Mar 31, 2006

Comming Soon!

Oh, are you people in trouble! I have discovered how to post movies and you will now be subjected to the equivalent of sitting in my family room watching home movies and clips of my vacations while I poke you in the arm yelling “Hey, watch this, here comes the really cute part!” Your only saving grace is my camera only records 60 seconds at a time and so my own laziness will prohibit any full length Bombadee features. Since it is a new toy, I am going to try and make a music video to show off my super cool editing skills. Give me a couple of weeks to gather footage and find an appropriate song that is also free and viola movie magic. (BlahZeeBlah Productions – not so silly sounding anymore?) So, I promise to use this new found power sparingly. Get your popcorn ready.

6 Months Old

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Hey Mom! Look what I can do!

I Like Spam Anyway

You may or may not have noticed I removed my word verification box. It was nice to not receive any spam but it was not worth the time for me. It takes me exactly 54 seconds to erase spam posted in my comments and in comparison I spend at least 3 minutes trying to decipher my own word verification each time I comment. Sometimes I screw it up two or three times in a row and just give up commenting all together. I have the hardest garbledeegook words ever, they are an exercise in my already lacking typing skills. I’m not kidding today I had this one:

So as the queen of convenience I removed the whole process and now you can feel free to spam away.

Mar 30, 2006

Passport Please?

I fear my child has entered a realm of demanding that has me both baffled and waving a white flag. She has a firm grasp of words like “frustrated”, “sad”, “tired” and “hungry” and has been known to use phrases like “It’s very hard to do”, “I’m so hungry”, and “I need help” but has tossed these handy phrases to the side in favor screaming while her father and I look at each other in horror asking each other “What does she want?” “I don’t know she was just playing with her blocks two seconds ago and now she’s on the floor writhing in pain... you tell me?” We lean over her kicking and screaming mass and yell to her “USE YOOUUR WORRRDSS SWEETIE!” We might as well be yelling “DOOO YOOOOU SPEEEAK ENNNGLISH? You know… SPEAK-OH ENGLISH-OH!”

Dan and I reassure each other with the idea that she’s been sick lately and we are all crabby when we are sick but I still fear the worst. Could it be that my perfect dear sweet well adjusted baby girl and bestest play buddy is having a hormone surge and is slipping into the… I’m not even going to say it… I’ll just call it “the not so mellow time in her toddler-hood”? Or perhaps she's decided on a new nationality without telling us. She sits down to the same foods she used to like for dinner only to spit it back out with a hearty “I won’t like this!” and then the unintelligible wailing starts followed by me shouting “What?... What DO you WANT TO EAT? Do you want a piece of CHEESE? GRAPES? … PRIME RIB? ... KUNG POW CHICKEN?.. TOMALIS?... WHAT dooo yooou waaaant!?!” If she would just tell me that she has decided to be Lithuanian I will happily make pierogi, pączki, or blini for her and then I can buy the Lietuvių Kalba to English dictionary and dispense with the yelling.

I really am trying to cut her and me some slack as I think her brain is having a growth spurt. Yesterday I heard her practicing the correct pronunciation of “s – sss – s – s – s – pooon” and I see her carefully lining things up and the announcing “seven raisins, that’s more!” (The basics of math happening there). I just can’t imagine how traumatic it would be to arrive on a new planet and learn everything from how to control your body and move through space to the importance of depositing your poo in the potty within the first three years and not be absolutely off your rocker with stress. However my tolerance for a tiny screaming alien attached to my tit is running low and I have found myself saying to her “Just STOP! NOO MOOOORE CRYING! You know CRYING-OH -- STOP-OH the CRYING-OH!” Apparently my not so mellow toddler doesn’t speak ArrogantAmerican-Oh.

Well, we always wanted her to learn a second language and as soon as we have a good look at her passport we’ll tell you what it is.

Mar 29, 2006

Spilt Milk

I get things done fast and sometimes in unconventional ways, this drives my husband crazy as he thinks if your going to do a thing, you should do it right the first time and watching him ‘do it right’ drives me crazy. Case in point

The child spills milk on the couch.

Mom lunges for it when it’s tipped misses the catch and milk hits the cushions. She rights the cup and quickly pulls her own sleeve down over her hand and sops up milk with it. The kid lets a wail and Mom says “Don’t cry sweetie, I’ll get you more” she refills the cup in the kitchen, grabs the furniture cleaner spray to make certain the couch won’t smell like curdled milk next week, spritzes the couch and later changes her shirt.

On the other hand

Dad doesn’t see the cup go down, the milk spills completely behind the cushions. The kid lets out a wail and Dad says “Oh no! Crap, crap crapitty crap. Its ok honey, I’ll get you some more milk.” Dad then has to set down the book he is reading and stand up from the chair, walk to the bathroom and get a towel. Dad sops up the milk takes the cushions off removes the cushion covers and from the kitchen gets the furniture cleaner spray which he leaves sitting next to the couch as he goes back to the kitchen to refill the milk cup for the kid. While in the kitchen the kid decides it will be fun to jump up and down on the cushions without their covers while wearing the milked soaked towel as a cape and spraying the dog with the couch cleaner. The dog then discovers the milk and begins to lick the towel while simultaneously shedding little black hairs all over the cushions and the kid’s sticky hands. Dad makes it back from the kitchen to witness the new mess and he sighs a big heavy Daddy sigh. Kid says “You ok Daddy?” Dad says “Yeah, let’s go get in the tub”. He puts kid in tub, dog on back porch, yells for Mom to come and watch the kid in the tub as he’s “got a mess to clean up”, gets the carpet shampooer out and shampoos the couch, put the cushions and their covers in the wash, and continues to shampoo the entire carpet because once he cleaned that one spot it looked cleaner than the others. This takes all afternoon to dry.

Now, while it's nice to have your entire carpet shampooed and the couch completely clean and fresh, and it's wonderful that he doesn't just yell for me at first, or throw a blanket over it, I think my husband could turn picking his nose into an all day affair just getting the right tools out. My point - Who ever said don’t cry over spilt milk never had to watch Dan clean it off the couch.

Mar 28, 2006

They're Coming to Get You, Barbara

Despite my extreme phobia I stayed up until 1:30am Sunday night watching “Dawn of the Dead”. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a single nightmare and I wasn’t scared at all. I think the difference is the speed of the zombies. In “Return of the Living Dead” the zombies are lumbering, awkward, moaning messes that somehow always get you. In Dawn of the Dead they just move at regular speed. When I have nightmares about zombies they are the slow ones and I run but I can never rest because eventually they’ll get there. In fact my zombie nightmares have less to do with the actual zombies and more to do with the anticipation of the monster and the never resting. I wonder what that says about me.

So Dawn of the Dead was scary but not like I thought it would be especially after staying up late by my self to watch it. It had a little
Old Yeller theme running through it which got me thinking about rabies. Yeah, I know there’s some things to be said about Voodoo, but if you mix those stories in with stories of rabid people lumbering around with foaming mouths and twitching then you’ve got a good “swear to God this story is really true, it happened to my sister’s best friend’s cousin” story. I guess this is the basis for 28 Days which I haven’t seen but now that I know I can watch zombie movies a again (as long as they move at regular speed).

I googled Zombie & Rabies and found
Real Zombies, and How They’re Theoretically Possible, an Argumentative Paper by Robert Ashkenes . I also found Zombie Infection Simulation which was pretty neat and the The Real Zombie Attack Survival Test which told me I’d last about 3 hours without other more experienced survivalists – so if a zombie virus is unleashed Mr. BlahZeeBlah better be handy.

and just in case you are wondering I really like the band White Zombie.

Mar 27, 2006

Like Dancing on Bubble Wrap

Cartoons under new blanket

Coloring with "naked crayons"

Discovering an old wine box

"Look mom, bubble garbage!"

Examining bubble wrap

Playing behind the couch

Mar 26, 2006

A Bonus Bag o’ Cheese

The party went wonderfully. It was crowded and every piece of art sold at a price that was way more than I expected. We raised three times the money we were hoping to and we had wine and food left over. Victory for the library! One of the library people said to me “People even lingered afterwards, that never happens!” I told her “That’s because your so charming” and she blushed. The only down side was I lost my voice totally and couldn’t give my speech, and honestly I love public speaking. Dan spoke instead and I wrote a little piece that went – “Jenny lost her voice this morning and she can’t speak above a squeak, so she said to tell you she was going to perform and interpretive dance to welcome you and thank you for coming but I’ve seen her dance and I’ll spare you by just saying on her behalf thank you…” Instead he was very stoic and appropriate and he thanked everybody and talked about how we measure a culture by their art and how that measure correlates directly to how inventive a society is blah blah blah… no funny there, but that’s ok there will be next year. Otherwise, the evening went exactly like I envisioned including the parts where we came home to a sleepy baby in the arms of our new sitter, whom we sent home with a half pound bag of fancy cheese (left over hors d'oeuvres) how’s that for a babysitting bonus!

Well, Tater Tot are you ready to start a Party Planner business with me? We could call it "Those Jennifers"

Mar 24, 2006

All By Yourself

I'm ok, I'm just a little busy and I've been puked on twice this morning. Poor Ella has a cough that doesn't stop and I have lost my voice, this will be my excuse for giving the shortest speech in the history of speech making on Saturday night. I will be up and blogging in perfect Bombadee fashion on Sunday. Till then dear internets I leave you with this photo - entitled

"You Can Get Your Jammies on all by Yourself"

Mar 22, 2006

Like Gravestones

The election was yesterday and yard signs are still planted all over the state like gravestones. Our two local school referendum passed so that’s good for us and Tater-tot’s kids. I’m glad those blasted automated campaign calls will stop and my junk mail quotient will decrease by half.

I don’t think there were any huge surprises. We know a guy that ran as a democrat in this primary and publicized that he was pro-life, he got pummeled (34%). I think it was clearly because he stood in front a room full of Democratic women and proclaimed his pro-life stance. The position he was vying for doesn’t have anything to do with abortion legislation which makes his proclamation purely foolish in my opinion. It would be like running for dog catcher in a room full of animal lovers and promising that you will support assault rifles for hunting deer.

What do you think? Are you a Democrat? Do you consider yourself pro-choice? Would you vote for a pro-life Democrat? Do you think it would’ve been ethical for him to keep his trap shut if the position doesn’t have anything to do with the issue and nobody asked him? Or does the possibility of electing someone to dog catcher automatically make them a possible future candidate for Governor and these things should be know ahead of time?

Mar 21, 2006


Somebody give that Dora girl some freaking Ritalin. Why is she yelling all the time? “MAP! SAY MAP! SAY MAP!” It’s setting a bad example. We’ll have a generation of kids that grow up yelling things in threes – “Dad can I borrow the CAR! BORROW THE CAR! BORROW THE CAR!?” While we’re at it let’s get Elmo some therapy for his speech impediment, that poor little Muppet is having trouble with his Ls and is yelling all the time too. More than likely he just needs a hearing aide, why doesn’t his mommy take him in to get him checked? Maybe the Muppets are all street urchins like Oscar without anyone to look after them? Maybe that’s Dora’s problem too – her mother has to work three jobs to cover their expenses here in the states and send money back home, they are just trying to get a visa so they can stay and Dora is just screaming for attention. Ok, ok, maybe Mothers aren’t the answer to everything, but seriously someone just needs to get that Dora kid on Ritalin.

Mar 19, 2006

What Happens in Indianapolis Stays in Indianapolis (till now)

Back when I was pregnant with Ella we spent a long weekend in Indianapolis. It was wonderful, there was so much to do there but my body couldn’t take big walks so I mostly stayed close to the hotel. On Friday night Dan was going to participate in a poker tournament (yes that was pre-planned and ok with me). I decided to take myself on a date. I did my hair, put on a nice crisp white shirt and the fancy necklace I bought from two hippie Wiccan ladies earlier in the day. I went downstairs in the Weston and walked next door to their restaurant with the large outdoor patio. I figured it would be perfect for people watching.

The hostess asked me if I was waiting for someone, I stretched up tall and said “nope just me”. She smiled and said “I love your necklace.” I said “Thank you, my husband bought it for me… in Egypt.” (!!! I’m not sure why that popped out of my mouth but it was kinda fun!!!) She replied “It’s gorgeous.” I was just giggling like mad inside while she led me out to the veranda. The veranda was about half full and I took a table just near the railing to get a fabulous view of the people walking by. I ordered a giant fancy foo-foo banana split with everything and it arrived in no time. If you’ve never seen a pregnant woman with a craving for banana split eat a banana split then I can only describe it as watching someone have a spiritual experience. The banana split was gone in 10 minutes and I asked for a decaf coffee and the check. She came back with the coffee and informed me the man at the next table was buying my ice cream.

First, I had never had anyone offer to buy me a drink, much less a towering heap of ice cream and fruit and syrup so I didn’t know what the protocol here was. Second, did he just watch my eat it and lick the spoon clean and buy the Sunday because he owes me for the show I just put on? Ewwww and hey I’m kinda flattered. Third, it’s a free dessert and free is free. Fourth, maybe he feels bad for the poor pregnant lady al alone in the restaurant and so he’s being nice. So after I had two or three sips of coffee I couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to just thank the man for the ice cream and leave. As I stood up, it became perfectly clear how pregnant I was as my belly poked out, and I heard the man audibly choke on his beer, well, I guessed that ruled out #4, I smiled and said thank you to him and left. As I walked past the veranda from the street side I heard his buddies kinda laughing at him, confirming that I should in fact be flattered.

When my husband made it back from his game, I told him all about my exciting evening and he said “Wow, a free dessert. You probably should’ve said you couldn’t accept it, you were leading that poor guy on.” I replied “Aw, it serves him right hitting on a pregnant lady.” And then we both laughed, but the truth was, I just didn’t know the proper etiquette for dealing with lecherous men who randomly pay for ice cream. In the future I’ll know.

Off today

Off to get a hair cut this morning and I'm pretty happy about that.

Mar 18, 2006

Girl Scouts

What I remember of girls scouts was this – We giggled too much and our girl scout leader grabbed Kim’s arm so hard it left a bruise and then during the next weeks meeting we wouldn’t stop talking about Strawberry Shortcake when she was trying to show us how to sew a sit-upon and then “for heaven’s sakes what would we have to sit –upon when we were out in the woods cooking our hobo dinners on the fire!” And so she grabbed Amy’s arm really hard and squeezed it until Amy stopped talking and her eyes welled up with tears and then we all got silent and big eyed except for me who stood up and said “You’re mean and you can’t do that to kids and get away with it, its abuse!”

I knew this phrase because I used to tell it to my parents all the time. I wasn’t actually abused; I just heard the phrase on some after-school special and used it whenever I was grounded, yelled at, or told to clean up after myself. I’m sure the scene went like this:

Mom: Why did you put chocolate syrup, butter, orange, juice, cereal and eggs all over the kitchen floor?
Me: I was making breakfast.
Mom: What a mess, I think you need to clean this up.
Me: You’re mean and you can’t do that to kids and get away with it. It’s abuse!”

So you can guess how thrilled I was to actually have a real reason to tell someone they were abusing kids! Oh it was so dramatic and I delivered my line with perfect rightousness. The scout leader just looked at me through squinty eyes and told me to act like a young lady. I was disapointed, it's not how the script in my head went. She was supposed to pull out a dagger and chase me while yelling about blowing her cover or something (just like Scooby Doo) and the rest of the Girl Scout would tackle her down and save the day. Instead, I went home and told my mom, who I think had to call Kim’s mom and then Amy’s mom to make sure they really did have little bruises on their biceps and it wasn't just me being theatrical, and then we didn’t have Girl Scouts anymore.

I don’t think the Girl Scout leader got in trouble I just think my mom told the other moms and nobody went to the meetings anymore. Or maybe we just all told our moms that day. I’m not really sure what happened because they don’t tell nine year olds about middle aged moms with alcohol problems who take on too much and then are ready to throttle the crap out of a group of chatty girls who can’t stop going on about how cute Chachi is and who is prettier Daisy Duke or Chrissie Snow and who was had the prettiest hair bows and the most friendship bracelets. Poor lady was probably just trying to spend some quality time with her kid. Still it’s no excuse; if you can’t tune out chatty little girls then perhaps you should find quality time with your daughter at the library.

I suppose that not nearly as bad as
Mr. Bad News Hughes freaky bending over scoliosis checks but everything is traumatizing when you’re nine. I still think women that lead Girl Scouts are a little scary and I’m sure my long standing zombie phobia was caused by Thriller video that came out that year. I swear if you just lock your eyes straight ahead and moan while walking towards me with your arms out this grown woman will scream and run, or pick up the nearest golf club and whack you in the shins with it (and Dan as funny as this sounds don’t even try it if you ever want to sleep next to me again).

Mar 17, 2006


Rest in Peace Kevin


I volunteered to help the local public library raise some funds by doing my most favorite thing in the world – throwing a giant party. This one’s is kind of fancy, in that there will be wine and hors d'oeuvres and art. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks meeting with caterers and procuring wine and persuading artists and making guest lists and then licking envelopes. In the next week I will help make sure it all comes together into a smooth lovely evening for our community, an evening that encourages people’s wallets to just pop out of their pocket books and scream “Buy some art! It’s for a good cause”.

I am looking forward to next Sat. but I have to say I’m a little stressed this week and yes, my dear bloggies I have neglected you. I’ve been digging up old musings and posting photos and writing such wonderful classics as ‘Yeah for Corn” (sorry about that one). It’s just when you throw on top of the party; one overworked husband, one fussy toddler, one political disagreement, tax season, an association dinner, a parade committee meeting, a dinner in the next town over, a hair cut, and finding a dress - you can just stir it all up and pour it into a giant martini glass because that’s where I’ll be next Sunday.

I am enjoying most of this or I wouldn’t volunteer for it. But it’s hard when everything lands in the same week. So there you go, that’s my excuse for not posting anything earth shattering or pee in your pants funny, please stay tuned to see me blame my bad writing skills on way more mundane distractions, like “sorry I had to get the peanut butter off of the dogs head instead of blogging today”.

Mar 16, 2006

He Also Plays Golf

Dan has been collecting toy soldiers since he can remember. Of course it always starts out with plastic army men in the dirt in the back yard, but it has since evolved into a basement full of tiny hand painted soldiers. He spends endless hours with a paintbrush the size of a three hairs in hand, painstakingly painting the proper uniforms on his Imperial Roman Praetorian Command. One would think it’s an odd pastime, however no more odd than hitting a tiny white golf ball with a long stick towards a tiny hole in the ground 300 yards away or for that matter watching race cars turn left around the same track all day, it’s just not as popular.

Dan also devours history books like snacks. I once discovered that given a random date in history Dan could tell me what war was happening and where and why in the world it was. I would randomly give him a number in the middle of a drive to the grocery store “1639!” and he would say “that’s easy… the 30 years war, but you know about that, how about I tell you about the Portuguese-Dutch Wars in the East Indies…”

A few times a year we drive into the Chicago suburbs to convene with other toy soldier enthusiast for the weekend. Actually Dan convenes and I shop at the local mall or swim in the hotel pool. It’s amazing to see thousands of regiments in miniature lined up on tables ready for battle, especially when you lean down to see each 20 mm figure has been hand painted right down to the eye balls. Dan always comes home after those weekends with and inspired desire to paint.

As pass times go it’s a good one, people ask if I mind that he has filled our basement with a tiny militia. I don’t mind, there are far worse pass times for a husband to have, beside he puts up with my obsession for antique dishes.

Toy Soldier Links:
UPNAway a good overview
One Guy's Toy Soldier Room (it looks alot like our basement)
Playset Addict awesome dioramas

Mar 15, 2006

Yeah for Corn

What a good little Midwestern kid I have… For breakfast, upon her request, we ate corn.

Of recent there is a large argument about a proposed Ethanol plant in our county. The Cons say it’ll release toxins in the air and water, the Pros say what’s not to love living in IL and turning corn into fuel. Well, from what I understand it’s not really more efficient. It actually takes more energy to turn the corn into Ethanol than to refine oil, but my guess is they aren’t adding in the energy it takes for parents to raise nice young soldiers from babies to go fight in a war for oil. Yeah, yeah and the war is about spreading freedom and ending tyranny – right and I have a levee in New Orleans to sell you too.

Ok from another point of view – my minivan burns E-85 (Ethanol) and I bought E-85 last week for $1.99/gal while regular was $2.49. Yes, my mileage goes down but we did the math and E-85 has to be at least .30 cheaper to make the drop in mileage worth it. Most of the time it is, however this is only in IL and states that give a tax break on E-85. I visited my grandparents in WI a few months ago and stopped to get E-85 there at a price of $2.35.

To wrap it up here, I am for the Ethanol plant. It will bring jobs to the community, bring my cheap gas closer to home, is good for IL corn growers, is a definite solution to our oil addiction and a giant statement about America’s resourcefulness. If people are worried about the emission the plant will release – great! Hopefully, the same people will still want to monitor the plant emissions after it’s built. No better people to police a chemical factory than it’s surrounding community.

Mar 14, 2006

Changing a Pattern

Neighbor Lady and I usually have coffee and say things like “They’ll work it out” when our children are tugging on the same toy however, sometimes Ella and Neighbor Girl play this terrible game in which they smack each other in the head until we're so horrified that they both end up in time out. (Which is normally something I use sparingly, Ella has a time out perhaps once a month.)

More recently this game has escalated to shoving each other onto the floor until I am screeching “Ella, we don’t push in this house!” Neighbor Lady says it’s a phase, I don’t have the heart to tell her its not. I know it’s not because this Ella only plays these games with Neighbor Girl, with other kids she plays nice, shares, hugs, and invents games and laughs. How can you tell someone “I don’t think your kid and my kid play well”? Let me tell you I’ve been friends with Neighbor Lady since the 9th grade and she was in my wedding.

Well last week I was sick of the punishing and decided to change the pattern. We painted instead of letting them beat each other and it went great. This is a big relief for me as the Neighbors are taking a trip with us in September and I didn’t want to spend the whole trip yelling “Ella we don’t eye gouge on this plane!”

Mar 13, 2006

Tornadoes in Northern Illinois

Here’s how it went down. We were stuffing our very over-sugared under-slept toddler into the minivan while rain pelted us from all directions. Jeff ran out yelling “Is this your coat?!” I ran back to the front walk yelling “Oh yeah, thanks!” half way back to the van again and Jeff is shouting frantically out the front door something about tomatoes and waving his arm and Dan is muttering “What are you doing now?!” I say “what?....what?!” as I walk back towards the front and realize Jeff is yelling “TORNADOES!” Aha, it rings loud and clear this time. I go into emergency mode and jog back to the van “Honey, Jeff says we need to get back in the house there’s tornadoes.” “Grab the kid, get the bags, get a blanket, get the keys, go, go!” says Dan. We get back in and the girls are wrangling cats into the basement. My heart is pounding, the TV has the county map on and we’re in the red county. RED COUNTY! At home we’re only ever orange. We calm the girls, “Oh, its ok kids, they’ll sound the siren if a tornado comes; you don’t have to stay in the basement.” I hear my own voice "besides we'd hear it coming like a giant freight train, we'd have plenty of time to get downstairs". That sounded scarier than I meant it to be. I shut up and listen to the grown ups re-assure the kids and they don’t know it but they’re re-assuring me too.

Tornadoes are perhaps the only thing in the world that can send me into an irrational panic. It’s because since I was a kid they’ve chased me in my nightmares and these dreams are about being out of control, which I totally hate. We sit down in the living room. I can’t help but notice how big the windows are in this room. I can feel all my skin just on me and my palms are sweaty, I am clenching my teeth a little. The tornadoes are coming our way and are predicted to continue up the same highway we’ll take home. I picture Ella under me and Dan over both of us in a wet ditch, huddled down to the ground as the wind whips over us and our van rocks 100 feet behind us. I have to hear the people around me laughing and reassuring the kids again to stop the thought; I have to R-E-L-A-X. I spell it in my head, I take a breath and sit.

There’s a funny noise and everyone is grabbing things. Oh hey, that’s a siren… A SIREN! That’s THE siren! I grab Ella, I grab her blanket, I tell Dan to grab the diaper bag, we go to the basement, I faintly hear Jennie telling me her basement is a mess, I hear the siren, I hear Dan and Jeff grabbing animals, I hear my footsteps going down the basement stairs, I hear the siren, I hear the siren, I hear the rain coming down hard, and I hear the siren. I ask are there windows down here? My whole body is ready I am holding Ella close and she is squirming and wants to see all the toys put into storage down here. I am waiting for the house to shake, the floor boards above me to peel back, I am waiting for the wind to rip at everything and grey dust to whirl all around just like in my nightmares.

I imagine the howl and the debris, and the unrelenting undiscriminating force that tears at everything in its path. I am scanning the walls; I hear the siren and am looking for a sturdy wall to sit against with Ella safely in my lap. I set her down to turn the girl’s dress-up mirror towards the wall, I see the girls looking at me, and I take a breath and put my shaking hands in my pockets. I think to myself “Pull it together lady there are kids looking at you.” Ella is standing two feet from me examining a newfound toy, I want to bark orders for her to get back over here, I want her to be scarred and cling to me like when we go someplace new, but it’s no use there are toys and we are at her Jennie’s house and she is totally comfortable. “Is there a flashlight down here? A radio?” I ask just to hear my own voice. I want my cell phone in hand, and Dan to stand over me, and Ella to be in my lap and I want the radio on and I want this to be over, over, over, O-V-E-R. I spell it in my head and take a breath.

My ears are searching out into the world for anything unusual. There’s no siren but I do hear a low rumble, I spring towards Ella and realize it’s the furnace turning on and I know I need to calm down. People are talking and I am responding but I’m not really here, I am searching the basement for sharp objects that might take flight, I am worried about Jeff back upstairs checking the Weather channel again, I am calculating how many steps it is to Ella. I am being silly and I know it. The tornado warning is over and we all emerge from the basement. We sit out the worst of the thunder storm with good conversation and cookies on the couch. We laugh about how scared I was and not once do I think about the big picture window behind me. We take Ella home to bed. We see some limbs in the road on the way, but no flying cows, no men in row boats in the sky, no winged monkeys and no twisters. I was being silly…I was…but there was a siren.

I want to say Thank You to our terrific hosts who chased us back in the house, let us see their basemnet (and it was NOT that dirty) and were ready to put us up for a night.

Mar 12, 2006

Mar 11, 2006

Mashed Platadoh

Dan: iCK! Sputter, ptew spit, ckkklahhh, GROSS!
Me: Are you ok?!
Dan: I thought I had a little piece of mash potato on my finger and I just ate it, but it wasn’t mashed potato.
Me: Oh no! What was it?
Dan: Playdoh.

Authors note: When I wrote this story using Word I was immediately informed Playdoh was not in my dictionary. I hit F7 for spell check and it suggested I replace Playdoh with Playboy. I just want to point out how the patriarchy decided that Playboy was a brand-name more worthy of a spell-check entry than Playdoh. Should I even be surprised?

Mar 10, 2006

Question Authority

It was modeled for me constantly in my parents actions who would often delight in dinner table stories of how I challenged the teacher and agued my way to a B-minus. The challenge and the question, actually hinging on defiant are celebrated in my parent’s house. This is a quality I too plan to encourage in my children. I know, you parents of teenagers are laughing at me for thinking I have any control over the amount of cheeky attitude-ness coming from my kid but I made a vow long ago to never answer a question like “Why can’t I stay up late?” with “Because, I said so.” My parents didn’t and I won’t. (Do I hear you laughing again?)

In fact my parents often answered every question in earnest and in detail often to the extent of superfluous lectures on subjects that were totally unrelated to the original question. I once remember asking why we couldn’t get the yummy cereal with the prize inside and being subjected to a lecture on the consequence of chemical preservatives expelled through urine and its effects in declining tadpole populations through genetic deformations. The short of it being if I eat Sugar Smacks, my pee will kill Kermit’s children. Ok, in retrospect perhaps the unwanted lecture was their method to end the incessant “Why?... Why?... Why?... Why?...” that a seven year old can pelt you with.

To their credit when my parents didn’t have an answer to say perhaps “Why don’t we just share our food with those kids in Ethiopia?” they often redirected me to the appropriate resource, a politician, the library, an encyclopedia. Sometimes I was still left with the question like “Why don’t we just share our food with those kids in Ethiopia?” but I always had a better understanding of things afterwards. I look forward to the questions my children will have and I wonder what kind of answers I will be able to give them. Today I had a little primer in the world of “Why?”.

Ella: Mom? You don’t feel good?

Me: No honey I don’t feel good.

Ella: Why don’t you feel good?

Me: My head hurts a little.

Ella: Are you gonna barf?

Me: No honey I’m not.

Ella: Why not?

Me: Cause I don’t like to barf.

Ella: Why not?

Me: Because it tastes gross.

Ella: Yeah, barfs is gross.

Mar 9, 2006

Sitting with Jackals

I used to create art for a living. It was sporadic and crazy but when there was work it was good money. I painted dragons and skulls and eagles on motorcycle tanks making a few hundred bucks here and there. I taught art classes for grade schoolers at the local art museum and that paid a pittance. I sold paintings and did commission work, murals and portraits and what-nots. I was a busy artist. By far my best gig ever was for a local television station. I was their courtroom artist.

I started with a giant federal case on racial discrimination, people vs. the school board. Honestly, I sat through weeks of this trial sketching and I heard very little of it, I kind of go somewhere else when I sketch. It paid great and it was steady and it looked wonderful on my resume. After it was over I sold a bunch of the art to the lawyers and the judge’s mother even tracked me down through the television station to buy a sketch of her son. I loved my courtroom artist’s job until Mary’s husband’s trial.

I sat and listened through hours of testimony. He explained that he didn’t mean to kill her when he was beating her up, it just accidentally happened in the process. They went over every detail with pictures, weeping relatives, lots of dramatic pauses and I sketched right through it, but this time I couldn’t go to that place my mind normally goes when I draw. I was riveted and I listened while I sketched. It was tragic. In the end the jury agreed that he didn’t mean to kill her when he was beating her so badly and that also was tragic. But here’s what I remember most.

Usually at these trails there are the lawyers and the judge and the jury and even sometimes a witness. Then there’s the relatives choking back tears and press craning for a story and a lone artist (me) sitting in the corner pencils flying furiously. This trial had jackals. They were just there to ingest the filth. I know because it was my job to observe. They looked at the families during break in the hallway with pity, never speaking a word to either side, they never wrote anything down like the press, they were never called to testify and the didn’t cry or breath a sigh of relief at the end. They practically salivated at the telling of the story and the day that Mary’s husband testified they were wagging their tails in excitement. They squished me and my giant drawing board right out of a seat and onto the floor that day. They were just there to tug the details of the crime off the bones. They would chew over the gristly bits on the walk to the municipal parking lot, I heard them.

I wanted to scream “These are people’s lives here! Not entertainment!” I just didn’t want to sit near the jackals anymore and I didn't want to have to hear them regurgitate chunks of the trail to be re-examined and sniffed over in the elevator. I know its important justice happen out in the open for all the public to see, but this felt extreme and I started to feel just as inappropriate. There I sat sketching away, taking the pictures that the court wouldn’t allow and getting paid for it. I wanted to go back to that place my mind drifted when I was sketching the boring school board trial but I couldn’t it WAS a riveting and horrible story with a sad ending and I had to listen. It was the last court room assignment I took.

Sometimes I think about the job, it was a good one, I liked it, I was good at it, and it paid great. Maybe I could do it again now that I’m more mature; maybe people aren’t enamored with the gristly bits anymore. Maybe I could just tune out and draw again. Maybe.

Thanks to Dawn for the inspiration.

Mar 8, 2006

Blog Against Sexism

Today is blog against sexism day. I thought all about my life and the things that I’ve experienced brought to me by my friendly neighborhood misogynist and while I am quite exasperated with many of those things I bet there are plenty of bloggers who will address those issues in a wittier way than I. I am choosing the less traveled path and want to talk about sexism among toddlers.

Yeah at first it sounds funny, you may be thinking “What, do we give toddler girls less food than we give toddler boys for an equal day of play?” and the answer actually is yes.
Florida State University says

“Researchers found that parents of 3-year-olds worried that their sons but not their daughters were underweight - even though the weights and body mass index of the boys and girls in the study were nearly identical. They also said that their daughters ate enough food, but their sons did not.”

In a world were little girls get to start asking “Do I look fat in this?” at age 3, we can also give them tiny little belly shirts to wear. I have started to buy Ella’s shirts in a size 4T even though she is actually a 2T. I would rather roll up the sleeves than have her little belly hang out in March in Northern IL. In fact even if we lived in FL it would be the same. Ella loves to dress up as Cinderella with her little crown and wand (heavy sign and eye roll from me) but I think that is totally different from buying little hip huggers so her
G-string underwear featuring cherries and the words "eye candy" and "wink wink" can poke out of her little jeans. There is a vast difference between letting my daughter feel pretty shuffling around in her sparkly plastic princess shoes and actually buying her little heels for daily wear to shorten up her little hams strings so she can comfortably walk in the size 5 Manolos when she’s 7.

While we are busy imposing our own body images onto our children's psyche by standing in front of the mirror muttering curse words, we also do a terrible disservice to our nations boys by encouraging them to be big and tough. You may have seen or even experienced the reaction of Mr. Man looking at his son holding a baby doll or wearing mommy’s heels in absolute horror. Some men get hives from the very thought and consequently make sure to periodically and randomly poke their sons in the eye or punch them in their little arms to keep them tough.

Little girls can play with trains and cars and dollies and we tell them “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up” and little boys can play with trains and cars but not anything pink or pretty or feminine in any way because we'll all get uncomfortable and wonder why he’s so sensitive. We still tell little boys “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, but please oh please make sure it’s a football player or astronaut and not an artists or interior decorator or wedding planner”? We use all kinds of adjectives for little girls: smart, pretty, tough, clever, cute, bright, charming, but try and tell a little boy he’s pretty in front of Mr. Man and you can watch the daggers fly.

So, I’m not much for laying out the problem and not the solution. Here it is folks – lead by example. If you have a son, buy him a baby doll to play with and then don't grimace when he does play with it. If you have a daughter who watches you make disparaging comments in front of the mirror, stop it - she hears you.

11:49 update

It occurred to me, perhaps some of you are thinking –“Well what’s wrong with wanting my daughter to be sensitive and pretty and my son to be strong and in charge?” By no means do I think that if you let your daughter wear lip-gloss she’ll grown up to be Pam Anderson or if you encourage your son to play football he will someday start a war but I think unfair gender stereo-types facilitate many of the inequalities and hang-ups we suffer from in adulthood. And if you don’t believe in those than you can just go back to the bubble you live in.

Mar 7, 2006

Munchie-Pie's Office

  • Ella has a wash-rag puppet that is pink and has a crown its name is Mister Princess.
  • Ella has a purple hippopotamus that floats in the tub its name is People-potamus.
  • Ella has a blue bear Dan bought her on a trip its name is Daddy Bear.
  • Ella has stopped calling Bombadee on her play phone and now calls Munchie-Pie all the time.

Ella and Mister Princess in the tub

Mar 6, 2006

Night of a Thousand Snarks

I had a bunch of pictures from the oscars posted here but it was making my blog do odd things - I took it down.

Let me fill this space by saying that John Stewart was great and the stars displayed their lack of wit by not getting alot of his jokes and then later rolling with laughter at the Meryl Streep and Lilly Tomlin dim skit.

Mar 5, 2006


I went to the best restaurant last night! It’s called Habanero's and they have roaming minstrel and a salsa bar and despite the fact that we had the new waitress the service was good. The food was awesome! I think my buddy Tater Tot will be posting food pictures on her blog. They brought out the Sampler plate (we split it) and it was in the shape of a scorpion, with little avocado claws. They also have a lady that comes over with her little cart and makes guacamole for you right there, ground fresh on a Mexican Molcajete (mortar and pestle). I saw that if it’s your birthday they do a very cool rendition of the Happy Birthday song and I totally want to go back for my birthday. Here's my favorite part - nine ladies had a four course meal with drinks and the bill came to $144.00!

Afterwards we went downtown to the place I used to hang out at in college. It’s a little Irish pub with an antique bar-back, a stamped tin ceiling and pictures of writers on the walls. We sat under the watchful eye of James Joyce and reminisced about a time when we wore baby doll dresses with black chokers and combat boots. The place is still inhabited by posh-goth waitresses and long haired grungy young men. I sipped my $2.00 coffee with my $6.00 shot of Bailey’s. Good thing it wasn’t that expensive when I was in college or I never would’ve been able to afford to fall in love with it. There were even a few vexed writers there and I got all my second hand smoking done thanks to these brooding bards.

Next we went to the disco and boogie-oogie-oogied till our feet hurt and I really thought at one point I was going to have a heart attack. I wasn’t in love with what the DJ was playing so I went up to ask him for something a little funky like George Clinton and the P Funk and he said “who?” and then I felt old*. Later I realized he was just being bitchy about the inference that we didn’t like what he was playing. That’s ok he ‘brought it’ at about midnight and the dance floor filled.

*and I realize the George Clinton P-Funk link is a VH-1 link and that too makes me old. But come on, any DJ who is worth his bling should know who the father of the Funkadelic is, damn!

Mar 4, 2006


We joined something called the five buck club. After a particular film has played a certain number of weeks — at least two — but occasionally more, Kerasotes’ contracts with the film companies allowing them to offer a discounted price, so admission to those films are available to club members for only $5. It totally rocks, go sign up especially if you have a big family to take to the movies.

Movies I am totally excited about but probably won’t be shown at my local theatre.

Nacho Libre
Art School Confidential
Street Fight
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
Marie Antoinette
Why We Fight

Mar 3, 2006

You Make Me So Funny

We are in the tub and Ella gently wraps up her rubber ducky in a little pink wash rag. She gives it to me and says “Open it Mom, it’s a present.” I unwrap the little duck and I say “Oh my! How wonderful!” Ella informs me “It’s birsday cake, you have a bite”. I pretend to eat little bits of birsday cake and Ella leans her face right into mine and asks “Sizz it good?” I say, “It tastes like duck.” Ella replies “You make me so funny Mom.”

We are at the fancy department store with my Mom and we are trying on perfume (one of our favorite passtimes while shopping). Ella is climbing up into the big white bar stool/chair next to the lips sticks. She says "Gramma! I'm gonna be tall!"

We are sitting in my computer chair. Ella says "I'm gonna be a kangaroo!" I say "Ok honey, you be a kangaroo." I am fully expecting her to get down from my lap and hop around. Instead she climbs into my sweater with me.

Mar 2, 2006

Reply to an Inquiry of Milk

Ella and I are having a battle. I tell her to "wait and we'll have more-more in a little while", sometimes she looses interest and sometimes she insists "Ella needs more-more. Peease mommy?" I always give in when she insists, it's just too heartfelt to ignore. Ella still has a little round baby face and dimples where her wrists should be, but when she lays in my lap her legs dangle far further than is comfortable for either of us and I'm afraid as her face thins so does my patience for breast feeding. Ella proclaims herself a "little girl" and "not a baby anymore", but has no idea what these phrases have in store for her. That's ok she'll have a lifetime to figure it out, for now we are happy nestled into the 'boo chair' keeping each other warm, but spring is comming.

Enjoy this comic strip at Raising WEG
Selkie says it all with Old Enough to Ask and Smoking, No. Nursing, Yes.

Mar 1, 2006

God's Stylist

Whenever I get overwhelmed with the news I have this childish idea of God standing on the north-pole looking down at the world shaking her finger at everyone? She would say “Just stop it! You kids go to your room! No more hurting each other. Everyone gets a time out!” And yes, in my head God is a woman.

Let me give you the whole picture. She has almond shaped eyes that lift slightly at the outer corner and a wide nose and high cheekbones and full lips and skin that is a deep dark olive and her eyes have every color in them but when you look directly into them you just see your Grandma and Grandpa and anyone else that has ever loved you unconditionally. She wears a big colorful robe wrapped around her and it has the words of every prayer from every religion printed on it in bright colors. She is barefoot and her feet are rugged and thick from walking everywhere. Her hips are wide from birthing us all and she has long nimble fingers that are good for making things and tying knots.

Oddly enough, I‘ve never envisioned her hair, perhaps it’s under a great wrap of fabric with stars and planets on it that extends out into the solar system, perhaps she has long flowing curly hair like my Mom, maybe it’s short and messy and sticking up everywhere like Ella’s in the morning, maybe it’s tight and curly and white, maybe she doesn’t have any…

God’s hair anyone?

Me me me me meme

Five Simple Things that I Look Forward to*

*New Rule: leave the family out of this one, they always get all the blogging attention. This one's just about you.

1. Fresh coffee
2. Reading the funny pages
3. Typing right after cutting my finger nails short
4. Singing in the car
5. Looking at a full moon

If you're reading it - you've been tagged.

I have to admit that was hard to think of 5 things - I need to get out more.