Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mission (almost) Completed

Operation Merry Fishtank is nearing completion. Right on schedule. Even ahead by a day or so. My favorite decoration this year is my fireplace- new and improved for those of you who followed along with the fireplace saga earlier in the year. Pictures posted later.

Here was my favorite decoration last year. I am amused to say that it is even more laden this year and is beginning to look a little ridiculous. I give The Scientist a new ornament for it every year in his stocking and last year's was a three-fer. Three matching CU football helmet ornaments. If I weren't so attached to this one, I'd say we were going to need a bigger tree!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Operation Merry Fishtank

'Tis the season. I know this evokes lots of strong opinions. Some of you are horrified. "It's not even Thanksgiving yet, woman!" Others of you are seeing me as a kindred holiday spirit. Among those in the know, it is no secret that I am in the beginning stages of decorating for Christmas. The wreath isn't hung yet and we do a real tree, so that won't go up for awhile, but the groundwork is currently being laid for these things to happen. Here's how this process used to go a few years ago:

I would eagerly await the day after Thanksgiving so that I could start getting my decorations out. However, I am a social lemming, so I would never actually do this on Black Friday. I was at the malls. So, it waited until the day after the day after Thanksgiving. Which is always a huge football day, and we were too busy eating nachos and cheering or cursing, depending on the game(s). Then Sunday was here and nothing can ever get done on Sunday. Monday would come after that and the children were back in school and the official holiday maddness and Christmas countdown would officially begin. Maddness, I tell you. Pajama days at school, presents to buy. Cookie exchanges. Parties. Parties. Parties. Somewhere in there, I would start getting the decorations down from the attic. A big box would come down. I would race to get the stuff into it's appropriate place while the kids were occupied with a game or school. All the stuff that was now displaced in the house would get shoved into a closet or nook or cranny, awaiting the end of the maddness and it's return to rightful place on the mantle (or armoire, or side table or hallway wall). Invariably, this pattern would continue right up until the week of Christmas, at which point, I began hauling boxes down in a frenzy, throwing decorations up left and right and feeling guilty all the time that I hadn't done it sooner and that now we only had a short time to enjoy it and that my family didn't have a calm, cool and together mommy at the holiday helm.

None of this was joyful. It wasn't merry. It wasn't worshipful. It wasn't calm or bright.

It was crazy and frantic and all things that I never wanted my Christmas to be about.

So, Clemsongirl and I developed a plan a few weeks ago that I am eagerly and currently implementing. Here's how it works:

Today (yes, TODAY!)- the garage gets de-cluttered. I'm using this term pretty loosely because we are not un-cluttered garage type people. We are not European or South American. Therefore we don't park our cars in the garage. We store things there. So, really, it's a loose organization of the stuff we intend to be there. That loose collection of stuff has been organized (loosely, of course) and things that have been waiting in the launch-pad area to go up to the attic have been put up there. This is all in preparation for...

Friday- Christmas boxes are brought down from the attic and placed in a now cleared out area of the garage we will refer to as the "staging area." They will not be touched. Just brought down. This must be done this day because I will have the morning to myself with no children except Red Fish.

Sunday- Surface decluttering takes place and fall decorations come down. Anything that must be moved to make room for Christmas decor will be moved. Where? Not sure yet. Probably a big ol' box that will also be put in the "staging area." This is to prepare for...

Monday- The Most Wonderful Woman in the World (AKA- my cleaning lady) arrives. She cleans the now uncluttered surfaces and gives the house it's monthly thorough once over (Yes, monthly. Stop judging).

Tuesday- I teach in the morning (saying that still hasn't gotten old). In the afternoon, while Redfish sleeps and prior to school pick-up, I will begin putting up the decorations onto the clean and neat surfaces.

Wednesday- continue process from Tuesday.

Thurs- put empty-ish boxes back into attic. Boxes will have been re-packed with things that were removed to make room.

Friday- Thanksgiving feasts at both schools. Packing for...

Saturday- We leave for SC and will be gone until the Monday after Thanksgiving at which point...

We return to a schedule that will be wild until Christmas and a house that is ready to handle it! Voila! Now, won't it be fun to see how many excuses I can come up with for why this didn't happen as planned?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Trying to Reason With Hurricane Season

For those of you who have enough sense not to live at the ocean, hurricane season runs from June through November. Technically. Those of us who live here know that on paper it is six months long, but the reality is that as soon as the weather starts to cool, we can breathe a sigh of relief. So, I was breathing easier as of Halloween this year. Hurricanes are "fueled" by warm water and don't do well in cooler conditions. So, the November deadline is just to be on the safe side...or so we thought.

Hurricane Ida is aiming for us and I have my Thanksgiving decorations out. It just doesn't seem right.

I am not a girl to sit around and mope about a weather system I cannot control (although, The Scientist would argue that if a weather system could be controlled, I would be the girl to do it). So, I did what every other red-blooded American does during severe weather (like a mild snow flurry) and got my tail to the grocery store.

The beer was going fast. Thank goodness I needed Woodchuck cider. The ground beef and Bunny bread were flying off the shelves. Lucky for the rednecks behind me in the pre-hurricane supermarket buggy derby, that I didn't need beef or bread. Just Fontina cheese and roasted macadamia nuts for me, thanks. I threw in a few bags of Louisiana satsumas and some organic spinach and then bypassed the battery and bottled water aisles in favor of the aisle containing the all-important pomagranate-apple cider and the feta cheese. One bag of Fritos Scoops later, I was stocked up and prepared for Ida- whatever she may bring.

Wish us luck.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hello, Long Lost Friend!

You're all right, of course. All of you who have been so kindly harrassing me via e-mail about my failure to blog. What you don't see is that this blog has become a very old friend- the one you know you need to catch up with and desperately WANT to catch up with, but the one you know will take a 3 hour phone conversation to fully catch up to. But, I'm vowing to chip away a bit at that phone conversation right now and reintroduce myself.

So, hello, old friend!

During our lapse in programming, I've been swimming with my head above water, but it hasn't necessarily been pretty. When we left off, I as headed back to work parttime. I dove back into the classroom at the end of August and have, quite frankly, felt like the luckiest girl in the world ever since. It was just like I remembered! The students are just as delightful and different from one another as they used to be. I've always loved the subject area and I think I love it even more now that I haven't been teaching it for so long. The technology has changed a bit (I was excited to have an overhead projector in my classroom the last time I taught!). Now, I lecture from Power Point slides and can post them online for any student who would like to print them. Strangely, you'd think the lazy ones would be the ones doing this. It's not. It's the on-the-ball students. The lazy ones didn't take notes back when I started teaching and they sure as hell don't print Power Point slides ahead of time now.

Here are a few of my observations since I was in the classroom 7 years ago.

1) It pains me to write this, but in the interest of full disclosure, I'll say it: I'm not as cute as I used to be. Not as young either. In a way, this is a benefit as it's easier for a 30-something to listen to me than to a 20-something for several hours a night.

2) With #1 out there, I'll also note that I have enjoyed doing what I can to maintain my street cred. New, cute shoes. Going through make-up a bit faster than I used to. No guilt about picking up some new threads when I see them. When you get right down to it, no one wants to listen to me (or anyone, for that matter) for 5 hours a week. It seems really wrong to have to listen to me if I'm ugly and fashionably challenged on top of it. So, I do what I can.

3) These modern students HUG a bit more than I think they used to and have more boundary issues in general. We've had to work on this as I do not particulary care for the assault on my personal space and have had to come up with repelling methods to avoid this at all costs. Hugs from my babies, immediate family members and friends= great! Hugs from Random Student I see at the park on a Saturday afternoon=weird! I also have had to discourage "text speak" messages being left on the class blog. "FML" is not an appropriate response to the newly posted study guide for the upcoming exam. Thank God for comment moderation.

4) What's up with the laptops in the classroom? I'm going to have to get a bit more savvy next semester. I can't tell when they're taking notes and when they're Facebooking someone. It also begs the question of whether or not I care...

5) I don't think I ever excused a grade on a test by saying I was hungover. This has been a new one for me. Not that this has never been true- I just wouldn't ever have said it out loud for heaven's sake!

6) They let ANYONE into community college. And I'll just leave that there for now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

You might be a redneck if...

The Fishies are really into fake tattoos. I hate them. They have no sense of positioning and invariably choose to put them in the most conspicuous places on their bodies. Or the least conspicuous but also least appropriate. Like when Two Fish put a general's insignia tattoo on his... well, suffice it to say that The Scientist and I are still joking about the Little General and probably will for a good long while. At least until he becomes a father himself. Maybe longer.

Today, I vowed for the 100th time to banish the dang things from my house. One Fish, Red Fish and I went to a b-day party at a local splash park. It wasn't until I stripped Red Fish down to his swim trunks did I notice that he had been tattooed by his older brother. At least until he wiggled away and Two Fish was evidently forced to abort the mission.

I was the mom with the gleeful two year old with


in big red letters emblazoned across his back. They won't forget us there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Didn't See That Coming

Coming out of kindergarten open house this morning, in the pouring rain, I put my foot down on the step about 4 from the bottom and slipped. Not stumbled. Not skidded. My foot slid clear out from under me and suddenly I was on some sort of sitcom. As I hit every step on the way down I was thinking:

"Awww, crap, I can't believe I'm tripping on this step!"
"Really? Another step?"
"Why haven't I stopped yet?"
"What is this, step #3?"
Oh, geez- another one?! How many steps does this thing have, anyway?"
"OOOF! Yep, that last one'll leave a mark"
"Oh, thank God, I think I'm coming to a halt."

Red Fish, safely and securely perched on my hip, rode comfortably the whole way down. Didn't even fuss when I shlumped (heck, yes, that's a word!) him unceremoniously on the sidewalk after I confirmed that I wasn't dead yet- just surely in several pieces.

Lucky for me, my most sympathetic friend was the only one around at the moment and she raced to my rescue. Although she has an MD husband, his services were not required. We relatively quickly determined that 1) movement was a possibility and 2) that I was not going to throw up immediately.

Two Fish's comment after I finally spoke?

"He-he. Well, I didn't see THAT coming!"

The Scientist's comment when I got home?

"Were you wearing ridiculous shoes? Then I think you should see this as an opportunity for some fashion self-reflection"

He's lucky he said it with his cute smile on and that he was delivering Motrin and and and ice pack to me when he said it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Back in the Saddle

Years ago and a million miles away from here, it seems, I was a teacher.

In college, I never imagined myself teaching. I was going to be a vet until it turned out that vets don't make nearly as much as their years of schooling would make you think. Then a doctor, I thought. But, I did know that I wanted a family at some point and realized that it would be really hard to be a doctor AND mom who was home with her children after school. After that, I decided that perhaps I just needed to "find myself" and applied to the Peace Corp and was accepted. I waited and waited and waited for them to decide where to send me. Finally, I decided that although I still probably needed to find myself, most likely I wasn't going to be found in either Africa or somewhere on a Pacific island.

So, I decided to go to nursing school (can you say "Identity Crisis?!"). I signed up to take some pre-req classes at the local community college that somehow I'd skated out of in college, but that would help me get into a nursing program for people who already had a four year degree. I loved anatomy and physiology and adored my professor (it didn't hurt that she was a fellow Clemson grad.) At the end of the semester, she asked me if I would be interested in teaching some labs at the college. Apparently, all you needed was a four year degree in biology in order to teach a lab.

I needed the money and it sounded new and interesting, so I filled out the paperwork, signed up for my next semester of pre-reqs and started prepping to teach my first lab.

A week later, I was hooked. Just like a junkie. While the classes I was taking were tolerable, I spent perhaps an unhealthy amount of time thinking about ways to teach my next labs. I stayed way too late. I invested way too much in the students. I researched ways to help them understand things like DNA replication. I was rediscovering my inner science geek and was loving every minute of it.

Three years later, I graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching Science from the university in town. Throughout grad school, I continued to teach at the community college, gaining experience and confidence and knowledge. After graduation, I focused on my full-time middle school science job.

I was good at it. I liked it and I loved the students and my coworkers. But, it wasn't the same at all as teaching at the community college. It's hard to stay passionate about your subject when the majority of your job consists of managing your classroom, going to meetings and filling out paperwork. All that stopped when we moved three states away and I finally got my dream of staying home with One Fish (and soon after, Two Fish).

This semester, I finally got my courage up and applied to teach at the local community college here. It's been a long time coming. I've spent the past few semesters wanting to apply, but wondering if they'd even want me. If I was even capable of writing a resume that wouldn't elicit giggles or eye rolls before a dump in the trashcan. Would they want someone who didn't have a masters in science, but a masters in teaching science instead? Would they like me? Did I still even "have it." Is 6 years too long to have been out of the classroom?

Turns out, that in an economy like this one, one of the few places where jobs are available is at community colleges. People out of work often go back to school and enrollment goes up and more teachers are needed. Turns out they needed me. Better, yet- they WANTED me.

I got the course notes the other day and apprehensively peeked at them, hoping I wouldn't find that everything has changed in six years. It hasn't. It's just the same and I got goosebumps just flipping through those pages, reading those familiar words and phrases that haven't changed in decades. In my mind, I am imagining my students faces already. I know which parts of which concepts and theories they will stumble on. Which chapters will make their eyes glaze over if I'm not careful and which labs have the ability to light a spark that was never there before.

There are lots of things I don't know how to do in this world. Too many that I don't even have the courage to attempt. But, I do know how to teach biology. That, I can do. And I'm so incredibly thankful that I've gotten the chance again.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Put Your Hands Together For...

The Mommy Show!!! (wait for wild applause to die down)

We're T-3 hours until the Mommy Show takes the stage for a two week run. The Scientist is entering his "busy season" around here and that means that this fish tank is about to get an overhaul. He'll be gone for two, home for two and then gone for four. Stop gasping- it only makes it worse.

Seriously though, I know what I'm doing by now when it comes to producing The Mommy Show. It's sort of like exam time when I was in college. There wasn't much to do other than...well, study. Survival and study. That was it. The Mommy Show is sort of like that. Just get it done while maintaining as much sanity as possible. Simple.

As usual, I am already planning what home improvements I will be doing while The Show is running. Usually, it's just a matter of rearranging furniture. This time, though, I have bigger plans. Usually, the term "bigger plans," when used by me and when used in the context of home improvement, can only end in disaster. However, I'm so optimistic this time.

My first project? Stripping the wallpaper off a bathroom wall. No clue how it's done, but I'm about to find out. Any tips? Pointers? Suggestions? Words of wisdom or caution?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

God Bless 'im

The Fish Tank was hit this week. Strep throat for the third time this year. Bless his heart, The Scientist was a gem through it all (did I mention that I was the only one who got it?). Obviously, the ship sinks when Mommy goes down and someone else has to take command.

When I had to take to my bed for hours after unloading the dishwasher, he took the day off to help.

When it became obvious that I would be useless for child-activity-deliveries-and pick-up, he became the human taxi service.

When I needed my antibiotics picked up from the pharmacy, he raced out to get them.

When I moaned about the pain, he suggested and delivered Motrin.

He reminded me to drink lots of fluids and to rest more than I thought I had to.

He was rightfully proud of himself after all of this. He did seem to have a solution to everything. The man had it HANDLED. So much so, that on day 2 of antibiotics, when I lay listless on the bed, remarking that not much hurt anymore but that I just wanted to sleep for hours and wondered if I would ever have the energy to be normal again, he asked with all seriousness:

"Hmmm...do you want me to go out and get you an energy drink?"

I respectfully declined.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mi Dojo Es Su Dojo

Conversation with The Scientist today as we drove home from the last day of Two Fish's soccer camp:

TS: You know, I'd be really happy if he never played football- just soccer.

Me: Yep.

TS: I mean...he'll probably WANT to play football to get chicks. But, he's not going have any problem getting chicks. They're going to be All Over him.

Me: Huh. Well, I sort of hope not. I hope he has to try a little bit at least.

TS: Are you kidding? He's never going to have to try at all. They're just going to come to him.

Me: You think so, huh?

TS: Oh, yeah. You know why? Because he's been raised in my dojo.... Why are you looking at me like that?

Me: [Avert eyes. Close eyes. Raise eyebrows slightly. Slowly shake head while sighing dramatically]

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Please Don't Call Out The Dogs

After a splendid holiday yesterday, during which I did absolutely nothing I didn't want to do and quite a number of things I DID want to do, I dozed off for a one hour nap after church today. Imagine my surprise when I awoke to an empty house. No husband. No children.

The authorities have not been notified and no search party is looking.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Flip Out!

Very exciting day around here! After years of hard work, One Fish is finally the proud owner of a gymastics competition leotard. Although her first competition isn't until September, I think she would gladly wear this every day until then!

Running from De-Feet

It is seldom that I am forced to admit defeat. However, after six months, I am officially un-running. Six months ago, I was a beginner. Full of possibility and promise and determined to prove to myself that I could run 5K if I really, really wanted to badly enough. Now, six months later, I am confident in my ability to run 3miles if I really want to (which I still don't). And if I know I could run 3 miles, I'm darn sure I could run 5K. I can run farther than I ever have in my life. I have lost not a single pound, which doesn't really bother me because it wasn't the point to begin with, but it does seem as though loss of at least a little poundage should be a delicious by-product of all that sweat and tears, doesn't it? But, no matter.

I am somewhat horrified to admit this, but I have actually grown to enjoy running the tinsiest little bit. I can honestly say that I have never experienced a runner's high. Runner's exhaustion? Yes. Runner's pain? Yes. Runners irritation? Yes. No runner's high, though. What I have gotten out of it, is an enjoyment of being by myself with my music turned up, knowing that when I am finished, I will have done my duty to myself for the day. No little voices in my ear (not that I don't love those little voices). No dishes to wash. No phones ringing.

I even developed a purpose to running. I ran for One Fish. I even challenged her to a race one day (after I put up with a sufficient amount of trash talk and laughter from her about Mommy "running.") We determined to see who could run farther- not faster. I KILLED her little muscular gymnasts body. I was like the Energizer bunny. The tortoise to the hare. The little engine that could. It wasn't pretty and it involved lots of huffing and puffing and sweat, but I was determined to win and win big because I wanted her to remember losing an endurance race to her 36 year old mother. When she is 36 (or 26, or 16), I want her to remember that she is from a line of tough-as-nails women and that she's one too. It's not that no other mommies run. Lots and lots of the mommies I know are beating the pavements. Faster and harder and longer than I am. But, running is not something she'd seen me do before. I wanted her to know that I could. WE could. Whenever and however we wanted. I wanted her to know that I kick ARSE and I finish the job when I put my mind to something. And, I'm not about the business of raising a wimpy chick.

I have read the magazines and taken the advice of pros and seasoned runners. I run for a bit and walk for a minute to give my joints a break. I bought the really good shoes. I stopped running hills and if I happen across one, I run up it and walk down it. I run slowly and never more than 2-3 miles. I am stronger for this and am looking forward to my next physical challenge.

I have also done terrible things to my hips. For months, I have been unable to turn over in bed or rise to a standing position without hip pain. At first I thought it was just protesting muscles. But, after this much time, a consult with a doctor and a massage therapist, I am convinced it is my body's way of telling me to cut it out already. Those poor hips didn't start out with the benefit of good joint genes in the first place and have now carried babies for 27 months in utero and countless months after birth. And they're over it already.

So, while I have not yet run the 5K race I set a goal for, I am checking the box. I now know I could if I wanted to and am moving on. I will miss being able to cover as much ground in as little time. I will miss the feeling of complete exhaustion at the end of a "good" run. I will miss being able to say with confidence that I can run 2 miles. However, I will not miss the running itself. Running still sucks and it still hurts.

What's next? I'm considering a half-marathon. Would you laugh if I walked it?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rules To Live By

Note to Governor Sanford of the great state of South Carolina:

Dear Mark,
It seems that you must have missed a class that the rest of us all managed to fit into our Course Schedule For Life. So, I thought I'd give you my abridged notes from the class. They may be helpful in the future.

* Don't be a cheater. This seems to be pretty cut and dry with no detail needed.

* If you do cheat, immediate groveling is required. To avoid further humiliation, said cheating must be ceased immediately after telling one's spouse about the infraction.

* Referring to one's mistress as one's SOULMATE should never be done on television. It's creepy. And weird. And smarmy. And probably grounds for your spouse pulling a Bobbit on your stupid self.

* If a worldwide icon should happen to die while you are embroiled in a scandal, for goodness sake, take advantage of it and go underground. Way, way underground. Do not hold anymore press conferences.

* There is no TRY. Either love your spouse or don't. If you disregarded all previous life rules, then you obviously DON'T. Cut your losses, move on and spare everyone around you further pain and humiliation. You should have thought about her family money you'd be leaving behind before you found another "soulmate."

* Don't cry in public. Especially if you should happen to be an elected official. No one will think you're sensitive. They'll only think you're more of a scumbag than the topic of your press conference has already shown you to be.

* Leave your cell phone on. Pay for an international plan if you have to. But, leave the phone on.

* No matter how much your mistress seems to love you, she will undoubtedly be less enamored with you after you are no longer governor, are poor and have child support to pay for all those boys.

I'm sure my readers can think of more?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Nice To Have A Good Tag When You Need It

Monograms & Mayhem tagged me for an Awe-Summm award and I am so honored! It is nothing short of therapy to read the blogs of others who are in my "season of life" and realize that our lives are all parallel in some way. On the other hand, it is like going on vacation to read the blogs of people who have lives so different from mine. Besides, I do love having a ready-made blog entry.

As the newly crowned Queen, I am obligated to do the following:
1. List 7 things that make me Awesome.
2. Pass this on to some other Queens of Awesome bloggers.
3. Let those bloggers know that they have been tagged.
4. Link to Her Majesty who tagged me.
5. Copy the picture onto my sidebar to let the world know I am the Queen!

Seven things that make me a Queen of Awesome:

1. The Scientist picked ME. All those other girls out there and he picked ME.

2. I actually have a functional family. This is not due to any action on my part, but growing up with the people I did does add to my overall awesomeness.

3. I think that I am hilarious and because of this, never run out of things to laugh at.

4. I am taking my children to the splash park this afternoon. I hate the splash park. Thus, I am AWESOME.

5. My BFFs picked ME. All those other girls out there and they picked ME.

6. I cook.

7. I read to my children every. single. day.

Now that I've reminded myself of my virtuousness, I am directed to tag some other Queens of Awesome. Later, we will discuss my strong dislike of purposeful misspellings. In the meantime, I tag:

1. Clemsongirl- See #5. She picked me. I tag her. I know she'll appreciate the ready-made post. And, she is the original AWESOME.

2. Just What I Always Wanted- Because she reminds me daily to treasure my fishies, inspires me, and makes me laugh.

3. Shanny- Because she's making me laugh again after a 20-something year hiatus. For whatever reason, I cannot get a linky to attach to Shanny, but her address is: http://shanny.wordpress.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

The End of Holiday Road

We've returned from an 11 day trip to Orlando. Six adults, six children, three bedrooms, three bathrooms. The stuff memories (and therapy sessions) are made of.

The best line of the week? From Two Fish as we were getting on the Magic Kingdom shuttle. The 20-something couple sitting behind us were dressed as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell (what the heck would inspire a man to spend a 100 degree day in green tights and a mini-dress?). Another family walking toward us was clearly Middle Eastern and happy as anything to be heading to Disney World. The woman was wearing black from head to foot and only had her eyes showing. My thought? "Wow, that must be freakin' HOT."

Two Fish's thought (which he expressed loudly and exuberantly while pointing his finger)?


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summertime So Far

Summer is here and we have been struggling to find a routine. The fishies are showing some wear and tear because of it.
We have been traveling, which doesn't help. Not the happy travel either. My grandmother passed away last week, which extended our weekend lake visit to a weeklong lake visit (complete with the requisite memorial service and family gathering) . It also required my children to process and endure loads of crying and a mild bit of hysteria on my part which I think was taxing on them. The sleeping arrangements also left a little to be desired as the "routine" involved 10PM bedtimes and camp-out style sleeping. This threw my sweet little 7:30-to-bed fishies for a loop that is not easily recovered from.
We are truly sideways around here and are T-minus 5 days until we depart for a 10 day Orlando vaca. My survival plan is forming. So far it involves:

1) Multiple, prioritized to-do lists. Color coded when appropriate.

2) Liberal use of the label maker. Not for anything in particular, but using a label maker does make anything seem more manageable.

3) Margaritas. Nightly.

4) Lots of outside activity and exercise. Not for me, obviously, but the fishies. These are preferably activites that take place in our backyard so that they can be relatively unsupervised while I get my to-do lists color coded.

5) Chores. Lots of them. Far from being so virtous that my children do these regularly and willingly, let me also say that I am paying for them. It also keeps them busy. Basically I am paying them to babysit themselves while they fold laundry and take out the trash. Again, so I can color code the to-do lists or perhaps label something.
So far, that's all I've got. My survival plan for the 10 days in Orlando isn't even in the development stage yet. Luckily, I adore every last one of my in-laws so much that I am even looking forward to 10 days of a cranky toddler if it means I can spend it with them.
Time's a tickin' and these fishies are up, at 'em and demanding to be fed and watered. Here are some pictures of our recent trip.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Life is Short. Eat the Lasagna.

Back in the day, way back when I met The Scientist, he was a vegan. For those who aren't sure, vegan is a diet that restricts any animal products of any kind. None of the no-brainers, like chicken, beef, fish, pork or seafood of any kind. No dairy at all, including milk, eggs and caseine, which, as I discovered, is found in dang near everything. No honey. The list continues.

Since my mother prefers to eat mostly vegetarian, I had some tricks up my sleeve and quickly fixed the problem that was his 130 lb. frame. I combed recipe books and health food stores for vegan recipes and products that would allow me to adapt recipes to be vegan. He quickly stopped looking like a refugee, was introduced to tofu, and stopped considering french fries and Biggie Cokes two of the basic food groups. I cooked "normal" meals but adapted some of the dish for him. Leave out the cheese, do a mushroom burger instead of a hamburger, etc. I got very used to it.

To jump ahead about 6 years, it turns out that if you eat this way for enough years and pay absolutely no attention to taking a daily vitamin, you can (will?) develop some vitamin deficiencies. Like B-12. Apparently, not having enough of it makes you feel like crap. Enter weekly B-12 injections and hello scrambled eggs. I didn't know what to do with myself once I didn't have to cook one meal and then modify it for him. I would have done it forever because I respected his reasons for eating this way, but boy howdy was I happy when he stopped.

During the time that he WAS vegan, my sister and I had many discussions about how...unique (for lack of a better term) most vegan recipes were. We started compiling recipes we'd created ourselves that resembled "real" food. We dreamed of publishing a cookbook of vegan comfort foods that were different from the other books out there. In other words, a book filled with recipes that didn't mostly taste like crap. We would sometimes pour over vegan cookbooks with the express purpose of howling with laughter at some of the recipe titles. Who the heck would possibly eat that?! Certainly not my vegan (who is actually a meat-and-potatoes sort of boy at heart).

Recently, and in an effort to introduce some new and healthier dishes into our now completely non-vegan diet (although he still doesn't eat the Big Three - pork, chicken and beef), I checked out a vegan cookbook from the library. It was sort of for old-times sake. It ended up being comic relief.

Here are some of the recipe titles:

Ginger-Lime Tofu "Cream" (really? I think any recipe that has to put the word "cream" in quotation marks is something I want no part of)

Tofu Tamale Pie (I couldn't make that up, could I?)

Curried Chickpea Tart with Fennel-Cauliflower Sauce

Shepherd's Pie (Just like the classic, except with zucchini substituted for the usual yummo seasoned meat. So, it's just like the original, except... not.)

Tofu-Leek Tart with Pine Nut Crust (what is it with messing up the tarts?)

Hijiki "Caviar" (you're confused. I can tell. Turns out that hijiki is a "thin, black twiglike sea vegetable." You are supposed to mix it with sake, shoyu (who knows what the heck that is), sesame oil and garlic and presto-chango, you've got a great substitute for Beluga on your hands. Riiiiiiggghhhht...)

Summer Lasagna with Tofu, Capers and Walnuts (Clemsongirl's Coach would consider this heresy)

Hominy, Tomatillo and Squash Stew

I'm returning the book and checking out the Paula Dean cookbook instead. Life is too short to eat fake lasagna.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Conversation tonight with Two Fish:

TF: Ew. Are we having THAT for dinner. I don't like red beans and rice!

Me: Well...sorry.

TF: Do I have to eat it? Daddy doesn't like it either!

Me: Well, he's not here and I'm not making anything else. Besides, your daddy was born in SC. He doesn't have to like red beans and rice, only shrimp and grits and Frogmore stew. You were born in MS, so you do. If they hear you say you don't like red beans and rice, they're likely to revoke your birth certificate. So, you just watch it mister...

Me? I scarf them both down. Especially if I'm not the one who originally made them. Which I did not tonight. So, d-lish-us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I have blogged before about young women's body image issues and how those changed for me as I got older. But, during a discussion with a friend the other day, we agreed that we didn't know a single solitary woman who didn't have some sort of issue with her body. Either in the form of food "issues" or body image "issues" or some sort of obsessive combo of both. We didn't know a single one.

We agreed that our issues had changed as we got older and mine have certainly lessened. Due in no small part, I'm sure, to having a husband who loves every inch of this somewhat...ummm..."softer" version of the woman he married and to having three children who were born from this body and seem to have turned out pretty spectacularly for it. But, really? Do you know a single woman who has not a care in the world when it comes to food or her body? We also discussed how hard we try to emphasize strength and inner beauty to our daughters. I have never referred to myself as "fat" or "big" when there is any chance of my children hearing it. When they ask me why I exercise or make a particularly healthy food choice, I always say that it is because I want to be stronger. Or less tired. Or have more energy. Never that I want to lose weight. I have a daughter who is influenced by her peers and is involved in competitive gymnastics. The last thing we need to start around here is an emphasis on body weight or size.

For my Mother's Day Sunday School lesson, I had the children make cards for their mother and fill in blanks to finish sentences. My mom makes the best______. I love it when my mom________. Some of them were hilarious! My mom has the prettiest_______. One little girl wrote "children." I love it when my mom wears _______. One little boy wrote "pajamas." Another little boy wrote that his mom "has the prettiest...shoes." He has obviously been trained well.

But the best one for me was One Fish's for "My mom has the prettiest..." She wrote, "body."

I got all teary. I choked up. I reported it to all my friends.

I haven't worked up the courage to ask her what she meant yet, and I probably won't. Because she might say that she meant that she loves my...arms. Or the way my rings look on my fingers. Or how I look in high heels (which she loves me to wear and which I hate). I am choosing to believe that she meant that I am her mom and because of that, she loves how I look and that she thinks it's just perfect. Soft size 12 and all.

And since I am convinced that she is one of the three most fascinating, brilliant, beautiful, impressive people to ever walk the earth, perhaps it would behoove me to sit up and pay attention when she passes judgement on something that she might actually know something about.

And I will start paying attention. And trying to see myself more as she does than how I do. I figure I only have about four or five more years before even my little toenail offends her, so I should probably start now. Or maybe right after bathing suit season...

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's On... Like Donkey Kong

Let's see. What have I done today?

Went to Sams, made food for supper swap, did 12,000 loads of laundry, vacuumed the garden, returned a few phone calls...

What's that? You don't know what vacuuming the garden is?

This, dear readers, is what one does when one slaves and obsesses over tomato plants, only to have all Roma fruits and an increasing number of grape tomato fruits "rot" and look all soft and gross before they completely ripen. After one finds out that this is because of a stink bug infestation, one usually does the required research to discover that the methods of dealing with these demons of the insect world are: 1) Sevin dust 2) hand picking off and then squishing by hand and 3) vacuuming off the plants.

There are also some organic products out there, which, according to online reviews, work about as well as spritzing them with water. Sevin dust would certainly get rid of them, but we might all die in the process. Seems a little extreme for some tomatoes. And I am all about killing these things, but squishing them between my organic fingers seems a little...earthy...for me. So, vroom, freakin' vroom. The wet/dry vac has been parked outside by my plot all day. I periodically go outside and do a little shake down (literally) and up they go. I'll leave the fun of emptying the cannister to The Scientist. No sense leaving him completely out of the extermination fun.

I will win this. I may secure my place as the neighborhood crazy lady. But, I will win.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

James Bond Would Be So Proud

Yesterday was an exhausting day for the boys. We had multiple playdates over here, which involved lots of racing through the house shouting things like, "Go to the front yard! I'll meet you in your laboratory by the tree!" and, "Quick! Here she comes! Go to the Super Secret Spy Hideout!" Red Fish was busy all afternoon just toddling after them and being entertained by big boy antics. Which can be exhausting. I should know.

This morning, both boys slept waaay late. Which meant that they slept past 6:30. At 7, I had to take One Fish and a neighbor child to school. Never one to wake a sleeping child, I did what any of you would do and went next door to ask the visiting aunt of said neighbor child if she would pretty, pretty please, come over and sit in my living room for five minutes. The school is literally around the corner. Bless her heart, she did. Red PJ pants, untied tennies and all, she hustled right over and camped out in my chair for the 6 minutes it took me to run them over and run back. I timed it.

When I returned, she said that "one of them" had woken up and poked his head out the door, but popped right back into his room again when he saw her. Given that Red Fish sleeps in a crib and his room wasn't visible from her chair, the "awake one" had to be Two Fish. After saying goodbye to her and thanking her for the pinch hit, I mosied on in to the bedroom to find...

Two Fish all tucked in, under his covers but fully dressed in polo shirt, shorts and shoes.


The story that comes out is this:
He poked his head out, saw that an unknown person was in his house and so ducked back into his room. The fact that she was relaxing in our living room and playing with our dogs in no way stifled his concern. He ever so quietly got himself dressed. He then opened the window in his room (we taught them to do this during fire safety week), climbed out into the backyard (the windows are very low) and ran the length of the house to the fence by our driveway. He scaled the 6 foot privacy fence and determined that my van was not in the driveway. So, as he put it, he knew "that I was gone but wouldn't do anything bad to him." He ran back to his bedroom (while unsuspecting neighbor aunt lady innocently played with my puppies a few yards away). He climbed back in the window, shut it quietly and slid back under his covers, determined to wait in silence until I returned or something else definitive happened to let him know what was going on. His room door was slightly cracked the whole time.

I returned moments later.

Does the CIA have an early admission program?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Livin' On The Edge

Here's what I did today.

Got up and got One Fish out the door and then got about the business of getting myself ready to take Two Fish to school and Red Fish and myself to a PTO breakfast dealy. With The Scientist out of town (does he exist in any other state of being?), morning child-care is scarce (read: nonexistent). This required a shower and something other than running pants and a t-shirt. It required grown-up clothes. The kind that, when put together, look like "an outfit." Preferably with accessories and cute shoes.

Once the shower was completed, the hair dried, and make-up on (these were easy parts), it dawned on me that I had the perfect pair of pants (white cotton capris from Banana Republic, hereafter referred to as BR). Love them. Notsomuch the shirt. Exibit A was a multicolored striped v-neck sleeveless sweater that I think used to have a cardigan to go with it. Exibit B was a patterned sleeveless v-neck shirt from Target. A little, uhhh, low-cut. Exibit C was a turtleneck (you did read that correctly) seagreen sleeveless sweater, again from BR.

After trying each one on, I discovered/realized that: Exibit A was purchased 7 years ago when I was still teaching and was a good 20 lbs. lighter. Which would explain why it didn't look nearly as cute as I remembered. Exibit B was indeed the shirt that The Scientist has reminded me repeatedly (and I seem to forget) introduces everyone I meet to...uh...The Twins any time I bend at the waist. Exibit C...well, Exibit C is a turtleneck sleeveless sweater and that's probably all that needs to be said about that, considering that it was purchased when my sister still lived in NYC, which was three jobs, a marriage and two children ago. I stopped shopping for myself when Two Fish was born. Before that, I had a job and a career and a daycare to watch One Fish if I wanted to stop at the mall on my way home. That all ended with our decision for me to stay at home and anything dry-clean only got shoved to the back of the closet and eventually out the door. Now, I purchase on the fly without trying on and don't do it nearly often enough.

Solution: Throw on the only new thing in my closet in the past umpteen months, Exibit D, a pink and white striped baby doll shirt, some flip flops (they were cute at least), and some silver accessories. Cut out of the PTO dealy ASAP. Mentally cancel the scheduled cleaning day at The Fish Tank (time enough for that tomorrow after I no longer look like a homeless person from 1998). Get to the outlet mall just after opening (I am nothing if not a woman of action) and resolved not to leave until this unfortunate fashion situation that I seemed to have gotten myself into was resolved.

Three hours and trips to Ann Taylor, BR, Gap, and J.Crew later, I seemed to have things much more under control. I will publish no dollar signs and I looked at no pricetags. We'll just suffice it to say that we live on an outlet mall budget (if not the Walmart clothing aisle at times), but I am lucky to have a husband who breathes a sigh of relief when I purchase something for myself. A sad state of affairs, to be sure, when your husband begs you to get some new things.

Collect all Fishies after school. Head to gymnastics for what felt like 17 hours. Mentally cancel the scheduled dinner at The Fish Tank. Take the children out to eat for the second night in a row and in doing, break a cardinal Absent Scientist house rule. I don't dine out with them when I'm solo. Except today. And yesterday.

The poor Scientist is going to come home to a woman he doesn't recognize. I'm living on the edge...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Who Could Have Guessed?

For inquiring minds, I didn't win squat at the party yesterday. Although the horse I picked probably had as good a shot going in as Mine That Bird. I picked Advice. The others in my family all picked other names and One Fish and The Scientist even looked at the odds before placing their bets. Wusses.

None of us won a single solitary thing. But, I did have a few bourbon slushes and got to hang out with friends while The Scientist drank beer kept a loose watch over the Fishies. Satisfaction all around.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bourbon for my Horses (but only the ones with the cool names)

Activities in the fish tank today include, some mild straightening, a nap for me (can I get an "Amen?"), and a Derby party. The last part is fun because it required a wardrobe purchase (straw hat) and just saying that we are headed for a Derby party makes me feel as though I have a glamorous life. Who cares how much evidence is to the contrary...

I'm headed out now to get some cash and go shoe shopping with One Fish (can I get another "Amen!"). Needing the cash because I am assuming there will be activities requiring cash and gambling at this shindig. I will pick horses the same way I pick wine: based solely on who has the coolest name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Squash Wars

I had a sudden thought today: are my yellow squash, white squash, and cucumbers going to have the same problem my zucchini will? Or is their pollination a little different and not so...discriminating?

So, I researched and this is what I read about the yellow squash in answer to someone's question about why they don't get any fruit on their plant:

There are several possible reasons why you get all vine and no fruit on your squash: too much fertilizer, not enough sunlight, too much heat or too cool weather, rainy weather at bloom time, no pollinating insect activity, improper pollination or pest problems.Pollination needs to be made to all segments of the female flower. This has to be done by 10 a.m. because pollination carried out later than the end of the morning during warm weather has very little chance of success because the pollen will have heated up and fermented and will no longer be viable. You can help pollinate the squash. You should see the squash enlarge the day or two after pollination & the squash should be ready to pick in 3-4 days... unless the squash bug intefers with the process by sucking the juices out of the developing squash... If the plants are watered from overhead early in the day, that may prevent all further pollination for that day. Everything gets washed off of the short-lived male flowers.

There can be other reasons why blossoms don't set fruit & fall off. Sometimes, even if they were pollinated... the blossoms can abort from the stress of high day and night time temperatures. Extreme temperatures during flowering... below 55 degrees or above 85 degrees... can reduce fruit set. Sometimes there are only female flowers & not any male flowers, so the female flower can't get pollinated. Too much shade or not enough light, plant disease, & even too much nitrogen can also cause poor fruit set.

WHAAAAAT?! Juice sucking squash bugs? Fermenting pollen? Abortions from temperature stress? To say nothing of the fact that these little gems of God's creation apparently also require pollination prior to 10 AM. Nothing later will do. And, for heaven's sake, please watch the overhead watering of the male flowers. They are sensitive.

I'm starting to feel a little vendetta-ish about this entire family of plants. However, I am standing by my promise of waiting until June 1 before I take this personally. They are plants, after all. Not newborns.

But, after June 1, it is ON. Unless you see pictures posted here of me enjoying fresh squash casserole. In that case, you can assume that a truce has been declared.

No Playdates Are Currently Being Arranged

I'm just going to throw this out there on the off chance that you agree with me-

If you want your children to exude confidence and command respect and appreciation from their teachers and classmates, then you should NOT send them to school dressed in a T-shirt that says:

I Pass More Gas Than Tests

Friday, April 24, 2009

And He May or May Not Know All the Words to "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"

Two Fish just told me that he knew what "head bagging" was. According to him, it is when rock stars "do their head back and forth like they are putting it in a bag and taking it out again. But REAL fast."

That sort of knowledge only comes from caving and letting Guitar Hero into the house. Against one's better judgement. And under lots of duress. That's all I'm saying...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hot and Dirty Zucchini Love

Well, if that post title doesn't catch your eye, I don't know what will.

This year's garden is planted. I learned a tremendous amount last year, during my maiden gardening voyage that can sort of be boiled down to this: I didn't know dirt about gardening. I thought I did. But, it turns out, I planted the plants too late, didn't orient my rows the right way and didn't fertilize often enough. I also didn't test my soil first and didn't plant enough beans (apparently the nitrogen they give off makes some other plants loooove them).

I mean, really? People planted things for thousands of years before Miracle Grow was even invented and they managed to eat just fine. So, why is this so difficult?

Don't get me wrong. We were swimming in okra and tomatoes last summer. This past winter we ate kale and collards for months. But, for the space I have, I really had higher expectations.
For instance, I remember my grandfather joking during the summer that if we got bored, we could go out and watch the zucchini grow. That's just how fast that stuff is supposed to go. You can actually watch it. So, why did my little garden and I fail to produce a single, solitary squash or zuccinini last summer?!

I have gone to the experts. First, the guy down the street who is a retired farmer and has a completely ADD inducing garden set up in paint buckets all over his yard. It is hidden from the street, thank God. Impressive "garden," but not something you'd want the next potential new neighbors to see before their real estate closing. He is an expert, though, and had some insight. I planted too late and it was too hot for pollination by the time my plants were big enough. Seems a little unfair since I expected some perks to living in one of the most hot and humid places on God's green creation. You should at least be able to grow some food even if it feels like you're living in a sauna. Notsomuch, apparently. At least not after July.

So, this year, I planted earlier. Much earlier. I'm nothing if not teachable. However, because I am a nerd and slightly obsessive about the garden, I felt the need to protect myself further against the disappointment that comes from being the only person I've ever heard of who couldn't grow a dang zucchini. I went to the internet.

What I discovered has disturbed me. It turns out that it is very, very possible that I will have to learn zucchini in-vitro fertilization in order to be successful. That's right, my friends. Zucchini sex. Due to the lack of bees in my garden (and elsewhere, it seems), I might actually have to sentence myself to eternal dork-dome and get out there and help my zucchini get it on.

There are lots of websites that explain how this is done, if you have a need-to-know. Basically, you get your basic paintset paintbrush (think of it as the turkey baster), find a good, open "male" flower, swipe-swipe with your brush, find a compatible looking female flower with a baby squash on the end of it (the websites didn't say "compatible," but I'm guessing if you're going to force procreation here it would pay off to be discriminating), wait until it is open and "ready" and then swipe the precious pollen onto it's little female parts.

You. Must. Be. Kidding.

The websites say that if no pollination takes place, a fruit will develop, but with no seeds inside it, the plant will let the fruit rot before it reaches maturity. Who knew?

I can only assume with the plethora of information out there on this topic, that there must be gardeners the world over heading out to their little plots right now, paintbrushes in hand, labeled flower diagrams in their back pockets. I'm giving my plants until June 1 to figure it out and/or for some bees to show up around here to get the job done the normal way. After that, I'm taking matters (and pollen) into my own hands (and onto my own paintbrush).

If some dirty knees and a few soiled paintbrushes are what it takes to get my gardening pride back, well then, it's a small price to pay.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Thank God for Oprah. She is getting me all straightened out. Twenty Six min. into the show and I'm thinking that Twitter is a mix between FB status updates and blogging. With a character limit. For those of us who are brevity challenged, of course.

Drinking the Kool Aid

It's been a real kool aide drinking week around here. I finally decided to read Twilight. Purchased it for my own Easter basket, actually, which is it's own blog worthy story. Nothing says resurrection like vampire love, you know. I'm through book number two and my recommendation for all those who haven't read them yet is to go ahead and do it, but don't read a page before pg. 300 in either of the first two books. Just skip on over. You won't miss anything except some spectacularly poor writing and you'll save yourself pages of irritation. Start at pg. 301, or even 290, if you're feeling brave. You'll pick right up with the story line. The plot is great, but it could be easily summed up in about 100 pages instead of the 600 she devotes to each book. It's like a soap opera. You can really just jump in anywhere and feel pretty caught up within the first several minutes (or paragraphs, as it were).

Next, my mother of all people has shamed me into signing on to Twitter. Someone is going to have to help me out here. I don't get it.

I also didn't "get" FB at first, which is a sure sign that I'm getting old. Just like my grandmother who cannot be convinced that cell phones actually work. I fought FB like the plague, but finally drank that kool aid too and am not addicted. But, Twitter? I signed on and saw a looooooong list of random sentences from people picked from my yahoo list. Why is this different from FB status updates?

Is it just so we can do something else with our phones? I don't text (which makes me old, I know). I don't even have a camera on my phone and I certainly don't have any internet capabilities. When I get a new cell phone, I actually request the largest phone they have (they don't get lost in pocketbooks) and always ask hopefully if the "Bag Phone" has made a comeback yet. I would love an iphone (mostly because I hear tell that they can find you a Starbucks just about anywhere), but it seems a little hypocritical to ask The Scientist to cut down on his hot water use in the mornings so I can afford a better cell phone plan, don't you think? I also lose my cell phone several times a year, which makes me another candidate for a "budget" phone. I just need it to connect me. Not sing to me, take pictures of me or conduct a corporate merger for me. I am not so popular at the phone store, as you might imagine. The phones I buy aren't even on display. Needless to say, they are not set up to "Twitter" anything.

So, someone tell me why I need Twitter. I am easily influenced.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

There's Some(thing?)one For Everyone

I realize this is an unconventional Easter post. But, really? Could one wait even one more day to air this to the blogging public? I think not.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Super Saturday

Got up this morning, picked a bunch of basil from the garden and made fresh pesto with it (if you beg, I'll give you my Sicilian aunt's recipe). If you like pasta for breakfast, this is the house to live in.

Then I boiled way more eggs than any family need dye for one Easter Sunday. But, I found camoflage egg dye for Two Fish, in addition to the regular dye. So we needed some extra eggs. We'll just be eating egg salad for awhile.

I've decided to take the children to see Monsters Vs. Aliens today. By myself. Because I've lost my mind.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dressers, Bookshelves and Big, Fat Armoires

Dang. I was really hoping that the requirement that something be drastically changed every time The Scientist returns home was going to be satisfied by the puppies being neutered. This is evidently not so. Starting yesterday, I have been overcome with the mad desire to rearrange everything in our home. This leads me to one of two conclusions. Either The Scientist is on his way home, or I am pregnant and a few weeks from delivery. My current figure aside, the second option is not possible. It must be the former.

Dressers have been emptied and moved to the living room. The treadmill has been moved from the garage to the bedroom and back to the garage (don't know what I was thinking on that one). An old-ish armoire that has been living in our garage for the past 5 years has been emptied and ritualistically cleaned with enough cleaning products to give one a spontaneous case of something ending in "-oma." It has been moved to our bedroom. Yes, I did it by myself. I moved it to the garage five years ago by myself too. When I was 8.5 months pregnant. I figured if I could do that, I could definitely get it back in again not pregnant.

Our lone bookshelf has moved rooms (bone of contention between The Scientist and myself- he hates them and thinks they look cluttered. I think bookshelves lined with books are signs of interesting people. I'm right.). It is going to be getting a friend here soon. We have those books double and triple stacked in there and just looking at it is making me jittery.

Random things are now serving as bedside tables and may not stay there. Our garage has a new, sensible (read, CHEAP) storage piece which has not been filled and it's soon-to-be contents are all over the place. You don't even want to know the state of our clothing, what with all the dresser shifting going on around here.

I have about 36 hours to put it all back together. Start the timer...NOW.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Plan B for Madonna

Poor Madonna is having a rough week. Turns out the Malawian (is that a word?) judges don't put quite the stock in celebrities we do and has denied her request to adopt a(nother) child. While I do think this is a crying shame as this child has the opportunity to grow up in privilege instead of poverty, I don't know that there's much any of us can do about it. So, I've come up with a plan B for her.

I think she should strongly consider adopting any or all of The Real Housewives of NYC. In my constant quest to keep abreast of all trashy reality TV, I tried this one on for size a few nights ago and decided that it didn't at all meet the criteria I look for in trash TV. For one, I don't like my reality personalities to be hopeless or devoid of human decency. If Madonna is just looking to adopt someone to whom she could give a better life, these gals are just her ticket. They don't so much need the life of privilege as much as they need some good old fashioned tough love, but that's a part of the parenting game, right? In fact, I'm suggesting them to anyone looking for a mission project. Forget the starving orphans in Malawi. I've never met anyone who needs savin' more than Kelly and Jill. And, the good news is that, should they be picked for anyone's next mission project (or Madonna's next charitable and/or maternal venture), unlike most children, they don't eat. At all. So, they're really, really cheap to keep around.

It's just something to think about.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool!

The Mommy Show is not without its lighter moments.
This was the children's dinner tonight (totally stolen from Family Fun Magazine).
The "homemade chicken tenders" were actually sugar wafers coated in peanut butter and rolled in crushed cereal.
The "cupcakes" were actually meatloaf (a Paula Dean recipe I would highly recommend) with tinted mashed potatoes piped on top. You can think of me as sort of an evil Martha.

You can see One Fish's face when she tasted her "chicken, " but the meatloaf cupcake was the best. She looked down at her plate and was quiet while she chewed. Then politely excused herself for a drink of water. I started to laugh and couldn't stop. She finally looked up and said quietly, "Mom. This tastes like crap." I think it was the first time I've ever heard her use that word! It was hilarious and I couldn't stop laughing!!!

I tried to pass the jelly off as ketchup but Two Fish asked me why there was jelly on his plate. I told him it was a "new organic ketchup." That satisfied him and he didn't ask again, even after he was eating his "chicken" dipped in the new "ketchup." He was highly complimentary of how I'd fixed the "chicken" and said that it tasted like granola bar chicken. If it hadn't actually had a big ol' sugar wafer inside it I would have been making a mental note to make it again.
When I came clean (which was much quicker than planned since I couldn't stop laughing after One Fish made her "crap" pronouncement), they were suitably shocked and impressed. After spending about five lamenting how horrid meatloaf is, Two Fish allowed that this particular dish was actually pretty decent- given that it was not, after all, a fluffy, pink frosting covered baked good.
One Fish never did come around on the meatloaf and continued to mourn her lost cupcake through the rest of the meal. But, even she had to admit that she had not been aware what deceptive skill I had to fool them all day into believing they were having cupcakes for dinner. "How do you lie so well?!" she wanted to know. Oh, someday, little bear...someday...you, too, will learn...
If laughing at your children's expense doesn't say "family fun" I don't know what does.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I have a proposal I've been mulling over for quite awhile. Ever since I became a stay-at-home mommy (slave), actually. This latest recession has really brought it to a head. BTW, are we calling it a depression now, or are we sticking with recession? I can't seem to keep up. Anywho, think about this and tell me if I have not had a stroke of genius: What do people do when times are tough? If you answer "look for a job and drink, you are getting a ding, ding, ding! You got it right! So, my little business should cater to both. I can start franchises (to employ the out of work realtors, don't you know), AND provide a much needed service. If I were really smart, my new business venture would be...

The Martinimobile

These little busses would look suspiciously similar to the ice cream trucks we all grew up with and loved. With maybe a little Mardi Gras float feel to them too. Naturally, we would market to the mommies for starters. No one I know needs a martini at the end of a long day of legos and carpool like my favorite mommies. I can also think of quite a few childless girlfriends who would be digging in their change drawers for this too. I think we should carry a very limited selection- just to make it easy. And, really? If someone is running down the street chasing a Martinimobile, do they really care what the heck is being served as long as it has the word PROOF on the side of the bottle? I think not.

I'm really not much of a drinker. Not because I'm against it. On the contrary, I'm all in favor of a cocktail (or three) at the end of the day. I just don't have the time and have lost all tolerance and so one drink makes me sleepy and renders me unable to morph into the drill sargeant I need to be to get everyone into bed before 9PM. But, I can't help but think often of my grandparents and how they had a drink every single solitary night when my grandfather got home from work. He mixed the drinks and they drank them together while they discussed their days and relaxed. They just had one each and I can remember exactly the glasses they drank them from. I think they were onto something. Just one. To help one relax. And how convenient would it be if you didn't even have to mix it yourself? If it just came to you?

I really think there is lots of room for expansion with my Martinimobile idea. I could rent out for playgroups (is that wrong?), block parties and of course, church preschool holiday parties. Stop it with the raised eyebrows- I'm kidding! Kind of...

On a more serious note, I would definitely have a very, very strict policy against selling to anyone who didn't look somewhat haggard, over the age of at least 30 or who looked remotely like a nanny or babysitter (Not that I would have any clue what either looked like. I don't see many around this fishtank). It is one thing to have a cocktail ourselves at the end of a long day- just to get us through the 4-7 Angry Hour, as we call it. It is a whole 'nother story to pay someone to keep your precious children, only to find that they were using your daughter's school milk money for Long Island ice teas.

I would also have pretty stringent hiring requirements for my "bus drivers." All my drivers would have to be over the age of 30, have vibrant senses of humor and wear yoga pants.

I haven't even drawn up a business plan yet and already I am envisioning my successful business. Women across the Gulf Coast, hearing the tinkling of my merry bus, throwing couch cushions to the ground in their haste to scrounge up the change necessary to get a Screwdriver. Racing down the street, baby on the hip, toddler being dragged by one hand, change clutched in the other, screaming, "Wait for me! Wait for me!"

See, I told you I'm a genius. Now, don't you want a franchise?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just wait until she has kids

Do you think Kelly Clarkson could have figured out a way to make the same catchy song without using the word "SUCK?" There is just something offputting about an 8 year old belting out "my life would SUCK without yooooooouuuu!" from the backseat of my car. Which is why I change it when it comes on, unless they aren't in the car. In which case I sing along at the top of my lungs.

I'm considering telling them that she is saying "My life's a muck without you" so I can continue to listen to it, but I'm not sure they'll buy it. Any suggestions?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Perhaps I was not clear about why/how we end up eating in every night when The Scientist is away. Contrary to Kelly Bee's thought, it is not lack of guts. Nor is it virtue, as I fear Kristen may believe. It is laziness and a firm commitment to #5 on the list. When one chooses to dine out with children, it is customary to eat at the same table with them, is it not? Dining out solo with children is not pleasurable for me. If it is a buffet (don't get me started on my hatred of buffets...), I spend the entire time jumping up and down to fetch things for various people and by the time I actually sit down to eat, they are all finished. It's not dinner, it's aerobics. If it's not a buffet, I have to figure out how to occupy three children spanning 7 years and keep them from giving everyone around us acid reflux. By the time their dinner arrives, I just want us all to wolf it down as fast as possible and get the heck out of Dodge. Not. Relaxing. Did I mention that Red Fish is going through a SpiderMan phase? Not that he knows who SpiderMan is, but he has a burning desire to climb on anything and everything. Tables are perfect and every one must be conquered. Sitting in a high chair and NOT being allowed to climb out of it and onto the nearest level surface is torture.

For some reason, all these issues are much, much more managable with another adult. In the meantime, however, a dinner out that I didn't have to prepare (or clean up) takes a backseat every time to reaching the end of a long day and sitting down to enjoy a meal by myself, in my jammies, in perfect silence with a great book. You can appreciate? There is no virtue here. I'm the one they make the public service announcements about. "The family that eats together..." There's just plenty of time for that one we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

No tickets to Sundance required

This is the conversation my children and I just had:

Two Fish: Mickey and Jesse are really into Star Wars.

Me: Really?

One Fish: Yeah! Mom, they talk about it all the time and Jesse has a light saber and everything!

Two Fish: Can I have a light saber?

Me: Why do you want a light saber?

Two Fish: Can I watch Star Wars and THEN get a light saber?

One Fish: Why can't we watch Star Wars?

Me: Well, I don't know that you can't watch Star Wars. Let me think about it.

One Fish: Ok, Mom. How about this. You read the book to us first, but skip any scary parts.

Two Fish: Yeah! Have you already read the book? Is it just like the movie?

Me: Guys, Star Wars isn't a book. It's just the movie.


Two Fish: (laughing) Well, then how did they know what to put in the movie?

One Fish: Mom! Of course it's a book! It has to be a book before it's a movie! Just check it out from the library and then tell us if it's OK for little kids!

(insert giggling from my children directed at their most ridiculous and evidently clueless mother)

It doesn't appear that we have any budding film careers here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mommy Show

On April 8th, we will resume our regularly scheduled programming. That is, The Scientist will return home. Until then, we are in survival mode and have been for several weeks. Here is how The Mommy Show differs from our regular programming:

1) We eat in every single night and eat whatever the heck we feel like it. I like to cook, so sometimes we eat really, really well (ie- I make something delicious that the children won't touch with a 10 ft. pole). Other times we eat sandwiches. Regardless, there's no way in hades I'm taking three children to a restaurant by myself.

2) We go to bed really early. It's 8:54. They've been asleep for over an hour. I have been in my jammies for at least that long.

3) We. Have.A.Schedule. It is not to be deviated from. Unless there is a diaper blowout just as we are leaving the house, in which case all schedules for the next 12 hours can be thrown out the window.

4) We read A LOT. Out loud. The Scientist, philistine as he is, enjoys neither being read to nor reading out loud. He is also a terrible out-loud reader. So, when he's gone, we read out loud at breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, bedtime and during any hurry-up-and-wait activity. They love it. I love it. He'd hate it.

5) I try to never, ever eat with them. Sit with them while they eat? Yes. Actually break bread with them? Not if I can help it. There. Put that on my "Worst Mother of the Year" application. I know it's wrong, but I'm not medicated and do deserve a vice or two. Count "eating in peace and quiet" as one of them.

6) Counter-intuitively, I am much more calm during the Mommy Show. Not that The Scientist stressed me out. But, what's the point in getting all worked up when there is no back-up coming and I am plans A, B,C,D and E? It will just make things worse.

7) There is always some big change while The Scientist is gone. Rooms get completely rearranged. Major purchases are made. Hair gets drastically cut. Nothing so dramatic has happened so far this trip. I was starting to worry that I was due to pull a Brittney Spears haircut or something like it. So, I went ahead and scheduled the puppies to be neutered in hopes that this would satisfy the seeming requirement that something be dramatically different upon The Scientist's return. We've told them they are going to the spa for the day. Because it's sort of like a haircut...but different.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gradeschoolers and Grosgrain

WARNING! The following passages contain shameless bragging by me on my (absolutely adorable) child. This also contains a fair amount of mock shallowness and thinly veiled competitive nature. If you are offended by such, prefer not to read such or take me or yourself too seriously, you are strongly encouraged not to read this or at least to proceed with caution. You have been warned.

We spent today at the regional science fair. I am a self professed dork and loooooove me some science fair. Reading fair ranks pretty low on my list, but we still play along and do it. I can't make it mean much more to me than any other glorified book report, but I understand the language arts teachers love it. So be it. But, science fair? Please... We're in it to win it. With that said, I am a witch when it comes to making One Fish do it herself. I'll teach her anything scienc-y that needs to be taught ahead of time, but when it comes to actually doing the experiment, I'm hands off. She writes it up. She researches it. I won't even type it for her. I taught her to use spellcheck and any other errors that a second grader wouldn't reasonably be able to catch, we leave in there. On the school science fair level, I do look each year to see which categories get the fewest entries so that she can do a project in one of those and have less competition and get to regionals, but that's an embarassing fact that I'd prefer you don't repeat. People might start thinking I'm That Mom (or steal my great strategy, don't you know).

With The Scientist out of town for the month (please stop gasping- it only makes it worse...), I was running the three ring circus solo this morning. All four of us were to be in attendance today and so we had to have things dialed in last night. The doors opened for this shindig at 7AM this morning. (the gasping thing again- stop it.). So, like any of you would, I had everyone lay out their clothes last night.

One Fish chose a most adorable baby blue, brown and pink polka dot skirt with a matching shirt with grosgrain ribbon bow trim. Brown wedge sandals. Then she came walking in with her hair accessory choice. A BIG OL' chocolate brown bow with her monogram on it. She says to me, "I haven't been going for bows lately, but I'm going to go with this one for tomorrow because from what I can tell, judges like a big hair bow."

And you know what? She got second place.

Because really, who can resist a smart pants science girl with a big monogrammed hair bow? Not me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Today's Stellar Parenting Moment is Sponsored By...Me

One Fish's class has been reading the book Charlotte's Web. Their spelling words have come from it, they've studied vocabulary from it, they've watched the movie. They've had spider snacks and pig themed snacks and have done all sorts of diagrams analyzing the book. They've done in -class projects and out of class projects and have generally eaten, breathed and slept CHARLOTTE. The book is now over and we have sadly discovered that...

One Fish has misplaced her book.

Actually, now I think we can safely say she has LOST it. Not just misplaced. It is nowhere to be found. I e-mailed the teacher (while plugging my ears against the wailing and keening from my daughters room) to ask her if what One Fish suspects is indeed true. Will the world actually stop spinning if she never finds the book or is there some sort of simple fine associated with this transgression?

Sure enough, a simple five dollars blood money is all that is required to atone for this sin.

I e-mail the teacher back. I explain that since I am The Meanest White Woman In The County, my daughter will be earning the five dollars to pay for the book ("But, Moooooommmmmm!"). So, do I need to send the $5 in immediately, or can I draw this little teachable moment out a bit longer and make her earn the five dollars slowly, looking at the money accumulate in her bank, knowing that it has already been spent in a moment of carelessness? I have already explained to One Fish that Mommy and Daddy have made lots and lots of bad choices in their time that have led to something having to be repaired or replaced and I want her to know how to work to make up for something when a bad choice has been made. And perhaps to think twice before a bad choice is repeated. Life lessons don't come cheap, ladies and gents.

I have to be honest with you, dear readers. I was pretty pleased with my parenting at this point. I knew I was making a difficult, but practical and just decision. I was teaching my child how to make up for careless choices. I was leading her. I was, by God, being a GOOD MOM. My hearing would be forever damaged because of the reaction of my darling daughter to the sad news that it was HER five bucks that would be sacrificed, but this was a small price to pay, I thought piously. Of course, the teacher was going to recognize this and think all the better for me of it. Not that I didn't think she thought just wonderfully of me already. After all, I smugly told myself, I used to be a teacher, don't you know. If anyone knows how to be an involved, responsible parent that is the dream of any teacher, it is me! Right?

So, the teacher e-mails back that we should just send in the money as soon as possible (not exactly sure what that meant). She also put a PS on the end which read:

"Could you also please clean out [One Fish's] communication folder?"

I stared at the screen for several minutes trying to process what I had just read. I was shocked. Horrified. My heart actually started to beat faster.

'Cause, ummmm...

I didn't even know she HAD a communications folder.

She does, as it turns out. Has ever since school started, actually. And no, it hasn't been "cleaned out" since...well, ever. The past 27 weeks of school, I guess. Luckily, she is a responsible little person (except for losing things, it seems) and had shown me some of the most critical pieces. And, there is a weekly folder that comes home with graded papers and newsletters and bulletins and of this folder I have been well aware and ultra diligent about "cleaning out." So, why is this other communication folder necessary? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but the teacher obviously thinks it is important and has certainly been wondering why I have neglected to take a single thing out of it for 27 weeks.

Its a good questions, isn't it?

Friday, March 6, 2009

We have a winner!

For those of you who thought I might be the biggest dork ever for my HP obsession, allow me to assure you that I have been beaten. My sister just sent me this link. She wins.


And, whether you love, like or just tolerate the HP series, you will be envious that you will not be attending the kick tail HP movie party I am preparing for the fishies. I'm currently on a quest to find Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans. Wish me luck...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nerd Alert

The Fishies and I have been quite busy this week. My in-laws left on Monday (love them!) and my mother comes on Saturday (love you too, Mom!). The Scientist was supposed to leave for month at sea two days ago. But, as is typical, he's still here. The feds move slowly in just about everything and boat preparation is no exception. A problem with this and a glitch in that. They've assured him that he is really, really leaving today. We'll see.

At the rate we're going this week, my mother will be lucky if she has clean sheets on the bed when she gets here. The Fishies and I have been completely consumed by HARRY POTTER this week! They have been begging me to read it to them for awhile and I have resisted only because after the first book or two, things get pretty dark and scary pretty quickly and I didn't want to "go there." But, one of my favorite things ever is reading a favorite book of mine aloud to them and I finally caved. We'll just do the first one. And maybe the second...

They are obsessed. We have decided that we would surely all be in Gryffindor. And Two Fish would definitely play Quidditch. I'm a bit of a Hermione, myself, and can't see loving the flying thing. One Fish has a vision issue that would probably keep her sidelined. They both, of course, know exactly what Harry should do in each situation ("get Snape fired!") and gasp at the appropriate times and laugh uproariously a the antics of Peeves the Poltergeist.

The Scientist is trying to hide how horrified he really is. He's not much of a fiction reader himself and equates HP to Dungeons and Dragons. He doesn't get it at all. But, he knew this about me when we met. When I was 8 months pregnant with One Fish, I did stand outside the bookstore at midnight with all the other middle school students to get the new book when it came out. It should not come as a surprise to him that he married a nerd (in this respect only, of course).

As soon as The Scientis is out of here and we've finished the book (should happen tomorrow or Saturday), we're going to snuggle up in the bed with some Bertie Bots Every Flavor Beans and some Chocolate Frogs (heehee- the fishies don't even know you can buy them- they're going to DIE!) and watch the movie.

We'll see who the fun mommy is now.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Now Two Fish is puking. I'm starting to think we're one of those families that seems particularly prone to such things.

However disgusting that little face covered in puke may seem to be, it's not. He knows how to work it. In his camoflage shorts, pirate skull t-shirt and pretend dog tags, he looked up with his icky face and said in his most pitiful, quavering voice,

"Mommy, will you get me my 'pinkwin' jammies?"

That would be PENGUIN jammies for those of you who don't speak five-year-old. The bright blue fuzzy ones with snow skiing penguins on them. Not the favorite camo ones. Not the almost-favorite glow in the dark boxers with a t-shirt. Just his "pinkwin" jammies, please. The ones Santa's elves brought him Christmas Eve. The ones that he may or may not secretly think are too babyish for him but are so warm and fuzzy he just can't resist sometimes.

I guess nothing makes you feel better when you're sick than your momma and some pinkwin jammies.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Scratch That...

Well, forget everything I said in the last post about things not looking so good in the Fishtank. Because, as of about five minutes ago, things are looking up. Seriously, how can things not be when a big ol' box of cute is on it's way to my house?! Preppy Paper Girl had a Lilly giveaway this past week (I know, I know, I should have told you, but you Clemsongirl readers did have ample notification). You guessed it and I won it.

Go check out the cuteness and plan your next birthday list or your next "I survived a weekend alone with the children" treat. All new stuff. 100% adorable. 100% preppy. 100% mine. If you think her stuff is adorable, you'll fall on the floor when you see the packaging. Trust me.


Let me preface this by saying that I do not choose sides politically. You'll never get me to tell who I voted for in the last election and I swing back and forth like a pendulum depending on the issue. I actually think Obama is smart, savvy, and seems to be a pretty good guy. Ditto about McCain, not that it matters a wit anymore. With that said...

Things not looking so good in the Fish Tank today. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that The Scientist has a job and works hard. We decided years ago that a reliable job was worth the pay cut if the alternative was less stability and higher pay. We have decided several times NOT to sell our house and upgrade to a larger one. Because of this, we can afford our mortgage and are current on it. Cramped, but current. We both took out student loans to get graduate degrees with and will be paying off said student loans until after our own children's college is paid for, most likely. But, we decided that education and being marketable in our fields was worth it (not that this fishy is using said graduate degree, but that's a minor detail, right?). We have tried to take advantage of wise retirement options when they have been offered (you can guess how that worked out for us in 2008).

You can see why things are not so sunny. Turns out that a wiser move may have been to go corporate instead of the public servant-type route, buy a bajillion dollar house, get underwater with and behind on the mortgage, lose the job when the market tanked, and then go on vacation with the severance package while we wait for our bailout money to come in to fix our mortgage issue. Do we have money issues? You betcha. Do we wish every night that the money fairy would move in while we sleep? Uhhh- yeah! But, for the most part, our issues have nothing to do with excessive greed or blatently irresponsible spending. And they're no more serious than the concerns of most other middle class families I know.

I guess I should just thank goodness the spending bill covers changing paper medical records over to electronic ones. Because that's really been weighing heavily on my mind. I can go to bed relieved tonight...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Discount Diva to Bargain Basement Betty

The Scientist's cousin's wife (complicated, I know), just sent me the link to an awesome deal. Too good to pass up, actually. The e-mail explains that a particular cosmetic company has been bought out by Nordstrom's and is trying to reduce all it's inventory because their products are going to be repackaged with the Nordstrom's label on them. Awesome, right? I go to the company's website and browse. Yowza! Everything is a dollar!!! One Dollar! Cute website, looks professional enough and even has the PETA label in the corner. Looks like some great make-up and who doesn't need another tube of dept. store lipgloss? One cannot have too many colors, right? To sweeten the deal, every order up to $15 can be reduced by half if one only puts in a certain coupon code.

I have a grand time and order a basket full of stuff- lip gloss, nail polish, brushes, eye makeup and mascara (always on a quest for the perfect one). I get my half-off and gladly pay the 6.95 in shipping because, as I am exclaiming to The Scientist, I have probably just gotten about $150 in make up for $12. I push "complete order" soooo very, very happily.

Then I get to wondering... is this brand CURRENTLY being sold at Nordstroms and did they buy out a brand they are already selling or have they pulled it from stores completely? I go back to the website and click on the "store finder" icon on the top. I type in my MIL's zip code since they have plenty of Nordstroms near them and I just knew one of them would be referenced. And, as it turns out, there are plenty of stores near my MIL that sell this brand of makeup. She'll be pleased to know that if she needs to buy any of this stuff, all she has to do is go to one of the two places that currently sells it...

Big K or Big Lots.
Awesome. Just awesome. I'm expecting my large box of crap in the mail in a week or so.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Man Cave Art

This is what The Scientist painted on the wall of his man cave (the garage) yesterday. He freehanded it because under his retrosexual facade he is actually a renaissance man. Yes, I said FREEHANDED it. You will either be insanely jealous or horrified.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The good:
I pried my big arse out of the house and ran two freakin' miles. It still sucks, but I think The Scientist is becoming convinced that I do indeed have superpowers. He is impressed (and I love his cute self for it). He might be starting to be afraid of me and I'm not entirely sure that is a bad thing.

The bad:
Even with Justin bringing Sexy Back and all, I was forced to stop twice. Both times I walked a few houses worth and then picked the pace back up. So, I have reached a limit for my body and it's name is Two Miles. I hate Two Miles.

The ugly:
One Fish was puking when I got home. Too much king cake and V-day candy and sleepover food OR a virus that is lying in wait just for me? Only time will tell...