Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's Okay If You Don't Like Me Much Once I Tell You This

I'm completely finished with my Christmas shopping. Not only that, but I only have one gift left to wrap, and that is the one that has to be shipped to me. I already have the bow and the gift tag set out for it, right next to the gifts that are wrapped and neatly stacked in the living room.

It's not even December, I know, and I'm done, like some over-achieving gift-shopping circus freak. It's an illness. I'm sorry. I couldn't help it.

Happy Is As Happy Does

Today happy did:

Get the last available size 6 long pair of the cutest, most comfortable jeans she's ever worn on sale at Old Navy.

Run in the snow, the pretty, pretty snow.

Have a chocolate cream cheese muffin and hot chocolate for lunch.

Use her gift certificate at the running store and got her first ever fancy-schmancy patagonia hat, which looks really dorky and even says "patagonia" in orange letters on the front. And she loves it because it is so very dorky.

Buy some suprises at Target to mail to someone else. (Suprises! Target! What could be happier?!)

Get two free inks for her printer.

Listen to some Ben Harper while posting to her blog and keeping her cat happy. All at the same time.


In case you were wondering, I'm happy.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

It's my birthday.

(And Erica's and Todd's as well.)

Thanks to all of you who have sent birthday greetings already. You folks are really on top of things, aren't you?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Thankfulness in Pictures

It's a little late, but I've made an album of some of the things I am thankful for.

Take a look.

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Snow is falling, snow on snow...


first snow
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
What a beautiful world to wake up to. Good morning, winter world.

Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper

Probably since the dawn of time, or at least since before the apartment buildings and shops arrived, crows have been coming to my part of town in the winter. They appear en masse near the beginning of November and they leave with spring's snowmelt. It's the same every year. I cringe a little each autumn when I hear the first caw of arrival, and for good reason. Crows are dirty and disgusting and noisy. They poop on my car every single day. I count it a small miracle that they haven't done the same right on top of my head. Everywhere you look around here there are stray feathers and splots of bird crap. It's downright annoying, but after the first week of crow onslaught, I find myself just sighing and resigning myself to the circumstance. They were, after all, coming here before I showed up. It's not their fault that the trees in my back lot and in the park where I run are some of the only ones left worth perching in. I go about my daily routine and try to ignore the nastiness that is living in Crowville USA.

My neighbor next door, on the other hand, the one with whom I share both front and back deck, has no such inclination towards resignation. He is out to fight the crows, and he means business. He has an owl decoy perched on his corner of the back deck. He is constantly walking out onto the deck, making as much racket as possible, and then walking back inside--only to come back out five or ten or twenty minutes later to do it all again. That man is determined. They may have been coming here longer than he's been alive, but he'll show them!

One of his favorite methods of attempted crow relocation is clapping. Simple. Direct. Annoying as hell. (I'm making the assumption that hell is annoying here; I wouldn't know, really.) And also? Completely ineffective. To clear the crows from the general vicinity for the duration of the walk to one's car, it's reasonable. To be convinced that if it is done several times an hour that the crows will go away completely? Ridiculous. Why an otherwise fairly sensible human being would engage is such activity is beyond me. All this clapping is getting to be more of a noisy nuisance than the crows.

So please:

Give it up, man, you're only adding to the din.

Monday, November 22, 2004

No, Really, You Shouldn't Have

The kids' mom went to Chicago last week for business and brought back some Frango mint chocolates for me. As she was pulling them out of the bag this morning, she said, "I picked up some Frangos for you. I hope that's all right."

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

She must have forgotten who she was talking to.

Friday, November 19, 2004

When Mr. Reflux Came Back To Town, He Brought A Friend

I've known that I have reflux disease for a few years now; while I still had insurance, I took a magical little pill every day that eliminated my symptoms, much to the dismay of Boston Market, who was making a lot of money off my plain mashed potato and fruit punch orders. When I changed jobs and no longer had insurance, I tried some alternate forms of treatment such as regular exercise and slightly better eating habits. For the past couple of years, this has worked beautifully, but apparently not anymore.

Mr. Reflux has returned, bringing his friend Mr. Insomnia with him.

Bring on the Tums and the naps.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I Must Be Doing Something Right

For the past two and a half years I have been grooming these children to like what I like and to eschew those things which I find unbearable. We've had our share of begging for McDonald's and the train store, but we've made out pretty well overall. Both kids love Starbucks and know how to order their drinks. They like to read books and listen to fairly decent music. Walking around on the Plaza is usually at the top of their lists of what we should do for the morning. Still, there are some areas of resistance. They are, after all, still children, and children like to do a number of things adults do not. So you can imagine that I was a little nervous on Jack's birthday, when I offered him the option of going wherever he wanted and then out to lunch at a restaurant of his choosing. I needn't have worried. He chose the following:

  • Apple store
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Tomfooleries

Good job, Jack. Very good job.

Now if I can just get Mary Liz to give up on Chuck E. Cheese by the time her birthday rolls around...

Monday, November 15, 2004

Dorks 'R' Us, How May We Help You?


dorks!
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
I couldn't resist posting the WORST PHOTO EVER of the three of us. This is what we look like when:

1. The birthday boy isn't feeling well and has been injured by his sister--ON HIS FACE! (And of COURSE it necessitated using a band-aid.)

2. The nanny has not washed her hair or gotten adequate sleep because she has holiday-related insomnia. (And you're thinking A) it's not even the holidays yet and B) couldn't you have washed your hair while you were not sleeping?)

3. A little girl thinks that "say cheese" means "squint a lot".

Aren't we lovely?

Birthdays Should Be Fun

My young charge, Jack, is turning five today! If you have a moment to leave him a birthday message in the comments section, I know he'll get a kick out of it. I can tell him, "The internet loves you, Jack!"

For bonus extra credit super specialness, mention Spider-Man or trains or SpongeBob.

Friday, November 12, 2004

I Need You To Do Me a Favor

Actually, I only need five of you to do me a favor. Because I'm poor and I can't afford an iPod. And because my birthday is coming up and an iPod would be a really nice gift. And because it is free for you and you could also get a free iPod if you can convince five people to do this same favor for you. Sounds good, yes?

I'll be up front about what this involves before I commence further begging. Basically, you'll follow the link I provide and register to get your own free iPod (or pretend that's what you're doing because you may have more dignity than I do and would be ashamed to be begging on the internet for five people to help you get something for free). You'll go through a series of yes or no questions and then it will present you with some special offers to try. Most of them are free. All you have to do is accept one (just one! so easy!) of the free (FREE!) offers and you're done. It will take between ten and fifteen minutes. Which is not long to spend shopping for someone's birthday gift, is it? Someone's birthday gift you won't even have to pay for, I might add.

You want to help me out, right? Excellent.

Click here: I heart you, Mary, and I want you to have an iPod for your birthday!

Pretty please with sugar on top, give an iPod-less girl a hand. I will thank you profusely and mail you cookies (really!) if you do. Oh, and did I mention that my birthday is coming up and an iPod would be an excellent gift? And that it's free? It's the truth. Clickety-click, people. I NEED you.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Saved

A lot of Christians use the term "saved" as if it's a one time redemption thing. They say, "I got saved," and what they mean is, "I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior and prayed the sinner's prayer and now I'm going to heaven." However, unless I hear someone else using it this way, this is not how it is processed in my mind. When I think of being saved, I think of those small instances in which one moment has been changed, one moment that adds into the great equation that is the gradual redemption of my life as a whole. You see, I've gotten saved a lot.

When I was growing up, and until recently, actually, as long as I'm being honest, I thought it was normal that my brother hit me on a regular basis. It never occurred to me that this didn't happen in every family. If he didn't get his way, he'd hit me, and this was normal. Expected. Hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to bruise, at least in the areas (mostly on my arms and upper body) he chose to hit. I told my mother about it, but he was never punished. I think she believed, as I learned to believe, that hitting was just something older brothers do to their little sisters, and that maybe the real problem was that I was a little bit of a crybaby. I complained to my aunt of this once, and she talked to my mother, concerned about what was going on. My mother chewed me up one side and down the other for making her look bad to my aunt. "If you have a problem," she said, "you talk to me about it, not other people." I walked away ashamed and heartbroken. My brother continued to hit me when he pleased. This continued on through my adolescence until the day I got saved.

We were alone in the house, my brother and me, after school, finishing up homework and doing chores and such. We had an argument--one of those that, between siblings, really is quite normal. He told me to do something and I refused, but that's all I really remember. The next thing I knew he was hitting and pushing, his face turning red with rage. There was a blue vein popping out on the side of his forehead and somehow it struck me funny, the red of his face, the blue of the vein, the realization that I didn't have to do anything just because he said so. And I started laughing. He threw me on the couch and on the floor, chased me around the house, shoved me up against walls and screamed at me. But I couldn't stop laughing. He continued his pursuit, but I just couldn't quit. It didn't make sense to me why I would be laughing so hard when I should probably be crying for help, but somehow I just kept laughing. And it saved me.

(God, you saved me.)

My brother grew so frustrated that he couldn't control what was happening, he stormed out of the house. I locked all the doors and waited for someone to come home. I'm pretty sure I told my mother what had happened, and also pretty sure nothing came of it. I don't recall punishment or comfort on either side. But on that day, I don't think it mattered to me much whether or not he was punished, whether anyone else acknowledged the wrong I'd suffered. I knew that on that day, I had finally won. He never hit me like that again.

I was saved.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Me and Ray Charles

I was a little hesitant to go to my dance class last night; the last time I'd gone, it hadn't been very fun. There are a number of problems, the first of them being that I have no formal basic dance training, unless you count the six months I took tap when I was five. My instructor will say things to me, and I'm sure they're instructions on how to dance, but he may as well be speaking Chinese because I have no clue what he's talking about. He'll notice something wrong and say, "I think this is your fault, not the gentleman's," after which he spouts off something I don't understand at all. Louis, I know you're French, but could you please speak dumb dancer's English for me?

One of my biggest problems relating to that lack of formal dance training is that I don't really know how to follow the gentleman's lead. I try really hard, but something just doesn't quite work right. I misinterpret where he's leading me. I try to anticipate where I think we're supposed to go, but don't quite get it right. However, last night, we had a breakthrough. Louis observed me for a long time (thereby making me very, very nervous, which increases my bad dancing habits tenfold) and told me one thing that will change my life as a budding young west coast swing dancer forever: "You need to dance with your eyes closed."

I felt like a moron, but I tried it. And it worked. Not only was I able to follow the lead of my partner flawlessly (kind of), I was a lot more relaxed. The moment I opened my eyes? Dancing disaster. It turns out some things are just done better when you can't see. I am a blind dancing sensation.

Lead me. I'll follow. Just don't expect me to look you in the eye.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Can The Parking Control People Actually Read The Signs?

Coming back from my run yesterday morning, I noticed something flapping happily in the breeze on the windshield of my parked car. It looked like a parking ticket.

It was a parking ticket. The violation cited was "Parking in a No Parking Zone."

The problem? I wasn't parked in a No Parking Zone. There was one close by, but I wasn't in it. The second problem? I'm not sure there's any way I can prove that.

Gah. Time to schedule a court date. I'm not giving up my $38.50 without a fight.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Improvements

There were a lot of foods that I didn't like as a child. Many of those were fruits and vegetables and other healthy unprocessed foods, which I have now taught myself to enjoy (yes, it's possible, just not with fish). Others were highly processed junk foods that should never have touched the lips of the young, let alone be allowed through their digestive systems. Because they were not only void of nutritional value, but also disgrossting. As an adult, I never considered tasting them again since they are neither good for me nor delicious. However, several late-night, nothing-to-eat-but-crap-kid-food jobs have driven me to try some of those foods or else starve. I may be a little silly sometimes, but not silly enough to think that Diet Coke (the other staple besides kid food in most American family kitchens--what ARE you moms thinking??) A) is even reasonably tasty, or B) that it can sustain one for the course of a very long evening with small monsters. It has no caloric value. Calories = fuel. Adequate fuel = making it through a very long day marginally sane.

And so I have been driven to the kid food. In recent years I have retried an unorthodox amount of highly processed crap. Some things have remained the same (um, Spaghetti-Os, still gross) and some have made vast improvements. Take the Fruit Roll-Up for instance. When I was a kid, these snacks were chewy and hard and had texture that would irritate the toughest of mouths. I NEVER understood why kids would work so hard to chew something that tasted that terrible and felt so uncomfortable in the mouth. Apparently the Fruit Roll-Up people came to these same conclusions and changed their product because now? Fruit Roll-Ups are so delicious I could eat a whole box after the kids go to bed.

They even kept me out of the Halloween candy. And that's saying a lot. Any food that can keep me from pilfering the Halloween candy buckets should appear at the top of everyone's grocery list because it is obviously a wonder food.

Obviously.

Now go enjoy your weekend.

Oh, and clients of mine? Don't forget to pick up some Fruit Roll-Ups. You can leave the Diet Coke on the shelf.



Thursday, November 04, 2004

Thank Goodness He's Stupid

So if you're wanted on a rape charge? It's probably a good idea to go on Blind Date. It's televised, you know, and this gives your victim an opportunity to recognize you and turn you in. Good job, loser. And I mean that. Every criminal should be so stupid. It would make the world a better place.

My Cat Has An Intense Stare and Other Highlights From My Thursday


staring contest winner
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
This is going to be filled with just bits of this'n'that so if you've got somewhere to go, please go there and come back and catch this later. No need to stick around for a bunch of rambling from a girl who's just trying to fill the time until she can go run another six miles.

Yes, I said another. As in: The second six mile set today. I'm not trying to torture myself, really; I just have a busier evening ahead than I planned and a busy weekend ahead and I've been eating too many brownies, so I've got to get the miles in there somewhere. It seems to make sense to just do a bunch today since the weather is perfect for it and I'm not any more tired than usual.

Cuteness alert: Yesterday Mary Liz said something that deserves to be remembered, at least for a minute or so. I had made macaroni and cheese with excessive amounts of Velveeta (and by excessive I mean "could have drowned small mammals in the sauce"), which she loved. After her first or second bite she looked down the table at Jack and said, "Jack, I don't think you should taste this. It's too tasty for you." And then she cracked up. Seriously, she just couldn't contain how incredibly funny she was being and she laughed so hard she almost fell over. I love it when she does that.

Also of note in The Nannified Universe: Jack lost his tooth yesterday. He was so proud, but evidently disappointed that the tooth fairy only brought him a dollar. He is still at the age where change seems more exciting, so I suggested to his mom that next time they just put a hundred pennies under there. He'll think he's rich.

Well, kids, it's been fun, but it's time for me to put on some running skips and hit the trail. Have a wonderful Thursday. I know I will.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Yeah, What She Said

I have all sorts of feelings and opinions about the election, but I don't have much time today for writing, so I'll just refer you to Amalah who said the pretty near close enough equivalent of what I've been thinking today. Not about the Miata, because I don't have a husband to wager with or a Ford Focus to pay off, but the other stuff. About the milquetoast candidate and whatnot.

Frankly, I'm just relieved we know who our president will be and that we don't have to go through months of recount agony.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Beat Goes On

This evening as I was driving my young charges home from school, we were listening to the radio. Jack's current favorite song, the one that sounds like aliens are invading planet earth and really just want to get it on, came on. Since he can't really understand the words or the innuendo, I let it play. After bobbing his head semi-rhythmically for a few moments, he paused and said, "You know what I like about this song? The BEAT!"

And that was the very cutest thing I have heard anyone say all week.

My Voice

I walked to the polls today. My "voty place", as I like to call it, is just blocks away. I pondered the choice I had made and what I would do in lieu of punching out one of the rectangles designating which presidential candidate I stood behind. I thought of my write in choices: Mickey Mouse was popular in the comments section, and one of the teachers at my young charges' school even had on a "Mickey for President" shirt today. Some friends had suggested I write them in, and I considered writing in one for president and one for vice president. In the end, I decided that it would be a mockery of something I consider to be very serious to write in the name of a cartoon character or someone who isn't even old enough to hold presidential office.

So I left the write in space blank.

I punched out no presidential rectangle.

And I believe I made the right choice.

I have agonized over this for some time, and finally decided that what my conscience dictated was to make silence my voice, to let the action of choosing neither likely candidate (nor a candidate I knew nothing about and who wouldn't win anyway) speak louder than punching out a rectangle could. My silence says, "I am tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, and I will not be a party to that sort of choice this time around." I voted for candidates who have my trust in some other races, voted my choice on the current issues, and walked out calm and perhaps a little bit proud.

This is my voice, America. It's time for a change, and I'm not just talking about from one president to another.

If you haven't already, go make your voice heard.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Until Tomorrow


until tomorrow
Originally uploaded by marymuses.

Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow

Okay, actually I love the day after tomorrow, when the votes are tallied and we'll know who our president will be for the next term. But what I love about tomorrow is that I can get out and vote early and have the relief of knowing that what I'm planning on doing (or what I change my mind and do instead) is done. No more research, no more fretting. Depending on who is elected, I will have a whole list of other things to think about, but at least the question of who I choose (or whether I choose to abstain--I'm not telling you yet) will be all taken care of.

And that will be very good indeed.