Thursday, January 31, 2008

6 ways to (find a good reason to cheer for the Giants on) Sunday

Fact: ShallowGal is a huge Giants fan. (1 + 2) Not some band-wagon hopper either, a true-blue, since before Phil Simms announced "I'm going to Disneyland!" or Tiki Barber started doing fashion commentary on Project Runway fan.

Now be forewarned, this is quite possibly the most controversial topic that ShallowGal has ever tackled. More contentious than the sock post even. PCSguy, whose boss' boss (3) hails from Boston suggested that my football views might cause him some amount of problems. I'm willing to risk it; my readers are entitled to ALL the facts heading into Sunday's big game.

Thus, with no further introduction (4) SIX reasons why you should root for the Giants.

Reason #1) Tom Brady is a skank. Oh yes he is.
What would you call the guy who leaves his pregnant girlfriend for a Brazilian supermodel? And then insists that the baby have his first and middle name? That boy needs a good ass-kicking in front of all of America.

Reason # 2) You ALWAYS root for the underdog.

True Story: We rented Underdog a few months ago, the kids (never having seen the original cartoon) really liked it. Now when you push Eli on the swing high enough to run under (you know, an underdog) he yells "Underdog the movie!!" How cute is that?

Seriously? That's not a good enough reason? Fine. I have more.

Reason #3) You know the phrase "winners never cheat and cheaters never win?" Right. Enough said.

Reason #4 ) Eli Manning is adorable. Also since the playoffs began, I've taken to calling my Eli (5) 'Eli Manning' He might actually think that's his name now. I'm willing to risk a minor identity crisis for a Super Bowl title.

Reason #5) Hitler was a Patriots fan.

Reason #6) Because when the Giants lost to the Patriots back in December I told PCSguy that they'd avenge themselves in the Super Bowl. For real ! And he laughed at me.

1) And Yankees and Rangers. However I like the Wizards in basketball and the Nationals and Cubbies for National League baseball. Got all that?
2) I am like this close to deciding between first person and third person because it's even making me crazy.
3) That phrase tests like every apostrophe rule ever made.

4) Can you even imagine? Without an introduction these posts would be like 24 unrelated words and some punctuation.

5)No relation to Eli Manning (but related to me) Seriously, I'm going to need a footnote to explain the joke in the footnote.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Man Cold

In honor of PCSguy's trip to London (1) I thought I'd share this bloody brilliant video from BBC's hit comedy ManStrokeWoman.

You know that just reminded me of the time back in November when Eli got pink eye. Our pediatrician is a fairly decent guy and wrote the eye drop prescription with 5 refills, figuring pink eye usually spreads like, well, like pink eye.

PCSguy was terrified. He was headed to Florida the next day so he immediately concocted a plan to visit the urgent care in Miami. The urgent care where, for a one hundred dollar co-pay they would prescribe the exact same drops for which he already had a prescription.

Now PCSguy will argue that in the past few years that he's been much healthier than I have, and I will concede that point. (2) However I think the video is suggesting (and if it's on YouTube it must be true) that it is actually the reasonableness of the sick person that we're evaluating.

True story. About 2 years ago, PCSguy had a cold and demanded chicken noodle soup from Chicken Out. No red and white can would cut it, he needed the real deal. The kids and I went to Chicken Out and discovered that soup actually cost more per gallon than gasoline. We bought a small container and came home.

PCSguy ate about 2/3 of the soup for lunch. That night at dinner he asked for more soup. Rather than go back out, I added some Swansons broth to the leftover soup. And he was happy.

The next day for lunch, I added a can of Progresso soup to the Chicken Out / Swansons mix. And that night at dinner, after I had added a chicken-flavored broth cube and some boiling water to the crumpling Chicken Out container, PCSguy actually said, "You can really taste the difference with the real chicken soup instead of that canned stuff." I swear to blog.

This is where the picture of a sick PCSguy would go
but trust me, you do not want to see that

1) To learn what's new about printer cartridges on that side of the pond.
2) These kids are like really talkative petri dishes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Usually I'm pretty low key about potty training. Hell, with Jake I actually called it "Potty Learning" because you train dogs but children learn. Lordy was I ever a granola-flavored pain in the ass. I used to brag to all my friends how I calmly told Jake that his Thomas the Tank Engine underpants were in the drawer and to tell me when he wanted to wear them. The next day he announced he was ready. Voila.

There's never really pressure on me to move the kids out of diapers because they all went to a Jewish preschool that doesn't care about that. Jews are so progressive that way.

Eli, however, needs to start using that potty, and stat. We're headed on a nice vacation and he can't go to "camp" in diapers or pull-ups. He's been playing around with the whole idea of the potty for well over a year, it's time to pull off that super absorbent band-aid and go cold turkey on the diapers.

We own every potty-related book and video ever made. They're all super supportive too, all "don't worry, everyone has an accident sometimes but next time you'll make it." Well that's easy for you to say Mr Rogers because you aren't the one doing three loads of laundry a day and having to figure out where to get the couch cleaned. (1)

Elmo and Bear in the Big Blue House are all well and fine but I've decided to take a more aggressive approach with Eli. I started by creating my own coloring pages. Feel free to use them.

First up, the Little Einsteins:

Possibly too subtle, and hey June, how about playing a little hard to get? Show isn't called Little Tramp, at least not yet.

Dora's very influential, let's see what she has to say about this:

I should write a parenting book.

It's so on ShallowGal.

1) And yes, I know Mr Rogers is dead so there's no way he can come help with the laundry.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

ShallowGal and posse take a field trip.

Lately my kids have been off school more than they've been in school. First it was MLK day on Monday and then Friday it was National Answer Your Cat's Questions Day or something, I don't know, and frankly don't really care.

Fine. Somebody has to get some knowledge into these kids and if the school can't be bothered then I'm going to have to do it. We live in Washington, DC for crikes sake, there is no end to the free educational opportunities available to us.

So off we took, to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. There, among the largest collection of space and aviation artifacts in the entire United States, we learned two very important facts.

#1) The McDonald's inside the Air and Space Museum is the most expensive fast food I have ever purchased in my entire life.

I know that my discerning readers like proof

Apparently both Israel and Iceland have tried to claim the title of Home of the most expensive Big Mac. (1) They've never been to this little pocket of Chantilly, Virginia. Four happy meals and a chicken salad set me back THIRTY dollars. There's an actual economic theory behind this called the Big Mac index. Simply put, the dollar is actually weaker (2) in Chantilly than anywhere else in the world.

Now these happy meals are pretty much the same little hamburger, small fries and chocolate milk you'd get anywhere else in the lower 48, with one important distinction. These happy meals included a toy only available at the Smithsonian, a little airplane flown by Ronald McDonald that actually sparks when you slide it fast along the ground. This lead to our second great learning experience . . .

#2) Where ShallowGal and family learn that some marketing genius thought it would be a good idea to put FLINT in a happy meal toy.

Flint. Nature's very own fire starter. Did you ever see that episode of Survivor where there was a tie at tribal counsel so there was a fire starting challenge and after like an hour the two contestants hadn't been able to start a fire with flint so they got matches and they still couldn't start a fire? Well my kids are way smarter than that. Why not give them some bleach and ammonia while you're at it? Lordy.

The kids are off again tomorrow. We're educated enough now, thank you very much; we'll be heading back to the mall, where it's safe.

Oh yeah, we also saw planes.

1) Iceland actually tried to use that fact in a tourism brochure.
2) Or maybe stronger, it's a complicated theory.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Third children

You know that e-mail that the same friend sends you every 6 months, with the subject line that says fwd:fwd: fwd: fwd: this made me think of you! LOL!

The one that compares your first baby with your third. Like how you name your first baby when you're 6 months pregnant and the third by his first birthday.

So I ask you: Do third children really get the short end of the stick?

True story: When Jake went for his Kindergarten evaluation, the teacher handed him some scissors and a piece of paper and asked him to cut a straight line. Jake looked at the scissors and then looked her straight in the eye and said " I've never seen these before in my life." I was mortified; I mean why was I spending all this money on pre-school if they weren't going to teach him to use scissors?

Eli, however, was born knowing how to use scissors. In less than a minute he can push a chair to my desk, find the carefully-hidden scissors (1), move the chair to the pantry, reach the highest shelf, find the carefully-hidden cookies, neatly cut open the package, and help himself to an even dozen.

Point goes the the third child.

Sure there's the issue of hand-me-downs:

It matches his pink hand-me-down car seat nicely.

Enough said. Point goes to first-born.(2)

Tie breaker: Birthday parties.

Noa's second birthday party was a barnyard extravaganza complete with hay rides, pony rides and a barn shaped cake. We invited 60 of our closest friends and Noa wore a boutique outfit embroidered with farm animals.

Eli's second birthday included his three best friends(3), an Elmo video and moms drinking bloody marys in the kitchen. A freak snowstorm closed schools and bumped the guest count to include nine siblings and a handful of neighbors.

I wore my fancy slippers for the occasion

Remember Noa's barnyard cake?

He looks happy now but I suspect this picture will be used against me in the future

For Jake's third birthday party we rented out a children's museum. Unfortunately the museum has since closed so for Eli's third birthday we planned something similar to his second.

Deja vu all over again

Aha! You think that I didn't even take pictures of Eli's third birthday and tried to pass off pictures of his second party instead. Wrong ! I spent a long time looking for pictures of his party and couldn't find them and then remembered that his birthday is actually next month and the party hasn't even happened yet. So there.

Game, set and match to first child. But don't you worry about Eli. I have a suspicion he's going to be fine.

1) That PCSguy would never be able to find
2) And yes, my first-born was a boy but we were way too poor back then to afford a Hanna Andersson snowsuit.
3) Otherwise known as the same-aged children of my best friends.

Special thanks to Donna for the fantastic black and white shot that totally captures Eli's personality. Check her out, she does brilliant work !

Monday, January 21, 2008

Peoples Court with Judge (your name here)

Look who's here. It's my favorite reader ! Oh my gosh, you look great today. Have you lost weight?

Oh, I just remembered. As long as you're here would you mind settling a little dispute between PCSguy and myself? He's busy upstairs so I'll objectively provide both sides of the discussion.

Issue: PCSguy wants to put a basketball hoop in the driveway.

ShallowGal says:
As much as I know you'd love to have a hoop in the driveway, with the porch and garage addition there's just not that much room.

But you promised.

Yes. Back when we only had a carport and a few ugly plants in the front yard I promised. But now we've spent a lot of money on upgrades that leave the driveway less than 120 square feet. Also the small amount of driveway that's left is sloped at a steep downward angle towards a very busy street where people drive very fast.

But hoops are fun.

I agree, I'd like to have a hoop too. But there are 2 hoops on the cul-de-sac 25 feet away, I'm sure you could use those. Plus the hoop base would kill the grass that we spent all last summer trying to grow. It would also break up the small amount of empty yard that the kids use for throwing the frisbee or football. Plus I'd have to move the car everytime they wanted to play. And an errant ball could break one of the new garage light fixtures or that ceiling fan on the front porch that took us months to find.
But what about Jake's basketball scholarship?

So my most favorite reader, what do you think? You be the judge !

PS: Only one day left to enter my name this mystery object contest !

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The apple marries the other apple that didn't fall far from the first apple's tree

ShallowGal is fully aware exactly how many of you feel sorry for poor PCSguy (1) and wonder what on Earth possessed him to marry someone so ditzy.

I'll tell you why: he didn't know any better. Alas, PCSguy comes from a long line of crazy.

All the regular disclaimers about how much I love my in-laws(2) apply. And let me make this clear; ShallowGal is NOT laughing at them. I am simply providing evidence and quite possibly YOU are the one laughing at them, so turn that wiggly finger right back around.

Let's call PCSguy's parents Millie and Phil. (3) Phil died in 2004 and we all miss him very much. Millie is almost 80. They've owned this 4000 square foot house for forty years and in that time have accumulated a lot of stuff. One of my biggest fears (4) is that Millie will break a hip and I will have to spend the next eleven years trying to clean out that house.

Every weekend, PCSguy and I go down to her basement and try to spend an hour "decluttering."(5) Last weekend we tackled a book shelf filled with 800 pounds of urban planning textbooks from the fifties. This weekend we hit the workroom.

Remember when I told you guys about Phil's pants stretcher. You thought I was kidding?

Patent pending

Amateurs collect bags. Professionals collect prescription bottles with the labels carefully soaked off.

ShallowGal is having a contest this week for all her loyal readers. The first reader to correctly identify this item in the comment section will win a pair of Aerosole boots. No wait, that's not me. The winner will receive a prize selected specifically for him or her direct from Millie's basement. (6)

Employees and husbands of ShallowGal are not eligible to enter.

Full disclosure: Millie actually brought me these several months ago. But they go perfectly with my theme and it's my blog.

Sorry PCSguy, I'm going there.

Sort of ringing a bell right? Oh yeah, that's it ! These are the tampons that were removed from the market TWENTY EIGHT years ago after they were discovered to be the cause of toxic shock syndrome. Girls(7) let's do a little math here: 80-28= already in full blown menopause anyway. Back in the seventies, P&G sent Millie this nice little gift which she didn't need, couldn't use, and could have killed her and still she kept it.

This is why PCSguy doesn't even bat an eye at a small box of lonely socks. Small potatoes.

1) The exception being the people who work with him, they feel he got what he deserves.
2) When we got married, Millie told me she always wanted a daughter and didn't even
imply "Oh well, you'll do."
3) Get it? Mother-In-Law / MIL / Millie and Father-In-Law/FIL/ Phil.
4) After bears and Lucy impersonators, of course
5) Decluttering here is defined as filling two large garbage bags with crap that we hope Millie will never miss and sneaking them to the curb while hiding from the kids and occasionally snagging something to sell on e-bay.
6) Or instead can be named "ShallowGal's reader of the week."
7) Because every male reader is long gone.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Another fascinating peek into how I spend my day

In case you haven't noticed here and here and oh fine, here, there's something about me that is just not right. Not 'call social services' not right but definitely 'let's have the playdate at my house instead' not right.

Today's case in point; my bag collection.

Here we go again

Like everything in my life, I didn't just wake up today with this crazy-ass project in mind. We had a couple inches of snow today and Jake wanted to go outside to play. He couldn't find his boots so I had to get up from the couch and help look.

Everything comes out of the hall closet; no boots but a shit-load of shopping bags. Just as I'm laying into him about "How on Earth do you lose boots," I notice mine aren't in there either. (1) So I look in my closet for my boots and, big surprise, instead find bags.

Jake goes out in the snow in his tennis shoes and I decide to spend an afternoon sorting my bags. American Express will have to wait another day to be paid, this obviously takes priority.

I don't sort my bags as often as my lonely socks so there's no system. First I gathered all my various little bags of bags (the only way to properly store a bag.) My Alzheimer Grandma likes to stick stuff behind furniture and ostensibly I could teach her a thing or two about hoarding and hiding crap.

Early estimates put my bag collection well over 200. I'd like to pretend that these bags just multiply in the night like the laundry does but it's no secret that I have a shopping problem. For starters, I occasionally buy stuff at Sephora.

Hence my Sephora Friends and Family codes

I'm not sure exactly why I save all these bags. So I can reminisce about especially memorable purchases? To save the environment? In case I become a bag lady?

I'd be one classy bag lady

Some of these bags actually do hold memories. This one reminds me of the trip to Naples, Florida where I spent a car payment on 2 dresses (2) and a bag. And had plenty of quality time with PCSguy, of course (3)

Don't tell the other bags, but you're my favorite

Some of these bags, like the Coach one a few pictures back, I keep because they're so pretty. Like little works of art that you can put stuff in. This bag, however, isn't.

I'm afraid if I throw this bag out it will climb out of the trash can and kill me in my sleep

1) So instead of Jake being careless it's now obviously a conspiracy
2) I got that dress in Ruby and a gorgeous yellow print dress (which PCSguy approved despite the cost because it's really low cut) and now I'm thinking I might need this one too.
3) But, oh, the shopping in Naples is fantastic !

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Granny for hire

ShallowGal comes from hearty stock. I'm probably one of the few people my age (1) who can claim two living grandmothers.

Now I love my Grandmas very much (duh) and I hate to say it, but they aren't very useful to me anymore. My dad's mother is close to one hundred years old and pretty much sleeps all day, plus she lives in Miami. My mom's mom is in an Alzheimer's facility a few miles down the road, and lord have mercy on my soul, that place provides enough material for a whole 'nother blog.(2)

When I was little, Alzheimer Grandma was an avid knitter. She'd make me and my sister and cousins these beautiful sweaters and she'd sew in these little "made with love by Grandma" labels. When I left for college she made me a wonderful afghan; PCSguy and I still fight over it on cold nights in front of the tv. I wish my kids could remember her that way, sitting on the lanai, watching golf and knitting. Alzheimers sucks.

But back to today's real problem. I have nobody to knit for me. I need to adopt someone. My hands are full enough with actual old people, and an imaginary grandma won't create anything warm enough.

Alas ! Net Granny to the rescue! (Or should I say Alors, my German is mein rusty)(3)

Now the site is entirely in German, but Free Translation comes to our rescue. (They also have an English button on the top right, but that's for wimps. You get more authentic socks if you order in the original German)

First I need to choose a Grandma. Obviously the cute ones are better knitters so I choose Annelis.

Wenn ein spannender Krimi läuft, stricke ich die Socken gleich fertig (4)

The socks are 27.50 Euros which thanks to the wonderful economic policies of Bush, Jr is like $762, I think, which is way more than my real grandma used to charge me. Plus she's working on four other pairs of socks first, which may be a deal breaker, because either I'm her favorite net-granddaughter or I walk.

But it's good to know she's there for me.

1) Let's just put me in the 35-44 category.
2) With much darker humor
3) You know how Heidi Klum says Auf Wiedersehen when someone is eliminated on Project Runway? For two whole seasons PCSguy and I thought she was saying "Happy Squid Day"

4) Which according to free translation means "If an exciting Krimi runs, I knit the socks equally ready."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If you build ShallowGal a front porch

(A cautionary tale with borrowed pictures)

If you ask ShallowGal to participate in her neighborhood home owners association, she'll hem and haw until the absolute last minute and then sign up for covenant inspection committee cause it looks like it will take the least amount of time, and there's no good committees left anyway.

On the first street, ShallowGal will see a house just like hers, but with a front porch. ShallowGal will become obsessed with this front porch and talk and dream of nothing else for weeks.

Yes stalkers, that's exactly what my house looks like

To shut her up, PCSguy will eventually concede to a front porch with the stipulation that they also add a back deck.

He needed a large deck for that big-ass gnome

PCSguy and ShallowGal will then approach this entire project completely ass-backwards, first signing a contract, then getting the loan and finally (hopefully) getting permission from the community association. (1)

When the roof to the front porch is built, ShallowGal will decide that her kitchen is now too dark. So she'll call the electrician to install recessed lighting.

So Big Brother can watch us

As long as the electrician is there, she'll replace the light fixture in the foyer that's bugged her since they moved in NINE years ago.

Ours was even uglier

She'll take the electrician into the basement to show the problem with the recessed lighting he installed last year, and she'll recall that she never ordered shades for the basement windows.(2)

Because then I'd lose my view of the back of the bushes

So she'll log onto Smith and Noble and while she's there stealing pictures for her blog, she'll remember the piece of crap shades from Next Day Blinds in the kids rooms that are only 5 years old and already in shreds but aren't covered by their lousy warranty, not that I'm suggesting a boycott of that place or anything, I'm just saying.

Maybe with blackout shades they'd sleep past 5

Hanging shades is exhausting work. ShallowGal will most likely give-up mid project and pour herself a large glass of very cheap wine (3) and go sit on her new front porch. And chances are, if ShallowGal sits on her front porch and looks next door at the neighbor's house with the broken fence that she'll suddenly remember that she never finished her covenant inspections.

1) Who got her into this whole mess, so they BETTER approve it
2) Once her kitchen is nice and bright she'll realize her laminate counters look like crap and she'll start pricing out granite but I suspect that may be the start of a sequel: If you fix the lighting in ShallowGal's kitchen.
3) Cause at this point she's spent mid-5 figures on this frick-frack house

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Staff Meeting

Good evening ! Thanks for coming. There's coffee and donuts in the back. Help yourself.

We have a few administrative matters to discuss tonight. I won't keep you long, we're all super-busy, I know. (1)

Issue #1: If you look to your right, you will see a few linky-doos to some other blogs. Lolita Travelsalot over at The Jet Set Girls told me she's gotten a few hits from here. (2) If you'd like to be added to this carefully vetted list, please leave me a comment. If your traffic doesn't double I will refund all your money.

This segues nicely into . . .

Issue #2: Blogger and I had a long talk and it finally allowed me to change my commenting procedure. You no longer need a Google ID to comment, you can use any name under the "OPEN ID" section, or even comment anonymously. Just remember to play nice. No more excuses internet-friends !

Let's practice our new comment section skills. See these shoes ?
Right here. These shoes.

Cookie magazine (3) seems to think that I need metallic flats. (They also claim I need an anorak but one thing at a time. ) What's the verdict on these shoes?

If there's no new business then, we can close-up shop. See you all tomorrow! (4)

1) Personally I need to watch the new 30 Rock AND Celebrity Apprentice so I need to get crackin over here.
2)Thanks for coming back. I was worried you'd like it over there better and stay, what with their imaginary Aerosole boot give-aways and all.
3) I really run hot and cold on this magazine. I like that they have a sex column for moms but I could live without the baby room furniture that costs more than my car.
4) Early in our careers PCSguy and I both used to ghost-write articles about the internet. (This was back when Al Gore first invented it) Whenever we drew a blank on the ending we'd just say "See you on the Web." We thought we were so clever. Yikes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just don't call it a resolution

Unbelievably scary fact: In 2007 I gained TWENTY pounds.(1) Apparently this is not uncommon for women on xanax. Did I eat less before because I was depressed? Did the xanax change my metabolism? Honestly, I don't give a fuck. I just want it off.

So fine. I joined Weight Watchers (2). I think I've made it clear how I feel about resolutions, and this clearly isn't one, being as today is Wednesday, January 9th. Resolutions begin on the first, or at least on a Monday. This is simply a lifestyle change, made with the realization that all the best clothes look better on a size 8. They look even better on a size 6.

Now according to the nice people at WW, other people have made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and quickly given up. So even though mine is clearly not a resolution (3) they sent me five tips to persevere (see, I told you they were nice!)

Let's examine them together:

1. Make your resolutions public.

It doesn't get more public than this, unless I write them on a blog that people actually read.(4)

2. Write down your resolution.

Again, done. I, ShallowGal, resolve that this summer nobody will ask me when the baby is due. I resolve that I will not need to start shopping in the Encore department at Nordstrom.(5) I resolve that I will not have to risk the lives of everyone aboard our flightseeing trip in Ketchikan by lying about my weight to a total stranger.

3. Keep things simple.

Simple is good. Hell, I specialize in simple. But look how WW defines this: "Break a big goal into a series of smaller goals. Want to lose 50 pounds? Shoot for losing 10 percent of your body weight first, or set five 10-pound incremental weight-loss goals."

Ten pounds is not a simple goal. Ten pounds is halfway to my goal. I want a frickin parade at ten pounds.

4. Mark your achievements.

"Each time you make a small lifestyle change aimed at reaching your goal—adding 5 minutes to your daily walk, for instance—put a star on your calendar so you can see your progress."

Am I two years old? Do they really think a star on my calendar will motivate me? It's going to take at least a princess sticker. Or shoes. Shoes really motivate me. And handbags. You should just see how hungry I'll be for a new Marc Jacobs.

5. Make small changes.

I'm not even sure what this means; is this the obligatory 'take the stairs instead of the elevator' type advice? Or switch out your whole milk for skim? I have no clue.

If anyone has any other diet strategies, I'd love to hear them. And honest to blog, this is so not going to become a weight-loss blog. If anything being thin will make me even more shallow (6) cause all the cute clothes will fit !

1) Did you ever notice that if you look at the word twenty long enough it looks kind of weird?
2) Eighteenth time's the charm they always say !
3) One day in therapy I will figure out why I'm so obsessed with NOT making resolutions.
4) Actually I take that back. I recently added sitemeter (the basic version, I'm not stalking you, I promise) and I now have well over two dozen readers all over the lower 48 and Canada.
5) For the longest time I thought maybe that meant they sold used clothes.

6) I know, as if !

Sunday, January 6, 2008

How to plan a trip to Alsaka, ShallowGal Style

Step 1) On a whim (1) decide to go to Alaska with PCSguy and all three kids. Decide to go for broke and invite 80-year-old mother-in-law. Start hoarding xanax.

Step 2) Point out to PCSguy that children who wake up at 5 am are unlikely to sleep later in the land of the 24-hour-sun, in a porta-crib, with a 4 hour time difference. Refuse to go any further until PCSguy signs a contract agreeing that all earlier risers are his problem. Obtain said contract, file in a safe place.

Step 3) Start checking weather in Alaska. Today's high is 9. Decide to go in the summer.

Step 4) Book two mini-suites on the Coral Princess. Buy airfare, book land portion and most importantly, buy travel insurance.

Step 5) Develop a bear strategy. Fact: I am terrified of bears. I think this is a very rational fear (2) and I'm sticking to it.

Now the state of New Hampshire says this (emphasis mine):

What should I do if I encounter a bear?
If you see a bear, keep your distance. Make it aware of your presence by clapping, talking, singing or making other sounds. If you get too close to a bear, it may slap the ground, huff, blow and chomp its teeth or rush you (this is referred to as "bluff charge") in an attempt to get you to move a more comfortable distance away. If this occurs, maintain eye contact with the bear, speak in a soft, calm voice and slowly back away from the bear. These actions will help appease the bear and show that you are not weak, but, at the same time, not a threat to the bear. Do not run, avert your eyes or turn your back to the bear. The bear may perceive weakness and enforce dominance.

What on earth is this guy trying to prove?

However WikiHow says this:

Stand tall, even if the bear charges you. If the bear sees you and is closer than 300 feet, or if the bear is approaching you, remain calm and try to look as large as possible. Try to back away slowly—do not run—and speak softly. If the bear continues to approach as you back away, stop and stand your ground. Speak more loudly in a deep, calm voice, and wave you arms to make yourself look bigger. Keep an eye on the bear, but avoid direct eye contact. Do not be aggressive, but do not crouch down, play dead or otherwise show fear or vulnerability. If the bear charges you, muster all your courage and stay where you are: the charge is most likely a bluff, and if you stand your ground the bear will turn away.

So the only thing they agree on is that one should remain calm. I know, right?

Now if it's a black bear, all bets are off. Play dead, don't play dead, fight, run, climb, don't climb; apparently not enough people have survived a bear attack to know. One book suggested determining the bear's motivation before proceeding. You know, "Hi bear, are you hungry? Lonely? Feeling left out? Frustrated?"

After many hours of research and debate PCSguy and I have come up with the following bear strategy: He will first determine what kind of bear it is, determine it's motivation and then distract the bear as appropriate. I will get the kids to safety. The man will take a bear for me, is that love or what? Still, I should probably get that one in writing too.

1) Seriously, I spent longer at Home Depot choosing a handle for my patio door than I spend deciding to go on vacation.
2) Unlike my fear of Lucy and Ricky impersonators which I fully admit is irrational.

Friday, January 4, 2008

This post, however, IS about my children

As I've mentioned, I own many, many parenting books. And they are all wrong.

Okay, not entirely wrong. And actually in our house we never say "You're wrong" we say " I fear you may be mistaken." It's all about preserving the self esteem (1)

But I digress. Everything I've read in my books says that you should not label your kids. That by pigeon-holing them, you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Malarkey. How else are you going to decide which kid is your favorite?

Take Jake. He's my smart kid. Jake likes to go to the library and takes out books like Schaum's Outline of College Physics. For fun.

Class of 2020

True story. We were all at a play date at my friend Linda's house. We were having this exact conversation and she asked if I thought one of my kids was smarter than the others. With perfect sit-com timing Jake came up to us. "So here's the thing," he started. "Your cat only has one eye. Do you think that affects his ability to see three-dimensionally? Could I do some experiments on the cat?"(2)

So reasons Jake should be my favorite: He'll take care of me when I'm old.

Noa is my spunky kid. The imagination on that one scares the crap out of me sometimes. Remember when PCSguy and I had that bet? He asked the kids if anyone had been to a mall with Mommy and Noa said "Yes. The one with the DSW and the nail polish store." Just to fuck with me.

Noa used to have a whole family of imaginary friends; sixteen relatives all named Bert. They lived in a large house that was totally decked out in chandeliers. Anytime we'd go someplace nice, Noa would scope out the lighting fixtures and announce "Bert has that in the kitchen (guest bathroom, laundry room)"

Unfortunately a few years ago Bert died unexpectedly. He had a job pushing buttons at the Nenter-Center (3) and he fell out a high window. Luckily he left 15 sons to keep Noa company. However, over the next few months, all fifteen Berts had perished under very suspicious circumstances. At first we were worried that Noa had unexplained anxiety; now we know she's just capricious. We try to sleep in shifts.

Remember that play date when I was pretending all my kids were equally smart? At the exact second that Jake was conducting cat-eye-exams, Noa was trying to free herself from the baby's gymini. She had climbed in to look at herself in the little plastic mirror and got stuck.
Manufacturers recommended age: 3-7 months and quirky six year olds

Reasons Noa should be my favorite: It's best to stay on her good side.

1) I typed that with a straight face. Like I'm staying up nights worrying about my kids' self esteem. But I was serious that we don't say "wrong." Technically we say "Daddy, I believe you are mistaken."
2) Linda is a very good friend, however her answer was still no.
3)Like what we imagine PCSguy does all day.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

This post is *NOT* about my children

PCSguy is concerned. He feels that I spend too much time blogging about my children and that I will lose readers unless I expand topically.

So today I will post about my lonely sock basket. You can thank him yourself later.

As you can see, basket is now a subjective term.

Every organization expert has a way of dealing with this age-old problem. The worst one I ever saw was a clothesline behind the dryer with single socks clipped to it for easy reference. That's so mean. All the missing socks are probably hiding under the dryer already and then they see their mate just hanging there, mere inches beyond their grasp. Plus I'd need like 3 miles worth of clothesline.

My father-in-law fancied himself to be a bit of an inventor. (1) He created a special device to keep socks together. It looked like this :
only his was less blurry

He built it from scratch in his workroom. Don't get me wrong, I loved my father-in-law very much but still, I dread the day PCSguy retires.

I may pile all the bills in small stacks throughout the house, nowhere near the checkbook or stamps. But for socks, I have a system. I'm not going to say it's the highlight of my month but that's just because Nordstrom has sales in June, July and November.

Once a month I empty out all the socks. I always start with the black and blue ones.

sock foreplay

Honestly, I'm not truly the anal type. My kids dress themselves and a lot of times, yes, they look like orphans. I don't have control issues. Except about socks. Rule number one: Once placed in the lonely sock basket, a resident cannot be released until the exact match is found. It's like the Hotel California for socks.

Now I may not be able to identify my children by name on the first try, and there's no chance I could pull out a fact like how old they were when they lost their first tooth. But I can tell you to the minute how long each sock has been in that box and the circumstances surrounding its arrival. It's all about priorities people.

Usually there are more red socks. I have a bad feeling about this.

See the teeny yellow cashmere sock all the way on the bottom right? I'd like you to meet LSB's longest resident. These socks were a baby gift from a friend of my mom's when Noa was born. The sock made it's grand debut in the LSB (2) back in September of 2000 after only one wearing. I'm 99% sure that it fell off Noa's foot at the pediatrician's office. Even if the mate did miraculously appear, there is no foot small enough in our house to ever wear this sock again. (3) Totally immaterial. Can you imagine how I'd feel if after holding on to this sock for EIGHT (4) years, I threw it away and the next day the mate showed up. Seriously? You think I'd laugh and write all about irony? Are you new here? Is this sock taking up enough real estate that it's worth that risk? No, I didn't think so. Moving on.

Next comes white with some kind of design:

So close

I can hear you, Elizabeth in Maryland, wondering out loud why I can't just pair up those 2 orange champion socks in the top row together. You think that because they'll be unnoticeable under my sneakers that I could just loosen up a little. You could not be more wrong. Not even if you were the Queen of Wrongville.

Finally we're here. The grand finale. The white socks:

By this point I'm practically orgasmic

These guys are tricky. A true white sock match is almost unheard of. By now I notice nobody even considering suggesting the two on the bottom left look sort-of the same. And sure enough, no match today. However my mission is complete. All 59 single socks go back in the box until next month. I can go to bed feeling I accomplished something. (5)

1) We spent many hours discussing if I could help him get a patent on his "pants stretcher."
2) At the time a much smaller box. There are no lonely socks from before 2000 because before then I had a life.
3) Like I said, you can checkout anytime you want, but you can never leave.
4) At first I said seven years, like the blogger version of writing 2007 on a check, if I could find my checkbook.
5) Except it's only 3:24 so I can't really go to bed for like 4 more hours.