Monday, January 31, 2011

This entire post is one big digression

London Fog Oxford 21" Upright, Tan, One SizeWe're fixing to go on a trip.

Yes. I said "fixing to." So sue me. I'm from Alabama.

I like the phrase "fixing to." It means "about to" with the connotation of "making preparations to." I think it's a pretty good word.

Actually there are a lot of southernisms that I like. For example, the word "tump."

If you're not from Alabama, "tump" is a combination of the words "tip" and "dump," and therefore encompasses the meanings of both.

So when I say, "The raccoons tumped over the trash cans," I'm saying that the cans were pushed over and their contents were spilled, but I'm saying all that in just ONE WORD!

And so we move on to the most obvious Southernism, the one that everyone knows: "y'all."

Every Yankee out there will make fun of us Southerners for saying "y'all," and every bad actor doing a fake Southern accent thinks he can make it sound authentic by simply changing all his "yous" to "y'alls."

Not so, my friend. The word "y'all" is PLURAL, people! The quickest way to give yourself away as a Southern faker is to refer to one person as "y'all."

Example: I once saw a greeting card that showed two mice, with one saying to the other, "Let's go out to dinner, y'all." The caption read, "The Night The Mice Went out in Georgia."

Now that's cute. Except it was obviously written by a Yankee who does not understand the use of the word "y'all."

In order for the word usage to be correct, THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT LEAST THREE MICE!

But I digress.

The point I was trying to make here, is that my husband and I are making preparations for an imminent departure abroad.

Did that sound smarter that way? Maybe.

But I still think my first sentence was better.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Being Late For Dinner Carries a Stiff Penalty

Tonight at dinnertime Boo didn’t come in from playing outside when she was called.

One of the good things about living in Hawaii is that the kids can play outside all year long. And barefoot too!

We live on a military post, so it’s a safe area that’s full of young families. That means there’s always someone outside to play with too.

The rule is, the kids are supposed to stay within earshot of the house. If they go anywhere else, such as inside a neighbor’s house or away from our circle, they are supposed to let me know where they’ll be and I give them a time to be back.

But tonight when I called, Boo was apparently too far away to hear. I figured I’d have to send one of her sisters to find her.

Then she appeared after we’d already sat down to dinner without her, and promptly burst into tears, because she knew she was in trouble for being out of bounds. Apparently she’d been playing in the field a few streets over, which she knew was too far away to hear me.

So the penalty for this infraction has already been set; we’ve been over this ground with Boo before. If she can’t follow the rules for playing outside, she can’t play outside for a day.

Honestly, this is punishing myself too, because it’s torture to enforce it. Tomorrow Boo will be whining like crazy and throwing herself around the house in agony. ALL DAY LONG. But if I don’t come down on her, she’ll never pay attention to the rule, will she?

Still, tomorrow is going to be a LONG day. And it’s a Saturday, too.

Which is why Boo was really in hysterics at the dinner table. “But it’s my ONLY DAY to play ALL WEEK!” she said dramatically. (Not including Sunday. And every afternoon after school. But don‘t bother her with facts, please.)

So dinner was a noisy affair, what with all the screaming and crying. Oh, and the comments from Boo’s older sisters. “You should make her stay in Sunday, too, if she doesn’t shut up,” said ET helpfully.

I really enjoy it when a fourteen-year old child gives me parenting advice, by the way.

And then Baby Girl joined in the general mayhem with her own screaming. She was wearing a sundress and had painted her bare shoulders with strawberry jelly while I was occupied with Boo. I think she was trying to be some sort of Jam Warrior.

Panasonic KX-TG6511B DECT 6.0 PLUS Expandable Digital Cordless PhoneAt this point the phone rang. It was a wonder I heard it over the din. Actually, my house pretty much sound like that every time someone calls, it seems. Telemarketers probably think I’m sitting in a stadium. Or a prison.

It was my neighbor, whose daughter is Boo’s age, calling because she was also unsuccessful in summoning her child to dinner. I asked Boo if her friend had been with her in the field, and then informed my neighbor of the out-of-bounds child’s whereabouts.

I think someone else is in trouble too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Big Black Trash Bag

The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room (First Time Books)My kids are messy.

Big newsflash there, right? I mean, what kids aren’t messy? And to be honest, I’ve stopped fighting against it as much as I used to. I guess I’m just tired.

I remember back when they were very little I used to be a lot more careful about picking up after the kids.

Of course, there were also fewer of them then…

Gradually, as the kids got older, most of the toys migrated to their rooms. And of course, I’ve always had to have a “baby-friendly-toys-only” rule in the main part of the house anyways.

Keep those choking hazards to yourself, big kids!

So the kids’ bedrooms are the truly messy part of the house now. And I have always taken a fairly lax stance on bedroom cleanliness. After all, they should be allowed to wallow in filth if they want, right?

Well, yes…up to a point.

But there IS a point where I can no longer take it. And we are reaching that point more and more often recently. Especially in Boo and GG’s room.

Husky 33-Gallon Drawstring Large Trash Bags - 60 Count HK33DS060BMEnter The Big Black Trash Bag.

First of all, I let the kids know: If your room is so messy that I can’t find a path to walk in there and get your dirty clothes basket, and especially if said basket is mostly empty and all the dirty clothes are all over the floor, YOU NEED TO CLEAN UP!

If you refuse to clean up, The Big Black Trash Bag will come and clean your room. And when the Big Black Trash Bag cleans, some of your toys get sucked up in it, and they DON’T COME BACK!

Now, to be honest, I don’t actually throw away all their toys, although I am SORELY tempted to do so. Mostly I just get rid of things I know that they don’t play with, things that are broken, and things that are seriously annoying to me. (Hey little singing hamster! YOU’RE NEXT!)

Sometimes the threat of the Big Black Trash Bag will get the kids to clean up. But last weekend, a three-day weekend with plenty of time for cleaning, the threat was not enough.

So on Tuesday when the kids came home from school, they found that their room had been cleaned up while they were gone.

Boo went into hysterics. “Oh NO! The Big Black Trash Bag came! It really came!” she shrieked, throwing herself on the floor. It was the exact opposite of her reaction to a visit from Santa. I guess The Big Black Trash Bag is kind of the anti-Santa.

Sorry, Boo. But you were warned.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Griping About Facebook Photos

Facebook.svgWhy do people have to “tag” horrible pictures of me? I know, I know, “horrible” is a matter of opinion, but…

Here’s a hint: If it’s a photo of the back of my head, don’t tag me! If my eyes are closed, don’t tag me! If only my giant behind is showing, don’t tag me! PLEASE! I’m begging you!

Okay, I guess I should admit here that it’s not the fault of the photo-taggers that I hate all pictures of myself. Perhaps I have a few personal issues.

(By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with facebook, “tagging” is where you label a picture as being of one of your friends, and it automatically shows up on that person’s page with their name on it.)

But now that the “new profile” has been implemented on facebook, the tagged photos are the first thing people see on my profile page. Hey, Facebook? You know why I carefully chose a flattering profile picture? So people won’t see what I really look like!

Let's just compare a bit, shall we? My profile picture is to the right of this post, so you can see the image I would prefer to present to the world. Here are some tagged photos from my facebook page:

Awesome, right?

Is it just my opinion, or do I look like an absolute freak here?

And here we have a nice group of cute kids:

That's me, trying to edge out of the back of the picture. But I got tagged anyways!

Next we have my favorite:

Now this is EXACTLY what everyone wants on their facebook page! Posterior photography!

And I think this one is unflattering for this whole group, to be honest:

Yes, I'm the one in the "slimming" black swimsuit.

Well, I guess I've thoroughly shattered your illusions about me now, if you had any. Oh, well, it's all vanity, anyways, right? And it doesn't really matter.

The thing is, I worked really hard to get that profile picture just right, so I’m still recognizable but not hideous. I think it would almost have been easier to commission a portrait, like people used to in the 19th century.

John Singer Sargent, where are you now?

Those were the days, back when all you had to have a rich husband and some artist would be forced to paint a flattering picture of you, right? I mean, I seriously doubt Mrs. Waldorf Astor was really that pretty.

Well, okay maybe she was. But I’ll bet old John Singer could have made even me look good. If I'd had the money….

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Carpe Diem... "Seize the Twins?"

Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and HopeI just finished reading the book “Choosing to See” by Mary Beth Chapman.

It was written by the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, the Christian singer/songwriter, and it was about their life together, but mainly about the tragic death of their youngest daughter in 2008.

Needless to say, this book turned me into a weeping mess.

My husband observed, “Maybe that’s not such a good thing for you to be reading,” as I sat, bent over the book, with tears (and worse!) dripping from the end of my nose.

But I did feel like Mary Beth did a good job of both conveying the pain they went and are going through, and balancing it with faith and hope for the future. It is a brave thing to do, particularly when a tragedy like that is so fresh.

As I read, the major message I heard was to really live each day and enjoy each moment that you’re given with your children. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and trust God for the big stuff, praying for strength as you go.

I tearily resolved to do just that. “I will seize each day! I will not let little annoyances bother me! I will give the children all my love and attention while ignoring their small faults!”

And then I looked up and saw Baby Girl sitting on Baby Boy’s head. Both of them were shrieking. All around on the floor were the discarded remains of a construction paper art project they had ripped into tiny pieces. And on the couch, the “no-spill” sippy cups were planted firmly upside-down, dribbling twin lines of milk into the upholstery.

This is what happens when I turn my attention to a book, I suppose.

I think a prayer for strength would not come amiss here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Importance of 3D Glasses

My husband and I went to a 3D movie last night. We haven’t gone to too many of them, although it really seems to be the THING recently.

To the left you'll see the poster for the film we saw. Not that I'm endorsing it. Although if they were to make me an offer...

By the way, does anyone else think that the fact that the film “Yogi Bear in 3D” can actually MAKE MONEY is a truly dire sign for the future of entertainment?

The way things are going I think we’ll be seeing Shakespeare 3D before long!

Gnomeo & JulietWait, I wrote that as a joke, but I just remembered I saw a preview for “Gnomeo and Juliet” last time we were at the movies. Yep. Garden gnomes as star-crossed lovers. Could be a sign of the apocalypse.

Anyways, we went to see “The Green Hornet” last night in 3D. My husband loves superhero movies, of which there seem to be plenty nowadays.

X-Men (Widescreen Edition)I remember when the first X-Men movie came out, before this genre was so popular. It had to be at least ten years ago. (Okay, I Googled it; it was 2000.) This was way before comic book movies became so mainstream.

It was a good movie, but I was glad I had a comic book expert with me to explain what the heck was going on. There was a lot of whispered, “Who is that?” and “What’s his special power?” and “Why did that just happen?” et cetera.

When the lights came up at the end I saw I was in a theater full of nerds. Male nerds, that is. I was the only chick in the place. Seriously.

The nerds were all looking at my husband incredulously, like, “Dude! Where’d you get a girlfriend?!”

Not that my husband is a nerd. I would never suggest such a thing.

But by the time we went to see the third X-men movie, years later, there were all kinds of people there. Including girls.

Superheroes: They’re not just for nerds anymore.

Anyways, we went to see the Green Hornet movie yesterday. We hadn’t planned to see it in 3D, since it costs an additional $4.00. However, when I checked the schedule I didn’t pay attention to the difference, and the time we’d picked turned out to be for the 3D movie.

Red-blue / Cyan Anaglyph Simple style 3D Glasses 3D movie gameNow, the last time I went to a 3D movie they just gave me some plastic glasses when I bought the ticket, and when the film was over, I tossed them into a “Return Glasses Here” bucket by the entrance. They didn’t seem to care much if you kept the glasses or returned them.

But this theatre treated the 3D glasses like they were extremely valuable objects. There was an employee assigned solely to sitting outside our theater and issuing the 3D glasses, making sure everyone only received one pair and that all pairs were returned properly. He took his job very seriously. I half-expected him to ask me to sign for the glasses.

He’s The Keeper of the 3D Glasses. It’s a sacred trust.

When I went to the restroom in the middle of the movie, The Keeper of the 3D Glasses was sitting out there guarding the door. He took my glasses away, saying he would return them when I came back.

Really?! What exactly did he think I was going to DO with the glasses in the bathroom? Dunk them in the toilet?

Maybe he thought I would run out of the building and steal them. Why would I pay $14 for a ticket to a 3D movie and then leave halfway through the film? Are these glasses worth THAT much?

After the movie, there was a “Return Glasses Here” bucket, but The Keeper of the 3D Glasses was there, manning it. He was a loyal soldier in the army of the movie theater, never deserting his post. No 3D glasses would be lost on HIS watch!

We were the last ones out of the theater --my husband likes to watch the credits-- so once he had collected our glasses, The Keeper of the 3D Glasses took the bucket solemnly back to the theater office. I expect he counted them carefully there, just to make sure a pair hadn’t slipped away, before carefully cleaning them for the next use. Perhaps he called them "my precious" as he did so.

Again, I’m wondering, How much can these things actually be WORTH? Why is it necessary to have a guy on this full-time, paying him an hourly wage to babysit a bucket of plastic eyewear?! (And what a boring job, too!)

Anyways, it was a mystery to me.

On a side note, the movie was pretty good. It had a clever script, as well as the requisite kicking-people-in-the-face sort of fighting, of which there was enough to earn a PG-13 rating. So that lets you know a lot of faces were kicked. And punched. And crushed by cars and/or falling elevators. (Whoops. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler there.)

But if you like superhero movies, I would recommend it.

Even if you aren’t a nerd.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

That's Not Trash!

simplehuman Step Trash Can, Semi-Round, Stainless Steel, 10-1/2 GallonsThe twins like to throw things away.

Some of the things are even trash.

I gave them their own small trash can so they can throw away things they find on the floor, such as their sisters' discarded wrappers, or old paper napkins.

I even labeled it, "Baby Trash Can," in an effort to keep other people in the family from putting things in there.

Because sometimes they throw away things they are not trash, which is why they have their own can. That way I can inspect the contents before taking out the trash, and rescue any odd objects in there.

I've often found sippy cups or silverware in there. I guess they figure: once I'm done using it, I should throw it away.

Which is nice and sort-of hygenic of the twins, but I have to remind them, "That's not trash!"

But we've had other strange things found in the baby trash can.

What is this, you may ask? Well, let's rewind a bit to find out.

 Aha! Here we see Baby Boy shoving AN ENTIRE ROLL of paper towels into the trash.

Where did he get it, you might wonder?

So it was a brand new roll of paper towels that he and his twin sister got from under the counter, unwrapped, unrolled completely, and threw away.

Once again, that's not trash!

But the weirdest thing I found in the baby trash can was this:

Can you see what's nestled there, between the empty Jell-O container and the discarded zip-loc bag?

Would you like a closer look?

That's right! It's a $10 bill! Amazing.

That's NOT trash!

But it's mine now....

Bad Marriage Advice

6.5" Caucasian Couple Tender Moment Figurine Cake TopperRecently I was reading some advice on how to have a happy marriage. Most of it was really good --i.e., spend time with each other, be kind to each other, don’t flirt with other people, et cetera-- but there was one item I could not agree with.

I don’t want to hurt this well-meaning writer’s feelings, but I would term this one bad advice:

“Be honest with each other. Is there someone
of the opposite sex within your circle of friends
to whom you might be attracted? We are all
human and even when we are in a solid and
loving marriage relationship, we are all going
to be tempted at one time or another. If this
happens, be honest with your spouse. It may
be that you’ll have to cease having a friendship
with that person, if either of you feel it is a
possible threat to your marriage. Your spouse
should be a priority in your life and your heart.
Don’t allow anyone outside of that to pose
even a possible threat to your marriage relationship.
This may be very difficult, especially if you are
faced with talking to that person and explaining
why the friendship has to end, but isn't your
spouse worth more than a friendship
with another person?”


How EXACTLY would these conversations GO?

Wife: Gee, honey, I really think our neighbor Bob is super-hot. I feel my attraction to him threatens our relationship. I don’t think we should hang out with him anymore.

Husband: What?

Wife: Yeah, I mean when he’s out mowing his lawn without his shirt… YOWZA! But I really want to make my relationship with YOU a priority. So I think we shouldn’t speak to Bob anymore. Okay?

Husband: O…kay. Just excuse me while I pick up the shattered pieces of my ego here…

Wife: Great! So while you do that I’ll just pop on over to Bob’s and let him know why we won’t be talking to him ever again. I’ll try not to drool over him too much while I do that. I hope he’s wearing a shirt, or I might not be able to control myself….

Husband: (sobbing in fetal position)

(Wife heads next door)

Wife: Hi Bob! I just came by to let you know we’ll be severing our relationship with you.

Bob: Um, what?

Wife: Yeah, see, I’m really attracted to you. You know, physically? Like the other day when you were trimming the hedge, all sweaty and everything…WOW.

Bob: Um, you’re really making me uncomfortable.

Wife: Oh, yeah, I know what you mean. I totally can’t restrain my rampant desire for you either. So I think it’s best for all of us if I don’t see you anymore.

Bob: Right. I’m closing the door now. Goodbye.

Wife: I’m so glad you understand.

Bob: I think I’m going to check on the restraining order process….

Okay, I think you get the idea.

So people, just so we’re clear: Date night? Yes. Brutal honesty? No.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back to School...FINALLY!

Messiah/Hallelujah ChorusSo my kids are back at school.

Does anyone else hear the Hallelujah Chorus playing, or is that just me?

School breaks are really tough around here. I have a lot of children, and I’m just not used to having them AROUND all the time.

I mean, I love them. But not ALL DAY LONG, for WEEKS, you know?

No seriously, the real problem is actually all the unstructured time spent in close proximity to each other. It tends to lead to a lot of fighting.

So my choices during school holidays are:

(1) Plan a lot of activities and then force the children to participate in them.

(2) Allow the kids to lounge around the house like slugs, watching junk on TV and idly picking at each other.

You would think it’s a no-brainer: Just pick Option #1 and be done with it. Plan a lot of activities, and don’t allow them to be irritable sloths!

But the problem is Part B of Option #1, forcing the kids to participate in said activities.

This requires me to turn into a combination head cheerleader/Mary Poppins. “Won’t it be a lark if we all pop over to the park for a picnic, and then to the grocery?” (Remember, put that in a British accent and it’s automatically funnier.)

Oh yeah, I’ll admit that sometimes the activities are just errands in disguise. But often it’s something really fun.

But don’t forget the Rule of Multiple Children:

There will always be at LEAST one kid who hates anything you pick, no matter how great it is.

I mean, we live in Hawaii. It’s paradise, right? But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard variations of the following whine: “The beach? AGAIN?”

Ungrateful little slugs, aren’t they?

And there is the little problem of most outside-the-house-activities costing money…

Anyways, usually our holidays are a mixture of Forced Activity and Rampant Sluggardry.

So by the end of the time off I’m thoroughly worn out. Then I have to really watch it, because that’s when my resistance is down and I might let the kids do something I’ll later regret, just to get them to be QUIET for five minutes.

That’s’ how we ended up with some pet mice last January, by the way…

But forget all that; the good news is: I’ve survived Christmas break once again!

This year, WITHOUT any unwanted pets.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ringing in the New Year

Jetsons: The MovieWell, it’s 2011.

Personally, I’m still wondering where all the flying cars are. Not to mention my robot maid.

It’s completely lame how the Future is here, and I still have to mop my own floor. And drive on the GROUND.

Although I guess we do sort of have those video phones they had on the Jetsons, what with skype and all. Which was, in my opinion, the lamest technology they had on that show. (Besides the dog-walk treadmill, I guess.)

I think that’s one of the best things about the phone, that you can talk on it and the other person can’t see you. Because MY phone always seems to ring when I’m in the shower or something. Let me tell you, you people are LUCKY you can’t see me!

Anyways, Happy New Year. Or whatever.

People in Hawaii are big on saying “Happy New Year.” They really love the new year celebration here. You should SEE the fireworks! It’s amazing.

It’s not a formal fireworks show or anything either. It’s just a bunch of regular people, buying up tons of small firecrackers and setting them off continually from about 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Seriously.

My kids went outside to watch them from the yard; it was a pretty good show.

I was bummed that I was stuck staying up until midnight this year; usually I ring in the new year doing my favorite thing: sleeping. My husband always waits for midnight and supervises whichever kids are old enough to try to stay up, but this year he had to work overnight.

I think this was the first year that all three of the older kids stayed awake all the way until midnight. I know Boo particularly was proud of herself for passing this milestone.

Obviously the twins were not given the option of staying up late, so that means they were up bright and early the next morning.

Happy New Year!