Dec 21, 2012

Jack Frost

It finally snowed.  It took all my might to wrestle Jack into a snow suit, yelling "Keep it on! Keep it on!" as he tore at the snow pants and hat and I quickly danced into snow boots.  He discovered snow packs together into little balls for throwing, in the front yard after his sister got off the bus and hence refused to come in the house.  Ella was squealing with glee and pelting me the first time I announced I was "too cold so you must be too", and on the ninety-ninth time I announced it, Jack was still working dilligently at packing snow into a small mound under his knees and smiling.  He told the neighbor kids how wonderful it all  was with a string of excited consonants and they nodded like they knew what he was saying.  I picked him up and wrestled him into the house all the while he was tearing at his snow suit trying to keep it all on.  While Ella made hot coco, he fell asleep.  That was what it was like for Jack to see real snow the first time.

Dec 12, 2012

Dec 10, 2012

Flat Track Revolution

Dear Santa,

THIS in a large.

Love,
Jenny

Dec 7, 2012

Table Hammock

How to occupy a toddler for an hour with a cotton table cloth. 







Nov 27, 2012

Graffiti

Graffiti at the Grade School Gifted Academy


Nov 24, 2012

A Lot of Pop

"Infinite bottles of pop on the wall,
infinite bottles of pop,
take one down pass it around,
infinite bottles of pop on the wall."
-Ella

Nov 19, 2012

ten things

I looked inward to this small niche I've carved for my life to make a tidy little list of good things. Like every list of good things I ever post, coffee is at the top; burnt, bitter, life affirming, hot, morning coffee. Without it there would not be nine more things.

1 Coffee
2 Warm socks
3 Wood floors
4 Family and friends
5 Spell check
6 Internet
7 Thanksgiving stuffing
8 Roller derby
9 Leave in conditioning hair spritzer that smells like cake
10 Satire


 

Nov 16, 2012

Teeming Mass of Privileged Humanity Up Close

A very dear friend from Texas asked me to go over to the one book store we have in the third largest city in Illinois (yes one!) and get a book signed by the author for her. This pal came to my house and chased Jack for me when I had to put my newly reconstructed knee into the medieval knee bending machine for an hour,  three times a week. I figured the least I could do was take a trip to the bookstore for her. Besides, how many people could there possibly be in Rockford standing in line for a four time world champion WWF wrestler gone children's book author? Turns out, a whole bookstore full.

 The children and me walked towards the back of the bookstore to waste time at the train table play area and find the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid while figuring out what to do. I inquired about "how long these things usually take" and the line lady who had no idea. When we arrived at the children's area, there was another mob of people standing around in a large circle with cameras in hand holding them high and trying to listen intently. I figure it was the author of the book giving a little interview and these folks were mobbing him. I didn't even bother to try to see; we walked past the assemblage and went straight to the train table. Ella found her book and sat tableside reading intently. I found a seat and decided to people watch. Next, there was a great round of applause from the mob and like a football huddle, they broke, kids in purple shirts running everywhere and doting helicopter parents chasing. I realized it was some school event, where the kids sing or dance or something and it was the same night as the book signing. The place was a zoo.

A dozen preschoolers in purple shirts besieged Jack, attempting to play trains. He seemed slightly taken aback, I let him handle it. He was able to hang onto one train, driving it in the big squirrely loop around the table while others wined, snatched, played, cried and tantrummed. I saw worried parents standing over children demanding they say please and thank you, share, take turns, "play right" and "say cheese." I watched one girl in a tutu and tiara melt down completely because she couldn't play with a specific train. Then I watched her mother try to bargain with Jack so that her child could have the one toy she wanted (the one toy in Jack's hand.) Jack paid no attention. I did, but I didn't interfere at all. The girl had to be extracted kicking and screaming from the train play area where no doubt her mother bought the train she wanted to play with in the next aisle.

Jack was polite, focused on his fun and had a good time without me jumping in. I also witnessed an insane amount of booger eating perhaps even it was the most schnozberries consumed in one place ever. I couldn't believe with all the hovering and supervising of the play not one parent said "Gross! Don't eat that!" They just pretended they didn't see it. And here is where I need to say; if you are paying enough attention to praise your precious progeny for successfully getting the train through the tunnel, then you also saw that nose pick, and "Ew" on your parenting.

Next, I had to figure out how to get a book signed for my pal. I moved my caravan of children, stroller, winter coats and new books to the other side of the store to see if the long line of wrestling fans was moving. It wasn't. The angel on my shoulder whispered in my ear, "You came all this way, you're so close." the devil wined in the voice of my eldest "Are we done yet? I'm booored." conjuring pictures of me wrestling Jack back into the stroller.

I went to the front of the store to buy the books the kids picked and inquired about the price of the featured book. I also asked if I could buy one today, have it signed, and pick it up the next day. The cashier asked with surprise "Don't you want to meet him and have a photo taken?" to which I responded that I was sure the author was a fabulous guy but I didn't need a photo or to shake his hand I just wanted his signature on a book. She asked me to wait a moment while she stepped away and then she came back and said she found a nice young man near the front of the line that would get my book signed for me. Ah! The whole operation salvaged, I quickly agreed. The nice young man found me after about ten minutes and handed me a signed book. I thank him and we left, faith in booger eating humanity restored.

Nov 5, 2012

House Mouse

I had a cup of coffee after seven pm again and with daylight savings happening and my insomnia, I'm screwed.  So I sit here making lists of things I can't get off my mind.  I'm feeling like I don't want to let anything slip through the cracks when I hear a mouse in my stove.  He's not being very stealthy clomping around on the sheet metal and with all his echoing mouse yodels.  I got worried and thought maybe they squeak only when they're mating.  Then I got mad at the thought of mice humping in the place I make banana bread for my children.  But it turns out they are just squeaky when they're scared or excited and for a shiesty little house mouse that is pretty much all the time.  I stood in the doorway and watched him poke his little nose up through the burners looking for spilled macaroni and cheese or boiled over rice, but I've been making a large effort to keep the kitchen crumble free and so he didn't find anything good and he saw me seeing him and ran back into the stove.  I gave the side of it a good Timpani drum whack and now I have to add disinfecting one stove to the list of chores tomorrow.



Nov 1, 2012

Oct 29, 2012

Frustration Smörgåsbord

You know what is a great way to not start a Monday morning? Get on the phone with your cable company and AT&T to sort out your bill and cancel some crap they put on there that you never asked for.  Then start a new phone call asking for a credit from Sprint because you cell phone doesn't work in your own house and then while you're having fun dancing to hold music go ahead and take a call from the hospital and entertain the idea that the two insurance companies that should be playing nice aren't.  Perhaps you could try to get all the insurance companies on the phone with yourself and the hospital and then when your phone is dropping the call you can just cha cha cha you way to the kitchen for a hot cup of coffee and a sink load of dishes.  Follow up with a healthy dose of correspondence with my soon to be ex-husband.  Yeah, that's pretty much how not to do it.

Oct 22, 2012

I'll Pick Up My Guitar and Play

Ella: I'm in a play and I'm a fern and I hate it.

Me: Why do you hate it?

Ella: Because I'm the only girl fern... They're all boys... and goofy boys.  Harumph!

Me: Why are the goofy?

Ella: We have to sing rock-n-roll and do air guitar and it's not my style.

I commenced to showing the kid videos of chicks that rock trying to sooth her.

We started with Tina doing Proud Mary, then Joan Jett, and then of course Le Tigre, Bikini Kill and Veruca Salt (ah the classics.)  Still Ella seemed unsure.  We watched my freinds daughter's band (below) and she liked it but nervously mentioned "that air guitar thing" again.



I realized the stupidity of air guitar and decided to find some people doing cool looking air guitar, or something close to it.  So it turns out, the air guitar championship for 2012 had two women in the top three contenders.  We watched the video.  Ella loved the first lady.

 

Spoiler alert!  At a minute forty five the lady smashes her air guitar on the stage.  In the next clip she gets it out again and Ella said "Oh yeah right! Where did she get ANOTHER air guitar?!" and I couldn't stop giggling.  Then she realized what she said and we were both laughing.

She concluded "So it's like miming but to music!" and I said "Exactly! It's mimming!" (she loves mimes.) I'm sure dude-bros all over this nation would just love to hear my eight year old say "I just loove mimes!" in response to their rockin' out to Rush in bars across the land.

When the second air guitar guy comes on, he's pretty good and Ella asks "Why do they keep jumping around on stage?" and I realize the key piece to this whole lesson is that my kid has NEVER seen a lead ax man go nutty on stage.  She has never sat in front of MTV hoping to see Eddie Van Halen or Angus or Slash, she has no idea why anyone is even smashing an air guitar, and there's no context for wanting to  twiddle your fingers near your crotch and to the left of your body while making crazy grunty faces.  She has never experienced the worship of a guitarist.

Yes, we spent the next half an hour watching crazy solos while I explained "No that's not a woman that's a man dressed up like that because he thinks it's tough," and "Yes, the band IS named after him," "His body is shiny and sparkly because he's been sweating all night and jumping all over in velvet school boy short pants," and finally  "You're right, the heavy metal look really never went away, it did just turn into Goth."

While Ella forgot her homework in her desk today, I feel fully satisfied with what she learned at home.

I leave you with this:

Oct 21, 2012

How to Scare the Hell Out of a Mother

We went to the buffet Saturday night and had a wonderful time eating everything we liked up until Jack fell backwards off of his chair and whacked the back of his head on the leg of the table next to us.  Like all head wounds it bled, a lot.  I immediately put my filthy, I've been at a buffet on a Saturday night, hand on his wound to insure the most possible germs get a chance at his head but despite my efforts the doctor said he was fine.  No cracked skull, all swelling on the outside, no stitches just some antibiotic ointment and a gauze wrap around his head to keep him from bleeding on things. As you can see, it didn't slow him down at all.   When we finally made it home from the doc, to my horror, there was still at least an hour of couch jumping to be done.  



Oct 9, 2012

Chavez Real Quick

After the hockey game last Thursday, the one that went into overtime and then a shootout, the one that lasted longer than any hockey game I've ever been to, the one that got us into the car and on our way home at 10:15pm on a school night, after that hockey game; Ella announced she had homework, a report on Cesar Chavez.  Luckily third grade reports aren't exactly 100 word essay double spaced with a  bibliography yet.  So she managed to get a good ten sentences on paper before breakfast and it turns out she needed to finish it over the four day weekend... which I just found out at eight pm tonight. So she's slaving and sweating over assembling the notes and facts she gathered last week, meticulously scribbling a number two pencil onto a sheet of blue lined notebook paper.  The erasing is furious and the caterwauling is sublime.  I made hot coco to ease the tension.  I bought good coco yesterday, dark 100% cocoa it says on the side.  I used whole milk and and a teaspoon of sugar.  As I stirred the milk didn't turn brown, it went lavender.  The report is still not finished.  The cocoa is. 

Sep 28, 2012

Feminist Walking



                   www.guerrillagirls.com

Have you ever been walking in a crowd and been faced with a daring game of pedestrian chicken; both people walking straight at each other?  In high school it was the stuff of teenage boy fights.  Two boys would shoulder check each other and then one would yell, "bring it!" and they'd be off and rolling around on the hallway floor while people formed a circle and chanted "FIGHT!"

In adult life, polite society, and even not so polite society, this crazy game of pedestrian chicken happens all the time.  Think about being in the grocery and people with their carts.  Think about a festival you may have been to and what it was like to walk through a crowd.

At some point in the last few years I stopped moving out of the way.  I think it was around the time I had Ella.  The fact was; I was exhausted most of the time and carrying baby on one hip and a diaper bag and purse on the other side.  Making those extra three steps to move for a grown-ass-man, in a crowd, was a concession I just didn't have the energy to make.  You would be surprised how many times I've been shoulder checked with a baby in my arms.  Because  not only do I not move, but I refuse to be the one to shrink out of the way, to contort my whole being around someone not carrying another human in their arms.

When my extra human was big enough to walk, we'd hold hands through a crowd and people would automatically make way for us. You see there is a hierarchy.  People get out of the way for little kids, bleeding people, old people, someone who looks like they're about to barf and people with guns.  Otherwise you're on your own and in my experience it's often the women who are shrinking out of the way or expected to move.  In fact once I started paying attention I realized how often women apologize for what seems like just taking up space on the planet.  This is about the time I joined roller derby and was learning how to purposefully take up space on the track.  I was learning how to be wide and plant my feet, how to have a presence and not only claim my spot, but defend it.

I learned from roller derby and catching beads at many a Mardi Gras parade, if you shrink and don't own your space, people will muscle in and take it from you, get past you on the track, or catch those beads right in front of your face.  You have to stand wide and think large.  You have to be ready to not shrink back when people bump into you.  You have to hold your head high, look people in the eye, be present and say "Excuse me" when you want people to move out of your way.

Since this new attitude, I have been in more than one argument with the man I was walking with, about my refusal to yield.  My stance is, given all things equal, why should it be my responsibility to move.  Especially now that I am again carrying a small human on my hip and sometime limping (when it gets cold my knee gets creaky.)  It's a hard thing to explain to someone.  I've been called aggressive, rude and selfish.  While I understand if you're seeing this crazy dance for the first time; the one where I walk with purpose and a teenage boy or grown man is caught off guard by me not getting out of his way, and then suddenly he's doing an awkward dance to get around me.  It seems harsh and startling, and you might turn and ask me  "Why didn't you just move?!" And if it were only on occasion this happened, I probably would have, but you have to understand, it's often.  So often I'm tired of it.  So no, I won't move nor will I feel bad about it.

It's not like I'm trampling people trying to get through the doors to Walmart on Black Friday, or hip checking people in walkers to get through a door first, I still have manners.  I'm just un-apologetically existing in my own personal space and refusing to yield just because someone else is oblivious.  When you lean into my space on a train or while standing in line, I will widen my stance in an effort to tell you to back off.  And should you decide to play pedestrian chicken with me, you should know I spend several hours a week seriously training for a shoulder or hip check...  and I'm even talented enough to do it on wheels.

Also know that if it's just me walking and I'm approaching a man carrying a kid and a diaper bag etc, I step out of the way.  And recently, I know a guy who was rammed in the back of the legs with a shopping cart because he was walking slow.  So I know it's not just women this happens to, but I think a most of the time it is gender specific.  In fact, I read another blog about this same subject a few months ago and I wish I could find it again, I'd link (I'll keep looking.) Do you have a story? Do you find yourself moving? Apologizing often for being in the way? Or perhaps you are a ground stander? Have read this same topic somewhere? I'd like to hear about it.

Sep 24, 2012

The Great Sauce Off 2012

This is my recipe for sugo

What you need:

  1. Stew pot
  2. Two cans tomato sauce
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Parmesean cheese
  5. Garlic
  6. Red meat
  7. Salt 
  8. Pepper
  9. Time
Brown the meat (can be burger or cubed steak or stew meat) with garlic and salt and pepper in the bottom of the stew pot.  Do not drain the fat.  Add the tomato sauce and some good fat shakes of parmesean cheese and salt and pepper.  Put the lid on and turn it down to a slow simmer and let it sit.  The longer it cooks the better it will be.  I like to simmer for at least two hours and usually the rule in my house is if you walk through the kitchen, stop and stir the sauce.  

Cook your pasta in a different pan. Any pasta will do, sauce makes enough to cover 8 servings which is the amount in most boxes of dry pasta, but feel free to use the sauce on what you like.  I like a penne pasta and when it's all put together and on the table it's mostaccioli or as the kids call is "monster choli" 


Sometimes I add mushrooms or basil or a little onion but they aren't needed. Oh! And sometimes if I have a little merlot, I put some in with the meat when it's browning and then I put some in me while I'm cooking.  

This is a great meal if you have big eating guests.  I used to make it for firefighters and construction dudes along with a salad and some italian bread and those guys never left hungry.  

But because we almost never eat eight servings, unless we have guests, I always make a baked pasta the next day.  I put the left overs in a casserole dish and top it with shredded mozzarella.  Throw that in the oven for a half hour at 350 and it's almost better than the day before.    

Also see I Still Hate Pickles for the rest of the Great Sauce Off 2012.



Sep 18, 2012

I Jammed

Whole 09.15.12 Flickr set HERE  





















This was my first game with the Rockford Rage.  It was the Ragdolls vs IL Valley Vixens, a non-sanctioned WFTDA bout.  We lost by two points in the last three jams 116-114.  Not bad for our first time all playing together.  We have a bunch of new skaters from other leagues this season, so it's been super fun making all new pals. This was also my first game back since my knee surgery.  I wore the DonJoy knee brace and it worked pretty well.  I think I did all right.  I remember getting lead a few times and I remember knocking the other jammer down, but I also remember getting stuck behind blocker number 5 and her cohort for most of a jam and getting a major for cutting.  So, this season I will concentrate on jamming and all the many things that requires.

Photos by KORfan

















I've been having dreams that I am getting ready to play, but I don't have all my pads, or I lost my favorite socks and I'm not ready.  I think it's the same dream as when you find yourself at work or school without pants, but in derby if you find yourself without pants chances are that's on purpose.  Next month's bout is October 13th.  It's a mixer, meaning teams from everywhere are invited and all scrambled up and split down the middle.  Mixers are pretty fun, you get to play next to people you normally don't and soak up new plays and knowledge as well as just have a fun time.  Usually there is a theme and some crazy outfits... yes even more crazy than no-pants.  You should come and watch.  You should also cheer for the team I am on.


Sep 13, 2012

Found!

Children's dirty socks appear
Like spores in the crannies of our living room
Small and musty wads of colorful stink
Folded onto themselves ready to explode into forty more
If your child is missing a sock, I bet it's at my house

photo from 12/22/2005

Sep 12, 2012

It's the Little Things

Every time we got in the car there was this smell.  I was thinking it was my derby gear in the trunk. Then there was the rash of fruit flies and the beginning of every drive required two blocks of windows down.  While I was rooting through the toy box in the back seat today, looking for a missing library book, I found an old banana peel and a dozen fruit flies hanging out with spider man and a hot wheel car.  I'm glad I was able to solve at least one problem today.

Aug 30, 2012

Heroics

Jesse Shaffer Sr. and Jesse Shaffer Jr. of Plaquemines Parish in Louisiana, thank you.
Whole story here.






Aug 26, 2012

I Spy








Standing there I said "There are more parents on this playground than children." I counted and lifted my camera to shoot the photo.  Concerned adults stood within feet of their kids barking orders "Now put your left foot on the next rung!.. No! No! You'll fall! Here, let me show you." I was having a hard time seeing my child through the angry sea of wide bottoms poked skyward, as bent over mothers place their children's feet in the appropriate space for maximum fun.  People were directed and posed and moved about like rag dolls with tired rolling eyes and showy grins, while fathers shouted "A little to the left! Now look over here, now say 'cheese.'"   There are ten adults in this photo and nine children, can you count them all?

Aug 24, 2012

Seven Years this Month

I've been a blogger for seven years.  I've never made a dime from the blog though I have met a few people who paid me for artwork through the blog and I've met people who have hired me through the blog.  I've never gotten a free thing to review, I've never been asked to write about a thing.  I would, if asked.  I've never been approached by advertisers and I've never had ads.  I have 4,000 comments and I have 31,000 page views and right now my most popular post is about Jack's struggle with group B strep.  I'm ok with all of this.  I started the blog seven years ago to pass the time and connect with the outside world.  It would be nice to get paid for a thing but eh... It's just where I record things.  The mundane and the divine and sometimes the silly.  It's the captain's log, snippets of life, something the kids can look at that isn't a scrap book but actually is.

Ice cream after a bike ride to the conservatory
August 2012


Aug 21, 2012

Kit and Kaboodle

I have lots of topics to blog about but all seem to open a can of worms that is so large and fiddly that I'm avoiding talking about anything.  So, I'm going to give you all the fast and furious updates to clear my brain.

1. I'm going back to skate for the Rockford Rage (yes, after all that)  They're WFTDA, they are five minutes from my house, they are very organized and they are a very nice group of women. My knee is fine.  If I worried about breaking things every time I left the house then I'd never leave again.   That is all.

2. The property manager of the house I rent was fired.  The new guy is getting the things done.  This is great, because we like the house.

3. The kids are well.  School starts in a week!

4. The first printing of my book is almost sold out. If you want a copy you'd better order it soon. Only $20.00 CHEAP!  There's only about twenty left. You can get it HERE.

5. We went to all of the following things this summer that kicked butt and provided a crap load of cute photos of my children in various stages of glee; Thomas the Tank Engine at the IL Railway Museum, Willow Creek Folk Festival, Discovery Center, Burpee Museum (dinosuars!), Monkey Joe's (Yes, I said I'd never go there again but I got out-voted), Festa Italiana, The Cabin, Boone County Festival, Pearl Lake, Pierce Lake,  Sinnissippi Bandshell, Bikepath, Cars on Main, Alpine Park and our own backyard (woohoo!)

6. I didn't have to mow my yard all summer because of the drought but it's rained recently and now I'm in the market for a used push reel mower.  Anyone know where I can get one? Cheap?


Aug 18, 2012

Out for a Drive

Spiderman, Strawberry Shortcake and a red bike.  

Aug 16, 2012

Overheard From the Play Room

Spiderman Spiderman
Does whatever a spider can
Spins a web
Eats a fry
Catches guys
Any size
LOOK OUT!
Here comes the Spiderman.

 

Pat Brown is Dangerous

This is the five minutes of television I watched today before getting mad and shutting it off again.  






Hey, Pat Brown, spouting statistics you made up on a subject so serious is dangerous. How can your integrity be so cheap? Shame on you. 

OFFICES STUDIO 0I FLOOR


Aug 13, 2012

Hershele Ostropoler was Right

From comments HERE during a discussing on harassment.

 “If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot. 

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot. 

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot. 

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot. 

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. 

If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. 

If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out. 

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot. 

See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.”


It's attributed to Hershele Ostropoler who is both a fictional character and the handle of this tumblr blogger who actually wrote the brilliant comment I quoted.

Aug 5, 2012

What One Hundred Pennies Will Buy

I highly recommend 

Drewelow's House of Books
2233 Charles St. 
Rockford, IL 61104
815-226-2233








Aug 2, 2012

Oak Canopy

On this day, everyone but me sleeps in.   It's the middle of the summer and the morning after a full moon.  Even the dog can't be bothered to crawl out of the little pile of dirty clothes on the floor to rumble down the stairs and watch squirrels gather endless acorns. That old dog snores when she sleeps but the children just breath quiet, deep sleep.  For after visiting Grandma and eating iced cream last night, we stood on the side-walk, leaning this way and that, peering through the oak leaves, howling at the midsummer moon.  

Jul 27, 2012

Jul 26, 2012

Things I learned this week

Always ask the eye doctor if there is a "fitting fee" before you make the appointment.

Kiwi requires a great deal of silverwear to eat; a knife to halve it, a spoon to scoop it out and then a fork for the actual eating.

You should wash sheep skin rugs with shampoo and lay them flat to dry but not in direct sun, it will damage the leather. 


Jul 24, 2012

Ugly Kitchen

We're settled in and I made ugly curtains for my ugly kitchen.  The walls are baby blue and the floors are buttery yellow and blue linoleum from the 80s so I bought a striped blue and yellow polyester fabric today on clearance.  I wanted a large black and white gingham but it wasn't available and the fabric I did find matched exactly.  It was so ugly it cost a dollar.  So my kitchen curtains cost $4.00 and that includes ribbons and curtain rods.

A while back I found a deal on black and white peel and stick tiles at one of those big box stores online.  It was a box of 45 12" tiles for 0.65cents.  So of course I ordered 7 boxes, enough to redo the kitchen floor in black and white checkerboard.  I was excited to be able to put new floor down for $4.55 + tax, but they called the next day to say despite what my computer said they were out of stock.  So I suffer with ugly kitchen.  No, I don't own this house so it's a struggle with how long I will let the ugly intrude; possibly the full length of the lease, or possibly only another month.  The new tiles would only run me (not on sale,) $75.00.  Then I would go get the black and white gingham cotton fabric and be able to exist in proximity to that kitchen.

I have been known to rearrange a hotel room before being able to fall asleep.  You can't just shove a table into a corner and expect your guests to get a good night' sleep with all the un-feng-shuing sending all the good energies out the window.  So when I enter a hotel room, I move furniture, un-tuck the sheets (I need my toes to breath) checked under the mattress for bed bugs and dead bodies, put my clothes away, and then relax.  Why tolerate an needlessly ugly environment?

Here is the new ugly curtains in the old ugly kitchen.


Jul 12, 2012

A Gross Start

Should pole dancing become an Olympic sport? I'm trying to think about this rationally. The fact is pole dancing's origins are gross. The question really is, can we as a society move past the sexually charged connotation of this possible sport to allow it into the pantheon of artistic gymnastics. No, in this current climate and devaluation of women, we are not ready to act like mature adults and see almost anything women do without objectification. This begs the question; if it doesn't matter what women do because we will be objectified no matter what... so then why let society dictate? Why not toss perception out and do what is right and true? Traveling this path of thought I say, go for it women. In an effort to further the maturity of society as well as legitimize the sport, let me make a few suggestions though. Usually artistic gymnast are trained in more than one discipline, so to be taken seriously as an artistic gymnast, learn the uneven bars and pommel horse too. Trade in the standard high heels and sparkly bikini for hand chalk and a leotard with stripes down the side. Start calling it "artistic vertical bar" and be prepared for fifteen year old sprites to dominate.

Jun 28, 2012

Win a Book!

We're giving away a free copy of The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company, all you have to do is go to the facebook page and LIKE it.

Also Macaroni Kid Rockford gave us a good review and you should check out their page too, it has something kid friendly every day.


Jun 24, 2012

Summer in Full Swing

We finished signing books this weekend and will be sending them out next week. I've got a meeting with the curator of a gallery here in town and we'll be discussing what I will show in July.  It's exciting to be doing art things in the day.  It's going pretty well here, except for the house stuff.  The property manager says he's trying to get things fixed, yet days go by with more excuses.  I think by next week something will give, I may try a different tact with the fellow to let him know I'm not to be trifled with.

Today we're going to my Grandma's old neighborhood bakery to get Italian baked goods.  That'll be the fun part of the day.  Then I'll continue to put things away and do a few loads of laundry.  There is a great deal of space in the house and that's good because I never realized how many art supplies I actually had until I moved them.  Perhaps I should pair down, as the only materials I regularly use are a single pen and a panel of watercolors. I'd really like to find my box of paints today too, I have a single painting I've moved three times that I'd like to finish.

We had a fire in the backyard last night in the fire pit.  After cleaning up the yard and gathering dead branches we have a giant mound of dry dead fire hazard leaning against the fence.  In trying to burn some of it up I got nervous.  We are in drought conditions and most of what's there is kidnling so it was going fast and hot.  I didn't get through much of it, and I have to get it bundled up today and out to the alley.  Anyone want to help? Come on over! Perhaps later we may burn some more and roast marshmallows.

Jun 19, 2012

No, I'm Not Exaggerating

So the house wasn't finished and they did work and we moved in and it still needs work.  Lots I'm finding out, and how did I find out? When I smelled smoke.  Yep, Saturday night after being in the new house one day and unloading my entire life and all my belongings into the house that was promised to be finished but wasn't.  I sat down to turn the A/C on and something in the basement started sparking and smoking and crackling.  I called 911.  They arrived with full sirens in full gear and shut all the breakers off to the basement and fixed my smoke alarm.  No, my smoke alarm didn't go off, the batteries were installed incorrectly. No the other smoke alarms on the other floors didn't go off because there weren't any. The AC was repaired yesterday, but today no cooling again.  The freon is all leaked out already, I'm sure.  The smoke detectors are in finally this afternoon.

***

Take a nice cool relaxing bath you say? I'd love to, if I had any water pressure.  It takes an hour to fill the tub half way.  Yes, it's on the list, yes, he's promising to fix it, no the plumber has not called me yet.  I can''t use the garbage disposal either as there isn't enough water pressure to wash even an earwig down the drain  Yes, there's a list.  There are 42 things on the list. This is number three on the list.

***


Did I mention it's been in the 90s with 50% humidity for three days? It's at 50% humidity because it rained on the day I moved in for the first time in months.


***

It took my nine hours on the phone with AT&T to get the internet up and working.  I know because I was on my cell phone, which doesn't get reception in my house so I have to stand on the front porch to make a phone call.  AT&T kept transferring me to another department who would start the call with what's your home phone to which I would explain that's what I was trying to buy from them and then they would ask for my account number and I would say I didn't have it and they would say I should've received it in my e-mail confirmation and then I would have to explain to them that I didn't have a phone line or internet yet but I was trying really hard to get it.

***

While I was trying to unpack I wanted to send the kids to the back yard to play.  I couldn't until I cleaned up the yard.  I wish I was just talking about broken old branches.  There was broken glass, rusty razor blades and screws all over the yard from the contractors working on the house.  Me and a friend spent all day yesterday cleaning the yard. I'm still finding sharp and or rusty things back there.

***

The newly varnished floors are peeling up.  They varnished over oak floors that have been waxed and oiled for almost a hundred years. The stuff is bubbling up and it comes off when you pull a chair out, or walk on it or drive a matchbox car over it or breath near it.  Three times a day I sweep a pile of varnish chips off the floor.  It's exhausting keeping the children out of the broken glass and errant screws and varnish chips while simultaneously not being able to wash anything or fill a tub, in the heat.


***

The property manager of this place is Nick Savaglio at Rockford Property Solutions aka Rockford Development LLC.  He has a boss, and no, I haven't spoken to him yet. I'd like to.

Jun 9, 2012

Extreme Living

Alright so the house wasn't done when we got here.  We had to give the landlord an extra two weeks to get repairs finished and new carpet in.  Apparently there was a mix up with the move in date and the lady we were dealing with is no longer working there and the boss over there at the office came and did the check list with me so I feel like they are making it right and it's going to be pretty.  Also I crashed my car on the drive up. A tire flew off the truck in front of us and landed on the front of my car.  The insurance is covering it of course but it's just all a struggle to even get to square one.

In the mean time we've kicked off our summer, I took the kids to the city market yesterday and we rode the trolley all over town.  The local paper covered my book and I met a wonderful artist who offered me space and support.  I also got in contact with a local parenting group to partner with promoting AND my book is going to be delivered next week!  NEXT WEEK!  As if that wasn't enough, I ate a maple bacon cupcake, pizza from Capri, chocolate from Daniel's and saw the new Muppet movie under the stars downtown where the newspaper took our picture.

It's never boring folks, never.

May 30, 2012

One Thousand Days of Texas

Almost three years ago we moved to Houston.  We're moving again, back to Illinois.  I added up the days, minus the ones we spent vacationing, we've been here about 1,000 days.  Tomorrow we pack up the truck and on Friday we start driving.  I am both terrified (it's a 19 hour drive with everything I own in tow, to a house I have never seen) and excited (I'm going to make it awesome.)  I have so many last minute things to do and every time I pack a box the kids unpack one. The dog is underfoot at every step, making sure I remember to pack her and I'm fighting off a cold with vitamin Cs, ibuprofen, large amounts of coffee and sheer will.

May 17, 2012

The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company

Dear Family and Friends, I have great news! My very first children's book is going to print! It's called "The Toughskin Rhinoceros Wrangler Company" and it was written by poet Thomas L. Vaultonburg and illustrated by ME!! Also Ella has a small contribution in it "Ella's Amazing Rhinoceros Facts" so she actually did the real hard work for us.

The first run is limited and we're using Kickstarter for pre-orders where I got on camera and did some talking for the video followed by the embarrassed declaration "I don't really sound like that, do I ?" Anyway... Go buy it! (Or promise to buy it) and repost this link and/or post it on your blog and/or tweet it or all of those things. You can also count on me bugging you again about this. :)



GO BUY IT HERE!

May 10, 2012

Disobedience by A.A. Milne

James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great
Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
James James Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he;
"You must never go down
to the end of the town,
if you don't go down with me."













James James
Morrison's Mother
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison's Mother
Drove to the end of the town.
James James Morrison's Mother
Said to herself, said she:
"I can get right down
to the end of the town
and be back in time for tea."

King John
Put up a notice,
"LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
JAMES JAMES MORRISON'S MOTHER
SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN MISLAID.
LAST SEEN
WANDERING VAGUELY:
QUITE OF HER OWN ACCORD,
SHE TRIED TO GET DOWN
TO THE END OF THE TOWN -
FORTY SHILLINGS REWARD!"


James James
Morrison Morrison
(Commonly known as Jim)
Told his
Other relations
Not to go blaming him.
James James
Said to his Mother,
"Mother," he said, said he:
"You must never go down to the end of the town
without consulting me."

James James
Morrison's mother
Hasn't been heard of since.
King John said he was sorry,
So did the Queen and Prince.
King John
(Somebody told me)
Said to a man he knew:
If people go down to the end of the town, well,
what can anyone do?"













(Now then, very softly)
J.J.
M.M.
W.G.Du P.
Took great
C/0 his M*****
Though he was only 3.
J.J. said to his M*****
"M*****," he said, said he:
"You-must-never-go-down-to-the-end-of-the-town-
if-you-don't-go-down-with-ME!"

May 9, 2012

A Slew of Nerds in Tights!?

You all know, I love roller derby so of course I'm interested in other people's dangerous and strange hobbies.  Especially ones where people get to wear an outfit that is tough, have a name they gave themselves and be their own super hero... literally.  Yes, people out there have so much time and resources on their hands they are becoming super heros.  Like the roller derby name registry, there is also a super hero registry.  It's like Stan Lee's Show Make Me a Super Hero took on a life of it's own .  I think it's great.  I'm all for encouraging good deeds and protecting each other and the fierce costumes just add enough attention grabbing to make the good deeds newsworthy, something we could all use more of in our day.  So with great interest I watched the following video's this morning:

Let us start with this one: "Masked Super Hero, Phoenix Jones, stops Occupy Terror Attack"




According to Facebook, Phoenix Jones is the Leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement fighting crime in the streets of Seattle. He says “I symbolize that the average person doesn’t have to walk around and see bad things and do nothing.”

Then (insert rising ominous music here) THIS HAPPENED:



Which was followed up with THIS yesterday:



Of course not much is known about Rex Velvet, just what I could find on his his Facebook page.  You bet your bippy I will stay tuned into this saga waiting for the next episode or tweet

May 2, 2012

Four Days' Battle

Being the only grown up in the house has always presented challenges.  I don't mean like I'm worried about slipping in the shower and hitting my head and then a cat eats my face off sort of thing.  I mean I've been hunting a cockroach for four days.  I first saw it in my pantry.  One of those huge flying, three inch long monsters. I saw it duck into a hole in the back wall.  One it had made with a tiny sawzall just before he set up his Jerry-Mouse-like apartment with thimble chairs and a spool of thread for a table, a matchbox bed and a tiny elevator that goes down to the cookie shelf in the pantry.  The first day I saw him I thought maybe I was imagining things, I haven't been getting much sleep and it was a very big thing I saw duck into the hole.  Later my fear and sanity was confirmed when I caught him running across the Frito bag with such haste it was noisy.  I immediately threw away anything that was open in the pantry imagining the roach rubbing his butt on everything in a hedonistic mambo of grocery shopping.  Then I slid a box of cereal in front of his hole and barricaded him in.  A day went by and I was hoping he'd move out. He did.  To my dismay he didn't move to Bermuda like I'd hoped, he moved out of the wall and into the laundry room, behind the pantry, where he chased me out yelling "And stay off my lawn!"

Later in the evening I saw him in the living room watching CNN.  I can't stand to squish these huge things as they make a terrible pop when stepped on so I grabbed a glass and chased him around the living room hoping to trap him and flush him... live... ew.  I couldn't get close so I found the most toxic spray I could to spray on him, which ended up being all organic orange shower spray.  But in my defense it does say you should absolutely try very hard not to get it in your eye as it will sting really really bad. I sprayed the roach with it and he laughed and ran into the fireplace.  I hoped again he was on his way to Bermuda but just in case I went out to the garage and located the really toxic kill-everything-spray, before realizing I probably didn't want to  lay a fine mist of it in my fireplace to be vaporized later and breathed in the next time I was trying to cozy up in front of the fire.  So I did nothing, well, actually I yelled obscenities in the direction of the fireplace and implored the dog to evict him should he venture out in the evening past her nose.

Today I saw him laying on his back sunning under the window next to the fireplace.  The all organic orange shower cleaner apparently gave him a mean hangover.  I knew it was my chance.  Get him while he was out of alka seltzer and pepto.  But how.  Now I realize this is just a bug, not a rat (Kiki), or a crazy stray dog whose mouth could fit over my kid's head (Jaime), or a dive bombing cardinal (Christine), just a bug.  But he'd been mocking me for days, eating out of my pantry, chasing me off his lawn, bribing my dog, drinking my orange spray supply, enjoying my cable and in general terrorizing my sleep.  He had to go.  I took a dozen paper towels and wrapped them with a plastic bag and got ready to grab him.  As I approached he started kicking and yelling "Dude! Dude... time out! wait a sec! time out! Dude! I'm really hung over, just a sec!" Then I got scared thinking as I put the paper towels down over him he would grab on and be able to right himself and start running up my arm, so I screamed and shivered and backed off to make a better plan.  One that didn't involve close hand to hand combat

All my noise alerted the children something exciting was going on and now I was working with an added layer of difficulty.  A curious group of small, uncoordinated, onlookers who wanted to touch things and help. I gave them the job of holding all the pillows on the couch while I went into battle.  Thankfully they accepted the mission and I went to the kitchen to give myself a pep talk.  I came back and sprayed him again this time with lemony Windex and then got the glass out.  I placed it over my free loading, now drunk tenant and slid a piece of paper under both the glass and his back and yes, sure enough, he flipped over in a drunken lemony frenzy and tried to bust out.  This is when I shrieked and considered calling someone to come help me.  I was sure it would take two of us to stand on the toilet seat holding it shut with all our weight while flushing.

I didn't call anyone, I just did it, I picked it all up and ran it to the bathroom without dropping anything or flicking him onto my leg.  Three flushes later and he was on his way to Bermuda via the sewer.  I want you to know, I'm not being overly dramatic, the second flush was because he swam back up with a bowie knife in his teeth and the third was to make sure he was gone.  I may or may not have gone back in for a few more flushes five minutes later... and possibly ten minutes later. But what's 50 gallons of water wasted in the middle of Texas when you need a little peace of mind.

Apr 27, 2012

She cut them all off with a carving knive

I fried baby fresh spinach in butter and garlic tonight.  It really shrinks up when you do that, so I made handfulls of it. Ella said she liked it but seeing one particularly long stem, she lamented "Mom, I can't eat their tails."

Apr 23, 2012

Possible Snozberries

Those little cutey clementines are wonderful for the kids and I keep them in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator so that Jack can get them out whenever he needs.  He just peeled one all by himself and brought it over to feed me slices of it.  It was so sour I realized I hadn't had one for a long time, then I wondered if I was in danger of getting scurvy then I let Jack feed me another slice and remembered he'd been picking the dogs nose just before he peeled that cutey. Yay for parenting.

Apr 18, 2012

Chevron Says it's Not Their Problem

After THIS POST  about Chevron marketing porn and drug magazines to little kids, I emailed them a second time and said "I didn't get a response, what's up with that? " Chevron sent me a letter that essentially says 'We are sorry, but it's not our problem, we handed you off to someone else, there's nothing we can do even though our name is on the door':



Station Name & ID#:       Merchant Group Inc  -  207269
Facility Address:                   8301 Eldridge & West Rd Houston, TX 77084
Operator:                              SUSSER PETROLEUM CO LLC


Dear Jennifer,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Chevron regarding your visit to your local Chevron-Texaco service station located at 8301 Eldridge & West Rd Houston, TX 77084.

Please be informed that majority of our Retail Operations are independently owned and operated & these operators/retailers are the one in-charge in maintaining their facility; manning their Station Operation, hiring-training of station personnel and also in the implementation of policies. Kindly direct your concern to the station operators/owners of the facility involved for any point of clarification that you may have. As much as we would like to assist you with this one, this department cannot gain access to the station’s database nor interfere with the owners’ business operation.

We sent your comments to the Station Retailer who owns and operates this station to make him aware of the incident so that he can take corrective action. We know that as a business owner who values customer goodwill, he will counsel his station management to ensure that this does not happen again. 

Chevron is committed to providing excellent products and services to our customers, and when this does not happen we are very disappointed. It is very difficult to be knowledgeable of all events at all stations, however, customers such as you enable us to take corrective action when we are able.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We apologize for the inconvenience that it caused. 

Contrary to the incident that you described, we sincerely value you as a customer and hope this incident will not keep you from patronizing stations in our retail network in the future.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Willy John Avilla
Consumer Connection Specialist
Consumer Connection Center Chevron Products Company 

Apr 11, 2012

Home Shopping

I'm calling around for houses to rent and inquiring on some through Craig's list.  At least 50% of the Craig's List ads are some asshat claiming to be a missionary from South Africa who's a good Christian and can't so me the house on account of they're in South Africa and all but they assure me the house is sheer perfection and I should fill out the credit report and send them a deposit so they can send me the keys.  This scam must work some of the time because they are still running it.

The other scam is the company that says "Give me $250.00 and I'll set it up so you can buy this dream house that is in fore closure with no down payment or credit check, you just take over the payments and move in."  I read about it and what they actually do is take your $250.00 and give you a list of places in foreclosure and you do the rest of the negotiating with the homeowner who is so crabby about his house being foreclosed on he doesn't want to deal with you and won't call the company to tell them no, so you can get your money back guarantee.

I've talked to a few homeowners/landlords who seem serious and have said they can't get a renter who can pass a background check or a credit check which tips me off about what sort of neighborhood I may be looking at... or no longer looking at.  They can't pass a back ground check? ug.

So if you know of a cute little three bedroom bungalow with hardwood floors, a basement, a garage, front porch, and a fenced in yard in a good neighborhood, tell me about it.  White picket fence and lilacs seal the deal.