Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chirps from the Blue Jay

On religion:
We overheard a song on the radio that included the lines "I am a friend of God/He calls me friend." From the backseat, J asked, "Does God REALLY call him Fred?"

On human frailty:
Upon waking up against her wishes: "MAMA! The brightness of the light, it pains me!"
If this is 4, I can't wait for 14.

On extraterrestrials:
J: "Mama, why does this book have purple aliens in it?  Aliens are green."
Me: "Well, nobody knows for sure if aliens even exist or what they would look like.  So artists can draw them however they want to draw them.  If I were to draw an alien, I might color it yellow."
J: "OK.  And if *I* were to draw an alien, I might color it green.  BECAUSE THAT'S ITS ACTUAL COLOR."

Friday, May 14, 2010

World Domination

I found the following when I cleaned up my 3-year-old’s art table.  Should I be concerned?

To-Do: Take over the World

Step 1.  Eat lots of carbohydrates and protein.  Pasta and rice will give quick energy for hand-to-hand combat.  Cheese sticks will help me maintain my lean muscle mass if food stores become scarce.  Vegetables and fruits are fibrous and result in bowel movements.  Bowel movements will only slow me down.  Besides, broccoli is for sissies.

Status: Excellent.  My plan is working.  I have subsisted on nothing but noodles and mozzarella (and the king of all foods, macaroni and cheese) for 2 years now.

Step 2. Perfect my hand-eye coordination.  Coordination is necessary not just for one-on-one battle but also for all sorts of technology: computer operation, driving, flying.  This is an ongoing process and one of the keys to my ultimate success. 

Status: Good.  I have come a long way from the days of being unable to grasp my own Rattling Device, but coordinating my hand movements with the motion of a computer mouse has proven trickier than originally thought.  I can operate scissors with relative ease, however.  Must continue to resist the temptation to cut my own hair, lest The Mother remove the blades from my reach.

Step 3.  Wear The Mother down.  She is the only thing standing between me and world domination.  Others will fall like dominoes in a line if (WHEN!) I am able to accomplish this feat.

Status: Fair.
  This has proven more difficult than originally anticipated.  The Mother is short in stature but has an exceedingly strong will at times, stronger than I would like.  Perhaps her bones are made of titanium or similar.  Denying her sleep appears to be the key to her destruction, though this strategy is problematic for my own health as well.  My recent strategy of climbing into her bed at 3 a.m. seems the best compromise: I sleep sideways in the bed, with my head on her torso.  I awaken fully refreshed; she awakens exhausted.  This plan appears to be working.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ways to get what you want as a parent. Or, What 3 years has taught me.

Give things fancy names.  When talking to a young toddler, call broccoli “tiny trees.”  Cutting fingernails can become “having a manicure.”  You get the idea.  This trick works better on toddlers than it does on preschoolers. These days, I can call broccoli whatever I want to, but if its first name is not “powdered” and its last name is not “doughnut,” my child is not going to eat it.  And any “manicure” at my house had better be followed up with a quick coat of PixieDust Pink, if you know what’s good for you. 

Give nonchoice “choices.” I’m not talking about letting your kid choose which superhero underpants to wear, though I think all of us parents can agree that that is a Very Important Decision, Indeed.  No, I mean those choices that are phrased like these: “Would you like to clean up these toys or would you like to go to timeout and THEN clean up these toys?” Or, “Would you like to put your shoes on and go outside, or would you like to stay here in this house all alone while I leave, keeping in mind that there will be no one here tall enough to reach the microwave to make you popcorn when you use up your scant fat stores and need to eat again?” Or, “OH FOR THE LOVE STOP SCREAMING OR I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO SCREAM ABOUT.”  Or, um.  Wait.  Maybe not that last one.

Do not leave the house for more than 10 minutes without a snack in your purse, a potty in your trunk, and a trick up your sleeve.
  Your “trick” will depend on the age of your child, but being able to fold a piece of newspaper into a pirate hat never hurt anybody.  My trick is that I am not afraid to make a total fool out of myself, anytime, anywhere:  I will dance in the yard, sing for no reason, and lower my voice to make the trashcan “talk.” You would not believe how entertaining that particular characteristic is to an infant/toddler/preschooler.  When my daughter becomes a preteen and teenager, I suspect my foolishness will be less entertaining.  However, it should serve me well as a means of punishment, and so I plan to keep it in my repertoire.  I anticipate many happy years of obedience in response to the words, “If you don’t straighten up, I am not afraid to sing ‘Brick House’ right here, right now.  AND I KNOW A DANCE THAT GOES WITH IT."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More than you ever wanted to know.

So.  A few weeks ago, I applied to win a date with a man who owns several restaurants.  The deal was, he'd take the winner out to one of his restaurants and then go to see a taping of Rachael Ray.  Applicants were to explain why they thought they deserved such a date.  I applied.  Because, I mean...why not?  I did not win, friends.  I know you are shocked.  Shocked and chagrined.  I am telling myself it's just because they ended up drawing names from a hat.  At any rate, this is my application.  I am sharing it with you now because...why not?

First of all, I realize the assignment is to tell you why I want to go, not why you should want me to go.  But what kind of terrible marketing would THAT be?  Let me tell you, the salesmen who suck me in are not the ones who say, “Buy this car so I can win Salesman of the Year and get a trip to Hawaii.” The successful ones are those who say, “You need this car like a cowboy needs a belt buckle as big as his head.”  You know what I’m saying?  But then again, you’re requesting applications for a date.  OBVIOUSLY you know what I’m saying.  So.  I’m going to tell you why YOU should want me to go, not why I want to go.

Here’s why I’d make a great date:

I appreciate good food...I like to cook it; I like to eat it.  But I don’t appreciate it in quite the same WAY Rachael does.  I can’t roll my eyes as far back into my head as she does when she bites into something she’s cooked, for example.  But I’m ok with that, because my mother always told me that if I did that, my eyes would get stuck that way.   And who am I going to trust, some woman on the Food Network or some woman who went through 11 months of pregnancy followed by 37 hours of unmedicated labor to bring me into this world?  That’s right: Mama always wins.  And that’s because Mama’s got a mean right hook.

You will find it easy to impress me with your knowledge of current events.  This is because I live under a rock.  (No, I don’t mean that literally.) (Not that there’s anything wrong with rock-dwellers.)  (It’s just that I really, really like indoor plumbing.)  As I was saying.  My knowledge of America’s stars ends with the era of Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton.  After that, I found it too painful to continue to pay attention.  I understand those two have been supplanted by some more women called the Kardashians.  They are sisters, I believe.  Or possibly there is a whole tribe of women called the Kardashians.  Possibly there is an entire race of creatures called Kardashains on Star Trek, if that show is even still on the air.  I am not sure.   See how easy it will be to impress me?  Like shooting fish in a barrel. 

I won’t stalk you afterward.  Now, you’d like to think that goes without saying, wouldn’t you?  But then again, you are soliciting applications from members of the General Public.  And if there’s anything I know about members of the General Public, it’s that most of them are Grade-A Crazy.  I’m a little crazy, but in that “take your shoes off and run through the sprinkler” kind of way, not in that “make a shank from a toothbrush handle and run from the cops” kind of way.  It’s a subtle but important distinction.
I have sweet moves.  Not those kinds of moves.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  This is a family-friendly application.  No, I have the kind of sweet moves that once allowed me to drive halfway to work with an aluminum pie pan full of cinnamon rolls on the hood of my car.  That’s right: my hood.  Not my roof.  Or my trunk.  But my hood.  They arrived intact and still delicious.  This tells you two things about me.  The first is that I may be slow, but I’m also smooth.  The other is that I am fairly oblivious to what is happening around me (see also “current events”).  Both of these attributes can work in your favor if you let them.

I won’t correct your grammar.  I feel the need to say this because I am currently an editor and was at one time a high school English teacher.  When I tell people these things about myself, they immediately ask me not to judge their writing or speaking.  Of course, you probably don’t even need this disclaimer.  I am sure you have very nice grammar, the kind of grammar that calls its mother every Sunday and sends thank-you notes promptly.  But I needed to say it anyway.

What I lack in culinary skill, I make up for in culinary knowledge.  This is because I read cookbooks to calm down when I am stressed out.  (Yes, really.  Stop looking at me like that.)  I read them like novels, cover to cover, marking the ones I’d like to make.  I even read the conversion and substitution charts.  This little habit has resulted in my knowing scads of information that is virtually useless in everyday life.  I’m like an iPhone app.  Only crankier.  I’m not sure how this makes me a great date, but I am including it on account of You Just Never Know. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Slacker Summer Tips

Summer Slacker Tip #1: Buy a pair of peep-toed shoes. Your feet will look summery, but only your big toe has to be presentable. But you should be aware that this trick is somewhat less than effective if you proceed to announce your slackeryness to all your coworkers and remove your feet from your shoes to show them how ugly your toes REALLY are. Confession is good for the soul, but it certainly does make your feet look bad. (See how I sidestepped the very tempting soul/sole joke? Puns: I wouldn’t do that to you.)

Slacker Summer Tip #2: Never pay more than 3 bucks for a pair of sunglasses. You'll never be upset again when you sit on them in the car or your child pulls an earpiece off or you leave them at a friend's. My sister adds that this tip is also helpful if your daughter "accidentally sat on them over and over until they made a crack noise." Ah, my little niece, my namesake: I am so proud.

Summer Slacker Tip #3: Order your swimsuit online. Let me assure you: even if you have to deal with the post office to return a few frogs, it’ll be worth it when you find your prince. (Metaphorically speaking, of course. I don’t advocate mail-order spouses. Or amphibians.)

I went to Target once to try on bathing suits. I found a cute tankini. Curiously, no bottoms were attached, presumably because Target has a delightful collection of “mix-and-match” suits, also known as “we’re pretty sure you’ll buy the whole bleepin’ thing once you’ve gone to the trouble to find an actual match” suits. I don’t know what y’all have been doing, but apparently you Target regulars have angered the Clothing Gods. But I digress. I put on this cute top, which was my usual size, according to the hanger. (Rule 1: Never listen to the hanger. Hangers are lying liars. Who lie.) I had a bit of trouble getting it on but persevered.

It was somehow...Not Right. My breasts were smashed in there like I’d grown a couple of cup sizes, but my stomach was covered with yards and yards of fabric. Clearly, I was tiny! A tiny little miniscule woman with a tiny little miniscule waist! And huge ginormous breasts! I WAS A FIVE-FOOT TALL BARBIE, Y’ALL! And yet I still looked…Not Right. Decidedly Not Right, in fact. I took it off and checked the size. It was a size smaller than usual (woot)! And also a maternity suit (not woot!) So. Now I order online. Where I can find suits for women who are not currently gestating. And subsequently cry privately.

Summer Slacker Tip #4: Turn your oven off. Well, I mean, not if you’ve got a chicken baking in there right now or something. If there’s something IN there, then let it finish, take it out, and THEN turn off your oven. OK, good. Well done. Now leave it off until it gets cool outside again. That’ll be about October down here.

Now, don’t ask me what you’re gonna eat for the next several months, because you already know the answer: either eat it raw or get somebody else to cook it. As a general rule, fruits and vegetables will fit into that first category. However, I personally frown upon eating meat raw, which I realize makes me Extremely Unsophisticated. But I have a very good reason for my aversion: the texture skeeves me out. Now if that isn’t a classy enough justification for you, then maybe you’re just a snob, and I’m not sure we should be friends.

So for meats, you’re really gonna need somebody else to cook. I’d recommend any of your local fine dining establishments (and even the ones that are not so fine). But if you can con a man into firing up a grill on your behalf, that’s even better. Look, I know women are perfectly capable of grilling. However! I have a cultivated ignorance of outdoor cooking, and I would like to keep it that way. There’s still a chance I could someday date a man who is willing to grill, and I do not want to ruin my shot at getting a 7-month break from cooking just because of some equal-opportunity nonsense.

The best part of this slacker tip is that it keeps your house cool, which lowers your energy consumption, which both saves you money and makes you environmentally conscious. Dang, I just love it when the green movement turns my slacking and cheapness into something noble, don’t you? Just remember to take that chicken out before you start being noble, mmmkay?

Summer Slacker Tip #5: Become one with your paleness. Embrace it. Love it. Take it home to meet his mama. Make copious references to the era when pale skin was hip so that you sound historically informed and not just slackerly. A few references to skin cancer and “all those chemicals they put in self-tanner” will also make you sound medically informed and conceal your true slackerly motives.

Summer Slacker Tip #6: Eat lots of ice cream and popsicles. Do it in the name of cooling off. But just between you and me, everybody knows it’s just because they taste good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's Not Me, It's You.

Dear Wal-Mart,

I think it’s time for us to acknowledge that this charade of a relationship is officially over. You know, I give and I give and I give...but you never can seem to offer me the things that I need.

There was a time when I didn’t think I could quit you, Wal-Mart. You’ve got the most store brands of any grocery store I’ve shopped in, it’s true. But I’m stronger now, and these days, a cheap jar of salsa is just not enough to woo me.

You probably haven’t even noticed that I’ve been seeing other stores. You wouldn’t, would you? You’re too busy serving your other girlfriends, women who wear halter-tops and have the word “juicy” printed across their rears. Oh, I’ve seen your other girlfriends, Wal-Mart. And I am not impressed. Not impressed at all.

But those other stores I’ve tried, they really seem to want my money, Wal-Mart. You know Amazon.com? Amazon delivers. To my DOOR, Wal-Mart. That’s the kind of love I’ve hardly dared dream about.

And Walgreen’s? Walgreen’s doesn’t beat me up if I forget something. It only takes a minute to go from one end of that store to the other. A MINUTE, Wal-Mart! Can you offer me that? No. No, I didn’t think so.

Today I came to you out of desperation. I was in my hour of need. My little girl needs some pajamas. She needs some cotton ones with short sleeves. It’s getting hot here, Wal-Mart, and she’s sweating through her sheets these days. But did you offer me cotton pajamas? No, you didn’t. The best you could come up with was polyester. Polyester, Wal-Mart? POLYESTER? Did you know I live in Mississippi? Surely you did. You live here, too. We’re practically neighbors. And yet these days, it feels like we are worlds apart.

I don’t think I can keep this up anymore, Wal-Mart. I really don’t. My heart hasn’t been in it for a while. And quite frankly, I suspect yours never was.

Good luck,