom, with very little space in between. And top that with the loose "icicle" tinsel. 100 boxes of it.

In case you feel there is a shocking lack of tinsel here...there is more roping from the corners to the middle of the ceiling and blue and silver balls hanging by...trying to picture if it was fishing line or, in fact, more tinsel. I also picture a disco ball hanging down in the center, but I'm pretty sure I'm making that up.

The stockings that hung at their fire place, we're maybe twice as big as mine...but even better, they each had ceramic Santa boots that were also loaded up...and thus my introduction to beef jerky as it's own food group.

And though I wrote this to get a laugh, please know that it makes me all warm inside whenever I think of it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

24 Days Till Christmas

Sometime in the beginning of December we always got together with my cousins to decorate cookies. The seven kids and Aunt Prissy and Aunt Charlie dutifully churned out a few hundred icing masterpieces. Or maybe it only felt like hundreds. I know the kids were always ready to quit before the naked cookies ran out.

A few sub traditions have arrived over the years:

Ugliest cookie AKA chamo cookie - Made by mixing all the icing colors together before plopping it on a cookie in one scoop. These tend to show up more frequently towards the end of the activity.

Charlie and/or Rachel make John and/or Rebecca cry.

Most Amount of Icing Contest. Participants of this contest are forced to eat the cookies once the measuring is done.

Aunt Prissy and/or Aunt Charlie have to yell at someone to stop putting the wrong knife back in the wrong color of icing.

Adam and John talk about guns.

Charlie and Rachel talk about bowel movements.

Katie recites an ancient epic poem inspired by the season.

Rebecca makes sure all our waste is composted or recycled.

Aunt Prissy and Aunt Charlie make up yet a new verse to Good King Wenceslaus.

Someone talks about their "Schwetty Balls"

Speaking of Schwetty you didn't know that candles and snowmen could be turned upside down and made into phallic symbols. I won't go into what they do with Santa and the angels. (I say "they", because I would never participate in something so obscene. Okay, I may have given a gingerbread girl breasts.)

Gore Cookies...reindeers spewing blood, decapitated Santas, the usual.

Favorite Cookie Shape: Christmas Tree - so many possibilities
Worst Cookie Shape: Tiny Angel - A waste to spend so much time on a cookie you can eat in one bite.

This tradition is still going strong with the next generation. Now we have our "cousins" Christmas prior to the actual holiday in order to make sure everyone can be in attendance at the same time. One of the aunties brings the cookies and one brings the icing to whoever is hosting the event. And part of the joy is hearing them discuss who's turn it is to bring which in the days approaching our gathering.

Idea - why don't you stop switching back and forth and just be in charge of the same thing every year?

Monday, November 30, 2009

25 Days Till Christmas

With all of the craziness in the season, I try really hard to remember what makes Christmas so special to the kids. That way it keeps it special for me, too. So I hope you enjoy my countdown to Christmas.

FACT: Santa does not wrap his presents.

Think of the logistics. He barely has enough time to MAKE them all. Add to that the bureaucracy of getting through trademark and copyright laws. Not to mention fiddling around with the whole space-time continuum. Something has got to give.

Where I come from, that is how you knew the present was from Santa. We came down Christmas morning and saw a new Swatch Watch sitting on the coffee table. Or a Twigbee Bear, with his eyes gleaming from the fireplace hearth. Thanks, Santa.

I didn't realize Scott's family had their own deal with the big man. So while I do miss my family tradition, I appreciate the extra effort the Claus's go to in our particular situation to provide nicely wrapped presents under the tree.

Here's the sad fact. I remember two Santa presents with perfect clarity.

One, the entire family got cross country skis. (Seemed cool until it became apparent that cross country skiing was actually exercise.)

Two, I got a winter coat. Santa must have turned his workshop into a sweatshop that year.

Lesson learned - kids like toys. Don't try to trick them by making something boring come from Santa in the hopes that they will think it is cool. They will hold it against you for the rest of your life.

(Kidding, Mom and Dad.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

We love you. We're thankful for you. We've been super good and a little good. We really love you a lot.

I would like a Puppy with a bone and Pixels. I also want a baby doll and a Pokemon DS.

Zoe wants 2 dollies and a set of food and a stuffed tea set for me and her.

Merry Christmas,

Scribed by Mommy - Note to Nana's - please don't take this as the official request. This was only her draft.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

It goes without saying, that I'm thankful for my friends and family, but I just said it anyway. I'm thankful we have food and shelter and jobs to keep it that way. Though I'm not too thankful for Scott's job, because it sucks so bad. I'm thankful for my little marine biologist and the devil's spawn.

I'm thankful for reality TV because it makes my life look a lot better. And I'm thankful for works of fiction so I can escape it. I'm thankful to the library for making it free. (Special thanks to Professor B Worm for reviewing"The Hunger Games" - that's the best book I've read in quite a while.)

I'm thankful I no longer have to find every one's e-mail address when I want to write something mildly amusing.

Morgan is thankful for everyone, but most notably Thea (her caregiver) and Santa Claus. She is also thankful for belugas, humpbacks, orcas, dolphins, penguins and sharks - even robot sharks. Obviously, she's thankful for Pixar and Noggin. And a man named Steven Spielberg.

Zoe is most likely thankful for her lung capacity, vocal chords, and motor skills that allow her to stomp on the floor and swing her arms wildly above her head at the same time. I'm also pretty sure she's thankful for Oreos and M&Ms, but who isn't? Add to that list anyone willing to wrestle with her, give her pony rides on their foot, or let her stick rocks in her mouth.

I'm sure Scott's thankful I write this blog instead of vacuuming or remembering to pick up the dry cleaning. But perhaps slightly more thankful he doesn't have to take blood pressure medication anymore and can fit into clothes he wore in high school (though I'm thankful he doesn't choose to do this).

I'm not yet thankful to the Ohio Lottery, but I hope to be someday soon.

I'm thankful to those people who already have their Christmas lights on, because now I have a blog topic for next week.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

With Sympathy

To those in my extended family who suffered a loss today, I wanted to give the words that I've found comforting over the years. I don't know the author's name and I don't know if the poem has a title, but I had copied it down and always look back to it at these times...

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Wishing you all peace,
Your Annie

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Nature Lesson by Morgan

Not too sure how much psycho-analysis my 4-year-old has in store for her future, purely on the basis that she liked Jaws so much, we let her watch Jaws II. But it does illustrate her ability to apply the same problem solving to similar situations, which has to be impressive.

"Mommy, do you want to play with me?" asks Morgan.

"Yes, what would you like to play."

"I am playing school, and I am running away. Do you want to run away with me?"

"Definitely. Where should we go?"

"We're going shark hunting." She turns quickly to me with wide eyes, waving her hands, "But don't worry, I'm going to be in a cage so they can't eat me."

"Oh, good."

"And I'm going to put rubber around it and not stick my arms out. And not stick my fingers out."

"That sounds like a good idea. What kind of sharks are we hunting? Not all sharks, I hope."

"No, just big white sharks."

"Great White Sharks?"

"Yes. But just mean ones. Because Bruce is a Great White Shark and he was bad, but then he turned good. And all the sharks from Shark Tale are good. And Bruce's friends are good, because the one is a hammer head, and they aren't bad. Well...they can hit you on the head, but they're not bad."

"So what you're saying is, only sharks like Jaws."

"Yes, but I have a plan to use wires to electrocute them. I will stick the wires in them and they will die. But just the bad ones. Hurry up and get your cong shell, so we can listen for them."

Translator: Cong = Conch (We happen to have decorative conch shells in our living room, although I was surprised she knew their name. Chalk one up for the Wonder Pets.)

Problem: Rogue Shark

Solution: Electrocution.

If you remember, in Jaws II after many people get eaten, Chief taunts Jaws enough to make him charge and throws a huge utility wire that he drug up from the ocean floor in his mouth, causing him to explode. That's entertainment!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cleveland Rocks - or Not

I consider myself a music appreciator. I'm not an expert, and there isn't one band I follow obsessively around (well...there's the whole boy band thing, but that's not about the music, so we'll save that for later discussion). But I do love all types of music.

For instance...

I love listening to Bruce Hornsby play the piano. I highly recommend it. And even better if you get a live version where he floats in some stuff from his days with the Grateful Dead. And I can go to a Dave Matthews concert and not be pissed that he doesn't sound like his radio version, because I know he is an artist that is creating something new every time he plays, not just a really good musician that knows how to read notes on a page.

On the other hand, one of the best times I ever had was when Barry Manilow came to Parent's Weekend and I saw him with my mom and dad, because every song reminded me of being eight years old and dancing in the living room with my little brother to Mom's records.

My iPod is so random, I even have a play list named "Random".
Avril Lavigne and Pat Benetar
The Foo Fighters and The Beatles
Jonas Brothers and Bon Jovi
Rascal Flatts and John Denver

So, people of Cleveland, I ask you....where is your passion? You spent how long and god knows how much money lobbying to get the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? I don't claim to know the politics that goes along with that decision, but somebody somewhere wanted it bad enough.

For the past month or so, HBO has been playing promos about the concert of all time in Madison Square Garden...I didn't pay much attention, thinking it was some sort of Live Aid-type event, but the other day it had my focus and I was surprised to hear it was to celebrate the anniversary of the Hall of Fame.

Really? A concert to celebrate the Hall of Fame located in Cleveland, OH was conducted in New York City? Now, I know that The Q and Browns stadium are no Madison Square Garden, but c'mon? Where are all the people that fought so hard to get the building here? Why aren't they fighting just as hard for the induction ceremonies and concert events? That's where the money is, if that's all you care about.

I mean, I'm sure there were people who thought having a cool museum would attract visitors, but nobody in their right mind should have thought it would make people VACATION here.

If I was from anywhere but here, and my parents said "Okay, kids, load up. We're off to Cleveland." they would have had a mutiny.

So shouldn't there have been some game plan for after construction?

And note to U2: Don't think I don't realize you wouldn't lower yourself to appear here. You and your fancy names and skull caps. I'm on to you.

And note to Madison Square Garden: You suck, and if you are not paying royalties to the city of Cleveland every time you say Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, somebody call my lawyer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Matter of Debate

(Stolen premise from the television show Community starring my secret crush Joel McHale.)

Zoe: Mischievous Cherub or Devil's Spawn? Debate.

Point: Short, painless labor and delivery.
Counterpoint: Has not stopped moving and making noise ever since.
Disclaimer: I don't consider the act of moving and making noise evil. Only in mass and unrelenting quantities or during diaper changes.

Point: Tenderly cares for all baby dolls in what is no doubt a reflection of her own mother's gentle and patient nature.
Counterpoint: Has been known to throw objects ten times her own weight and knock the glasses off her gentle mother's face.

Point: Shows the dog more attention and affection than possibly any other member of the family, including the allowance of sloppy St. Bernard kisses before bed.
Counterpoint: Has been spotted being dragged across the floor behind him because she won't let go of his tail.
(Also tends to take his dog food and throw it in his water bowl, but it has yet to be determined if she is doing this to be annoying or she thinks she is helping him multi-task.)

Point: Will stop and dance to almost any genre of music with the exception of yodeling.
Counterpoint: Has also perfected the tantrum dance of clenched fists, stomping feet, and chin raised in defiant wailing which can last in excess of ten minutes (a lot longer than it sounds).

Point: Still likes to cuddle while having a bed time bottle (yes, I know she is too old for it)
Counterpoint: Refuses to eat while sitting in the high chair and prefers to walk around approaching other diners like a baby bird with her mouth wide open, hoping we will drop something in.

Conclusion: We'll keep her around. That which doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints Day

Some of the lessor known Saints:

Saints Mars, Hershey and Nestle - Patron Saints of Trick-or-Treaters, plastic jack-o-lanterns, and Weight Watchers. They make sure you never miss a house giving away the full-sized candy bars. And they lay their vengeance upon homes that only hand out one Dum-Dum sucker.

Saints Sarbanes and Oxley - Patron Saints of Accountants and Internal Control Consultants such as myself. They watch over us and whenever we think we don't have enough mundane work to keep us busy they whisper in the ears of the PCAOB or the SEC and a new auditing standard or accounting principle is born. In other words, why I still have a job and will be working at least 8 more hours today.

Saint Boomerang - Patron Saint of Parents that are sick of watching "educational" cartoons with their kids. Saint Boomerang invented a whole channel to combat "preschool on TV." He refilled our days with The Jetsons and Top Cat and my personal favorite Wacky Races. Shows that don't require us talk back to them in another language or get up and dance unless we feel like it.

Saint Autumn - Patron Saint of leaf blower manufacturers. This Saint has the ability to send gale force winds right after your very last leaf has been blown to the curb, but also is kind enough to give the gift of leaf piles the size of Mount Crumpet for the kids to jump in - even if they end up dragging half of them into the house stuck in their pants.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stray Dog

Dropped the girls off on this beautiful fall day, before heading to work. Was luckily driving fairly slow due to (1) the speed limit, (2) wet leaves on the road, (3) and a leaf pick-up truck on the curb; because I had to hit the breaks pretty hard to avoid hitting a little dog that ran out in the road.

There were two moms walking the other way with their strollers and they seemed to be concerned and trying to catch him, so I drove past. But now I feel guilty, because as I looked in the rearview mirror I cannot say for certain that the dear dachshund made it back home.

My only hope is that the woman that was rounding the corning had some modicum of common sense, since she was accompanied by a well-mannered German Shepherd.

Here are my tips for Moms #1 and #2, if this situation ever occurs again:

(1) You have a “lick “em and stick ‘em” baby strapped into a stroller. You are on a side street in Hometown, USA at 8AM in the morning. Put the break on the stroller and step 10 feet away from it. A dingo is not going to run off with your baby. While you are at it, put your coffee down in the convenient cup holder.

(2) Mom #1’s warning to me may have been more helpful if I had actually seen her covering her mouth in horror and sticking her hand out prior to seeing the dog the size of a bread loaf and the very same color of the leaves he was running across.

(3) Mom #2 appeared to have the a similar type of dog on a leash, yet to prevent the “stray” from coming closer, she STUCK HER FOOT OUT at it while not dropping her coffee.

A. You have your own puny dog. I would think you could figure out fairly easily if this puny dog was friendly and could be picked up.
B. If you were still unsure…PICK UP YOUR OWN DAMN DOG. Situation solved.
C. This is nothing against puny dogs; I’m just more of a big dog kind of person.

(4) The “stray” dog had a harness around him and legs less than an inch long. It stands to reason he’s from the neighborhood or else he would have been dead from exhaustion. I am not encouraging people to approach strange dogs, but don’t you think in the case of something you can pretty much pin down with your foot, you could manage to at least read its collar and go knock on a person’s door?

(5) Attempting to “herd” a dog back to where they belong doesn’t work. They are the herders. To them you have just agreed to playing a game of chase. Congratulations!

(6) When it comes to you with its tail wagging, pick it up. If it tries to bite you, put it back down. (Exception: If it happens to be my dog, please walk away, because I would rather he take his chances with the traffic than you two idiots.)

And here ends the lesson for the day.

Yours Sincerely,
Woman who successfully rescued three Standard Poodles that escaped the mansion across the street. It can be done! Okay, Scott helped.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Sincere Pumpkin Patch

Those that know me, know that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Some of which has to do with happy childhood memories of Trick-or-Treating with the North Main Street gang and my mom’s excellent costume making talent. Some has to do with the weather, because fall is my favorite season. And some has to do with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – arguably the best reason to stay up past my bedtime.

As a side note…I actually hate haunted houses. I am genuinely afraid that one of the workers will end up being a psychopathic axe murderer and this is just his cover. Irrational? Yes.

Now that I have kids of my own, there is a whole new level to the giddiness I feel when decorating a jack-o-lantern.

First off, I think Halloween is now in competition with Christmas for busiest time on my calendar. There are the preparations – the pumpkin picking, costume design, and hayrides. There are the planned festivities – PTA parties, parades, Boo at the Zoo, and more hayrides. And there is the holiday itself – trick-or-treat and more hayrides.

Note to hayride operators – Putting bales of STRAW in a wagon and pulling it around a parking lot with a tractor does not constitute a hayride. I’m not against the straw usage, per se. I wouldn’t want to use my own hay either – the stuff isn’t cheap. I was merely pointing out the misconception. But if you aren’t going to pull me through spooky cornfields or wooded areas, then it’s just a plain ol’ tractor/wagon ride.

The costume design is always tricky, as I am not as handy with the sewing machine as my mother was. Wait…I don’t even own a sewing machine. And how can store-bought costumes be so expensive and so cheap at the same time? Plus, Morgan already has definitive ideas on what she wants to be, despite my Jedi mind tricks. “Wouldn’t it be great to put a sheet over your head? It would be so fun to go as a ghost. I love ghosts.”

But in the end, they look so damn cute. At the PTA party, I was taking random pictures of kids I didn’t know. It is impossible to resist a child in costume. Unless they are a screaming little brat, of course.

Speaking of the PTA party…this year, Jungle Terry came from the zoo with some animal friends. We stepped into the Middle School cafeteria and I turned to Scott and said, “Does Zoe need her diaper changed?” He of course looked at me like I was an idiot and pointed to the cages on the stage.

Ahhh…animals smell. I’m normally immune to that, seeing as I did grow up with horses, but there was perhaps the fact that the smell of snake pee and pigeon poop are slightly out of context in a room where large numbers of children eat. But Jungle Terry did bring a mega bottle of hand sanitizer with him, which I thought was considerate.

On another side note…two out of the twenty animals he brought with him were albino - an albino skunk and an albino python. What are the chances that 10% of your menagerie is allegedly the rarest of their species? Seems a little fishy.

So here are the remaining “to do” items. I’m not kidding. This is seriously how long the list is. (Okay, so I may have a little something to do with signing myself up for this stuff.)

Carve another set of pumpkins, because the ones we did at the beginning of the month with the cousins have caved in with mold. They are still sitting on my front porch, of course. But I thought maybe they should be replaced before anyone other than the mailman has to get a good look at them.

The pre-school party and parade on Friday. Yet another opportunity for me to take pictures of other people’s kids and berate myself for not making Morgan’s costume myself.

The Nature Center hayride and festivities on Friday night. This hayride looks promising, because it does get down into the Metropark area. And you can’t pass up a chance to pet more animals. Although I’m pretty sure the nature center is seriously deficient on the albino variety.

Saturday is the merchant Trick-or-Treat parade at 1pm. The kids get to walk around the two town shopping squares and get candy from the store owners and it forms a sort of parade. (This will be cutting it close to swim lessons, but I think we can do it. May be a new record for most activities in a single day.)

6pm is actual Trick-or-Treat. The best part is seeing which houses are giving out beer to the parents as they walk by. And checking off each of the Star Wars characters that I see. Some things never change. And it will be interesting if Morgan can talk to home owners at a level that is actually audible to the human ear.

Then there is the annual Barn Dance, back at my old stomping grounds - which is now in its second generation, and does include an actual square-dance caller. Plus you get to see which kid falls off the mountain of straw bales first, thus ending the fun for the rest of them.

And then I will be setting up camp in the “most sincere” pumpkin patch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dirtying a Few Cups

Someone reads my blog that wasn't required to do so out of politeness. Yay!
* * *
Morgan was singing on the way to preschool this morning. She gets this talent from Papa SidandLeo to make up tunes. And usually they are nonsense, because she is more concerned with ryhming than plot or sentence structure. But a snippet of today's went like this:

I am lie-ing.
No, I am tell-ing the tru-uth,

1. Should I be concerned?
2. When she starts pronouncing the word "actually" correctly, it will be a sad day in the house. I don't know why, but it always brightens my day.

* * *

Zoe listened to me today. I mean she actchically listened to me. We were sitting on the back porch and her nose was just...good lord...the amount of snot that thing produces. So I said, "Can you sit here and not move or touch my things while I go get a wash cloth to clean your nose?" She gave me her nod that looks like she's head-banging to a song I can't hear. And when I came back, she was sitting there, smiling at me. This is an absolute first! Could it be the devil's spawn is starting to grow a few angel feathers?

* * *

We recently watched Marley and Me, and I remember in the book, the author mentioned when he wrote his "World's Worst Dog" column, he got a ton of letters about how much worse their dogs were than his. So here's Potter's contribution:

Before being owner-diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome for those of you that don't spend half your day pooping.) and coming to the realizationg that Beggin' Strips and Pig's Ears = "shotgun blasts of poo", Scott and I spent many a 3 a.m. cleaning runny diarhea off our carpet, hardwood, and...yes...walls.

You would think, that the tell tales clickety-clickety of his toe nails pacing around our bed and the whining that accompanied it, would have been ample warning...but as neither of us likes to get out of bed we inevitably would tell him to go lie down. Not a good solution.

The problem was that I knew that since we didn't have a fence I would either need to put him on a leash and stand there with him for the next twenty minutes, reaking of his stench, or I would have to helplessly hold on to his collar, while I attached him to his line that was staked into the yard. God forbid we had forgotten to make sure the clip was on the porch the last time we let him in. Or it was snowing. Or raining. Not sure why I found that more unappealing than bleaching my carpet or spraying Clorox Clean Up on my walls.

Not to mention, St. Bernard poo is not exactly dainty. Poor guy.

So now he lives a life of a bland diet and the only treat he is allowed to have is the plainest Milkbone they make. But I'm sure he's happy that his colon is no longer falling out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Brother

You would think having multiple birthdays to celebrate in a row would make them easier to remember. I did manage to remember Scott's yesterday. Impressive, I know. And technically, I remembered my brother Charlie's several times today. Just not at moments when I could do anything about it, and then it quickly slipped my mind again and again.

Happy Birthday!

As if you actually read this. You are reading this, aren't you? You better read this, you're my brother. And unlike John, I have actually seen you crack a book, so I know you are literate. (No offense, John.)

As big brothers go, he's not so bad. I'm pretty sure he didn't torture me like he did John. I was never hung from the balcony by my ankles. He didn't pelt me with acorns in the fall or snowballs in the winter. He didn't hide my "guns" that I made out of scrap wood and rubber bands. Probably because I didn't make any. (Then again, maybe he did torture me and it was so bad I don't remember.)

In fact, I'm not entirely sure he realized I was there. Which is probably a good thing, considering my "awkward" phase and penchant for bad hair.

I mean, there was of course the time that we were running late for school and he drove the piece of crap "Goose" through a puddle that sprayed up through the rust holes in the floor and covered me in water. But (A) at least I had a ride to school so I didn't have to take the bus and (B) he did offer the suggestion of changing into my gym clothes.

Mostly, I thought he was pretty cool. I'm pretty sure the feeling wasn't mutual, but that's okay. I like to think I've gained a little "cred" now that we're older and found several things in common:

Our sense of humor.
Quoting movies to the annoyance of everyone else in the room.
Ability to make fun of John.

And just so the rest of you realize what a great guy he is...when we were in middle school, he would always leave our school bus hut in the freezing cold winter wind to see if the bus was coming. He never made me do it. (Of course if dad had just situated the hut so that we could watch for the bus without leaving it...)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nothing Like a Pandemic

So I have a feeling this is going to be a fun flu season. You cannot go five minutes without hearing about H1N1 these days.

I myself have never gone in for the hype.

I do not carry hand sanitizer with me at all times. I have never gotten a flu shot in my life. And my kids go outside without hats on. There I said it.

I do, however, wash my hands after going to the bathroom. Aren't you glad to know that? So today at work, as I was washing my hands, I read one of the signs that has been hanging for so long on the mirror, I don't even see it anymore.

It's about the correct way to wash your hands. The fact that we have to have instructions for washing our hands is a travesty in itself, but one of the points is just the epitome of insanity.

It's telling me to wash my hands for 20 seconds. Seems innocent enough. But then goes on to say that I should "sing Happy Birthday to a friend" two times in order to measure out these 20 seconds.

Here's a thought - why don't I just COUNT TO TWENTY.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Got the preschool newsletter today with a reminder about the Halloween costume party coming up. "The church requests us not to have any witches, ghosts, or devil costumes." first thought, "She is so going as a witch." But then I realize I can be an adult, even when it kills me. But let's think about this.

What does it matter what a pre-schooler dresses up as on Halloween? Whatever they are dressed as on that day, they will be wishing it is something else. Currently, I'm in search of a fairy costume, but last week I thought I was going to be creating a beluga whale costume from scratch. Chances are, the day of the party, she is going to be really ticked that she has to wear whatever costume she last settled on.

And I find their list shockingly vague.

A devil. So are we talking biblical Satan, or any demonic looking creature will do? Does this rule out Hades, and then by default Persephone? I mean she does allegedly head things up down there for six months out of the year. What if my son wanted to tote around a three-headed dog, while wearing his helm of invisibility and make kids give him quarters to get across the River Styx? Would this be frowned upon?

Don't get me started on witches. What a stereo-type. Hel-lo...has no one watched the Wizard of Oz in that church? There are good witches and bad witches! If Morgan wants to go as Glinda or Hermione Granger, do I have to say no? And I'm guessing witches are on the book-burning list because they are considered devil-worshipers, which is just plain racist. I'm pretty sure the White Witch of Narnia was in it for herself. (Then again, she would fall in the "devil" category above, if we were speaking metaphorically, so maybe not the best example.)

Ghosts...I don't get at all. This one completely baffles me. Is it strictly because "there's no such thing as ghosts?" Because there's no such thing as a Power Ranger and I could swing a stick and hit one at any time on Trick or Treat night. I'm assuming its not because "they are scary" or they would have just said, "Keep it fun, not scary." I can appreciate that, at this age. That's reasonable. I think our PTA party does that. Is it because it reeks of Pagan ritual, which is why we celebrate Halloween in the first place...because maybe they should have just said "You can't have a Halloween party in our church."

And poor Casper...I think my older brother donned that drug store costume in his youth. Plastic mask with the thin elastic band to hold it in place and the flimsy plastic shirt and pants, shaped like scrubs that fit over your regular clothes.

If you're going to make a list of allegedly poor role models, maybe you should include:
1. Psychopathic Killers ("They look just like everyone else." - The Adams Family)
2. Hannah Montana (The pictures with Billy Ray...come on, that's just weird.)
3. Football players, Basketball players, Baseball players (Guns, drugs, animal cruelty, drunk driving, gangs, murder)
4. Ming Ming from the Wonder Pets (That speech impediment! It Kills Me.)

As for me...I'm pretty sure Pre School was the year of Little Bo Peep. But I'm also pretty sure that the year before that my mom dressed me up as Mae West, complete with fake cleavage and show girl makeup. And I am all the better for it.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My New Friend - A One Act Play by Morgan

Morgan: When we have free time today I’m going to find Macie and play with her. She is a little girl I met. Her name is Macie. I told you about her. She’s a fish.

Mommy: (silent for a while, wondering if Macie is a girl or a fish or a figment of the imagination) Do you mean Macie is in the Fish room? Like you’re a Butterfly?

Yes, Macie’s a fish. Do you want to know how I met her?

Mommy: Definitely.

Morgan: (in one breath) Some boys pushed her and then they were riding bikes and then she came over and asked if she could play with me and then I said yes and now we are friends and we’re going to play together again today.

Mommy: Well, that was nice of you to let her play with you. And that was a nice story to tell me, thank you.

In dedication to my best friends who:

Carried my tricycle to her driveway so I could ride bikes with her; let me borrow her Sweet Valley High and V.C. Andrews books; took me on my first roller coaster; rigged her Monte Carlo with a piece of 2-by-4 so I could reach the pedals and learn how to drive.

Walked into Mr. Burger’s fifth grade classroom with me, despite hating me in fourth grade; saved me a swing when ever she got out for recess before me in middle school; helped me develop Rules of the Midway; went to see Joey McIntyre with me when we were way too old to be doing such nonsense.

Wrote the first of many stories with me; didn’t mind that I came to her house to watch cable and read her TV Guide (“If you read the TV Guide, you don’t need a TV” – The Lost Boys); allowed me to leave and come back; always offers to help paint walls.

Border Patrol

I was going to work and I saw a Border Patrol van driving through Lakewood.

First of all…we have Border Patrol in Cleveland? In all my years, I have never seen such a thing.

I guess Lake Erie is technically a border, but I was pretty sure we weren’t worried about the Canadian’s swimming over. They usually aren’t itching to get in our country any more than we’re itching to get in theirs. And if they do get a yearning, I think we’re pretty tolerant.

So I am now to assume that the “undesirables” are first entering Canada and then planning on swimming Lake Erie. This assumption would have to imply that the Canadians are a little more lax in their efforts to keep potential “job-stealers” out. But I can vouch for the fact that they are not, since my co-worker and I were detained at the border while trying to get to an audit.

(It was his fault. I told him to just say we were attending a meeting, but he said it all suspiciously…and it was about 1 AM…and…we just shouldn’t have been traveling together.)

Second of all…do you need to ride around in a van? Shouldn’t they be in a boat patrolling the dotted line that goes through the middle of the lake on my map? Or better yet, couldn’t they just sit in a tower with binoculars, and check for people jumping in the water and be there to meet them when they step out?

The people at Cedar Point tell me that on a clear day you can see Canada from the top of the Magnum, so I’m going to have to say you could use binoculars just as easily.

And if you don’t need a van to catch the gate crashers…why would you drive around in one? Is it a perk of the job that you get a company car? Is it an advertising campaign?

And, for the sake of argument, you do need the van to catch them…why would you print Border Patrol across is in big letters? I would think an un-marked vehicle, might make the job easier.

But that’s just me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Laundry Chute

When you read this you are going to laugh. Rest assured it is NOT funny.

This morning started in the usual manner. Zoe’s persistent “mama…MAMA...MAMA…” chant raised me out of bed at 6 AM. Things went smoothly for the most part. Everyone was chipper and there was minimal whining from the older contingent, including me.

We were ready to go ahead of schedule. Well, not ahead of schedule, but ahead of when we usually make it out the door. It was easy…too easy.

Where are my car keys?

Incidentally, I only have one set, because the dealership couldn't find the other one when I bought the car and said they would order it for me. Two weeks later I called them, “Oh sorry, no one placed the order. I’ll do that today.” Two weeks later I called them, “Oh sorry, no one placed the order. I’ll do that today.” That is not a typo, it did happen twice. And there ended my love affair with Volkswagen, seeing as I still don't have them in my possession four years later.

I put the bags and the girls in the car before going back inside to make a sweep. I work backwards as my dad taught me to do when I lost Ross’s class ring in high school.

Hmmm...we came home from the library…I search the library bag, the diaper bag, the counters, the couches, the bathroom, the bedroom, and finally the meat drawer of the refrigerator (that’s where I found the class ring back in the day). Obviously, I must have put the keys in my pocket.

When I changed into pajamas last night, I threw my clothes down the laundry chute, which is in the bathroom on the second floor and goes all the way down to the basement. Isn’t that convenient?

I head downstairs. There is my shirt…my shorts are not there. Maybe I put them back in my closet, since I didn’t really get them dirty. Back upstairs. No, not in my closet, not in the bathroom. This leaves only one option…they are stuck in the laundry chute. I pick a dirty sock off the floor and toss it in to test, then head back to the basement. Sure enough…no sock.

Many expletives shouted.

Grab the mop, climb on the table in front of the shoot and stick the handle up. No contact. At this point I let the girls out of the car to play. I go upstairs, bang on the chute and shove the handle down. No contact. The shorts are on the first floor. Unreachable. I look for something heavy I can throw down in the hopes I can dislodge the clog.

I use Morgan’s metal piggy bank that is filled with all the change she steals out of our pockets. Don’t worry. There are plenty of clothes at the bottom of the chute to cushion the fall.

I hear it hit the bottom. Hurray! Back to the basement. The sock and a pair of Scott’s underwear have arrived, but no shorts. I look up the shoot. Definitely still something in there, but I can see light, so it is a fact that the shorts are snagged on the duct work. Still unreachable.

Many more expletives shouted.

If any of you have ever witnessed my road rage, you can multiply that by about 10, so it’s good that I had forgotten I was going to turn the AC off before I left and the windows are still closed.

Despite the AC being on, I am already sweating. My shirt has come un-tucked, and the laundry table is not so clean, so my black pants are not so black anymore.

I go back upstairs. My next bright idea is to send something down that will force the shorts to become un-snagged. Bath towel. I send it down, it stops halfway, but I am prepared with my make shift weight to throw down.

Unfortunately, the piggy bank doesn’t work this time. And I suddenly realize that if I have to dislodge the stuff from the basement, that bank is going to fall on my head. Not a shining moment in my life. More expletives. More sweat. More tears.

I’m ready to call Scott’s mom to see if she can come take the girls to daycare and I will work from home. Back in the basement, I use the mop handle again…wooosh, down comes the bank and the towel. No injuries, but no shorts. I look up and see them dangling.

I need something other than a broom handle. I need something with a hook. I need the damn thing from the info-mercial that looks like the alligator toy. You know the one where there is an alligator head on a stick and a little trigger at the bottom that works the alligator mouth and you go around and grab people’s butts with it. That’s what I F-ing need.

I do not have that.

I am able to fashion a hook and I can actually feel it hitting the material, but those F-ing shorts are not moving. It is like they are clinging for dear life to the F-ing ductwork. It’s probably my damn keys causing the problem. I hate keys. I hate cars. I hate having to leave for work.

Wait a second.

I was wearing jeans when I came back from the library, and then I changed into my shorts because it had gotten hot. I look around the floor. I pick up the jeans out of the pile and pull my keys out of the pocket.

This is NOT funny.

Laundry chute to be boarded up upon my arrival home this evening.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's In a Name?

My first struggle with the blog was coming up with a name. How do you pull a name out of midair that symbolizes who you are and what you are about? Hmm...I got nothin'. So then I tried to think about what I would write about. brain is so full of random and tangent thoughts...there are not words to describe. So I asked Scott...but being it was midnight and he had just fallen asleep, nothing came to him right away.

The next day, I set out again. My first epiphany was that I always tend to relate everything to children's literature anyway, so why buck the trend? My whole 'never grow up' philosophy, and all. My usernames are usually from Peter Pan, I have a whole sociological hypothesis documented called the Hundred Acre Wood Theory (no joke), stray barn cats were always named after fairy tales or Greek mythology...and then there is Potter, of course.

So the idea was forming...but which to draw from? My go-to story of Peter Pan was off limits. Mostly because Michael Jackson ruined all use of the name Neverland for anyone else. But also because the Gemini in me rarely allows me to relate to one character in a story - the struggle between Wendy and Tink, Scarecrow and the Lion, Kanga and Piglet. But I'm always Alice.

Tangent 1 - This is different than the other game DAG plays: Angel or Spike (Spike), Ryan or Seth (Seth), Mr. Big or Aiden (Aiden), Edward or Jacob (Jacob), etc.

It was a little easier from there. The first name I tried was too close to someone elses, so I pulled out my Annotated Alice (yes, I have that - the definitive edition) and opened to the Table of Contents. I liked the idea of The Queen's Croquet Ground, but it sounded like I thought I was the Queen, so I threw that away. I kept coming back to my favorite part of the story - the mad tea party. (Incidently, I have never quite been able to convince Scott to dress as the Hatter for Halloween so I could be Alice. A little encouragement from the outside would be good.)

It was only a matter of seconds before the "clean cup" reference jumped out at me and my blog was born.'s so cute. No hidden meaning, just pure randomness, like the rest of me.

Here's where I digress...Tim Burton is making an Alice movie for Disney starring Johnny Depp, which in theory is a great idea, but I'm starting to get a little worried...

My first Alice was Disney's animated movie, which I love to this day despite many...liberties of artistic license. I didn't read the actual Carroll book until high school and I was hooked again. There have of course been many attempts at telling this story on screen, but most are lacking. I personnally love one that was made for TV in the 80's.

Tangent 2 - It was split over 2 days, and Ann Jillian was the Red Queen and Carol Channing was the White Queen and Ringo Starr was the Mock Turtle...and they did both Alice's Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass...I have never seen it anywhere again...perhaps a Google search is ready to happen.

Now I've been reading Alice to Morgan before bed. (She actually asks for it, but rarely remains awake until the end of the chapter, so I'm pretty she has no clue what's going on.) And it has not lost its splendor - for me anyway.

All the press I've seen about the upcoming movie seems to focus on the Red and White Queens, who aren't even in Wonderland, they're in the Looking Glass. Maybe they are jumbling it all up, which I could live with (though it shouldn't be called Alice In Wonderland). But my bigger fear is that the Red Queen looks suspiciously like The Queen of Hearts, which means they are combining characters and that is completely uncalled for. Do you hear me Tim Burton??? I don't care if she is your wife. She needs to pick one or the other.

In other news:

There is constant buzz that The Looking Glass Wars will be turned into a movie. I'll believe it when I see it, but wouldn't Gerard Butler from "300" be an awesome Hatter Maddigen (that question is for Denise...or Katie)?

The SciFi Channel (Why did they switch to SyFy? It just doesn't make sense. Was there a copyright issue?) will be premiering the series "Alice" in December. I'm so there.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Washington DC - Day 3

Scott’s race wave goes off at 7:21 a.m.! He has me set the alarm for 4:00 a.m.! He calls me at 5:30 a.m. to read him something off an envelope - I may have read him the label on my shampoo. Wake up call is at 6:00 a.m.! (Yes, this is a vacation.) Morgan sleeps through all of this. For continental breakfast number two, she chooses only a sprinkled donut at first, but then she can’t take her eyes off my eggs, so she fills up. Always eat eggs when someone else is making them.

Thankfully, we are taking a taxi down to the race. As instructed by Scott, I tell our driver to get us as close to the Korean memorial as possible. He drops us off on the Vietnam side of the mall but closer to Washington than Lincoln. In other words, nowhere near Korea. Thanks, man.

We knew we missed their swim, so we set out to find a spot on the bike path. We managed to find a curb very close to where they would be dismounting their bikes, and were settled in by the time the first biker was coming in. I had no idea if we were going to be able to spot them. There were times when twenty bikes all came at the same time. We did, however, get to watch asinine people almost get run over as they crossed right in front of athletes traveling at speeds up to 35 mph, so that was fun.

I spotted Scott about 2 nano-seconds before he passed us, but he says he heard us cheer. Now all we had to do was wait for Phil. Michelle was fairly adamant that he would be behind Scott despite starting ahead of him. We continue to wait as Paige and Morgan wreak havoc on the snacks and Morgan wears out her whining privileges.

Finally, we decided there was no way it took Phil this long and we must have missed him, so we make our way to the finish line. I had estimated that we got there right about when Scott was going to cross. Turns out, I was probably right; because twenty minutes after we got there I had a call on my cell. Scott was finished, and had already retrieved his possessions from the transition area – including Phil. Turns out, Scott had caught up to Phil – almost at the exact place that we had been watching. So while we were yelling for Scott, we had totally missed Phil bike by at the same time.

So the purpose for our trip had come to an end, but I still hadn’t gotten Morgan to the Natural History museum. Since the guys had to wait before they could take their bikes out of transition, I decided that I would walk her there and then meet them at the hotel. L’ Enfante might be the biggest jack ass ever. How in the hell does it take so long to walk what looks like five blocks on my map? Okay, so maybe he wasn’t around anymore when they started erecting monuments and museums, but I need a scapegoat, and that goat has Frenchy’s name on it.

Guess what? Morgan doesn’t want to see dinosaurs. In fact, she barely got excited about the whale, but she did enjoy the large mammal exhibit and I was able to get my commemorative magnet for my fridge, so not a total loss. Just a long uphill battle back to the hotel and we are homeward bound.

Morals of this story:

If your child is between riding in a stroller and walking on their own for 20 miles, do not take them to DC.

If you disregard the first moral and take them anyway, choose the bulky all-terrain Jeep stroller with shock suspension instead of borrowing the light umbrella stroller that is three inches too short for you stand up straight while you push it and has wheels the size of Eggo waffles.

If there is a choice between using a roundabout or just having an intersection, choose the intersection. The world has enough statues and fountains.

Never under estimate how much joy a tunnel through a mountain can bring.

Washington DC - Day 2

Saturday morning and Morgan is further impressed by the continental breakfast. She gets scrambled eggs but passes on the sausage patty. Then we both pass on what I can only guess was some type of hash brown with ketchup mixed into it. I was not willing to investigate further. No matter…there are donuts with pink frosting, so we are good to go.

Since the Paige is a late sleeper (lucky bastards), and since Phil and Michelle got in the day before and already did a quick tour, we head out on our own to see what there is to see, before we get down to triathlon business.

Despite the mob scene of protesters near Pennsylvania Avenue and Morgan’s own protests against getting out of the stroller to take pictures – as evidenced by her happy expression in several photos – we manage to see the White House and the Washington Monument. And with only one wrong turn and a block of backtracking, we move towards the World War II Memorial.

Turns out, Morgan loves fountains. She is up and out of the stroller, setting up photo shoots. Thank God. Potential disaster number 3 averted. It’s going on 10:30 a.m. – a good hour and a half after we left the hotel, but a majority of that time was just getting down the hill. Now I can see the Lincoln Memorial. My goal destination is within my grasp.

Phil calls and they are going to take the Metro to the zoo. No problem, we will walk up to visit Abe and then head for the Metro ourselves. We can even take in the Korean War Memorial on the way. As I take pictures of the life-like statues, I turn to find a family of Japanese tourists taking pictures, as well. Except they are taking pictures of Morgan sitting in her stroller. WTF? They smile and nod their heads as they thank us (I think). Scott and I are wondering if the photos will show up on some anti-American site. “Look how lazy American kids are. They get pushed around in little buggies all day.” We will never know.

By the time we get to the steps of Lincoln a good forty minutes have passed. And another half hour to walk to the closest Metro (according to an information booth worker, but it just doesn’t seem right). Then another fifteen minutes to figure out how and what pass to buy, then there’s the ride and the walk to the zoo from the station. Just in time to meet our friends as they head back to the hotel.

Scott has to join them, because he and Phil need to get to the triathlon briefing and swim practice if they want to be allowed to race on Sunday. (Incidentally, their briefing is filled with West Pointers. How is that for intimidating competition?) However, Morgan has perked up again - perhaps because she sees potential in the large gift shop we have just passed. So we head out on our own. Three hours later (okay, maybe it only seemed like three) and we have seen just about everything. And of course a gift is purchased before we leave.

Morgan actually falls asleep the second we leave the zoo and I manage to get her on and off the Metro before I have to wake her because I can’t find an elevator. I anticipate rebellion, but there is none. Not even when I go the wrong way on Dupont Circle and have to cut back through the center (Damn that Frenchy). Potential disaster number 4 averted.

We have agreed to go back to the hotel and take a little rest, but of course housekeeping is currently in our room. Really? We were gone for six hours! What are the chances? We eventually make it in and Morgan zones out to some Cartoon Network (No Noggin! Yippee!) I tentatively ask her if she wants to go see the dinosaurs and a big whale in a museum. She is up for it.

Setting myself up for failure, I convince her to walk instead of ride in the stroller, to give my arms a rest. It’s only a little after four and the museums are open until 5:30. I decide we can run in to the American History museum and see the Ruby Slippers before checking out a larger portion of the Natural History museum.

Why does everything take five times as long as you think? We got her picture with Dorothy’s shoes and had to head back up the hill. Granted, at least fifteen minutes of that trip was spent debating the merits of purchasing a ruby slipper snow globe the size of a thimble and the manufacturing cost of a penny, being sold for $12. Mommy won, via compromise, but no meltdown, so considered a great success. Potential disaster number 5 averted.

In case you are wondering, it takes twice as long to walk up a hill than it does to walk down it. Daddy is in charge of the stroller for our walk to dinner. Morgan asks to go to sleep by eight and I’m in bed a little after nine. Right after I find out from my mother that the devil’s spawn is eating like a champion and wrapping everyone within a three-foot radius around her little finger.

Washington DC - Day 1

I’ve decided to start my blogging career with our trip with Washington DC for Scott to compete in The Nation’s Triathlon. We decided to take Morgan (4) with us. But as a result of a two-hour scream-fest driving home from Columbus this summer, we opted to leave our Zoe (1) with my parents.

This trip could have been the poster child for disaster – short time frame, traveling with a 4-year-old, said 4-year-old has a cold, potential for drowning in Potomac - and yet I have nothing of cataclysmic proportion to report.

Our trip starts off with a stop at the local deli for lunch, where Morgan asks if she can have the veggie tray with carrots, celery and broccoli. This is not my child. Then, when given the option of turkey, ham, or bologna sandwich, she chooses roast beef. Okay…and we’re off.

Roast beef sandwich finished, she asks for her veggies and is suddenly skeptical of the broccoli that she had only moments before been wildly asserting she loved. I make the mistake of saying “Looks good!” to which I am offered a piece to “try.” So I do. Yeah, still don’t like broccoli, but please give me props for not gagging, spitting it out into the glove compartment, and/or vomiting into my bag of chips. “Mmm.” Morgan takes one bite, also realizes it is nasty, and takes a swig of her chocolate milk. Still my child. She does finish the baby carrots, though. So maybe I won’t have to pump her too full of Flinstone vitamins in her youth.

Not only does Morgan not nap, she doesn’t even ask for a movie until we are an hour and a half out of DC. I can’t tell you what we did for the other four and a half hours to entertain her. She did remove just about every activity I had packed in her tote. And I vaguely remember some singing - her not me. Of course the Pennsylvania turnpike tunnel had her rapt attention for the entire sixty seconds it takes to complete. The only major problem was that I forgot her headphones, so she had to use my ear buds. Kids don’t like to stick things in their ears unless they are specifically told not to.

So we have entered the greater DC area and here’s where I see potential problem number two. The Mapquest directions indicate we will be proceeding to a “roundabout.” This will clearly add thirty minutes to our drive time. And though we did miss our “exit” on the first time around, we quickly compensate and only lose fifteen minutes – a decisive victory over the city planner (who I'm pretty sure was French so will hereafter be referred to as "Frenchy").

Since Morgan doesn’t remember the first vacation we took her on to Hilton Head at age 1, she considers this her first hotel stay. We have a small “suite” so here’s a quick run down on what impresses her: the appliances (“We can put things in the refrigerator! And here’s a dishwasher, so we can wash our dishes!”); the beds (“I have a bed and you and Daddy have a bed!”); the desk (“We can put Daddy’s computer here!”), etc. Now that we have had a complete inventory of the room contents, it’s time to settle in. Everything that was in her travel tote gets a spot on “her” bed.

And that is Day 1.

We stroll around town with our friends (Phil, Michelle and daughter Paige) to have a late dinner and are back in the hotel just a bit past primetime television. I get Morgan hooked up with a new movie and manage to watch the repeat of the Glee episode I missed on Wednesday. Bonus!

I call home to find out the devil’s spawn, AKA my darling Zoe, has been a complete angel for Nana and Papa – including standing in line with them for an hour at a funeral home. Of course she did.

I’m in bed a little after ten.