Thursday, May 31, 2007
Proof, The Redux
Forgot to include this gem from my son in Tuesday's Proof post:

Proof that my son is a real city kid:
Upon being awakened in Pennsylvania by birds at 4:45am on Saturday, Harry climbed onto the couch to look out the window and said "Look, mama! We're in the zoo!"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007
You Realize, of course, that this means war
Dear Squirrels,

I really thought we had a good give-take relationship going here. I feed the birds and don't chase you away when you steal their food. We allow you free reign in our yard, and I actually feel bad for you when the mockingbirds try to peck you to death.

So what gives? Why do you continually dig through my flower boxes? Why are you trying to unearth my nasturtium seeds? THEY ARE NOT NUTS. LEAVE THEM ALONE.

I've turned a blind eye to your garden antics in the past. The digging up of the bulbs and the destruction of my my single, solitary corn plant? I haven't even mentioned it until now. Remember when I sprinkled a newly-seeded bed with crushed red chili pepper because I had read that's what the mob does when they bury a body and don't want pests (like squirrels) digging around the shallow grave? That seemed to work for awhile but that was before we had songbirds in the yard. Now there is food in the yard for them, and you are benefitting from that food. SO LEAVE MY FUCKING FLOWER BOXES ALONE!

But the final straw is the fact that I have one more "hen and chick" plant left. Only one. Don't look at me like that. You know which one I'm talking about. I replanted it under the grape vines next to the impatiens in the hopes that it would cover that bare patch and you dug it up. I replanted it and you dug it up again. I have replanted it for the last time. Dig it up again and you will die and the only thing the world will have to prove you roamed this earth is a marker that reads "Here lies Squirrel who dug up a nice lady's plant one too many times."

Do not test me.

The Nice Lady

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Proof that my daughter is a New Yorker:
Part I - Explaining during a very boring car ride all the nuances of her personality: "My favorite color is pink. Then purple. Then black."

Part II - Upon seeing the building her dentist is located in still being renovated: "Ugh! They're killing me with this construction already!"

Proof that my daughter is a real city kid:
"I like the country and all. Its just that I really don't like bugs."

Proof that my daughter has the strangest eating habits. Ever:
When she realized we were staring at her as she inhaled a thick ring of raw onion "What? It's delicious!"

Friday, May 25, 2007
Why do almost all my subway experiences end with me thinking "What a freak!"?
Oh how I wish I had a camera phone. Then you could see for yourself the freak show that played before me last night on the C train.

Allow me to describe the look of the man first: bleach blond hair down to his shoulders held back with a skull and cross bone Rambo bandana, sleeveless black Superman shirt and skinny polyester rocker pants.

The theme of his freak show was to give a blow by blow description of his recent foot surgery to his friend, from the "thing" they wheeled him to the operating room on ("What the fuck you call it? You know....the THING!" Newsflash buddy: it's called a gurney. Haven't you ever watched ER?), to the gangrenous state of the appendage, to the odor of the infection and finally how they peeled back his toenails and "scraped all that black shit out" of his little piggies.

It took awhile to get my appetite back. I'm nearly positive the woman that was sitting next to this guy is probably still retching into a trash can somewhere.

Happy memorial day to all....enjoy the long weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Guest blogger today!
Today we have a guest blogger since our usual blogger-in-residence is up to her eyeballs in work. It is Inky, the cat. Enjoy her take This Charming Life.

First, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Inky, a 7 year old domestic short hair. I came to live with The Humans in September, 1999. (Since they refuse to let me lay on their table all day I refuse to call them by their given names.) I'm the 2nd cat The Humans acquired. The first was Oreo, who is quite nice once you get to know her. She's a cat's cat and prefers to be left alone. I, on the other hand, thrive on attention.

When I came to live here, we had lots of sofas and space. And no kids! Life was grand. We were spoiled. There were never ending supplies of fake rabbit-fur mice for us to bat around, kitty treats twice daily and lots of play time.

Things have gone downhill since the Baby Humans arrived on the scene. I don't know where The Humans acquired them but they've certainly added an element of chaos. These days it's all "Oh, I must have forgotten to feed you before I left for work," and "Hey, you! Get off of there!" It is especially bad when the Boy Baby Human karate chops the air in front of my face and yells "HiiiiiYA!" The Girl Baby Human is OK; she's picking up the slack on the food front by dutifully filling our kibble bowl every evening. At least someone's paying attention.

I can't complain, though. We get outside time and we are permitted in every room of the house. But when I am especially cranky, I play games like Poop Outside the Box and Throw Up on the Carpet. That really gets the Lady Human riled up and that makes me feel better. The best is when I do both and then the Baby Boy Human poops his diaper and the Lady Human is cleaning up all manner of bodily by-products for 30 minutes straight. You've got to come by sometime and see the look on her face on days like that. It's classic!

Another way to keep The Humans interested in me is to not groom myself. It garners all sorts of attention and exclamations like "Jeez, you're really letting yourself go, you know that?" and "You smell!" and my personal favorite "Look at you! You're friggin' filthy!" They're so sweet to notice. In return, I do them the favor of putting my butt as close to their faces as possible while sleeping. It's the least I can do.

We are all looking forward to the summer. I hear the cicadas are about to emerge. Fantastic! I love to catch them and bring them in the house. The buzzing sound they make is music to my ears. The shrieks of horror when The Humans spy the partially dismembered insect is just icing on the cake. Of all the things I do, I am best at catching flies. No, really. I'm, like, really good at it. The ideal place to put the fly, once caught, is on the kitchen table where the family can enjoy looking at the corpse over a meal. They are so stupid to throw it away and scrub the table. It's just a FLY for goodness sake.

As you can see, This Charming Life can be hectic but it is fun. Despite how things have changed around here The Humans are alright. I have them pretty well trained. Why just the other night I stood in the kitchen meowing loudly and one of them came to me. Me! In the middle of the night! Now that’s love. She walked away muttering something about “no-kill shelter” but surely that’s a term of endearment, right?

Monday, May 21, 2007
Crabbiness is contagious and the cure for what ails you
My kids topped me in the crabbiness department this weekend.

First was Harry, who, it must be noted, is also fighting some sort of cold/allergy as well as a demonic possession fit of terrible two-ness. For the most part, you'd never know he isn't feeling up to snuff since he is eating well and playing just fine. But look at his glassy eyes, unrelenting runny nose and listen to the frequent sneezing. Poor kid is suffering and his exorcism doctor's visit is scheduled for Wednesday.

Then there's the frustration. The wailing, howling, tear-soaked result of Harry not being able to accomplish a certain task a certain way, be it a pulverized green bean that won't for-the-love-of-all-that-is-holy stay on his fork, or the sock that just won't come off his foot or the toy that won't stay in his pocket or the mother who insists on changing his poopy diaper. I am left looking at him wondering how long this fit of two-ness will last. I've got about a week left in me. Here's hoping he's on the same timetable.

Coupled with Harry's woes, which are really my woes since this is my blog and I can make it all about me if I want, are Sophie's woes. Or, more specifically, Sophie's suffering of the Schizophrenic Six's. Haven't heard of the Schizophrenic Six's? It's when your usually pleasant and loving child alternates between being madly in love with you and everything about you from the freckle on your cheek to the fact that you serve cranberry sauce with turkey cutlets for dinner ("This is the BEST dinner ever, mom!") into a raving lunatic who defies you every chance she gets.

When you have a case of the Schizo Six's in the house, it is best to allow extra time to get ready to go anywhere because you will have to 1. argue about clothing 2. remind the child 272 times to put their dirty clothes in the hamper 3. argue about why it is not possible to bring every last doll (or toy) the child owns to wherever you are going 4. ask the child to perform basic grooming rituals 73 times 5. have a good cry and/or a stiff drink. Somewhere in between the arguing and the crying the child will fall madly in love with you all over again and will hold your hand, hug you, tell you how very lucky she is to have you for a mother. Then the wind shifts and suddenly you are a tyrant all over again with your rules and refusal to allow her to have a cell phone and insistance on good behavior blah blah blah.

Reading trashy magazines while getting a pedicure is a really good remedy for all of the above. A solo vacation is the ultimate cure but a pedi and Star will work in a pinch.

Friday, May 18, 2007
Mrs. Crabbypants
I woke up yesterday in a bad mood. A foul mood. For no apparent reason except that yesterday was my turn to be Not Pleasant.

Someone came into my office and asked "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Just in a really bad mood today."


"No reason really. Just tired and cranky I guess." And then I launched into a tirade about things that had pissed me off thus far. The list started with tourists, people walking and talking on cell phones who act annoyed when they plow into you because they are not paying attention. It ended with "And then there's Dora."

"Dora who?"

"Dora. You know. The Explorer. Where does she get off hanging out with a monkey? And not just any old monkey. A monkey wearing red fucking boots. So not based in any reality I know of."

And then my colleague backed away and mentioned that I could probably use some time off. Which is forthcoming. And needed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One of my all time favorite shows signs off tonight for good. So long Gilmore Girls. I'll be ok. No, really. It's alright. I should be doing more reading instead of watching anyway. And if I'm not watching you every Tuesday night, I won't waste .5 (billable!) hours each week standing around the damned watercooler talking about your plot points, clothes and pop references. So good riddence. I mean it. Get outta here already. And take your catchy theme song with you!

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm devastated.

Monday, May 14, 2007
Best Mother's Day. Ever.
The best part about Mother's Day this year was Sophie's excitement about it. She could hardly contain herself. Every day she reminded me about the surprise she made me in school. She would whisper things to John about what she had in mind to celebrate. Late Saturday night, she had divulged one item about Mother's Day: she and John were going to make me blueberry pancakes. This was apparently a last minute addition to the agenda judging by how perplexed my husband looked. Then he asked me "do we even have blueberries? What about pancake mix?"

I let him off the hook by casually looking in the fridge and saying "You know what I could go for tomorrow for breakfast? A nice cup of coffee and some yogurt with fruit. Sophie, you could even make that all by yourself!"

Finally the day arrived and she was so over the top excited that she left the goodies for me on the stairs so I wouldn't miss them.

I got a beautiful bracelet that Sophie made in school, a poem with her handprints and a plate. The plate is actually very cool. It comes with a special marker which you write on the plate with, let it dry for 24-48 hours then bake it in the oven and voila! You have a food/microwave/dishwasher-safe plate.

On the plate, Sophie wrote: "We love being your children."

And I love being their mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2007
For all the brides-to-be out there
It will soon be wedding season and as a woman who's been married 8 years now, I'd like to share a bit of wisdom for any future brides out there reading this.

When confronted with "what should we have for dinner?" there is one recipe that many husbands request again and again.

You could look in recipe books. You might look online. But trust me when I say there is no known dinner recipe for "I don't know. What do you feel having?"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007
On Paris, role models and dolls
Poor Paris Hilton. First she gets busted for DUI and now she must serve 45 days for violating the terms of her parole.

As if it isn't bad enough that we need to be exposed to any of this in the first place, there is now an effort underway to save Paris from serving any jail time with the help of a petition. Because Paris "adds beauty and excitement in our otherwise mundane lives." Okaaay. Not really, but whatever.

Reading about the above got me thinking about a column I read by Dr. Debra Condren in which she answers a reader's query about whether she should care if she is one of the "cool kids" in the office or not. The answer was a resounding "not." It seems Dr. C feels we are in a cultural wasteland and left with "scant or misbegotten guidance."

I couldn't agree more. Holding up the tasteless Paris Hilton as something to be valued is just plain crazy. She doesn't enhance anyone's life or influence it in a positive way. How can she? Her "job" is be wealthy, pretty, drunk and half naked. And while she answers that calling pretty well, that's it. That's all there is. And there are people who buy into her and others like her wholesale.

The real question is: why? The answer, I think, is because there a very few better role models out there and anyone worth being held up as a role model is shoved off to the back of the magazine as news of the celebutards antics are reported front and center. AHEAD OF WAR COVERAGE.

As the mother of a 6 year old who is mesmerized by anything pink, sparkly, crowned or blond, it scares me that there isn't much out there for her to identify with. Sure, I remember wanting to be famous when I was a kid. But I also remember wanting to be just like Mary Lou Retton, who, through hard work (work people!) and ambition, was Olympic gold medalist. Today Mary Lou supports causes she believes in and is raising a family. It might be mundane but that is far better than being known for videos of your sexual exploits.

Even though the licensed characters that adorn every toy my kids own try to have an underlying moral message, it gets dissolved by the packaging of pretty gowns, chic clothing and cool accessories. American Girl comes close with their line of dolls that are dressed in period clothing and come with books that talk about what living in that doll's era was like. Just not close enough. I'd like to see a Madeleine Albright doll, a Margaret Sanger doll, a Suffragette Movement doll, a single mother who works and successfully gets her family off the welfare rolls doll. And a Christa McAuliffe doll.

(Getting off my soapbox now....)

Monday, May 7, 2007
You can ring my bell
Saturday night. Shish-ka-bobs cooking on the grill (which a great meal to cook with kids, by the way). We heard the doorbell ringing just as dinner was about to hit the table. We all assumed it was my neighbor Nancy, because Nancy always rings the bell to tell us news, or see what us "chickens" are up to, or to return a toy one of the kids left out front.

I sent John to answer so I could finish cooking when I heard him saying "Holy cow! LOOK who it is! How the hell ARE you?" Then much laughing and commotion. My husband isn't a commotion kind of guy and I couldn't fathom at this point who it was so I went out into the hall myself to see who was at the door.

Even I was shocked. It was a neighbor who lived on the top floor 10 years ago who just happened to be in the neighborhood visiting his sister.

This is what I love about Brooklyn. Move away and come back 10 years later? Sure enough, someone you know will remember you, welcome you in even if you have your sister, two kids (in sombreros for Cinquo de Mayo no less), your sister's boyfriend and your mother in tow. Then we did what New Yorkers do best: catching up.

Just like us, they have 2 kids and lots going on all the time. We covered who's working where, what are the kids into, and how there's never enough time to do much. Then we started reminiscing. We remembered the 28" snow storm when the entire city was shut down in '96 and we watched movies up in their apartment. We remembered watching a Superbowl with them. We remembered how, after buying vast amounts of groceries, they had an electrical problem and we ran an extension cord from their apartment 2 flights down into ours. We kept their refrigerator running and their food fresh until an electrician showed up. And we recalled how little their twin girls were when they were first born. Their girls are now 10 and I was floored when Angelo said they were 10 because I was prepared for 8 or even 9 but certainly not 10. The girls are so sweet and they didn't complain when I said repeatedly "I can't believe how you've grown! You were both this small!" Did I mention the sombreros? Because I loved that they wore sombreros on Cinquo de Mayo in Brooklyn.

Over the years we've kept in touch but only through Christmas cards. About two years ago the girl's mom Kathy sent me a nice note. She told me she was writing out the cards while watching snow fall and how that reminded her of the aforementioned snowstorm. You just don't get handwritten notes like that anymore. They were such nice neighbors to have and when we first moved into the building they made us feel very welcome. I was so glad they took a chance and rang our bell.

Friday, May 4, 2007
What a Penny Buys You These Days
Back in December, prime singing-along-with-the-radio-month, our car radio died. It just up and stopped working.

I took auto shop in high school and immediately convinced myself it was a blown fuse. So, my husband and I poured over the owner's manual, trying to figure out which fuse was for the radio. I, being the more limber half of the couple, found myself upside down in the drivers seat shining a flash light at the fuse box where the radio fuse is located. Why Toyota puts the fuses for this car in two separate locations is beyond me. But, there I was, completely upside down with the little tool the aforementioned car maker provides you, plucking the fuse out of it's itty bitty space. The fuse was perfectly fine. I was a little dizzy from having all the blood rush to my head but quickly recovered.

Luckily for us, we have a neighbor who fixes cars for a living and was kind enough to remove the radio and bring it to his dealership for repair.

"You'll have it back in 2 or 3 days. 4 tops," he said.

That was in January.

You see, when our stuff goes, it goes big time. We don't get little leaks in our plumbing. We get huge, rip-the-wall-out leaks. And then the leak comes back and we get to rip out the wall AND the ceiling all over again. And then our neighbors break their toilet tank and five gallons of water pour through our ceiling. On. Christmas. At 11:30. But I digress.

It is the same with our radio. It was just a quick little rewire job. That didn't work. Then they found a penny in the radio because even though my kids don't know what a jukebox even is, that didn't stop them from putting a penny in the cd slot to see if Bobby Darrin would sing them a song. And the entire radio shorted out and required a part from Japan. Said part was delivered and installed into radio and then things happen and people get busy so we weren't all that hot to get the radio back. Then our kind neighbor put the radio back in our car when he happened to be home and we happened to be home on the same day.


So our kind neighbor drove our car to his dealership, and had one of the guys try to figure out what was wrong with it. This entailed removing the entire dashboard to see the electrical wiring in its entirety. Well, it seems this penny my kids thought belonged in the cd slot of the car radio really killed it. Killed it as in "we'll have to go to a junkyard and get you another one" kind of killed. Dead. Ceasing to work.Kaput.

When John came home and gave us the final diagnosis that this penny, this stinking one-cent coin, is what really did the radio in, the kids were standing next to us. Almost like a movie, upon uttering the phrase "the PENNY is what killed the radio," we turned to look at the kids. Smart children that they are, they could sense our displeasure and quickly ran to play in their room, ignoring our "so who exactly dropped the penny into the radio?" questions.

The children are now barred from sitting in the front seat to pretend to drive to California (or wherever they pretend to go) while we unload groceries or pack the car for a day out.

The bright side to all of this? We get to listen to the kids sing when we drive anywhere. If you've ever heard a two year old sing Bob Marley's "Bad Boys," you know that beats any radio station, hands down.