Archive | February, 2008

Lies we tell ourselves

28 Feb

A few House episodes ago, the sage doctor said white lies are lies we tell to make other people feel better and rationalizations are lies we tell to make ourselves feel better.   I’ve often referred to myself as the Queen of rationalization, but I don’t think I ever thought of it as lying so much as a method of preserving sanity.  Here are a few of my favorite “lies” I tell myself:

1.  Substitute curse words are not the same as standard curse words.  After all, I’m making a conscious decision to not say the actual curse word.  If I had meant *?@!, I would have said *?@!.  But I didn’t, I said crap.  That’s totally different.

2.  Continuing with this profanity vein, words that appear in the Bible are perfectly legitimate words to say, and should be excused from the swear word category when necessary.  This list would include hell, damn and the occasional beast of burden.  (One of my daughter’s Sunday school teachers once told her it was OK to say hell as long as you’re not telling someone to go there.  I’m inclined to agree.)

3.  Eating a cake one forkful at a time while passing through the kitchen intermittently throughout the day yields far less fat, carbs & calories than stuffing it all in your face in one sitting.  The very act of walking in and out of the kitchen surely burns whatever fat, carbs & calories were consumed in that tiny morsel.

4.  The nutritional ratings of serving sizes on food packages only apply when a single serving is consumed.  If multiple servings are consumed within a 24 hour or let’s say even a 15 minute time period, a discount of sorts is applied.  It’s like buying in bulk–the more pounds you buy, the cheaper the product is per pound.

5.  It makes more sense to let significant periods of time pass between portrait sittings of family and children, so that one may discern a noticeable difference in the subjects.  If you’re doing it more than once every year or three, then it’s basically time lapse photography.  Who has room to store all those pictures anyways?

6.  A clean house is merely an invitation for your children to make more messes.  It’s like handing them a brand new coloring book and box of crayons.  But if you give them a coloring book with all the pages already used up, then there will be nothing left for them to color.

7.  There is no reason to clean the tub or toilet before the rings of dirt are visible from more than a few feet away.  How are we supposed to know it’s really dirty before we can really see it?

8.  Children possess almost super-human immunities that we adults do not have.  It’s perfectly OK to put the hot dogs that fell off their plates back onto their plates and then put the hot dog that fell off your plate into the trash.  (It’s also OK to feed your kids the hot dogs–because they like them–and then feed yourself something that’s actually good.)

9.  Time spent while blogging does not pass at the same rate as real time.  It’s kind of like the Lost island–for every 31 minutes or so of blogging time only about 1 minute has passed in real time.  (I’m still doing the research, but I’m fairly certain this also applies to reading and catching up on your TiVo’d shows.)  So spending time doing other activities that don’t have this same kind of time suspension (like cleaning the house or running errands) is basically a waste of time.  Time is precious, people.  We can’t afford to waste it.

So now it’s your turn.  Can you dethrone the Queen?

Oh, and here’s a little bonus for your listening/viewing pleasure–you can go ahead and stick YouTube into that whole time suspension category.

Grand Coulee Dam! It’s spam!

27 Feb

What’s that old line about if you put a bunch of monkeys in a room with typewriters eventually their random keystrokes will turn out something intelligible like a novel or something?

Anywho, when I get spam from names like “rorsuc ezycam”, “ewskele enirtomcc”, “vywvmypwr gqvanrmsa”, or “eszole dockuefor”, that’s the image my mind conjures up–a bunch of monkeys in a room somewhere randomly pounding away on computer keyboards and flooding my inbox with their nonsense.  No offense to the people who actually do this for a living.  I don’t even bother to read them.  Obviously, it’s not going to be anything I’m remotely interested in, and I just sigh and roll my eyes while clicking delete, delete, delete. 

Well, the monkeys struck gold with this one: 

From:  Patsy Stonecipher  Subject:  Don’t understand, hope u can help. 

I’m intrigued!  I mean, come on, Patsy Stonecipher?!  What a name!  Sounds like some kind of archaeologist/detective, travelling the world, saving civilizations from unknown evils–like Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones or something.  And here she is in the thick of some mystery and completely befuddled–she doesn’t understand and she hopes I can help!  I can feel the sense of urgency–see how she abbreviated “you”?  That must mean she has no time to waste!  The fate of the world could be resting in my hands!  I’m here for you, Patsy!

click.  “I know you would love one of these replica-watches.  You have never even said how much you wished you could buy one of these quality swiss look alikes.  It is time for you to get something you have wanted for so long.  ‘Cuz it is a solidly-built copy, there is no money concerns to worry about.  I think you will also find their online tracing service is a great safe feeling for you.  You’ll need to get one of the boxes for it too.”

A crummy commercial?  Sonnuva…

But seriously, what’s the purpose of these e-mails?  Who is actually reading them and then thinks to themselves, “This sounds like a reliable, reputable company.  I’m going to click on this link that says ‘’ and get myself a quality swiss look alike replica-watch ‘cuz it’s solidly built and I have a great safe feeling.”?

I don’t get it. 

Patsy Stonecipher is still a cool name, though.  If I ever write a novel about a Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones archaeologist/detective who travels the world saving civilizations from unknown evils, I’m totally using it.

Have you had any semi-intriguing or amusing spam make it through your filters?

Let’s talk about breath, baby

26 Feb

Why is it that the yummiest things to eat inevitably require an oral cleansing of Silkwoodian proportions?  Is that the punishment for self-indulgence and gluttony?  Just wondering.

One time my best friend and I helped another friend of ours cook dinner for her boyfriend.  We were helping her make garlic bread with a fresh garlic spread.  The recipe called for two cloves of garlic.  We used two clovers.  I’m not exactly sure how that was not so completely obviously too much.  After we finished helping her prep, we went off to a church dance.  Obviously, we were not the most popular partners that evening.  One guy was even so bold as to ask, “What’s that smell?  Have you been eating garlic or something?”  Duh.  He was forever after known to us and all who would here his tale as “Garlic Man”.  Although, that wasn’t really fair since we were really the offending parties and he was merely an innocent bystander.  I’m having twinges of guilt for slandering his good name like that.  OK, I’m over it now.

My offenders of choice:  onion anything (I love, love, love onion rings–I prefer good onion rings, but when it comes down to it my standards are not particularly high), garlic anything, flavored Doritos (I’m partial to Salsa Verde and old school Cool Ranch), Cheetos (classic Cheetos curls not puffs *shudder*), peanut butter anything (while usually I’m a chunky kind of gal, it’s been creamy peanut butter spread over oreos as of late).

Since I can’t seem to stay away from these kinds of things, I always carry tic tacs.  And I mean always.  (My mom always had tic tacs, too.  She used to use them to bribe her 4 year-old Sunday school class.  We’ve been making fun of Little Wheazing Dougie from that class for years–“Can *wheeze* I *wheeze* have *wheeze* a *wheeze* tic tac *wheeze* Sistuh *wheeze* Wee?”  As far as I know, he didn’t have an actual medical condition–he just talked funny in a cute 4-year-old kind of way.)  I prefer the white fresh mints for the strongest freshness per one and a half calorie ratio.  It used to be I liked the light green wintergreen.  I’m not exactly sure when I made the switch, but it was years ago.  My kids like the orange ones–they’re OK, but the lack of burn in my mouth leaves me less than confident in their effectiveness.  A while back they came out with lime ones, which I thought sounded good in theory–I enjoy a good lime.  They. were. nasty.  I also can’t do the dark green spearmint.  Spearmint–blech!  *all over body shudder*  I suppose the red cinnamon ones would do in a pinch, but I’ve never actually purchased them–not that I can remember anyway.

What are your dragon-breath inducing faves?  And your remedy of choice for neutralizing the aftermath?

These are the moments

25 Feb

More bedtime fun with DynaGirl 

bythelbs:  Oops.  These pajamas don’t match.  You don’t mind wearing different tops and bottoms, right?

DynaGirl:  No, it’s OK.  But if our house caught on fire and we were on the news, I’d want them to match.

bythelbs:  What’s more important, getting out of a burning house alive or having matching pajamas on the news?

DynaGirl:  Hmmmm.

Apparently, the jury’s still out.

The joys of living with a pre-adolescent boy

bythelbs:  Mr. T, could you please excuse yourself from the room when you need to do that? 

Mr. T:  I wonder why I’ve been having so much gas lately.  Maybe it’s puberty gas.

Heaven help us.

I am six going on seventeen

Goose:  I have a crush on Michael.  He’s the cutest boy I know, except for that one guy who smiled at me when he was getting into his car after swimming lessons.

bythelbs:  That’s nice.

Goose:  How do I make Michael fall in love with me?

That’s nice.

BigHugs cushions the blow

BigHugs:  I love you, Daddy.

Chuck:  Thanks, BigHugs, I love you, too.

BigHugs:  Daddy, I stinky.  I need a new diaper.

There are a few benefits to having a Daddy’s girl.

Grammar lessons with Mr. T

DynaGirl:  Ouch!  I hurt my left buttocks!

Mr. T:  Buttock.  A buttock is one cheek.  But-tocks is two cheeks or more.

Or more?

Grief. It’s what’s for dinner.

22 Feb

I’ve lost my passion for cooking.  OK, maybe I never really had a passion for it, but I think I enjoyed it or at least never minded it.  When I was first married, it was kind of exciting to play house, making meals for my new husband.  I tried out all kinds of new recipes (when we could affort to eat something besides 2/$1 chicken pot pies), and often put a lot of effort into meals.  Now, almost 14 years later (14?!  Bah!), not so much. 

I’m not exactly sure when this change of heart happened, but I can think of a few reasons why.   Part of it is that I live with a bunch of Sallys (as in When Harry Met).  Although, it’s not so much that they’re overly particular or picky by choice–it’s more of a necessity.  We’ve got a number of food allergies around our house that often require a bit of dish tweaking.  It’s not unusual for me to have to make 2-3 different versions of the same dinner all at once.  Sometimes that just gets old.

I also tend to get in a rut.  We have the same kinds of things week to week, month to month.  They’re family favorites or just safe stand-bys.  I know how to cook them, they’re easy, and they fit our dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, fish-free criteria.  But I’m finding that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and you can definitely have too much of a mediocre thing.  Finding new favorites has not been easy–I’ve had very limited success experimenting with new recipes.  After fixing something new I’ll ask the kids what they think.  They are actually very polite and kind, and will tell me its good, but when I ask if we should have it again the answer is usually, “No, that’s okay.”  Maybe all those years of having the same things over and over has conditioned their palates to reject anything out of the ordinary.

Fortunately (or unfortunately?), my kids have grown accustomed to my apathy towards mealtime.  If it’s 6:30-7 pm and Mom hasn’t started moving around in the kitchen yet, they’ll ask if it’s a “whatever night”.  “Whatever nights” are when Mom doesn’t make a meal, and everyone just gets whatever’s in the fridge or whatever’s quick and easy from the freezer or pantry.  Someone might get the leftover pancakes, someone else a corndog, someone else a bowl of cereal.  We have “whatever nights” (they came up with the name, by the way) at least once a week, sometimes twice–three when it’s an especially busy or bad week.  Even my toddler knows not to expect too much.  The other day when I asked what she wanted for lunch, she said, “I need a plate with some food on it.”

I’m really not looking forward to another 40 years of whatever nights.  How do I go about getting excited to cook dinner again?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Oh, and if you have any favorite recipes that I could add to my limited repertoire, please feel free to share.  There might even be something in it for you (and by you, I mean the two people who “frequent” this blog).  I especially love ones that don’t generate an inordinate amount of dishes.  (Yes, I know, again with the dishes–but I’m telling you, it’s like a real thing with me.)

There goes the neighborhood

21 Feb

My family has been living in our current home for almost 7 years.  When we bought the house, it was a newer development–very cute, very well kept.  The streets were clean, everyone seemed to take good care of their property, lawns were nicely manicured.  A lot has changed over the years, and here is just one example:


Is it just me, or is the whole parking on your front lawn thing a tad trailer park-ish?  (Wait, do trailer parks have lawns?)  Anyway, not that I would be considered the authoritative voice on decorum and propriety, but come on.  The car?  on the lawn?  What in the name of all that is good and holy is up with that?  Notice also how the driveway is completely empty.

Now, lest you think I have some kind of grudge or bear any kind of ill will towards these particular neighbors, let me just say these are perfectly lovely people.  That’s partly why I’m so confused about what’s going on here.  They don’t appear to be physically incapable of taking the extra ten steps to their door that parking on the driveway might require.  I’ve never seen anyone loading any large furniture or other heavy cargo into the back (plus they don’t back into the customary loading position).  I’m not aware of any neighborhood sniper picking people off as they make a mad dash to their automobiles.  So why exactly is this necessary?!

Maybe it’s silly or petty of me to be this bugged.  I think part of my problem is that this is just one example of many that have led me to fear my neighborhood is going to pot.  One might even say I have a plethora of examples, but perhaps I’ll save those for another installment.

What do you think?  Would this bother you?  Or is it really just me?

Where’s Webster when you need him?

20 Feb

While my husband was finishing up his schooling, I worked as a receptionist at a small scientific instruments firm.  One of my duties was to glance over any job applications to make sure the prospective employee had filled them out completely.  One in particular caught my eye. 

It had been submitted by a young man who was about 17 at the time.  Under previous work experience he had written that he was last employed as a “stalker” at Kmart.  My first thought was, “No wonder that store creeps me out so bad!”  I was relieved when, upon further examination of his application, I saw that his duties included “stalking shelves”, not patrons.  But then I wondered what exactly “stalking shelves” entailed.  Did he follow them around?  Barrage them with phone calls at their homes and places of business?  Send them threatening and/or suggestive letters?  Take pictures of them while they were stripped of their goods and wares?

How well did he perform his duties?  Was he too good at his job?  Was that why he was now forced to seek employment elsewhere?  I wondered how many aisles already had restraining orders against this kid.  I wasn’t so sure that I was comfortable with the idea of working with a professional stalker.

But then I chastized myself for being so quick to judge.  Perhaps he was saving for his college education or paying off his sick mother’s medical bills or trying to save the family farm.  Who knew what kind of desperate circumstances might have led him to take such a position?  I thought this new job could very well be a pivotal point in this young man’s life.  Sure, it starts out with some harmless shelf stalking at the Kmart, then maybe he moves on to bargain bins at the Walmart or shoe racks at the Payless (I hear those foot fetishists are some real sickos), and before you know it he’s doing 3-5 upstate for…I shudder to think.  Was there nothing to be done to help him avoid this path?

I put his application at the top of the stack and hoped for the best.  He didn’t get the job.  I’ve wondered many times over the years what happened to that young man.   I can’t help but think I could have done more, like provide him with a pocket dictionary for his next job application maybe?

Do you have any funny work-related stories to share?  Or funny word flub-related stories?

The leaking powder keg

19 Feb

I was watching Mythbusters with my family the other night.  They were testing that old cartoon story where the one character (let’s say Tom from Tom and Jerry) is carrying a keg of gun powder that’s leaking out the back, leaving a trail of explosive behind, and the other character (let’s say Jerry) lights a match and drops it on the trail.   So then Tom takes off trying to outrun the flame racing up his powder trail before it reaches the keg he’s still carrying and explodes.  Of course, it never occurs to him to just drop the keg and take off in the other direction.  It’s like he has to carry the keg.

Last night, as I surveyed the disaster that was my house (the living room strewn with toys, the sink full of dinner dishes, the pile of laundry on my couch waiting to be folded), it occurred to me that my life as a mother and housewife is that leaking powder keg.  I’m walking along picking things up, scrubbing things down, putting things away, but behind me there is still this trail of stuff.  And my kids are right there behind me running around with these lit matches, so I don’t dare stop or the whole thing will explode!  All I want to do is drop the keg and run away in the other direction, but if I do, it will still explode, and surely I’ll be the one cleaning up the aftermath.

So I keep running with that stupid leaking keg on my shoulder.  When will someone figure out how to plug that thing up?  *sigh*

P.S.  I never got to see how that Mythbusters ended–I must have been doing the dishes.

Um, none taken, I guess

18 Feb

Is it just me, or when someone begins a conversation with “No offense” it usually means they intend to offend you.  Well, maybe they don’t actually intend to, but it seems to have the same effect.

I’m a pretty laid back kind of gal.  I’m the first one to recognize my faults, and I’m usually the one laughing loudest at myself, too.  I don’t think I’m overly sensitive, but I suppose that’s just what somebody who is overly sensitive would say.  (Although, it would probably sound more like, “What do you mean I’m overly sensitive?  I’m not overly sensitive.  I can’t believe you would say such a thing!”, followed by uncontrollable sobbing or a penetrating stink eye.)  Still, I think beginning a conversation with the disclaimer of “No offense” actually has the opposite of the desired effect.

For example,  “Would you like a tic tac?” is a perfectly innocuous question.  Just a friendly offer to share one’s breathmints out of the kindness of one’s heart.  But say, “No offense, but would you like a tic tac?” takes on a whole other meaning entirely.  Suddenly, a kind gesture becomes an attack on one’s oral hygiene.  “Please, I beg of you, take this one and a half calorie’s worth of freshness and put me out of my misery.”

Or let’s say you’re at the movies, and the lovely woman sitting behind you asks, “Would you mind just moving your head a tiny bit to the right?”  Why, of course, they didn’t do a very good job placing these theater seats for optimal patronage viewing, did they?–happy to oblige.  But then, “No offense–would you mind moving your head a tiny bit to the right?” sounds more like “Could you please get that professional-sized basketball that is your big, fat noggin out of my way?”

Sometimes, it’s not so much that the meaning of the words seem to change in an “offensive” way, but that whatever follows the original disclaimer is so trifling that you’re offended by the idea that someone could think it possible you’d be offended in the first place.  I most often fall into this category. 

Recently, my neighbor (who also happens to be Goose’s BFF’s mother) came to my door all atwittered about something.  She kind of hemmed and hawed until she finally began, “I don’t want to offend you or anything, but could you please tell Goose to stop calling our house?  She’s called about eight times, so we stopped answering the phone, and now she’s leaving messages on our answering machine.”  I was somewhat embarrassed that my child was being such a pest, but other than that, no skin off my nose.  I’ll just tell her to stop.  What’s the big deal?  Why would I be offended again?  Am I not capable of recognizing that my child is not always the perfect little angel?  Am I not usually the first one to try to correct any misbehavior?  What kind of mother do you think I am?!

So, if you truly mean no offense, then just don’t say it.  That’s all I’m saying. 

What does it take to offend you?

Mom’s nuts. Or IS she?

17 Feb

Shnog!  This is DynaGirl’s new curse word.  Before that I think it was “snap!” courtesy of That’s So Raven.  I asked her where she got “shnog” from.

“From you, Mom.”

“From me?  What are you talking about?  I’ve never said ‘shnog’.”

“Yeah, you have.  Remember a couple weeks ago when you were talking on the phone, and me and Goose and Mr. T were arguing and you said to be quiet, but we kept arguing and then you yelled, ‘Shniggity Shnog!’?”

I have no earthly idea what she’s talking about.  I remember the being on the phone and the arguing.  (Although, maybe not this specific phone conversation or argument–after all, it’s pretty much a daily occurrence.  It doesn’t matter what’s been going on in the preceding hour, 5 minutes or even 30 seconds, as soon as Mom gets on the phone, all heck breaks loose.  It’s like Pavlov’s dogs or something–telephone rings, pick the nearest person and have at it.)  I have no doubt that I asked them to please stop, to be quiet, to knock it the freak off, but “shniggity shnog”?

It’s got me thinking, what else have I said of which I have not the faintest recollection?  Seeds of self doubt have been planted.  Did I really tell Goose she could have brownies and pickles for breakfast?  Did I give Mr. T permission to spend four hours on World of Warcraft before he had done his homework and piano practice?  Did I say to BigHugs, “Here, take this 64 count box of crayons and test every single one on the stairwell wall until you find just the right color for your Snoopy picture.”? 

Part of me wonders, can I be trusted with the care and guidance of four young, impressionable children when I have no idea what may or may not be coming out of my mouth?  The other part of me suspects my kids are just messing with me.