Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Morning After

So what's my post-halloween strategy?
Encourage him to parse the candy out over the next two months or just let him gorge himself on the loot tomorrow in hopes he eats himself sick and let's me throw out the leftovers?
Also, thank you to Karen for the excellent tooth fairy advice and to Esther for making me feel like less of an idiot about the orange juice incident. I meant to do that, yeah.

song: The Morning After • artist: Maureen McGovern

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Accidents Will Happen

Know what happens when you accidentally pour orange juice into your cup of tea instead of milk? Well nothing really - except that you feel ridiculous and look around the kitchen sheepishly hoping no one saw you. Then you move on to blaming your husband for buying orange juice in the carton when he usually buys it in the plastic bottle. He must be deliberately trying to make a fool out of me!
In truth it makes plain old Lipton taste like a mandarin orange herbal blend. Not bad really.

song: Accidents Will Happen • artist: Elvis Costello

Saturday, October 28, 2006


We were on our way to the recreation center for "Spooky Songs and Stories" this afternoon when a very large tree branch fell across Old Dock Road right in front of the car ahead of us. We both pulled off the road and talked for a few minutes. Like me, she had two small children in her car. Talk about spooky. What's even more spooky is that I almost pulled out in front of her. I was waiting at the stop sign and she seemed to be taking forever to drive by. I could have easily made it in front of her and been directly hit by the falling branch.

song: Patience • band: Guns N' Roses


So I haven't written much on the blog this week mainly because we went to Vermont the first half of the week and during the later half, between work and kids and writing book reports for Children's Literature, I've been finishing up Halloween costumes.
My son told me after Halloween last year that next year he wanted to be Santa Claus. I thought he would change his mind a number of times over the coming twelve months but like our president he decided to stay the course. Turning a four-year old into Santa is actually pretty easy. I found a pair of red flannel pajamas and sewed fake fur in all the right spots and attached a black belt. I purchased a santa hat that turned out to be exactly the same shade of red as the pjs, cut out a fake fur beard and voila! he's santa. Then I doctored up a pair of green footy pajamas in order to make his younger brother look like an elf. The effect is more of a jester but at 18-months he's too young to know what's going on much less complain.
Of course making a Santa costume for Halloween does have its drawbacks, the most significant being that last week at the dinner table my son announced "it's almost Christmas" and I had to remind him it was still October.
I don't remember being particularly curious about Santa when I was a kid. He came, he brought presents, that's all I needed to know. When we got our wood stove I recall wondering how Santa would get down our chimney but the explanation "we'll leave the front door open for him," quickly sufficed.
I don't recall being inquisitive about much when I was a kid which makes me wonder all the more at how it is that I'm currently employed as a pseudo reporter, but I digress.
My son on the other hand has many questions about Santa. What's Santa's real name? Why do some people call him Saint Nicolas? What does Santa wear when he's not wearing his Santa suit? Where does Santa live? When can we visit him? What does Santa do during when it's not Christmas? Does Santa die? Is Santa a spirit?
I try to be straightforward with my answers to questions in general but of course you have to wing the whole Santa thing, there's no reference book that I know of. After a few rounds of Santa questions I'm about ready to just blurt out the truth and be done with it.
Last year after Christmas my son suggested we write Santa a thank you note. An excellent suggestion my well-trained little boy I cooed and got out some red paper. After we'd written thank you in large black ink and folded it into an envelope I mentioned something about the mailbox and he said that we didn't need to mail the thank you note we merely had to leave it by the fireplace, in the exact spot where we'd left the cookies only a few nights before. If Santa could come down the chimney to deliver presents, of course he would come back to collect his thank you note.
There are so many things kids, at least my kid, take for granted as absolute truths. Tonight after going to Spooky Songs and Stories at the Recreation Center he kept asking me about Dracula. This was the first he's ever heard of Dracula, and he wanted to know what Dracula was and do any live around here.
Even worse than Santa though is the Easter bunny. I mean at least Santa's a person - well maybe he's a spirit, the jury's still out on that - but a giant bunny who comes in the night to bring children (plastic) Easter eggs? What kind of wacky story is that? This year he wanted to know if it's a real bunny or someone dressed up like a bunny. Damned if I know.
And how about the tooth fairy? My son hasn't lost any teeth yet but he's already informed be that he doesn't want to leave his tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy. Quarter or no quarter, he plans to keep his tooth. This comes as no surprise to me. How can a child who hovers over the potty waving goodbye to his solid waste be expected to willingly part with his tooth? I suspect thought that in another year, when he's actually old enough to lose a tooth, the idea of a monetary reward will loom a lot larger on his radar screen and he'll be more than happy to part with his tooth in order to collect a little loot.

song: Spooky • artist: Atlanta Rhythm Section

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Winner Takes it All

In the event that Boston sets a new record for the most lit jack-o-lanters, ours is number AA1833.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Time is on My Side

We got my son his first watch yesterday. He’s been asking for a while. I put it on the wrong arm as it’s been 20 years since I wore a watch. They’ll probably be obsolete soon, everyone can just find out what time it is by checking their cell phones.
Anyway, now that he has a watch he’s the town crier. He can’t tell what time it is, unless it’s exactly on the hour so first he’ll ask you what time it is and you reply, “it’s five-thirty. Then he’ll walk into the computer room and announce:
“Guess what, Daddy, it’s five-thirty!
This went on all day yesterday.
“Guess what, Daddy, it’s five-forty five!
“Guess what, Daddy, it’s almost six o’clock!”
“Guess what, Daddy, it’s six o’clock!
When Ken carried him back to his own bed in the middle of the night he was awake enough to press the button and illuminate the clock face.
“Daddy. It’s not morning yet.”

song: Time in on My Side • artist: The Rolling Stones

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Little Boxes

There's a small wooden box in my desk, it's blue and decorated in a Pennsylvania Dutch design. I can't remember where or when I got it, presumably I bought it at a yard sale and judging from some of the contents of the box, it was over 15 years ago.
My son likes to get it out and rummage through it, strewing the box's contents all over the floor and calling all the business cards his credit cards.
Inside the box is an assortment of odd and unrelated items. Christine's business card from Children's Hospital, my dad's business card from the Island Queen, one of my mother's AT&T calling cards, a business card from that garage in Nashua where they fixed our car after it broke down one Memorial Day Weekend on the way to Vermont. There's a prom picture of my sister and Bob, the other 11 wallet-size photos from my senior prom (my son thinks my date is "daddy") tiny road race proof photos that we kept since we didn't order any enlargements, a business card from the restaurant we ate at repeatedly the first time we went to Portugal, and the card from the motel in Montreal where Christine and I stayed one Fourth of July weekend.
All this stuff is technically trash. If I'd wanted to save it, it would already be in an album somewhere, but now that it's kicked around for so long I can't throw it out. By virtue of still existing, this stuff has elevated its status from junk to memorabilia.
It's like the Up Close Museum in the complex across from Graceland. Did Elivis's grandmother Minnie Mae really have the foresight to save Elvis's library card or the stub from one of his paychecks back when he worked for a trucking company? Of course not. That stuff all got packed away during a move and left in a darkened corner of an attic only to be discovered years later during the final move to Graceland.
It all worked out for Elvis because of course he became famous and now people like me will pay good money to stand in a museum and gawk at his driver's license.
Is anyone going to care that I still have a business card from Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room in Savannah or a photo of me and some college friends taken in one of the photo booths in a bar on Boylston Street? Does anyone want to see the picture of our couch cut from a flyer for a furniture store that's no longer in business? Good thing I didn't sign up for the extra ScotchGuard protection plan.
The oldest thing in the box is a photo of my cousin Warren taken in 1973 when he was six years old. One of the most recent items is a business card belonging to the real estate agent we almost bought a house in Vermont from last year before we chickened out at the last minute.
I have another box upstairs in the loft room, a metal box for index cards that also contains accumulated odds and ends. Things that were too big to put in the wooden box. Things like a phone message written on a Post It note my junior-year college roommate, a CD cover autographed by the artist who I dated briefly, and one of my all-time favorite photographs of my mother, my father, and my aunt, all asleep in my parents living room.
At what point does a box of useless stuff switch from being junk to being mementos? Is it after five years? Ten years? Fifteen years? Does it depend on the stuff and the memories conjured up by said stuff? As I mentioned before all these things are basically duplicates of photos I already have safely squirreled away in other places, or cards, notes, and addresses I never planned to keep in the first place.
Now that this stuff's been inadvertently saved for long, how can I part with it when each item reminds me of some snip it, no matter how mundane, of the past? I can't, of course.
I was setting some things aside the other day to donate to the church rummage sale. I reached in the pocket of a coat I haven't worn in ages and pulled out a ticket stub from 1994. The movie was Four Weddings and a Funeral. I put the jacket in the bag for the sale. I put the ticket stub into the wooden box.

song: Little Boxes • artist: Pete Seeger

At The Zoo

A helpful hint regarding the zoo. Visit the animals in the fall and you might get to see the big cats moving around instead of doing their usual sleeping routine.
How do we feel about the zoo anyway? As my husband pointed out, some of the animals do seem a little down; but then a friend remarked that most people don't go about their day all perky and smiling either.
Do you think the cheetah ever just grabs one of those pesky squirrels that I saw cavorting in his pen? That would be quite a show.

song: At The Zoo • artist: Simon and Garfunkel

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good Thing

What's the best deal in Southeastern Massachusetts?
Dinner at Antonio's in New Bedford and gas for $2.09 a gallon at the station across the street from the restaurant.

song: Good Thing • artist: Fine Young Cannibals

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On The Street Where You Live

Okay everyone, here is the geography lesson for today.
My friend Christine has just left a teaching position in Osaka for one in Bratislava.
Osaka you may remember from the movie "Black Rain" is in Japan. Bratislava, for those of you who did not know (I didn't) is the capital of Slovakia. For those of you who still can't place it, Slovakia used to be part of Czechoslovakia until 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Still in the dark? It's in Europe, next to Austria and above Hungary.
Having friends who travel has helped improve my knowledge of geography.
Over her ten-year stay in Japan I got postcards, and from some of the better locations even floaty pens, from Guam, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Turkey, Saipan, and Malaysia.
Now that she's in a different part of the world I expect vacation greetings from other exotic locations. Since she's closer to the United States now I don't have to try and mail her Christmas present on November 1st - not that I ever managed to do it anyway. Ironically, I was out today researching my story on holiday gifts ideas for teachers when I found (and bought) the perfect gift! Now if I can just manage not to loose it between now and December.

song: On The Street Where You Live • soundtrack: My Fair Lady

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Way

Dear Jeff,
Forcing someone else to share my views? Are you kidding? Am I going door to door? Am I standing on a street corner holding a sign? Is your computer screen frozen on this blog? It's a blog - my blog - of course you're going to get my opinion but I can't possibly be forcing it on you.
You seem to be a pretty opinionated fellow yourself. Maybe this would help you out.

song: My Way • artist: Frank Sinatra

Let's Hear It For The Boy

My younger son has had a cold all week.
Today he is trying to stick his sippy cup in his ear.
What do you think?
Ear infection?

song: Let's Hear it for the Boy • soundtrack: Footloose

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just the Way You Are

Dear Jeff,
I appreciate your opinion, or that is, the opinion of Llewellyn Rockwell. What you sent me is far longer than anything I've ever posted on the blog so I chose not to include it as a comment. I don't think anyone will read it all the way through. I did, and found it to be obtuse; do you even know what a kulturkampf is? I had to look it up. Anyone who is interested in Mr. Rockwell's politics can find them at his website.
You seem to be under the impression that I'm for government controlling everything and I don't know where you got that idea.
I'm also not anti-advertising, I work for the newspaper for Pete's sake. My background is in graphic design which includes, among other things, creating advertising. I'm very much for local businesses and so I'm very much in favor of positively promoting them. Comparatively speaking, print advertising is innocuous, meaning I can ignore it if I so choose. It's those TVs above the supermarket salad bar, on the subway, and in the bank; Elmo on my child's diapers, Bus Radio, Channel One, product placement in teen and adult novels, and The Gap printed on the bottom of my child's socks that drive me nuts. I don't want government to control this, I want people to stop buying into it as part of popular culture. Shop locally. Shop less. Stop buying things you don't need even if they're on sale, even if they're two-for-one. Stop saving for Disney World and enjoy life right now.
Yes, it is my job as a parent to guard what influences my kids as Mr. Rockwell points out. It's difficult to do, that's what gives me cause to "rant," it's the name of the blog remember? This is all just my opinion of course, if you don't like it I won't be as harsh as you were and suggest you move to Cuba - but it won't hurt my feelings any if you keep clicking on "next blog" until you find someone you can agree with.

song: Just the Way You Are • artist: Billy Joel

Rescue Me

Hats off to the three women who got out of their cars tonight at 5:30 to help a swan who was stuck in the grassy triangle at the intersection of Routes 28 and 149. The traffic on 149 came to a stop and the three women herded the swan back towards the pond.
I have been told that swans are mean and territorial but it still warmed my heart to witness an act of kindness during rush hour. I don't think the women had any sort of plan when they stopped, I don't even think they all knew each other. They might have had second thoughts when they got over to the bird; swans sure look a lot bigger out of the water. Maybe it would have made it on its own I can't imagine anyone actually hitting a swan. Still the women deserve some recognition for coming to the aid of a fellow creature in distress.
Unfortunately, on my way home from the 4Cs I saw, in my headlights, a frog trying to cross MacArthur Boulevard. He was half was across when I saw him but there was a lot of traffic behind me.

song: Rescue Me • artist: Aretha Franklin

Folsom Prison Blues

My son left his little plastic chain saw on the sink in the downstair's bathroom. Then he brought home this thick rope from an outing to the beach with Papa. It has a loop in one end and it looks like a big old noose. That's lying on the dining room floor. It's like living with a serial killer.

song: Folsom Prison Blues • artist: Johnny Cash

Friday, October 06, 2006

Hanging by a Thread

What's funnier that Seinfeld reruns after two glasses of wine? Watching a pre-schooler eat a mini-powdered doughnut that's hanging from a piece of dental floss without using his hands.
It all started at Noelle's birthday party. Noelle's dad, a great master of ceremonies, lined all the little kids up next to their respective doughnuts and made them put their hands in their pockets. To add another layer of difficulty, all the doughnuts got a little push so they were swinging.
None of the kids could do it. It was hysterical. Ten three-year-olds covered in powdered sugar, bobbing and weaving in vain.
It would have gone in indefinitely except our favorite bad boy from daycare finally gave up and cheated. Come to think of it, he cheated at pin the tail on the kite as well.
Not long after the party, at my son's urging, we had to buy our own box of mini-powdered doughnuts and my son took to practicing in the back yard after dinner with the doughnut on a string tied to the clothes line. When it got too dark or the mosquitoes started coming out, we took it indoors and hung the doughnut in the doorway to the guest bedroom.
He's getting a lot better at it. He should be a real contender at next year's party.

song: Hanging by a Thread • artist: Nickel Creek

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

anniversary quatrain

Though I prefer tea
You like coffee a lot.
Maybe some day
I'll make you a pot.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fly By Night

Dear Connie,
Did I tell you about how the guy at Peterson Farm chewed me out for picking milkweed leaves to take home for our monarch caterpillar? It wasn't like he worked for the EPA or anything, in fact he was the guy who keeps his sheep up a Peterson Farm. Maybe I should have pointed out that perhaps there'd be more milkweeds if his sheep weren't eating them and/or tromping on them.
And, it's not like I was pulling them up by the roots, I was clipping leaves off a plant that was growing in the parking area. As a matter of fact it was growing right next to another milkweed plant that'd been recently run over for Pete's sake. Good Grief, I think he was a little out of line but now our caterpillar is a nice chrysalis and we're pretty excited about it becoming a butterfly. I was thinking that once it hatched we'd release it back at Peterson Farm but the sheep gestapo would probably come and yell at me for transporting wildlife.

Dear Connie,
The monarch butterfly hatched this morning! How cool is that? I'm stressed out about it though because Ken took the kids to Connecticut last night. They're suppose to be back by dinnertime and I don't know what to do with the butterfly in the meantime. Should I let it go? I probably shouldn't until the kids get to see it. I'm afraid it's going to die! All it has to eat in the terrarium is some really old, ill-gotten, milkweed leaves. What if it's starving? I mean it's been in a chrysalis for almost three weeks! What should I do? I put some sugar water in the terrarium but isn't that for hummingbirds? I can't drive to Peterson Farm and scam more milkweeds because I'm waiting for the guy from the oil company to come clean our oil burner. He was suppose to be here between noon and 2 and I just called to find out where he was. I was trying to be assertive. I should have shouted: "Look! You've got to hurry up! My butterfly's life may depend on it!"

Dear Connie,
The butterfly is sitting on the paper towel soaked in sugar water. I feel better about it since you agreed that the sugar water was a good idea. The kids have seen it and it's a preschool morning so I suppose I should take the butterfly out and put it in our garden and just say that it flew away. That way, if it happens to keel over and die no one will be traumatized except me.

Dear Connie,
You were right! It was just sitting there drying off and resting! After lunch the butterfly became really animated and started flying around in the terrarium. We opened the lid and it just took off! Straight up over the trees and as Ken said "on its way to Mexico!"

song: Fly By Night • artist: Rush

Freeze Frame

Saturday is picture day for the munchkin soccer program my son is enrolled in.
This means I have the opportunity to spend considerably more money than I spent signing up for the entire eight-week program just to have my kid photographed in a team shirt that hangs down below his knees. At least I don't have to worry about washing his shorts.
There are no less than twenty different photo options and combinations to choose from. I can get my kid on a Wheaties box. I can get pennant flags with his mug on it, a photo button, trader cards, magazine cover, or a three-dimensional 5x7 statuette.
In high school I remember being excited to be able to get a dozen wallet-sized prom photos of me and my date, I think I still have eleven of them left.
I'm feeling some photo day peer pressure - Is everyone else doing it? Am I crap mom if I don't buy into this? Will he wonder thirty years from now why there's no photo in the album of him and his teammates from the good old days of munchkin soccer?

song: Freeze Frame • artist: J. Giles