Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Go away, January.

Sick sick sick little girl. At work and wish I was with her. This month has been truly awful. Please let it end soon! Every day I wake up hoping for just a little piece of luck or good fortune or just good news to come my way and then the day passes and it doesn't come. I am basically a glass-half-full kind of person and so...tomorrow will be better! (I hope).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poor baby!

This will be short, I think. It is quite chilly outside, like a real winter. When I went to work this morning it was 22 degrees. But it won't last; it never does. I cannot believe that I actually spent 4 winters in a town where it snowed and was below zero for about 7 months every year. Shocking, really. Flipper, bless her little heart, is sick and out of school. She is undoubtedly watching Riverdance for the ten millionth time at my parents' house, being waited on hand and foot and drinking her body weight in ginger ale. She isn't TOO sick, just a fever and a dry cough. She becomes bizarrely polite and sweet when she gets sick; let me illustrate with an example below.

Setting: middle of the night, or wee hours of the morning. Dark.
Flipper: tossing and turning and letting out little tiny coughing moans.
Me: (touching her burning skin) "Do you want some Motrin?"
Flipper: "No thank you. I just feel bad."
Me: "I know. Take some medicine NOW."
Flipper: "Okay. Thank you Mommy. I love you."

Now the above is actually true. She turns into this sweet little angel when she falls ill, although she is pretty sweet most of the time. I will leave work early, go by the library and stock up on books for the week-end, then pick her up. Since the dogs haven't been for a walk in 2 days, we will load them into the car, drive to a long dirt road near our house, let them out, and drive along the road pretty slowly. They will frantically run behind us. (Flipper LOVES this.) Then we will go home and hunker down for the night with some ginger ale and some very un-Waldorfy DVD watching. Flipper, that is. I am much less enamored of The Muppet Show than I was when I was 8.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My pocketbook, the Forester.

I ran into an old friend at Weaver St the other day (the baby one) and stepped outside to admire her new light green Prius. After I complimented her on the color of her car, I remarked how clean it was on the inside. "Don't worry!" she said brightly. "It won't last! People like us use their cars like giant purses!" Frighteningly, she is right. The state of the interior of my car has reached epic proportions. Never, in all the cars I have owned, has it ever been this bad. Not even after a 2-week Grateful Dead journey. While it is an endless source of bittersweet pride tinged with sadness in my life that Flipper continues to grow, to separate, to become someone really independent, she isn't old enough yet to really get the whole money-thing. What on earth does this have to do with my car, a car that has more stuff, more trash, more paper junk than is possible? Well, one of her great friends came over yesterday and the kids spent the entire time on the zipline, until their little hands were pinched and red with cold, while she and I sat in my grandmother's ancient wood-and-aluminum lawn chairs in the "observation area." I even tied a rope to the handle of the zipline so they can pull it back to the starting position by themselves, requiring even less effort from us, because, god forbid, we should stop talking about People magazine or something else equally important. But in a few years, well, in a few years I will be able to offer them money to go and clean out my car for me. And they'll do it, for brief period of time when a buck seems like a whole lot to them. I can't wait.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


A few words and then on to the pictures...yesterday I had some unexpected free time and because the skies were gray and the ground sodden, I went to the only thrift store I frequent, the Chatham County Schools Thrift Store in Cole Park Plaza. I won't enumerate why I prefer this one to all other, part of it is location, and they simply have better stuff. I tend to just go there to buy trashy novels that I quickly devour, return to the store and then buy again a year or two later. No, I am actually not kidding about this!! And, lucky for Shanna, she wasn't there yesterday or I would have had to elbow her out of the way while racing for this:

A solid oak children's table and 4 matching chairs, all made by hand with little heart cutouts on the chair backs and table sides. Flipper has outgrown her current kid-table, (which I am now selling for 20.00 with 2 matching chairs)and this is incredible. She played with it for (I timed her) 2 straight hours while I hid behind a new trashy novel and watched her talk to herself while she played "school." Dear God, it was beyond precious. She quickly put Dossy the Rabbit, Peanuts the bear, and JoJo the woolly mammoth in a chair, then spent about an hour decorating the table with her play-silks:

Dossy and JoJo waiting for snack to be served by the little schoolmarm.

I looked over about a half-hour after grace was said/sung, to find this:

Everyone in their seats!

Then it was time for bed, and I got up from the couch and approached the table to see the remains of every one's snack...an apple at each place, with one bite taken out of each one. It was so cute, so kind, that I couldn't even get annoyed that the quickly browning apples may not actually be consumed by a human.

Oh, and how do I know they were handmade, this precious table and chairs? Because underneath the table top, in brown marker, is this: "For our grandchildren with love from Grandma and Grandpa" and under each chair is a child's name burned into the wood with the date, "Lauren 1988." How incredible is that???

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Real Estate Update

If anyone out there is a praying person, then please offer up a little goodwill that the place we viewed yesterday becomes a happy reality for myself and Flipper and the damn dogs. I always seem to end up in areas where real estate is insane. I have mentioned this before and so won't belabor the point, except to say, here I am again. I never thought I would be OK with moving (potentially) into a condo/townhouse. And, I discovered the difference in the two. Anyone want to take a guess? Anyone at all? Well, if you buy a condo, you own what is inside the walls. If you buy a townhouse, you own the outside as well as the land it rests upon. Fascinating, huh. Smokey and Flipper and I went to view a townhouse yesterday that is in Chapel Hill and in our price range. Our price range is NOT Chapel Hill. Far below, in fact. I was prepared to hate it, think it too dark inside and having, perhaps, a hideously tiny kitchen. A galley kitchen, but one that really could fit below decks of a 32' boat. I was shocked at how big EVERYTHING was. The rooms, the closets, and, yes, the kitchen. Now we have to hope very much that the covenants will let me have 2 dogs, or one may live with my parents part-time. There is a pool onsite, tons of hardwoods, and a little creek below the deck. Flipper and I can sleep on the same floor, but no longer in the same bed. The decor is very very 70's. It is very obvious an older couple lived here before, but it is clean and neat and very close to my two great friends as well as the playground. Now, please please let it happen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Walkin' in a winter wonderland...

Flipper got her primary wish Saturday, a beautiful dusting of snow. Sadly, it wasn't the 18 inches we were hoping for, since she has a dream of building a snowman. Or snowperson, as the case may be. Even as cold as it was yesterday, we spent a fair amount of time outside. Later in the morning she ventured out to play in the backyard by herself, but took JoJo with her so he could experience his natural environment for the first time in his life. JoJo sat on a hand towel to keep his fur dry. End of post, nothing but pictures now.

An early morning snow walk.

The perfectly round pond, frozen. We spent an enjoyable half-hour heaving big sticks onto it's surface, watching them either crash through or skitter away.

Heading out with JoJo

Flipper breaks the ice on her kiddie pool while JoJo rests on his towel...(you can see him on the ground to the left.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bye Buy

A quickie today...sounds a tad risque, does it not? In my New Year's Resolution Quest to stop gobbling up more of the world's quickly dwindling resources, I spent a few minutes today on this website: www.catalogchoice.org. You enter your name and address, and this free service contacts those companies that send you catalogs you don't want. Lamely, this was/is hard for me. Because I love catalogs, pore over every page, even if they are peddling something I will never ever buy in a million years. I spent an enjoyable half-hour looking at 3 or 4 catalogs yesterday before they joined the other 2 or 3 million in my recycling bin. So. Bye bye, American Girl. Farewell, Boden (the adult, not kid version). What was really fascinating was scrolling through all the catalogs they have listed, like 10 million or so. I must confess I had to wrench my hand away from ordering more, ones I had never heard of!!!!!!!! WTF? But I prevailed.
In other, updated news, last night I made the tough decision to move out of Keith's house. Am looking into buying somewhere else, probably closer to The Cult. If the house were different, better lay out, etc., I would be fighting harder to stay. And were it not for the damn dogs, AKA kids #2 and 3, I would be in a condo or townhouse with a pool really really fast. At least the market is such that my mother, who is doing the financing (I will be paying her for the mortgage) can get a great deal. This is the flavor of my life since having a child: bittersweet. Will miss all the neighbors, the cul-de-sac, the massive yard...but not the bad memories, the manipulation I feel, etc. Flipper herself summed it up when I asked her about it: "part of me wants to stay and part of me wants something new." So, in with the new.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Girding my loins

Very very soon I am going to face my demons and bravely march back into one of my (many) nemeses, one I have managed to avoid for some time now. I have been playing a little game with myself for the past 3 months or so, a game that consists of seeing how long I can go before breaking down and doing a "big shop" at a real grocery store. Flipper is rather indifferent to dinner; she is definitely hungry but plain simple meals like cheese toast and a sliced apple make her pretty happy.

I remember living on my own after college, with a boyfriend in an old huge house on St Simons Island. Cheap rent: 300 bucks a month. Only a block from the ocean!! Back then, WAY back then, I loved to go grocery shopping. It just felt so grown up. I went to a tiny college (700 students) where everyone was required to live on campus and partake of the meal plan, and so I never had the off-campus/apartment/group rental situation others experienced at the tender age of 19 or 20. Anyway, I loved it. College AND grocery shopping. Walking up and down the aisles, being able to buy what I wanted when I wanted it...really a charge. Now I hate it. The "big box" stores are so bright, so loud. My dream would be to stick to the little pretty grocery stores, Wellspring, Weaver Street; I had a very very positive first encounter with the Chatham marketplace over the week-end...but these places tend to be so expensive that I feel guilty and head back to a "real" grocery store. Actually, my fantasy is total grocery delivery service, to my door every week or so. I have even stopped going into Target for the past 3 or 4 months. Ironically, however, I selected for a Christmas gift a membership to one of the biggest: Costco. Right after the New Year dawned, I headed over, sans Flipper. My goal was really only to get the little ID card, and "check it all out." Oh, the innocence. Flash forward 60 minutes from receiving my ID card (I look like a criminal) to this vision: me, wandering about, a panicked look on my face, a bag of tangerines clutched in one hand, looking for...what What WAS I looking for? On either side of my the true prose barreled by, their HUGE shopping carts filled with enough staples to adequately stock a backyard bomb shelter. For years. I mean it, these people really knew what they were doing. I, on the other hand, did not. I got one of the worst migraines I have had lately trying to navigate the massiveness. Finally, I fled, tangerines in hand along with the biggest bottle of washing machine soap I have ever seen. At least it was Ecos brand, and made for front-loading, high efficiency machines. It is ironic that many of the eco-brands I like (7th generation, Mrs Meyers, etc do not make detergent for HE machines)and yet their customers might be a little more likely to HAVE a front-loader. This experience scarred me so badly that it has taken several weeks (and running out of toilet paper) to get me fired up again, ready to take it on once more. But this time I smell victory in the air!! I must become a pro at this, even though there is simply so much stuff that actually a making a decision and buying something feels like scaling a mountain. A very tall mountain made of cases of paper towels and 30 lb boxes of pasta. But I WILL succeed!!! My New Year's resolution is to really be as energy-efficient as I can. I think I already do pretty well, probably scoring a "B" were I to be graded. The clothesline, the HE washing machine, the thermostat set on 68 in the winter and 74 in the summer...but I can do better. When my grandmother died in 2004, I inherited about 10 rolls of wrapping paper and about a million light bulbs. She was a true depression-person, and stocked up very very well, simply because she could, after a childhood of being very very poor. I split the bulbs with Keith and only have a few left. On my short Costco list, right after "toilet paper" I have "bulbs", but these will be the compact florescent ones. I only have 5 lamps in the whole house, although I have 6 pendant lights in the kitchen. The other track lighting (which I loathe and rarely use) take halogen bulbs. I will pretend those don't exist. I hear Costco sells these cheaply; we will see. I have the migraine pills at the ready in my purse and glove box just in case I don't succeed. And then I will try and try again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beds. And houses.

At work. Looking at MLS listings. Depressed over why I always seem to end up in places with crazed real estate prices, although nothing beats Telluride, CO. See below:

This one-level 3 bedroom, 1 bath 1,397 sq. ft. home sits on an oversized corner lot with views of Bear Creek, the world-famous Box Canyon, and Ski Area. Remodeled in 1979, the home is located in a great neighborhood less than one block to Main Street and all of the fine restaurants and shops. Town Park is about four blocks to the west and the Telluride gondola accessing the world-class skiing is just an easy 6 block stroll. Excellent and hard-to-find development opportunity in the center of town.

The cost for this 1300 sq ft home? 1,750,000. When I left in 1996, the same house would have gone for around 800,000. I am actually not making this up, or even exaggerating a teeny tiny bit. And so now I am poking around in Carrboro, although I think I am probably going to end up staying put on East Drive. Part of me longs for a change, a new place, walkability to the playground, a shorter drive to school and so on and so on. But actually mustering the energy to search, and even more exhausting decide seem to be beyond me right now. The houses in Carrboro are also quite pricey; 750 sq feet for 219,000? That is a lot. Tiny yard. But so so cute. I am starting to be enamored of getting Flipper out of my bed, even though she wants very badly to stay. She is not going for her own room in our house since it is downstairs and tucked away in the back, and it feels very separate and far away for me as well. And it has a door that leads directly to the backyard, which makes me irrationally nervous. But side-by-side rooms? That I think she would go for. Trying to figure out how to put a small bed upstairs in our bedroom and shift her to it. Move the loveseat to the back room. Get a trundle or something similar. See what happens. Isn't that what it's all about, after all? just seeing what happens. Much like the nursing, I never thought I could live without it, that I would miss it so much, but once it ended, I was fine with it. And so was she. Now the bed-thing is rearing it's head, and I am ready to move away from co-sleeping as well. Any bed on the floor will be appropriated by Sophie, as her incredibly pricey LL Bean dog bed just isn't good enough. I sense I am thinking about this much too much. And so signing off now.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stylist To The Stars

I think Flipper's career quest may change from "Hawaiian hula girl" to "stylist to the stars." What would lead me to believe this? Well, take a look at poor JoJo. On Sunday Flipper inherited my beloved stuffed woolly mammoth, appropriately (for a Panic fan, that is) named JoJo. She has long coveted JoJo, for his bright white, menacing tusks, his long fuzzy hair, begging to be brushed with a tiny pink plastic doll-brush...and now it is hers. I bought JoJo at the Pittsburgh Airport. They actually have an impressive array of shops there, Victoria's Secret among them. Who buys lingerie at an airport? Apparently enough folks to warrant a store. Anyway, JoJo came from the Discovery Store. He has been mine since early 1999 or 2000. I honestly cannot remember. Jessica would know, since she was with me. We trekked over to my parent's house yesterday for Flipper to get some one-on-one time with Smokey while Grampy and I got a little culture at a concert by a local women's chorale group. They are quite hard-core, an aspiring joiner must audition, they sing complicated classical Old English songs, etc. It was long, I honestly cannot believe they can sing that long without dying of thirst, or just getting tired. Lots of cult members there, which was fun too. We returned to find that in our absence Flipper had been quite busy indeed. See below.

Note tusk-rings, a new creative style!!

JoJo turns to the bottle to help him cope with his "new look."

The tired stylist. Hard work cross-dressing a mammoth.

Friday, January 11, 2008

In with the new...

Last night we went to see the new baby. He was adorable, unusually beautiful, fair and blondish, sleepy and all curled up. It was precious. I am leaving work early to go home and frantically make the house look as though we live in a precious, gnomes-and-fairy-filled woodsy, green, naturally Waldorf-y home. And we do...for an hour here and an hour there. Note to self: hide DVD player first. Otherwise, it will get forgotten!! SO...cute brand new baby below.

Flipper was less enthralled than I would have predicted. She was much more interested in playing with Baby Seamus, and taking a bath.

They like to wear these hooded towels and run up and down the hallway screaming as the "cape" flies out behind. They can do this for hours.

Ronan. Soon to be shortened (by me) to "Ro."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Today is post #161. I frankly cannot believe it. It will be full of random snippets today, largely unrelated, and since it has been a bit text-heavy lately, some pictures from the beach trip. After all, I took 94!! Today we will visit the new baby on the street, our new new next-door baby, Ronan. Baby Seamus (his older brother) was apparently a bit surprised that he wasn't the girl he and Flipper had been gunning for. In fact, his first sentence was, "Baby sister is a boy!!" But Flipper is very very eager to see him, to hold him, and to help Rose with diaper duty. MY gift to the new mommy is a month's worth of laundry duty. It is the one household chore I actually love to do, and she is the pleased recipient. And I have to get a present for the new creature. My typical new-baby present is a good book, some sort of "classic" that has an animal involved and an accompanying stuffed animal that matches. Baby Seamus got "The Velveteen Rabbit" along with...yes, you clever readers got it, a velvet bunny. Really, too cute if I do say so myself. It has made me remember what my favorite baby presents were, and I am sorry to report that it was beautiful baby clothes. Ones that didn't last, that she wore for a time and then were passed along, or relegated to our keepsake box that lives under my bed. But when I see a brand-new baby, the first thought that goes through my head is, "I cannot believe I actually took care of/dealt with something that small." This thought is tinged with the memory of pure, sleepless panic at her endless screaming.

Tomorrow is our "home visit", but not, blessedly, from social services. It is from Flipper's Cult Leader, aka her teacher. They do this in the early years, and I have no idea if it extends into what we call "the grades." Meaning 1-8. When we (meaning us parents) first encountered this last year it caused a fair amount of panic. There is always that feeling, especially when you join any cult, that you aren't doing it right, aren't doing it enough. That your house, toys, food, whatever isn't Waldorf-y, and that your and your child will be judged. None of the teacher's protestations that this isn't the case sink in until they come, ignore you completely (I took the dogs for a walk)and your child begs them to stay forever. Despite our fears, they are not looking for contraband, like a TV with Twinkies and Cokes on top, or hideously loud plastic toys that run purely on batteries for a day or two. Or so they say. So tomorrow Flipper's teacher will actually put her car seat in HER car and drive her to my house at 1:30, whereupon I will be banished and she will "play" with Flipper, in order to observe her in her "home setting." TODAY I will race home, and clean frantically, making the house appear, at least for an hour or two, spotless and pristine, toss Hawaiian Barbie in the Back Room, where all detritus goes to die, and generally make things appear wonderful. And yet her teacher will barely glance around, and I will be banished once again. The damn dogs will get a great walk.

Red skies in the morning. However, the weather was great!

Same shot a few seconds later, but with bizarre ghost caught on "film." Were it hurricane season I would have been convinced that it was The Grey Man. Still have no idea what it was.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Little English AND History lesson. For Free.

I have some skills. But not many. One, however, is that I am quite a good copy editor/proofreader, if I do say so myself. Note that I cannot diagram a sentence, failed all those ridiculous grammar tests in 7th and 8th grade that required you to pick some word out of a sentence and define it as a participle or some such crap. These memories are why I will sell my soul to the devil (who will probably demand his money back) to avoid Flipper ever having to perform such an inane task at school. Why? Because it doesn't help you become or good reader OR a good writer. But I am fascinated by catching other people's unwittingly amusing misuses of words/punctuation. The area that creates the most problems for people is homonyms. Those words that sound alike but have two very, often radically, different meanings. It surprises me, however, that people don't catch these common errors, and I contribute this directly to not reading a lot, which means your eye doesn't grab onto the word and register in a teeny tiny voice "wait. I really mean a location, not a reference." (Site vs. Cite). Enough of my annoyingly smug and obnoxious lecture. On one of the less worthwhile "cites" I visit (HAHAHAHAHAHA) is a short daily blog from some musician girl I don't know about life on the road with her husband and kid, who goes by the great name Magnolia. Anyway, the mom was relating her daughter's loud crying when trying to fall asleep without her pacifier, and actually wrote this sentence down and published it, "Magnolia was up twice that night, balling her eyes out." Got that? Poor thing, having sex all night long at the age of 2. The temptation is almost overwhelming to email the writer and point out all the errors, starting with the one above, but I have come to learn, after many many years of watching my father annoy waiters by pointing out the misspellings on menus, that people do not appreciate my helpful advice. Not at all. My Disney-slam link in an earlier issue didn't show up as planned (damn you, Blogger!) so here is the explanation of Why Leigh Hates Disney, or Reason number 10,000.

But, you're saying....it's Disney. So what if there's a little T & A in the movies? So what if they kill off all the mothers in their films? No one pays attention to this stuff! Want to know just how much Disney's influence affects Life As We Know It? Well, I'll tell you anyway.

Everyone knows lemmings commit suicide by throwing themselves off of cliffs, right? We have the expression "lead astray like lemmings to the sea".."followed like lemmings", "like lemmings off a cliff"..used to describe stupid acts by several people. Thing is, Lemmings don't behave that way - Walt Disney made the whole thing up. All of it. You'd be surprized how many people believe this as fact; go ask a few. Maybe you do, too, till right now.

It all started when the nature documentary 'White Wilderness' was filmed in 1958 in the arctic wilds of Alberta, Canada. It was a massive undertaking that took 3 years. No one has yet to figure out why - and Disney never explained - why they got it in their heads to film a "real lemming migration" complete with rare, never-before-seen footage of the critters drowning themselves in the sea. This was never-before-seen because lemmings don't do this. Population explosions sometimes happen and lemmings do migrate and maybe a few will accidentally fall off a cliff or tumble down some rocks and fall in a stream or something and drown. Sucks to be them, then, but it's not a habit they all get into as some wise form of population control. You could just as easily say ants migrate and commit suicide by throwing themselves off curbs and drowning themselves in puddles. Apparently The Disney Documentary Braintrust neglected, in researching their Wildlife documentary, to find any actual desire to document the wildlife accurately. Not to fear! The head photographer and crew decided to take the liberty of bullshitting. They paid Inuit kids 25 cents for every lemming they brought in and they got a few dozen.

They put the critters on a huge, snow-covered "Lazy Susan" turntable and spun it, then filmed from various angles as the critters ran, fell and slid into each other. This pretty much made it look like a "migration" sequence showing a bunch of spinning, running, sliding lemmings with snow flying all over. Voila! Lemming migration! Afterwards, instead of just letting the things go with a few $ and some Mickey Mouse ears, then they were all taken to where there was a cliff overlooking a river and herded over the edge, down into the water, where they drowned. For real. For no reason except to be filmed. Cut and Wrap! Disney got his footage and the myth of the Lemming Hurling Off Cliffs To Commit Suicide was born.

This is how much people trusted Uncle Walt and the stuff that came out of Disney Studios back then. Disney Documentary was as good as God's Honest Wholesome Truth. People to this day will still believe this story is Nature Wilderness fact when in fact it's made up Disney bull and proof of how much trust people put into the clean, honest "image" of Disney.

I actually Snoped this to make sure it wasn't some sort of urban legend, since, believe it or not, more people besides just me hate Disney, but it really is true. Sad beyond sad.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Losing-not loosing

Last night at 7:38, my sweet and awesome neighbor Rose had her second child, a little boy! It was a surprise to them, as Rose thought she was having a girl, but we are all thrilled. No name yet, they want to "hang out with him" for awhile before they decide. So I greet this news with a lot of happiness and yet some sadness too; as Rose becomes another friend that has joined a club I cannot ever be a member of, the Parent-Of-Two-Children Club. It has happened before, will undoubtedly happen again, but I always feel a tiny bit left out, and it enhances my ever-present bittersweet feelings of loss as Flipper, day by day, grows up (and away) inch by inch. (Although not TOO many inches, as her adult height based on her current height and mine and Keith's adult height is pretty damn short at 5'0".) Dear god that is short!!

One of my friend's son has lost 4 teeth in the past few months, and it changes the way he looks, the way he seems. In Cult-World (Waldorf)losing teeth is a Very Big Deal: in some schools, particular European ones, it is a benchmark of readiness to advance into grade school, in Steiner's view the loss of baby teeth meant that a child was a fully formed physical being, and thus ready for more spiritual teachings. Flipper cannot wait to lose teeth. I think it, too, will be one of a million things marked by pure excitement for her and yet another tiny touch of grief for me. I will miss her perfect little tiny white Chiclet-teeth. However, on a lighter note, if genetics plays a role she has a ways to go: she got baby teeth pretty late, around 10-11 months, and I think her father and I both lost teeth late as well, more like 6 or 7. So I am quite sure there are many other things I can obsess about right to help myself feel sad.

If you are wondering about the title to this post, I never cease to be amazed at how many people spell "lose" with an extra "o", making it "loose." I see this almost daily. And while I am on this grammar-rant, next Chrostmas I am going to keep track of the family cards, websites, blogs, etc., that have the plural spelling of their family name with a possessive apostrophe. I can't believe the printing comapnies don't stop them!! It is not "The Smith's", you are, in fact, "The Smiths." What is up with that?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Elephant King and More

Lamely, I failed at Christmas (the actual day, that is) to maintain a semi "tradition" of giving Flipper a new book every year, preferably a Christmas book, since we're so into all aspects of Christmas but the religious ones. How convenient!! I felt MUCH better at what is basically me crassly poaching all of the gorgeous capitalistic trappings of Christmas with little to none of the suffering through church, extended family visits, etc. that can go along with Christmas, after reading an article in the religion section about a faction of Christians that do not celebrate Christmas at all. Their perspective is that it is not mentioned in the Bible, and that, (rightly) the many traditions of Christmas exist because of their connection to pre-Christian pagan rituals and symbols, like the tree. At any rate, back to the damn book. The day AFTER Christmas, I went to Barnes and Noble while fleeing to the beach to purchase above-mentioned book. This was harder than I thought it would be. Flipper promptly went into some sort of zoned-out, hypnotic state when faced with a wall of hideous Disney "fairy tale" books-(I put "fairy tales" in quotation marks because Disney has managed to pretty much mangle and destroy any original tale whatsoever for their own profitable gains). If you ever wonder why I hate Disney so much and malign them any chance I can get, which in this day and age is about every 6 seconds or so, then go here: . Pretty much says it all. I even referenced this through my favorite urban-myth-buster site, Snopes.com, just to make sure this really happened. but it did. And I can even remember seeing that exact film clip in 3rd grade at Parkwood Elementary. But back to the story: I quickly disintegrated when faced with tons of books, people, and frantic rushedness. I bought as fast as I could one of my favorites from childhood, Babar. Then I fled, after denying Flipper any type of sickeningly sweet book about some pretty girl with no mother who does something good for some guy. There! I just summed up every single Disney anything in one sentence!! That night at the beach, we read Babar together, and I must tell you that I was a bit horrified. Even Flipper, child with hardened heart, was a bit saddened by PAGE 2 where the young elephant's mother is shot and killed by these Teddy Roosevelts-on-Safari-types lurking behind palm trees. Then, later, (I had forgotten this part) Babar only becomes king because the current Elephant King eats an evil red mushroom and sinks to the jungle floor, covered in wrinkles and turns a hideous shade of green and DIES. Then Babar marries his cousin!! Aren't there laws against that kind of thing? Was this really one of my faves?? I cannot figure out if it is good or bad that books have changed a fair amount from slightly more realistic, meaning bad things really did "happen" to the sunshine-and-flowers kids' books of today. Perhaps this is just my own perspective.

Since I am unhappy on the inside, I have been indulging in a fair amount of retail therapy to feel better. How sad, it works!! Please let there be a few packages on my porch today!!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Largely disjointed and irrelevant post

It is 18 degrees outside, and I love it. I went for a long walk yesterday, and felt fully alive and invigorated; I pretended for a time that I was back in Telluride, where it regularly went to 10 below at night and 25 or so during the day. The only thing missing was about 10 feet of snow on the ground. I like it when winter FEELS like winter. Flipper, amazingly, remains unbothered by cold weather, or hot, for that matter. And I can remember being this way as a little kid; when my sister and I would have contests to see how far we could walk barefoot on bubbling asphalt in the dead middle of summer. Those days are over, however. Flipper has taken up that mantle quite graciously, and will hopefully wear the Impervious To The Elements crown for a good long while. We weren't quite as indifferent to winter, however. We grew up in a little neighborhood quite similar to the one I currently live in, and we walked to school every day. It was about a mile. And when I say every day, I mean just that. Rain or shine, cold or hot. I think we hated it. No, I know we did. Then we got old enough to ride our bikes, or, rather, I did, and Kathryn perched behind me on a little wooden seat with a Holly Hobbie pillow on it and put her feet in the book baskets on either side of the back tire. Please envision that, if you can. Have you figured out yet that there is no real point to this post? Because you would be right.
I stay away from commenting (judging) celebrity news, even though my weekly arrival of People in my mailbox thrills me to no end because it is silly and irrelevant and makes me sound even bitchier than I really am. But two things I will comment on: new bad-baby name so far: The new offspring of athletically gifted and downright hot Gabrielle Reese and Laird Hamilton. A girl named (get this) Brody Jo. WTF?? They did a good job with their first, I love the name Violet and it was on our girl-list as well. But Brody?? Wasn't that Miranda's kid's name on Sex and the City??
The OTHER thing is the combined nightmare of the Spears sisters. While I do not, in fact, find it remotely shocking that a 16 girl gets knocked up, particularly in light of the fact that her "mother" let her boyfriend spend the night, I find it shocking that she is going to have the baby. Harsh, right? That I think most 16 year old kids that find themselves "in a family way" hot-foot it to Planned Parenthood as fast as possible? And Britney, whom I largely attempt not to judge on her "parenting" skills since I have tried, ever since the arrival of Flipper, NOT to judge others, since I am quite sure others judge me just as harshly as I used to judge them. Someone famous had a great quote about this phenomenon: "I was a great parent until I had kids." How true!! At any rate, what no one ever seems to say out loud, because it goes against all of our beliefs about motherhood, (especially when you have lots of money), is that maybe, just maybe, she really doesn't want them back. Maybe she doesn't want to take care of them, to make the huge changes inside to put someone else first day after day. I tell you with some guilt-but not much-that what I find the most challenging part of parenting is simply being nice to another person day in and day out. It is certainly something I never managed to achieve with any roommate or boyfriend in my life so far. And I have gotten better at it, especially of late.
One day about a month ago, we were driving away from out home-away-from-home: Wilson Park. I was, to be brutally honest, not exactly yelling, but coming damn close to it at the stop sign. Out of the corner of my eye I could see two young cyclists, early 20's, definitely pre-kids look at me with a touch of horror, maybe disgust. But what they DIDN'T see was a child old enough to know better run out into the parking lot as 3 cars were reversing from their parking spaces a few minutes before. It terrified ME, who is not the safety-freak-mom of the year. So they caught a glimpse, a snapshot, of my life/my parenting in that one second, and probably passed some sort of judgement upon it. Uncharacteristically, I didn't even get angry at them, or even at myself. Because one day, the same thing will happen to them. It happens to everyone. So let's be kinder to each other. And THAT is my New Year's resolution. And to eat better vegetables.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The day after the toyfest I loaded up the car in a cold, pouring rain, tossed in two large dogs and Flipper, and took off to the bestest, most favoritest beach ever for 5 days. I was beyond happy and relieved to get out of town, away from the human stressor in my life. I have a close friend who also flees to the beach every year at the same time, but her digs were a bit nicer than ours....

The beach was Topsail, our family's beach since 1970. The house was ancient, probably an original to the 50's. This should quickly give you an idea of the era this precious place was stuck in...there was an old stack of Reader's Digest Condensed Books tucked away in the only closet in the whole place. It has survived hurricane after hurricane, and still has all the original pine paneling on walls and ceiling. All the little houses on Topsail used to be covered in pine on the interior. I personally LOVE IT and think it gorgeous.

This is the tiny shoebox-sized living room.

The weather was great, as you can see by Flipper's lack of wintry clothing as she introduces Henrietta to the ocean for the first time. Lucky Henrietta will probably see Maui come June...

At Topsail we were very close to the uninhabited end of the island, and every late afternoon we would walk along the point, watching the sun set and finding treasures like a dead skate, which, of course, I just HAD to photograph.

The sunset was incredible every night, and the beach full of things to discover. Seamus was beyond happy...

So next summer we'll be back for a week!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hiatus Over

Back to "work", back to the blog. Where, oh where to start? Will pretend life problems do not exist, except for the fact that I am quite short-tempered and sensitive to everything right now, will focus on hopeful future and Flipper's rather magical Christmas. So often I look at her, and think, please please let me remember this forever. This is the first year she really "got it", that there would be presents just for her, that Santa would be coming to our house and needing to refuel on cookies and carrots for the reindeer; it was all so very REAl to her. Things went pretty much as I had rigidly planned them to go: good Christmas Eve, except for awful church service that was so disappointing that I feel fully justified in following my original desire to simply not ever go, and then a slow slow Christmas Day. It took her 30 minutes just to go through her stocking!! Every tiny item had to be pulled out, wondered over, and then immediately put to use, passed around, etc. The presents were slowly opened one at a time, with each one engaging her fully, for 15-20 minutes at a time, before moving on. It was exactly as I wanted it to be, no frantic tearing through packages, no tossing something aside then grabbing the next, just somewhat thoughtful and easy. It was also very very gratifying to see her sheer joy and delight over what was, in all honesty, a pretty big Christmas. May I always hit it as right as I did this Christmas. And, yes, I do know how unrealistic that goal is! The doll, precious. It has a name now, and while I miss her old tendency to name things very literally (I was fully prepared for her name it "Stocking" or "Bow") she named it Henrietta, which is my mother's real name, and what I wish I had named Flipper all along. Strangely hideous and beautiful at the same time. Carriage: wonderful. She loves it. How I love that it isn't pink!! Fairy Tree Trunk home: spectacular!! German toys are AMAZING. And wood. My father got a bit tired of all the "girl toys" but his feminist fears about gender stereotyping were laid to rest when she opened the sword and shield. A long and very exciting zipline running through the backyard rounded out her morning. With about a million other things. So here are the pictures:

Setting up Santa's "snack."

Sometimes the stocking is the best part!!

Gentle, thoughtful unwrapping.


Classic (and classy) English pram. The new mommy is very happy!!

Take THAT, lead paint China toy!!

The Princess Knight, or, Dragon-Killer

Watch out for the tree!!!!!!!!!!