Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Monday, February 24, 2014

Boy Mom Monday: Tit for Tat

We (well, I) hold these truths to be self-evident:  that, just because my husband saw fit to throw a Y chromosome into the mix two times in succession, I do not have to live a completely un-frilly existence.  For example:  I AM ENTITLED TO HAVE THROW PILLOWS.  AND I AM ENTITLED TO EXPECT THAT THEY NOT ACTUALLY BE THROWN - OR, THAT IF THEY ARE THROWN, THEY BE PICKED UP AND RETURNED TO THE COUCH.

Let the record show that I do not have an excessive number of throw pillows, relative to a lot of women I know.  And I make sure that most of them are useful:   down filling, minimal embellishments to cut into your cheek should you actually decide to rest your head on one.  When I do stray from "useful," I am careful to conspicuously advertise this fact:

I also have refrained from bringing in any new pillows in recent years.  Everything's a slipcover (it's all ball bearings these days!), so the same pillows stay out year-round - they just change their look.  This eliminates one of Spouse's throw pillow objections, minimizing issues with "off-season storage of odd-shaped things that don't easily stack."

Slipcovers are also marginally cheaper to replace when the Little Dog eats them.  I say marginally cheaper, because I have expensive taste in fabric choices, result being that some of my slipcovers might as well be complete pillows.  European down-filled ones.

Here's the problem:  if a pillow (or blanket throw) hits the floor, Little Dog will chew on it.  He isn't one of those dogs who chews things for sport, but he is one of those dogs who cannot resist sleeping on something soft.  And, rather unfortunately, he chews in his sleep.

Seriously.  We have a sleep-chewer.

I managed to make it several weeks without fabric loss, and then I found my favorite teal-and-white chevron throw tossed on the floor in the living room, with the dog on top of it.  I yanked it out from under him seconds before his jaws clamped down on the fringe.

And I got reaaaaaaaaaally ticked, and proclaimed another truth:

If I find a pillow or blanket on the floor, I get to take one Xbox game.  Or PSP game.  Or whatever.  I just grab something at random.  Might be something you care about, might not.  If you don't want to gamble, STOP THROWING STUFF ON THE FLOOR.

This morning, I found this with a chunk taken out of the corner:

That's not just any fabric, folks - that's Kravet.  ("Lutron" linen in the mahogany colorway, if you want to get specific.  Discontinued.)

I can stitch the corner, but the same cannot be said for Spouse's college sweatshirt.  How it ended up on the floor, I don't know - but I know enough about Spouse to know that he didn't put it there.  And now it has an Ace-shaped hole in the shoulder.

Prepare for the unleashing of parental hell.

The Tipping Point

I lurrrrrrrrrved Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, because:

I love good nonfiction books in general;
I love nonfiction books with a sociology/cultural anthropology* bent in particular; and
I see a little bit of myself in each of the "maven," "connector" and "salesperson" archetypes.

I almost accidentally minored in anthropology in college.  No, you read that right.  I went in for my final degree check the last semester of my senior year and realized, for the first time, that I had managed to accumulate all but the last three hours towards a minor in anthropology.  Had I just opted for another anthro class in lieu of Dr. Divine's American Diplomatic History, I would now be able to tell people that I AM, SORT OF, AN ANTHROPOLOGIST.  A MINOR ONE.  But I do not regret taking American Diplomatic History.  Best.  Lecturer.  Ever.  Dare I say, DIVINE?  Every day:  three topics, written on the board outline-style.  The class was seventy five minutes long, and each topic got exactly twenty three minutes worth of lecture time, leaving exactly six minutes for questions, which allowed for exactly two questions, which is the only number of questions that the class ever seemed to care to ask, and he would finish answering the second question EXACTLY TWO SECONDS BEFORE THE BELL RANG.  Every.  Blessed.  Day.  You could set your watch to it. 

Occasionally, we burst into applause at the end of class.

The maven in me  lurrrrrrrrrves Pinterest - and the would-be social scientist in me is fascinated by which pins take off, and which don't.  Thus, when I have downtime while the kids are swimming, etc., I find myself checking the "pin activity" log on my Pinterest Android app.

Scrolling . . . .

A and B repinned your pin.  [Thumbnail image of a casserole.]

C repinned your pin.  [Thumbnail image of a humorous GIF.]

D, E and 1 other pinner repinned your pin.  [Thumbnail image of an Easter centerpiece.]

F, G and 560 other pinners repinned your pin.


Clicking . . . .

Okay, explain to me WHY THIS, EXACTLY?   I mean, yeah, it's bright.  And monogrammy, and polka-dotty.  But I have images of other equally bright rooms on my Pinterest:

. . . and lots of monograms, applied in far more interesting places:


And I think we all know that I'm all about the polka dots:

(That last one is genius, BTW.  Tear the side off of a broken plastic laundry basket (admit it, you have a broken one lurking around that you just can't seem to part with):  BOOM, instant dot stencil.)

So what makes the hot pink room with the giant polka dots so special?  Malcolm Gladwell, if you are reading this (hey, it could happen - maybe he Googles his name looking for copyright infringement, or maybe he's just really vain, or really, really bored between book concepts), I would appreciate hearing your hypothesis.  Please video your response, limiting it to twenty three minutes and leaving exactly two minutes at the end for a follow-up question.

Thanks in advance.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Boy Mom Monday: Oh, the (Hu)Manatee

So our terribly sweet, empty-nester neighbors-with-wanderlust recently lost their canine kennel hookup, which means that when they go out of town they hire the Big Kid to watch their two aging pups.  They pay him a LOT of money for this, which I guess is justifiable in that (1) said pups are rather high-maintenance and (2) they end up saving money over what it would cost to kennel them somewhere else.

Our terribly sweet Big Kid "hires" his brother to help him, result being that the payout gets prorated between the two boys.  Usually, each boy also gets a souvenir.  The trip before this one was to Seattle, so BK got t-shirts with obscure Left Coast punk band and pirate radio station logos on them (he was in heaven), and LK got shark swag.  Natch, because if you could describe LK in one hyphenated word, it might be "shark-obsessed."

This trip found our neighbors at Sea World, among other locales, and I expected that LK would receive more shark stuff, but our wise female neighbor (herself a boy mom) decided to throw him a curve:  she bought him a manatee stuffed animal, and upon gifting it to him, she whispered into his ear:  "It's time to develop a new obsession.  I pick manatee."

THANK YOU, WISE FEMALE NEIGHBOR - and, also, umm, thanks?

On the one hand, I am as weary as anyone of the head-to-toe shark sleeping ensemble (okay, so I bought him the shark slippers, they were adorable and on sale), and the constant barrage of shark statistics.  On the other hand, one can only see so many photos of cute manatee pups.  Or, apparently, not, because every night the last several nights has gone something like this:

"Mom.  MOM.  Are you online?  Okay, go to Google Images.  Google "baby manatee."  Now - click on that one.  Okay, enlarge it.  Go to that site.  GO TO THAT SITE.  LOOK AT IT.  It's perfectly round.  Isn't it cute?  Okay, go back. OH!  Click on that one."

Aaaaaaaaaaaand repeat.  Ad nauseam.

On the bright side, it appears that manatee-themed television programming is somewhat limited.  Our DVR, groaning under the weight of HOURS of shark shows, no doubt is appreciative.

With my luck, though, Animal Planet is already hard at work on plans for the first inaugural Manatee Week.

Initially, the plush manatee was named Max - because all animals, live and replicant, in our house seem to end up being named Max, or Apollo, or Batman.  (Don't ask.)  I suggested Hugh, and got an eye roll.  Then Spouse suggested Hugh, and suddenly Max was Hugh - actually, Hugh Max. Hugh Max Manatee.

(Middle names are also a thing around here.)

Having endured umpteen viewings of the Veggie Tales "Endangered Love" skit when the Big Kid was a toddler, I choose to think of him as a her.  She is Barbara, and she just learned French, and she desperately wants Bill to take her to the ball.

And if none of that makes sense to you, then obviously you do not own a copy of The Ultimate Silly Song Countdown on original VHS.  I would be happy to lend you ours.
Barbara Manatee (Manatee!  Manatee!), you are the one for meeeeeeee . . . .

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dinner Theater

You know you're destined for a great dinner experience when the meal begins with your youngest child attempting to drag your oldest child to the dinner table by grasping his heel and yanking him off of a bed.

Post-Heelgate shenanigans did not disappoint.


Little Kid (LK) to his brother:  You only like vegetables.  That makes you a herbivore.  Whereas I like vegetables and meat, which makes me an omnivore.  [Singing] IIIIIIIIIIII am an omnivore, like quetzalcoatlus, the biggest flying thing in the history of EEEEEEEEEVER.


Big Kid (BK) to LK:  Seriously, why did you have to pull me off of the bed?  I landed weird, and now my toe is doing THIS.  [Lifts his foot above table level, revealing a seriously contorted toe.  Knowing that BK is double-jointed and can contort his toes at will, none of us take the bait.]

LK:  Meh.

BK:  [Feigning indignation]  SERIOUSLY?  YOU HURT ME!

LK:  Physically, or emotionally, or both?


LK:  Style over substance.  That's my middle name.

BK:  What are you, an underwear model?

LK:  In fact, I am.  [Jumps out of chair, unsnaps pants, stretches and examines waistband.]  I am the spokesperson for FRUIT OF THE LOO!

BK:  LOOM, doofus.  Fruit of the LOOM.  Your thumb is covering one of the letters.

LK:  Oh.

Mom:  Loo kinda works, too.

LK:  Style over substance would make a great monogram.  Or, not a monogram, but you know -

Mom:  Something embroidered on a pillow?



BK (concluding a discussion about how Canadians tend to be pleasant to a fault):  Canada:  Odie to America's Garfield.

LK:  Bwahaha!  I love Garfield.


LK:  Excuse me.  [Runs off.]

BK:  NUH-UH.  I saw you grab that handful of peas.  YOU'RE GOING TO FLUSH THEM DOWN THE TOILET, AREN'T YOU?  [Pursues his brother around the corner.] 

LK (from around said corner):  NO.  I'm eating them while I go to the bathroom, like I always do.  [Editor's note:  HUH?]  They help me poop better.

BK:  Mom!  Dad!  I totally caught him sitting on the toilet with a handful of peas between his legs.

Mom:  I just don't want to know.

Dinner theater.  Seven shows a week.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Scabies Update

He didn't have them.  But when I went into Goodwill earlier this week, looking for a book that I could tear apart for a craft project, my skin crawled the entire time I was in there.  (School nurse advises me that scabies tend to be spread by trying on clothes previously worn by infected others.)


The doctor did not use "DUMB***" in the letter to the school.  On account of how it was a preprinted form.  He did write ECZEMA in really big letters, though.

Snakes on the Brain

So when we had an outside workday a few weeks back, I mentioned to the boys offhand that they should look for snakes when displacing pots, stepping stones and odd bits of wood.  Spouse reminded me that, right now, snakes are hibernating, but I did not choose to correct my statement, because I think that "watchful for snakes" is a generally good thing to be in North Texas, seasonal factors notwithstanding.

My mistake.

The kids didn't have school today, so Mom and Dad got to sleep in a bit before getting up for work.  The kids got up at their regular times, though (with more energy than is typical - can anyone explain this phenomenon to me?), and spoke to each other in quiet voices, or what they consider to be quiet voices, which actually are not quiet at all, so as a result I heard them negotiating who would fill pet food bowls and who would let the dogs out.  Little Kid got dog duty.

A few seconds later, Little Kid announced, in a not-at-all-quiet voice:


When he did not receive an immediate response, he issued a follow-up:


This got the Big Kid hurrying in his direction; Spouse, sort-of-awake; and me, sitting up, but not getting up.  (I mean, who runs toward a snake without knowing what kind of snake it is?  Also, I have Spouse for that:  he grew up on a ranch, and that has to be good for something.)

Muffled conversation between Big Kid and Little Kid followed, and then:


This got Spouse in motion.  One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, and from my position several rooms away I hear, from Spouse:

THAT, dear child, is a TWIST TIE.

followed by Little Kid's immediate retort:


This last statement had me doubled over with laughter.  He can't afford not to take chances, why, exactly?  Because he's planning a run for political office?  Thinks he's the odds-on-favorite to cure cancer some day?  Is he John Connor?  Should I expect Ah-nold to show up for me, saying, "COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE?"  Should I expect Buff Ah-nold, or Paunchy Governator-Ah-nold?

Methinks Little Kid just has a highly developed, innate sense of self-preservation.  And, as his momma, I'm A-okay with that.

Eczema Sits on Your Skin and Crushes Your Attendance Record

[Editor's Note:  This post is old.  Like, more-than-a-week-ago old.  But it's still amusing, sort of, and therefore post-worthy.  Update will follow.]

I have nodes.

Oh. Oh, my God.

I found out this morning.

What are nodes?

Vocal nodules, the rubbing together of your vocal chords at above average rates without proper lubrication.  They sit on your windpipe and they crush your dreams.

Isn't that painful? Why would you keep performing?

Because I love to sing. The key is early diagnosis. I am living with nodes, but I am a survivor. I just have to pull back, because I am limited, because I have nodes.

I don't have nodes, and neither does the Little Kid.  We do, however, have a shared affection for the movie, "Pitch Perfect," hence the gratuitous quote-drop above. We also have a shared affliction, which I would put under the same "hashtag-first-world-problems" category as nodes:  eczema.  Specifically, I passed on two lovely skin conditions to my darling second-born, atopic dermatitis and keratosis pilaris.

So we are living with itch, and redness, but we are survivors, and we have a bountiful supply of Cetaphil products on hand, and also something called AmLactin, the active ingredient of which is urea, which we don't talk about, since urea is a substance found in urine, and far from being worried that my nine year-old will be scandalized by the concept of coming into regular contact with something urine-ish, I am far more concerned that he will go around telling people that his mom makes him rub pee into his skin.


This morning we got a call from the lovely elementary school nurse (who really is quite lovely - just doing her job and all), and she informed us that a student in Little Kid's grade has scabies.  Said student shares a science teacher with LK, and said science teacher made note of what I am 100% confident is an atopic dermatis flare-up on LK's wrist (dermatitis LOVES joints - wrists, elbows, backs of knees - anything with a crease).  Long story short, LK is BANNED FROM THIRD GRADE until we conclusively prove to the district (in the form of a doctor's note) that LK does not have scabies.

Me to Nurse:  But you know it's not scabies.

Nurse to Me:  I'm almost positive that you are right about that.

Me:  The kid has eczema.  You're looking at eczema.

Nurse:  Well, in his teacher's defense, he is looking redder and scabbier today.

Me:  Riiiiiight, and it's also below freezing, with almost zero humidity, and the kid was in a swimming pool last night, and you know what chlorine does to eczema.

Nurse:  I do.  But, you know, still.

As a frame of reference, what my child has looks like this (keratosis):
And this (dermatitis):

 But NOT this (scabies):

(Okay, so I will concede that the last two may be hard to tell apart, but the difference is that eczema tends to target certain areas - pulse points and skin folds - whereas scabies don't follow this pattern.)

So while Dad picked up LK, I called the pediatrician's office.  It was either that or urgent care.  Pro to urgent care:  cheaper (we have a "wellness" insurance plan, which means colonoscopies are free, but diagnostic visits are billed at negotiated rates, and our local urgent care clinic has very reasonable negotiated rates - almost in copay territory).  Con to urgent care:  flu victims, everywhere.  Whereas our pediatrician has the ability - and good sense - to schedule "infectious" and "non-infectious" in separate blocks.

I love it when someone is righteously indignant for me.  Nurse at the pediatrician's office was all, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They want you to expose your sweet, healthy baby to infectious disease for THAT?"


"Well, the only opening we have today is in the afternoon, with all of the flu people."

Nope, not gonna do that.

"I can work you in tomorrow at 9."

Done.  So, to summarize, at approximately 10 am tomorrow - naturally, AFTER attendance is taken for the day - I will return my ordinarily-scabby-and-itchy-but-otherwise-healthy child to school, $120 poorer, and he will be docked for two days of school absences.

Which I will fight, on ADA grounds.  (I Googled it - asthma and other allergic conditions are covered by the ADA, even when controlled by medication.)  Calling the ACLU now.  Okay, probably not.  But I may enlarge the photos of skin-ickiness reproduced above to poster size, with notes:  "THIS and THIS is NOT THIS."  And then I will send said posters to school, clipped to the "please excuse my child's absence" note from me and the "THIS KID HAS ECZEMA, DUMB***" note from the doctor.

Note to Dr. Y:  if you actually incorporate DUMB*** into the note, there's a fruit basket in it for you.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Holy Cats

Oh. Lawdy.

Puppy Bowl has been dethroned.  The first inaugural Kitten Bowl:  HUGE HIT in our household.

For starters, the puppies had normal dog names.  The kittens played under aliases, like Tim Teepaw and Tomcat Brady.  Calico Purress and Dan Furrino.  FERRELL (pronounced "Feral") OWENS.  Oh, and of particular interest in our TCU-backing household:  a ginger tabby named Dandy Dalton.

Second, cats are way better at football.  Seriously.  The puppies just sort of mill about, tugging on chew ropes, and occasionally a toy accidentally rolls into the end zone.  The kittens?   Way more focused - well, until they decide to nap midfield.  Either way, ADORABLE. 

When they on task, though, boy, are they on task.  Fast.  And agile.  They play a very physical game.  Lots of wrestling and illegal use of the paws.  Really, more of an arena football vibe.

Third, the Kitten Bowl TAILgate was off the chain.  Some of the cars were made of scratching post cardboard, result being that a couple of the cars were torn to shreds during the festivities. 

Speaking of scratching:  sisal-wrapped goalposts were a nice touch, giving rise to some entertaining "excessive celebrations."  (Oh, and extra points, too - those were scored when a kitty climbed through the goalposts.)  We also enjoyed it when one of the participants climbed into the stands.  Okay, the stands were walls with images of football fans.  So the participant climbed a picture, using his/her claws.  But, still.

Ridiculously cute.

Fourth, the Kitten Bowl organizers actually organized their kittens.  We can never tell which team is which in Puppy Bowl, on account of how different breeds play together.  Kitten Bowl featured four teams, divided into tabby, orange-and-white, gray and black coat colors.

And finally:  Kitten Bowl had Howard Stern's wife.  INTERVIEWING CAT FANCIER NICKY HILTON.  AND THEN THEY BROUGHT IN REGIS PHILBIN TO DO COLOR COMMENTARY.  (They even threw a Neuter Dame reference his way.)

I rest my case, people.

Also winning fans in our household:  National Geographic's Fish Bowl.  Yup, just goldfish swimming around bowls.  But occasionally a clock would pop up, alerting viewers that something exciting was about to happen.  After a fifteen-second countdown:  a plastic plant would plop into the middle of the bowl.  Or a bubbling diver, or another fish.

Riveting stuff.  No, really - oddly riveting.

But the kittens won the day.  And, also, the Seahawks.  Poor Peyton.  His kitten counterpart, Feline Manning, had a much more satisfying evening:  two touchdowns, three field goals and three naps.  That's one more TD and three more FG's than the Broncos were able to muster.

No comment about the naps.

Super Bowl With the Small Fry

So, at least initially, I had planned for a social Super Bowl viewing experience.  I had gone so far as to:  locate the Rubbermaid tote with the football-themed serving pieces and dishes; segregate the navy and green paper straws from the other paper straws and make a half-hearted attempt to locate orange ones; and plan a menu and create a grocery list.  And then my week kicked my butt, and I decided that not every Super Bowl needs to be social.  And once I gave myself license not to clean the house or make any other fuss, I REALLY gave myself license not to clean the house or make any other fuss.  As in, it's 3:08 pm on Sunday, laundry's piled up everywhere, floors aren't swept, rugs aren't vacuumed, and the Little Kid and I are curled up on the Sleep Number bed (adjusted to the "Lounge" position), both in PJ's, watching Puppy Bowl.

You know you are a mom if:

You know what Puppy Bowl is;

You watch Puppy Bowl;

You actually look forward to watching Puppy Bowl;

You have, on prior occasions, felt conflicted over whether to watch Puppy Bowl or the actual Super Bowl in real time;

While watching Puppy Bowl, you make note of features new to Puppy Bowl X (penguin cheerleaders!  tailgating dogs!  cats lounging in the Sheba Skybox!);

You stop skipping through commercials to watch the trailer for The Lego Movie and are actually mildly excited to see said film and know that it comes out on Friday;

You call the Little Kid in from another room after seeing a trailer for Animal Planet's new Monster Week (similar to Shark Week) and make sure that he is aware of its existence; and

You call for the Big Kid when Internet sensation Keyboard Cat makes his appearance at the Kitty Halftime Show.

If you are me, you also:

Get mildly excited to learn that Lil Bub (cat with drawfism that is also an Internet sensation) is getting her own special - FEATURING AMY SEDARIS (both petite!  both kinda weird!);

Get marginally more excited when Keyboard Cat "performs" (I use the term loosely) Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven";

Appreciate:  (1) the designation of the tailgating area as the Barking Lot; (2) the puppy warming the bench being named Rudy; and (3) the stadium blackout, attributed to Keyboard Cat (BEYONCE SLAM!), that is saved when the "backup generator" (three hamsters in wheels) kicks in; and

Find yourself saying out loud that "Puppy Bowl has gotten too commercial."  (I mean, seriously, they play in Geico Stadium, the guinea pig-piloted blimp has a Twizzlers logo on the side, and the halftime show was sponsored by Bissell.  Is nothing sacred?)

Thinking about taking a shower now, and making a scaled-back version of the original munchie menu.

By the way, this is a photo of Lil Bub (tiny thing on the right) with Tardar Sauce, AKA "Grumpy Cat."  You're welcome.