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October 2006
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December 2006

Who's Getting Coal?

The scene: high-pitched squealing, flailing limbs at floor level, the occasionally toy tossed in the air. Our heroine, innocently carrying laundry, crosses the path of destruction...

"YEE-OOWCH!!  All right, that's IT, you two! Break it up...

...and no more biting Mommy's butt!!"

Keen: "Sorry."


Thoughts On A Green Christmas

So by pure cruel fate I accidentally shopped this past weekend.  I hadn’t meant to.  I had planned on a relaxing weekend of absolutely avoiding all shopping centers, malls, or merchandizing meccas.  But it turns out I needed a new dress for a company holiday party that kind of snuck up on me this year (no surprise the manifold dresses I had collected pre-pregnancy aren’t quite so flattering anymore, is it?) and I may be out of a vehicle for most of this week due to Keen getting run down by a pregnant woman at Safeway (Keen and said pregnant woman are both fine, thanks) so, voila, I ended up driving to the mall and trudging through the crowds Saturday. 

Let me tell you, the ball of dread started about ten seconds after I realized I had to face the crowds this weekend.  So to cheer myself up, as I drove morosely to the mall (which is so oxymoronic I can’t even tell you (unless you’re shopping for jeans)), I decided to treat myself by shopping at Anthropologie.

Because that’s what I think of Anthropologie… a treat.  They have beautiful clothes there, they really do; they have beautiful details, and signature styling… but that is NOT an everyday shopping store. That is a “once in a while” store, for something special.  Many of their t-shirts start at $70!  And that’s cotton!  It’s not like you get extra fine craftsmanship and long-lasting wear like when you buy really good leather boots or something.  A $70 t-shirt lasts about as long as a t-shirt from Wal-mart. But if I was going to drop a good chunk of change on a new dress I figured I might as well treat myself with the signature styling and all that.  (Within budget, of course.)

Can I tell you how many teenage girls were there with their parents? A lot, that’s how many.  And they didn’t even seem to be Christmas shopping.  They seemed to be just generally shopping… like for fun… for their regular wardrobe. Their parents sat patiently on the provided “money-bags” couch, and these girls ran around collecting $70 tees and $160 dollar skirts (and those are the lower-priced items); each one looking tastefully deconstructed like a European faux gamine as they made multiple trips in and out of the dressing room. 

I guess I should give these teens props for not following the Coach-toting, velour sweat-wearing Juicy herd, but to tell the truth I was a little appalled. 

I mean, even if you have that kind of money would you just let your teenage kids go to town?  Maybe it was my upbringing (poor) but how do you teach the value of money if you just give your kids really expensive stuff?  (Yes, I know I sound old and crotchety. And no, I don’t know the circumstances of each and every teenage shopper in the place – I’m sure some of them earned their shopping treat – but I have to share my general impression as an observer.  And I’m not so crazy about the juicy sweats, Coach-toters, either.)  Trust me, I would LOVE to have that kind of cash… and the fact that I was actually shopping there means I’ve got something, but… I’m 35 and anything I have now is only because I worked hard to get to where I am in life. You know?

It seems like everywhere you look teens are wearing really expensive merchandise.  I know it’s silly because it’s a long way away, but I worry about teaching good values about money to my kid(s).  I already know I am going to be better off financially than my parents – in fact, Keen and I planned it out that way; we set goals young, we worked hard, yadda yadda yadda.  But we also waited to have kids; we started a little older.  And here is my fear… I see a lot of older parents with money that are complacent about indulging their kids. You know, you mellow with age, you’ve got extra income, it just doesn’t seem a big deal to “take care” of the kids. 

Will I become an older parent with cash?

Personally, I don’t think so because at my core I just don’t think it teaches kids anything to give them money too freely (and obviously, I balk at the $70 cotton shirt even though I’m a total clothes horse).  I’m afraid too much money will give them entitlement issues and then they’ll hit the real world come college and be all bitter and disenchanted.  Or they’ll try to live at home forever.  (Yeah, that’s a little of the mommy brain running amok.) But then again, since I never had disposable income of my own growing up (outside of what I earned) I can’t really say I know what that experience is like or how those kids end up. 

So I’d like to open this up for discussion and hear your opinions.  Am I overreacting and just being a big fat bitch parent?  Do any of you have a game plan for teaching money sense?  Have any of you seen methods that work or seen an average of what’s good for the kids (any teachers reading this)?  How are the parents’ money decisions affecting kids today? 

Your thoughts?             - the weirdgirl


Happy Turkeys

What the heck is that thing?

Dsc01712

You mean we have to eat that?

Dsc01710

That’s disgusting!!

Dsc01713

Actually, it was extremely yummy.  (Mmmm… brine.)  If there’s one thing my man can do it’s cook a frickin’ feast.  Thanks babe! 

(Thank god, you can cook, ‘cause I sure as hell can’t.)         - wg

Footnote to Thanksgiving – The game “Who Is the Favorite Grandparent” is only truly a competitive sport if and when more than one grandparent is playing.  According to Olympic committee guidelines, if other grandparents within the arena are serenely visiting with family members and/or swapping senior cruise stories then the first grandparent’s extreme athletic display is considered only commandeering of the grandchild and the performance ceases to hold competitive status.  We’re sorry, no medals will be awarded at this time, however points for irritating the parents of the grandchild will be attributed to your overall national scores.    


I've been having one of those series of days where I keep saying, "oh, I'll write in a little bit... OK, just a little later" and I never get to it.  I've even been coming up with lots to write about (poetry, essays, prose) but they've all been such bits and pieces, ups and downs that even I start to wonder at my own loony-ness (and I should be pretty well adjusted to that by now).  It's funny how often I get creative bursts when events around me are depressing, upsetting, heartbreaking.  Sometimes the most trivial detail will catch in my mind and suddenly blow up into a comedic sketch on the page, even when it feels completely askew (and inappropriate) to everything else going on.  Escapism, anyone?

So something has been critical in the last week but I have been relunctant to write about here... my friend Dee's new baby girl, born Nov. 9th, has been in the hospital since she was two days old.  She has/had an intestinal blockage and possible cystic fibrosis.  I did not want to infringe on my friends' privacy and I did not want to add anything to the stress they are already feeling, however, a public blog page has now been set up to keep us all apprised of her status.  If anyone feels so inclined (and if there is anyone long-distance from our circle of friends who has been missed on the email messages) you can visit them at caringbridge.org/visit/babylucia.  Lucia is now out of the ICU, but I don't have to tell you how horrible this has been and continues to be for her parents and family.  I don't think there is anything more isolating and terrifying than being in the emergency ward with your child.  All the emotional support really helps.                

Thanks.             - wg

   


As A Chick, I Am Offended

This week has been a total bust.  I am still sick.  I haven’t gotten ANYTHING done!  For a fairly type A person like me, this really chaps my hide.  Mid-week, after giving up on A) studying, B) blogging, C) cleaning, or D) bathing (no worries, Chance has been well taken care of throughout and luckily, work has been slow), after sitting for one too many hours watching children’s programming I finally pulled the huge pile of holiday catalogs to my side and started flipping through them.

I mean, if I don’t have the brain power/energy for anything else I might as well Christmas shop, right?  (One more thing off my plate when I finally get to the huge research paper due for school. Argh)

So as I’m flipping through the ten million catalogs I noticed an oh-so-(sadly-)familiar pattern, and on behalf of chicks everywhere I just want to say, I’m offended.  Apparently the toy industry feels little girls are consumed with toys centered around grooming themselves.  And pink.  Lots and lots of pink. 

Now I don’t have a problem with pink in general.  It’s not my favorite color in the world, and in particular I really don’t care for carnation pink (ala Barbie), but I’m not going to say I haven’t occasionally worn something pink.  Or you know, had a fabulous accessory like deep rose pumps that looked so kicking offset by my mint green top. (What?) I understand that lots of little girls (and women) love the color. 

But when I encounter a tsunami of pink merchandise as a sweeping symbol for all things female?  Yeah, it kind of makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

It’s like when you go to your local sporting event and want to buy a new shirt for your team. You expect to find something kick-ass in teal and black with lots of teeth and all that’s available is a pink crop top with curly script. 

Gag

I also am kind of offended (and always have been) that the color pink is just assumed to be universally loved by all women, that it inherently symbolizes our gender, and is automatically co-opted by any cause or jackass merchandiser who wants to get female participation or dollars.  (And then I feel bad because I know pink is for breast cancer, and yes, I DO SUPPORT breast cancer research!) 

But still.  Me girl.  Me like pink.  Ugh.  I mean technically, if you’re going to pick a color as a symbol of the physical female gender it’s, um, the wrong color pink.  If you know what I’m saying. 

And why is there no sweeping symbolic color for men and all things male?

Now, yes, I have a boy, so why am I worried about this?  Because I shop for little girls. I hope to have a little girl one day.  And frankly, I wasn’t quite into this crap when I was a kid.  Yes, as a little girl I did like pink, but I wasn’t into grooming myself or grooming accessories (that came much later).  I also really, really wanted to be Indiana Jones, and an adventurer-archaeologist in pink would just not blend into a desert dig or jungle at all. 

As a kid, I wasn’t really drawn to a lot of the “typical” girl toys and I have to imagine there are still girls out there who aren’t into them. In fact, I know one little girl who’s interests fall along the same lines mine did.  A lot of interest in science and nature, lots of leanings towards the alternative.  For her last birthday I bought her goth clothes and she really loved them.  It was easy to shop for her; I simply picked out stuff I would have loved to get at that age.  And never got.  I do remember getting my first Hello Kitty collectible something-or-other and having no idea what to do with it.  Ditto with the first nail polish kit.

(See?  Because you CAN be female, like shoes, and still not like pink or doing your nails. I’m just saying.  I’ve also noticed that you pay a premium for “female empowerment” merchandise, but that’s a whole other WTF post.)

So anyway, out of the gajillion catalogs I did find a few that had more options for girl toys than just pink and grooming yourself, and I wanted to share these with you.  I thought The Met catalog, Back To Basics Toys, and Flax Art all have nice general purpose toys. 

How about all of you?  Any nice shopping alternatives to the onslaught of stereotypical and clichéd toys out there?  For boys and girls?

As for you men out there, I think it’s high time you all picked your color of inherent maleness.  (But don’t pick black because then what would the disaffected youth and middle-aged women of America wear?)  OK? Go!

           - the weirdgirl


The Five Stages of Puke

DENIAL

Keen:  “Don’t worry, my body is just purging.  I’ll be fine now.”

Me:  “Oh, my poor guys.  I’m not even sick.”

Chance:  *raaawrrf*  *hysterical crying*

ANGER

Keen:  “Crap!  You didn’t give him an Oreo, did you?”

Me:  “Um… this is not the right carpet cleaner!”

Chance:  “Somebody get this diaper off my butt!  IT’S COMING OUT MY BUTT NOW!”  *hysterical crying*

BARGAINING

Chance:  “OK Mom, you hold me and I’ll just spew right over your shoulder, OK?  In fact, you don’t let go of me at all and this will all stop soon. Right?!”

BARGAINING 2

Me:  “Do you want to give him another bath or swab the deck?”

Keen:  “Ugh…bath…but I’ll fold the last two batches of laundry.”

Me:  “Deal.  I’m going to start another load.  Got any pukey clothes?” 

Keen:  “Here.  Have another pair of ‘blow-out’ pants.”

BARGAINING 3

Me:  “OK, stomach, if you’ll just let me drink this mocha I’ll eat bread for a week. I promise. I need this mocha.”

DEPRESSION

Me:  “Why am I even bothering to take a shower?”

Keen:  “Food Network, you’re dead to me.”

ACCEPTANCE

Chance, 4 days later:  *raawrrff… raawrf*  “Hey Mom, I need a new graham cracker… and maybe a new outfit.  Ooh, look, cars!”


What Do You Have When...

Your grocery list looks like this:

laundry detergent

carpet cleaner                       Cars_the_movie_1

gatorade

DVD of Cars, the movie

tissues

pedialyte pops

Yep, stomach flu.  My friends from out of town did NOT have food poisoning like they thought. Unless food poisoning is suddenly catchy.  We're down for the count.  Amid lots of puke and poop (and many loads of laundry), the three of us will be cuddling on the couch, consoled by animated screen stars, until further notice.

Be back soon.  Take care and avoid sick people!          - the weirdgirl


Lotteries

It has turned into quite a productive week.  First of all, I'd like to say congrats to my friend Dee (the gal we threw the shower for a couple weeks back).  She gave birth to a baby girl today after an astoundingly short four hours of labor!  That's like winning the birthing lottery!   Congratulations, my dear!

And to all the other ladies I know who've had babies in the last few months (that I didn't post about because I am a complete slacker and a terrible friend, I'm sorry!): Congrats also to Jamie, Tanja, Carrie, & Angelica!  (Yes, we've been swimming in babies lately.)

We also had a get together this week for some friends from overseas; a husband and wife and their baby girl (same age as Chance) from Ireland.  Now this is an old girlfriend from college, and she is one of those individuals where things just happen around her.  You know what I'm talking about?  One of those people where what would be a regular day for the rest of us, for her turns into outrageous adventures (good & bad), dramatic scenes, improbable circumstances (that really happen), or vomiting.  Yes, she's one of those people.  (This girl can also charm a cop like nobody's business. It's amazing.  I don't think she's ever gotten a ticket for anything.  And a few times, she really deserved a ticket.  At least!)  This visit... we got vomit.  True it was her daughter this time, but still... this sort of stuff just revolves around her.  I kinda wish she had missed the rug, though.  Maybe if her mom hadn't picked her up and ran across two rooms (making little squeaking, panic sounds) while she was still throwing up. 

Lucky, lucky me.

On an up note, today my professor said, "Ehhh, there are no deadlines. Just get stuff to me when you can."

Psssh!  How often does that happen?          - the weirdgirl


To My Babe, Happy Anniversary

Today is the eighth wedding anniversary for me and Keen.  Coming up in February this year will mark 17 years from our first date!  (Our first date consisted of a movie after work together and making out in his car but still… it counts.)  Over our getaway trip we figured out that in another 3 years it will not only be our unofficial 20th anniversary but at that point we’ll also have spent half our lives together.  (Whoa!)

Metrodad had pointed out recently that us bloggers don’t tend to talk about our spouses much and that stuck with me.  So for our anniversary I’d like to share a little story about Keen.  I think it says a lot about his nature and our relationship. 

How Keen Proposed

I have this strange karma that delivers more than the average number of lost and/or abandoned pets into my keeping.  I have found/rescued quite a few cats and dogs of all ages, and even the occasional hurt bird that needed to be delivered to our local Wildlife group.  Me being not just an animal lover but also a big sap it’s impossible for me to turn any of these animals away.  I’ve even found animals on my way to work and taken them into the office with me (which strangely, made me quite popular on those days). 

Keen pretends to complain (he needs to keep up appearances, you know) but deep down he’s just as big a softie as I am when it comes to animals.  Once we saw a three-legged dog with the sweetest eyes at a pet adoption stand and he worried all day that no one would adopt that poor dog.  He would have taken him home in a second if we lived in something bigger than an apartment.

The weekend that Keen had planned to propose to me was one of those pet karmic moments.  On Friday night, right after I got home from work I discovered a pit bull puppy galloping up and down our street trying to play with anyone who happened by.  She was probably only three months old and she had been abandoned.  One minute a lady had been “walking” her (without a leash) and the next the lady bailed.  I took the pup in to give her some water and food.  Since our apartment balcony faced the street I watched for several hours for that lady, or anyone, to come back and no one did.

The pup spent the night with us and I started looking for options to get her to a good home.  However, we soon discovered that if we took the puppy to the pound they would immediately put her down because she was a pit bull.  This was one of the sweetest dogs I had ever met.  She would roll over submissive for our CAT!  There was no way I was going to give her over to the pound and I didn’t know anyone who was looking for a puppy. 

Keen had wanted to make an impromptu day trip up to Yosemite on Saturday.  Instead, he drove me around most of Saturday (and didn’t grumble at all!) until we found a rescue group that specialized in breeds that the pound normally destroys.  Our sweet pit bull pup went to a very nice lady for future adoption, among a number of Dobermans and Boxers. 

After that was taken care of Keen, surprisingly, suggested that we go up to Yosemite the next day.  Now understand, this was not only Sunday (with work the next day) it was also a three hour drive one-way up to Yosemite from where we lived. This was pretty far for a day trip.  I started to feel really bad – Keen had been such a great sport about the latest in my pet rescue adventures and I started to think, “Wow, he must be feeling really stressed at work if he wants to drive all the way up to Yosemite to get away.” 

Keen and I have a special history with Yosemite.  Keen’s family has gone camping there every year since Keen was a small child, and his father had gone camping there since he was a small child.  It was a tradition.  His family knows trails that have been closed for a very long time. They remember seeing the firefalls live, and they are the first group to start yelling for “Elmer” at night (another Yosemite tradition). I had started camping in Yosemite in high school when our Astronomy Club would go up to star watch (yes, I am a nerd), and when Keen and I started dating I went along on all the Keen family camping trips. It has very special memories for both of us but it also became “our place”. 

The Sunday that we drove up for our day trip as we passed Bridalveil Falls I casually mentioned that it was one of the few waterfall trails in Yosemite I hadn’t climbed. Keen immediately pulled the car off the main road and said, “Well, we should go up then!” 

The day was beautiful.  It was late summer so even though there was still water coming down the falls it wasn’t as much of a torrent as it usually is; Bridalveil Falls is a very tall fall so that when the water is heavy it froths and mists extensively coming down, so that it looks like the lace veil it’s named after.  There is a little bridge a few hundred yards from the bottom of the fall where it’s very picturesque and you can take pictures without getting wet, but we hit the trailhead, a series of rocky switchbacks to the very base of the fall.  It was also still early in the morning so it wasn’t too hot.  Keen and I took our time going up the trail until we got to the base and then (being kids) we scrambled out until we were standing on a rock in the middle of the pooling water.

I turned to Keen to give him a hug.  He said, “I’ve got something for you…” and as I was giving him a perplexed look Keen pulled out a ring box, opened it, and proposed to me standing on a rock at the base of Bridalveil Falls.

Of course, I said yes.  A dumbfounded and dazed yes, but one without hesitation.

I had had NO IDEA this was coming!  He had it planned for weeks, apparently most of our friends knew about it, and I almost ruined his plans by making him drive me around to rescue a puppy.   

That three hour drive back home flew by.  Later on, we received a gorgeous print of Bridalveil Falls as one of our wedding gifts.            

Happy Anniversary, babe.  I love you.                – the weirdgirl

Bridalveil_fall_base


Fun but Fading Too Fast

Thank you all for your words of confidence and good thoughts while Keen and I were on our first trip away!  We had a wonderful time, everything went well, and Chance was fine... except he was running a pretty good fever when we got back.  I figure he must have picked up something among the onslaught of children at Halloween.  It's good that we had a nice relaxing time because you never what's gonna happen with a sick kid.  For the most, I think he's feeling OK; he got tylenol, then motrin, and a nice cool bath so his fever came down within three hours, and so far, no runny nose or other symptoms (except I could tell he's feeling yucky).  Here's keeping our fingers crossed that there are no middle of the night sicky wake-ups.  (Those suck.)

Something else that came to light from this trip... we think grandma's memory might be going a little.  There were a couple of things she had absolutely forgotten between the previous morning to the time we came back (and I didn't inundate her with a million notes or anything).  Keen and I had both noticed this tendency in the past year, but we both assumed that she just had been distracted (so easy to do with her only grandchild present) and not really paying attention.  But now I'm pretty sure her recall is starting to go.  I think my dad's memory is fading as well.  Erg.  I love them but I'm really not looking forward to my future role as caregiver to elderly relations.  Maybe I can sit them all in one room and they can tell the same stories over and over again to each other instead of to me?   

Here's to hope.           - the weirdgirl