Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, September 30, 2013

Max the Halloween Cat and My (Former) Pumpkin Orange Kitchen

Max the Halloween Cat says:

Mom, while I approve of you decorating our home with replicas of me (and question why you only choose to do so one month out of the year), I feel compelled to point out that I DON'T SMILE LIKE THIS.  EVER.

Photo above was not posed - he sidled up to his likeness on his own - and I would have missed it if Big Kid hadn't pointed out the photo op.

I subsequently ran across another "Max at Halloween" photo, dating back to that first Max Halloween, when the Little Kid was barely three and the Big Kid was soon-to-be eight.  I believe that this may have been taken on Max's actual "gotcha day":

He seems genuinely interested in the Little Kid's Matchbox tutorial, doesn't he?  Probably because he had only been an indoor cat for, like, twenty minutes, and everything about the indoors was fascinating.  (He has since gotten over the indoors and decided that, just maybe, the outdoors is the place to be.  Thus, we have to be ever-vigilant when we open a door, lest an escape plot is in the works.  Fortunately, almost-seven-year-old Max is dense (in body mass - well, also in the other way, if I'm being honest) and not in great shape, so he only makes it a few yards before he pulls up lame, and then it's just a matter of hefting his weight like a sack of so many potatoes and transporting him back into the house.)

You can see a bit of the old, horrid kitchen in the background.  Yes, the walls were painted roughly the same shade as PJ's Halloween shirt.  And that restaurant shelving that you see represented half of the storage space in the kitchen, on account of how no one prior to us had figured out how to use that wall.  (Said wall now features a counter-depth side-by-side refrigerator and a floor-to-ceiling, shallow larder cabinet that supplements the ginormous pantry occupying the footprint of the prior fridge.  BECAUSE I FIGURED OUT HOW TO USE THAT WALL, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.  It just took me thirteen years of living in the home and a major insurance casualty to get there.)

Here's another lovely photo of the kitchen, from the same batch of pics:

Maple cabinets with barn-door hinges!  Stark white appliances!  Martha Stewart-green laminate countertops with silver racetrack trim!  (Okay, truth be told, I kinda liked the racetrack look.)  Lowest common denominator stainless steel sink!  That weird wooden vent under said lowest common denominator sink! 

Where have I seen this before?  Oh, on a rerun of "Kitchen Cousins," rebroadcast a few days ago.  SAME WEIRD WOODEN VENT - and same piece of useless scalloped wood trim over the sink.  I'm guessing that this kitchen was a kit, because in looking for a "before" photo of the KC kitchen (yeah, they didn't publish one - guess it was deemed too horrible), I located this doppleganger:

I'd like to tell you that I only found ONE doppleganger, but no, I found several - one of them identified as a "fifties Cape Cod kitchen."  Yeah, it makes sense that a prior owner would put a fifties Cape Cod kitchen in my twenties Tudor because - oh, correction, makes no logical sense at all.

I'm guessing that said prior owner allowed herself to be seduced by a slick piece of advertising like THIS:

Hey, THAT'S where I went wrong - shoulda gone with the YELLOW laminate countertops, matching appliances and loud red wallpaper.  Or, you know, not.  All I'm sayin' is the June Cleaver wannabe in this ad looks way happier to be in my kitchen than I ever was.  (But I do approve of her wedge sandals.)

I find it funny that in the real-life photo above, you can see a sliver of yellow paint on the walls.  That seems to be the first phase of trying to learn to live with a fifties Cape Cod kitchen - or, at least, it was my phase one.  Why?  Honestly, because I saw an "inspiration" photo similar to the one above, and figured, "Well, no other color's gonna work, might as well go with what others have tried."  After going through several shades of yellow, I decided that if you can't beat orangish cabinets, you might as well join 'em and paint the entire sucker orange.

That didn't work, either.

If the kids cooperate, I'm going to pose them in the same location in the new "old kitchen," with the same mixer and rolling pin.  It's going to look a bit different - and not just because the Big Kid is now taller than I am and there's a Keurig machine in the corner.

Yay for (some) change.

Monday, September 9, 2013

When a Working Mom Gets an Upper Respiratory Infection, Day Two

When said working mom takes her Singulair and Zithromax prescriptions and goes to bed before midnight like a good girl, she will wake up on Saturday feeling fairly human.  She will actually wake up at 7:30, having received roughly eight hours of sleep (which is a LOT for her), which means she will have the opportunity to talk to Spouse before he leaves for his tennis match.  She will lounge around for awhile, and then around 9:45, because she is still under the influence of awesome steroids, she will convince the Little Kid to go with her to the farmers' market at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas.  As she and the Little Kid are pulling into the parking lot, the Little Kid will remember that he meant to be cranky on this particular Saturday, and he will decide that he never wanted to go to the farmers' market, he hates farmers' markets, etc., etc.  His mother will ignore this, because she has met the Little Kid before, and she knows that five minutes in he will drop the "most unhappy boy in America" act.  Hopefully.

Five minutes in, the Little Kid will drop the "most unhappy boy in America" act and start showing interest in things.  (Big sigh of relief.)  By this time, Mom will have already bought a tiger melon (because it looked cool) and a poblano pepper (because she needed one).  The Little Kid will select some apricot jelly for himself and a jar of strawberry balsamic jelly as a Grandparents' Day gift for his nana (because, as everyone knows, strawberry balsamic jelly is THE traditional Grandparents' Day gift - available anywhere Hallmark cards are sold).   Mom will select lemon blueberry.  The Little Kid will try to convince her to let him get a cactus.  She will hold firm.

Then she and the Little Kid will purchase some okra, and some tomatoes, and some raw peanuts and these funny little fruits called jujubes (like the candy) that are some sort of Japanese fig and are supposed to taste like a cross between apples and pears.  The peanuts and jujubes will be the Little Kid's idea - but he will agree to try okra, if his mom will consent to roasting the peanuts in the oven.  She will say that she has never roasted peanuts, but she would like to try, and therefore this sounds like a good trade.

Because she is still under the influence of AWESOME STEROIDS, she will decide to risk a side trip with the Little Kid to the plant nursery (because the cactus seller also had some basil, but she didn't have the right kind of basil, and the basil pot is looking one-sided).  On the way, she will field questions about okra, and methods of preparation of okra, and she will suggest that "fried" is a good entry-level form of okra because, when prepared thusly, it is the vegetable that most closely tastes like popcorn.  The Little Kid will point out that actual corn tastes the most like popcorn. Then they will discuss the relative merits of tigons versus ligers.

At the plant nursery, the Little Kid will lobby for a small (very small) pot with ornamental peppers in it.  The mom will capitulate, because the pot is only $1.99, and the peppers are a pretty shade of orange.  The Little Kid will ask what meals can be prepared with his new peppers.  The mom will explain the concept of "ornamental" - and then agree to the purchase of three NON-ornamental pepper plants.  (Three, because the Little Kid "wants to watch the circle of life unfold" - his words - and therefore wants a taller plant with mature peppers that are edible now, a medium-sized plant with almost-ripe fruit and a small plant with the world's tiniest pepper on it.  In other words, a Poppa Bear, a Momma Bear and a Baby Bear - seems to be a recurring theme these days.)

The mom will get her basil, and some more mint, and some fountain grass, and the Little Kid will get a "baby boo" (miniature white) pumpkin.  He will insist on riding in the car with his peppers lined up on one side of him and his pumpkin on his knee.

When they are finished with their plant shopping, the mom and the Little Kid will stop at Central Market, ostensibly to get buttermilk for okra-battering.  They will come home with buttermilk, plus yogurt, bread for the jelly, more produce (including a Fuji apple, an Asian pear and an actual apple-pear hybrid, because the Little Kid wants to conduct a head-on taste test with the jujube, and a huge bag of Granny Smiths, because the Little Kid saw the sign, "Great for homemade applesauce," and decided that homemade applesauce sounded like something he might like to try), and red snapper fillets (because the Little Kid recently has decided that he is a fan of snapper).  As they are walking alongside the fish counter, the Little Kid will apologize to the crab legs - "sorry that you got murdered."  The mom will distract him as they walk past the (ridiculously HUGE) frog legs.  The Little Kid will demand Fiji water (SINCE WHEN?).  When informed that Fiji water is unavailable except in a case, he will select a single bottle of "Crazy Water" (which his mother will think is far more appropriate for him, based on name alone).  He will wash his Crazy Water down with salted caramel and Oreo gelato, most of which will end up melting all over him in the car.

When they get home, Mom will clean out the fridge to make room for her purchases, and she will remember that she has tahini that is soon to go bad, and a lot of produce falling in the same category, and way too many eggs.  She will end up making:  white bean hummus; salsa verde (to eat now and freeze for chicken enchiladas later); peach and tomato pico (to serve with the snapper); homemade applesauce; chocolate chip cookies; and a rum cake.  She will make the rum cake because her rum cake recipe requires exactly the number of eggs that she needs to get rid of after making the cookies.

While things are cooking, she will start the dishes, and hand-wash pots and pans, and reorganize the refrigerator and the pantry.  And then she will remember that she is sick.  So she will go to bed.
Well, she will get IN to bed.  And then the Big Kid will come in and inform her that he needs to make an animal cell model in a two-liter soda bottle, and he has to draw an analogy to something that is like a cell, and he has decided that he wants his to be a sailing ship.  (Okay, so we'll attach the sails to the top.  No, he says - the model has to be fully contained in the bottle, with no protrusions, for ease-of-storage purposes.  So, basically, he wants to construct a ship in a bottle.  Nope, nope, nope.)

The mom will steer him to the idea of a submarine - being a two-liter soda bottle-shaped item.  They will spend time drawing analogies (captain = nucleolus, bridge = nucleus, hallways = endoplasmic reticulum, maintenance crew = lysosomes, engine  room = mitochondria, hatch = semipermeable aspect of cell wall).  The Big Kid will decide that in lieu of a submarine he wants the Starship Enterprise.  The mom will remind him that the Enterprise is not two-liter soda bottle-shaped.  He will once again raise the "ship in a bottle" concept.  He will once again be denied.

Then the mom will move on to writing lesson plans for Sunday School while simultaneously researching waiver of subrogation language for commercial leases and graphically designing a poster  featuring Times Square on New Year's Eve and  pieces of what will eventually be a three-dimensional crystal ball and tower. (Don't ask.)  While she is multitasking, Spouse will return from his Kimbell Museum trip with the Little Kid.  (The mom had acquired two tickets to the Wari:  Lords of the Ancient Andes exhibit, and since the show was ending the next day, she really wanted some quiet time in bed, and the Little Kid had expressed in the show, she thought that a dad/kid outing was just what the doctor ordered.)  The Little Kid will be crying, because:  (1) he will never get to see the exhibit again; (2) the whole family did not see it together; and (3) it is a day with a Y in it.  The mom will ultimately bribe him with chocolate chip cookies.  His mood will improve, which means that he will continue to pop into the mom's room with fun factoids about animals.  By this point, the mom will be blogging, with the television off, seriously enjoying the peace and quiet.

Then Spouse will join in on the "peace and quiet disruption": "I'm looking for your new car.  What are your first, second and third choices of exterior colors?"  She will explain that it's as much about exterior/interior color combos as exterior colors.  She will go to the VW Web site and pull up the "configure your car"  feature.  She will annotate the VW brochure in Spouse's possession and rank her choices  in order with a Sharpie.  Twenty minutes later, he will interrupt her with the news that some graphic artist has obtained the rights to the original Star Wars scripts (when R2D2 spoke English and Han Solo was a green alien) and  is making them into graphic novels, and the first one is already out, and there will be seven more, and they only run $3 each, and the kids will LOVE THEM, but you cannot order them, but Lone Star Comics has them.  She will realize (or remember) where the Little Kid gets his lack of enthusiasm for silence.  She will beg Spouse to see if Lone Star Comics is open, RIGHT THEN, so that he will leave her alone.

She will finish her blog post, and she will ACTUALLY go to bed.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

When a Working Mom Gets an Upper Respiratory Infection, Day One

. . . she won't recognize what it is at first.

(Head and Eustachian tube congestion?  Yeah, we practically live in a swimming pool.  A little congestion is par for the course.  Sweaty head and neck at night - the kind of sweats you get with a fever?  You also get them with hormone fluctuations and, HELLO, we're 43 now.)

When she wakes up nauseated on a Friday morning , she will assume that she has "the intestinal thing that is going around the schools" (as described to her, via text, by her oldest child who, on his way home from school on the bus on Thursday, began lobbying to skip swimming practice, (1) citing the fact that "the kid who sits next to me has been out for two days, and I've heard that it's an epidemic in North Texas" and (2) ACTUALLY LINKING, VIA MMS, TO A NEWS ARTICLE about a particularly bad strain of norovirus . . . dating to a year ago).  She will consider apologizing to her son for finding his claims of illness suspicious given that they were made fifteen minutes before swim practice.  She will put a pin in the apology, and get dressed, and go to work "for just a little while," because she has some stuff to move off of her desk that actually involves being AT her desk.

(She will not leave until 2 pm.)

When she goes into the office, she will apologize to her assistant for coming in germy, and promise to stay sequestered, and when she decides that a Coke might help settle her stomach she will instruct her assistant to put the Coke on the corner of the credenza near the door and then back out of the room.  She will retrieve the Coke once her assistant is safely ten paces away (because she would like to think she's a good boss, and a caring person).

Around 11:30, while sitting at her desk, her head will swim.  And then swim again.  (Hmm, vertigo.  When do we normally get vertigo?  When a migraine is approaching, or when we have a "stealth" sinus or ear infection.  At age 43, we don't get infections gradually anymore.  They just show up one day, full-blown.  We credit this to lots of years of practice at being functional "walking wounded.")

After her head swims, she will notice that her ears are feeling really, really full.  She will notice a little drainage running down her throat - the kind that can cause tummy upset.  She will, tentatively, cough.  Her cough will sound icky - borderline wheezy - and as soon as she coughs the presence of EIGHT TONS OF FLUID IN HER SINUSES will present itself.

After she realizes that she has an upper respiratory infection (and gets over her embarrassment at taking a week-plus to realize that she has one), she will make plans to see her doctor.  She will stop off in the restroom on the way out of the building (no longer concerned about spreading a particularly nasty strain of norovirus left over from 2012), and on her way out of the stall her head will swim again, and her body will careen into the exposed locking mechanism protruding from the doorframe.  Said locking mechanism will collide with her left forearm, HARD.  She will spend the next two minutes with her head down on the bathroom counter, gritting her teeth and trying not to swear.  The bruise will be forming as she leaves the office.

After obtaining confirmation of her self-diagnosis, she will say YES to the steroid shot, BECAUSE STEROID SHOTS ARE AWESOME (well, the actual shot part is non-awesome, but if you remember to adopt the flamingo stance and hold on to the exam table with the leg below the designated steroid hip off the ground with knee cocked, it mitigates a lot of stiffness afterwards, because it's really difficult - although not impossible - to tense your butt muscles in that position).  In addition to pulling all of the swelling out of swollen nasal passages and ear canals, allowing stuff to drain, STEROID SHOTS MAKE YOU WANT TO RUN MARATHONS WHEN YOU AREN'T A MARATHON RUNNER.

She will get her steroid shot, and her antibiotic prescription, and her prescriptions for one-month supplies of Zyrtec-D and Singulair, and she will be extra-glad that she cried "uncle" and went to the doctor, because a one-month course of Zyrtec-D and Singulair during ragweed and mountain cedar sounds like an excellent idea.  On her way to the pharmacy, she will stop at the mall, because (1) the steroids are taking effect and she feels a whole lot less cruddy and (2) her mom tipped her off on a monster "one-day-only" sale on gold chains.  She will purchase a long chain for her Junior Woman's Club president's medallion for a scandalously low price, and she will be very happy about this, because her medallion has been on a too-short chain for years, result being that she never wears it.

Then she will go to Super Target, where the wait for prescriptions is 45 minutes, but she wants to get her prescriptions filled at Super Target because as a Target Red Card Visa holder, she gets a bonus discount shopping day after every five prescriptions.  She will kill 45 minutes shopping for birthday gifts for the Little Kid and favors for his party (which is in six weeks, but she has learned to buy things when she sees them) and pondering birthday gifts for her soon-to-be-95-year-old grandmother.  She will decide that you can only have so much hand cream, and she will decide that her grandmother really, really likes wine and being taken to the country club for fancy meals.  Done, and done.

When she goes to pay for her prescriptions with her Target Red Card Visa, the pharmacy tech will ask her if she wants to sign up for a Target pharmacy card.  She will ask what the pharmacy card gets her.  She will be told that the pharmacy card gets her a bonus discount shopping day after every five prescriptions.  This will sound familiar, and she will advise the pharmacy tech that she THOUGHT that she was already getting these benefits as a Target Red Card Visa holder, per propaganda previously delivered to her.  The pharmacy tech will yell back to the pharmacist, who will tell her that she is supposed to get those benefits with her Target Red Card Visa, but it doesn't always work out that way, and if the system is prompting the tech to ask, SHE PROBABLY HAS NOT BEEN GETTING THOSE BENEFITS WHEN SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS ACCRUING THEM ALL ALONG.  She will consider once again assuming the "head down on counter position."

She will leave with her prescriptions, and brand-new Target pharmacy card, and credit for three prescriptions (but not the prescription for the dog's medicine last month, $%*&#$!, and other stuff, and go home to take her medicine and go to bed.  Except, first, she has to find her president's medallion and see if it works on the new chain.  The search will take her fifteen minutes.  She will spend the next twenty minutes getting the medallion off of the old chain, because the bail on the medallion is crazy-narrow, so you have to pull a chain through by looping thin ribbon through the end of the chain, first, and the bail second, and then tugging on the ribbon with all of your might.  To get the medallion off, you have to reverse the process, but with an additional step in the threading process that is more than a bit vexing.  She will discover that she has no thin ribbon.  She will resort to dental floss.  Then she will use the same process to put the medallion on the new chain . . . which is TOO LONG.  Like, "medallion wedged between the boobs" too long.  She will spend countless additional time, with help from Spouse, getting the medallion off of chain #2.

And then, still sick, she will drive to a different Macy's (one closer to her house) to try to find a "momma bear" chain, having struck out with "baby" and "poppa," because she is tired of this too short/too long #&@* and it's a one-day sale.   She will wait ten minutes while another patron, who evidently has never seen a chain before and is not sure what to do with one, considers her many chain options.  She will finally get access to the case, locate a chain that seems to be the right length (but we have thought that before), and exchange it for Poppa Bear, and then she will go home and go through the dental floss process a third time.  Momma Bear does the trick.  She should go to bed.  She really, really should - but when she goes to hang up the chain with an outfit she plans to wear to a Junior League meeting the following week, she will remember that she has not decided what to wear to two Woman's Club meetings, her son's third-grade Bible presentation and a private shopping opportunity at the Christmas in Cowtown bazaar IN EARLY OCTOBER.  It will make perfect sense to her to play dress-up for forty five minutes, because she is under the influence of steroids.

She will eventually go to bed.  Eventually.

Friday, September 6, 2013


I wondered what would get me back on the blogging wagon. 

I never expected it would be a metal tray with a pig on it.

Specifically, THIS tray:

One Kings Lane is offering it for $22, representing a $23 markdown from a $45 original sticker price.  It looked . . . familiar.  Like, maybe, I had seen it at Target?  NOT for $45, or even for $22?  So I Googled "Barbeque Heaven Tray."  Nope, didn't see at Target - Sur La Table.  For an original sticker price of $39.95, now marked down to . . . $9.99.

Whoa.  I LOVE OKL.  I buy stuff from OKL.  Along with designer baby blankets, throw pillows and personalized address stamps, I purchased the concept that, when engaging in e-commerce with OKL, I was getting designer home decor at markdowns equivalent to Home Goods markdowns.  Like, in my mind, OKL was to online storefronts what Home Goods is to brick-and-mortar:  the final resting place for overlooked quality bric-a-brac (well, the final resting place before my casa, or yours).  The "Island of Misfit Poufs and Picture Frames," if you will - all priced appropriately. 

I now feel sorta compelled to Google each and every item before purchasing, to see if some other online retailer has beaten OKL to the final clearance bush.  (Note:  OKL does have a clearance "aisle" - "Downstairs at One Kings Lane" - but Pig Tray hasn't sifted down to that level yet.  Although, apparently, it has over at Sur La Table.)

I looked to see if other retailers had Pig Tray.  Nope.  Well, someone's trying to sell one on ebay for full freight.  And an animal rights activist has featured it on a "Portrayals of Animal Exploitation" page on  Maybe that's why Sur La Table decided to fire-sell it - it's backing away from a political poop-storm.  Oh, wait - Sur La Table sells six different kinds of meat pounders and tenderizers.


By the way, I never had any interest in purchasing Pig Tray.  Did you see that, animal activists?  I do not and will not support pig murder through the purchase of whimsical metal serving pieces.  Primarily because I haven't done "country cute" since the late nineties.  And I don't have that much red in my decor.  Whatever.  The ends are more important than the means.

No, Pig Tray just caught my eye because it, maybe, looked like something that I saw at Target.  And I decided to do some checking, because I needed a break from digesting scholarly treatises on the thrilling topic of Section 101(j) of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.  (Okay, that was sarcasm, but actually Section 101(j) makes my blood boil in a ridiculously geeky transactional lawyer kinda way.  Stupid, misguided law.  But that's for another post.)

And now I am disillusioned.

But I am, also, back to blogging.  Maybe.