Monday, October 29, 2007

A little magic...

Ok. So Z is really a nice guy. I mean, usually. There are those times when he hauls off and hits his brother. Sometimes there is some emotional warfare ("B... I have your doggie, and he told me he doesn't like you any more").

But, by and large my son is charming, and bright, and personable.

That said. When Z said that he wanted to be Harry Potter for Halloween, I said no.

Instead, I said you can be Draco Malfoy, your brother can be Harry.

So, he practiced his sneer (shown below). I slicked back his blonde hair (he is naturally blonde - more than Tom Felton can say). I put him in a robe.

Now do you see why I said that?

Scary, isn't it?

Even young Harry Potter looks scared.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If you give a school some parents...

*Once you have a kid in school, the fun begins.

If you have a kid in first grade, you'll want to be involved in their education.

To be involved in their education, you'll want to go to parent's day at the school.

If you go to Parent's Day at the elementary school...

You'll have to schmooze with other parents.

When you schmooze with other parents, you'll have to learn their names.

Once they know your name, they'll suggest you join the PTO.

Once they ask you to pay to join the PTO, they'll feel like they can ask you to contribute.

They'll ask you to buy and sell wrapping paper.

Once you have wrapping paper, you can earn toys for your brilliant sales. (this is theoretical, actually, I don't panhandle for my kids.)

Once you have bought a shitload of wrapping paper, they'll ask you to come to the next parent's night.

When you sign up for the next parent's night, they'll ask you to contribute.

If you sign up for cookies, you'll have to make them.

If you have to bring two plates of cookies, you might feel like you have to bring two different kinds of cookies.

If you need to make cookies, you'll need to shop after dinner (the night before the cookies are expected) for some random ingredients in the cookies.

Once you have the ingredients, you have to help said first grader finish the work he avoided while playing the rubber pencil game for three hours at school today.

As your first grader works on their five spelling sentences, you'll also have to start the cookies.

When you finish the first batch, you'll have to put said first grader to bed.

Once the child is in bed, you'll have to go back to the cookies.

When you finish the first batch, you'll have to start the second.

When you finish the dough for the second, you'll realize it is supposed to be refrigerated prior to making cookies. (You'll decide that this step is optional).

When the cookies come out, you'll save any misshapen, over or under-cooked ones, cracked ones or other rejects for the love of your life. (and pack up the pretty ones for some stranger that you have never seen before).

Then, you'll put said first grader back to bed.

When the next cookies come out, you'll find some decorative paper plate to set them up on.

Once the cookies are all pretty on the plate, you'll finish polishing off a handful of remainders.

Put said first grader back to bed... again.

Then, since it is fucking nearly @#$^#$%^ o'clock on a school night, and you've been making cookies for hours - you'll sit down with a glass of wine to surf the internet and complain.

Then, when you go to the school's family fun night tomorrow night, the PTO will ask you to sign up for something else...

and you will. (you never learn, do ya?)

*My apologies to Laura Joffe Numeroff for the unspeakably bad parody of the "If you give a mouse a cookie" series. You probably didn't even recognize it. It's late, I am drinking wine, and my belly is full of cookies (toffee bars and molasses, if you must know).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How to make $500 in 10 seconds.

So, today I saw a little fender bender.

It reminded me of when I was a harried mom to a new baby (nearly six year ago, when little one was nearly one).

I stopped at one of our busier lights in the morning, behind a line of cars. The first cars started to go, and, as I looked left and noticed a vast emptiness where oncoming cars would have been, I eased my foot off of the brake and started to roll forward as I looked back in front of me.

"pfft" said my bumper, ever so quietly, as I rolled (from a complete stop) into the car in front of me.

Was it a mercedes?


Was it a Jag?


A new SUV?


It was a ten year old P.O.S. owned by a 17 year-old girl.

I said, "Gosh I'm sorry, I rolled into you, here is my card, I am a professor at middling college across town, give me a call if you need to fix the new divot in your bumper".

"Oh, my gosh, I need to call my dad"

Then - "Oh my gosh, my dad is calling the police, they'll be here any moment."

I waited while the baby cried in the car, in my arms, in the car, in my arms, waved as all of my colleagues from Middling College drove by on their way in and waved, nodded, (chuckled).

The cop finally arrives.

First, he's all "You don't need a police officer for this small claim".

Then, he's all "Well, you'll have to pay to fix all this damage on the bumper"

And, I'm all "Yeah, I can pay to fix it, but all my car left was this one little divot where the screw holds my license plate on, see the dirt in all of the other scratches?"

He's all "How fast were you going"?

I'm all "oh, about one... no really, maybe two miles per hour".

He's all like, "Ok, kiddo... why did you need me?"

She's all, "My daddy said to call you"

So. In the end, she called me about a week later to tell me that she had an estimate from a body shop. The repairs to replace the "skin" over the entire bumper was $500. Please send a check immediately.

I waffled briefly about making the check payable only to the body shop. Then, I sent the young woman my penance for a sleepy morning.

I know she didn't get it fixed (if it were important, she'd have fixed the other dings, bumps, and scrapes all over the bumper).

I am really angry at the parents for setting such a crap example. Someone else's bad moment is not your opportunity to make a few bucks.

Which is why... when someone else bumped into me at that intersection... two months before then, and left several dings (that I won't bother to fix) on my bumper, I told her to have a good day, smiled, and went along on my way.

Raise a glass to Staph.

Today, MRSA is making quite a splash. So much so, that Bossy is home sipping guzzling gin from the cat's bowl to make it all go away (good luck with that, Bossy).

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are not new, they've been plagueing the hospital near you for a while. It is more scary now that they are out in the community. Even more so that a high school football player from Virginia died of a staph infection picked up at his school this week.

As mom to one elementary school kid and two soon-to-be elementary school kids, this is frightening stuff.

Of course, since I am a lousy homemaker, and because my kids get in no end of muck, mud, bugs, filth, and dirt outside and I am rarely on top of my game enough to arrange play dates - they should be in perfect shape to have very powerful immune systems and not be exposed to too many things from other kids.

On the other hand, if we can call this a good excuse for sipping guzzling gin from the cat bowl (can I use the dog's bowl - we haven't a cat?) - I am in favor.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Top Ten things that make me rant.

  1. Any of the purported alternatives to evolutionary biology
  2. Birth in America
  3. Education
  4. The size of our ecological footprint
  5. Conservation
  6. People that consider breastfeeding icky (or any other silly variant, that's why they're there folks).
  7. Politics
  8. Bad Music
  9. Needless killing (people and other organisms)
  10. The Sad State of My Body at the moment (sad, but true)

Does anything make you rant?

Do tell!

Baby in a bucket.

Lots of people are posting these days about baby carriers. Even though mine aren't babies anymore (did I just say that?), I have some opinions on the matter. My babies had some opinions as well.
See? He looks aghast at the very idea... not carry me? "Pwah - I can cry all day if need be... pick me up, Mom."

I see lots of folks toting their babies around in the car seat containers. These suckers are heavy. Heck, I had a c-section for my first and the little guy weighed nine pounds. You aren't supposed to lift more than ten pounds after major abdominal surgery. So, you can carry the baby and a drink (but, not a car seat) and you are at the limit. Not to mention, they are awkward to carry, you can't nurse a baby in them (unless you really are one of those gals that needs a little extra support), and my babies shrieked bloody murder in them. My kids hate riding in their car seats and hate the car in general - my issue, not yours, of course. Anyway, add on to these opinions the latest warnings that children should not sleep in their car seats or spend extra time in them - and can we agree this isn't a good idea?

Ok, so not the car seat (besides, I always get sad when I see a little baby toted around in the bucket anyway - don't you just want to hug the little one?). It's OK, if it worked for you, this is just my opinion anyway, go somewhere else if you want someone else's opinion.

So, now what?

Before my first was born, I bought a sling - an "Over the Shoulder Baby Holder". Lots of women get these things and find them awkward to use. I'll be the first to admit that there is a learning curve here. The "lactivist" store where I got mine had a fake baby (about eight pounds with a heavy little head - so, baby proportioned) to try it with... and an owner that spent some time showing me how to use it. My main advice - get the baby where you want it to be and fit the sling around the baby (not the other way 'round).

So, when I got home with my wee little first baby and a brand new c-section scar - I learned to use the sling. It helped keep the baby off of my scar, and I could use both hands to shop, type, cook, or whatever. Most importantly, being up against me (usually nursing) helped keep my little colicky baby settled. This sling has been used so heavily - it has carried three babies from newborn to 30+ pounds each.

I can't recommend more strongly that parents should have something like this.

Not necessarily this though. I love my sling, but after six years of near daily wearing I have some (more) opinions on the matter.

  • Get a grown-up pattern, fergodsakes. A grown-up wears the thing (even if it has a baby in it). You will see and be seen with this thing a lot and duckies and bunnies get old (stars and moons started feeling pretty old). And, don't even get me started on stupid ducks and bunnies on maternity clothes - I was having a baby, not becoming one.
  • Take the time (some time when you are both calm and rested) and figure out a bunch of comfy ways to carry your little one.
  • (for the ladies) Figure out how to nurse in the sling. People can't tell when you are. I always hear other breastfeeding moms say that they had been scolded for nursing in public. I always heard, "Oh, how cute, can I see the baby?" "Oh, can I see the baby better?" - um... when he is done eating ... I am a staunch advocate for breastfeeding and I think that people should feed babies where they are when the baby is hungry. But, I liked to be able to grocery shop then, too. It helps to plan one's clothing accordingly - it can't be done discreetly in a dress, for example - someone might notice it when you hike your dress over your boobs.
  • Get more than one, if you are inclined (one without padding for easy travel - a pouch or maya wrap) and one with for more comfort (but more bulk) like the OTSBH. My second was a maya wrap (pretty fabrics, no padding, larger learning curve). If I did it again, I would buy a Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch (pretty easy to learn, light, and so soft). She didn't pay me to say it, I have purchased gift certificates for other folks here as well.
  • Don't go on the cheap - one size fits all usually means one size fits none, expect to pay $50-80 and be glad you did.
  • Get advice from people that you see successfully toting their kids.

In the end (as if anyone asked for my opinion), all I am saying is that it is worth your time and effort to get over the sling learning curve. Don't be afraid people.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'll go get my reading glasses.

So, I am procrastinating from a giant heap of papers that need grading. So, it'll be quick.

I took the students on a field trip earlier this week.

I don't have delusions. I realize how old I seem to the "kids". The young man that rode shot-gun on the way to our field trip is handsome. I found myself thinking that (if I were twenty years younger) I'd have thought him so hot - I'd probably stutter talking to him. But, I am twenty years older, so I just talked with him.

He told me about his knee surgery. I said "gosh, you mom must have been worried sick about you through all of that". See? I am really old now - thinking like a mom around this kid.

He said his mom was worried, but what made it worse was that she was going in for a hip replacement right afterwards. I thought, "Isn't she young for a hip replacement?"

Yes, she was - she is 38, he says.

Oh shit - I am older than this kid's mother. I know that I am theoretically old enough to be their parent, but I am older than his parents. I have a two-year-old - how is this possible?

I mentioned this to another professor. He said, "I still find the students attractive - until they open their mouths. What is interesting is that now I find their mothers more interesting than the students".

A second professor calls this the "golden age". "We can look at and appreciate them all - students, mothers, grandparents - they are all good".

This is scary.

I guess I'll pull up the rocking chair and start grading those papers now.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Don't you hate uninvited guests?

I hate it when you look up, sitting at your computer, and there they are... wandering around, slightly off-kilter, zipping hither and thither all around your house. God sakes, they don't smell nice, they are rude, they interrupt family time, work time, sleep time.

Oh, and forgodsakes, they like light... so, at night when I can't sleep and I am minding my own business, lurking on other people's blogs, they show up.

First, it's the humming. (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ - hard to localize, but you know they're there.

Then, you might see one for an instant.

Then - WHAM - in the side of the head (shit, goddamnit, get away from me).

Shit, I am a field biologist, and even I hate a stinkbug in the house.

These little bastards have been lurking around, on, and in our house for like two weeks now. Not just a couple of them, that would be interesting. It is more like hundreds... or thousands of them - all over the inside and outside of our house.

To you would-be Orkin men, I know - determine the route of access - try my three children that think closing the doors makes our house less fun).

And, they are complete crap at flying. So, once they start in your direction (say, toward your computer screen, they could unpredictable plummet or veer at any random moment).

Yup, it's these guys I am talking about:


They are out in force in Virginia right now.

Whenever I stand near our garage door, they fly into my head, then I have to keep wondering if they are in my hair. No, really, I mean, I collect and study spiders, but these things piss me off.

The only thing worse then these are these...

These bastards live in our bathroom.

These are the only beasts that make this field biologist call dh for disposal.

What is it that makes these strike fear in me when I can pick up hairy spiders in my bare hands?

Listen to this - it is gross: When you kill them - the bastards leave squiggling legs all over the place (eeewwwwwww!).

Oh, and they are venomous.

Fucking lovely.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Fair" thee well... until next year.

The family visited the Maryland Renaissance Festival again this year.

Every year so far, we have had at least one (usually two) children along that required a stroller (pain in the ass to navigate in a crowd, not good in gravel), a backpack (where you hold food over your head for them and pick up errant sippies), or carrying (ooooh, my aching back - really, dh's aching back).

So, sorry little guy - you can go play soccer with your cousins... see you later. Look at him, it's not like he suffered.

This year, only our two older (odder?) knights came to the festival.

Like all good family entertainment, we listened to bawdy songs that they couldn't completely understand (we think).

Then, we took them to the sword swallower, Johnny Fox.
First, he loosened up the audience with a little cup game. Everyone should know how to play three-card monty, right?

Ok, folks, here it he says, "yeah, it's gross, but, you're going to watch, right?"

Getting there...

Yup, he's got it.

Then, for our further entertainment, he swallows a balloon (and, he says he isn't gay - shame, isn't it?).

After the balloon, he pops it by swallowing another sword. What? You are still waiting for me to take the balloon out? Wait until tomorrow (B is still waiting).

He sets a good example for the kids (yeah, so he wasn't swallowing fire, right?).

Oh, then we watched the jugglers. Yeah, more good role models, juggling machetes.

So, then, we wait patiently to hold the perfect seats for the joust. B has been waiting since last year to see the joust again.

OH MY GOSH - here they come...

First, they compete to see who can skewer the rings with their swords (Ree, eat your heart out - here are some beautiful Belgians doing the work they were bred for).

Then, they hack apart wood blocks.

OOooooooh, look, here is the jerk they hired to get the crowd going, there he is occluding the view I sat in the sun for 45 minutes to get. Isn't he charming?

Oh, and look, here are the knights beating each other (more) senseless with clubs.

And, here is the big deal - actual knocking horseman off with a lance.

Here, they celebrate the winning horseman that broke his lance (several times) on the other man's armour.

B wants to be "a jouster" when he grows up... we are so proud. No, really, I've heard there's lots of money in it... what? YOU ACTUALLY PAY TO DO THIS?

Oh... dear.

So, we burned off some extra energy at "Ye Olde Playground".

They had swings during the Renaissance, yes?

Oh, and pirate ships?

After the boys burned some energy, we added to the family fun by watching "Hey Nunnie, Nunnie". They are absolutely hysterical (to all of us that think making fun of nuns, religion, and the bible are the perfect pastime).

We ended the perfect day by letting our aspiring jouster have a pony ride.

What you didn't see:

  • the stilt people
  • lots of pleasant drunk people
  • the belly dancers in Ye Olde Tavern
  • a fair with enough "ye olde portapotties" for everyone in need (really!)
  • a fair with very little trash (again, it is true)
  • the amazing amount of dust (boy, is it ever dry out here)
  • the aerial angels (I missed 'em too, but dh and Z got to see them). I think the combination of aerial work of women in leotards, with great flexibility probably suits the guys more anyway, yes?
  • the Drench the Wench booth
  • lots of women making good use of period costumes to show more cleavage than ever
  • lots of unusual people (but, really, in a good way)
  • more off-British accents than you can shake a stick at (Kevin Costner was virtually a Londoner by comparison)
  • the child's Knighting ceremony (we missed it this year, but our oldest has already been knighted - for deeds of "being good to his baby brother").
  • fair food - can you say "on a stick"? I mean, seriously, even cheesecake on a stick, geez Louise. On the other hand, deep-fried pickles are scary good.

See you next year, festival, it is always fun.