Saturday, January 30, 2010

WHAT, DID HE INHERIT HER GENES THRU OSMOSIS?!?!?!

...and now the boy genius has moved on to master Sudoku, apparently -- replete with his own Will Shortz Sudoku book in the bathroom, if you can imagine that!

video

And, no offense to Mommy here, really, but I was listening to her, too, and she may as well have been speaking Chinese for all I understood. I was all ready to jump in with tic-tac-toe analogies and number sense games from my high school years, but he not only sat there, listening intently to her through her entire explanation...he also got it!!!(????)

[Seriously, if this boy becomes any more like his Mommy, I'm gonna need some serious meds.]
...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

CHECK. AND MATE.

So, they started their first Chess class yesterday.

Chess.

And after all these insinuations from his teacher about his maybe having ADD or something, I have to admit that even I was a little skeptical that he'd be able to sit there for an hour of instruction by a stranger (from Berkeley, no less) on a board game with non-animated, non-cartoony, non-physical pieces, in a room full of rowdy kids ranging from K-5th grade.

But he did. And thensome. And, in fact, they both did really really well.

He was raising his hands to answer questions we had no idea he knew the answer to. But he got called on several times, and even went up to the board once to attempt a move in response to a question -- and after standing there in front of the whole class, more than 75% of whom were already frequent chess players, he actually moved the piece to just the right spot, and never once looked uncertain or nervous or intimidated.

And I'm still not sure how he did it. But he did. And he seems to get it on a level that I know I'll never understand. And Saia really appears to enjoy it, too. Although, she's a game lover already, like me, so for her it's not so much that it's the game of chess itself, as it is that it's just another game to learn how to master. But for him...for him it was like opening a door onto a path that he always knew was there, but just couldn't see.

And as soon as we came home, he had Mommy install her own chess game on all the computers in the house. And it's all he's done since (well, when he earns computer time, of course). And, naturally, Amy's just beaming. Because she's been trying to turn them onto this for a while, developing their interest, laying the groundwork, building their excitement, and now to watch him take flight like this, it's all she can do to contain herself and not whip out the chess set the second they get home from school.

And, honestly, I don't know that this'll be his "thing." I don't know that he's suddenly maturing and learning to control his little body. I don't know that he won't decide tomorrow that he'd rather be a circus acrobat or a monkey trainer at the zoo. But I do know that he gets a gleam in his eye when he's getting ready to play. And that you can literally see his little gears churning in his head right through his voluminous black locks as he plans, and strategizes, and calculates his risks. And that even when he's losing, he's making every effort to not get upset, to understand what's happening, to try not to let the same thing happen the next time.

He seems stronger and more confident in a way we didn't know he was lacking. More sure of himself -- the way she is with karate. It's like a perfect storm of positive influence.

Check. And mate.
...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BECAUSE THE ALMIGHTY WIZARD OF GOOGLEDOM SAYS SO

So, based on the most recent Google ads "randomly" placed on our blog, I'm thinking of rewriting our profile using the following terms:


What do you think?

[I can feel my complex forming now.]
...

Monday, January 25, 2010

WHEN THE SNACK ATTACKS BACK

So, Chago had a bit trouble this weekend with a little popcorn kernel shell that, apparently, got lodged in his throat...for what seemed like hours!!! Had I known then that all it would take was the video camera, I would've pretended to film him the whole time. Just see if you can manage not to laugh at this:

video

MARSHMALLOW FLUFF IS NOT SO MICROWAVE-FRIENDLY, FYI

So, did everyone already know that you're not supposed to put marshmallow fluff in the microwave?

Just sayin'...a heads up woulda been nice.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

MEET MY SON, THE NEW POLLOCK, WITH A PEE

For your own comfort I have not included photos, but yes, oh yes, I took them.

Today was cleaning day. We divided up the bathrooms first. Saia took mine because it's the easiest, and she usually picks up more than her fair share of chores anyway. Santiago got the kids' bathroom because, well...because he misses a lot, and really neither Saia nor I should have to endure that nast just because he's got insufferably bad aim. So, that left me with the guest bathroom, which is also the only one downstairs and, therefore, the most used.

So, I walk in armed with my bad-for-the-oceans wipes, and my bad-for-the-ozone deodorizer, and my bad-for-my-nosehairs toilet bowl cleaner, and I lifted the lid and could hardly believe my eyes.

The boy, obviously the boy, had decided to use the inside of the lid as a...backboard...or a canvas...or I don't know what! It wasn't a few drops either. That much we're used to. But no, no! It was literally sprayed EVERYWHERE!! Splattered in hundreds of thousands of teeny tiny little droplets. All over the inside cover, all over the lid, all down the sides, and pooled in little puddles on either side of the base.

And I counted to ten. Then to twenty. Then threw in another ten for the child's sake before I called him downstairs.

"What is it, Mom?"

And all I could do was point.

"What?" he has the nerve to ask.

So, I pointed again a little more forcefully. And threw in the look for good measure.

"What?" he says again.

Oh, yes, he did.

And we've already had the proper hygiene discussion, and the contributing to keeping your household clean discussion, and the I'm not your maid and this is not a motel in Vegas discussion. Yeah, obviously not working.

So I very calmly explained to him that if he was so proud of the work he was doing in the potties, we would need to start sharing it with our family and friends, with his classroom, and at karate. If he was so puffed-up impressed with himself, I would be happy to take pictures and pass them around, and he could brag about how he did it all by himself and how he was inspired by the rain or whatever.

But...he declined. And no, I'm not ashamed of using the threat of a little public humiliation now and again.

So, sue me. Or, better yet, come clean my potties.
....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

ALRIGHT, TOTO, I THOUGHT WE WERE IN FRICKIN' CALIFORNIA!?!?!

Having an especially cool day with my kiddos.

The relentless rain finally let up for the 30 minutes it took us to get to and through the farmer's market (short list today: eggs, apples, bananas, dried raisins, dried cherries, purple and yellow onion, and, of course, kettle korn).

And then we got doubles snagging an "eco-friendly only" parking space right up front at the library, and made it through the deposit line and in through the doors just as the clouds burst open again.

We hunkered down between the stacks as the rain pounded the skylights, and read for a few hours, happily coming away with 8 new books and 2 new movies (we watched Home on The Range for movie night), and just then they announced The Wizard of Oz was starting in the conference room on the big screen.

Squeals of delight all around and a couple of "can we, huh, Mama, please, pleases" later, and we were grabbing our little cups of free popcorn and settling in for the movie. It wasn't nearly as dark as a theatre. It was three times as noisy. And there were no nachos. But it was really fun. And really cute. And it was hard not to love every moment that they leaned in and put their heads on my shoulders and hummed all the songs they already knew by heart. [Oh, wait, maybe that was me.]

And then somewhere in the middle of all that, I decided to send a picture of the kids to Mommy, but when I checked my phone I instead noticed that Kim had posted a news report of a Tornado Warning that had just been issued for our area.

FOR. OUR. AREA.

We are, for those of you that may not be aware, in Northern California. Near the San Francisco Bay. Up in the hills. There are no tornadoes out here!!!! What the hell?!?!?!?

[And no, the irony was not lost on me as a 20-foot-tall black-and-white Elmira Gultch cackled high above us.]
...

Friday, January 22, 2010

SO, HOW'S YOUR CONSTITUTION?

In light of the very serious, very historical, very monumental legal battle over Prop8, punning about the Constitution hardly seems appropriate. But, oh well.

Saia at karate, signaling that her eye hurts.

First thing out of both our mouths from the sidelines is "just blink it out" and "just close your eyes for 5 seconds."

And then we both immediately burst into fits of laughter because we've got a looooong list of these. It really doesn't matter what's actually wrong with you, our first responses are always -- to EVERYTHING -- "you just need to go potty" or "you just need to eat something" or "you just need to drink more water."

And I can't shake the image of the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding with a bottle of Windex in his hand.

But, evidently, in the eyes of mothers, the whole world's problems, didn't you know, can be solved by regular bowel movements?

I'm honestly considering calling Obama personally to give him the heads up. I think he could use some good solid advice right about now.

But anyway, I was wondering whether any of you have some tried and truisms that maybe we could add to our repertoire, you know, to shake things up a bit? But I'm telling you, if it turns out that most people feel that a little trip to the potty makes the whole world right, I'm putting together a petition for the President, folks. So, be prepared.
---


Thursday, January 21, 2010

SO...FYI, THE TOOTH FAIRY CHARGES LATE FEES...WITH INTEREST

So, Saia lost her 6th tooth at school. She brought it home in a little plastic tooth case on a string around her neck.

We put it in her tooth box, and under her pillow it went.

And the next morning...it was still there! Damn Toothfairy!!

At first, Saia reasoned that she must just be tired of coming to our house, what with her teeth practically leaping out of her mouth of their own volition these days. And then, you know, there's two of them.

"I cried a little when I saw that she didn't take my tooth, Mama," she said.

[ugh. can you hear my heart breaking from where you are?]

But then we snuggled in close under the covers and tried to think of reasons why she didn't show up. Ultimately, we figured that she must've just gotten bogged down by the rain. I mean, it's been raining non-stop for over a week now, and with all those feathers and jewels and glitter and stuff -- come on! -- flying through a storm's got to be no easy feat, you know? She's probably just running a little late.

So, I get up to let the dogs out, and crawl back into my bed with her so we can plan the day's events, and then she gets up to go show her brother what happened.

And lo and behold!!!

"MAMA!! Hey! What happened here????" she screams.

And as I wander in drowsily, she stands there with a $5 bill in one hand and an empty tooth box in the other, grinning from ear to ear, and scrambling for an explanation.

"I thought the Toothfairy only gave me $5 for my two big teeth," she says.

"I thought so, too, baby," I replied.

And she's still just standing there in the middle of the room, her eyes searching the skies for an answer, her brother throwing out all sorts of crazy illogical suggestions, when suddenly her gorgeous little brown eyes light all up and she looks right at me and says...

"Ohhhhhhh! It's a late fee."
...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DOES JUST HEARING THE TERM PROP8 MAKE YOU CRINGE?

Me, too. But probably for very different reasons.

You see, I'm not one of the 18,000+ same-sex couples who were legally married (and still are) thanks to the level-headedness of the voters of Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, or Iowa. Nor am I one of the same-sex couples who were legally married in a brief moment of sanity by the City of San Francisco.

In fact, I'm not even in a relationship anymore. But even if I were, I don't know that I would ever choose to get married -- which, ironically, is based on the fact that, historically, few marriages (and I'm referring to heterosexual marriages here because that's been the basis of my social experience thusfar) actually do seem to work out forever, and my parents, and every one of my aunts and uncle are prime examples. But that's my own issue, and my therapist'll be jealous if she knew I was sharing so much with you. So, shh!

But what I do have is two amazing children with hyphenated last names reflecting the love and commitment and partnership of their parents (even despite our separation), and birth certificates with "Mother" and "Other Mother" on them, and a bezillion other signed pieces of paper and photos and stories and memories documenting our life together and our intent and promise to care for one another, and to be there for our children every step of their lives, although we never married.

And even once we moved to California and the option of registering as Domestic Partners was made available to us, it wasn't ever something we seriously considered. It came up once or twice, but not ever with the weight that a proposal carries. Because it's not the same. It's not. It's a cop-out.

And we opted not to. Because you don't make a family with a piece of paper. Nobody can tell you that your family is or isn't real or valid or true. And even though we don't have a document that says we're united as one forever under God or Mayor Newsom or whomever, we are and always will be a family.

That being said, we, like everyone else in the world, despite race or creed or political conviction or drunken escapade in Vegas, SHOULD HAVE the legal right to be married if we so choose. We should have the legal right to be at each other's hospital bedside, or make medical decisions, or not have to cut through red-tape and climb mountains upon mountains to get the benefits that opposite-sex couples get automatically, and so often take for granted.

The fact is that it should not be up to YOU any more than it should be up to ME whether or not YOU have the right to marry.

It has nothing to do with you. And my decision to marry a woman or a man, or get divorced and marry again, will have absolutely no affect on your marriage, your family, your beliefs, or your bank account. And your time and efforts to save the world from evil would be better spent trying to rehabilitate sex offenders, putting a stop to child pornography, healing cross-burners and other hate-crime offenders, and hand-holding violent convicted criminals into repaying their debt to society by building homeless shelters, or half-way houses, or training seeing-eye dogs, or manning 911 call centers.

I mean, isn't that enough to focus on?

Must you really need to waste any more of your time and money trying to stop loving and committed adults from making a promise to one another that only serves to benefit them, their families, their community, their state and federal debt, and yes, by extension, even you.

We're now into week two of the Prop8 trial, and every day seems more unbelievable than the last. Arguments about how the scary gays are going to somehow bring about Armageddon are just laughable...and so sad.

But there's still a week to go, and a whole lot more to be said. By both sides. And this should really not be missed by anyone, regardless of which side of the road you tend to wave your sign.

Regardless of the outcome of this trial, this is a monumental time in our political and social history. This is life-changing. And you shouldn't miss it, if you can.

For play-by-play of the trial, follow these folks on Twitter:


You can also search and follow hashtags of #protectmarriage and #prop8.
---

Monday, January 18, 2010

THE AWESMACKING AWESOMENESS OF SAIA

She gets better and better every session. She's really loving what she's doing, and takes criticism surprisingly well.

Here she is practicing her reverse punch:

video
My favorite part of this first video is that John Travolta swagger she throws in at the end. So cocky! :)

video
And in this one, she's working on her side-step, which is just coming along really really well. She'll be running this dojo in no time!
---

Sunday, January 17, 2010

ALLIE THE ALLIGATOR IS A STALKER, AND AN ODD TANGENT ON BEYONCE'S SINGLE LADIES








So, Chago finally got to keep Allie the Alligator for a weekend. And it was the long MLK weekend, too, so he was doubly thrilled to be getting an extra day. And no, I don't really get the appeal. I mean, the boy has, like, 46,000 alligators of his own, but this one, this promiscuous little thing that's spent every weekend since school started at every single one of his classmate's homes (and is most definitely worse for the wear), this one he's super excited about.

It's odd. I agree.

But anyway, the deal is that Allie has to go everywhere you go and do everything you do -- for the entire weekend. And the boy who barely remembers to pull on his skivvies in the morning suddenly has absolutely no problem remembering EVERY SINGLE TIME we went ANYWHERE or did ANYTHING all weekend long to bring along his little green buddy.

So, we documented the whole weekend in pictures, and then he had to write in Allie's journal an accounting of her time with him. From playing games on the computer, to just riding in the truck, to attending his karate class, to going to the farmer's market, to meeting (and taunting) Errol & Burt (the frogs), to watching a Colts game -- in full gear, no less, and, finally, going to see Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. (Oh, yes...we did.)

And now can't seem to stop Saia from prancing around the housing singing at the top of her lungs, "I'm a single lady, I'm a single lady!" And yes, of course I know those aren't the words, but this is not a conversation I'm really ready to have with my 6-year-old daughter:

"No, no, honey, it's I'm up on him, he up on me, don't pay him any attention..."

Uh...yeah...I don't think so.
...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

THE SAIA AND CHAGO SHOW: EPISODE 15 - MEET ERROL AND BURT (AS IN LANCASTER, NOT ERNIE)

video
In which the kids do a pretty damn good job of containing their excitement as they try to explain how to properly feed and care for their new pets, two little froggies named Burt and Errol.

Taking bets now. 2:1 Die in a week, 20:1 survive the night, 7:1 they make a midnight escape once they realize they've been adopted by 6-year-old twins!!!
...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

HOW CAN YOU HELP HAITI TODAY?

Want to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti? Aid organizations need your assistance but warn that well-intentioned efforts like collecting bottled water and clothing on your own may not be the most helpful thing for a disaster-ravaged country that does not have the infrastructure to distribute them.

Some tips from InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations:

  • DONATING CASH: Donating cash to established relief organizations is the best way to help because it allows professionals to get exactly what they need and does not use up scarce resources such as transportation, staff time or warehouse space.
  • DONATING SUPPLIES: If you decide to donate supplies and not cash, contact an established relief organization before you collect anything. If you have already collected items, donate them to a relief organization within your community or sell them at a yard sale or charity auction and donate the proceeds.
  • DONATING YOURSELF: People who want to volunteer should have previous disaster or international experience or technical skills and should work through a relief organization. More information is available from the Center for International Disaster Information, http://www.cidi.org

Here is a list of organizations accepting donations:

  • InterAction has a list of agencies responding and how to donate to them. Find it here:http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/earthquake-haiti
  • To donate $10 to the American Red Cross, text Haiti to 90999. The amount will be added to your next phone bill. The organization is also accepting donations through its International Response Fund,http://www.redcross.org
  • To donate $5 to Wyclef Jean's Haitian Yele charity, text 501501. The money will be added to your next phone bill.
  • To find out how to help the International Rescue Committee, visit http://www.theIRC.org or call toll free, 1-877-REFUGEE.
  • To donate through Oxfam's emergency appeal, visit http://www.oxfam.org.uk
...

Monday, January 11, 2010

I BET MY DIRTY WORDS ARE NASTIER THAN YOURS

Can I just say that I lovelovelove that the "S" word in our house is [stupid].

And the "F" word is [fat].

[They're in brackets 'cause I'm whispering. Shh.]

The kids'll get all up in your grill if you even accidentally mutter either one within earshot.

How sh*t-f*ckin'-awesome is that?!?!? [What?]
...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

AND THE STOMACH BUG COMETH

So, shortly after we got home on Friday afternoon, Saia got sick. Like, out of the blue, no warning, really messy spewing kinda sick.

And for the rest of that afternoon and into the early evening, we spent our every minute trying to make sure that we were getting back into her everything she was letting out. And knowing that nothing in her diet was different, and there were no surprise birthday parties at school, it could only be that our Little-Miss-Perpetually-Has-Her-Fingers-In-Her-Mouth picked up a nasty little tummy bug. What a shocker.

And nasty it was. But poor thing was such a trooper. Up to the potty. And back again. Up to the potty and back again. Wipe, clean, wash, sanitize. Up to the potty and back again. It was exhausting just watching her.

But she's always so good about trying not to get anything dirty. She's always so conscious of her body and really can tell when it's coming, so that she almost always gets there just in time. And she's very good about doing what she's told when she's sick. She follows instructions to the tee and will make every effort to put anything in her mouth that I give her. And because of that, it was really no surprise that she woke up the next morning feeling so much better.

Hunh. 24-hour bug, I thought. So, we walked downstairs and I started preparing breakfast when I suddenly heard the heater fall over behind me. Turning around, I saw Saia staggering towards the fridge, her arms outstretched, flailing blindly, her eyes completely dilated, her skin had gone pale white.

I grabbed her and fell to my knees, calling for her to look at me in as calm a voice as I could muster. "I can't see you, Mama," she kept saying. And I was completely petrified.

I immediately laid her down on the floor and raised her feet, and almost instantly saw the color return to her cheeks, and her focus return to her face. "I can see you again, Mama. What happened to me?"

[I'll have nightmares about that moment for the rest of my life.]

Some juice, granola bar, a blanket and feet elevated for a while, and her blood pressure quickly, thankfully, returned to normal. She'd obviously gotten up and got moving way too quickly for someone with so little in her belly. So, she spent the rest of the day on the sofa watching all her favorite videos and being catered to by the entire family, as we filled her back up with all her lost liquids and solids. By this evening, as she reluctantly worked on her homework and read her 20-minute book, you could hardly tell she was ever even sick.

Except, of course, for what she inevitably left in her wake.

Chago started in first thing this morning -- which we were, yeah, kinda expecting. But he is NOT a trooper when it comes to these sorts of things. He hardly ever makes it to the bathroom in time, and jerks and kicks and flails as he hangs his head nearly 2 feet above the toilet, refusing to bend down close enough to minimize the splashing (sorry, but if you made it this far, you can make it to the end), and suddenly loses the ability to speak, moaning and groaning and grunting and grumbling, digressing into prehistoric man, pointing at the things he wants and shunning the things he doesn't. He's so hard to predict and even more difficult to comfort. But the second he throws up -- no, literally, the very second he's done -- he looks up and smiles and says in his most cheerful voice, "I feel better now!"

So, after a very unexpectedly long and exhausting weekend, amidst the lovely lulling odors of Lysol, Clorox orange wipes, and Fabreze, we wrapped up the evening with a chapter of Harry Potter and smiles on both their faces.

Let's nevermind the fact that I'm suddenly starting to feel a little queasy myself.
...

Saturday, January 09, 2010

UG: BOY GENIUS OF THE STONE AGE

At the library picking out our weekly books and DVDs when Chago says, "Mama, where's UG?"

"Hunh?"

"Ug, Mama. You know...Ug," he says. And while the little twerp may certainly act like a caveman sometimes, I didn't think he'd yet devolved into neanderthalistic speech.

"Are you saying, Ugh?" I ask.

"Yes, Mom. Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age," he says in that classic Duh! tone that used to be cute a couple of years ago, but is now just a little insulting.

"I'm sorry, son, I don't know what you're talking about."

"That book that you found for me last week. It's like a comic. It's about that caveboy in search of warm soft trousers."

[Me: stare]

"MAH-ahhm!"

"Okay, clearly, I'm just clueless here. Why don't you go ask the librarian?"

[Chago: stare]

"SOH-ohn," I sing-song back. "No, really, go right up there to that desk and give that gentleman all of the information you just gave me. It's his job to help you find what you're looking for. Go on. Don't be nervous. And be polite."

And off he went (a little reluctantly, but he really wanted that book).

And I could hear the conversation, from the "excuse me, sir" to the older man asking Chago for the proper spelling of Ug (which he provided), to a detailed discussion between the two about the look of the book and the type of content (as he was having some difficulty locating it), and finally, Chago saying, "It's sort of like a comic," and the man getting really excited and typing something into his computer and then jumping out of his seat with a printout for the boy.

It was all very cute.

But, alas, unfortunately, futile. At least momentarily. As Ug was, evidently, currently checked out. And the wave of disappointment sailed across Chago's previously joyous face. But then quickly returned as soon as his new buddy offered to put it on hold for him.

"Can you DO that?" Chago asked in complete and utter awe.

And this Saturday, after we received an email alert that Ug had been returned and was ready and waiting for our little king, he happily trotted off to the library with his Mommy to retrieve his prize.

This is Ug:

Friday, January 08, 2010

HAPPY BIG-16, CINCO!

I still remember how chunky and round and hairy you were.

Hmm...that's probably not something you want me to be sharing with the world now that you're sixteen, huh? ;)

We love you and miss you so much, and honestly could not be any prouder of the man you're turning out to be.
...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I WOULD RATHER HAVE CONVICTED CRIMINALS MANNING THE 911 CALL CENTERS

So, I'm getting dressed this morning and listening to the TODAY Show, and they're talking about this horrible incident in which a 21-month old boy had wandered out into his backyard and was strangled by his family's soccer's net.

The mother frantically called 911 as soon as she found him and yelled and screamed and begged the 911 operator for help. "WHAT SHOULD I DO? WHAT CAN I DO? DO I NEED TO CPR? TELL ME WHAT TO DO??!?!"


It was grueling to hear.

The poor woman was distraught, beside herself with terror, and pleading for assistance. And yes, I do realize that while they're on the phone with you the operators are actually busily trying to contact and dispatch emergency responders. But 911 is a hotline. Or at least that's the perception.

We all know that in a medical emergency every single moment is precious. Basic medical attention provided on the spot has saved innumerable lives while they were waiting for medical services to arrive.

But do you know what that damn operator did? He told her to calm down. He didn't ask her any questions that might help him better assess the situation; he didn't tell her to check if her child's airway was obstructed, if he had a pulse, if she had even removed the netting from around his neck. Nothing. Just "calm down." Eleven fucking times. For FOUR WHOLE MINUTES he did nothing, gave her nothing, not even the very basic 1-2-3s of CPR that you can get from a goddamned free iPhone app. He gave her NOTHING...but indifference.

And do you know why? Because, evidently, in many states (18, according to TODAY), there is NO MEDICAL TRAINING REQUIRED to become a 911 operator.

None.

Does that not just completely flip you on your ass?!?! How is that even possible?

I know hair salons and grocery stores that require CPR training of all their employees. How is this even remotely okay that the one number we are all trained to call, that we drill and drill and drill and train our children to call, and trust that our babysitters and caretakers and teachers and principals will call, can't even help you with the very basics of medical attention through a moment of panic during an emergency????

If all they are is receptionists, dispatchers, who, evidently, often get paid less than a McDonald's employee, then someone really needs to make that publicly known because as a society we are being massively deceived.

How is this not the equivalent of automakers suddenly coming out and saying, hey, you know what, that seat belt thing, eh...don't worry about it, it doesn't make a bit of difference.

So, then the show goes on to make some, in my opinion, pretty offensive comments about having to "resort to" fast food workers and grocery store cashiers to man the phones because of the severe shortage of operators. But what's wrong with fast food workers and cashiers?? I mean, who the hell cares WHO that person is, or what their educational background is or is not, SO LONG AS THEY ARE ADEQUATELY TRAINED, and can triage a basic emergency call while dispatching the proper medical services. I don't need a fucking M.D. answering my child's 911 call in an emergency -- but I do need someone who's not gonna lecture him for playing with the phone and then hang up on him, for crissakes!!!

And then they went further to say that due to this shortage, they may also have to *gasp* have convicted criminals manning the phones.

And I thought, wait a minute, that's fricking genius!! Everyone's always complaining about how our prison system just sucks, and how our inmates just get a free ride, and how hardly any of them are ever actually rehabilitated. And I know that there are SOME programs out there (like the ones that have convicts training special service dogs, or cleaning up the highways, etc), but why can't we have them answering 911 calls? Why can't it be one of those jobs that they have to earn with good behavior? I mean, what better way to repay their debt to society than to be of real service to real people in real emergency situations? They could receive basic medical training, they could learn basic customer service and call center skills, and we can eliminate this shortage and fulfill a community need.

And no, I'm not slamming ALL 911 operators because I know and have heard those amazing calls in which someone goes totally out of their way to help calm someone down, to help them through a traumatic event, to help actually save lives. But this isn't about them.

This is about the incompetent idiots who are treating this job like a dinner-time telemarketer instead of recognizing the gravity of their position and accepting some accountability for their role in a potentially life or death situation.

So...I don't know about you, but I, for one, am going to post the direct line phone numbers to our local police, fire department, and poison control on my refrigerator INSTEAD OF 911 from now on.
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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

ALL F WORDS WERE NOT CREATED EQUAL

"Come rest ye filthy gentlemen," she reads from her library book, Eloise at Christmatime, this afternoon.

"Wha?!?" says Mommy. "What kind of gentlemen?"

"Filthy," she repeats. "It's filthy."

"Um...maybe we should sound that one out?" she suggests.

"Fil...thy," she confirms.

"Hmm...can I get a spelling on that?" Mommy asks.

"F-a-i-t-h-f-u-l," she recites. "Filthy."

[Oh, baby...no.]
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Monday, January 04, 2010

MY RICE KRISPY (OR "CRISPY," IF YOU BUY GENERIC) REVELATION

As a sugar-conscious family, we don't allow our kids to eat candy or chocolate or sugary drinks.

Now, what they actually consume is an entirely different matter. What with random parties at school, and overly generous kids "sharing" at all the wrong times, and brothers from Texas who slip ultra-double-super-chocolate chocolate chip cookies into the Christmas gift package totally unbeknownst to ME!!!

Anyway...

Pardon the tangential detour. It's totally my mother's fault. (Stop nodding your head, Sara.)

Point was, we were at the grocery store (at least one of the 50 times in the days leading up to the holidays) and were in the cereal aisle to pick up our usual Cheerio trio (Honey Nut, Fruity, and Banana Nut), when Saia pointed at the Rice Krispies and asked, in her very typical passive-aggressive way, "Mmm...I wonder if those would taste good with marshmallows and sprinkles?"

"Saita," I sing-song back, "have we HAD Rice Krispies Treats at school that Mama doesn't know about?"

"Well, yes," she admits, "but I took off all the bad stuff and they were still yummy!"

So, I wander over to the offensive puffy grain and pluck a box of the generic brand off the shelf, all ready to prove my point to her about how it's got too much sugar and, therefore, bad for you, and therefore, not allowed. As I turn it over searching for the nutritional chart, scowl on my face, argument forming in my head, I am crushed to find that there's literally nothing in there. Frantically, I reach for the marshmallow fluff. Surely, IT'S loaded down with fructose and sucrose and all the other toses that make my children crazy and have America handcuffed to our sweet addictions and bathroom scales.

And guess what I found.

Go ahead. Guess.

8 grams of sugar. EIGHT.

I was shocked! I mean, there's less sugar in there than in the low-sugar jellies or ice creams I buy.

And no, I'm certainly not saying that rice krispy treats should become a staple at your every meal. And, of course, you can't go mixing in extra sugar or piling it high with frosting or sprinkles, but man, what a great little surprise for the kids (and Mama) every now and again, you know?

Whoda thunkit?
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Sunday, January 03, 2010

i see you.

we drove into that convenience store parking lot in perryton, texas exactly 12 years ago in the middle of a furious north texas snow storm, and i couldn't take my eyes off of her.

she was striking.

today would've been our 12th year anniversary.

and i'm still just as stricken.
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Saturday, January 02, 2010

SCOOTER-RAMA, BABY!!! SCORE 1 FOR SANTA!

Finally!

I think they rode those beautiful little red flyer trikes maybe once after Santa brought them over 4 years ago. They're up in the garage now, gathering dust, still in pristine condition. I just can't bear to let them go.

And they still have never really gotten into the big kid bikes Santa got them a couple of years ago to replace them, despite the cool little Cali plates with their names on them, racing helmets, flaming elbow and knee pads, and everything.

And dammit if they still don't refuse to practice skating in those awesome sneaker skates with the pop-out wheels that they just got last year, for crissakes!

But it looks like Santa may have finally hit it right on the nose this year with the scooters.

Within minutes of popping out the handle bars this afternoon, Saia was flying around corners like Tony Hawk, her long brown locks flopping in the breeze, and a gentle whistle streaming through that huge gaping hole in the front of her mouth.

Santiago, on the other hand, was having a little more difficulty getting his feet off the ground, but man, did he have a good time just stomping along. Honestly, I think that anything that doesn't remotely resemble walking is an automatic thumbs-up in his book.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

WELCOME TO A BRAND NEW DAY

Startin' our new year off right (and just for the record, we're Team "Twenty Ten") with a casual, but oh-so-whiny 6-mile walk down to the lake with Mema.

No, seriously, we'd barely made that first turn when Chago started in with the "I'm tireds" and "my feet hurts." And every two seconds he was ready to sit and have a snack. And once he sat down to tie his shoe, it took me nearly 3 minutes to get him going again.

And although (and much to his further dismay), there weren't too many animal sightings (besides the usual duck and egret and unusually hirsute and profusely perspiring), we did spy a ton of people kicking of their Day 1 with some fresh air and exercise.

So, in line with trying to do it right from the get-go, a Happy Healthy Joyful New Year to all!

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