Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Seasonal Changes... Mine? Or Mother Nature's?

The new background you are witnessing is me willing spring to get here now - or me just wishing for the ability to make my own wine.  Here's why:
I woke up yesterday and began my morning routine... which includes a shower, make-up application, teeth brushing - you know, the usual things we all do.. most of the time.  I finished and thought about how I wish the seasons would change, so that it would be lighter in the morning... not so dark and dreary.  I also noticed how tired I was and thought about stepping up my fitness routine - to getting one.  I was about to wake the kids and help them start their day.  Luckily I decided to first put on my glasses - my go-to appliance - the medical device I should go nowhere without.  I set them comfortably on my face, did a quick once-over in the mirror, tried not to notice my 40ish year old skin, and headed to the hallway.  Boy, it's really dark.  Can't wait for spring.  Oh, wait... my feet are cold.  I should put on some warm socks.  I head back into the bedroom.  This is when I make the split decision of consulting the clock for some reason.  What?  How can that be?  Are these my glasses?  I take them off and inspect them.  Yes they are mine.  And yes, it appears that it is 1:45 am.  I could have sworn I saw a 6 in that first number position when I began this apparent madness.  So here we are.  All dressed up and no place to go.  Wow.  I guess I will pretend that I am Elizabeth Taylor or something - didn't I read that she always applied make-up before going to sleep so she would look fabulous when she woke up?  Well, here's the deal:  she doesn't look so fabulous anymore... and I don't think sleeping for 5 more hours is going to help out my just-washed hairdo either...
See? Spring or wine.  One of 'em needs to get here fast.

"All My Children" at my house

4:15 pm  Carpool arrives and drops off children
4:16 pm  "Moooooommm!  She could have at least assisted me!!!" Nine year old is staring at me with utter frustration, while barely gripping a ripped up grocery bag spilling over with soggy snow gear.
Still 4:26 pm "Well it's all HIS fault... he's the one that broke my SLED!" a shrill seven year old voice screams from the mudroom.  A nano moment of quiet followed up with, "Owwww, ow,owwww!"  Now add convulsive sobbing.  It seems that in the heat of this constructive conversation, the seven year old has rammed her elbow down on the granite counter top - in an animated attempt to make her point clear.
Well, Good Afternoon, Friends.  What seems to be the problem?  I guess I will never mind about the "How was your day?" question.
"Well it just stinks that we don't get to sled for a whole week!"
"Why did you let your friends use my sled... huh?"
"That's NOT why we can't sled anymore - it's because people were diggin' holes and pitfalls and the sleds were falling in them, and runnin' into stuff, and kids were getting hurt."
"Mom - my sled is still broken and I don't even care about the holes and whatever."
"Well, it's just not fair - people weren't even getting hurt that bad."
How about a snack, children?
Eating ensues and there is a well-deserved quiet that falls over the kitchen. They are now moving the discussion on to the cost differentiation between a Nintendo DSi and an ipod Nano.
4:26  The seven year old has gotten a hold of herself and speaks, "Well, mine was free... because I got it from Santa!"
4:26 1/2 The nine year old rebuttal: "No.. uh uh.  Santa is magical because he makes the toys, but then he just bills the parents, right mom?"
A moment of quiet, deep thought. 
"Oh...  Do you want play legos or go outside or what?  I don't care if I don't have a sled.  We can just use that piece of the Slip 'N Slide in the garage - it will work."
"Sure - okay, just let me finish my snack and then I will meet you out there."
"Great!  See you on the hill!  Or do you want me to wait for you?"
"Go ahead, I'll be right there.  Thanks anyway."
So it seems that all is right with the world. In ten minutes flat, we have gone from a melodramatic performance of great proportions to a scene from Loony Toons where the two chipmunks, Chip and Dale, are getting along famously - saying things like: "Before you!  Oh, no, no... before you!  Oh, no, really, I couldn't - you go right ahead..."
The snack is finished and the suiting up for sledding has begun.
One more comment, on his way out the door to slip 'n slide the cul-de-sac mountain, "Oh, yeah, Mom - just to tell you, look at my neck.  I got a pretty nasty scratch."
What from?
"I nailed a little tree when I was sledding because I hit a hole and it bumped me all around."
Hmmm... so are you still going with the "It's not fair, people weren't getting hurt on their sleds" argument?
And so it goes... just another day in the life...

Friday, January 21, 2011


"I'm not lost... just undiscovered."  I was loading up my ipod by way of itunes this afternoon, and came across that lyric in a song. Yes, I willingly entered the fiery pit of USB ports and un-doable computer commands...  given yesterday's events.  Anyway, here's my take on that lyric:  I've had this notion most of my life, that if I carry myself in a professional manner and use an adept vocabulary with appropriate intonation, others will assume that I am intelligent.  Well, the cat is out of the bag, folks.  I am neither super intelligent nor am I in a position to care anymore.  I have made peace with and my e-reader.  We're not as close as we used to be - not sure that bond will ever be as strong.  But I have come to grips with the fact that I must read directions out loud several times, draw myself a picture, and sometimes even curse profusely to gain and apply new knowledge.  Turns out, I've just shed another layer of pride. So if you catch me screaming at my kids while wandering around looking for my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and using sentences like, "I seen him do it - I ain't lyin!"  - you'll know, I'm not lost anymore - I've just been discovered.
Oh, and I also forgave my chair - I just tilted my monitor forward so I can read from my new lower view... it's all good... really.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

E-readers and Chairs and Orcas - Oh, no!

I've officially reached a new low.  Let's not even bother with the fact that yesterday I had to change the font size for my entire computer to "large" because at the ripe old age of 41, I can no longer see "medium."  But today was a showstopper.  I spent exactly 3 hours trying to download a recently purchased e-book to my e-reader.  I am not embarrassed to admit there were tears, some gnashing of teeth - OK, a lot, and an almost constant stream of really inappropriate words - I might have made a sailor blush. 
And then there's the office chair.  The one I'm sitting in right now.  Comfortable... swivels... has soft armrests.  But somewhere between Thanksgiving's lonely can of ReddiWhip in the fridge and New Year's fancy finger food fiesta - the mechanism that adjusts the height of the chair has gradually "weakened."  Hmmm... so, now at the end of even the quickest of sessions with my computer, my knees are slowly striking up a friendship with my chin.
So is this what lies ahead from now on?  Diminished eye sight paired with two-year-old temper tantrums - finished off with a desperate hunt for the Land's End Miracle Swim Suit each spring?  Pretty soon, I'll be drinkin' something out of a brown paper sack and petting cats that aren't there.
Oh, yeah, and I woke up this morning from a dream where I was about to be swallowed- lock, stock and barrel by an orca whale that was "walking" upright on its tail flipper while carrying a tiny umbrella and singing show tunes.
The silver lining today?  I'm not sure I can think of one, but maybe a little sage advice instead:  Do not get old... or avoid going to sleep with the Free Movies channel left on all night...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Super Sparkle Worm Saver Comes to the Rescue

"Mom! Do black and white go together??"  she called from her pink-painted bedroom.  I answered, "Why, yes they do."  Then what happened next is called "The Morning Hustle."  It's a song and dance, performed daily that involves banana oatmeal being dumped into a bowl, the signing of the homework planner, lunches being schlepped into BPA-free plastic containers, a repeating refrain that goes something like this: Where's your socks, did you brush your teeth, do you have your snow gear packed? and then ends with a dramatic two-stepping down the snow-covered driveway, dragging and pushing two ginormous trash/recycling bins through the slush, and shoving them to the curb.  The "Hustle" is then neatly wrapped up by three van doors slamming shut in unison, and the shifting of the Momvan into reverse.
With my foot on the brake, I asked if everyone was buckled and took a look in my rear view mirror to smile at my children and start the day.  This is when a sparkle caught my eye.  It was the sparkle of a cheap, rhinestone-studded tiara atop my seven year old's head.  Upon further inspection, I also noticed a hot pink feather boa wrapped quite stylishly around her neck.  My brain did a quick rewind to the question of black and white going together - asked before the Hustle began.  While this process was happening, my seven year old announced that she LOVES her "worm family" shirt!  She loves it because "I made it all by myself in Kindergarten - and it still fits and it makes me feel all muscly and strong!" 
Are you still with me?  Because here's the shakedown:
Seven year old girl is sporting worn jeans and a black long sleeve t-shirt - which is stuffed underneath a white, too tight, hand-painted worm tunnel shirt that she has now accessorized with a sparkle-studded princess tiara and a ferociously-hot, pink boa.
I guess I sauntered right on by the magic phone booth where that magical transformation took place - or could it be that somewhere between slappin' sandwiches together and looking for lost mittens, a superhero-like princess was born?  Either way, when we arrived at school, she very proudly dismounted her booster seat, slung her backpack over her shoulder, grabbed her sled, and marched forward with her boa draggin' behind her... off to rid the world of evil-doers and worm-haters, I'm sure.
Who knew, "Do black and white go together?" was such a loaded question?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dingle Ling?

Oh, the world of skype...  It's all new to me actually.  We just installed our first webcam on Sunday - big doings here at the house of Burns.  Few basic questions I have about this new found technology:
1. Is it necessary to yell while communicating on skype?
2. Even with the lazy eye, I have a difficult time looking at the camera and the monitor at the same time - any solutions for this?
3. If I pick up the webcam and spin it around the room to show my skype friend my new room arrangement, will the skype friend become violently ill with motion sickness?
4. Is there some sort of swivel couch set-up I could purchase to set in front of the computer?  It seems that every time we hear the "bloop, bloop, bloop" of someone calling us, and  I sit down - somehow there are an additional six people/pets trying to get their mugs in front of the cam by way of my lap.
5. Is it okay that my seven year old says, "Mom, you're dingle is ringing!"
6. And for the love of Pete, if you notice a big hunk of spinach in my teeth when you are skyping with me - will you PLEASE alert me before I smile my biggest gummiest smile all over town, making small talk with all the parents at gymnastics, basketball, and school???
I'm sure I will think of more as I continue on my skype journey, but that's it for now - gotta go brush my hair and put on a different shirt - someone's calling me on the dingle!

Friday, January 7, 2011

And Now a Word About Baked Goods...

Let's explore the intricate and complex world of decorated, sugar Christmas cookies.  Facts we know:  they are good, they are pretty, they can be crumbly, we eat them at Christmas.  But did you know that there is a secret underworld in the Christmas cookie universe?  The following story is true - only the names have been changed to protect... the... uh... unprotected?  Anyway, read on:
Every December, a woman named Anne makes a call to a friend who makes a call to the secret cookie lady. This is done every year without fail. The cookies are AMAZINGLY delicious and beautifully decorated - Santas, reindeer, sleighs, presents, snowmen, angels all in technicolor frostings - you get the picture - they are the bomb.  The eating of these incredible treats has become a tradition for Anne's family - if she forgets to make the call - her son-in-law is fairly unforgiving.  He too knows the taste bud ecstasy these sumptuous creations bring once a year, and is sadly disappointed when the call to the secret cookie lady has been overlooked.
Traditionally, after the call has been made and an order has been placed, a few weeks pass.  Then, in the evening (and only after 7 pm) another call takes place.  This is to establish an exact time and place, and to reveal any other pertinent details  - like where the "drop off" will occur.  This routine has gone on unquestioned and without incident for years.  This year was different.  Anne was unable to meet the requirements - for she had to be elsewhere -  and asked her daughter, Trudy, to stand in and complete the deal.  All details were discussed and the exchange was about to unfold just as planned.
Trudy showed up at the designated parking lot before the light of dawn and waited... and waited... and waited.  No secret cookie lady.  Trudy made a few unobtrusive circles around the parking lot.  No secret cookie lady.  The sun was beginning to peek up over the horizon, and Trudy was getting nervous.  Had she remembered the details correctly?  Was this the right morning?  Had she missed the drop-off?  She quickly placed a call to Anne, and was reassured that she was in the right place at the right time.  So, against her better judgement, Trudy decided to contact the secret cookie lady at the secret cookie lady's place of business.  This action has been highly discouraged in the past, but Trudy began feeling desperate and could almost smell and taste freshly baked flour and sugar - and knew she just couldn't disappoint Anne.
Hi, my name is Trudy, may I speak wi-
Pshhhkeep your voice down.
My mom, Anne ordered a doz-
Shhh - I know who you are.  Just follow my directions.
My car is parked on the north side of the brick building.  It is blue and there is a "Baby on Board" sign in the back window.  There is a Bible under the front seat.  Leave the money in the second book of Luke.  The cookies are in an unmarked box under the jumper cables in the back seat. you want me to lock your-
No, keep your voice down.   Do not lock the car.
All right... thanks.  Merry Christm-
Happy Holidays.  Good-bye.  Click.
Sure enough, just as the secret cookie lady had described, the Bible, the jumper cables, the cookies, the "Baby on Board" sign, were all just as she said.  Trudy completed the directions as she was told, and the deal was officially done. 
Trudy was in a bit of a daze after the "cookie exchange" and related a few of the details to some of her colleagues when she arrived at work that day, and without hesitation, several of her co-workers spoke up quickly to reveal, that they too, had been through the same ordeal.  So this is my question:  Is the secret cookie lady really a secret - or just a baked goods spy wanna-a-be?  You be the judge.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Which is it?

Here's my question:  Am I an optimist... or do I possess the sucker gene?  This is a slippery slope.  Let me explain.  On any given day in my world, the glass is half full, BUT I do have my share of experiences that point to a clear case of gullibility.   For example, I may find myself writing out a check to a random person who comes to the door and blathers something about kids in underdeveloped parts of Africa with a dire need for mittens and hats... or responding to the infomercial that promises younger looking skin, tight abs, and a gleaming white smile all just by sitting on a machine that wiggles in a hula fashion? It could work... right?
Where it becomes slippery is in the middle of a conversation with your nine year old who asks questions like:
Why can't I have a handful of quarters for the claw game?  Somebody has to win!
Mom, why don't you play the lottery?  Followed by: Mom, you can't win, if you don't play!
Mom, do you think Darth Vader could turn back to the good side?
What if Santa got stuck in our front yard and had to stay with us for supper?  He's probably hungry - right?
And am I passing this unique quality on to my children?  Evidence might suggest yes indeed - based on the fact that my son will sit on the end of a dock or in a boat for hours waiting for a fish to nibble on the end of his fishing line.  Once he had me take several photos of him with his Lego creations and send them into the Lego Magazine - and now has been desperately checking the mailbox day in and day out for months in the hopes that he will be featured in the next issue.
My daughter seems to be less taken by promises and gimmicks.  However, she has been blessed with a rather active imagination. After reading Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory together several years ago, she indulged me with her secret wish to have a cascading chocolate waterfall in our back yard.  She informed me that she would just have occasional licks by sticking her finger into the falls - she wouldn't be greedy like Augustus was.
So maybe it should be called the optimistic sucker imagination gene.  There, that's not so bad... I'm in.  How about you?