Friday, June 27, 2008

Breaking Yet Another Heart

Today while watching Kung Fu Panda with Jack and Mary Liz, I realized something: I am completely and utterly over children's movies already. Even a year ago I probably would have liked this one, but it seems I've hit the Children's Movie Limit. I hit the Children's Music Limit years ago, so I guess this shouldn't come as a surprise, yet I am taken aback a bit. It's just all so...sudden. I thought that I would always hate certain children's movies, but that I would still like the ones that were well done or somewhat funny to adults. That is not the case. I'm done with the predictable plot lines, the stories-as-lessons, the all-too-recognizable celebrity voices. It's over. Sorry, Children's Movies. I am breaking up with you. We can still be acquaintances. Because of our respective lines of work, we are bound to run into each other, so let's keep it civil. You know, for the sake of the children. If you feel a little alone dealing with this, if you need some pointers for moving on, feel free to go talk to Baby Jeans or Electronic Musical Toys. They might also direct you to Primary Colored Plastic Objects, Elaborate Baby Swings, and Ginormous Hulking Stroller Systems. I've dumped all of them, too.

And I'm not sorry.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What to Make When You Have a Lot of Blueberries

1. Blueberry Lemonade

blueberry lemonade!

2. Blueberry Tart

blueberry tart!

Neither of these took a ton of effort unless you count the juicer clean-up, which I always think is a pain in the neck. The juicing also left sweet blueberry pulp, which I'll be stirring into some yogurt, so I guess I could say 3. Blueberry Yogurt. I also plan on making a huge batch of blueberry muffins before I head out of town, so that would be 4. Blueberry Muffins. Beyond that I haven't really decided, as there are entirely too many options. Blueberry jam! Blueberry syrup! Blueberry coffee cake! Blueberry BUCKLE! It's just too much. I think I need a nap.

I'm Already Drooling a Little Bit

The Kansas City heat is really taking it out of me. Today after being outdoors in the morning and running errands without using my car AC well into the afternoon, I practically wilted into the sofa. I had all these grand plans for the blueberries that I picked with Brooke this morning--there are six and a half pounds of them, after all--but found that I really couldn't be bothered with blueberry anything once I was settled deeply into the sofa cushions. I think I must have been made to summer in Reykjavik.

But instead I'm summering here, and next week I'll be doing a little summering in Connecticut, where I've heard they've already seen some record-breaking scorching days. I'm hoping that Connecticut will get my memo and cool it a bit, and if they don't, New York City will at least offer me some sugar besides the kind that will come in the doughnuts and chocolates I intend to stuff into my gaping maw during the two days I'm there. (If you're up for anything July 3 and 4, New Yorkers, give me a shout.) My main objective for the trip is to spend some quality time with my former charges, Frank and Al, so I suppose if the weather doesn't cooperate, it won't be a total bust. If, however, the doughnuts or chocolates don't cooperate, I will be sorely disappointed.

Take note, New York eateries. My summer satisfaction depends on you.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Why You Should Not Allow a Seven-Year-Old to Apply Your Sunblock for You

The whole time Mary Liz was rubbing the sunscreen into my skin, I thought, "I really should go over my shoulders again," but I didn't want to hurt her feelings and make her think she did a bad job, and by the time I'd finished everything else (stuffing the gigantic, half-deflated flotation device in the car, putting sunblock on the eight-year-old, quelling the bickering for 2.4 seconds, etc.) I'd forgotten about discreetly re-doing what I suspected she'd missed.

what happens when a seven-year-old applies your sunscreen

Oops.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shout Out to Shatto Milk

One thing I forgot about running is how specific my cravings get during a run. Tonight I was convinced that the best food in the universe was peppermint stick ice cream with chocolate Magic Shell. I could even picture the Magic Shell hardening as the drips ran down the outside of the scoop. Not that I could obtain peppermint stick ice cream at this time of year, but it sure sounded good at the moment. I got all into it, thinking that if I had one of those ice cream balls, we could just get round peppermints and crush them and make our own. Then it would be homemade peppermint stick ice cream. How to concoct the Magic Shell at home is a slightly more ambitious endeavor, and I never did come up with a good idea for that. The run ended, and shortly thereafter the craving seemed impractical, and even my decided compromise, mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge, lost its luster. I came home and drank some creamy, delicious Shatto milk. In my mind it was just as satisfying as ice cream would have been. I didn't even have to add chocolate syrup to be delighted.

That, my friends, is some darn good milk.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday. Yes, It's Sunday.

Today really seemed like a Saturday. Which is appropriate, since yesterday seemed like Friday. But alas, it is Sunday. This means I have to go to work tomorrow. Geez.

...

I also have to go running tomorrow, and not just because it's Monday. I believe I ate my weight in chocolate chip cookies today, and now I've got half of myself to run off.

That might take awhile.

...

I've gotten back into the groove of running. After the first run, I was a lot more sore than I thought I'd be, as in having trouble walking downstairs because my quads hurt sore. This came as somewhat of a shock since I'd been keeping up my fitness level so well with the StairMaster, but the fact is that the StairMaster is a low impact activity, and running on concrete and pavement is not. All my muscles and joints went, "Uh, no thanks." I kept at it anyway, and now it's just like old times. Running and I are good friends again. We do everything together! Tomorrow we're going out for frozen custard, and then we're going to do some scrapbooking!

...

When I was adopting Lucy, sitting there and waiting for all the paperwork to go through (I'm assuming they were checking to make sure I'd never run a puppy mill or house of kitteh prostitution or something), I felt a little panicky, wondering if I was doing the right thing. I must say that, even though she knocked over the clothes drying rack today and dragged my swimsuit through the basement, leaving it conveniently in front of the litter box (ew), I still just love her, and for the stupidest reasons, too. For example, when she wants to lay down now, instead of settling in softly to wherever she plans to sleep, she just falls over. With a resounding PLOP, she lands in her place of repose. How can I not love a cat like that? HOW?

...

I have been using some medicinal teas with great success lately, and I was musing that if I were an ill person and used tea to cure every ailment, I would be very well hydrated. Bring on the tea!

...

No, really, bring on the tea! I've got two cups to drink before bedtime. I'd better get to that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How to Cope with a Member of Mumble-Whiners Unanimous

The thing about that last post is that I sound pretty whiney. I mean, come on, right? So I took some kids on a little road trip for a couple of days. Big deal!

But still. I think that one of the main issues is that it is hard to please four kids at once. Someone is always having to be disappointed, and if they are named Mary Liz, they tend to mumble-whine when they get disappointed. And then at the end of the day, they mumble-whine that they have not gone to the bathroom all day long, and of course it is all my fault because I do not heed mumble-whining, particularly when it is directed away from me because a certain little someone knows how well I tolerate whining, which is to say that I do not tolerate it at all. If you want to say you are disappointed about something, that's okay. We all get disappointed. If you'd like to go on and on about it in the most irritating manner possible, my ears will turn away from your cries. And if you mumble-whine to tell me you need to go to the bathroom? And your mouth is directed away from me so that it sounds like mmnnmwwhhhnnnnn? I will not understand you. And then we both won't be very happy.

We both weren't very happy. But as much as I wanted to go into a very long lecture about how to communicate effectively and not make everyone else crazy with the sounds emanating from your mouth, Mary Liz does not take advice about how to be a better communicator when she is busy mumble-whining about not getting to use the bathroom, so here's my free advice for you for today:

Don't make that sort of thing a power struggle with your kids. Save the explanation for later, when the kid is in a good mood. State the facts ("I didn't know you needed to go to the bathroom because I cannot understand you when you are mumbling and whining at the same time.") and then tell the kid that's enough of the whining. If the whining continues, give a consequence. But save the discussion for later. You will get absolutely nowhere right then; the kid is more interested in winning the battle than listening to reason, so don't trouble yourself. Later, when they are in a good mood, tell them you'd like to talk about how to get what you need. Tell them you need them to ask for what they need in a clear voice and look you in the eye. Give ridiculously exaggerated examples of what you mean so as to make a point and also keep it a little bit funny.

For all my whining, I would probably take the kids again if they wanted to go. It is good fun for them, and a good time to learn the ever-valuable lesson of compromise and getting over small disappointments without drama. Of course it will not be 100% successful on the lesson front or 100% fun for me, but it will be worth it. I might not remember just why while I'm in the thick of disappointing every kid at once, but I'll remember later, when I am folding laundry in the next room and the mumble-whiner brings up the ever-important topic of ants. What if one was as big as the sky? What's your favorite kind of ant? What if the biggest ant was the nicest one?

Then I realize, "Oh, man, I sure do love this kid." And all that inconvenience, all the whining, all the lost sleep will be worth it.

So totally worth it.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

We Came, We Saw, We...Got Really Tired

Sometimes I think I must be the worst nanny imaginable. By the end of the day yesterday I really wished I could seal the kids mouths shut and cart them to the car on a dolly. It only takes about five and a half hours of having to call after them to "wait for everyone" and "stay together, please," to wear me out completely. I know a lot of families take their kids to big festivals and amusement parks and who-knows-what, then write glowing reports about how much fun the kids had and how it was just so neat, whereas I tend to be a total party pooper by the end of the day, declaring that I am done, so let's get home and kick these kids out of the car as soon as possible. By the time I'd dropped off Zach and Hannah, then my mom, then finally Jack and Mary Liz, I was so spent that I left my suitcase haphazardly in the middle of the walkway from front door to living room, and the cooler still full of ice packs and Izze boxes. Both items are still exactly where I dropped them. I haven't felt like even looking at them yet.

There are a couple of things that I would do differently to make the trip a bit easier. First, I would have made my husband take Benadryl on Thursday night so that his allergy-induced snoring wouldn't leave me with just two hours of sleep to go on for Friday. Second, I would have rotated the kids' seating arrangement in the van more so that the boys wouldn't be wild the entire time and Mary Liz wouldn't feel left out. Third, I would have brought my own pillows. Fourth, I would have tied all the kids together with a big rope and sealed their mouths shut with duct tape, ensuring that there would be no running too far ahead and no complaining.

Well, I would do the first three at least. And if I had more money at my disposal, I would have gotten an extra hotel room for just the grown-ups, putting the kids in an adjoining room of their own, where they could throw their Crocs around with wild abandon. As it was, we had two adults and four kids in one room. The boys took to the floor, and my mom and I each shared a bed with one of the girls. Mom got the littlest bird, Miss Hannah Banana, while I got Mary Liz and a lot of knee-to-the-kidney moves throughout the night. Actually, as long as we're fantasizing about having more money, I would have had both rooms for two nights so that we'd have just a bit more time at Silver Dollar City and would drive home rested the next day.

And I would have gotten myself a really nice souvenir. Like a bunny.

little rabbit

Oh, well. Maybe next time. I don't really have a good spot for a bunny hutch right now anyway.

Friday, June 06, 2008

I've Got a Little Sunburn Already

We haven't even been the The Main Event, the Big Day O' Silver Dollar City, and here I am with pink cheeks. I guess I should have reapplied sunscreen after it all got sprayed off when we went to drive bumper boats. Did you know that bumper boats now have squirt guns attached? They do! Back when I was a kid, when we walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to school, our bumper boats could only float around and bump into other boats. The only way you really got wet was if you intentionally tipped over your boat, a big no-no in bumper boating, or if you got bumped under one of the fountains. And now they have these fancy, schmancy water guns to help out! Kids today! They have it so good! They don't even know how good they have it!

Ahem. (You kids get off my lawn!)

Right now I'm practically shoving kids through the shower, trying to get everyone clean by the time the fireworks at neighboring Celebration City begin. After that it's bed for them and...well, bed for me, too, after I've showered. I'm tired, possibly more tired than these darn kids. And you know that these darn kids will be up at the break of day, clamoring for good, clean fun.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

Why I am STILL in my pajamas, sitting on the couch next to a package of Newman-O's:

(Pick an excuse, any excuse!)

1. My ass is glued down. Very firmly. I couldn't get up if I tried.
2. My cat is holding me down.
3. My posterior has become so large as a result of eating multiple Newman-O's that I cannot possibly lift it off the cushions.
4. I feel a little faint, possibly due to needing more nutrients, which I surely will not be getting from Newman-O's.
5. I am practicing resting because most Americans aren't very good at it, and I am an American.

or maybe:

6. I am taking my young charges to Branson tomorrow and Saturday, and I should probably get my relaxation in before it's too late.

A few years ago I took the kids to Branson with me to visit the Theme Park of my Childhood, Silver Dollar City, and they haven't stopped talking about it since. So we're going back. Naturally, last time they hated my favorite ride (Fire in the HOOOOOOOOOOOLE!!!) and loved my least favorite (Lost River, give me a break already). This year Jack has already expressed his desire to ride the BIG roller coaster, and I am keeping to myself the presumption that when he actually sees it, he won't want to get on it. He's a big talker, that one, but also pretty good at coming up with semi-valid reasons not to do the things he bragged he would do. My mom, nephew, and niece are also coming along, and I'm guessing that I will only be able to convince one out of the three of them to ride Fire in the Hole, and that one will be the only other adult, which just won't do since we can't leave the kids to their own devices while we ride it over and over again. I'm holding out hope that Jack will want to be all macho and manly and agree to go while everyone else observes blacksmithing or glassblowing or some other pioneer type activity.

Wish me luck, or stamina, or whatever. I'll most likely need it, along with some Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones for the drive.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

OBAMA FTW!!!!!

I watched CNN for much of the evening, listening in on John McCain's speech (oh, how painful), then Hillary's, then Barack's. Obviously, Barack's was the best. The man has a gift for speaking. One thing that has struck me as this campaign has continued is that while other candidates' speeches focus largely on themselves and their accomplishments, Barack's are about other people. He uses the words "you" and "we" much more than "I." It is an acknowledgment that this nation belongs to all of us. He praises others more than he lauds his own accomplishments. He was eloquent and gracious in praising Hillary Clinton this evening, a courtesy she only weakly extended to his campaign before saying that she would not make any decisions tonight.

As if the decision had not already been made for her.

She then continued on to tell her supporters to let her know what they think via her website. I didn't want to get junk mail from her, so I chose to send her flickrmail instead. As much as I wanted to recommend a good therapist that could help her work through her denial, I didn't. I kept it short and respectful and to the point. I told her that it's time to let go, to support the person who has won the nomination. I doubt it's what she wanted when she asked people to write her and tell her what they think, but I also doubt that most people want the nomination process to take any longer than it already has.

Hillary, Barack won. You lost. It's time to move on from denial to the next stage of grief, isn't it?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Grammar Monday: Capitalize THIS!

Oh, people. Oh, oh, people. I shouldn't even have to write to tell you this, and yet, here I am, having witnessed error after error after error. I could go into a long discussion about today's topic, but what I really want to say is pretty simple:

STOP CAPITALIZING COMMON NOUNS!

A common noun is just that--common. It's not the proper name of anything or anyone (Mr. Smithers, France, September, etc.). It's an average, ordinary, everyday thing. Unless it's at the beginning of a sentence, it does not need to be capitalized. You have many cans of spaghetti, but not Cans of spaghetti. You saw a cat on the side of the road, not a Cat on the side of the road, unless Cat is someone's name, and in that case I hope you waved. You may have paper towels in your cabinet, but you do not have Paper Towels in your cabinet. If you are not sure if something should be capitalized, ask yourself these two questions:

1. Is this the proper name of someone or something?
2. Is this the beginning of a sentence or a quotation?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you need to capitalize. If the answer to both questions is no, do not capitalize. If you're not sure, look up the word in a dictionary; if it is a proper noun, it will be capitalized there.

There are certainly more complex situations in which capitalization of common nouns can be used to indicate emphasis or make a point, but unless you are able to capitalize properly in normal, everyday situations, I suggest you step away from the shift key.

Thank you and good night.