Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Lot of Racket

Last night we pulled up to Em's house and Big Kid jumped out of the car and ran up to Em, who was standing there with her arms crossed and fire in her eyes.

Big Kid: Emme-
Em: BIG KID! How come you writed me a letter sayin' to stay away from the stayuhs? I NEED to be by da stayuhs, Big Kid, dat's how I swim. I like to stay near the steps, and you're writin' me letters telling me to stay off the stayuhs.
Big Kid: (flustered and confused, shoves the envelope with the offensive note, that she already read online, at her)
Em: I want to know why, Big Kid. Why you say to stay off da stayuhs?
Ashley: Em, he was telling you to be careful when you dive. That if you dive near the stairs you could get hurt.
Em: Well, I'm not divin' by the stayuhs, I'm just swimmin'. I don't want him tellin' me to stay off the stayuhs. Okay, Big Kid? Okay?
Big Kid: I wote you a letter...I'm sowwy.

Poor Big Kid didn't know that in the odyssey to get Em to swim, one of the biggest fights has been to get her off of the stairs. She thought he had jumped on the "get your ass off the stairs" bandwagon, when he didn't know anything about it. Poor guy, can't win.

Luckily, they forgot about it a few minutes later and we had a delightful evening.

Em's family is dog sitting for the family next door, and the dogs asked us to come over for some swimming, some barbecuing, and some enjoying their absolutely massive entertainment system and television. Some nice ass dogs, I tell you.

Today I'm getting ready for the orchestra. He didn't forget. No such luck.

Yesterday I reassured him that we were going:

Ashley: It's the brass section, so what kind of instruments will we see?
Big Kid: Da twumpet, da tuba, da fwench horn...
Ashley: The saxophone?
Big Kid: No, dat's a woodwind.
Ashley: No, Big Kid, it's brass.
Mr. Ashley: No, I think he's right, I think it is a woodwind because it has a wooden reed.
Ashley: Oh, whatever. Who knew you two were orchestra experts?
Big Kid: Saxophone is a woodwind, mudder.

So maybe I'll learn something about all of this orchestra crap in the meantime.

Right now I'm blogging with accompaniment from the harmonica. Have I told you all my new theory that you should have to be 18 to play the harmonica?

Why can't Bush pass some laws that would actually do us some good?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Best Buds

Murphy and Lily:

Always Cautious

A memo to Em regarding our plans to meet up and swim this evening:

Your Friend, Big Kid 2008

Guess who

just went into the bathroom and pooped in the bath tub?

Should've Been a Cowboy

Awwww, I love me some coffee.

LOVE ME SOME COFFEE.

Unfortunately, there was not one fireman or cowboy in sight. Bummer, huh? I guess they're all off saving the world or something.

It's kind of like a ghost town around here right now, oddly enough. One of Mr. Ashley's friends had the fire come within a quarter of a mile of his house and I may use him as an excuse to get past road blocks and take some photos later today.

Anyhoo, THIS is what I've been reading while enjoying my coffee. It's an article about one of Earth's last few uncontacted tribes, and photos of them throwing arrows (spears?) at a helicopter. That's pretty amazing stuff.

Why do I have an odd feeling that they're happier than we are? Living in a thatched hut with no phones, internetz, or news. Worrying about keeping themselves and their families alive, instead of gas prices or corrupt politicians. I don't know, just a hunch I have.

I bet they don't even HAVE a laundry couch.

Other than being sick, trying not to abuse the kids, and evading fires, I have been working hard on the Ashley's Closet Store. Expect a grand re-opening soon, this is how I always do stuff. I have a great idea, rush to get it done, and then re-do the whole idea once I've thought it through. You're going to love it.

The only change for right now is in relation to buying my love. It was honestly getting too hard to remember to love everyone, so now those who are loved will get special little email reminders of my love. Funny pics, interesting articles, whatever I feel like sending. Whenever. Also, those who love me a lot, will get a special treat in the mail. Maybe a card, a seashell, a toenail clipping. Something special, just a little piece of Ashley.

Ms. Madden shared her love with her readers, but there's no promise that people who are loved will always be so generous with sharing my love, so you probably need your own.

Okay, I think a second cup of coffee is in order here. I'll be around. Don't work too hard today.

Still Here

No late night door knocks, thank goodness.

It seems that they have the fire mostly contained, I haven't heard yet how many houses were lost or damaged but apparently no others are in danger at this time.

I *still* don't have coffee because Mr. Ashley didn't think running to the corner store was an emergency last night, and I didn't want to deal with evacuation traffic.

I may run and get some now. I can't survive without it, plus our corner store is our area's gossip hub AND where all the cowboys and firemen hang out, so it's probably worth the trip.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yesterday

(Things seem safe enough to go to bed, but who knows if I'll have power in the morning. Here is that photo post I was working on when little kid pooped on the porch this morning. I'm taking my headache to bed and hoping things are calm by morning.)


We decided to go to the beach!


It was such a beautiful day out. When we got there it was completely quiet (but not for long). There were no waves and the water was crystal clear. I could sit and watch Snook swim by Big Kid as he waded in the shallow end.

I sat and watched this bird catch several fish to eat.







and the bird and I watched this guy snorkle.

and little kid watched the bird. I believe I have previously mentioned his complete bird OBSESSION.

and he soon figured out how to attract more birds.

It worked. Really well.



There was no bird attack, but I was ready for one (to photograph).

I also found these two shells sitting next to each other, just like this. I just thought that was interesting, that they ended up like that:


I also saw this flag just randomly stuck into an empty stretch of sand, which was neat:

Now I'm going to bed to hope that the police don't end up pounding on my door before morning.

(because that's never good!)

Watching & Waiting

This is really crazy.

Several people we know have been evacuated, and we know others that have been helping out in the area.

One guy had loaded his horses into a trailer and was then told the fire jumped the street and he couldn't take the trailer with him, so he had to let the horses go.

We're watching people on the news scream at police officers about their pets being trapped inside and being forced to leave the property as flames creep down their driveway towards them.

We just saw a woman (who was clearly in complete shock) calmly tell an anchorwoman that her entire house was gone, and that they just had some important documents and nothing else, and that it is her 15th wedding anniversary.

It feels crazy to just be sitting here. Very hurricane-esque, the watching and waiting. Our family photos and videos are in one area, our important papers and homeowners docs have been gathered and put in that area, I guess we'd just pack up the kids and the pets, take Mr. Ashley's grandmother's art off of the walls, grab some laundry from the laundry couch, and a few important electronics and go.

I guess.

It's just too crazy. I'm going to put it in the "Couldn't happen to us" category and just keep hoping.

Holy Smokes

There is an excellent chance we will be evacuated from our home tonight because the whole area is on fire.

Four hours ago it was a 5 acre fire that was on it's way to being contained.

Now it is a 200 acre fire that they say they are only hoping for the CHANCE to contain.

Pray for rain (about a zero percent chance of that).

Off to gather stuff (but what?!?).

A Miracle

I bought this balloon March 18th. I know this because I just went back and checked, and that's when I blogged about Big Kid's ear infection.

I took this picture yesterday. This thing is STILL FLOATING!

I finally photographed it because I thought it was in the final death throes, because it had a serious tilt to it, but today it's looking just like it does in that photo.

How is this even possible? I bought it in a checkout line at a grocery store too, so it had probably been sitting there for at least a day or two.

Clearly, I have some sort of Spongebob induced miracle on my hands.

Insane

I was just in the middle of a great photo post (you know how I hate those) for you all and little kid went and took a shit on the screened lanai.

I had JUST TOLD HIM if he needed a diaper, to let me know (because I'm tired of potty training) and instead he went and took a dump on the porch.

He has been abusing me since 7am (yes, that early!), I'm on my second day without coffee, I still don't feel well, and now this. His crowning achievement. A steaming pile of poop to present to me proudly.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: little kid makes me sympathize with child abusers.

Yeah, I said it. I could see how someone a little less balanced could lose their fucking mind while cleaning human crap off of a child, a porch, and a puppy at 9am with no coffee and a sore throat.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cool--UPDATE

I want to go to a Flavor Tripping Party.

(I didn't know you had to be registered to read the article. That's lame. To spare you all from sharing your age and annual income, I've copy and pasted the article)

Joe Fornabaio for The New York Times

CARRIE DASHOW dropped a large dollop of lemon sorbet into a glass of Guinness, stirred, drank and proclaimed that it tasted like a “chocolate shake.”

Those who attended sampled the red berries then tasted foods, including cheese, beer and brussels sprouts, finding the flavors transformed. Beer can taste like chocolate, lemons like candy. Mr. Aliquo says he holds the parties to “turn on a bunch of people’s taste buds.”


Nearby, Yuka Yoneda tilted her head back as her boyfriend, Albert Yuen, drizzled Tabasco sauce onto her tongue. She swallowed and considered the flavor: “Doughnut glaze, hot doughnut glaze!”

They were among 40 or so people who were tasting under the influence of a small red berry called miracle fruit at a rooftop party in Long Island City, Queens, last Friday night. The berry rewires the way the palate perceives sour flavors for an hour or so, rendering lemons as sweet as candy.

The host was Franz Aliquo, 32, a lawyer who styles himself Supreme Commander (Supreme for short) when he’s presiding over what he calls “flavor tripping parties.” Mr. Aliquo greeted new arrivals and took their $15 entrance fees. In return, he handed each one a single berry from his jacket pocket.

“You pop it in your mouth and scrape the pulp off the seed, swirl it around and hold it in your mouth for about a minute,” he said. “Then you’re ready to go.” He ushered his guests to a table piled with citrus wedges, cheeses, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, pickles, dark beers, strawberries and cheap tequila, which Mr. Aliquo promised would now taste like top-shelf PatrĂ³n.

The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids, according to a scientist who has studied the fruit, Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste. Dr. Bartoshuk said she did not know of any dangers associated with eating miracle fruit.

During the 1970s, a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration dashed hopes that an extract of miraculin could be sold as a sugar substitute. In the absence of any plausible commercial application, the miracle fruit has acquired a bit of a cult following.

Sina Najafi, editor in chief of the art magazine Cabinet, has featured miracle fruits at some of the publication’s events. At a party in London last October, the fruit, he said, “had people testifying like some baptismal thing.”

The berries were passed out last week at a reading of “The Fruit Hunters,” a new book by Adam Leith Gollner with a chapter about miracle fruit.

Bartenders have been experimenting with the fruit as well. Don Lee, a beverage director at the East Village bar Please Don’t Tell, has been making miracle fruit cocktails on his own time, but the bar probably won’t offer them anytime soon. The fruit is highly perishable and expensive — a single berry goes for $2 or more.

Lance J. Mayhew developed a series of drink recipes with miracle fruit foams and extracts for a recent issue of the cocktail magazine Imbibe and may create others for Beaker & Flask, a restaurant opening later this year in Portland, Ore.

He cautioned that not everyone enjoys the berry’s long-lasting effects. Despite warnings, he said, one woman became irate after drinking one of his cocktails. He said, “She was, like, ‘What did you do to my mouth?’ ”

Mr. Aliquo issues his own warnings. “It will make all wine taste like Manischewitz,” he said. And already sweet foods like candy can become cloying.

He said that he had learned about miracle fruit while searching ethnobotany Web sites for foods he could make for a diabetic friend.

The party last week was his sixth “flavor tripping” event. He hopes to put on a much larger, more expensive affair in June. Although he does sell the berries on his blog, www.flavortripping.wordpress.com, Mr. Aliquo maintains that he isn’t in it for the money. (He said he made about $100 on Friday.) Rather, he said, he does it to “turn on a bunch of people’s taste buds.”

He believes that the best way to encounter the fruit is in a group. “You need other people to benchmark the experience,” he said. At his first party, a small gathering at his apartment in January, guests murmured with delight as they tasted citrus wedges and goat cheese. Then things got trippy.

“You kept hearing ‘oh, oh, oh,’ ” he said, and then the guests became “literally like wild animals, tearing apart everything on the table.”

“It was like no holds barred in terms of what people would try to eat, so they opened my fridge and started downing Tabasco and maple syrup,” he said.

Many of the guests last week found the party through a posting at www.tThrillist.com. Mr. Aliquo sent invitations to a list of contacts he has been gathering since he and a friend began organizing StreetWars, a popular urban assassination game using water guns.

One woman wanted to see Mr. Aliquo eat a berry before she tried one. “What, you don’t trust me?” he said.

She replied, “Well, I just met you.”

Another guest said, “But you met him on the Internet, so it’s safe.”

The fruits are available by special order from specialty suppliers in New York, including Baldor Specialty Foods and S. Katzman Produce. Katzman sells the berries for about $2.50 a piece, and has been offering them to chefs.

Mr. Aliquo gets his miracle fruit from Curtis Mozie, 64, a Florida grower who sells thousands of the berries each year through his Web site, www.miraclefruitman.com. (A freezer pack of 30 berries costs about $90 with overnight shipping.) Mr. Mozie, who was in New York for Mr. Gollner’s reading, stopped by the flavor-tripping party.

Mr. Mozie listed his favorite miracle fruit pairings, which included green mangoes and raw aloe. “I like oysters with some lemon juice,” he said. “Usually you just swallow them, but I just chew like it was chewing gum.”

A large group of guests reached its own consensus: limes were candied, vinegar resembled apple juice, goat cheese tasted like cheesecake on the tongue and goat cheese on the throat. Bananas were just bananas.

For all the excitement it inspires, the miracle fruit does not make much of an impression on its own. It has a mildly sweet tang, with firm pulp surrounding an edible, but bitter, seed. Mr. Aliquo said it reminded him of a less flavorful cranberry. “It’s not something I’d just want to eat,” he said.


Good Point

Photobucket

Super Tired So...

Unlikely Friends
3 Legged Horse
Dolphin Giving Birth
Alligators Hatching
I'm an anteater
Play Catch With Your Dog

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm Hired

I just got a weird answering message (well Mr. Ashley got it and had me listen) that said:

Hi Ashley Lastname! This is AJ from Smitty's and I'm reviewing your employment application and we have a job for you! It's a position as VJ. So please give me a call."

Okay, great! I got a jobby job!

Now unfortunately, she failed to leave a return phone number. Also, I don't recall applying to anywhere called Smitty's. I have submitted my resume once a while ago, but it was to our local newspaper, which is not called Smitty's and would probably not hire me via answering machine message while forgetting to leave their number.

And what the hell is a VJ? Do you think MTV is calling me to be a Video Jockey? WTF?

I've followed every lead I can think of and I'm fresh out of leads.

It looks like the Closet has narrowly missed a bullet for now. Be glad for inadequate phone messages, readers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Big Weekend

So, The Jews went all out for The Graduation, as I knew they would. We saw a DVD presentation, which was hysterical, and they did a little musical number (I laughed until I cried), and then did a whole sweet little ceremony complete with reception afterwards. It was really cute.

I will say that it was a little unsettling to see Big Kid among so many other kids around his age...he is very small. He is one of the youngest in his class, so it made sense that he was the smallest, but to see him with all of the other classes was a bit of a surprise. It makes me nervous for him, it sucks to be the youngest and the smallest but he is way too smart to hold back. Damn these summer birthdays!!


Vivi was very sweet and had even drawn some pictures for him, so he was feeling pretty happy (even though she sat with Reese at the reception), and he got $20 from me and the Air Buddies movie from my mom, so he was flying high by the time we got back home.

When he woke up the next morning, he was immediately excited about seeing the orchestra:

Big Kid: I'm gonna see da woodwinds and da stwings and da bwass...
Ashley: Oh no, it's just one section.
Big Kid: No mudder, an orchestwa is all da sections, all kinds of instwaments together.
Ashley: Yes I know, but this is a "meet the orchestra" sort of thing. You meet one section at a time.
Big Kid: No, no, no. You said it would be da orchestwa, I said "no garbage" bemember and you said it would be a real, live orchestwa.
Ashley: Oh. I'm sorry. Just one section. Like maybe it will be the drums section or something, but no others. I'm sorry I wasn't more clear.
Big Kid: (annoyed) Dere is no dwums section.
Ashley: Yes there is.
Big Kid: No, it's da ercussion section. Dere is da ercussion section, bwass, woodwinds, stwings, and a piano and a conductor.
Ashley: Oh, percussion section, yes. Same thing.
Big Kid: No, because dere is xylophones, cymbals, da twiangle...it isn't all dwums. It's instwaments dat make a ryfym.
Ashley: Okay, you're right. I'm wrong. Sorry.
Big Kid: I'm kinda sad it isn't gonna be da whole orchestwa.
Ashley: Well one day we'll take you to see the whole orchestra, but I bet you'll like this.

He did really like it. I've got to say, it was really cool. Pretty awesome to pay so little to have a section of the orchestra entertain you on a Saturday morning.

Everyone sat on carpet pieces on the floor in front of the stage. Let's talk about etiquette in a situation like this:

1. Adults, watch where you sit. Don't sit in front of a little kid. Should be common sense.

2. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT come in late and squish yourself in the middle. The people in the middle probably sat there, hot as hell and uncomfortable on the floor, for half an hour beforehand to make sure that their orchestra loving child could see the stage and to make sure they had plenty of personal space. Which brings me to my next point...

3. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT move your carpet closer to me for any reason. Or anyone in my party. There was plenty of room, there was no need for it, I came here to see the show, not to brush knees with you or worry if my gigantic purse is touching you. It was there first, I was there first. I'm sorry if that means you can't be right in the middle...next time try to arrive before the show starts. Like I did.

And yes, I was giving your ass dirty looks. Thanks so much for offering to let little kid sit with you after you set yourself down right in front of him. However, my not even two year old needs to sit with me. You're lucky I have the manners to realize this, he would've broken your $800 sunglasses and pooped in your $2000 purse within 15 minutes flat.

So other than the poor etiquette of the upper class (it's always them!), it was a cool experience. The percussion section was amazing and they chose pieces that were really interesting for the kids. Big Kid was transfixed and I thought he was going to pee his pants when the Viola player showed up as a special treat.

Next week is the Brass section and then the series is done because the season is over and the orchestra gets the summer off. Big Kid is totally psyched about the brass section, but unfortunately, he is also totally psyched about a family concert Sunday afternoon, an orchestra featuring a seven year old piano playing prodigy. He is convinced we're going to both, that there is just no two ways about it...but two days at the orchestra??

I'm really not so sure. I know it's probably something I should encourage (or maybe not?), but that's a lot of orchestra.

After the orchestra we did lunch and Toys R Us, where he picked up the new Baby Einstein and the stupid Luv Puppies Wii game. I tried, tried, tried to get him to pick a game I wanted to play too, but nooooooooo, we needed a virtual puppy. Thanks, but no thanks.

Then Sunday, as you all know, the boys were driving me up the wall. Luckily, my mom came and got them, and they got to have fun swimming and playing with horses, and I got to have fun cleaning without people walking around behind me messing stuff back up.

Everyone was glad to see Mr. Ashley again, and I slept until noon today. I'm really feeling yucky. I could have probably slept the rest of the day but we went to my parents for more swimming and some steak and corn on the cob and potato salad.

We were feeling extra nice and decided to bring Lily, our white German Shepherd, with us to my parents' house, since we always bring Murphy and he has so much fun.

Now I remember why we don't usually do this.

She's just so big and seems dumb. However, she's super smart and would've made an awesome search and rescue dog. She's also unbelievably sweet and loyal and would rip someone's throat out if they tried to harm one of us. Every time I felt scared this weekend I'd remind myself that she was there and if she wasn't worried, I shouldn't be. So she is a good dog.

She's just annoying as hell. Constant whining, wanting to play, running around, pacing. She's like 8 or 9, I thought one day she'd grow out of this behavior. Of course all of the Dachshunds are scared of her big goofy self, and she has no clue why she isn't accepted into the pack or that she's different. She also won't hesitate to get in the pool and it just isn't relaxing to swim with her and all of her hair.

Note to self: Don't do that again.

Talk about a headache on top of a headache.

Have I mentioned that she was a "gift" from my mother in law? Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

Other than that, we had a great time. little kid got his new leather reins for his rocking horse and proudly toted them around. Big Kid swam like a fish, and swears he's shedding his swimming feathers (his misnomer for water wings) any day now. They both cried when it was time to leave.

I think I have some sort of sinus thing going on, I just feel all clogged up and itchy and tired. Mr. Ashley is going to that hard, early in the morning job tomorrow and I'm bummed. I need a sick day from this motherhood gig. I need a few of them, but at least one.

No pay and no sick days. What are we doing this for again? The Glory?

Some days I think it would be easier to just build a cathedral. ;-)

We have some interesting comment updates regarding librarians and the going green debate that I want to get around to commenting on. I'd also like to comment on how sorely inadequate Blogger's comment section arrangement is and what could be done to remedy that situation. (why am I always having to point out the obvious?)

Lots of things to comment on, I hope to see you all tomorrow.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

List of Complaints

1. I didn't choose this potty training business. Yeah, it's great that he wants to do this but I don't feel like chasing him around, hanging out in the bathroom, fighting about stickers and lollies and washing things that have been peed on.

He pooped in a cowboy hat yesterday.

No, I'm not kidding.

2. Big Kid has been talking for two weeks straight. Oh. My. God. I love, cherish, and adore him, but I wish he could spend more time BEING QUIET. And for the love of all things holy, NO MORE BABY EINSTEINS. DAMN. It has to be THE. MOST. BORING. SUBJECT. EVER. I know that's rude of me, but I don't even care. If I have to hear about that fucking goat one more time, I'm just going to flip the fuck out on someone.

Also, I never thought I'd have to ban the alphabet, but I'm seriously considering it. Forwards, backwards, written, sang, physical recreations of, lists including, it just does not stop. This has been basically going on in one way or another since he was about 18 months old. It's an obsession, and it's great, but there's only so much a person can take.

3. I am sick. I know, of all weekends to get sick! I have a sore throat and itchy ears and sinus congestion brewing. Friday night I went to bed as soon as I put Big Kid to bed (8:30pm). I stayed awake long enough to watch Evan Almighty, which was super cute, but I just felt exhausted. Last night I just camped out in bed all night with my laptop (that was nice).

4. House is a mess. More so than usual. Keeping little kid alive and from killing anything, full time with no assistance, leaves very little time for accomplishing much of anything. I have almost completely caught up on laundry, which is unheard of around here, but it hasn't been put away, so I don't feel good about that yet. I still have some to fold too. A lot to fold.

And there are toys everywhere, and a bag of rubberbands has been scattered about and the monkeys from a barrel of monkeys are all over my damn family room. I just do not want to have to deal with all of that.

5. I put little kid down for a nap at 11am and he's in there awake now at 12:15pm. This is not enough time. He's in there in a diaper, undies, and pants, but that will take him no time at all to get out of and he absolutely will pee or poop on something as revenge. Damn it, he's calling for me. I'm hissing at Big Kid to be absolutely silent and hitting the keys as softly as possible. I know he's not going to give up.

6. I have had to get up early so many days in a row I can't even count. If I get up early, around 4pmish I am Totally Done. Apparently, if I get up early a lot of days in a row, I become Totally Done earlier in the day. I was Totally Done around 9amish today.

Damn, damn, damn, damn, he's awake.

I was going to take them outside for a water balloon fight just because pelting them with water balloons was the closest thing to child abuse without breaking the law that I could think of. They will probably like it, I could use the stress reducing factor, and it might wear them out a little.

However, I am not ready to do that now.

(Big Kid has talked or whispered the ENTIRE TIME I tried to type this. I can't even think)

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Really Bad Idea

Big Kid had $20 to burn at Toys R Us and chose some virtual dog game for the wii (and a Baby Einstein DVD. I totally caved. He owes me $10.)

It just struck me that he is throwing a ball to a virtual dog while Lily (our white German Shepherd) runs around the family room desperately squeaking a toy with anxious hope that someone will play with her.

I pointed out the irony of this to him and he told me he liked his tv dog better.

This is wrong. On so many levels.

I kind of feel like the genie is already out of the bottle on this one, but I hope I've learned a lesson here.

Man of the House

Apparently Big Kid thinks the Man of the House bosses the Woman of the House around.

I have NO IDEA where he got this absurd idea but yesterday afternoon he told me that he was going to get Murph some water and I was going to feed him, that it may be early but Murph is looking hungry and since he's the man of the house this is how we're going to do it.

Last night he walked into the family room and said, "I'm da man of da house and we're habing Pizza tonight." I tried to protest and point out that we had pizza the night before AND for lunch that day, but he was already slapping pizza pieces onto plates and setting them on the table.

Since both of these incidents were amusing and actually pretty easy for me, I let it slide, but he'd better figure out how this whole relationship thing works.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Graduation

Big Kid: I sure wish I knew Vivi's addwess.
Ashley: Well, we'll have to get it from her.
Big Kid: Yeah, 'cuz school will be ober soon.
Ashley: I know, we'll have to keep in touch with your friends.
Big Kid: Vivi and I are goin' to diffewent schools. I'm gonna miss her. (looks out the window) And she's gonna miss Reese.
Ashley: ...why do you say that? She'll miss you too.
Big Kid: She didn't say dat dough. She dest said she would miss Reese. (so sadly)
Ashley: Oh. Well, she probably just forgot to list your name too.
Big Kid: Yeah, maybe. But pwobably not.

MAN. That little talk has kept me up at night with heartbreak for him. Isn't it insane how the smallest slights or sadnesses of our children just consume us with sadness for them?

I've been sensing this with Vivi. Not choosing Big Kid as her partner, not playing with him at recess, not wanting to sit next to him at lunch. He's been sensing it too, but I think he is realizing that the end of the school year is officially the end of his love affair with Vivi.

I'm pretty sure that Vivi and Reese's moms are friends, so we all know how that goes.

He has definitely picked up on the fact that he's being replaced as a love interest and it's a bummer to say the least. Poor guy.

Today is his last day. He's really proud about his "graduation", but sad about not seeing his friends and nervous about a new school with a new teacher next year. I'm nervous too. Practically sick about it. I feel like I'm institutionalizing him and turning his brilliant, sensitive, creative, sponge of a self over to some "people-making" factory or something.

I know every parent worries, but my kid is SPECIAL.

I know every parent thinks their kid is special, but they are WRONG.

I know he'll be fine, but I don't FEEL like I know that.

We'll live, we'll live.

Ive got to go take a golf club away from little kid before he breaks out the sliding glass doors, and I've got to go get ready for this graduation shindig.

And then, I face The Weekend Alone.

Gulp.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Loooooong Days

Mr. Ashley is just now on his way home and I'm REALLY questioning my ability to be home alone with the kids all weekend.

In ten years, I've never been home alone. I've left him to go places for a weekend, but he's never left me. What if I get scared? What if I'm lonely? What if I like it so much that I change the locks? (With the kids outside?)

I don't know. It's a lot of work, this parenting stuff. I knew that already but I had no idea that doing it alone was 10x the work. And who knew that adding one kid would feel like adding 14? Because little kid keeps me BUSY.

We used to joke that little kid was born with middle child syndrome. Now I know he's just making sure that it NEVER happens.

I'm really tired just thinking about a weekend alone with the two I have, we definitely don't need a third. DEF-INIT-ELY NOT. Not unless it comes with it's own grown-up.

little Cowboy




Since getting to ride on Mother's Day, little kid is OBSESSED with horses. For a week now, he's been trying to hook his rocking horse up with some reins. Yesterday after watching him struggle with a bag of sunglass holders he had found somewhere, I stepped in and helped him out.

He is thrilled to finally have reins, and drags that poor rocking horse all around the house, even trying to stuff it into Murphy's cage.

Notice how he's in last Easter's overalls? I find that overalls and a backwards diaper are effective for preventing nudity. So far.

The boots are his own personal touch. The kid is a shoe freak.

Personally, I think him and Shiloh should hook up. I'm kind of over Angelina, but I'd put up with her for grandchildren that cute.

One more of him and his favorite victim:

The Library Police Are Here

I try not to pick on the anonymous commenters too much anymore because I'm afraid they either enjoy the attention too much (remember the troll incident? Yeah, me too) or that it will discourage other commenters, and I really do enjoy each and every comment, even if it wasn't meant to be enjoyed.

But, this one I had to share, because I'm pretty sure that Carmen the Library Nazi has tracked me down and is in the closet with us right here and now:


Anonymous said...Wow, what a bunch of absolutely inane comments regarding libraries and library employees. It’s interesting how people could care less about how they treat property borrowed from a library, as if it’s their god given right to do with it what they please. When you rent a DVD from any rental chain, you have to give a credit card number. If you don’t return it, you get charged. How are libraries any different? Oh, that’s right, you don’t get charged to borrow things! Library employees may seem “suspicious” because they deal with people who “could give a shit” (brilliant Jenn!) and return things whenever they please, in whatever condition they please. You’d think the library would be the last place you’d see the worst of people, but it’s an institution that get’s abused more than any, because people take it for granted that they have access to an amazing amount of information for FREE (besides your hard earned tax dollars, that is). It is hilarious how you can all spend so much time writing about being “screwed” by your local library, as if it’s out to get you. The only thing a library expects of you is to return (in a reasonable amount of time) what you’ve borrowed in the same shape it was in when you borrowed it. Wow, that’s really tough…
*snicker*

Okay Carmen, we can go over it one more time. But that's it. Because I'm done with you and your library and your ridiculous way of assessing fees and the complete lack of justice or protection from library nazis such as yourself.

The first time you accused me of damaged books, they went into your library drop box dry. How they got wet by the time you received them the next morning is beyond me. Perhaps it was because it was September and monsoon raining all month, perhaps a kid poured a water bottle down there, whatever. My point is, don't treat me like a criminal right off the bat. Then don't give me dirty looks and inspect each page of each book every time you see me thereafter. I did the right thing by paying for the books you and I went around around about (and you wouldn't even let me keep the books, you threw them away. I never even SAW these wet books. Bitch.). I put Donation on the check's memo line which further pissed you off, but it was fun for me, so there.

Second time, little kid ripped a book, I paid for it. Promptly and sheepishly, at a branch your mean ass isn't employed at.

This last time, someone drew in black pen on the Giving Tree before I ever got it, but I got it from another branch and the librarian wasn't as hypervigilant as yourself and wasn't waiting for me to fuck up again. I'm not paying for that one. I'm also not arguing with you about it because I know that you are evil and that the library will side with you. Screw them, my friends will lend my books (knowing full well that my new puppy might pee on them, and I'll replace those too).

You not allowing me to renew the other books I already had out until I paid for this book that I did not damage put us all in a predicament. You decided I should pay the entire purchase prices for these books, which I hadn't even finished reading, so I decided I may as well keep them until I read them.

At which point I will return them and be DONE WITH YOU FOREVER.
(under that particular library card at that particular branch)

It is a scientific fact that there are two types of librarians: really cool, smart, sweet ones that love books and crazy, neurotic asshats that need to control everyone and everything and ruin the library experience for everyone. You, my friend, are clearly one of the asshats.

You need my late fees more than I need your guilt, abuse, and extortion attempts, so this is goodbye. I mean it.

From now on I'm making Mr. Ashley do all of my library related tasks, on his card.

So there.

Damn

I owe a million people emails (if you're on that list, I'm thinking of you) AND I have several things to blog about.

Unfortunately, due to the absolute devastation of the real estate market here, Mr. Ashley has been doing some work on the side with a friend of his. Like manual labor. Like stuff that requires him to leave the house at 6:45 IN THE MORNING to go get all sweaty.

Do you even know how much this sucks for me? To wake up with the kids by myself? Deal with whatever poop catastrophes occur single handedly? Do all meal preparation, butt wiping, fight mediating and question answering ALL BY MYSELF??

I don't know how some of you do this shit full time. It is God awful hard.

AND he's going to Georgia this weekend. So I'll be home alone WITH BOTH KIDS all by myself all weekend long. This is a lot of time alone with these kids. I'm already forcing little kid back into two naps a day, just because he is a two person job.

This full time parenting crap isn't conducive to good blogging. Something's got to give.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm Too Tired

for anything witty or brilliant, but I wanted to let you all know that playing store with you is very fun. So far, so good, fun, fun, fun!

I will be thinking of all of the new individuals that I love tonight as I go to bed. You can think about me too, but if you think about me naked, picture me way hotter than I am. Not that I'm not hot, but you know, after two kids...I'm probably not what you're picturing naked. Still worth a buck though, for sure.

Anyway, wanted to tell you that and wanted to let everyone know they can breathe a sigh of relief. My hair is okay. Still long. Still looks exactly the same, just no scraggly ends or dark roots. Finally a hairdresser that uses the same measuring system that I do. Two inches is TWO inches people.

I'll see you in the morning.

Hair Appointment Today

I don't think I'm going to mention the pissed on book just yet. I'll just say I haven't finished reading it yet and I'll fess up next time.

I'm already having a little anxiety because it's haircut time again. Generally, I do it twice per year. Once where I tell them to take a few inches off because it's summertime and it's gotten too long, and then once 6 months later when I've recovered from whatever they did last time, and am hyper vigilant about how much they take off.

Unfortunately, it's time to take some length off again. I always hold out hope of some magical, wonderful cut that makes my curls perfect, but it hasn't happened yet. And they ALWAYS go shorter than what I was picturing. It just looks best grown out, but not this grown out.

I'm not adding the stress of admitting my dog pissed on a borrowed book to all of that. I'll just have to have an extra glass of wine while I'm there to calm my nerves.

I am looking forward to escaping Potty Training Hell though. Even if I have to lie to people and have my hair chopped off to do so.

By The Way

Everyone who didn't get exactly what they wanted (or flat out demanded) for Mother's Day, please feel free to buy yourself a "Progress, not perfection" bracelet from your husband and children, because that is what they would want you to do.

The Ashley's Closet Store

I've got a big one for Work It Out Wednesday...

The Ashley's Closet Store

I know. It's exciting. It's also too early and everything isn't perfect and I can think of 9 million other things I could/should do for/to/with it, but whatever.

It will be fun to show you now and we'll just go through the growing part together.

I've got more products coming soon and I'm not so sure about this free shipping business, so you may want to take advantage of that while it is still an option.

The best part? You can buy my love for just $1. The more you buy, the more I love you.

What will you send me, you ask? Nothing, I'll tell you!

It's environmentally friendly, good for the economy and it's fun.

If a funny homeless person made you laugh every day on the way to work, you would give them a dollar. Everyone has a dollar. So think of me as the funny homeless person and give me a dollar. The more dollars you give me, the less you have to feel bad about not leaving a comment, not voting, or not doing the required reading.

And no I'm not begging, I'm selling my love. I really WILL love you a little more for giving me a dollar.

Or you could buy the fabulous bracelet, or some funny magnets.

Buying from the Ashley's Closet Store will support the Closet, and probably help pay for the boot camp we all know little kid is going to need one day. We could try to keep the Closet free of annoying ads and a Closet store would officially make the Closet a J.O.B. and I would HAVE to post lots and entertain you daily.

So go, spend your economic stimulus check. Keep it in America. Keep it in the Closet.

Pretty please.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Is This What Jesus Would Do?

Well I try not to insult people's religious beliefs (I'm not always successful, but I do try, most of the time), but these particular Evangelical Christians on Jesus Camp have an excellent chance of producing some screwed up adults.

Sorry, but they do.

This is too much intensity, guilt, and pressure for these little kids. Holy crap (pun intended).

I'm watching the abortion scene right now where they put red tape with the word "Life" over the kids' mouths and start chanting about ending abortion in America and how it is their generation's mission to do so. The kids have little plastic fetusus that they are holding and waving around.

They are all crying. They've been crying pretty much the whole documentary.

They are pledging Christian allegiance to God and George W. There is a lot of political talk being preached to these small children.

I remember when I was little we spent a summer in Kentucky with true Southern Baptist relatives of mine, complete with true Southern Baptist revivals. I'm sorry, but that was some scary stuff, all the crying and speaking in tongues and rolling around. It is very intense and confusing for a little person. I remember standing there just BAFFLED because this was not how it went down in my church. In my church, on the happy little island I grew up on, Jesus didn't make people cry. He CERTAINLY didn't want you rolling around in the aisles and screaming. There was no reason to bring your own box of tissues to the church I was used to.

I feel sad for these kids at this camp. That's judgmental of me for saying so, but I'm pretty sure they feel sad for my kids (the heathens) too, so we're even.

Jesus Camp is on Biography

Not A&E.

Just Now

Ashley: Hey, you know how you're graduating from pre-k on Friday?

Big Kid: Yeah.

Ashley: I was thinking that maybe I would take you to the orchestra on Saturday afternoon. What do you think of that?

Big Kid: What orcastwah? What one?

Ashley: It's at the theater. Remember where we went to see STOMP? There were all of the art galleries and stuff? Well, Saturday the orchestra will be there. Would you like to go?

Big Kid: As long as it's a diffewent orcastwah, not one wif garbage and stuffs. No twash cans, no cups, no bwooms, no plastic stuffs...nuthin' like dat, okay? I dest wanna hear some weal instwaments, not any garbage fings.

Ashley: (trying not to LMAO) No, no, it's real instruments. No garbage.

Big Kid: Yeah, garbage music is sort of weird. It was good, but weird.

(he just read this whole post over my shoulder, only stumbling on the made up words. He wants to know why this is so funny, wanting to make sure we're going to a "weal orcastwah wif weal instwaments and no garbage". Seriously, this kid is a riot. He could be a reality show.)

Chinese Earthquake

Wedding day photos

Truly sucks to be them!

NLP:RD Back On

Okay, so I've been thinking about the NLP:RD again. (I found my notebook and can't resist the allure of a clean, unmarked section.)

It wasn't a bad plan.

It was just somehow too much. Then we revised it, then revised it again and somehow ended up doing two things a day, I don't know. It's a REALLY good thing this is just a rough draft, or I'd be afraid that we're destined to a lifetime of domestic failure.

So, I was trying to narrow down the problems with the original NLP:RD, except for the obvious one of having to actually do stuff.

I think Market yourself and Meal plan Monday was a problem, although it shouldn't have been. I just don't know if going out of your way to put yourself out there is a Monday sort of activity and I never got my meal plan done. Like ever. So no more of that. I will market myself and meal plan (or not) whenever the mood strikes me.

I also didn't like HAVING to do anything on a Friday or Saturday. Cleaning on a Saturday? Pshaw, right. It's good in theory, but that should be an extra credit sort of thing.

So, I think I'm going back to NLP:RD with just the slight revision of it only being a Tues/Wed/Thurs sort of thing. My general daily goal will be one load of dishes and one load of laundry a day. Maybe even putting it away, but I'm not going to knock myself out over it or anything. We'll see how things go.

Tuesday I will focus on tidying up. Wednesday I will focus on Working it Out (checking one thing I really don't want to do off the list), and Thursday I will focus on trash taking out and/or organizing. Like one drawer or cabinet at a time, nothing crazy.

There will be an end of the day drink (or three) each day as a reward, regardless of whether or not I succeeded because if I'm not getting stuff done, I probably have a good excuse and deserve the wine anyway.

And that will be that. 2009 will be our year, and the NLP: RD will be training for that. Three days a week. That's totally do-able.

Jesus Camp

is on A&E tonight at 9:00pm.

I caught a good part of this before, late one night, and was sitting there by myself in open mouthed shock at the freaking insanity.

So watch it in case we end up discussing it.

little kid

liked Fergie's butt wiggling so much that he made me rewind it three different times, so he could watch and say "ohhhh" as she humped the stage.

Big Kid finally came out, watched for a moment, and said, "Dis is horrible. Dest click on me when gwown up tb is off, okay?"

(This is another odd quirk, speaking as if he's the error message on the computer. I am commanded to just "click on" things all day long)

Speaking of little kid, I have cleaned up one big pile of poop and chased him through the front yard once already this morning.

It's going to be another long day.

Today Show

I'm watching Fergie live on the Today show this morning. I'm not a huDge fan or anything, but why can't I shake my butt like that?

She's not even dancing, just kind of wiggling around shaking her butt.

I should be able to do that.

I can't though. I've tried, drunk and non-drunk.

My butt just won't wiggle that way.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Potty Training

Well, we're doing it.

little kid has gone pee-pee in the potty 5-6 times over the weekend (more often than not, as a matter of fact).

We went to the store and let him choose some big boy undies (he picked Marvel comics) and he's been strutting around here with Spiderman splashed across his butt and dotted with the assortment of stickers he gets for sitting and trying but not succeeding.

So, that's where I'm at. Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, guarding the toilet paper and protecting the toilet from unnecessary flushage. I actually had to stop typing this two different times. Once to go and do a search and rescue for our toothpaste, which was found floating in the toilet, and once to pick (human) poop off of my bathroom rug.

So I might not be around a whole lot today, but I'd rather be (she says as she rushes back into the bathroom for the 976th time this morning).






Saturday, May 17, 2008

Required Reading List to Be Ashley's Friend

I believe I've mentioned this list before, and have promised to share it with you, and tonight I was motivated enough to compile most of my favorite books into a handy little Amazon list and put it over there on my sidebar.

There are 5 pages of books (so far), but I think this time invested is a small price to pay for #1. My friendship and #2. The discussion hours we'll get out of your time investment.

I'm telling you, I have good taste in books. So get reading!

Of Historical Interest

I just found THIS SITE and it's probably where I'll be the rest of the night (read: week). The British Library has made high quality scans of important pieces of literature, which you can read online for free, in their original form. So little ol' me can sit here on my couch and review DaVinci's journals written by his own hand or read every word of the original Alice in Wonderful that Lewis Carroll wrote for the real Alice. This is mind blowingly exciting to me (I know, I don't get out much). You will probably have to download stuff and go through what seems like a little bit of a pain in the ass, but it is WORTH IT. If you're a dork like me. (seriously, it is a very cool site.)

I also thought this photo of a rare wrinkled bust of Caesar (there is no normal way to phrase that) was interesting. We never seem to see historical legends as they were when elderly. I went through a whole Cleopatra phase (that was one tough chick there) and then a whole Julius Caesar phase and then a whole Mark Antony phase. So maybe that's why I think it's interesting, but maybe some of you will too.

Speaking of seeing historical figures as you don't normally see them, I couldn't believe how beautiful the death mask of Mary Queen of Scots is. No wonder Queen Elizabeth locked her ass up and had her killed. Here's a cool biography about her with pictures of castles.

Just for fun, here are photos of Ephesus. Mr. Ashley and I have been here and it was AWESOME. *I* have walked down a road Cleopatra, Mark Antony and the Virgin Mary all walked down. *That* is thrilling to me. Here are some interesting facts about this ancient city.

Okay, now that I've bored half of you half to death, I'll go read the rest of Alice in Wonderland.

Edited to add: If you do like history, you must read Margaret George. She is an unbelievable writer, well researched but interesting and imaginative historical fiction, I have read (and loved) every thing she has ever written.

Dear Big Kid,

PMS


I love you, I really do, but I can live without the dramatic reenactments of every Baby Einstein movie you've seen in the last 4 years and 9 months.

Seriously.

Cut that shit out.

Before I go any crazier than I already am.


Very Seriously,
Mom

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tonight's Sunset

Pretty Neat

Look at this rainbow iceberg in Antarctica.

This is little kid

Please note that he is sitting in my kitchen sink.

(Don't look at my dirty dishes, and the shells are from the beach trip yesterday. Yep, I went again. That makes 3 days in a row)

He started his day with some naked finger painting with poop time before anyone realized he was up.

He immediately fed his rocking horse some juice.

And then while I was getting Big Kid ready for school, IN THE SAME ROOM (our kitchen and family room are open, its called a great room but I was afraid to call it that because maybe it's a regional thing and some of you would think I was bragging about how great the room is. It is a pretty great room though), little kid pulled a chair over to the sink and somehow climbed completely in without knocking anything over or making a sound. I just looked over and saw him sitting in the kitchen sink, grinning from ear to ear.

Unfortunately, taking pictures does nothing to stop his horrid behavior, that's why you haven't been seeing them as often, but I had to take a pic this time.

Then we had several incidents of pulling the dipe off, so I finally just told him he could be naked but he wasn't going to be peeing all over my stuff, so to hop on the potty and go pee...AND HE DID!

Luckily, Big Kid was in the room with us and went berserk with pride, which just made little kid glow with happiness. We did high fives and lots of screaming and an Ashley family pile up (we put our hands on top of one another and yell "Team Ashley! (but we use our last name) like they do in baseball) and made a big deal of flushing.

This was wonderful. I see a diaperless future for myself. However, after having this big celebration and getting a Dum-Dum lolly at 9:00am, he felt the need to try again every 2 seconds. There was some fighting over flushing, and toilet paper, and exploring the medicine cabinet.

And then he pooped on my bathroom floor.

It's just not the same as picking up puppy poop. I was seriously dry heaving, I kind of never want to go in that bathroom again, even though I thoroughly cleaned the area.

I have a feeling I'll be spending lots of time there though.

I ended up putting him down for a nap at 10:00am (he woke up at 8:00am) just because I couldn't deal with him anymore.

I hear him in there now, and I know he's awake, and very possibly peeing on things as I type, but I'm just not ready.

Edited to add: I forgot to share his window mistreatments with you. This is another one of his hobbies. This is the second set of blinds he's been through:

See how there's no crib sheet on the mattress? That's because he pooped on it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Green & Healthy Baby Steps

I believe I have confessed here before that I don't recycle. That I'm really too busy trying to keep my own life going to be worrying about saving the planet and whatnot, and that frankly, we're just lucky if things make it in the trash can around here.

And then a couple of things happened to make me change my mind.

First, I began watching this series on Garbage Island. Basically, ocean currents take all of our crap and send it waaaaaaaay out in the middle of nowhere, where it all collects into a semi-solid mass of sludge, which is pretty horrifying.

A lot of this crap, particularly all those plastics that contain BPA (which is poisoning us, don't even think the FDA gives a crap about your kids), just doesn't ever break down. It may eventually break into a bunch of little pieces, but those little pieces just stick around forever, being eaten by wildlife or adding to the Garbage Island sludge.

These videos were basically the first major guilt trip that worked. They finally just got me thinking about it and more aware. At some point in the series, someone points out the plastic bag insanity our country is in the midst of. The thought that my Subway sandwich needs it's own plastic sleeve just to travel from the cash register to the table really IS pretty absurd.

So I've been trying to do better about plastic bag usage (refusing them whenever possible, reusing them when I must have them, and intending to remember to bring my Ikea reusable bag into the grocery store...but I'm working on that one) and I'm working on getting a recycling system down. I'll admit that some recyclables are still ending up in the trash, but I'm trying.

Luckily for me, I got two cool packages in the mail right around the time of my newfound desire to do good.

One of them was from Method. I LOVE Method cleaning products. I also love the company. Not too long ago, they sent me a really nice tote bag. Way cooler than you're imagining, people ask me where I got it all of the time. This time, they sent me bottles of their new baby shampoo and body wash, along with a book called, "The Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home". (The bag and the book are in photos on their blog, they're really nice, and the baby+kid line smells delish, as does all of their stuff.)

Among the interesting tidbits of information was this fact:

In a recent study, 287 chemicals (including pesticides, garbage waste and flame retardants) were found in the bloodstream of newborn babies. Of those 287 chemicals, 180 are known to cause cancer in people or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects in animals.

WHAT THE HELL? In NEWBORN babies? So we really are polluted with this stuff.

The book also claims that many of the household cleaners we use may contain ingredients that cause breathing difficulty, renal and organ damage in adults, and allergies, asthma, ADHD and other learning disabilities in children, because many of them contain ingredients called "endocrine or hormone disrupters" which can mimic estrogen in the body.

This is not good.

Now remember that Bisphenol A (BPA) I mentioned earlier? The poison in plastic marked with the recycle number 7? Some of the concerns with that include estrogen-mimicking behavior (can we say man boobs?), lowered sperm counts, and premature puberty in girls...and that's just the stuff they know about, the suspected list is longer.

As we all know, I'm a "don't sweat it" sort of parent. I'm not the mom freaking out over every new study. However, I have read quite a bit about this BPA stuff, and it's no longer allowed in my house.

I realized all of our plastic character plates that the boys eat off of have "do not microwave" on the back of them. I just noticed this the other day and have been microwaving on them for years. Crap. I've been poisoning my own kids.

No more. I'm replacing them all with Corelle dinnerware. You can buy it at Wal-mart (I know, evil empire) by the piece and it is very lightweight but almost impossible to break, and it's glass, which isn't poisonous so far. little kid has bounce tested several pieces, and so far, so good.

The second piece of cool mail I got was from a new company called First Juice. Their tag line is "Drink outside the box" and the product is organic fruit+vegetable juice for kids, and the best part?
...the juice comes in a bottle with a twist on top with a valve!! Now you non-parents are going "so?" but you parents are starting to realize that this means NO MORE SQUEEZED JUICE BOXES. NO MORE LOST STRAWS. NO MORE RANDOM PLASTIC STRAW WRAPPER THINGIES FLOATING AROUND YOUR HOME.

It is virtually impossible, for even little kid, e-bullest of all evil, to spill juice all over my house. The bottles and their tops are reusable. We had two flavors, two small bottles and two large bottles and we let the boys have the small bottles and then just refilled them from the large bottles.

AND the juice is really good, completely natural, and you can't even taste the vegetables.

I know, it is hard to get excited about juice, but I am excited about this juice. It checks vegetable guilt, juice spills, recycling responsibilities and sugar/artificial preservative worries right off of my list. AND NO BPAs.

I even went out of my way the other day to stop at Babies R Us and get more. The kids love it. When Big Kid first tried it, I said, "What do you think?" and he said, "Mmmm. Deewicious awishus," with a big smile. I was so kicking myself that I didn't get it on tape, that kid could be a spokesmodel.

They also sell it at Whole Foods and some Targets.

Okay, so my point here is that we need to start taking baby steps, at the very least, with this whole "green living" thing. Also, we need to support companies that at least make an effort to be responsible with the products we trustingly buy and use on our children.

So put it on the list of things to think about. It's kind of important!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pretty sunset tonight

Today's portrait session was down at the beach at sunset. Ahhh, this is why I love Florida! That means two sunsets in a row for me! The shoot went great, it was three siblings and they were adorable and really posed well.

I must confess that getting paid to go down to the beach for two hours, take some pictures, play with some kids, and watch the sunset, isn't half bad.

Morning with the Maniac

little kid has been in time out 4 times this morning and has had his butt swatted (I know, child abuse, take him).

He is a walking maniac. Among his list of offenses so far this morning:

1. Taking off his pjs and diaper and peeing out the bars of his crib (at least a twice daily affair).
2. Finding a marker and drawing all over Big Kid's bed sheets.
3. Grabbing my coffee and pouring it onto the floor.
4. Torturing Murphy (The other day I caught him running up to Murphy with a pair of play pliers and an absolutely wicked grin on his face)
5. Body slamming into the screen door.
6. Taking off his diaper again (We've been making duct tape belts for him, because it is the only way to stop his e-bull self, but I didn't have any handy this time so I used a double layer of painter's tape)
7. Pounding on pets while wearing a pirate claw. (got a time out for this one. We are kind to animals around here or we get our ass beat)
8. Found in time out, BUTT NAKED AND SMILING, with the painter's tape wrapped around his neck.
9. Unpacked Big Kid's backpack, all over the kitchen floor.
10. Caught with play money in his mouth.
11. Fed the rocking horse peaches. This seems harmless enough, but every plush animal in the house has a ketchup or peach juice encrusted face. It's disgusting. He has play food.
12. Purposely spilled his milk onto the floor so he could lap it up with his tongue like a dog.
13. Had a total fit, talked nasty to me, and gave me the new "dirty look" he's so proud of when he realized he wasn't getting new milk.
14. Ran out the front door as fast as he could and into a path in the woods. He is freaking fascinated with this path on our property and every chance he gets, when he thinks I'm not on top of my game, he unlocks the deadbolt (because that's not even a hindrance anymore) and bolts straight out the front door, across the front yard, and onto this path.

This is what he got the swat for. I DO NOT like running like a wild person (because I have to sprint, he's fast and he has a head start and the element of surprise), barefoot and bra-less and still in my pjs, into the fucking woods.

My neighbors' landscaping crew has witnessed this debacle. I'm not proud.

So yeah, I spanked him. It doesn't work, but neither does anything else and I can't have him running through the woods.

So that's how my morning has gone so far. Right now I'm letting him gorge himself on Mandarin oranges because he's quiet when his mouth is full.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Past Lives

So today's Oprah was about past lives.

When I read the program description, I sort of rolled my eyes and thought it would be hokey.

Although the concept fits in with my own personal beliefs, whenever it is mentioned in the media it seems to involve flaky, scraggly haired people wearing crystals and talking about their third eye and clearly smelling bad.

I've got to say that I was really taken in by the psychiatrist (or whatever he was) who was discussing it. He didn't seem like a flake, he had a first class education, and he was very reluctant to believe in this sort of thing at first.

When I saw video of him hypnotizing people into sharing these "regressions", I was really captivated. Whatever these people were feeling, or remembering, it seemed undoubtedly genuine. They knew little details you wouldn't think they'd know and many times their current fears were based on their supposed past situations.

The whole episode sort of reinforced the strange set of beliefs I've cobbled together for myself. I consider myself a Christian, but I'm the type of Christian that makes my Baptist friends shake their heads and joke about saving my soul.

I do believe Jesus was sent by God and that he died for our sins, however, I do not believe this means every other religion is necessarily incorrect (a few of them are, but they mean well).

I think there is a Higher Power and that he doesn't care who leads you to Him or what you want to call Him. That seems to be the formula of most religions: one Higher Power, one Messiah/Prophet figure, one Ancient Literary Text, and the suggestion to live a good life and appreciate said Higher Power. The rest is just details.

Different rules, different books, different leaders, one Big Boss. I think it's the big picture that counts.

Anyway, I don't believe you just sit in heaven for ETERNITY. No way. I believe you go, see everyone you've missed, hang out for a while, and eventually decide to return to Earth to have new experiences and further evolve your soul. That this is what karma means, don't kick the dog because next time you may be the dog getting kicked. That this is why some people strike us as "old souls", because they've done this a lot of times before and have a greater understanding instinctually. (spellcheck is saying that's not a word, but I think it's a great word so spellcheck can kiss my ass). I also think it is why we are drawn to certain people or situations and why we have certain fears or feel called to certain professions.

A few years ago I read about this boy and I was really struck by the story. How would this little kid know all of this stuff?

It just really makes sense to me, so today when this guy was saying exactly everything I believe, and the memories and reactions these people were having seemed so genuine, like they were coming from SOMEWHERE, I was again overwhelmed by how right it seemed.

I remember my earliest dream (I had to be three or under because we weren't living in FL) was about someone putting me and my best friend at the time (Tara) into a pot belly stove and how terrified I was of the flames. For years I have had nightmares involving dying in a fire and I am NO FUN around a camp fire. We had a fire pit for a while, but we never used it because I would demand that the whole yard and roof be saturated, everyone sit away from the fire, and no one throw anything into the fire. Tonight when the Melting Pot waiter lit our fondue on fire, I felt real fear. So silly. But maybe I have died in a fire before? Maybe that comes from somewhere?

This next part is REALLY crazy, and I've only ever tried to tell Mr. Ashley and my brother before realizing how bat shit crazy I sounded, but I go through phases of having what seems like the same dream. It's not the same dream though, and it's not really about anything in particular, I'm just always in the same place (like a town) that I feel very familiar with and I'm always with people, not people I could name or put faces to, but people that I know and am very happy to be with. Sometimes when I wake up, I'm a little sad and at times I even catch myself looking forward to going to bed in the hopes that I'll go "there".

Man, I sound crazy even typing that out. But it's like a real place to me, fuzzy and dream like, but I could almost draw you a map right now--how to get to the town, where the water is (an ocean? or big lake?), and the small cement block house with the back porch that I "know". I could even give you a rough idea of what the town and neighborhood looked like.

Like I said, I know I sound mentally ill even sharing it and that's why I usually don't, but today while watching this show I felt overwhelmingly like these dreams are a memory. That this is somewhere I've been. Which made me feel less insane, and that is a good thing. Or maybe it's just an excuse for the insanity, which is also a good thing.

Whatever, Dr. Oz didn't discount it. Even he admits that it is naive to think we have data and evidence for every single thing that exists.

So you never know, it could be true, even if I am crazy.

All Better

It is simply amazing what some girl talk, a sunset, half a valium, a glass of wine, and Bananas Foster Fondue at The Melting Pot will do for morale.

Whoa

Are you all watching Oprah? About the past lives thing?

Wow, wow, wow.

I have lots of thoughts on this, so find a way to watch it and report back so we can discuss.

Baaaaad Day

Between everything on the news and some real life stuff, I just can't get it together today.

(and then the guilt of sweating the "real life" stuff when some people's "real lives" right now consist of trying to dig their family from out of rubble)

There's some funny in me, but it is waaaaay down there.

I haven't even told you all about my new Wahl-martz wardrobe yet, or little kid's charming new habit of streaking and peeing and pooping on things.

So LK/Lynda/Em's mom/BKFMIL/Whatever we call her and I are saying "fuck the world" and doing sunset and dessert tonight.

We deserve it.

Hopefully I'll be funnier when I get back. Hang tight 'til then.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Underachieving--LINK FIXED

Abandoned police department (I have a strong desire to be one of these people who breaks into abandoned urban dwellings and photographs them. Unfortunately, there are no abandoned urban dwellings around here, and I don't have bail money.)

All electric car coming in 2009
(and it's not even badly priced)

Most Controversial travel destinations
(I want to travel to many. I also have some serious questions about this whole "me not being allowed to go to Cuba" thing. I'm too tired to get into it now, but you'll be hearing all about that)

Photos of sand (who knew it could be so interesting) (ETA: I fixed that link. Leave it up to me to have a broken link for the most interesting site in the list)

More stunning pictures (because you all liked that last time)

Remember

when my external hard drive died? And I lost all of my photographic memories and a lot of my client archives? And I wanted to kill myself?

Well, my father in law says that he can retrieve all of that data. For free. All I have to do is find him a drive just like it, and ship both to him.

The problem is...I'd rather lose all of my memories and work than give my FIL unaccompanied, unprepared for access to the entire backup of every crazy ass thing that has ever been downloaded to, or created on, my laptop in the past 4 years.

All of my lists. All of my letters. All of my graphics. All of everything.

I'm going to have to say Negatory on that one, Ghost Rider.

Now let's hope it doesn't cost me a fortune to let an anonymous professional retrieve my memories and peek at my craziest, most inner self.

I'll pay it though. I kind of have to.

Yesterday

was so nice!

I've actually extended the holiday, today is Mother's Day Monday. So continue celebrating!

So yesterday we went over to my mom's house to horseback ride, swim, and barbecue.

On the way over there, Big Kid was saying his alphabet backwards. I turned to Mr. Ashley and said, "That's pretty amazing he can do that" and Big Kid paused in the back seat. "Whaddya doin' all dat talkin' for? I'm twyin' to concentwate. I got to concentwate to do dis da right way."

The kid's vocab seriously cracks me up. Observation, Concentrate/Concentration, Privileges are words I hear on a daily (hourly?) basis.

We saddled up Apache soon after we arrived and I hauled little kid up in the saddle in front of me.

He. was. in. heaven!

He loved every second of it. I nudged the horse into a slow trot, clicking and saying "trot" as I did, and little kid happily squealed "Tot! Tot!" and giggled as we bounced around the ring.

I left the ring and took him on a short "trail" ride around my parents' property and he excitedly pointed to flowers and birds and trees and said "uh-oh" every time the horse sneezed or whinnied.

Finally it was Big Kid's turn and as my dad reached up to take little kid off of the horse, he wrapped his arm around the saddle horn and screamed, thrusting out his bottom lip, leaning his face down near the horse's neck and sobbing as he held on for dear life.

Big Kid wasn't quite as enthusiastic, saying he wanted to "pwactice" but that trotting was scary and he really just wanted to go jump in the pool. Whatever.

We all had fun in the pool. little kid doesn't know that he can't swim, so it can be a challenge to swim with him, but he does enjoy it.

I spent the rest of the evening sitting on the back porch reading gossip magazines, and eating steak and peach cobbler. Hell yeah!

little kid spent the day watering one cactus and amusing my dad. There is Big Kid, reciting the alphabet backwards and adding and subtracting up to 20, and there's my dad interrupting him to delightfully point out that little kid was watering the cactus again.

little kid is at a fun age for any social activity because he loves to give random hugs and kisses and crawl up on whatever lap is available for a snuggle. He is irresistible and so sweet (when he's not being a TOTAL TERROR, as he usually is). It's hard not to give him attention, he demands it.

Big Kid adores my parents' house and started crying when it was time to go home, insisting he would just spend the night. Don't I wish.

I forgot to mention that Big Kid made me a card, all by himself, no help at all, that said "Happy Mothers Day. I love you. Big Kid 2008."

So all in all, a kick ass Mother's Day! I hope you had a good one too!

I've got 4 scary phone calls to go make, but I'll try to be back soon. Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

moms

It's our day, ladies! Our Day of Appreciation for the hardest, messiest job you never get to go home from. The pay is lousy (I know, I know, the "you're pretty"s and wet, sloppy kisses should be payment enough, but it doesn't work down at the Pedicure Palace. I've tried.), the hours are long, your bosses are demanding, there is far too much sacrifice involved and sometimes it seems that no one else sees the monumental-ness of what you're doing.

We're making people!

Whenever I think of that, it's just astounding. I am making people. People who will hopefully grow up to do great things, or build a better society, or just be amazing individuals who love and are loved.

I am laying the foundation for the future. It may not seem like it when I'm wiping urine off of the floors and yelling at people, but it's just another brick in the wall.

It's one of those hard, sucky jobs that you have to wait a long time to get paid on. You'll get small payments here and there, the big hugs, the handmade cards, but the final payment, seeing what came of all your hard work, will be worth the wait.

In most cases.

I know I've posted this before, but it's very moving and I feel like posting it again and SOME of you deadbeats haven't caught up on every word I've ever written (or copy and pasted, I can't take the credit for this one unfortunately), so here it is again:

"I'm invisible.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated, but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the
return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous
trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to
compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of- style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'"


I have no idea who wrote that or where I originally found it (sorry I can't give them credit) but it really meant a lot to me the first time I read it and gave me a different perspective on Motherhood, and my role as a cathedral builder. It's a big job.

So enjoy your day! Demand some YOU time. Go take a bath, or a nap. Go get a pedicure, BUDGET BE DAMNED. You deserve it, you're doing a great job. You'll sacrifice more tomorrow.

Moms

Edited to add: There's a paragraph where the formatting is all wonky, but you know what? It's Mother's Day! I'm too tired from building these cathedrals to take the time to fix it. So let's just be wild and crazy and leave it like that. And I'm not going to let it bother me. I'm not. Starting now...