Friday, November 30, 2012

P.S. Happy Bear

The first thing I noticed when I got home from work was a big, round, white sticker on Katie's sweater.

"Where'd you get the sticker?"  I asked.

"In Ms. V's class."  Katie's voice was muffled in my jacket as she gave me a welcome home hug.

"What were you doing in Ms. V's class?"

"Listening to Happy Bear talk to us."  She traced her finger around the edges of the sticker on her chest.

I had a vague understanding of this Happy Bear fellow.  While conducting research for a patron at work, I stumbled upon this play produced by Sunflower House.  It is designed for young children to educate them about personal safety.  Here's a blurb from the "about us" section of their website:

Sunflower House is a non-profit, United Way agency serving Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas. Our mission is to protect children in our community from physical and sexual abuse through education, advocacy, forensic and medical services.

Here's information from their website about the play:

A delightful, interactive play for children ages 4-7.  Implemented in more than 200 elementary schools and preschools in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, this 25-minute program addresses recognizing welcome and unwelcome touches, practicing resistance skills, and learning to report to a trusted adult. 

I'd heard of this organization's work, but I wanted to see what Katie thought of it, so I asked, "Who's Happy Bear, some kind of puppet?"

"No, he's some kind of person.  In a big bear costume," Katie explained.

"I see.  What was he talking about?"  I was trying not to laugh at the "some kind of person" comeback.

"He talked about welcome and unwelcome touches and how it's my body and I can say no and step away if I don't want an unwelcome touch."  Katie finally took a breath.  "But I knowed that, Mom.  You tell me I'm the boss of my body all the time."

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I can't tell you how relieved I am that Katie "knowed" that.  I wonder how my life would have been different had I knowed it too, if I got to see this play when I was six.  I had already been sexually abused by then, but I wonder if I would have felt more encouraged to talk about it and let go of the shame I held on to for far too many years.  I'm glad I have resources such as this play to help break the cycle of abuse so my daughter never knows such horrors.  That's what all parents want for their children, isn't it?  To not have to go through what we went through.

If you'd like to watch the play with your child so you can discuss the issues of personal space, welcome and unwelcome touches, that it's OK to say no, and other issues regarding personal safety, the video clips are below.  My one complaint is that the educator uses the term "vagina" for generic female private parts, when the actual term is "vulva".  As the great Harriet Lerner, who has been raising vulva consciousness since the 70's reminds us, if we can't name our body parts, how can we feel ownership of our bodies?  

As Harriet Lerner states in this piece

"It is true that Americans do not excise the clitoris and ablate the labia, as is practiced in other cultures on countless girls and women. Instead, we do the job linguistically -- a psychic genital mutilation, if you will. Language can be as powerful and swift as the surgeon's knife. What is not named does not exist."

It's a baby step using an imprecise word, but still, whatever you want to call our anatomy, at least it's no longer so private we can't talk about it enough to empower our children.  Good job, Sunflower House!  


Guess who's reading my blog now?  None other than the amazing Dr. Harriet Lerner herself!  I am so honored.  And, in her forthright way, she called me out on my linguistic blunder.  

Dr. Lerner: "Loved this piece, except for last paragraph which undoes the point. Men wouldn't be pathetically grateful for a culture which confused a penis with a testicle. "Vagina" isn't a vague word. It's a precise word that is misused because people can't say vulva when they mean just that. Here's letter to the editor I wrote, published in New York Times recently..."

She couldn't leave the link in the comments section because, well, I love you Blogger but your comments section sucks.  And I'm just not tech savvy enough to fix it.  No biggie.  I'll share the link here.

I appreciate Dr. Lerner's honest feedback. Especially this: "Men wouldn't be pathetically grateful for a culture which confused a penis with a testicle." So true! Now that I re-read this post it does seem like I'm backpedaling.  It shows how even seasoned feminists like myself too easily slip into society's patriarchal muck without thinking.  Vagina certainly is a precise word and it is used imprecisely in this instructional video reaching students "in more than 200 elementary schools and preschools in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties".  If we're going to teach our kids about half the population's anatomy we've got to stop pussy-footing around.  

V-U-L-V-A.  It's a lovely word for a beautiful body part our society has kept linguistically under cover far too long.

Thank you, Dr. Lerner for teaching, and re-teaching, this lesson until we finally get it right.  The silence surrounding the gross misnaming of female anatomy from most professionals is astounding. I applaud Dr. Harriet Lerner's tenacious advocacy of the vulva.

Now, to contact Sunflower House to see about updating these videos...

Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Officer Larry DePrimo: NYPD Hero

Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles by Meister des Hausbuches, 1475 
image source: Wikipedia

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'" -- John 13 NIV

image source: NYPD's Facebook page

When I saw the viral photo of NYPD cop Larry DePrimo, who bought a homeless man a pair of all-weather boots and then proceeded to put them on him, I thought of the story of Jesus washing the apostles' feet.  To serve and protect.  Thank you, Officer DePrimo, for your wonderful example of human decency and kindness.  We need more everyday heroes like you.

Here's the Today Show interview with Officer DePrimo:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

John Green on Character Creation

John Green has great advice for writers.  I wonder if his technique will inspire more creative writing teachers to play video games while lecturing the class?

"One of the reasons that I spend so long writing first drafts of my stories is that it takes me a first draft to get to know the characters, and to understand what's important to them, and to understand what's going to define them in terms of language.  What kind of words are they going to be made out of.  Because that's when they start to feel real to me.  It's not a matter of being able to quote, unquote picture them.  It's more a matter of being able to understand them and imagine what it's like to be them." -- author John Green

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Homemade Birthday

My mom made homemade dixie pie for my birthday.  It's my favorite.  Pecan pie with chocolate chips.  She makes the best flaky pie crust from Crisco and vinegar.  It's funny how some of the most disgusting-sounding things can be so tasty.

Which reminds me, Will found a beef-fat-rich Hostess cherry pie at a gas station on the way to my mom's house out in the country.  I asked if he was going to keep it for posterity or try to sell it.  He ripped the wrapper open and said, "Ah hell no!  I'm gonna eat it!"

Carpe piem!

My birthday dixie pie from my mom

By the way, I am solidly not a Health At Every Size® advocate during my birthday week, which always falls around Thanksgiving.  With the customary birthday cake, pies and general gluttonous festivities, I am more of an Eat Drink and Be Merry At Every Size advocate this week.  This month.  Oh, and then comes Christmas.  And New Year's.  And Valentine's Day.  So really, my duties as a HAES advocate hibernate til spring each year.  Although one could argue that cake and pie and a stuffed belly lead to mental health, so I guess I'm still avocating for some kind of health.

Mom also made me these hand towels.  I love homemade gifts.  She embroidered the design "Welcome To Our Reading Room" on them.  When Katie saw them, she tried to get our cat Thatcher to jump on the back of our toilet.  Despite reading the sign to him and showing him the picture (since it has been determined that he can't read,) he has not cooperated yet.  

Mom also made three cute owls for Will, Katie and me.  When we put up our Christmas tree we'll hang them on it, but for now they decorate our kitchen cabinets.

My sister Kit made vegetarian chili, and my sister Jenny made corn muffins and honey butter for my birthday meal, all delicious.  Happy homemade birthday to me!

Friday, November 23, 2012

TMI Cramps Rant

endometrial stromal condensation
source: Wikipedia

I have cramps.  Yesterday was my birthday, which means I am now a forty-two year old perimenopausal woman.  With cramps.  WTF?

Will and I have been trying unsuccessfully to conceive another child since Katie was about six months old, so for nearly six years now.  And yet my Aunt Flo keeps showing up once a month to announce our defeat.  Not only does the bitch insist on these unwelcome visits, she brings along her irritating friends Crampy and Crabby to ensure one week of my life, and the lives of those around me, is miserable.  My friends who have more than one child and complain of the constant sibling bickering might argue my Aunt Flo is actually saving me from four weeks of misery each month.  But I still say if I'm not going to get another kid out of the deal, it's pretty rude to expect me to have to put up with the agony of menstruation.  Why can't my version of PCOS involve not just anovulation but no period, period?  If my ovaries aren't popping out eggs, why does my endometrium think it has to build a nest, only to destroy it when nothing sticks to it?

Normally when I'm crampy I pop an ibuprofen and say a little prayer of thanks for the makers of this miracle drug.  But tonight I have plans for some heavy drinking to celebrate my birthday with my best bacchanal friends, so I'm trying to treat my liver as kindly as possible.  If I learned anything from watching my brother die from liver failure, it's to avoid it at all costs.  Mixing pain meds and booze is extremely damaging to the liver, so I have to pick my poison cautiously.

As the day goes on and my dysmenorrhea progresses, though, that bottle of ibuprofen is looking much better than that bottle of beer.  Damn, Aunt Flo!  Who invited you to my birthday party?!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vegetable Cake, Anyone?

Katie's been so excited to help Will bake my birthday cake this year.  I asked for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  As they were combining the ingredients, Katie picked up a sliver of dried carrot from the mix and got a funny look on her face.  Like it was just then that she realized a carrot cake has, yeah, carrots in it.

"I'm not going to eat any carrot cake, Mom," Katie announced.

"Why, because carrots are vegetables and it seems weird to eat a vegetable cake?"  I knew this is how Katie felt because I had the same reaction when my mom asked for carrot cake on her own birthday when I was a kid around Katie's age.  Vegetable cake?  Gross.

Katie nodded and crinkled her nose.

"Well you like pumpkin pie, right?" I asked.

Katie's eyes lit up and she nodded furiously, licking her lips.

"Pumpkins are vegetables, so that's a vegetable pie.  It's sugar and pumpkin just like this cake is sugar and carrots," I argued.

"Pie and cake are not the same thing, Mom," Katie insisted.

Today is both Thanksgiving and my 42nd birthday.  I am thankful for my unique taste.  Not everyone likes vegetable cake, but whatever.  Leaves more for me.

Becky's Birthday Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cute Katie Quotes: January 2011 - February 2012

Age 4 1/2

I just got home from work.  I gave Will a hug, and Katie reached up to have a group hug.  As we three were squeezing each other, Katie said, "The family is all back together!"

Me: "We're going to Bed Bath and Beyond."
Katie: "You mean like 'to infinity and beyond?'"

Katie: "Today is Monday, the best day of the week!"
Me: "Why is it the best day of the week?"
Katie: "Because I get to go to school today!"

"I'm take care of-ing my children."  --Katie, with her dollies lined up in a row on the futon

Me: "Why do these toy turtles have snails riding on their backs?"
Katie: "Because the snails are even slower than the turtles so they're getting a ride."

Katie got to be the flower girl in my niece's wedding.  She enjoyed playing with the ring bearer, a little boy her age.  She asked me, "How come some ring bearers don't wear bear costumes?"

Katie: "Mama, let's play Hide and Go Seek."
Me: "No, I don't want to play that.  What else do you want to play?"
Katie: "Let's play Find the Duck!"
Me: "Oh yeah?  How do you play Find the Duck?"
Katie: "Well, one person counts to twenty and the other person is a duck and hides from them and they can't say quack while they're hiding or they'll be found."
Me: "Isn't that Hide and Go Seek?"
Katie: "No!  Because we're ducks.  It's Find a Duck."

Katie and I planted three tomato plants.  I said, "Maybe the snails will eat them like they did in that episode of Oswald?"  Without hesitation, Katie replied, "I've got an idea!  We can build a scarecrow, only we'll call it a scaresnail!"


Age 5

Katie's been on a Mary Poppins kick lately.  First thing this morning she said, "Mother, I have a question.  How come in England people speak English and we speak English too?  And I have another question.  How come in England this is called a nursery but here it's a bedroom?"

"There's no place like home...except for Power Play, because there are more games." --Katie, after watching The Wizard of Oz.

Cute Katie Quotes: October 2010 - January 2011

Age 4

Katie got up, used the potty, pulled up her PJ pants and came into my room, saying, "I used the potty all by myself!  Are you proud of me?"
Me: "Yes, I'm very proud of my big girl."
Katie: "And you're not mad at me for having accidents."
Me: "No, Sweetie.  I'm sorry I ever got mad at you for having accidents.That's part of growing up and I should have never gotten mad at you for having accidents."
Katie, hugging me: "Thanks, Mama!"
Me: "So you and I are both learning.  You're learning to use the potty by yourself and I'm learning to be a better mom."
Katie, hugging me tighter: "I'm so proud of you, Mama!"

Me, just as dinner was over, "Oh, dang it!  I left my veggie sausage in the microwave."
Katie, who had watched Sid the Science Kid earlier: "Is it decaying?"

Thanks PBS Kids!

Katie: "How come the sun move across the sky if it don't have legs?"

"Hey, Mom, that how it say I don't need to go in Spanish." --Katie, after her tummy grumbled and I said it sounded like her body was telling us it had to go potty.

"I don't need to eat breakfast because it's Halloween," Katie informed me when I told her she needed to eat a healthy breakfast before she could have candy.  "I know," she continued.  "I could put some candy under some bread and make a candy sandwich!  If I eat healthy food with the candy I won't get sick!"

"But alarms don't have noses."  --Katie, when she asked what the smoke alarm is and I told her it beeps when there is too much smoke in the house.

Katie, with a sheet draped over her back: "I'm getting married!"
Me: "Oh yeah?  Who are you marrying?"
Katie: "Jonathan!"
Me: "I don't think you're supposed to marry your cousin."
Katie: "Why not?"
Me: "Because you're supposed to marry someone outside of your family."
Katie, looking out the window: "But it's raining outside."

Me, dropping marshmallows into Katie's hot chocolate: "One, two, three..."
Katie, interrupting: "I want the last one in my hand!"
Me, giving her a stern look like hey-where's-the-please: "What do you say?"
Katie: "Four!"

Katie, feeling frustrated writing her name, "I can't do it!"
Me: "I used to have trouble writing my name when I was first learning too."
Katie: "Ugh!  Your name is easy: M-O-M!"

Will and Katie were leaving to go to Great-Grandma Marie's house and I was leaving to go back to work.
Me: "Tell Great-Grandma Marie I said hi."
Katie: "OK.  Tell your workers I said hi."

"How she get down?"  --Katie asked me at the end of the cartoon Frosty the Snowman when Santa and Frosty drop Carol off on the roof of her house.

Katie, putting on her Buzz Lightyear costume: "Let's pretend you're my mom."
Me: "How can we pretend that when I really am your mom?"
Katie: "But you're the space mom!"

"I wish I could go there."  --Katie, pointing to her Candy Land box.

Katie made up this song.  She calls it "The Katie Song":
"We're all people but we're not the same.  We can be anything, brown, or blue, or red!  Big or small, brown hair, or light.  We're different.  The end!"

While eating at Papa Lew's Soul Delicious Food, Katie pointed to the speaker in the ceiling playing some amazing gospel music and said, "Let's pretend that voice is my voice" and she started lip syncing.

Katie asked if we could play outside today.  I said, "It's pretty cold out today.  We'll go to an indoor playground today."  Katie got the TV remote and changed the channel to Metro Weather to see for herself.

"When are you none?"  --Katie asked when we were talking about how Great-Grandma Marie is ninety.

Cute Katie Quotes: July 2010 - September 2010

Age 4

"I don't want dinner.  I want breakfast," Katie said.  "Oh yeah?  Like what?" I asked.  Without hesitation, she replied, "Fruit and nuts and gravy!"

Back from Target with Will, Katie announced, "Daddy let me touch the toys because I have a friendly daddy."

Katie, handing me a card she made: "Here, Mom, I made this for you!"
Me: "Oh thank you!  I love it.  I like the blue and purple together.  Does it go this way or that way?"
Katie: "This way!"
Me: "Oh.  What is it?"
Katie: "A thank you card for you!"
Me: "Me?  Oh thank you.  Why are you giving me a thank you card?"
Katie, thinking a minute first: "For being a good mom!"
We hug.  I'm beaming.  Then Katie plops down on the futon and says, "Is it my turn to watch TV?"

"Mama, you have to try new things," Katie told me when I asked her to quit putting edamame dip on the grapes.

"I not gonna call you Katie anymore," Katie said to the doll she calls her sister.  She changed her voice, speaking for the doll, "Why not Katie?"  She changed her voice back to her own, "Because we can't have two Katie's in the house, so we'll have one big Katie and one little Bacca."

When I was talking about my brother, Katie asked, "Where's my brother?"  I said, "You don't have a brother."  So she asked, "Where's my sister?"  I said, "You don't have a brother or a sister.  You're an only child."  Immediately she replied, "I'm a one-man band!"

Katie: "Is your birthday today?"
Me: "No, my birthday is in November."
Katie: "Is this November?"
Me: "No, this is August."
Katie: "When is November?"
Me: "In three months.  Then I'll be 40!"
Katie: "And then you'll be as tall as Daddy!"

Katie: "How come cows make milk?"
Me: "To feed their babies like I used to breastfeed you."
Katie: "I wish your yoni had a door."
Me: "You wish my yoni had a door?"
Katie: "Uh huh."
Me: "Why?"
Katie: "So when I was stuck in your tummy I could go out through the door."
Me, referring to my emergency C-section, "Well, that was the idea, but it didn't work out for us."

"Katie At Different Ages" March 2010
(clockwise beginning with the top left figure: "Me when I am four now."  "Me when I was three."  "Me when I inside you where the food goes down to me and I get it and grow" aka the placenta.  "Me inside your tummy.")  

Katie, around bedtime: "I hungry.  I want breakfast."
Me: "You want breakfast now?"
Katie: "We eat breakfast at night time because we nocturnal.  We pretending to be sloths."

I asked Katie how she spells her name and she said, "K-A-T-I-E!"  Earlier in the day I overheard her telling her imaginary friends that she likes to go by Katie and not Kate.  So I asked if she wants Daddy and me to call her Katie instead of Kate.  "Yes!"  She beamed.

Katie, doing the voice of her imaginary friend: "What's your name?"
Katie, in her own voice: "Kate."
Imaginary Friend: "I thought it was Katie."
Katie: "Oh, I forgot, yes.  My name is Katie."

It's been an exhausting week after I found out my brother Pat has terminal liver failure.  So tonight, I was vegging in the living room chair after dinner.  Katie wanted to watch a Kai-Lan DVD that was still inside the player.  She asked, "Why is that called a TV?"  I said, "It stands for television."  She said, "Is this the screen?"  I said, "Yes, and here's the cable box, the DVD player, and the VCR."  I turned on all four machines and sat back down in the chair.  Katie pushed the play button on the DVD player, but nothing happened.  I said, "I think it's stuck.  Push stop and then push play again."  She asked, "Where the stop?"  I would normally get up and show her, but I was so tired I decided to see if she could "read" the button.  I said, "It's spelled S-T-O-P."  She searched the buttons, had me repeat the spelling two more times, then she said, "S-T-O-P!" and pushed the stop button.  Does that count as reading her first word?

My favorite TV show, Real Time with Bill Maher, had been on hiatus for a couple months.  I turned it on this evening.  When Katie heard the music she said, "Ooooh, I love this!"

Me: "Are you going to give your poop a little drink?"  (Katie once said she was going to give her poop a little drink when she peed after she pooped.)
Katie: "No.  If my poop gets a drink then the poop will have to go pee!"

Katie, giving me a bite of her naan, "I'm nice to you."
Me: "Yes you are.  How come?"
Katie: "Because I want you to be happy."

Middle Yes

Katie came home from school the other day and pulled this drawing out of her backpack.

"What is it?"  I asked.

"This side is Boy No," she explained.

"And over here on the left side is Girl Kinda," she continued.  "On the right is Middle Yes."

"So what does that mean?"  I took some art history classes in college and I pride myself on a deep understanding of most works of art, but sometimes my six-year-old stumps me.

"Well," she flipped the drawing over to the Boy No side.  "See, I don't like to do scribble scrabble things like boys."  She flipped it back to the other side.  "And I kinda like girly stuff," she said, pointing to the flower.  "But I really like both boy and girl stuff like the yo-yo and the heart."

Oh yeah, I totally get it. Gender ambiguity FTW!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sucking At Something You Love and Doing It Anyway

Life feels more important when I've gotten my daily dose of John Green.  This video is particularly meaningful to me, at a time in my life when I feel very uncertain about the career path I have taken.  Over a year ago I switched from the relative comfort of a cushy full time job to the disquieting uncertainty of part time employment and part time writing for no pay.

We're broke, but I must say, I'm writing more than ever.  Consistently.  And I think it's strengthening my skills.  But sometimes, when we're holding our breath that we get though an entire paycheck without our bank account becoming overdrawn, my unpaid writing feels a bit self-indulgent.  Shouldn't I go back to a bigger paycheck for our family?

But writing is important to me and it makes me feel good about myself.  So I can understand how someone could feel compelled to do something despite oppositional forces trying to stifle their enthusiasm.  Not that Will is opposing my choice to cut my paid work hours to write more.  He's been amazingly supportive.  But my fantasy of having published a novel by now is feeling rather squelched, and that empty goal feels like a threat to my creative livelihood.  I need to work on feeling pride for my amateur work.

As Hank Green says in the video above, "It sucks not to be good at something you love, but I really admire people who do it anyway."

I say it sucks not to get paid to do something you love, but I really admire people who do it anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2012

John Green Knows: How and Why We Read (Crash Course English Literature #1)

Here are my favorite quotes from the newest Crash Course offering, English Literature:

"Writing, or at least good writing, is an outgrowth of that urge to use language to communicate complex ideas and experiences between people.  And that's true whether your're reading Shakespeare or bad vampire fiction.  Reading is always an act of empathy.  It's always an imagining of what it's like to be someone else."

"So I'm going to ask you to read critically, to look closely at a text and pay attention to the subtle ways the author is trying to communicate the full complexity of human experience."

Both quotes are from the inimitable John Green.

Will this free online course inspire you to read Romeo and Juliet?  Or will you cheat and check out the Franco Zeffirelli DVD from the library?  That's my favorite version of the film.

Oh, that reminds me.  Here's one of my favorite songs about these star-crossed lovers.  It's from the soundtrack of the adaptation of Romeo + Juliet directed by Baz Luhrmann.

See, that's why I never got around to finishing my Bachelor's degree in Language, Literature, and Writing.  I blame it on my inability to pass college algebra, but really it's my enthusiasm for learning that leads me off track.  It's difficult for me to not go off on a tangent in my learning.  The good thing about studying something online is I can go back and watch the course whenever I want and I'm not confined to someone else's time constraints.  I can use John Green's course to focus my thoughts on the topic of literature while delving into an occasional Radiohead video whenever it suits me.  An online education allows me a fuller, deeper, richer learning experience.

Cute Katie Quotes: June 2010 - July 2010

Age 3 1/2

6-3-10: "You did it, Pal!"  --Katie, to a kid she just met after he crossed the monkey bars

6-3-10: While playing at the park, Katie convinced another girl about her age to "dig for worms" with her in a pile of dirt.  A boy about their age came over and said, "What you doing?"  Katie said, "We're digging for worms!"  The boy said, "Ewww, worms are gross!"

6-3-10: All this PBS Kids and Nick Jr watching is paying off.  I handed Katie a mini marshmallow.  She said, "I want three!"  I said, "OK.  You have one now.  How many more do you need to have three?"  Without hesitation, she shouted, "two!"'

6-5-10: Me: "Yes, some day you'll be a grown up too."  Katie: "Will I be a mother or a father?"  Me: "You'll be a mother if you have a baby.  Women who have babies are called mothers." Katie: "How come?" Me: "That's just the name we give women who have babies."  Katie: "I get to be a woman too?"  Me: "Yes, some day you'll be a woman." Katie, grabs my neck and squeezes, shrieking: "Oh thank you thank you thank you!"

6-12-10: Katie, to me still in bed: "Are you get upping now?"

6-26-10: Katie, her head in the freezer: "I like blue popsicles.  They taste like the sky."

6-29-10: Katie, to me, even though my birthday isn't until November, "I gonna make you the best birthday cake ever!  An' you know who gonna be on it?"  Me: "Who?!" Katie: "Bill Maher!"

6-30-10: Katie: "Guess what?" Me: "What?" Katie: "Chicken butt!" Me: "Guess why?" Katie: "Chicken thigh!" Will: "Guess where?" Katie: "Chicken underwear!" Me: "That's silly.  Chickens don't wear underwear." Katie: "Yes they do when you tell jokes!"

7-2-10: Katie had spent the evening laying under the chair where I sat chatting with Will and his dad.  She'd get up, get a toy or a stuffed animal, bring it back to the fort and hang out some more.  When I tucked her in bed, I said, "That was fun hanging out in a fort wasn't it?" Katie said, "Uh huh." I said, "When I was a little girl your age I used to like to build forts too." Katie smiled and said, "Mama, when you were a little girl you could be my friend."

Cute Katie Quotes: July 2009 - May 2010

Age 3

7-28-09: Katie's watching "Blue's Clues" on TV while I'm doing the dishes.  Steve gets a letter out of Mailbox.  Katie says to the TV, "That letter yellow.  That letter Mommy's favorite color."

9-28-09: Katie, carrying her doll, "This baby is too heavy.  I don't wanna carry her anymore."  Will took the doll from her.  Katie continued complaining, "I don't wanna be a mommy anymore.  I want to be Kate."

9-28-09: Trying to find the other one, I said, "Where is your other slipper?"  Katie glanced around her messy room half-heartedly and said, "That's OK.  I'll just wear a pretend other slipper."

10-9-09: I just finished reading two books to Katie.  I said, "Those were good books.  Did you like those books?"  Katie closed her eyes and rested her head on the edge of the futon and said, "Huh uh."  I said, "You didn't?  Why not?"  She said, "Because they make me sleepy."

warning: disgusting parental overshare

11-3-09: Tonight Katie pooped in the potty, then she had to go pee too.  She usually just goes poop or pee but not both in the same sitting.  After she peed on top of her poop, she said, "The poop got a little drink!"

Age 3 1/2

3-29-10: Katie was coloring and holding her crayon "improperly".  I showed her the "proper" way to hold it and said, "Can you hold the crayon like this?"  She picked it up her way and said, "No, can you hold it like this?"

4-3-10: I told Katie that was a woodpecker making that funny noise in our fireplace.  She said, "We need a scarecrow to keep the woodpecker away."

4-8-10: I told Katie I was sorry for accidentally knocking into her and causing her to fall down.  She said, "That's OK.  You didn't broke me.  I'm a person.  I not wood."

4-16-10: I made some really gross chicken and wild rice soup today.  Katie took a bite and asked, "Is it people food?"

4-21-10:  I told Katie a friend of ours sees a counselor because he has issues with his mommy and daddy.  She asked, "What's wrong with his shoes?"

4-22-10: Katie tucked her Care Bear into bed.  She changed her voice a little and spoke for the Care Bear, "I saw a ghost!"  Then she replied with her normal voice, "No, there's no ghosts in here."

4-30-10: Katie scribbled some marks on our grocery list.  I asked her what it says.  She said, "we need to buy more chocolate."

5-3-10: Katie dropped her gummy strawberry and shouted, "Oh no!"  Then she picked it up and said, "That's OK.  I'm not gonna cry about it."  Katie and I had been playing in her bedroom.  She left to wash the gummy off in the sink, saying, "you'll be in charge while I'm gone" and closed the bedroom door.

5-5-20: Katie was in bed.  I told her a story.  Then she told me a story.  Then I told her one and she told me one.  I said, "Goodnight."  Katie pointed to the middle of her forehead and said, "is our stories from our brains?"  I said, "Yes!  Our stories come from our brains!"  She asked, "Where the TV inside our head?"  I said, "We don't have TVs in our brains--it's our imagination."  She said, "How come?"  I said, "Because we're amazing."  Katie smiled, said nothing, and rolled over to go to sleep.  I think it's the first time she was ever satisfied with an answer to a "Why" or "How come" question.

5-21-10: "Aww, poor little fella."  --Katie, upon seeing a smashed ant.

5-21-10: "Maybe one of my toys would make her feel better?"  --Katie, upon hearing her daddy's aunt is sick and we're sending her a plant

5-25-10: "I wish I could collect clouds, Mama."  --Katie, lying on her back in our front yard

5-26-10: "I wish I could play with them in that book."  --Katie, pointing to the book Two Stories About Kate and Kitty by Lee Priestley

5-27-10: Will, to Katie: "You're a pretender!"  Katie: "No!  I'm a realer!"

Cute Katie Quotes: March 2009 - July 2009

Age 2 1/2

3-3-09: Katie and I had just changed the sheets and I opened the blinds.  She started jumping on the bed and saying, "Butterflies flying!  Butterflies flying!"  I didn't see any butterflies.  Then I noticed all the dust particles floating in the bright sunlight streaming in through the window.  Leave it to Katie to turn dust into butterflies.

3-12-09: Tonight Will and I were tucking Katie in when I said to her, "We love you, Katie Carleton!  Sweet dreams."  When I leaned over to give her a kiss, she looked up at me and said, "Sweet dreams, Mama Carleton!"

3-15-09: Tonight when I sat Katie's dinner plate (veggie burger and a sweet potato) down in front of her, she said, "Ooooooh!  Good job, Mama.  Good thinking!"

4-6-09: Katie came into our room this morning to wake me.  Since it's Will's day off, I let him sleep in.  As Katie and I were leaving the room, she said, "Where's Daddy?"  I said, "He's in bed.  He's still sleeping."  She looked over at him and said, "Oh, he's so cute."

4-9-09: Katie was watching "Dora The Explorer" on TV.  She had a wet diaper, but she wouldn't break her TV trance to go change it.  Finally, I got tired of waiting on her, so I picked her up and started to carry her down the hall when she yelled, "abajo!"  I looked it up and it means "down" in Spanish.

4-27-09: Katie had been crying.  We went into the bathroom.  She looked at herself in the mirror and saw a tear resting on her cheek.  She used a towel and dried her face.  I said, "Did you dry your tear?"  Katie said, "No, I dry my cry."

6-23-09: As we got out of the car in the parking lot, Katie looked at the Bed Bath and Beyond sign and exclaimed, "That number start with a B!"  Then, as we were leaving, she looked at the sign again and said, "There's a D!"  I said, "Yes!  Is the D at the beginning or the end of the word?"  Katie said, " D at the end!"

7-17-09: Back from the playground this evening, Katie said, "The sun is not going down!"  I lifted her from the stroller and said, "Yes it is, Sweetie."  She immediately disagreed with me, so I said, "Kate, you're not facing reality."  Without pause, she replied, "Realdidy is not fun."

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Katie's Giving Tree

Today Katie brought home Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree from her school library.  We have checked it out from our public library numerous times too.  It's one of my all-time favorites.  But we haven't read it for about six months or more, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it in her backpack this afternoon.

"Look, Mama:  I got The Giving Tree," Katie said in a sing-songy voice like she was telling the dogs she'd brought home new Nylabones.

"Oh, I love that book," I said, picking it up and flipping through the pages.

"I knowed that.  That's why I brought it home this week.  Do you know why, Mommy?"  She poked her face between me and the book.


"So I can read it to you on your birthday!"

"What?"  I slammed the book down on the dining table and threw my arms around her.  "Katie Bug!  That is the sweetest, most thoughtful gift you could give me."

"I knowed that.  I knowed you love that book."

"So did you just happen to see it at the library today and it made you think of my birthday, or had you thought about it before and planned this."

"What's planned?"  Katie's eyes were big, like she didn't want to get the answer wrong on an important quiz.

"When you plan something you think about how you want to do something before you do it," I explained.

"I thought about it before, because I knewed you love this book and I want you to have what you love for your birthday."

I already have what I love every single day of my life:  My heart is bursting with love for this child.

It reminds me of a few months ago when I was at work at the public library.  A kid, about twelve or so, came up to the desk and handed me a book.  He said, "I need to get my mom a book like this.  Not this book but a book that she would like if she liked this book.  She really liked this book.  And today is her birthday and I don't have any money to get her a present so I thought I'd bring her home a book she would like."

My heart melted.  What a great kid.

I often hear grumpy adults complain that kids today are bratty and spoiled, addicted to electronic devices and detached from the warmth of the real world.  I don't see it.  Give most kids a chance to make their moms happy and they'll find the most tender, thoughtful ways to do it.

I can't wait for Thursday!  I'd been a little disappointed I had to share my birthday this year with Tom Turkey, but now that I know I also get to share it with Shel Silverstein and Katie Carleton, I'm counting down the days.

Cute Katie Quotes: December 2008 - February 2009

Image source: Wikipedia 

I recently found an old notebook I once used to jot down cute Katie quotes.  Here are some of the highlights:

Age 2

12-12-08: Walking to our car after visiting a friends' house for a playdate, Katie said to me, "That was a good one," just like she does when a video is over.

12-16-08: Katie likes to put random objects on the shelves in our refrigerator.  Some of her favorite items to store in there are those magnet ABCs and 123s.  Today Katie opened the refrigerator and said, "excuse me L," as she crossed her hand over the magnet to reach her cup. She picked it up to move it out of the way, then she looked at it, turned it upside down, and said, "Excuse me 7".

1-3-09: I was making dinner.  Katie came into the kitchen and said, "I wanna see what's goin' on."  I said, "Where's your stool?"  She replied, "In Mommy's bedroom."  So we went to the bedroom and I opened the door.  She saw the stool and said, "There you are stool!"

1-7-09: Will told Katie the TV was broken when the cable was down, so she went into her bedroom and brought back the toy saw from her toolbox to fix it.

1-15-09: Asked where Daddy and Mommy work, Katie says, "Daddy Whole Foods.  Mommy Whole Library."

Age 2 1/2

1-21-09: I saw Katie's bowl of Cheez-Its was empty, so I asked her, "Were those good chippies?"  Which is what we call potato chips.  She said, "No, they crackers."  She's already correcting her mother's vocabulary.

2-5-09: Katie approached me at my laptop and asked me, "What doing?"  I said, "Writing a book."  She thought for a second, looked me straight in the eye and said, "The end."


To be continued...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Will and I have been enjoying Key & Peele lately.

This skit especially cracked me up tonight, mostly because I can totally relate to the hit man's reaction to the unexpected pigeon attack.  Tiny things might be harmless, but they sure as shit are freaky when they're coming at you.  I love this tough guy's reaction to the bird blast in his face.  I experienced a similar tiny terror tonight.

As soon as I walked though the door after work this evening Katie announced, "Mom.  We need to give Sawyer a bath.  She's rolled in something stinky again."


So we heaved this fifty pound old dog into our claw footed tub and gave her a good de-funking.  When it was time to let the dogs out after dinner, I made sure to go outside with them to supervise Sawyer so she didn't roll in something again and ruin her new dog smell.

It was dark, so I turned on the patio light.  Both dogs took off running toward the compost heap.


Within seconds a bunny darted out of a pile of sticks and ran across the yard, the dogs chasing behind it like the wild beasts they actually are and not the sweet, gentle souls I tell myself they are.  What was I thinking when I, a sensitive--OK, wussy--animal lover decided to get a beagle/lab mix?  I don't hunt.  For the most part, I like my dogs fat, warm, and lazy.  Which Sawyer is, mostly.  But occasionally we'll head to the dog park so Sawyer can take a swim in the lake and retrieve sticks we throw out there for her.  She was a puppy the first time I took her out there and she immediately began retrieving sticks from the water with no training from me.  She goes wild when we're walking around our subdued suburban neighborhood and she spots some roadkill in the middle of the road.  She pulls on my leash so hard I have to plant my feet firmly on the ground to keep her from running out in the middle of the street to rip flesh from whatever luckless animal got smashed out there.  My sweet Sawyer puppy is a natural born killer.

I shouted at the dogs to "Leave it!"  The one command I remember from the free puppy training class I got for my dog Earl when I was dating one of the employees of the doggy daycare that was hosting it.  Neither of them left it, nor did they stop chasing the poor rabbit.  I was just feeling good and sorry for it when suddenly it began to charge me.

I screamed.

At a bunny.  Yep, that was me if you heard it.  Those things are fast and freaky when they look like they're gonna come run up your leg.

I must have scared the poor thing, because when I screamed it immediately turned and sprinted toward another corner of the yard, the dogs trailing behind it.  They're old and they don't get startled by my screaming.  They're used to it by now, having lived with me and my severe musophobia.  Apparently now I can add bunnies to my list of stress triggers.  How pathetic is that?

Katie had already been tucked into bed for the night, but she suddenly appeared at the back door.

"What's wrong, Mama?"

"You could hear me scream?"  Even I was surprised by the strength of my vocal chords.

Katie nodded and wrapped her arms around herself to keep off the cold.

"Oh, nothing.  I screamed because a bunny was charging me," I said, walking into the house to tuck her back in.  Sawyer would be too preoccupied chasing the rabbit to roll in anything nasty before I got back to them.

"What's charging mean?" Katie asked, yawning.

"When something runs at you really fast."  I put my hand on her back to usher her along.

She stopped and gave me a strange look.  Then she laughed.  "You screamed because a bunny ran at you?"

"Hey, you don't know.  They're fast.  And jerky!"

I think Katie laughed herself to sleep tonight.  Hey man, at least Key & Peele understand, because my six year old sure doesn't.

No Horsemeat In This Household: Epona is One of Us

I adore Katie's and my early-morning conversations when we're both still semi-asleep.  Here's what we talked about first thing this morning:

Katie, petting our dog Sawyer in bed: "Mom, I'm sure glad we don't eat dogs."
Me: "Yeah me too.  But you know, some people in other cultures throughout the world think eating dogs is just fine."
Katie: "Yuck!  I would not like to eat fur!"
Me: "Me either.  But I think they peel the fur off first to get to the meat, just like we don't eat the feathers on a chicken.  We eat their muscles."
Katie: "Oh.  I still would not eat dogs."
Me: "Me either.  But some people in the world think it's disgusting to eat cows and pigs."
Katie: "I like pigs!"
Me: "Yeah, me too.  But some people can't imagine ever eating pig meat."
Katie: "Oh."
Me: "And some people in the world think it's just fine to eat horses."
Katie: "I would not eat a horse.  Especially not our relative horses like Epona!"

I had to work late last night, so I got home after Katie had gone to bed, but I suspect she and her daddy were up late playing Zelda again.  Katie has created a world of Zelda inside her head where all the characters, including the equine characters, are part of our family.  As a former vegetarian and a current flexitarian, I have ambivalent feelings toward meat-eating in general, but I want Katie to come to terms with meat-eating or not-meat-eating herself without blindly following my lead.  It's nice to know my child, on her own, draws the line at eating family members.

America the Beautiful: Purple Map Majesties

Take a look at this map created by Professor Mark Newman from the Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan.  But first, how cool would it be to get to say, "I work in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems."  What a sweet gig.

So this complex thinker came up with this map of the 2012 presidential election results to more accurately reflect how undivided we are as a nation.  As Professor Newman explains on this website, "One way to improve the map and reveal more nuance in the vote is to use not just two colors, red and blue, but to use red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes. Here is what the normal map looks like if you do this": 

A regular map of the results of the 2012 election, the kind we're fed on TV and on most websites, looks more like this:

When you only consider the red-state/blue-state map, it appears that our great nation is much more deeply divided than we actually are.  As a Kansas Progressive who often feels like a blue dot drowning in a sea of red, nuanced thinkers like Professor Newman give me hope that, if we pay attention and think critically, our nation will not resort to civil war again, no matter what sensational news report hints otherwise.

You can see Professor Newman's comments about how he created these maps and his FAQs here.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Holly Solomon: Get Out the Vote Or Get Under My Car

If you see Holly Solomon behind the wheel again, watch out.  According to witnesses in a crowded parking lot in Gilbert, Arizona, Solomon, who is six months pregnant, ran over her husband with their SUV when she discovered he had not voted last Tuesday.

What, is she some kind of super-suffragette or something?  I'm all for getting out the vote, but resorting to physical violence is never the answer.

"According to the police report, Solomon's husband told investigators his wife hates President Barack Obama, blaming the president for her family problems.  When the husband told his wife he didn't participate in the election, that's when police said things got ugly."

Talk about family problems.  I do not know Mrs. Solomon, but it seems to me she might consider reflecting upon her own behavior before she starts blaming others for her family's problems.  You know, like how when your spouse disagrees with you there might be better alternatives to pinning him under your car.

"She told investigators her parents would have to move to New Mexico because her husband did not vote.  She said her parents were going to help raise their unborn child."

I do not think Ms. Solomon understands the concept of the electoral college.  All eleven of Arizona's electoral college votes went to Mitt Romney, whether her husband voted or not.

I'd offer to babysit if she wants to move up here to Kansas, but I'm afraid of what she would do to me for not just avoiding the election but voting for "the wrong guy".  I sure hope this woman gets to take some anger management classes, paid for by the government of course.  Someone needs to warn her that the unborn child she's carrying will some day turn into a teenager, and they are notorious for their political apathy.  And God forbid her kid grows up to be a liberal.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

Will works at Whole Foods Market.  In addition to natural and organic foods they also sell cool fair-trade clothes and accessories.  I bought my bag there a few years ago.  It's the perfect size to carry around my wallet and personal items, books and videos and other materials I haul back and forth from my job at the public library, or my laptop on rainy days when Katie needs an indoor play area and I need free Wi-Fi.

One of the pockets was getting worn.  When I was still living at home, I'd simply ask my mom to sew it up for me.  I can barely stitch a straight line.  In seventh grade my sewing teacher informed me that I was the worst student she ever had after she caught me skipping her class one day and I didn't turn in my pillow case on time.  I had been absent the day before, but then I showed up to play on my basketball team that evening.  How was I supposed to know my sewing teacher's daughter would be playing on the other team?

So sewing isn't my thing, but being frugal and eco-friendly is.  The other day while we were at this sweet store called It's a Beautiful Day getting a gift for a friend's birthday, I perused the bags.  They had some really cool, handmade bags for about twenty bucks.  My birthday's coming up, so I showed Will the ones I like.  But then as we were checking out, Katie wanted to look at the patches in the display case.  There it was, the solution to my ratty bag problem.  A three buck peace patch.

"Do you sew it on?"  I asked.  My mom used to patch our clothes back in the seventies, but I couldn't remember how she did it.

"You can, but you don't have to.  You can just iron them on if you like."

I looked at Will standing next to us.  I must have had a quizzical look on my face.  "What?"  He asked.

"Do we own an iron?"

Apparently the people who lived in our house before we bought it eight years ago left behind their iron in our laundry room.  Right there on the shelf behind the laundry detergent.  I'd never noticed.

So these iron thingamajiggers and these iron-on patches are brilliant inventions.  I didn't have to stitch a single thread.  No poking my fingers with the needle.  No nagging teachers at the back of my head telling me I'm not doing it right.  Just a little heat, a little wiggle, and voila!  I didn't even burn my fingers.



Growing Up Online

Will and I don't have cable and we're too cheap and lazy to buy a digital converter box so we're stuck watching videos online. Don't feel too sorry for us.  Some of it's pretty amateurish, but not always in a bad way.  I feel like we're living back in the day when people would sit on their front porches and talk and jam and sing and laugh and share their odd interests with each other.  With far fewer flies.  Unless we happen to be sitting on our front porches geeking out on our smartphones.

One of our favorite shows is Good Mythical Morning on YouTube's Rhett & Link 2 channel. If you'd like to get caught up, here's the playlist for season one and season two.

It's basically a talk show feature two thirty-something guys who grew up together in North Carolina, moved out to California to find fame and fortune, and landed this gig on their own YouTube channel where they basically sit in front of the camera and chit chat.

Link has been on vacation this week, so today's episode of Good Mythical Morning features Rhett's kids as guest hosts.

Which got me thinking, is bringing your kid to work with you a parental overshare when you work online?  I've written tons of stories about Katie, but I made a conscious decision to never post pictures or videos that show her face on my blog, or to talk about her whereabouts until after she's done something.  Am I overly cautious?  It just creeps me out to think any old creep out there could know what she looks like and where she is.  If Katie wants to share pictures of herself online when she's an adult, that's her choice.  But for now, I feel like it's my job to protect her identity.  Am I just paranoid?

Maybe so, cuz Rhett's kids sure are awful cute.  Why should such cuteness be denied to our good friends and decent neighbors?  When we choose not to share cute pictures of our kids publicly, does that mean the perverts have won?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Losing It

Katie's had the same pair of glasses for nearly a year and a half, an impressive accomplishment considering she's lost them several times.  She's generally pretty good about wearing them, but a couple of times we've been rushed in the morning and got all the way to school before either of us realized she wasn't wearing her glasses.  I offered to go back home and bring them to her, but she claims she can see pretty well without them.  The last time she spent the day sans glasses, I asked her how it went when I picked her up from school.

"Fine.  Ms. B let me walk up to the board if I needed to see anything."

I know times have changed since I was in first grade and forced to sit still, facing the front of the class in neat rows, but despite Katie's more free-thinking teacher's understanding that six-year-olds need to mill about the room, it seems like an unnecessary distraction in class to have Katie pop out of her seat each time she needs to see what's on the board.  I made a mental note to be more diligent about seeing Katie off with her glasses each day.  

Apparently I lost the mental note within the recesses of my cobwebby mind.  We got all the way to her boyfriend's birthday party yesterday before I noticed Katie'd left her glasses at home.  No big deal.  It's a party, not school.  This way she could more easily wear the Spider-Man mask--excuse me, Spider-Woman mask, as she kept correcting us--like the other kids at the party.

On our way home, we stopped at Petsmart to get some enzymatic cleaner.  With two dogs that like to raid the trash for snacks and then empty the contents of their gluttonous stomachs onto the floor, and a prissy cat that protests my housekeeping skills by peeing on the back door whenever his litter box isn't pristine, we go through about a gallon of the stuff every couple of months.

I heaved the container onto the counter to pay for it.  I reached inside my bag to pull out my wallet, checking out of the corner of my eyes to see where Will and Katie had wandered off to.  They were consoling the caged birds.  Wait a minute.  Where the hell is my debit card?  Why isn't it in its slot inside my wallet?

"Will, could you come pay?"  I called him over.

"What's wrong?" he asked, approaching the counter.

"My debit card is gone."  My heart picked up its pace and I began breathing deeply to stop my body from breaking out into a cold sweat.  As an adult-child of not just one but two accountants, I'm too hard on myself when I make foolish financial mistakes.  Like losing my bank card.

Back in the car, riding shotgun, I searched frantically throughout my bag for the card.  Despite my knowledge of Einstein's quote about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, I zipped and unzipped my wallet, checking its contents to see if the bank card miraculously reappeared.

It didn't.  Instead, I discovered my driver's license was missing too.

I'm generally one of those people who expects the best of all people.  I'm the one whose immediate assumption was that the guys in the parking lot of the apartment we used to live in were punching everyone's car windows because they wanted to make sure everyone had their windows rolled up during the storm.  In my defense, I was not fully conscious as I had just woken in the middle of the night to let the cat in from the storm.  It wasn't until a car alarm began shrieking and the guys scattered that I realized they were not good Samaritans looking out for their neighbors' belongings but instead criminals wanting to steal their neighbor's stuff.

This time, fully awake and perhaps more jaded from life in general, when I noticed it was my own driver's license and bank card that were missing, my first thought was, "Do you think someone at the party took them out of my wallet?"

"Someone at the seven year old's birthday party?"  Will asked.

"Well, I don't know!"  I argued.  "How could they have just vanished?"

"Check the washing machine," Will suggested.

Why does he have to be so calm and rational at these times?  Hmpf!  Just because the washing machine is where I found my wedding ring that one time after I'd been making Play-Doh creations with Katie and shoved my ring into my jeans' pocket doesn't mean that's where everything I lose turns up.  The last time I lost my driver's license, I found it in my car, thank you very much.  "Why would my bank card and my driver's license be in the washing machine?"  I asked, defensively.

Will could have matched my snotty tone.  Instead, he smiled and gently broke it to me,  "I don't know, Babe.  It seems to be a pattern with you."

"But why would I have stuck them in my jeans?  I've been so diligent about keeping them in my wallet this year," I whined.

"I bet you did it at the Moose Lodge when we went to see JJ's band play."

"The Moose Lodge!"  I scoffed.  I'm forty-one.  No one checked my ID.  We payed for our pitchers of beer with cash.  Will obviously didn't know what he was talking about.  "That was a week ago," I argued.  "Wouldn't I have noticed by now my driver's license and bank card were both missing?"

"Have you bought anything this week?"  Will's eyes never left the road.  He drives with his hands on ten and two like he was taught in Driver's Ed class.  Driver's Ed got in the way of my dreams of running off to some sort of public transit Mecca like London or New York or San Francisco.  When I was sixteen I swore I'd never set foot behind an environmentally reprehensible automobile's steering wheel.  What was the point of taking Driver's Ed?  Of course when my parents bought me a 1976 Super Beetle from one of my mom's co-workers, I changed my mind.  Even if it meant showing up to friends' parties smelling like rotten eggs from the car's bad catalytic converter.  I never did take Driver's Ed, though, as Will likes to point out when he's in the passenger's seat.

"Uh, um.  I went to Costco, but I wrote a check."  I can't pay with my debit card at Costco without my dad's naggy voice at the back of my head reminding me they consider it an ATM transaction and my bank account will get charged twenty cents.  I'm never prepared enough to run by the bank first to withdraw some cash, so I always write checks at Costco and feel pleased with my accountants' daughter self that I managed to save about thirteen cents on the transaction.

"Check the washer,"  Will's tone implied he was done arguing with me, so I dropped it til we got home.

As we entered the doorway, we were greeted with a hairball and two dogs panting at the back door, Halloween candy wrappers strewn about the kitchen floor.  This time I was prepared with the new enzymatic  spray.

After I took care of the pets' mess, I headed down to the basement to prove Will wrong, although I was honestly rooting for his side this time because it would be so much easier to find them in the washer than to have to dig through the mound of dirty clothes, checking all my pants' pockets since I couldn't remember the last time I used either card, let alone what pants I was wearing.

When I opened the washer lid a musty smell punched my nostrils.  Ugh.  How long have these clothes been sitting in here?  My brain switched into automatic pilot and I turned on the washer to re-wash the stinky clothes.  Not only have I not moved to a more public transit-friendly community, I have yet to break my bad habit of irresponsible coal consumption by washing our clothes multiple times before they make their way into the dryer.

The washer was nearly half-full of soapy water before I remembered why I was standing there.  "Oh shit!"  I said to the empty room.  I plunged my hands into the cold water, pulling out a pair of jeans to check the pockets.  Nothing.  See.  Will doesn't know what he's talking...

Then I saw it.  Floating on top of the water was my driver's license and three wet dollar bills.  Oh yeah, now that I think about it I did put my ID and some cash into my pocket before we went inside the Moose Lodge.  I didn't want to bring in my heavy bag.  But what about my bank card?  The water was too high to keep digging around, so I decided that if it really was in there a second wash wouldn't hurt it.  I went back upstairs to report my findings.

I found Katie playing in her room.  "I found my driver's license!  Daddy was right.  It was in the washer."

"Good," she said, looking up from her Legos.

It was then that I saw she still didn't have on her glasses.  "Did you look for your glasses, Sweetie?"

"Oh, no, I forgot," she said without indicating she was going to stop playing.

"Well, come on!  Let's look!"  I commanded.

When we finally found them sitting on top of her play kitchen, I put them back on Katie's face and barked, "OK!  Now, I don't want you taking these off your face any more unless it's bedtime or you're taking a bath and then I want you to show me exactly where you are laying them," I paused to take a breath.  "Do you understand me?!"

Katie looked down at her feet and nodded her head like she does when she's about to cry.

Oh no.  This is nothing to cry about.  "Sweetie, are you OK?"  I asked, lifting up her chin.  Her eyes were glassy.

She nodded again and looked back down.

"What's wrong?"  I asked.  I knew, but I didn't want to admit it to myself.

Katie said nothing and kept looking at her feet.

"Was I too rough with my glasses comment?"  I sat down so I could see her six-year-old face.  I exhaled forcefully, trying to blow out my bad mood.

She looked up and nodded.  I smiled and she smiled back.  I know I can be an asshole like my dad sometimes, but at least I try to catch myself before I get too bad.  "I'm sorry, Sweetie," I grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her toward me for a hug.

"Why you gotta yell at me about my glasses, Mommy?  You losed stuff too," she pointed out, her voice cracking.

"Oh, Sweetie.  I'm sorry.  And you're right.  I think I really wanted to yell at myself," I had to look up at the ceiling to keep the tears from spilling out of my eyes.

"Why you wanna yell at yourself?" she asked, her voice growing stronger.

"I don't know."  There was no reason for it.  I looked at her sweet face.  "It doesn't help to yell at anyone, does it?"

"Nope."  She smiled and we squeezed each other.

We went downstairs to watch a video with Will on his computer.  All he said when I told him he was right, that my driver's license was inside the washer, was, "Good!" in the exact same tone as Katie.  No, "Well, what about your bank card?"  Which is what I would have said, if I wasn't paying careful attention to my words, if he had been the one to lose them.  Instead, he let it go, trusting in my abilities to find it eventually.

I listened for the washer to stop and when it did, I got up from my seat at Will and Katie's side to go into the laundry room.  I opened the lid to the washer and was welcomed with a subtle lavender scent.  It all came out in the wash.  Relief.  And there it was, my bank card sitting atop the fresh load.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fanatical for Falsettos

I'm fanatical for falsettos.  Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead has the quintessential falsetto, but there are many excellent examples out there.  What got me thinking about my love of a good falsetto is this video my father-in-law shared with me, Blind Faith's Can't Find My Way Home.

It's one of my favorite songs, but I hadn't heard it in years and years.  I'd forgotten how much I liked Steve Winwood's high voice.

Here are some of my other favorite examples of fantastic falsettos:

Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat:

Early Elton John:

Roy Orbison and k.d. lang:

Jeff Buckley:

And Thom Yorke: