Mommy for President

November 4, 2008

If you think talking politics with friends and co-workers with so many differing opinions is tough, you should to explain the voting process to three-year-olds.

I’m planning on taking my twins with me to the polls later today so I wanted to let them know what we are doing.  And of course, the why question reared its ugly head.

I told them it was so I could pick who I wanted for president.  My son pipes up, “You be president, Mommy.”  And my daughter agreed, adding “Yeah, Mommy!”

I explained to them that I didn’t want the position.  But that didn’t deter the twins.  With his sister’s support, my son then nominates my husband, “Daddy be president.”

I told them I didn’t know, but Daddy might want the job.  They’d have to ask him when he got home.

But how cool is it that our children think we can run the country.  If you actively raise good kids, you can do anything.


National Grouch Day

October 15, 2008

Feeling kind of grumpy today?  Not your usual happy self?  Or maybe you’re always like this?  Either way, you are in the holiday spirit because today – October 15 – is National Grouch Day.

Sure it’s a fictitious holiday, but who doesn’t need a day where it’s okay to grumble – especially with the slew of stressful holidays heading our way.  So put on your best grumpy face and celebrate.

While you busy being irritable and cantankerous, tell us who is your favorite grouch?  It can be a character from TV, the movies, your favorite book or even a real life person (be careful here this one could come back and bite you in the butt).

And what is your best remedy to get your self out of a grumpy day funk?

Sea Gull Century Gets Unexpected Participant

October 10, 2008

On Saturday, my husband competed in the Sea Gull Century, a hundred mile bike race on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  But what we saw was an unexpected surprise.

This wild pony just joined right into the race.

This wild pony just joined right into the race.

Being the dutiful family, my three-year-old twins and I donned our team shirts and went to support him.  We saw him off at the start line in Salisbury.  Then we took a small detour to the Salisbury Zoo, before heading to Assateague Island to cheer him on at the 62 mile marker.

We arrived about 45 minutes before my husband, so we found some a good spot on the side of the road and cheered on all the other weary cyclists as they headed into their third rest stop.

But what we saw next was a delight to my children and just a surprise to the other riders.  We saw a new entry into the event – the kind with four legs.

How many races do you get to ride right beside a wild pony?

How many races do you get to ride right beside a wild pony?

Assateague – and the neighboring Chincoteague – Island is known for its wild ponies.  Well, while we were sitting there cheering on the cyclists we saw one pony insert himself into the race.

He started out grazing on the side of the road, but then worked himself onto the road where surprised cyclists traveling 15-20 mph had to navigate around him.

But just as quickly as he appeared our mysterious pony participant disappeared.  But when you hear my kids talk about the century, it’s all about the pony – and oh yeah, Daddy did good too.

Looney Tunes Gets Bloody, Is it Too Much for Kids?

October 8, 2008

I just read about a new art exhibit called “Splatter” where Looney Tunes characters are taken to the next violent level – complete with blood and guts.

jCauty&SON copyright out of control 2008, courtesy of THE AQUARIUM

Artist James Cauty created the controversial exhibition with his 15-year-old son Harry Photo: jCauty&SON copyright out of control 2008, courtesy of THE AQUARIUM

According to the Telegraph, the exhibit claims to show your favorite Looney Tune characters in “unrelenting acts of blood and discomfort never previously witnessed on the Cartoon Network.”

The exhibit itself doesn’t bother me.  I’m all for free expression.  I don’t think my kids are mature enough to see that kind of thing yet, so I simply won’t take them.  Others are free to see the exhibit if it interests them.  The gallery even attached a parental advisory to the exhibit.  I’m fine with that.

What did upset me was a statement by artist James Cauty.

“I’m a parent myself, and if I saw pictures like that I would think of something kids would really love, because it’s no holds-barred violence.”

I find the statement terribly disturbing.  I’m a parent and I don’t want my young kids to be getting that excited about “no holds-barred violence.”

We should be teaching our children about limits, not “no holds-barred.”  We should be stressing the importance of right and wrong, not the bloodier the better.

What does it say about our society that we are encouraging our kids to get excited about violence, that blood and guts are “fun.”

I currently limit the amount of Looney Tunes cartoons my kids can watch.  They are extremely violent as is.  We have discussion after watching them about what is right and what is wrong.

I watched Looney Tunes growing up and I turned out ok.  But I was raised with a strong moral foundation.  Even so there’s a big difference between watching an anvil drop on coyote’s head and watching Jerry mutilate Tom.

There’s no way I’d let my kids into that exhibit until they were much, much older.  They need to be mature enough to understand what is “entertainment” only.  They should know why it’s really not fun when people get hurt.

But the idea that our kids are getting excited about extreme violence, that they find blood and mutilation fun, scares me.  Because too many kids are mature enough to distinguish between reality and entertainment and too many aren’t getting the moral discussions to distinguish between right and wrong.

What do you think are we as society doing too much to encourage this trend among our children that the more, bloodier violence is a good thing?  Are we setting up our children for trouble in the future?

Valentine’s Day: Worst First Date Ever

February 13, 2008

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the air is filled with romance, right?  Well, technically around here the air is filled with the flu.  This fact got me thinking about romance gone awry.

First DateThen I read an article on The Seven Worst First Dates of Film and it got me thinking about my own first dates.

I was never much of a dater – at least not one-on-one.  I did what I called group dating – my boyfriend de jour and I would go out with a group of our friends to movies, dances, dinner, etc.

But one first date did come to mind.  It was with my now-husband when we were still in college.  We had actually start seeing each other a month or so earlier after a late night party, but we had kept that fact mum from our friends.

We hung out in a group of six – my husband, me, three other guys and this girl that had a crush on my husband.  Therefore, we kept our budding relationship a secret for a while.  Whenever we were out with the group, which was most of the time, we just kept our hands to ourselves.  Then we’d spend late nights getting to know each other.

However, at some point we finally went public.  I don’t remember exactly when or what triggered the revelation.  But it was clear – it was time for us to have our first “official” date.  And now we had the pressure of all our friends waiting to see how it turned out.

Ever the jokester, my husband spent that entire week telling everyone that on Saturday night he was going to take me to the 7-11 (yes, the convenience store) for dinner.  We would enjoy hotdogs while sitting on the curb.  And just because he was romantic, he would knock out the streetlight for better ambiance.

Needless to say that wasn’t the intended date, but it eased the questions we got at the keg party Friday night.

Saturday morning he was headed to the mountains for a ride with some friends (he’s an avid mountain biker) and then he was suppose to pick me up at six.

I knew he had away of letting time slip by him when he was on his bike, so I wasn’t surprised when the phone rang at 5:45.  He was calling to tell me that they had just gotten back from the trip; he’d shower, have one beer with the guys and be right over.

Never, ever believe a guy when he says “one beer” with the guys.  It didn’t help that he was at the same house where the keg party was the night before.  Well, needless to say one beer turned into a campaign to finish off the keg.

It was nearly an hour and a half before I heard from him again – another call promising that he was definitely on his way this time.  By eight, he’d finally arrived reeking of beer. 

Naturally, I drove us to the restaurant.  We had, of course, lost our reservation.  But by then most of the college clientele were already on their way to a party so we had no trouble getting a table.

The rest of the evening went fine.  He slurred his speech a little as he apologized profusely.  And it wasn’t long after dinner before he passed out on my couch.

Now I know you’re wondering why I even let him in when he finally arrived or why I ever saw him again after that.  The truth is I had already fallen for him head over heels.

But at least now I can always hang over him the fact that he was two hours late for our first date.

I know there are far more disastrous first date tales out there.  So spill, what was your worst first date?

Photo by David Goehring. (License: Creative Commons Attribution)

Mistletoe Etiquette: How to Graceful Manage those Awkward Moments Under the Sprigs

December 17, 2007

Every year I put mistletoe up in my house.  For me, it’s a fun reminder to appreciate the loved ones in my life.  I never dreamed that mistletoe came with it’s own etiquette.

MistletoeI’m sure that everyone has a story about an awkward moment under the mistletoe.  Mine involves a party I went to with a friend and a sailor I’d just met.  But I was single, he wasn’t a bad kisser and we were all having a good time. 

Overall, not a terrifying story and something to laugh about now with friends.  But I can think of a few situations where being caught under the mistletoe can cause some serious discomfort.

What do you do when you are married, but are under the mistletoe with someone other than your spouse?  What if you find yourself under the sprigs with a co-worker at an office party?   What if you are caught under the mistletoe with a new neighbor, or worse yet, a complete stranger?

Well etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore has all the answers for you in The Clarisonic Mistletoe Manifesto: Make Merry but be Wary When Exchanging Kisses Under the Mistletoe.  She offers lots of options including the air kiss, the hand kiss, the cheek kiss and the corner kiss.

Hope these tips help you avoid any awkward moments this holiday.  Happy kissing! 

Photo by darwin Bell. (License: Creative Commons Attribution)

Three Very Unusual, But Memorable Thanksgivings

November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving is usually one of those holidays that pass in a blur of turkey and football, but three – all during particularly different points in my life – stand out for me.

TurkeyI’ll start with the most recent first. 

Thanksgiving and Milk of Magnesia
We hadn’t been in our current house but a couple of years.  My sister was still married to a sailor and was halfway across the country with her family.  We hadn’t had children yet so it was just my mom, husband and I.  We decided to invite another couple whose extended family was all out of town.  We had only recently met this couple, but thought hey that’s what Thanksgiving is for – bringing people together.

So my mom arrives with this stray beagle that she had recently found.  The poor little thing was skin and bones and was recovering from a broken hip where it had obviously been hit by a car.  But Snoopy fit it with my mom’s other dog and my dogs with no trouble.

Dinner preparations were uneventful.  When the other couple arrived, we put the dogs in the garage.  I can’t remember why we just didn’t put them outside – it must’ve been too cold.

My husband keeps a pretty neat garage.  But remember we didn’t have kids and our dogs spend almost no time in the garage so it wasn’t an example of the world’s safest garage.

Needless to say, we sit down to a delightful meal.  But somewhere between dinner and dessert, I go to the garage for something and discover a can of gas treatment with teeth marks on it leaking in the dog bed Snoopy was in.

Alarmed, we immediately call an animal hospital that tells us that for $65 we can bring the dog in and they’ll tell us if he’s ingested any of it.  Then for even more money they will pump his stomach for us or give him  milk of magnesia.

Now it’s Thanksgiving, that’s an awful lot of money and we aren’t even sure that Snoopy has indeed drank this stuff.

So next we have this comical scene where we pry open each of four dogs’ mouths to see if we can smell gas treatment on their breath. 

We – yes, my husband, my mother and I each took a turn smelling the dog’s breath – decide that we can only faintly smell it on Snoopy’s breath, probably just where he got on his teeth from chewing on the container.

Still, we want to make sure that this dog my mom has been nursing back to health, stays healthy.  So we decided to give the dog some milk of magnesia ourselves.

So we take the dog outside on the deck.  One of us holds the dog, the other pries his mouth open and the third pours in the milk of magnesia which then makes the dog look like he’s foaming at the mouth.

Let me assure you that describing the process is a lot easier than actually doing it.  When I look up from our task, I see our house guests — this other couple — pressed against the window of our back door laughing their asses off.

The dog survived and that friendship has flourished.  Today, the couple’s little boy is now getting into trouble with our twins and I have a feeling we’ll have more interesting Thanksgiving stories to tell on their part.

Thanksgiving and the Fire Alarm
In my senior year of college, before my husband and I became a couple we ran around with a group of six including ourselves.  For Thanksgiving, of course, we all went home to our families. 

But four members of the group worked for a home improvement store (think the Work Bench from Reaper) that gave its employees a turkey for Thanksgiving.  So when we all returned from the holiday, they all had these turkeys in their freezers.  Very unusual for college apartments, I know.

So we decided to make the best of it by having our own Thanksgiving feasts.  In turn, each person that had a turkey hosted the dinner and the rest of brought the trimmings.

I should mention that this group of six included four men and two women.  The three men who had turkeys went first and the single female who had a turkey went last.

Knowing my lack of talent in the kitchen, I was assigned to bring dessert – pumpkin pie.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well these meals turned out.  They resulted in delicious food, great conversation, lots of drinking (we were in college after all) and a good time by all.

By the time we got to the fourth turkey, these meals fell into place like clockwork.  That is, until the female’s turn to cook the turkey.  She had forgotten to take out the innards and she’d left the legs tied.  Then the fire alarm went off.

And this wasn’t any ordinary fire alarm.  It was like the ones you see in sitcoms that no matter what you do, they continue to go off. 

Needless to say we never did get to eat turkey that night.  And none of the guys let that poor girl forget it.  It was never completely cooked, but we enjoyed the trimmings nevertheless.

And to this day, my husband and I laugh about those four post-Thanksgiving Turkey meals.

My First Attempt at Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner
It’s no secret that I am domestically challenged.  Many people have tried to teach me to cook and all have left running from the kitchen.  In junior high school, I was kicked out of home ec class and transferred to a keyboarding class because “it was a better fit.”  I have set the kitchen on fire more times than I can count and have even burned boiling water.  It’s true; I’m hopeless when it comes to cooking

However, there is one year that I attempted – and I proudly proclaim succeeded – in cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner on my own.

When I was in high school my mom was a single mom that worked very hard to provide for her family.  One year her brother and his family were coming up for Thanksgiving, but they couldn’t get there until Friday.  My mother had to work on that Friday.  My sister was still in middle school.  So the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner fell on my shoulders.

I remember my mom going over the instructions with me the night before.  I remember calling her at work with questions.  But alas, I managed to cook the turkey and all the trimmings with no pending disaster.

When my uncle and his family arrive, the house was still standing.  Just before my mom arrived home, I proudly set the food out on the table.

Little did I know that while at work she had contracted a terrible bout of flu.  When she arrived home, she took one look at the beautiful table of food I had slaved on all day and ran to the bathroom to vomit!

We put her to bed and the rest of us enjoyed the meal.  But I’ll never forget that the first true meal that I succeed at cooking without burning anything down, my mom threw up at the sight of it.

To this day, I use this as an excuse for not cooking Thanksgiving.

I guess the moral of these stories is that no Thanksgiving is perfect.  Instead of striving for perfect, sit back and enjoy the food, friendship and fun!

Photo by Alan L. (License: Creative Commons Attribution)