Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kid Stuff: First World Problems, Day Camp Edition Part I

Both kids have day camp this week.  At the same remote location, but on opposite schedules.  Because that's the way the world works.  Little Kid gets dropped off at the front gate at 9 am.  Big Kid gets dropped off at the back gate at 3 pm.  45 minutes later, Little Kid gets picked up at the front gate.  Then Big Kid has to be retrieved at 9:30.

This necessitates three daily round trips to Arlington(ish), and a 45-minute holding pattern in the middle of trip #2 - a three-ring circus even if you aren't juggling (1) a grandparent in the hospital (my dad, who is being released tomorrow - praise God, on MULTIPLE levels), (2) a great-grandparent who needs attention while Nana is at the hospital helping Granddad, and (3) a much-anticipated visit from the Direct TV Fairy.

Today's installment of Family Fire Drill Theater begins in the front yard:

Spouse:  Wait, stop.  We need to make some decisions about our satellite service.

Me:  No, YOU need to make some decisions about our satellite service.  I have to take this child to camp.

Spouse:  NO.  THIS guy [stabbing a finger in the direction of the Direct TV Guy] just informed me that the "free" installation entails slapping two dishes on the roof, snaking cable all over the exterior of the house and punching multiple holes in the walls to access the various receivers.  [Editor's note:  It's never a good sign when your Spouse refers to someone as "THIS guy" when that guy is standing a few feet away.]  Notwithstanding the fact that I SPECIFICALLY ASKED when I scheduled the service call if the wires would be routed through the attic as part of the regular installation.  They told me yes.  THIS guy is telling me no.  If we want the wires pulled through the attic and the walls, AS GOD INTENDED, it's going to cost fifty bucks a pop.

Me:  I don't want to pay fifty bucks a pop.  

Spouse:  Nor do I.

Me:  But I don't want a disfigured house, either.  Our house will look like it's being devoured by a giant sea creature. 

Spouse:  EXACTLY.

Me:  Our house will look like Bane's breathing apparatus.  I don't want to live in Bane's breathing apparatus.  Or in a squid house.

Spouse:  Right.

Meanwhile, Direct TV Guy stood there, looking unabashed - possibly a little confused.

We caucused.  It's possible that I asked the Direct TV Guy if he was familiar with the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the concept of treble damages.  A compromise was reached, and Little Kid and I got in the car.

Five minutes down the road, I realized that I had failed to feed the child breakfast.

STAY TUNED FOR TOMORROW'S INSTALLMENT OF FAMILY FIRE DRILL THEATER, when the Mom in a horrific lapse of judgment orders hotcakes for her seven year-old.  To eat in a car.

Friday, July 27, 2012

This New Old House: Our Kitchen is Still a Kitchen of Many Colors

When I told Friend Robyn that I was looking forward to a restful, neutral kitchen redesign, and a similarly neutral hallway bathroom, she kind of laughed and said words to the effect of, "Yeah, YOU'LL be able to pull off neutral.  That's TOTALLY gonna happen."  (Actually, I think she was a bit scared, in the sense of, "What planet are you from, pod person, and why did you take over the body of my friend whose typical color palette veers in the direction of 'Mexican restaurant'?")

I really did give neutral the old college try.  Exhibit A:  These canvases I created using sample backsplash tiles.

These, and this dinosaur butcher chart

were going to be the only art in the kitchen.  One tile over each window, and the dinosaur on the back wall in the desk area in the corner.

Somehow, the tiles ended up clustered together ("OF COURSE THEY DID," screams Friend Robyn) along a strip of wall running next to the pantry that I had planned on leaving unadorned.  The dinosaur did make it over a door, but only because that was basically the only space left after I finished doing the decorating I swore I wouldn't do.

My downhill slide began here:

Display cabinet over the bar sink.  It was supposed to be all Bundt pans.  Chalkboard gray Bundt pans, to match the chalkboard gray dinosaur butcher chart.  But then I put this serving bowl in the middle.  And I kind of liked it, in that it played well off of the greige-y cabinet color and the paler green walls.

The serving bowl is from the Fitz & Floyd "Cape Town" line.  It just so happens that I own several pieces from said line.  So the serving bowl above the bar sink begat this over the window in the corner:

Okay, still not going crazy with the colors.  That aqua is in the adjacent dining room, as is the darker green.  Speaking of dark green, I have always really loved this piece (Bible verse painted on a salvaged cabinet door, with an iron floral accent piece painted red and green) that used to hang in the old kitchen.

It was destined for resale, but since I had added darker green elsewhere . . . and since the dimensions were perfect for one of the column walls . . . yeah, that's how red became an accent color in my "neutral" kitchen.  Except the red and green looked too Christmas-y just by themselves, you know?  Hmm, what do I have that's red, and green, and some other colors?

TOLE CHRISTMAS SANTA!  He has orange and some other colors - and the wood is the same shade as the dark cabinets.

Okay, so I have now backed into a folkloric floral motif.  Which totally reminded me of this cool spice sachet doll that new sister-in-law Mo gave me for Christmas last year:

Again, perfect, dimension-wise, on the column in the corner.  But just the scripture verse, and the doll, looked kinda . . . sparse.  You know, I have always wanted to display those cool measuring scoops that Alicia gave me.  And so this little folk art bird hook followed me home one day:

Doesn't he coordinate so nicely with the doll?  But the column still looks unbalanced.

This photo of Spouse's family used to hang in the old kitchen, as well.  And was unassigned.  Past-tense.  Now, it, too, is on the column in the corner:

The scrolls on the frame, and the orange showing through the black paint, reminded me of THESE:

(Pictured in foreground:  the dreadlocked Rasta Tabby.)

In the dark frame:  "Life is tough.  I recommend getting a manicure and a really cute helmet."

In the light frame:  "I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world."

And so my pale green kitchen became a pale green/dark green/aqua/orange/red kitchen.  As Friend Robyn knew it would.

Wide shots to follow, when the drills and toolboxes are off of my island.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Things I'm Digging: Kristin Morales, Swim Photog Extraordinaire

Ladies and gents, your repeating champions, the Ridglea Sharks - as photographed by Kristin Morales, of Memorable Moments by Kristin Morales.

In honor of tonight's big win, I wanted to share some of the great photos that Kristin took of our boys.

The Little Kid:

The Big Kid:

The two of them together:

I love the concept of them supporting each other in the water - because they totally do that.  And, also, I love the color wash that she put on this one, because it looks so perfect in my water-colored dining room. Seriously, it looks perfect:

Did I encourage my children to swim because I just so happen to have a water-colored dining room and a teal and turquoise-accented living room? NO.  I DID NOT.  It is a ridiculously happy accident.

When we were re-hanging art in the house, I knew that these pictures were en route from Kristin, so I reserved spots for them.  AND I managed to shuffle existing art and photos in such a way that I didn't have to buy any new frames - I simply used ones that I had on hand.  SCORE!  (HA!  Spouse would bark if he read this.  "Simply," his foot.  I probably spent three hours, all total, tilting at windmills, and if something got moved once, it got moved twenty times.  Spouse assumes that this is stressful for me.  Not so:  I am in my element when I am tilting at decorating windmills.)  I will admit that the house looked a little funny for a few days, what with all of the empty frames with notes scrawled on painter's tape:  "PJM - Fly."  "CSM - Back."  But look how great everything looks now:

Eventually, I will get around to posting some wide shots of the living room and dining room.  Eventually.  After the Direct TV guy comes, and after Carlos the Electrician comes to fix what is apparently a dead socket above our mantel.  After those guys come, I will no longer have extension cords running from the base of our new TV, across a chair and into a plug in the corner.  What cords I do will have will be neatly tucked into a conduit hugging the fireplace and painted the color of the wall.  At that point, I can return various items of home decor to the mantel underneath the new TV.  Right now, those home decor items are jumbled on a side table, for "safekeeping" out of the path of those dad-blamed cords.  That's okay, because they make great paperweights for the installation and instruction manuals that will remain underfoot until the dad-blamed home entertainment system is fully operational.

Long story short, my living room is a hot mess that no one in their right mind would want to photograph.  And I can't watch TV in there.  But I can stare at these gorgeous shots of my swimmer boys, and that's not nothin'.

Kid Stuff: Olympic Fever

We just HAD to get the Speedo swim cap with the "12" logo on it, along with the matching goggles.  The cap, technically, belongs to the 12 year-old Big Kid, but he lets the Little Kid wear it occasionally.  And then complains because the Little Kid wears it INCORRECTLY (with the design on the front and the seam running from ear to ear).

I predict that many hours of swimming and diving competition coverage will be consumed in our household.  It will fill a void nicely:  Big Kid finished his dive season on Tuesday, Little Kid finished swim season last night and Big Kid swims in the 9-and-Over championships this evening.  What WILL we do without AM practices to make and PM meets to attend?  Oh - we'll watch other people practice and compete.  From the comfort of our air-conditioned home.  (Mom considers this last part a major plus.)

What a difference a couple of years (for the Big Kid) and a few months (for the Little Kid) have made.  Big Kid is beginning to take competition a little more seriously.  His diving technique has improved LOADS, and fear is no longer his enemy - now, we fight the absence of fear.  Compare and contrast:  two years ago, we steadfastly refused to attempt a back flip, because the first time we attempted it, we entered a bit awkwardly (who doesn't, on their first try?), and slapped the water with our back a bit too hard.  Now we're flipping all over the place - and adding a twist.  (Sounds impressive, doesn't it?  Here's the secret that dive moms know:  "flip with a twist" translates into "we're over-rotating our flip, and the twist camouflages our lack of ability to control our spin."  Hey, at least it keeps him from entering back-first, which almost hurts Mom to see as much as it hurts Son to endure.)  Sometimes we don't know our own power, which largely explains the open wounds above his eyebrow and across his cheekbone, sustained at a friend's pool after he misjudged the depth and went off the board without pulling back on his dive.

Two years ago, we did amaze-balls in practice, but poorly in competition, due to a chronic case of the yips.  This year, on two separate occasions, the child actually forgot that he was at a dive meet and executed a dive exactly like he was at a pool party, leisurely springing off of the springboard while people around him sipped umbrella drinks and grooved to Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up".  (Okay, full disclosure:  when I see guys showing off on a diving board, I totally think of the pool party scene in "Boogie Nights" - hence the imagined Marvin Gaye musical accompaniment.)  Zero technique.  Imaginary pennies between the butt cheeks and knees distinctly unpinched.

The look on his face when he emerged from the water said it all:  "I TOTALLY forgot I was in competition and phoned that one in."  Kid, I'd call that progress.

Likewise, we have achieved major strides in swimming.  He still isn't top of the podium, but he isn't last, either, and if he gets third instead of second, he's kicking himself a little bit.  Disclaimer:  I am not one of "those" moms.  I don't hold my child up to an impossible standard, and I don't expect him to do so, either.  But it's nice to see that he actually cares, SOMEWHAT, and it's nice to see him actually try, A LITTLE BIT, because as a first-born (who was the first grandchild on either side, and pretty much the first child born into our circle of friends), competition with other kids isn't an innate thing with him.  On the one hand:  it's great to hear your child say, "I don't really care if I win - I just want to give soccer a try."  On the other hand:  it's not so great to see the frustration on his friends' faces when the team loses because of the ball that Big Kid let sail by while he was picking dandelions in the outfield.  So we've had some discussions about the need to show up for your teammates, and about stick-to-it-ive-ness as a character-building exercise.  See, that was Easy-Going First Born's other problem until this year:  "Oh, that kid next to me clearly is going to win, so I'll just coast to the wall."  This season, we have actually moved up a position or two mid-swim by kicking it into gear and overcoming a few of the guys in the middle of the pack.  Believe me when I tell you that this is a major development.

As for Little Kid:  six weeks ago, he was still on the fence about swimming.  Reason:  he is NOT a first-born, and therefore is ALL ABOUT comparing himself to his bigger brother.  Didn't take me long to figure out that "I just don't want to swim" translated into "I just don't know what I'll do if I lose" (a thought that he finally verbalized on our way to his first meet).   So we pulled a sort-of-cruel parenting move and told him, "You're joining the swim team:  no excuses.  If you can convince the coaches that you don't belong on the team, then we'll drop the subject.  Or you'll discover that you can swim, and that you kind of love it.  Either way, we're out of the equation." 


Week one:  He insisted on grabbing the rope every three or four strokes (and, more often than not, would look up at us with baleful eyes - well, he had goggles on, but I imagine that his eyes were baleful).  Bear in mind:  this kid had never had swim lesson one.  Wouldn't even consider it.  Total trial by fire.  I prayed that we had made the right decision - and that the other parents wouldn't kill me, because there were a couple of occasions where their kids were champing at the bit to begin their heat, and the admonition, "swimmer in the pool" referred to my child, whose lap from the last heat was STILL in progress.

Week two:  Still last in every heat, but the rope remained untouched.

Week three:  He began exhibiting a natural grasp of the butterfly.  Given that most kids NEVER get the butterfly, this resulted in a not-insignificant boost to his street cred. 

Week four:  He started passing people, mid-swim, in two events (fly and free).  Breast was still a struggle, and back could only be described as a semi-controlled drowning.  MUCH flailing about.  (Mom was at a loss over this, because back comes easily to Mom and is Big Kid's best stroke.)

Off week:  We attended a pool party, and Mom caught him showing off his entry dives.  Then he started front-diving off of the diving board.  And then he started doing front flips.  "Oh, Mom - I forgot to tell you.  Next year, I've decided to be on the dive team as well as on the swim team."

Week five:  He started passing people in breast, which shocked the heck out of him, but confirmed Mom's suspicions that he is built to be a short-axis specialist - which both explained and excused the backstroke thing.

Week six:  Championship meet.  Up first:  our nemesis, the backstroke. 

Mom to Dad:  Um, I thought that PJ was in Lane 5?

Dad to Mom:  He is in Lane 5.

Mom to Dad:  No, the kid in Lane 5 can actually do the backstroke.  Fluidly.

Dad to Mom:  Uh, yeah.  That's your kid.

Mom to no one in particular:  Holy schnikes.

With apologies to the Music Man:  We've got progress, right here in Panther City.  With a capital P, which rhymes with - um, P again - which stands for POOL . . . .  The kind with water in it.

Bring it on, Phelps and company.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kid Stuff: Mom Vertigo

Found this cartoon the other day.  And found it VERY comforting (in the "okay, so I'm not TOTALLY crazy" way).

Big Kid has joined the youth group at our church, which is all kinds of awesome - for him, because he's having a good time while learning how to be a strong, productive human being, and for me, because someone else is teaching him how to be a strong, productive human being (meaning that he might actually listen, and I don't have to beat my metaphorical - and/or actual - head against a wall), and it's tremendously reassuring to see him interacting with a peer group that is the sort of peer group I would handpick for him if permitted the opportunity.

Clarification:  it's tremendously reassuring to see him interacting with his peers unless said interaction takes place on a balcony.  Specifically, the west balcony of the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth.  When THAT balcony is involved, watching him interact with his peers is TERRIFYING.

Here's the deal:  the McGlincheys are a balcony-sitting people.  On account of how we are, more often than not, late for church.  And, you know, just about everything else.  But we sit several rows from the front, on account of how Mom has vertigo issues.

We are also a 9:30 service-attending people.  That's when the Little Kid has Sunday school, and the Big Kid has youth, and Mom and Dad get to sit in the balcony, WITHOUT THE DISTRACTION OF CHILDREN, and it's almost like a little date.  A date with God as a chaperone, but a date nonetheless.

However, this last weekend was VBS Sunday, and Little Kid was supposed to go upfront and sing VBS songs with the other little kids (he ultimately declined).  Said entirely theoretical musical performance by Little Kid was scheduled to go down at 11.  Big Kid, and other youth VBS helpers, were encouraged to stand up and be recognized at the same service.  So we went to church at 11. 

Here's how youth works:  9:30 is youth worship in the Justin Building.  11 is sanctuary worship for those who choose to stick around for another hour.  Youth traditionally sit in the west balcony of the sanctuary.  AND, FOR SOME INEXPLICABLE REASON, THE YOUNGER YOUTH SIT ON THE FRONT ROW.

Continuing with "inexplicable":  the safety railing STOPS when you get to that row of seats.  So it's just a waist-high (not even) ribbon of heavily carved wood separating twelve year-olds from death-by-face-plant.

This has always bothered me a little bit, but my bother amp got cranked to 11 last Sunday, because for the first time my baby boy was one of the youth on the front row.  And - speaking of amped - he was pretty tickled to be there.  New experience and all.  Natch, he wanted to check out the view - by leaning WAY FORWARD OVER THE RAILING.  (Okay, he probably only leaned a smidge - but, from Mom's perspective, he was lunging.)  Meanwhile, Mom is in the main section of the balcony, facing the altar, except I'm not looking at the altar, I'M LOOKING TO THE LEFT AND WATCHING IN ABJECT TERROR AS MY SON FLIRTS WITH HIS OWN DEMISE.

That's when the arm-punching began.  And the jostling.  And the EXAAAAAAAAAGGERATED gesturing.  Because VBS Sunday is a less-than-formal affair, involving children, so silly songs were involved, and if you have had any experience with preteens you understand that silliness makes them self-conscious, and self-consciousness lends itself to sarcastic silliness (which, don't you know, is WAAAAAY more acceptable than run-of-the-mill silliness), so if Mister Mark (director of the Children's Ministry) asked you to shimmy forward, if you were twelve and on the front row of the Death Balcony, you had to shimmy WAAAAAY forward.

Spouse noticed that I was hyperventilating.  Scratched something on a donation envelope.  And sent the Little Kid over to the Death Balcony with said envelope.  Yeah, like sending my SEVEN YEAR-OLD to the Death Balcony is going to help reduce my stress level - oh, huh, seems that Spouse instructed the Parental Note Mule to enter from the second row and hand the envelope to his brother over his brother's shoulder.  Mighty kind of you, Spouse.

Big Kid read the note.  Blinked.  Looked right at me.  I did the finger-V-to-the-eyes, "you mess with the bull" gesture.  Big Kid looked chagrined.  Then Big Kid's friends noticed this exchange.  They, too, looked chagrined. 

Problem solved.

Except, problem not solved, because they continued to cantilever themselves (from my perspective) over the void, with occasional breaks to look my direction, note my panicked expression and look all kinds of confused.  Why were they confused?  Because Spouse's envelope note consisted of the highly specific warning, "Keep screwing around, and you'll never sit in the balcony again."  Spouse apparently forgot that twelve year-old boys don't recognize any of their behavior as screwing around.  (Shame on Spouse, who was once a twelve year-old boy himself.)  YOU HAVE TO BE SPECIFIC:  "STOP LEANING FORWARD OVER THE RAILING, OR WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO STRAIGHT-JACKET MOM."  That's what the envelope note should have said.  But it didn't.  So I white-knuckled it through the entire service.

Big Kid and I have since had a heart-to-heart, in which I acknowledged that, yes, I am probably being ridiculously, ludicrously silly, but I simply cannot suffer through watching him sit on the front row - because he is just too inherently squirmy at this age.  So, if 11 o'clock services are in our future, we have a problem.

"It's okay, Mom.  I'll just sit on the second row."

Bless you, my child. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kid Stuff: Mini-Cooper Strikes Again

In the car (because that's where you have your best mom/son conversations):

"Mom, have you ever noticed that the kids in Pokemon and Digimon wander around and don't have actual jobs, but they always seem to have food?  I mean, what's their source of funding?"

SERIOUSLY?  This is what you find unrealistic about Pokemon and Digimon?  Not the fact that you have kids wandering around to begin with, with no parental supervision?  Or - oh, I don't know - the fact that said kids possess mutant animals with magical powers that, in some instances, have the power of speech, in addition to having the power to shoot laser beams out of their eyes?  And said kids force said animals to fight each other, and no one has a problem with this?  WHERE IS ANIMAL CONTROL IN THIS SCENARIO?  PROBABLY TAKING A COFFEE BREAK WITH THE FOLKS FROM CPS.  

"Umm, Mom, you know that Pokemon and Digimon aren't real life, right?"


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Kid Stuff: The Over-Analytical One

Living with the Big Kid is occasionally like living with a combination of Mr. Spock and Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory.  I say "occasionally" because he is far more socially adept than either of those characters - but when he gets in analytical mode (dot, dot, dot).

Case in point.

One of our go-to car songs is Ralph World's kid-friendly cover of Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd."  Lyrics go like this:

Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
Ya can't roller skate in a buffalo herd
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

Ya can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
Ya can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
Ya can't take a shower in a parakeet cage
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

All ya gotta do is put your mind to it
Knuckle down, buckle down, do it, do it, do it

Well, ya can't go a-swimmin' in a baseball pool
Ya can't go swimmin' in a baseball pool
Ya can't go swimmin' in a baseball pool
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

Ya can't change film with a kid on your back
Ya can't change film with a kid on your back
Ya can't change film with a kid on your back
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

Ya can't drive around with a tiger in your car
Ya can't drive around with a tiger in your car
Ya can't drive around with a tiger in your car
But you can be happy if you've a mind to

All ya gotta do is put your mind to it
Knuckle down, buckle down do it, do it, do it

And so on.

This is C, in my car, listening to this song:

"You COULD take a shower in a parakeet cage, depending on how big the cage was."

Um, okay, I think that he's referring to a regulation-sized cage, though.

"Does the song say that?  NO.  It does NOT.  He does not say, 'Ya can't take a shower in a regulation-sized parakeet cage.'  So, I'm just sayin', it's POSSIBLE."


"Also, you totally CAN go swimming in a baseball pool, if the pool happens to be an actual pool, with water in it, that happens to be baseball-SHAPED.  You know, with the laces painted on the bottom?  And, also, very few people with small children buy traditional cameras these days.  They shoot digital."

Yes, C.  Yes, they do.

"So, I'm just sayin', changing film with a kid on your back is sort of a lost art."

Riiiiiight.  It's called an ANACRHONISM.   Like that part in "Walk the Dinosaur" (another favorite kid-friendly car song) where the protagonist says, "I felt a little tired, so I watched 'Miami Vice.'"

"Mom, I KNOW what an anachronism is.  Please."

Then the Little Kid pipes up:

"Ricky Bobby drove around with a cougar in the car.  Her name was Karen."


"So, if you can drive around with a cougar in the car, you probably could drive around with a tiger in the car."

At this point, Big Kid rejoins the conversation:

"Um, Talladega Nights is FANTASY?  [At this point, I wait for the Little Kid to argue that it's REALISTIC FICTION, because since the age of five or so he has been obsessed with assigning every book, movie and television show to one of the following categories:  FANTASY, REALISTIC FICTION and REALITY.  Yes, I realize that I am raising two mini-Coopers.  It was sort of inevitable, under either of the nature or nurture theories.]  But you could still drive around with a tiger in the car, because they don't say WHERE the tiger is INSIDE the car.  You could put him in the trunk."

Little Kid:  "NO, you could NOT.  That would be animal cruelty, and animal cruelty is illegal."

Big Kid:  "Okay, maybe it's a car specially built for driving around a tiger.  Like a truck with a horse or cattle trailer, but the trailer is integrated into the car."

Like the Popemobile.

Both kids:  "HUH?  What is a POPEMOBILE?"

And thus Mom seized the upper ground in THAT conversation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Apropos of Nothing: Life Is So Strange

No, that's not Lady Gaga - that's Dale Bozzio.  You know, from Missing Persons.  From the Eighties?  They sang "Destination Unknown" - the song that starts out "Life Is So Strange"?  NONE of this ringing a bell?  Well, then, you're probably too young to be reading this blog.

Speaking of Ms. B, which I guess I now sort of am (there's a reason why I'm labeling this post "Apropos of Nothing"), did you know that she was convicted for being a crazy cat lady?  Yup, they can jail you and fine you for that, apparently.  Twelve counts of animal cruelty.  But she was only convicted on one count, because - GET THIS - the judge threw out the other eleven charges because the prosecutor failed to specifically identify the cats at issue.  The lawyer in me has SOOOOOO many questions.  Would the petition have been specific enough if the cats had been identified by general description ("one tortie tabby, two Maine Coons, a calico with a chewed ear"), or was more required ("Victim #1 was a male Siamese named Mel, approximately 12 pounds")?  What if they didn't have names?  If someone allegedly was cruel enough to cause or permit the untimely demise of multiple felines, and, also, if that multitude equaled or exceeded twelve felines total, it's possible that she never got around to naming said felines.  They could have all just been CAT, you know?

Also, can you imagine the prosecutor's meeting with the boss post-trial?  "What happened with the Bozzio case?"  "Um, I didn't specifically identify the cats in the pleading."  "What?  Speak up!"  "I DIDN'T NAME THE CATS, OKAY?"

Any-who.  I only bring up Ms. B because of her song - specifically, the "Life Is So Strange" part.

Last Thursday, my office was attacked my ninjas.  Sort of.  In the morning, after several confusing conversations with a title company (lender in a real estate deal said that they were working hand in hand with the closer at "the" title company; closer claimed to have never heard of the bank), I discovered that the bank had engaged a second title company of its own accord, entirely without our knowledge.  So WE were working with Title Company #1, and THEY were working with Title Company #2, and all of the references going back and forth to "THE" title company were being interpreted entirely differently by the two sides.

Ninja #1:  Stealth Title Company.

I jokingly asked if there was a stealth surveyor involved as well.  

I should learn not to ask these questions.  Yup, two parties there, too.

Ninja #2:  Stealth Surveyor.

Then, in an effort to clear my head, I took a short break to check Facebook and read that a friend's infant had slept well in his Pack 'n Play on his first night home.  Which was interesting information, as said friend was not pregnant, and I had no idea that she and her husband had initiated the adoption process.  (Apparently, they kept this information close to the vest, which is totally understandable.)

Ninja #3:  Stealth Infant.

I have heard tales of Stealth Infants before.  Seriously.  Specifically thinking of one set of friends who received clearance to adopt from their (highly reputable and prominent) adoption agency, were essentially told, "Don't call us, we'll call you," and almost a year later got an out-of-the-blue call wanting to know if they could be home between 5 and 7, TO RECEIVE DELIVERY OF THEIR NEW FOREVER-CHILD.  I cannot imagine.  It's like becoming parents via Sears Home Service.  (I wonder if, in order to provide the FULL Sears Home Service experience, they showed up at 6:59?  But I digress.)  What if your answer is no, we can't be home between 5 and 7?  What if you have a really good reason - like, you're picking up the Queen of England from the airport?  Do they give your baby to another family, a la giving your table to another party if you don't respond to the buzzing coaster-thingie at the restaurant?

So last Thursday was Ninja Day.  Ninja Day left me sort of discombobulated.

Today, July 17, 2012, shall go down in history as the day that I thought I was an Internet celebrity for approximately ten minutes but then learned that I had been punked by a Sheltie.  Yes, a Sheltie DOG, like this one:

(Okay, so that's totally not a Sheltie.  I THOUGHT that I had a photo of OUR Sheltie on this computer, but I was mistaken.  But then I found this photo of the Dorgi with the Big Kid when he was not-so-big, and I just had to share.  Did you notice that the dog matches the couch (which we don't one anymore)?  That's how he got his nickname - "Couch-Colored Dog."  Seriously, we actually call him that.  Even though we no longer own the dorgi-colored couch.  Because we are weird that way.)

Any-who again.

Pinterest informed me that "Nestle'" (with the apostrophe and everything) had repinned my recipes (from this very blog) for pumpkin pie martinis and cranberry-pomegranate punch.  And I ASSUMED (yes, I am familiar with the saying) that, because the creamer in the martinis was Nestle' creamer, and the cranberry juice was Ocean Spray, Ocean Spray being in the Nestle' family of fine foods (yes, I looked it up), THE ACTUAL NESTLE' PEOPLE HAD ANOINTED MY RECIPES.  Which I thought was kind of cool, but also weird, because I tend to think of Nestle' as a family company (Tollhouse Cookies, peeps!  What could be more wholesome?), and my recipes were somewhat vodka-soaked.  But, nevertheless - cool beans, right?  So I posted my good news on Facebook.  Friends inquired as to which Nestle' board to visit, so that they could repin.  At which point I went back through my repinning history and discovered that . . . Nestle' is a Sheltie (co-curating with his/her owner).

Here's the weird thing about Pinterest:  instead of being bummed that I was not actually a budding Food Network star, I found myself checking out Dog Nestle's Pinterest boards - and I liked what I saw, AND STARTED REPINNING STUFF THAT A DOG RECOMMENDED.  This is an example of why Spouse will never, ever IN A MILLION YEARS "get" Pinterest, BTW.  He actually tried for awhile.  When we first embarked on our "remodeling a kitchen with a gun to our head" project, the learning curve vis-a-vis appliances and such was crazy-steep, on account of how we had never seriously thought about acquiring new kitchen stuff prior thereto.  We ended up spending countless hours researching options on the Internet, and being a crafty person with ovaries and decent computer skills, I pinned what I found to Pinterest.

Spouse:  What's that?
Me:  Um, my Pinterest board for the remodel?
Spouse:  And the point of what you are doing IS?
Me:  Well, it's kind of like when you e-mail me forty different links to computer peripherals available through - which, by the way, I TOTALLY ENJOY - but instead of having to locate your e-mail in my crowded inbox and then clicking on the links to see the pictures, I go to this page, and the pictures are there, and the links are embedded in the pictures.
Spouse:  Hmmm.

Some time later, Spouse advised me that, he, too, was pinning appliance options.  Um, to where, exactly, because I don't remember inviting you to join my board?

"I created my own board."

Attaboy.  Mad props!  For several days, all was well in Marital Pinterest Land.  Until one day:

Spouse:  Women are stalking me on the Internet!
Me:  Beg pardon?
Spouse:  On Pinterest.  THEY ARE STALKING ME.
Me:  OH.  Do you mean "following"?
Spouse:  Whatever.  First, they were "repinning" things from my board - WHATEVER THE HELL THAT MEANS - and now they are FOLLOWING me.  WHO ARE THESE WOMEN, AND HOW DID THEY FIND ME?
Me:  Uh, they were probably just searching a particular brand of appliance, and your pin linking to a specific model came up, and they repinned your link as a shortcut to that item.  It's nothing personal - just a convenience thing.
Spouse:  Okay, so how do I block my content?
Me:  BLOCK it?
Spouse:  Yes.  How do I make it so my board is only visible to ME?
Me [after counting one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two and then deciding to lump it]:  THAT DEFEATS THE ENTIRE PURPOSE OF PINTEREST!  PINTEREST IS ALL ABOUT SHARING!!!!!  IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SHARE, THEN TAKE YOUR APPLIANCES AND GO HOME!

Spouse is no longer on Pinterest, by the way.

Here is a link to my favorite of Dog Nestle's Pinterest boards:

Totally gonna bake rosemary and sea salt rolls in a Mason jar this weekend . . . .

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kid Stuff: Recycled Memories

Things that (with the kids' consent) I photographed and then tossed as part of the move-back-in:

(1) "Squares" from the Big Kid's (co-ed, Cowboy game-centered) baby shower.  "All proceeds donated to Baby McGlinchey College Fund."

(2) "Bronzed" baby shoe.  Not your traditional bronze baby shoe, but a toddler-sized Reebok that a preschool teacher with a wicked sense of humor spray-painted bronze and glued to a frame from the Dollar Store.  Love it - but not enough to make room to store it.


(3)  The Big Kid's third-grade "name" project (involving assigning personal attributes to each letter of his name).

C:   Church member, Cub Scout, Camper.
O:  Owner of cats.  (Yes, he was reaching.)
N:  Nature lover.

N Number Two:  Neighbor, Native Texan.
O Number Two:  Owner of dog.  (Yup, still reaching.  And one more O to go!)
R:  Reader, Recycler.

S:  Swimmer, Surfer, Soccer Player, Son, Scooby Doo fan, Scientist in the making.
C:  Constructor (with LEGOs), Collector (of Yu-Gi-Oh cards).
O Number Three:  Older brother.

T:  Traveler, Tennis player.
T Number Two:  Third grader.

(4)  Big Kid's dressing room photo from his third-grade (second-grade?) Drama Club performance.  He was "Shark #2."  (Makes me think of "Love, Actually":  "There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?")

(5)  Trebuchet constructed out of a milk carton, pencils, plastic spoons and Scotch tape.  (Not pictured, but also photographed:  a camera obscura constructed out of a box that formerly housed a National Geographic explode-your-own-volcano kit.)

(6)  Advertising propaganda. "Outdoor Serv Services.  Inquire within."  Kind of ironic, right?  For more information about our outdoor serv services, you have to inquire of us INSIDE?  As I recall, the services consisted of shoveling dog poop - and JUST shoveling dog poop.  As in, a neighbor offered him a dime a brick to move thirty bricks to the side of her house, and he declined, on the basis that "my business plan is limited to JUST shoveling dog poop."

No, the business didn't last long.  Thanks for asking.

(7)  Dog made out of pipe cleaners and Floam.  Trust me, it had seen better days.  Also, it skeeved me out, in that, texture-wise, it reminded me of my salt dough map of New Jersey, which my mother did not think to photograph but instead shoved under a living room sofa.  Some time later, the map came out from under said sofa, and a "water bug" (Houstonian for "hideously ginormous  tree cockroach") was caught in the act of eating Trenton.  Wish he had eaten the Jersey Shore, you know?  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  Floam Dog looked munchable.  So out he went.

But not before I photographed him for posterity.

Kid Stuff: The McGlinchey Emerging Artists Program

The McGlinchey Emerging Artists Program was founded on July 8, 2012, at around 10 pm, when co-founders Mom (that would be moi) and Big Kid (that would be the Big Kid) both found that they could not sleep, so they started messing around with the "merchandise" procured by the Little Kid during our weekend trip to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Garden.  (More on our DNA/Nasher trip after I locate the cable that transfers photos from my camera to my computer.  It seems to have gone missing, and complicating the search is the fact that Spouse is in the process of reinstalling televisions, DVD players and satellite boxes all over the house, meaning that right now MY CUP RUNNETH OVER WITH DECEPTIVELY SIMILAR LOOKING AV CABLES.  Seriously, how does one family acquire so many?)

For now, suffice it to say that my pint-sized Picasso REALLY DUG THE DMA AND THE NASHER, and with good reason.  I'm not the world's biggest Dallas fan, but I am adding both museums to my list of "Things Worth Driving to Dallas For."  Also on the list:  the Dallas Arboretum, the Dallas World Aquarium and - yeah, that's pretty much it.  Did I mention I'm not the world's biggest Dallas fan?


It took the Little Kid a few minutes to warm to the DMA, which surprised me, given (1) the breadth of its permanent collection and (2) his general level of nutsiness for all things art-related.  But then we hit the first of several sculptural galleries, and then it was, "Can I use your camera phone?"  After that, the tour was basically "PJ snaps a pic of a sculpture with his Dad's phone while Mom snaps a pic of PJ snapping a pic, because, seriously, how cute is that look of concentration on his scrunched-up little face?"  Three sculpture galleries in, he announced, "Okay, I like this place, and I like Dallas, sort of [child after my own heart], and in honor of my second trip to Dallas [it was, like, his twentieth], I require merchandise."  Hmmm?  "MERCHANDISE.  From the gift shop.  I distinctly remember passing one, and I would like some merchandise from it so that I will forever remember this trip."  Fair enough.  And, for future reference, there is an actual WORD for this concept.  It's "souvenir."  But I am afraid that, henceforth, souvenirs in the McGlinchey family shall forever be referred to as "merchandise."  Because, again, HOW FLIPPIN' CUTE IS THAT?

So the "merchandise" that PJ selected (with a little guidance from Mom) was Marion Deuchars' "Let's Make Some Great Art" doodle book:

The McGlincheys are a doodle book-loving people generally, but this one wins big-time points for containing some really great information about art techniques, color theory, famous artists, et cetera.  For example, this snippet about Matisse:

Did you get the pun?  "SNIP"pet?  Because it's about paper collages?  Anyway.  The Little Kid got this book, and some watercolor pencils, and while we were killing time at the hotel between our museum trip and Uncle P's wedding, we had fun practicing shading and cross-hatching and learning about the origin of various colors. ("Purple" comes from "purpura," a reference to the sea snails that Cleopatra ordered murdered IN THE MILLIONS, because she really liked the color that was derived thereby.  As an owner of real estate in the snail-infested 'hood of Arlington Heights, I have to say that Cleopatra's approval rating with me is at an all-time high.  Any snail-murdering broad is a friend of mine.)

Now we're back home, and I am wide awake on account of all of the sleeping that I did after experiencing my first migraine. Forgot to mention that, apparently, I GET MIGRAINES NOW.  Awesome, right?  The vertigo, the weird visual thing that I recall thinking seemed awfully similar to how I've heard a migraine aura described (BECAUSE IT WAS A MIGRAINE AURA, DIMWIT!), the nausea, the throbbing at the back of my skull - yup, apparently this thing has a name, and it's really not a name that I ever wanted to see in the same sentence as my own name, but oh, well, right?  Trying not to dwell on the coincidence (and, by "coincidence," I mean "likely not at all a coincidence") that I never had these problems until the Diaspora and Reverse Diaspora.  Grr.  Anyway, my new friend Migraine REALLY does not like wedding photographers (specifically, their flash bulbs) or wedding receptions with really great jazz bands that segue into really loud funk music around 11 pm.  So I slept a lot after we got home.  And then, after all of that sleeping, I was wide awake.  And so was the Big Kid, for non-migraine-related reasons.  And thus was created the McGlinchey Emerging Artists Program, which will consist primarily of Mom teaching a different art topic every day, for 26 days.  As it would be WAY TOO SIMPLE to pick topics at random (or select them simply because we liked them), it was decided that we would start with an A topic, and then move on to B and all of the way down to Z.  Meaning that:

(1) Mom had to think of art-related concepts starting with Q, X, Y and Z.  Believe it or not, Y was the toughest nut to crack.  Q turned out to be fairly easy, and also helped me around my other problem:

(2)  Mom had to limit herself to just one C, H, M and P.  (More on this later.)

I offered to give O to Big Kid, so that he could teach Origami.  Big Kid announced that he wanted to teach Optical Illusions for O, at which point Origami became J (Japanese Paper Folding), and then Big Kid decided that he, too, wanted to take the alphabet challenge, so now it appears that Japanese Paper Folding will consist of something other than Origami (Kirigami?), and a different paper fold will be taught every day for 26 days.  Meaning that the McGlinchey Emerging Artists Program doubled its course offerings within a half hour of its founding.  Beat THAT, other purveyors of higher ed!  Interestingly enough, Y was also the most difficult Origami letter.  We ended up searching online for animals that began with Y and worked back from there.  (In case you are wondering, we settled on "Yellowjacket" - because C already knew how to make an Origami bee.)

So here's my list, annotated in places:

Arcimboldo (Giuseppe) (we're gonna make faces out of fruits and vegetables, peeps)
Bosch (Hieronymus)
Frottage (pencil rubbings)
Gorky (Arshile)
Hockney (David) (we're gonna draw swimming pools, because the McGlincheys are a pool-loving people)
Illuminated Text
Japanese Paper Folding
Klee (Paul) (I'm cheating and bringing in Kandinsky and the rest of the Blaue Reiter movement)
Le Sidaner (Henri)
Matisse (Henri)
Negative Space
Optical Illusions
Pollock (Jackson)
Rousseau (Henri)
Stained Glass
Talavera Pottery
Window (Paris Through The, by Marc Chagall)
Xenophantos (Greek vase painter who expanded on the Attic Red technique in really cool ways)
Yellow (Van Gogh’s Sunflowers)
Ziggurat (yeah, I think Play-Doh models may be involved, or maybe perspective drawings)

So here's how Q helped:  I really wanted to feature Picasso and Pollock, but I had to choose one, so I moved Picasso up to C (Cubism), which means that Chagall had to go somewhere else.  Aha:  "Paris Through the Window," but instead of Paris, we could use images of Fort Worth!  Except, refer back to my original P problem.  So "Paris Through the Window" became "Window, Paris Through The," which left me without a place for Warhol.  And then it hit me:  Quadtych.  You know, like the four-tiled Marilyn Monroe images?  We'll draw the same image four times, and color it based on four different color theories (primary, secondary, complimentary, warm, cool, whatever).  

H was my other bottleneck:  Hockney, Hokusai, Hundertwasser.  But Momma's nothing if not clever:  Hundertwasserhaus is in Vienna, so V it is, and while we're at it we'll talk about the Viennese Secession Movement.  (No, it's not a political thing - it's an art thing, and there's an actual monument to it, called the Secession Building, in Vienna, which is, to me, the second coolest architectural thing in the city, Hundertwasserhaus being the first.  Both buildings are also notable for being the only structures in the city (okay, I'm exaggerating, but not much) that AREN'T painted Maria Theresa ochre, the ubiquitous yellow color that the Hapsburgs THREW UP ALL OVER THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE.  Hey, I should add that to the "Yellow" curriculum.  Think I just did.)  Where was I before I went off on a complete tangent? Oh, H.  Hokusai's "Great Wave" - an excellent example of Ukiyo-e woodblock art.  U:  DONE, AND DONE.

I will post images of our work product on this blog - IF I CAN FIND THE D***ED AV CABLE.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Diaspora in Reverse: Still Alive, But Barely

[Caution:  There be whining ahead.  But, also, a little humor.  After the venting storm - a rainbow.]

I haven't blogged recently, because (pick one, or several):

1.  I haven't had much to say - or, at least, I haven't had much to say that I would want to share with the blogosphere.

2.  I have been trying to focus on regaining my equilibrium at work.

3.  Equilibrium - at work, or anywhere else - is hard to come by, given inner ear problems that will not go away. 

They started when we had to pack up the apartment in a ridiculous hurry, simultaneously with rushing construction forward on the house so that we would have a place to live after the move-out date that had been imposed upon us.  [Construction dust] + [no sleep] + [consumption of a steady diet of prepackaged processed food, because there was no time to cook] = [not a good situation for someone with my kind of allergy issues.]  And so began my fun six-week bout with vertigo and related issues.  The FIRST round of antibiotics and steroids seemed to do the trick, but with the benefit of hindsight I don't think I got better so much as I got distracted.  When I stopped to take a breath - that breath was kinda, sorta ridiculously painful.  Asthma attacks tend to sneak up on me, I guess because I developed it as an adult and never learned to recognize the signs.  (There should be a book.  Wait, you say that there's several?  Yeah, okay, I'll put "read up on asthma" on my to-do list.  Next.)  The vertigo returned with a vengeance, accompanied by horrible sinus pressure.  Spouse insisted that I make another visit to my doc.  More steroids, and a ridiculously long course of antibiotics.  And ZERO relief.  Quite the contrary:  the antibiotics killed off all of the helpful bacteria that keep the yeast in your gut at bay.  There are a lot of theories out there that eczema, asthma, hives and other atopic allergic responses are related to yeast in the digestive tract.  And (TMI ALERT) I was born a yeast carrier (lovely, huh?  I should add that to my resume).  So my "cure" resulted in me having worse symptoms than before.  And then the snowball effect began:  fluid in my ears and swelling in my sinuses became so pronounced that I started grinding my teeth at night.  (And, of course, my night guard was buried in a bottom box - MURPHY'S LAW, PEOPLE!  When I finally found it, my response was similar to that of the German dudes in Indiana Jones when they find the Ark of the Covenant.  Except, when I opened the case to my mouthpiece, my face did not immediately melt off.  Which I count as a "win.")  Tooth grinding led to referred pain in my neck.  Stiff neck, tooth pain, swollen sinuses and nausea kept me from sleeping well at night.  Lack of sleep compromises my already pretty pathetic immune system.  Et cetera.

The result:  I'm a walking zombie.  My head hurts all of the time.  (It doesn't help that they are trenching 7th Street where it runs in front of my building and run jackhammers 24/7.)  And there's really no end to my suffering in sight, because the house is one giant allergy trigger:  chemicals in the new floors, carpet and paint, grout, wood and other construction dust everywhere, and if that wasn't enough dust, there's the dust that we unearth every time we open a box (because, Heaven knows, the packing ladies didn't take time to dust stuff before they wrapped it in tissue paper to hibernate for ten months).  I'm just gonna come out and say it:  I'm allergic to my house.  The plan was to stay in the apartment while we got the bulk of the unpacking done, so that I could at least sleep someplace that was free of chemicals, and let the chemicals dissipate in the process.  But others had different ideas, and so I was thrust into the belly of the beast.

I feel guilty whining, because I'm not the only one affected:  Little Kid's eczema has been off the chain, and Dad and Big Kid have been suffering, too.  The only ones who seem happy about our situation is the pets, who were EIGHT SHADES OF STRESSED BY THE MOVE.  The dogs and youngest cat were particularly upset when Mom and Dad started moving stuff out from under them, and keeping odd hours, and leaving them alone all of the time.  Oh, and, also, shouting.  A bunch.  Crying may have also been involved.  It occurs to me that Ruby, Ace and Max were unfamiliar with the concept of moving when we packed up the house last fall, so they had no cause to be particularly concerned.  Also, I would say that our frame of mind was a whole lot healthier then:  we had fought a couple of rounds with the insurance company, but we (naively) thought that that was the worst of it, and that we would soon be back in our house.  In fact, I distinctly remember worrying out loud that we were going to all of the trouble of packing our stuff only to have to move back as soon as we had unpacked.  HA!  I was younger then, and much less worldly-wise.  (I also had fewer wrinkles and gray hairs.)

Anyway, move #2 did not go so smoothly on the pet side of things, but as soon as we got home it was like they took a collective sigh of relief.  I expected continued incontinence issues:  love notes sprayed on the sides of boxes and piles of poo on the square inches of rug that were exposed to let us know that "WE ARE SO FLIPPIN' TIRED OF THIS."  (You and me both, buddies, but it's considered less socially acceptable if I express my irritation via pee.)  I expected mass shredding, and also shedding.  I had the vinegar spray, a white towel, one of those pet-hair-picker-upper-mitts and a trash bag continually ready.  Nope, nothing.  Even in those first few weeks, when things were crazy-claustrophobic and there was precious little real estate for them to sleep, they were cooperative, and - dare I say it? - content.  Because we were HOME.  It smelled different, and there were boxes everywhere, but it was home, and home was good.

Why are they able to focus on that, when I can't?  Well, I'm sentient, and I think about stuff to the point of overthinking.  Also:  I HAVE WEIRD ALLERGIES, AND THEY DON'T.  Except little Gabby.  Poor, seven-pound-when-she's-soaking-wet Gabby, who might as well be my actual biological child, because once upon a time the vet gave her an innocent little distemper shot, AND SHE STARTED VOMITING BLOOD, AND THEY HAD TO PUT HER IN A HYPERBARIC CHAMBER JUST LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON'S.  (No, Conrad Murray is not our veterinarian.)  And she lived in said hyperbaric chamber for a week.  That was when we discovered that, just like her adoptive momma, Gabby reacts in odd and unexpected ways to everyday stimuli.  So the dust and stuff cause her to itch, too.  And the itching makes her lick - so much so that her entire body is a matted mess.  Here's where I have to laugh a little bit:  two weeks into the "move-back-in," I stop to actually pet my sweet girl, and - um? - WHAT'S UP WITH HER FUR?  THESE FEEL LIKE - DREADS.  SHORT, KITTY DREADS.  AND THEY ARE ALL. OVERHERBODY

Her new name is "Rasta Tabby." 

What isn't funny:  because of her issues with vaccines, it's a risk to put her under anesthesia or otherwise medicate her - and, if you have not met Gabby, let me tell you that the amount of combing that it would take to overcome her mats (if they can be combed out at all) can only be accomplished if she's drugged.  Ditto shampooing her, or shaving her.  This leaves us with only one available course of action:  I have to cut the suckers out.  Three dreads at a time.  While she's drinking water out of the sink.  Gabby is big on drinking fresh water from the faucet, and, more than that, Gabby is big on knowing that she has you at her beck and call.  Because Gabby is a control freak.  So, when you turn the water on for her, she is deliriously happy.  So much so that she solicits pets.  And, while I am petting her (which is kind of weird and uncomfortable for me; is this what it would feel like to give Bob Marley a scalp massage?), I snip - [snip].  Snip.  SNIP.  By the third snip, she is on to me, and starts snapping at the scissors.  So I wait until my next opportunity.  Meanwhile, she is starting to look crazy-wonky.  Even wonkier than when she just had the dreads.  But, what can you do? 

So that's where we are.  Mom's cranky, and Gabby's half-bald.  Film at eleven.