Monday, December 29, 2008

Something New, #244

When we take long car trips, I usually put both kids in the backseat, and The Neurotic Dog up front with me. Part of the reason is that way both kids can watch the DVD player. On our return trip from OK, The Big One asked to ride up front.

Kansas has pretty strict booster seat and riding in the front seat laws. Neither one of my kids has met the weight requirement before the height requirement. In fact, if I had gone by weight rather than height, The Big One would have been in the rear-facing infant seat until she was almost two, and a booster seat until the fifth grade.

I really liked this arrangement much better. Since about two-third of The Big One's height is in her legs, she was much more comfortable and the dog had more room to turn around in the back. Plus, we were able to actually talk to each other, rather than both of us plugging into some electronic device.

Something New, #243

After reaching a near-coma state after non-stop eating at my mom's house, I had to get a coffee, so The Big One and I headed to McDonalds. After the voice in the box told me that the latte machine was down, and since I was blocked in by vehicles coming and going, I went ahead and ordered a regular coffee, two creams and one sugar. We waited about a good 10 minutes in the drive-thru lane, and The Big One commented "Isn't this the McDonald's we said we'd never come back to, because the service was so slow?"

Her memory is much better than mine.

I finally got my order, took a sip, and noticed it smelled funny. NOT coffee with two creams and one sugar but TEA with two creams and one sugar. If I were really going to do Something New, I would have taken it back and got the order corrected, but we'd already waited too long, and so I tried hot tea with two creams and a sugar.

Not bad, but it wasn't COFFEE.

But I did recently go over my bank statements, and found that WAY too much money was bleeding out of my bank account through the drive-thrus. So it was also a reminder that I could have and should have, made coffee at home.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Something New, #242

This may tie-in with watching CMT for the first time, but is just a coincidence. I saw my first live bluegrass band.

I was in OK and out with a couple of girlfriends from high school, and one of them suggested doing this, mainly because there was no cover charge.

The bar was really cool, and best of all, NO SMOKING! The band was good, at least I think so, having nothing to compare it to. My brother used to play banjo for an Irish group, but I don't think that counts as bluegrass. The slide guitarist looked a lot like Hyde from That 70s Show and we did notice a preponderance of full beards. Since in the KC area, the going look for most men is goatees and shaved heads, I couldn't figure out if this was a Tulsa trend, a bluegrass band fan trend, or just a trend. I thought the crowd mostly looked like the all the guys I went to summer camp with in the late 70s and early 80s.

Before we went to see the band, we popped into a piano bar, that did allow smoking, and I did another Something New. The owner came over to us, because we were the cutest girls there of course, and introduced himself before he started playing and asked if we had any requests. I asked him if he knew the theme from "The Patty Duke Show." He didn't so he played "The Joker" instead.

Not even close.

He even got the lyrics wrong. It's POMPATUS, not PROPERTIES, dude!

If you're going to butcher it, at least get the lyrics right.

I'm going to marry the boy that can sing the theme from "The Patty Duke Show." That is, if he's straight.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Something New, #241

After hearing a discussion on my AM radio show, I watched CMT for the first time. Specifically, the show being discussed, The 12 Days of Redneck Christmas.

Oh my.

Inbreeding is a really bad thing.

But despite the fact the family hung shotgun shells and car parts on their Christmas tree, trapped a live possum for dinner, and when it was too small, went looking for roadkill to make up for the difference and playing ring toss with toilet seats, I have to say, the head of the family, Max, was really creative and his heart was in the right place. He just wanted a nice Christmas for his family. And isn't' that what Christmas is all about?

At least in Sawdust, Tennessee.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something New, #240

Since the Vicks on the bottom of the feet didn't work for treating my cold/sinus infection, I tried the hydrogen peroxide in the ears. It was really cold, and made my ears feel like I did when I was a kid and spent all day at the pool. You know, that skritchy sound in your ear and you have to shake out the water. I don't think it helped a bit, but maybe I missed the 12-24 hour window of opportunity as described in the article.

My sweet SIL suggested another home remedy of dropping a solution of baking soda, salt and warm water in your nostrils, so I tried that, too. It did seem to help, and so did a full sinus irrigation. Just hope it doesn't get worse.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town...

I was in my bedroom upstairs, and heard a vehicle idling really loudly. I looked out my window, and saw a 4-wheel drive truck and I'll be damned if I didn't see Santa Claus hop out of the cab and shake out his suit.

Since The Big One was in the shower, I grabbed The Little One, who had just gotten out of the bath, and just had on her PJs and no shoes. I had on my robe and slippers and scooped her up (no easy feat, since she weighs about 60 pounds) and we ran out into the street. He turned around and saw us then drove down the hill. She thinks that maybe his sleigh crashed and the reindeer were startled and flew back to the North Pole, so that's why he was in a pick-up truck.

Maybe that will keep the magic going for another year.

This is not the first random sighting I've seen of Santa. This article that was in today's paper explains the Santa I saw last year.

Something New, #239

I woke up with my annual cold/sinus infection, that I usually don't get until the end of February. I self-medicated as usual with just about every over the counter pill I had in the house, and when I still couldn't sleep, decided to try the advice I received in a recent email.

"Rub Vicks ointment on the bottoms of your feet to ease cold symptoms."

I learned that this doesn't work, but does give your feet a nice tingly sensation. I also learned that a medium size jar of Vicks costs over $7.00 at the grocery store. I could have bought two boxes of generic sinus-headache remedy for that.

I received another email that putting hydrogen peroxide in the ears will also ease symptoms. If I manage it out in the snow, ice and snot today, I'll pick up a bottle and try it out. I figure at least hydrogen peroxide is cheap, and I can use it to clean, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Something New, #238

Because it seems I spend almost every waking minute of my weekends running errands, I've been trying to think of ways to get stuff done during the week. After work just doesn't cut it, because we usually have something to get to, or after I get home and get the kids fed, and dog walked, I just don't have the motivation to get back out.

So I tried grocery shopping on my lunch hour. I think this is actually something I can incorporate into my life. Today was a good day for it, since the outside temperature was just above freezing and I didn't have to worry about anything spoiling in my car until I got home. I was able to do the holiday shopping without two kids in tow, and got in and out of the grocery store in less than 30 minutes.

And still had time to eat lunch.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Something New, #237

Again, Something New that isn't really Something New; just a little epiphany I had.

From out of the blue, The Ex offered to take the kids for a couple of hours. Keep in mind, he's only with them when required, such as when I'm at one of my jobs or in class. So it's very rare I'm in the house alone, and when I am, run myself ragged cleaning, painting, putting away laundry, fixing things etc. After they left, I thought I'd tackle the mountain of laundry, but then had my little epiphany; "The house will always be messy, there will always be laundry to do, there will always be something that needs to be fixed." These things are not going anywhere, so instead of running myself ragged, I took a nap.

And the house didn't fall down because of it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Something New, #236

I had read in the paper (yes, I still read the paper everyday and SO SHOULD EVERYONE!) that a local business had set up a holiday light show that was synchronized to music, so I took the girls to check it out.

We parked at the church across the street, and tuned our radio to 96.6. I had assumed it would be Christmas music, and thought it was hilarious that the songs were synched to "Jump," "Born to be Wild," and "Bittersweet Symphony." We must have come in at the middle of the loop, though, because we were later entertained with more traditional yuletide music, like TSO's "Carol of the Bells," which makes my ears bleed. The things I endure for my kids.

Anyway, I think we found a new Christmas tradition.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Something New, #235

Because I grew up in a frugal household, and have really never had a lot to spend on luxuries, the only time I was into clothing "labels" was in high school. Even then, I only had 2 Ralph Lauren shirts, one Izod, one pair of Gloria Vanderbuilt jeans and 3 pair of Levis. Maybe some Nikes, but most of my clothing has been of the generic kind. My mother even made my wedding dress, and I think it cost around $75.00. So even though I dress pretty currently (at least I think so) I've never been one to spend money on clothes.

I have passed this trait onto The Big One.

Last week, as I was picking her up from study group, the girls in the group were putting their boots back on. One girl was bragging on her new Uggs, "that cost $130.00." My kid held up her foot, donned in the Target knock-offs, and said "These were only $20.00. Can you tell the difference?"

A moment to make any mother proud.

So today, I thought I'd try on her $20.00 knock-offs, just to see if I liked the style. Keep in mind, The Big One is 5' 4" and weighs 85 pounds, and wears a shoe a whole size smaller than me. I'm 5' 9 and 3/4" and 150+, so I was surprised when they fit. So I borrowed them.

I'm thinking in a couple of years, we both may be able to expand our wardrobes. For free.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Something New, #234

Because my boss has been out sick for a week, business is slow because of the holidays and there is a winter storm advisory, work has been slow. Really slow. Painfully slow. Excruciatingly slow.

So I upped my stock as a professional slacker and used my free time constructively by taking advantage of's feature of free movies and television shows.

Hey, it beats spending money online.

I'm all caught up on ER and CSI.

I knew Sam and Gates would break up and that Grissom would leave.

Something New, #233

My friend, Diana, is a foodie, and invited me to a Chocolate Party. I've never been to one. She had prepared chocolate truffles, mint chocolate mousse, chocolate cookies, chocolate dip and chocolate martinis.

I learned that it may be possible to have too much of a good thing. Also, it is probably a good idea to eat something a little salty, like a whole ham, before going to my next Chocolate Party.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Something New, #232

Part of The Little One's day at school is spent writing in her journal. She filled her first spiral and brought it home and I got to read it.

Some of the entries are just ideas she has like "You must seal an envelope before you mail it because so the letter don't fall out," "A hedgehog has small eyes short legs and a skinny nose called a snout," "Tricycles don't have keys because you have to pettle them," and "A little word in pencil is pen."

Some of the entries are more fleshed out, and tell a story. Some of these entries are picked by the teacher and are "published." This means the spelling, grammar and punctuation are edited and then printed out from the computer. She's published several entries, but not the following:

"I laughed when me and my friend Alex wacht Saturday night live and one the the juges said tonight your haf tiger haf gorilla and haf hores penis."

After I realized that the teacher read this, I laughed until I wet my pants. I have no idea what sketch they were watching and found it interesting she misspelled "watched", "horse" and "half" but not "penis."

So my Something New was to send an email to her teacher, offering this explanation: "It looks like I am officially a slacker mom. I was looking through Betsy's journal and read the entry, "..." After my initial mortification, I called Alex's mom and asked her when they'd watched Saturday Night Live. Turns out, she and Alex watched an episode of SNL and Talledageh Nights that had been DVR'd. Alex can now quote the movie.

So I just wanted to let you know that Betsy's television is monitored and I'm blaming it on the neighbor kid. However, I did laugh until I cried when I read it, and find it especially funny she spelled "penis" correctly."

This teacher is very cool, and when The Little One started writing "elizabeth" on her papers (always with lowercase "e"), instead of what we call her, she and I decided she was branding herself, like Madonna, Cher, Prince or Fabio, and just let her do it.

I'm not completely surprised that I've had to justify The Little One's actions to her teachers. She's the type of child that just comes up with these things out of no where. I'm just surprised it's taken me this long.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Something New, #231

Have I mentioned I hate to cook?

However, there is one thing I make well, which are shortbread cookies I make at Christmas. The ingredients are pretty much butter, flour, butter, powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and almond flavor and butter. They are just like eating a stick of buttah.

This year, The Big One wanted to help. I handed her the ingredients and told her to go for it.

She did a great job, and the cookies came out great. Maybe I can get her to cook dinner every night now...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Something New, #230

In the spirit of recycling, I took my own bags into Wal-Mart. I do remember to do that when I go to the grocery store, but never thought to do it anywhere else. The funny part is the checker just looked at me like I was some kind of nut. Nevermind that Wal-Mart sells reusable bags on every endcap.

Something New, #229

As a kid who grew up on Captain Kangaroo, it about kills me to throw away an empty shoe box, oatmeal box or coffee can. Seriously, if given enough time, money and empty shoe boxes, oatmeal boxes, coffee cans, construction paper and glue, the man could have solved the world's housing problems.

So I had an empty oatmeal box, sitting on the kitchen counter for about a month. No one claimed it, and I just couldn't bring myself to throw it out, so I recycled it as gift packaging. And to carry on the spirit of recycling, filled the box with a re-gift of hand me down American Girl doll clothes. I figure The Little One won't know the difference, and I'll make it up by buying candy for her stocking with the money I saved.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Something New, #228

When we got The Neurotic Dog 2 1/2 years ago, she peed on the carpet. A lot. Especially in the upstairs living room. That inspired me to rip up all the carpet to the hardwood floor underneath. Talk about an instant makeover. I don't think the hardwood floors in this house had ever been exposed. Since then, I've ripped up all the carpet, except for in The Big One's room. She has issues with change, but has said she'd let me when she turned 14. Good thing, because the carpet in there is really nasty.

Anyway, since the floors were in such good shape, all I've done for maintenance on them is vacuuming and the occasional mop down with Murphy's Oil Soap. But they looked a little dingy, so I tried putting an old towel on my Swiffer mop and sprayed that down with Lemon Pledge and gave the floors a once over.

They look great, but are now slicker than snot.

On the upside, I can now perfect my Tom Cruise impersonation.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Something New, #227

3 things about me that are constant:
  • I get lost. A LOT.
  • I fall down. A LOT.
  • I am always running about 10 minutes late.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, I used to have a wonderful sense of direction and was always punctual. That was before I had kids. I think the directional brain cells went out with the placentas and the tardiness can be attributed to having to get everyone ready. The clumsiness I think comes from the fact that I was my adult height of "Five Nine and Three Quarters" by the eighth grade.

So all of these factors came together while I was trying to get to my office holiday party. I had everything planned to the minute to get one child picked up to go work on a school project, one child dropped off at dance class, drive to the party, spend exactly 20 minutes at the party, go pick up the first child and her friends at the school project house, drop off the other 2 school project friends, pick up the second child at dance class and go home. This all had to take place between 5:45 and 7:30.

It just didn't happen.

By the time I got home from work, I was already running 10 minutes late. Shocking. So that threw a spanner in the works and as I was driving to my boss' house for the party, realized I'd have exactly five minutes to stay there. Emily Post does not have an emergency 800 number to answer the question "Which is worse, not showing for a party you've RSVP'd for, or only staying at said party for five minutes?" So I made the etiquette call on my own, called and gave my regrets.

This is Something New, because it really put me out of my comfort zone to not go. But I really felt like by the time I'd made the frantic drive over to her house, I'd be stressed enough without having to enter a houseful of strangers, throw back one drink and leave. I was looking forward to the party, after my success at the last party of strangers, but when a fire truck and two police cars passed me on a way to a wreck I would have passed on the way there, I felt the universe was telling me, "Don't go!" And since it's been icy this week, I figured why run the risk of falling down.

I was still late picking up The Big One and her friends because I got lost. But I didn't fall down.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Something New, #226

I learned that if you microwave white almond bark candy over the recommended time of a minute and a half, you will get a brown grainy mess.

You will also probably have to throw out the bowl you were using to microwave it in.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Something New, #225

When I lost my job in October, The Ex offered to up the child support. This was a bolt from the blue as he only pays $360.00 per month now and it took me a year and a half of going to court to start collecting that when we separated 4 years ago.

I figured out that $360.00 per month for two children, works out to 50 cents per hour for two children.

Yep. He's so out of touch he thought that $12.00 per day to feed, clothe, and shelter two children was about right.

So when this came out of left field, I immediately filled out the paperwork and filed it at the county courthouse. In Kansas, everything has to be done through the courts, so there's a record and also so that the agreements will be enforced. I also had to schedule a hearing, that was supposed to be heard today. But, because of the weather, we got to call it in. It took about 3 minutes, and now I'll have enough every month for those extravagant extras like electricity, water, heating and cooling.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Something New, #224

I rarely pay full price for anything, but did the other day, because I happened to be alone at Target, and was able to pick up a Christmas present for The Little One. I spent $34.99 on a horse for her American Girl doll, only to have it go on sale for $19.99 two days later.

I worked in retail for the better part of 25 years. I know most stores will do a price adjustment. However, I know what a pain that is for the sales associate, and it also verges on ghetto. But it was a $15.00 difference. That's an hour of my time.

So I took it back and it was painless. Took less than a minute. I even apologized to the sales associate, but she said "No worries. I'd do the same thing."

I heart Target.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Something New, #223

After my triumph in installing the ceiling fixture, I decided to tackle the light fixture in The Big One's closet. It's one of those light bulb fixtures that turns on when you pull a chain, and it's been broken for about 6 years. I attribute part of the chaos in her closet to the fact that you can't see a damn thing in it.

After I got it all pulled out, I figured out I had to replace the whole thing. I decided to put that off for another day, so I started to put it all back together.
It's much easier to remove screws from a ceiling fixture that to replace them.

I must have dropped the screw about a dozen times. Up and down the stepladder about a dozen times. "F***ing Goddam Screw!" about a dozen times. I finally figured out I could use a piece of the ever-versatile duct tape to hold it in place while I got the screw back in the pilot holes.

This just may qualify me for a MENSA membership.

Something New, #222

I made home made chicken soup. From scratch.

That's right. I cooked something from scratch. And it was delicious.

Boiled that chicken carcass down, strained the broth and even made my own noodles. Both kids ate it and said it was delicious.

Not one bit went in the dog's dish.

Did I mention it was delicious?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Something New, #221

What are the Odds?

I love life's coincidences. You know, those weird things like you find out you and a new friend were at the same Osmond Brothers concert in 1974 or two friends you grew up with who never knew each other, but now their kids go to the same high school and you figure that you all know each other 20 years later. I have a story about a friend's kidney donor that has so many layers of coincidences, it freaks everyone out. I love novels about how these past and present coincidences link together, like in Holes, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Madonnas of Leningrad.

When The Big One and I saw the Art in the Age of Steam two weeks ago, there was a painting I just loved called The Railway Station. I loved how many stories it tells. If I were a writer, this is what I'd write a novel about. I stood in front of it for a good 15 minutes, and went back to look at it several times.

Exactly one week later, we visited the Philbrook in Tulsa's exhibit, Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London. The first painting in the first gallery was The Railway Station by William Powell Frith.

"Hold the phone, how did this painting get from one current exhibit to another?" There was a docent nearby that heard The Big One and I talking about this, and he said this was the first time the painting had ever been out of England. After I told him about the painting at the Nelson, we figured out that the first one I saw was a copy, made by one of William Powell Frith's students.

So that got me to thinking, what are the odds that in one week, I would see the original and a copy of a painting without planning it?

I learned there is such a thing as a probability calculator.

"The Probability Calculator computes an unknown probability, based on the value of related known probabilities. Here are the types of problems that the Probability Calculator can handle:
Find P(A), given P(A').
Find P(A), given P(B), P( BA ) and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A), given P(B), P(A ∩ B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A), given P( BA ) and P(A ∩ B).
Find P( BA ), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P( BA ), given P(A) or P(A'), and P(A ∩ B).
Find P(A ∪ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P( BA ).
Find P(A ∪ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∩ B).
Find P(A ∩ B), given P(A) or P(A'), P(B), and P(A ∪ B).
Find P(A ∩ B), given P(A) or P(A'), and P( BA)."

Yeah, I couldn't figure it out either. Well, actually, if I knew the right variables to plug in, I would be able to figure out those odds, but there are too many unknowns. But if I ever figure out those unknowns, I'm ready.
Anyway, I feel lucky that the universe blessed me with the opportunity to see two versions of this painting in two different locations, exactly one week apart.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Something New, #220

The Little One had been begging for karate lessons for about the last 4 years, so with her birthday money this year, I signed her up. The classes were for 45 minutes, once a week.

When we all went to the first class, she clung to me and wouldn't even sit in her squad seat without being within seeing distance of me. She kept her head down and her arms crossed across her chest the entire time. She whispered to the instructor and wouldn't join in the class activities unless I walked her to them. This is a child who is not at all shy and has no trouble in social situations. Even The Big One asked, "WHAT is going on with her?"

She eventually warmed up, and I thought was doing well. She knew all the moves when the teacher prompted and even made a friend. But every week, it's been "Do I have to go?"

When I was little, my mom took me to swim lessons at the Y. I was about 3, and still remember how scared I was. My mom had the wisdom to postpone lessons for about another 7 years.

I really felt that we should stick out the lessons, and finish what we started, but I remembered about the swim lessons. So instead of making her go to the last 3 classes, I gave her a choice.

She chose not to. And was very happy about it.

I had to wrestle with the ideas of "not finishing something" and "sticking it out," but this wasn't a required activity, nor was it a team activity where her presence was necessary.

I think we'll both be a lot happier.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Something New, #219

I learned that it's not a good idea to keep your spare car keys in your car. It's especially not a good idea to lock your keys, spare keys, purse, dog leash and collar in the car.

It's an $85 bad idea.

On the upside, I have new idea for a career.

Something News, #209-217

The girls and I visited my parents over the Thanksgiving holiday. Since they have WebTV, which is still DIAL UP, I'm posting in a big lump.

I learned:
  • You can't buy cold beer at the liquor stores in Oklahoma. The logic behind this is that the purchaser of a cold beer would pop one open in the car. I don't know how that logic would apply to someone who bought a bottle of liquor. Perhaps they don't sell mixers, ice or glassware.
  • Wild turkeys can fly. I learned this when a small flock flew over the hood of my car.
  • I can probably eat my weight in banana-pineapple-Cool Whip-cream cheese-apricot Jello salad. After I do that, I can no longer bend over to tie my own shoes.
  • A single night at the Four Seasons in NYC costs $1,059.00.
  • Wheel chair crossings exist.
  • If TNG sleeps in The Little One's room, I can get 6 hours of sleep in a row.
  • It's OK to say "I don't want to," instead of trying to think up excuses.
  • Driving straight into 30+ MPH winds with the luggage on top of the car cuts my gas mileage in half.
I also visited the Russell Stover factory in Iola, KS, located on Marshmallow Lane, and went through the McDonald's drive through 4 times in less than a 24 hour period. This would also contribute to the fact I can no longer tie my own shoes.

Another Something New is that I didn't turn into Bridget Jones while visiting my parents. Not the Renee Zellweger Bridget Jones, but the Helen Fielding Bridget Jones. The Bridget Jones who is treated like 14-year-old when she visits her parents, and has to wear ghastly outfits her mother buys out for her. My mother did buy me a new outfit ("It's just like Katie Couric wore when she climbed the Himalayas") but it was actually something simple and didn't look like something my mother bought for me. I also didn't feel guilty about staying out late. However, I did not get Mark Darcy/Fitzwilliam Darcy/Colin Firth at the end of the visit as a lovely parting gift.