The Gift

Big E finally worked up the nerve to go get her approaching-waist-length hair "trimmed up" last week. Somewhere between being practically bald for the first two years of life and growing this thick mane she has attached a Samson-like importance on growing her hair as long as humanly possible, ala Crystal Gayle. Wouldn't it be awesome if I could SIT on my hair? she'd ask. The thought of having to keep my hair out of the toilet has never appealed to me, personally. But Big E apparently found that need attractive.

But no matter how much she desired this Crown of Glory, she wasn't really into the effort required to maintain it. Brushing was a chore so when I'd finally break down and force the once a week thorough brushing, all Hell would break loose. YOU'RE HURTING ME! DON'T BRUSH SO HARD! All caps don't really capture the volume and shrieking nature Big E complains in. Imagine all caps times 10.

Needless to say, this got old rather quickly. I was devolving into a naggy old sock of a mother. Comb when you use conditioner. You can't sleep in your necklace because your hair will get caught. See? I told you your hair would get tangled around your necklace. Now we have to CUT it out. Don't leave hairbands in your hair during swim. See? I told you the hairbands would get tangled in your hair. Now we have to CUT it out. Sounds pleasant, no?

So I started gently mentioning Locks of Love a few months ago. Her most favorite teacher from 1st and 2nd grade donated her hair this fall. NO WAY! I'm letting my hair grow forever and ever! was the answer I got.

I guess the nagging and pain was wearing her down though, because a couple of weeks ago she up and said she was ready for a trim. Then a week later she agreed to collarbone length. Then we got to the salon and the stylist showed her it would only be a couple more inches and she could donate all that hair to a good cause. So she went for it. She was nervous and scared. It took a long time to grow all that hair. It seemed really short afterwards and she was a little regretful. But not really. After a brief reminder of the gift she had given she smiled, eyes a bit teary, sniffled and said Yeah. And it looks great. Way to go, Big E.


You can count on him

You can always count on Bush for some holiday cheer.

Jolly Christmas to One and All

Or Hannukah. Or Solstice. Just Happiness All Around to Everyone!

I love the holidays. I love having all these days off to just do whatever we want. Which usually means doing nothing. Sleeping in. Staying up late (like 'til 2 am for a five hour Dexter marathon....somebody help me). Eating food in quantities and sugar and butter content I otherwise restrict. Watching the Roomba. Maybe we'll fit in some ice skating at the Whole Foods plaza. I love ice skating when it's 70 degrees.

Enjoying company from faraway lands - sad that their trip took a whopping five days instead of one, but glad they're finally here. Basking in the glow of my new space heater. Bubble Boy couldn't take another year of me whining about my freezing feet, hands, nose, ass. He was probably tired of me sneaking my ice cold feet over to his side of the bed too. But the heater. It's lovely. As is the jewelry box he lovingly created in our cold garage just for me. It has swinging doors. And a special alarm clock for the nearly blind...that's me.

So many wonderful gifts from friends, generously given and gratefully received. The glowing faces of my family as they are hypnotized by the electronic gifts and games. Styli in hand. Who knew DS' could bring a family even closer together? They don't know it yet, but a big ol' trampoline to get them away from the electronic zombie-makers every now and then. Something that doesn't have to be recharged.

I even like the Christmas music. Of course, I purposely avoid Christmas music the whole season so I won't be ready to stab my eardrums with a skewer when I hear it on Christmas morning.

Kind reminders from friends when I was in the depths of despair about how ALL this could possibly get done in the given time frame, and why do we go to all this &@*% trouble, anyway? Reminders of how we'll look back on these days and remember the fruits of the labor, not the labor itself. The good times. THESE memories. And miss them. And never be able to recreate them. They are only now. And it all seems worth it today. Imagine how 'worth it' it will seem in 20 years.

The sun is coming out. It's going to be a beautiful day. Merry Christmas.


A Christmas Miracle

I consider myself a bit of a Laundry Maven. I'm OK at the cooking and the cleaning and the organizing. Get the job done, if not efficiently, then at least with brute force. But it seems that I have a knack for laundry. At least 'til the time for ironing comes, which I don't do. But it is a rare stain that makes it past me. Red wine? Please. Blood? Challenge me. Chocolate? Bring it on. Soy sauce? This is tough once it's set, but if you can get it early, it's doable.

While I generally check clothing for stains before they get tossed in the wash, I have gotten quite lax in checking pockets for anyone other than Little A, who has been known to contribute any manner of bug life, rocks, shells, legos, transformers, etc... to the laundry pile. Big E may throw in the occasional hair band or barrette, but it doesn't go much beyond that.

Thursdays are my usual laundry day for Big E, but I was behind (see previous posts regarding neglect of housely duties), so it wasn't until Thursday night between episodes of Dexter that I moved the first load of wash to the dryer. As I pulled out jeans, sweatshirts, socks I notice that something is hung up and twisted around something. Hmm? This looks like a cord. What? Is that an ear bud? Like to headphones? The 2.3 seconds it took for my eyes to travel to the end of the headphone cord and the realization that Big E's 10 week old nano was plugged into the end of that cord seemed long enough to see every item I've ever lost or destroyed flash before my eyes. My chest felt hollow and I was overcome with guilt and annoyance. How could she leave her nano in her pocket? How could I not notice it or the headphones when I was turning her jeans right side out? Stupid. Stupid! STUPID!

On the very outside chance that it might ever work again, Bubble boy put it in a warm spot (in the electronics cabinet with the Apple TV) to give it a chance to dry out. Right. We've had keyboards fritz out on us for sprinkles of water falling into them. How could an iPod work after going through the heavy-duty wash with vinegar and Tide? Then the spin?

But the Apple TV must've breathed some of it's Apple Breath of Life into the iPod because the darned thing works. The display is dark, but it's still visible. It plays music. She won't be watching any videos on it but IT ACTUALLY WORKS. It truly is a miracle. And we even used to live on 34th Street. Coincidence? I don't think so.


Early birthday

Facing a house that has received little attention other than the neglect and abuse we've doled out in abundant quantities this week I woke up this morning with the intent to get down to bidness with some serious FlyLadying and whip this house back into shape. Knowing how serious I was to get all the dust and grime out from under our feets, Bubble Boy could no longer sit on the gift he'd purchased for my birthday, which is in two weeks (hint, hint!).

I assume men are clued into a few of the Golden Rules of Marriage by other married men during the hazing process of induction into the Married Men Club. Such as how to answer the inevitable question of "Do these jeans make me look fat?", a gift of a bowling ball with their own name engraved is a big No-No, and never to compare certain attributes of their wives to their mother. Just as we women are schooled in the arts of making our men feel like Real Men by the appropriate use of "Aaah" or "You don't say?", when they tell us all the fascinating things they just read in Wired, Popular Science or slashdot.

Another of the Man Rules is to NEVER buy a gift that plugs in. Back a few years ago, Bubble Boy violated this rule by bringing home a DVR for Christmas. Dramatic tears and a couple days of silent treatment ensued until BB made it up to me twelve-fold by instituting the Twelve Days of Christmas with a new gift every day for twelve days. Turns out the DVR was one of the best gifts I ever received. It changed the way we watched TV and led us down the road of not even having television service (not even the local channels!). Something I sometimes miss but haven't regretted yet.

So today I got The Roomba. It's my new little pet and I will love it, and squeeze it, and pet it and call it Rosie. As we have all watched it with fascination I find myself thinking a fun evening would be to open a bottle of wine and watch the poor thing bump and bounce around the house.

I have to admit to a dark secret here though. It makes me think of the Helen Keller jokes that seemed to be so popular when I was a kid. Remember? What did Helen Keller do when she fell in the well? She screamed her hands off.

I'm not proud of making fun of blind/deaf people, HK in particular, seeing that she was such an inspirational figure. But. I guess I am that kind of person. And so a wine and Roomba party sounds like good times. Proud? Definitely not. Crass and insensitive? I guess. But at least I'll have clean floors.


The Golden Compass

About a month ago I received an email from a new friend warning me of the dangers of letting my children see this movie. Maybe you've seen the email. It mentions in very hissing tones the fact that the author of this story is an atheist. A "noted" atheist as a matter of fact. Which we all know must inherently mean he is an evil, devil-worshiping, pedophile who beats up old people and mangles puppies to get his giggles. This email is working to protect us and our children from the evils of this atheist by encouraging a boycott of the movie. We shouldn't expose ourselves to this debauchery lest we encourage more atheists to spout their propaganda and lure more children into immoral God-less sindom.

Well, being who I am (my parents can attest to my inborn rebellious nature), I felt that I should see this for myself. Dare I say I felt COMPELLED. So, we saw it this weekend.

I find it so ironic, delightfully, sweetly ironic, that the church has instigated this attempt at a boycott of this movie. The entire premise of this movie is the oppression of the Magesterium (forgive me if I misspell it...I've neither read the book nor any reviews, therefore my review here is untainted by other opinions...just purely Bubble Girl) and how they are "protecting the people for their own good". And that maybe it would be good if people were to think for themselves rather than let some self-proclaimed omnipotent organization tell everyone what to do and how and when. The value of free will. Remember that? I think that was pre-Patriot Act.

I enjoyed this movie so much more than I thought I would. I have to say that the previews didn't hook me and I hadn't heard of the book until the boycott email came to me. But the story was very good. The effects were very good. The girl was very good. Even Nicole Kidman was good, but I like her despite so many people's disdain for her. Who will ever know what went on between her and Tom Cruise? But I still think she got the raw end of THAT deal. Anyhoo....

The end was a bit on the intense side, so I can't recommend this for the young. Little A, who stomachs Star Wars, X-Men and Narnia with nary a blink, was in my lap. Big E tried to climb up there, but this lap just ain't holding a 5 year old AND a 9 year old. She had to look away. So watch with caution. But watch.


You know that old saying referring to using only 10% of your brain? I often thought that perhaps I was only using 7 or 8% in my daily quests to master the art of the perfect pb&j or conquer my fear of laundry once and for all and that the other 2 to 3% consisted of the tiny corners of my brain that was littered with wads of dustbunnies.

I feel fully confident that those dustbunnies have been efficiently swept away and those corners have been well-stacked with loads of worthwhile information such as emails I must send to various people who have signed up for various projects I am working on, wish lists for some 20 some-odd people, grocery lists and recipe ideas for the many different events I am attending or hosting, appointments, etc...

That info is filed away neatly on Container Store-like brain shelving that go all the way up to the ceiling.

Which explains how, when I took momentary possession of the lovely earrings mentioned in a previous post and noticed a teensy-weensy chip in one of the beads and the jewelry designer offered to take them home and switch out the damanged bead.....I completely forgot about that critical exchange. There was simply no more room. The 10% was maxed out.

Never during the picking through the garbage twice, or extracting all the paper from the recycle bin or the rummaging through every drawer in the kitchen (there are 12) or looking under all the furniture three or four times or interrogating my children with methods the CIA would find questionable as to the whereabouts of the earrings I'm sure they must've seen, did I recall those particular 30 seconds in which All would have been answered.

Luckily for me, the jewelry designer must not be using all 10% of her brain because there was a tiny percent of a percent that knew the answer as soon as I asked her. She almost managed to not make me feel crazy. Or maybe that was my own making. I still don't know where those DVDs are. But I'm confident that THAT is Bubble Boy's doing.

Time will tell. Hopefully.


The Abyss

A couple of years ago a pair of scissors that I was trying to fish out of the junk drawer fell out of the back of the drawer, over the edge. Simple enough, right? I open the cabinet below the drawer (to which it is completely open, no piece of wood between drawer and cabinet below) to get the scissors. Except. Not there. I took out every single thing in the cabinet. Every single thing in the drawer. Everything in the drawer next to that drawer. I have NEVER found those scissors. Obviously they broke through the time-space continuum and entered The Other Dimension. A suburban Twilight Zone. Some Alter Me is using those scissors 5 minutes before, or 5 minutes after the Now Me.

And now that Alter Me is prancing around (SHE prances...I do not) delighting in the beautiful new earrings I just bought from a friend who designs and creates lovely jewelry. Damn her prancing and pretty earrings. And she and her Alter-Bubble Boy are enjoying all the 30+ DVDs that are in the beehive that have plainly sought refuge in The Other Dimension as well.

Earrings?? I never even got to wear you! I'll be good to you. You'll have your own private compartment in the jewelry drawer. I won't submit you to the rigors of hard water in the shower or bend and crush you by sleeping on you. You'll have a good life here. I'll buy the matching necklace so you won't be lonely. Come back to the Now.

'Cause if you don't I feel a little crazy. You were in my hands one minute and then the next. Poof! Gone. Where? The OCD is coming out and I'm looking everywhere. Where are you!!??

40 days and 40 nights

It's been 40 days since the writers went on strike. 40 days since they said they weren't gunna be the Media Giants' bitches no more. 40 days since I've seen The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and I gotta be honest. It's wearing on me. How else am I supposed to know what's happening in the world without Jon Stewart and his band of merry, fake reporters to tell me the crazy stuff that's going on and make me laugh when I would really feel like crying if it weren't all so terribly full of the C-R-A-Z-Y.

Like this election. It makes me sad. Has the world always been this f*ed up and I'm just finally starting to wake up from the indoctrinated haze that was instituted upon me many a year ago? If Ron Paul pulls a Ralph Nader and ends up running as a third party candidate and ruining this election for Democrats I don't think I can be held responsible for what I might do. I understand the "idealists" POV. The problems with the two-party election system. Voting machines. That candidates that are actually electable are too moderate to be truly progressive and actually change the status quo...military industrial complex, the colossal mess we call our health care system and how to pay for it and maybe even improve it, civil rights, new, clean energy, efficient transportation. The issues are many and complex. I don't know the answers.

But I know what is NOT the answer. And that is throwing a third party candidate into the mix to steal votes away from people who might, just might, make a small dent and get things moving in the actual right direction instead of throttling full-speed ahead in the opposite direction.

And if that third party someone is Ron Paul, who believes the Dept. of Education should be abolished and would strangle the Supreme Court by preventing them from hearing any cases related to separation of church and state or abortion, we should be afraid. Yes, he disapproved of the Mess'o'potamia in Iraq back when Disapproval Wasn't Cool. Yes, he sounds like a breath of fresh air who isn't so Washington. Yes, he sounds reasonable on many issues like the war and civil rights. But be wary. He basically doesn't believe in the federal government. We are still a UNITED States. One nation. That's all I'm saying.

Back to the writer's strike. Media Giants! Get off your diamond-encrusted, gold-inlay Malibu / Manhattan high-horses and pay your writers. You're nothing without them. Even God decided that 40 days & nights was plenty, and you are so NOT God. Bubble Girl is facing serious DTs from Jon Stewart / Stephen Colbert withdrawal. I may have to start getting....gasp....real news. Do NOT make me do that.


Pump, Jump and Slide

Today was the day Little A had been counting down to for months. His first big birthday party. Oh, we've had family parties with cake and a few presents but today was THE party. I was unwilling to submit my house to a few dozen kids. The days of me standing over the mixer and sending BB out to get yet another tub of food coloring paste to get the icing just the right color of red for a ladybug cake or spending hours upon hours preparing all the crafts and games are so, so gone.

This was just fine with Little A, who had decided over a year ago that whenever he did have a birthday party it was going to be at Pump It Up, the birthday party factory. This place demonstrates that economies of scale can apply to birthday parties, except that it doesn't really seem to bring the cost down. Well, a birthday party factory was exactly what I was looking for this year.

One of the highlights of the entire process was taking Little A to the neighborhood HEB to choose his cake. He knew he wanted a Spiderman cake, but just which one? After paging through the catalog of every licensed character PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney or Dreamworks have come up with in the last 10 years, we finally settled on the double-decker Spiderman 3.

This cake was fated to be my near undoing.

When we arrived to pick up this little cake today a full 30 minutes after it's "due" time, they hadn't even begun to frost it...let alone get Spiderman to hang from the special, movable arm that extends from the top of the building. I hadn't built an extra 20 minutes into our schedule to account for this delay so we ended up being late for the party. Being late and crowds. I don't take well to being late for things. This has put BB and I at odds on more than one occasion since he doesn't feel time like I (or most other people, I daresay) do. I have to say this is probably our number one source of disagreements. I like being on time. His idea of on time is getting there before it's over.

Anyway. As I stood and watched our cake being decorated. I fumed. My blood pressure rose. I tried to fight it. Tried telling myself "it'll all be fine". In the big scheme of things.....this is nothing. Then I was angry with myself for setting the pick-up time so close (one hour) before the party. Big E couldn't get over the fact that no one even attempted an apology. Just a blasé answer of "we're running behind" given with a shrug and a "whatcha gonna do??" tilt of the head. Little A was happy looking at all the cakes. Look! The carrot cake again! It has CARROTS on it! Ha!!

We got to the party about 15 minutes late...it WAS all fine. The kids had a great time. We're herded from one room of jumpy things to another room of puffy slides. Then on to the party room. Where my purse promptly slammed into the front of the Damn Cake! By this point even I didn't care anymore. Little A blew out his candles, never mentioned the big gash of smeared icing smack in the middle of the front of the cake. All was happy with the world.

Team Toprope hits the Trail...

...of Lights, that is! Last night was the ## Annual Trail of Lights 5K run, but the 1st Annual Trail of Lights 5K run for the Bubble family (minus Bubble Girl...I was off devouring large quantities of Indian food and trading cookies like a good little suburban housewife).
Looking at everyone's pictures and hearing the stories it sounds like I missed a good time, but when I heard about the lines of traffic and strollers rolling over feet and people here and there and everywhere, it was just fine to hear about it second hand. I think we've documented my disdain for people already. Crowds and I don't mix well as they tend to bring me to brink of an apoplectic seizure. I know...get over it. I'm working on it.

Big E basking in the ethereal glow of her Nintendo DS. She wouldn't let something like a 5K run distract her from the dozens of hours a day she spends playing on her latest acquisition.

I think every girlfriend I had who had a little brother had at least one photo with the little brother sticking his head up in the middle of the picture. This will probably be the first of many.Ladies' Man.


Bueno or Not so Bueno

Close your eyes. Imagine November. November in Austin....yes, it's still that damn hot. But it's the Friday before Veteran's Day, so a long weekend is imminent. Oh yes, the first twinges of the SARS-like virus that put you in bed for two days and off your normally sharp game for two weeks, are starting to wear you down and you're tired. And yet, you drag yourself to your daughter's school to participate in the Veteran's Day festivities. A 45-minute sing-a-long of the best of Patriotic Songs KidJamz 10.

We open with the pledge..including the Texas pledge (do other states recite pledges to their flag?? "I pledge allegiance to the North Dakotan flag...", it just sounds weird to me), one class goes up to the stage to recite the Pledge in Spanish. Other classes recite poems etc...ask the veterans who are present to please stand so we can thank them for their service, applause, applause, the sing-a-long commences. Lots of purple mountain majesty, waving over ramparts, shores of Tripoli, and the old favorite about standing UP and saluting her still today.

Sounds like a lovely little sing-a-long, no? But wait. I hear some grumbling. A friend mentions she's not so happy to have heard the pledge in Spanish. Really? I say. I thought it was nice. It makes my ears bleed, she says. Highlights our Spanish program, I say. Hmmm.

Then I hear (our grapevine is quite the tangled web, make no mistake) of another acquaintance who has made it her current mission to obliterate the saying of the pledge in Spanish. Obliterate it, I say! Hmmm? This is getting curiouser and curiouser. This must truly offend more people than I thought. My finger isn't as tight on the pulse of current opinions as I would have some people think.

Skip ahead a couple of weeks and I'm sitting at a meeting of this little campus committee where I go and eat cookies and sign off on improvement plans and such. We have a visitor. We don't usually get visitors unless they have an issue or are wanting the committee to do something to help their cause. Wonder what he wants? as I munch a delectable molasses cookie. He's wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt and a scowl. I'm thinking he's not here for the cookies. He doesn't take one even after I comment on their delicious-ness. Not a good sign.

We go through the agenda. I see Veteran's Day under Old Business. Oops...guess that should've been New Business. Yep. He's ticked. How dare we say the pledge in SPANISH? It's a desecration and a slap in the face to all who have worn the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Not just him, but all the veterans to whom he's mentioned this profanity find it abhorrent.

Administrators attempt apologies and reasonable explanations. Educational relevancy. Innocent activity to showcase our Spanish program. No offense intended. Veteran's Day program is an optional program. Time taken away from instruction because it's felt to be a worthy cause. Two people speak up (NOT me....I don't 'speak up'), one in favor one most definitely NOT. Controversy.

Veteran pulls the combat card. Have any of us been shot at? Fighting for THIS country? Bullets flying? Finger pointing. Protecting our fellow brothers. Watching them die. Well? Have we? Because if we haven't, then we can't REALLY understand what The Pledge means. They're just WORDS to us...not REAL MEANING. We may pay lip-service to The Pledge, but unless we FIGHT for our country we simply CAN'T know what those words truly mean. He feels strongly.

Administrator steps in and stops the tirade. Strikes a compromise. Only after voicing her offense at his condescension. Breathing again. No more Pledge in Spanish at the Veteran's day event, but reserve the right to say it at other events. Diplomacy prevails.

I don't 'speak up', but I DO blog, so my thoughts are these.

Come on, Veterans. Why so cold? Why not loving anybody who will pledge allegiance to this flag you cherish so deeply? Can we not embrace all who would pledge fidelity, devotion and loyalty to this star-spangled banner without regard to the origins of the words, but to the origins of the sentiment? Must any would-be allegiance-pledgers pass a test? No allegiance for YOU because you didn't say it in English! NEXT! (why yes, I CAN work a Seinfeld reference into any topic).

Edited to add: The pledge was written by Francis Bellamy in 1892. I can't find anything that indicates he ever served in the military. Read more here. It's rather interesting.


Five year old Q & A

Out of the BLUE tonight:

Little A: Mommy, are you PREGNANT?

Me: Uh....No. No, I'm not not PREGNANT. [I KNEW this shirt made me look fat!]

Little A: How do you know? Can you get PREGNANT?

Me: Well, I cooouuld, but, ahem, uh, you know, I'm not.

Little A: HOW could you? How do mommies get PREGNANT?

Me: Well, uh, ahem....you need a mommy and a daddy to get pregnant.

Little A: I could be PREGNANT! I want to be PREGNANT! I have a mommy and a daddy!

Me: Well, no....not exactly....

Little A: But you said you need a mommy and a daddy and I have a mommy and a daddy! Yippee!! I'm PREGNANT! I want a brother!

Me: But you really, you need to have a part of the daddy and a part from the mommy to get together...

Little A: Inside the mommy right?? Oh yeah! Then the baby grows in the mommy's tummy! Right?? Well then, how does the daddy part and the mommy part get in the mommy's tummy?

Me: Well, umm, you know, they just do. They fit together.....ummm....like...like... a puzzle, yeah! That's the way. Like a puzzle. [Wisdom from a friend coming out of my back pocket!]

Little A: A sticky puzzle, right?

Me: How about a cupcake?