Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Funnies: Ainsley Critiques Joshua Tree; 80s Tees

Last Friday we finally got to see U2 3D. It rocked. The 3-D technology was more subtle than the Hannah Montana concert movie in 3D, and of course I liked the music better. When Bono reached out his hand and it looked like he was reaching it out just to me...well, that's sadly as close as I'm ever gonna come to having a close encounter with him at a concert.

The side effect of seeing a concert movie is that you want to hear that music again for days, so yesterday I dug out Joshua Tree to listen to while running our errands.

Ainsley is never particularly thrilled when we switch from "her" music to "my" music. But I asked nicely, and she knew we were going to a dollar store where she could pick something out with her tooth fairy earnings, so she was kind enough to not protest too loudly.

As the opening strains of "Where the Streets Have No Name" filled the car, Ainsley said, "I know this song."

Of course she does. It's one of her mommy's favorites, and it features on a couple of road trip mix CDs we listen to.

"Yes, you do. It's one of my favorites."

"I know that, mommy. You love this song."

And she seemed to like it too, smiling at me when I met her gaze in the rearview mirror as I cranked the volume up.

"Is it a boy singing or a girl singing?"

Oh, Ains. He's all boy. Trust me.

But then the next song came on.

"Mommy! This is the SAME SONG again!"

I explained to her that no, it was a different song. Though you have to admit, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" flows very well from the first track and has some musical similarities.

She started to get a a little antsy through the song. I could tell she was itching for me to put High School Musical back in.

Then came my favorite song of all time, "With or Without You." When it first comes on, I get chills. Ainsley just sighed. It's the same sigh I get when I tell her it's bathtime, or that she's watched enough Backyardigans for one day. It's a sigh that asks, "Dude, why you gotta make life so hard?"

"Are ALL these songs going to have the same guy singing?"

Clearly, she's not a big fan of Mr. Bonovox.

As "Bullet the Blue Sky" came on, she asked if it was an angry song. She kinda likes angry songs.

The next time I thought to ask her an opinion on a track, I looked back in seat to see her sound asleep, beginning to snore loudly, drool coating her chin.

I woke her up when we got to our store, and we took care of our business. As I started the car back up, the CD picked up where it left off.

"Ohhh. Aren't we finished with this YET? Are we going to get to listen to something else?"

Now it was my turn to sigh. Dude, why you gotta make life so hard?

So, my five-year-old isn't such a fan of one of my favorite albums. She likes the last Dixie Chicks CD, she tolerates Regina Spektor, and we jam together to Jack Johnson. I even introduced the 25th-anniversary (!) re-release of the Thriller album last week and she kinda dug that. But mid-80s U2...not feeling the love.


Here's a great website I found yesterday that's worthy of a few laughs. I'm gonna hit this site pretty heavily next year for Christmas presents, so be warned.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Shark Tooth Update

Just when the deadline for calling the dentist had come, and after days of wiggling and twisting and yanking and tears (mostly from Ainsley, but a few from me, too), the baby tooth came out. I picked her up from school yesterday and saw a little tooth-shaped plastic necklace around her neck.

"I pulled out my tooth during recess today, mommy!"


That's the way it's going to be with this kid. Panic and drama over some urgent-seeming issue, and just when we're all at the breaking point and ready to call in the big guns...she quietly takes care of business herself.

Some of you heard about this story, but for those of you who didn't hear much about Ains until I started the blog, let me embarrass the crap (ha!) out of the kid by telling you about Enema Day.

When Ainsley was three, she became half-potty-trained. She started peeing on the potty after a slow but steady progression from through pull-ups and training panties. But she developed a terrible fear of pooping on the potty. This led to a fear of pooping in general, and for one entire spring we battled constipation with her. We were giving her prune juice, a prescription laxative, adding fiber to her food, and there was still one point where she went 6 days without a bowel movement. After a consulation with her pediatrician, we were advised to purchase a pediatric enema. If she hadn't pooped (on potty, in pull-up, we didn't care at this point) by the third day after that appointment, I was told to use that or bring her in to have the doctor do it. Heaven help us.

The third day came, and we were all miserable. Ainsley was so full of it she wasn't eating, had a stomach that looked like she had swallowed a Nerf ball, and was so cranky she couldn't stand herself. I was terrified that she had something seriously wrong and that we were going to be sending her to college in a pull-up ("Hi, roomie, my name's Ainsley. Now, before we decide whose bed is going where, there's something you need to know about me...") So after I picked Ains up from day care, I spread out a towel in the bathtub, took the small but fearsome-looking appliance out of the box, and re-read the directions.

I noticed that things had gotten really quiet in the house. I called out for Ainsley, and when she didn't answer right away I became worried that my attempts at subversion had failed and she knew what I was up to and had run away from home.

I found her in a quiet corner of our spare bedroom, looking pensive.

"I'm pooping."

I'd never felt such joy at changing a pull-up.

A month later, she decided on her own that it was time to do number 2 in the potty and the enema threat became just a terrible memory. But I did feel that same sense of gratitude and relief yesterday when I saw that little stump of a tooth tucked inside her necklace.

The tooth fairy came last night to reward her for her efforts and impeccable timing. And, like every other time she's freaked us out, all was right with the world in the end.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Heart David Archuleta

Oh. My. God.

Have you all heard this David Archuleta kid from this season of American Idol? I know, I swore not to get attached to another contestant after Melinda Doolittle broke my heart last year. But this kid...if he isn't destined to be the next American Idol, something is seriously wrong in the universe.

I don't usually like precocious kid singers. There's usually something fake about them. Something overly groomed. Like they don't want fame nearly as bad as their parents do. But this guy is the real deal. He's incredibly talented, he's sincere, and I think I love him.

(Yes, he's 17. I don't mean that I "love" him, not in the way I "love" Viggo or Jon Stewart or Bono. I mean, I want to adopt him. And hug him. And have him be a walking lullaby for Ainsley. Like Dori says about the cute little baby jellyfish in Finding Nemo, I shall call him Squishy and he shall be my Squishy. He's that freakin' cute.)

I've liked him from his first audition, but last night he killed me. He sang "Imagine", which is quite possibly the most beautiful song in the history of ever, and as a general rule I hate it when anybody screws with that tune. I love it the way Lennon wrote it, and the way Lennon sang it. When somebody adds extra instrumentation, or improvises the melody, I can't stand it. But then this little 17-year-old gets up there and sings it with a simple guitar accompaniment, and arranges the melody a little to make it his own, and 5 notes in I'm crying because it's so beautiful.

Jason wasn't in the room at the time, but thanks to the magic of DVR, I replayed it for him. I'll be darned if I didn't get choked up AGAIN. And when it was over, Jason gave it his patented "That pretty much sucked," which in Jason-sarcasm-ese means, "Wow."

I think it's pretty much a no-brainer at this point to say this guy's gonna win it all. The crowd went nuts when he finished, Paula had snot all over her face (which would usually gross me out, but since I was in the same situation, I let it slide), and Simon said the 19 other contestants had just become miserable.

I think this guy will be bigger than any other AI finalist or winner. Even if all he ever does is release that version of "Imagine", he'll sell like a bajillion records and retire before his 18th birthday. It was that good.

So, what do you all think? Does anybody else in the competition stand a chance?

(I know some of you scoff at American Idol and don't watch...start now. This kid's worth it.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Attack of the Toyota Siennas

I've always been struck by the number of minivans and SUVs that live in the parking lot of our family's chosen gym/family recreation center/huge absorber of our time and money. It is a family-oriented establishment, after all, so it shouldn't be surprising. The American family chooses to tote its younguns around in the safety and comfort of larger vehicles.

Yesterday I actually got a case of the heebie-jeebies when I noticed that, on the way to my own car, I passed not one, not two, but three identical white Toyota Sienna minivans. Two of them were parked right next to each other, and the third was a mere two spaces down. They all had those little cling-on sports stickers on the rear window advertising the resident children's names and sports affiliation. You know the ones; they have a little picture of a soccer ball, or pom-pom, or baseball, with the kid's first name underneath so the world knows that little Drew plays soccer! And Maggie is a cheerleader! If my parents had ever been into this, they would have had a little sticker in the back of our Chevy Cavalier showing a skinny girl with arms akimbo getting her feet tangled up in a track hurdle, or a logo of a geek in glasses holding a clipboard and "managing" her high-school volleyball team, because those failed attempts at organized sports were about it for poor little Cranky.

I could almost feel those three Siennas watching me as I finally found my car hidden between a Hummer and a Lexus SUV. Seriously, there is something creepy about seeing three identical vehicles parked close together; you feel like something is going on and it might have something to do with a mob. As I pulled out, I passed yet another Toyota Sienna in my row of cars (mercifully, another color) and then saw, pulling into the parking guessed it! Another WHITE Toyota Sienna. That's it! They're taking over!

All I could think, besides that it's alarming that Toyota would manufacture that thing seemingly in, like, two colors, is how I swore to anyone that would listen through most of my 20s that I would never, ever own a minivan. I remember when I was a poor grad student living in Lexington, knocking back beers with B.R. and D.R., thinking I knew everything about what my future as a parent would hold, and condemning the people like my sister who sold out and gave in when they had kids and no longer had any social lives to speak of other than attending tee-ball games and academic team matches and chauffeuring the kids around and throwing chicken nuggets at them in the back of the old minivan on the way home from this practice or that game.

Oh, to be young and know everything.

Now most of the people who I used to tell that I would never own a minivan have kids themselves and own either the minivan or the SUV. Let's face it: with more than one child, you kinda have to. And I have been tempted. I liked driving the "Canyonero" we rented when we went to Disney (though we chipped away at our life savings and the ozone layer putting gas in it), and I have witnessed the powerful sway our friends' built-in DVD player has on Ainsley and the fact that, when we visit them, their vehicle will fit all four of us and our three combined children comfortably.

And what kind of rockin' car do I drive now that I live in the real world of parenthood? A Vibe. Which calls itself a "crossover" vehicle and tries to pose as a small MPG-friendly SUV, but mysteriously transforms, with the addition of a child safety seat, into nothing more glamorous than a compact station wagon. It's a total mom-mobile. Complete with empty juice boxes under the seats and Happy Meal toys flung back into the hatch.

The only thing missing are a few sports-logo stickies on the back window.

It's truly amazing how we all picture adulthood and parenthood before we actually cross those thresholds, and how little time it takes for common sense and practicality to rule the day. At 25 years old, I thought I knew exactly how the next 20 years were going to look, right down to what kind of car I was going to drive and what activities my kids were and were not going to be tied down to and how many servings of home-cooked vegetables they were going to be offered every night of the week. Now I know that the only thing you can predict is unpredictability.

And, as more of us slacker gen-Xers or gen-Yers or whatever we are settle down and have kids, a lot more white Toyota Siennas.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Ains: The Classic Conundrum

Yesterday Ains went to her "true love" Teddy's birthday party. As soon as I dropped her off, Teddy wrapped his little arms around her and gave her the most sincere hug a 6-year-old boy can give a 5-year-old girl. Awwww.

Tonight she grew pensive in the bathtub (you ever notice how many of these I write after something profound she says in the confines of the bathroom?).

"Teddy says that I'm his best friend, and Noelle is his best friend, but he's going to marry Morgan. But he hugged me at his birthday party. I don't understand. I love him. Why would he hug me but want to marry Morgan?"

Why, indeed?

If you can ever figure out why a boy does anything when it comes to matters of the heart, well, then, you'd truly have the answer to one of life's little riddles, kiddo.

And probably save yourself a broken heart.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Shark

Yesterday, we visited a local aquarium and stood in awe of the sharks zooming overhead in the underwater viewing tunnels. Today, I learned that my daughter has something in common with those sharks.

She's overly toothy.

As I supervised tooth-brushing Friday night, I saw something odd in Ainsley's mouth. It turned out to be her first permanent tooth, which is trying to make room in her mouth before its baby-tooth partner has given up the ghost. The baby tooth is barely loose, and this new adult chomper is far enough behind the baby to make me worry about proper alignment and the need for future orthodontics. Plus, there's something very alarming about having a 5-year-old with an extra tooth growing in an odd place. Her grin is a little too close to that of a 007 movie villain. So I scheduled an appointment with the pediatric dentist to have everything investigated.

I learned that it's not unusual for a kid's lower front permanent teeth to sprout before the baby teeth have been shed. Dentists themselves, who have technical terms for everything, call this "shark teeth." But looking at Ainsley's dental x-rays today, the dentist saw that many of her big-girl teeth are getting ready to cut through the gums, and only the one baby tooth is remotely loose. We have one week to try to wait it out, and if the one loose tooth doesn't come out by then and open up some space in her little mouth...we are looking at some "extractions." Don't you just love dental euphemisms? "Extraction" sounds so much less scary than "taking a pair of sanitized pliers and yanking a piece of bone with roots from the lower jaw."

I don't know the details yet on how they are going to extract. One of my co-workers said they put her son completely under to do the pulling, and another said she herself was just numbed when she had to have a tardy baby tooth removed. I do know that we have been instructed to "help nature along" with Ains by performing a 5-minute-long tooth-wiggling ritual every night this week. I can't wait. In terms of "I'm causing my child pain" stress, this is right up there with the time I thought I was going to have to give her an enema.

But seeing as how I am not ready for the thought of having her go through an "extraction", I will wiggle away. And hope that, for once, she doesn't heed my constant reprimands to get her hands out of her mouth.

Because rows and rows of sharp white teeth are fascinating on aquarium sharks, but not nearly so endearing on your kid.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Things I Love

In honor of Cupid and hearts and all that mushy stuff, I thought I would write today about some things that I love. I think I've done this already as a blog entry last winter, but my list of favorite things changes frequently, so here's the updated version.

Top Ten Things I Love (besides my family, of course; love y'all!)

1. Having my 5-year-old read to me before bed instead of me reading to her. Ains started wanting to read this winter, and it's so cool to listen to her sound her way through Level 2 easy readers about Barbie and her beloved Disney princesses.

2. Playing video games. I didn't used to like games. I thought they were a waste of time. Then came Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero III, and Rock Band. And there went my free time.

3. A pot of fresh coffee brewed by my husband, who makes the best coffee in the world. Especially when he makes it for us on the weekends before I'm out of bed.

4. When snowflakes get stuck on my daugher's beautiful eyelashes, but she's too busy catching the flakes on her tongue to notice.

5. Flannel sheets washed in Tide lavender and vanilla detergent.

6. The new season of Lost (OMG, did you see it last night??.)

7. Unibroue beers. Especially the Ephemere apple ale. Seriously, if you haven't tried this little brewery's creations, you are missing out. Get thee to a well-stocked liquor or party store and check this stuff out.

8. Chocolate. This is one that will ALWAYS be on my list of favorite things.

9. 3D movies. This new generation of digital 3D is awesome. It actually made me enjoy taking Ainsley to the Hannah Montana concert movie. And makes me drool in anticipation of the U2 3D concert movie. Opening TODAY at a theater near you!

10. Writing this blog. I celebrated my one year blogiversary in January, and it's been great therapy and good exercise to get me back in the habit of writing. Of course, writing is not too much fun without an audience. So I guess I love y'all, too.

Have a great long post-Valentine weekend, for those of you with Monday off. I'll be talking to you next week!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Note from Cranky

Just a quick thank-you to those of you who called or emailed me personally to wish me a happy birthday. Because Jason's mom went in for emergency surgery Tuesday, anybody who called simply to wish me a happy birthday got to hear me pouring out all my worries instead.

Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers. Kathie came through the surgery okay, but the next days are touch and go.

I am so grateful to have readers (and friends) like you.

And the Number One Place Where You Don't Want to Run Into Someone You Know From Your Daugher's Catholic School Is...

The Pure Romance Warehouse Sale.

For those of you not from the Cincy area, every year during the first two weeks of February we all get bombarded with radio ads, billboards, and ValPak flyers about a local company's special Valentine's Day sale. The local company is Pure Romance, and they are one of those retailers who sells their goods through home parties, kinda like Pampered Chef or Partylite Candles. However, Pampered Chef doesn't have quite the kind of tools that Pure Romance does. They specialize in adult toys and potions. For women and couples. For the bedroom. You catch my drift.

For years, I've heard the ads for the warehouse sale held up at the company's Loveland headquarters where you can go in and shop without having to organize or find a party. I've always wanted to go and see what the fuss was about. After attending my very first PR party this time a year ago, I've been more intrigued. I'm a mature 30-something happily married woman, so why not? So when yesterday found me with yet another snow day, but with Ainsley's school in session, I decided to have an uncharacteristic adventure and go on a pilgrimage. As a famous explorer once said about Everest, it was there.

This place is 45 minutes from my house. Plus, I went at 10am. On a weekday. My assumption was that I could shop without worrying about being spotted.


As I entered the warehouse, I literally ran into another parent from Ainsley's school who was running out to her car to get her ID. Awk-ward! I know this lady quite well; she was a team captain for a Relay team last summer, and she helped me with the luminaria lighting. She's present at every school function I've ever been to, and we're on a first-name basis.

I tried to play it cool when we met back up at one of the demo tables (!) at the sale. See, I'm no prude or anything, but I am a little shy-ish. When I went to my first Pure Romance party last year, I didn't even want to let my close girfriend see what all was in my little black bag.

Not so much with this lady.

"Oh, have you ever been here before? This is my second time coming here in a week. Oh, and did you know for your free gift you get a Silver Bullet?"

If you don't know what that is, go check out the website. I'm too embarrassed to tell you.

She then proceeded to tell me that she was so happy that that was the free gift because she had worn her old one out. That may have been more that I needed to know from a woman who calls me from time to time to ask me to bring something up for a school bake sale.

While I was sneaking around the aisles trying to not stand out, I spied all kinds of people. There were couples there. There were lots of individual women of all ages. There were two women my own mother's age exploring the, um, toy bins as casually as if they were picking out socks.

It's a little amazing to me that in a city as notoriously conservative as Cincinnati that there's an adult business like this that does so well and that so many "normal" people are open about patronizing. I suppose it helps that they market themselves as a company for committed and monogamous couples, but it seems ironic that there was such an uproar a few years ago about Larry Flynt and the Hustler Superstore when the Pure Romance Warehouse Sale is a quiet little Cincinnati tradition.

It was a fun way to waste a snowy morning, I suppose. It's something I might do again next year.

Though next time, I might wear a disguise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me...

On the one hand, hooray! Today's my birthday! And I got that snow day I was asking for!

That other thing I asked for, to have everyone in the family healthy...not so much.

A member of our family is in the hospital today, facing a very risky and, if she survives, life-altering surgery. This person already has a major strike against her, and though we are all hoping for the best, we're also prepared for the worst.

So, if you're a praying type...please pray for us.

If you're not, think of us today. And send some positive energy this way. I'm not real sure myself how I stand on prayer, but I think if a group of people all sincerely turn their thoughts to the same thing, it can't hurt.

Cranky out.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Remember when we were young and we signed notes to our friends with "LYLAS"? For you men, LYLAS stands for "Love ya like a sister," and it was the cool thing to put in yearbook signatures around 1987.

I haven't used LYLAS as a sign-off in years, but it fits today. Today one of my BFFs, frequent reader and commenter "Wanda Y", turns 34. This one's for her.

It totally fits that she's one day older than me. For most of my adolescence I was content to follow her lead. I know this got annoying for her; there were probably times in our friendship that I was more her little sister than her own little sister was. But when someone is that cool, you just gotta be a little bit of a follower.

You wouldn't think that two kids like us would have stayed as close as we did. On the surface, we didn't seem too much alike. She was uber athletic; I got rejected for every basketball and volleyball team I ever tried out for. She was confident, pretty, and popular; I was the buck-toothed nerd who got picked last for every game at recess. But we were alike in a lot of ways that you couldn't see.

We grew up with an alley separating our houses and I first remember meeting her on my neighbor's swingset. We kept the grass in the alley mowed down in the summer; one or the other of us was always making the trip to see what the other one was up to. Alone, we were well-behaved; together, we found trouble. But we looked out for each other, and she could as well be the voice of reason among our little group of neighborhood hoodlums as she could be the instigator. I'll never forget the summer day we worked together to bail a third party out of an ill-advised "Let's drink and have boys over while the parents are at work" experiment. We didn't participate in the fun, but we jumped in to save a friend's butt when things went wrong. When our friend started to throw up, Wanda ran up behind her and caught her alcohol-reeking vomit in her hands to keep it from getting on the couch, since alcohol-scented-puke is a pretty undeniable clue for parents that your kid's been up to no good. I'll never forget the look of absolute disgust Wanda shot me as the drunkest teenager I've ever seen hurled bile and Scotch into her saving hands. We ended up ruining the couch cushion anyway (we cleaned a quarter-size splatter of puke with a quarter cup of dish detergent and a sink sprayer; I'm pretty sure there are still some suds in that couch to this day), but Wanda saved the day. At least for a few hours; later that same day she and I walked around 5 miles (each way) to check out some guy she had been flirting with on the phone. Who was not nearly as cute as he sounded over the phone. After telling my mom that we were going on "a little walk."

But all I've ever had to tell my mom is, "I'm going to be out with Wanda," and she knows I'm in good hands. Notice I'm using the present tense there. As recently as last summer at our high-school reunion, when I wanted to go to the after-party, I left the permission-asking to Wanda. She called my mom, who was our babysitter for the evening, to ask if I could stay out and "play" a little longer. Of course my mom told her it was OK. Of all the childhood friends I ever had, Wanda is the only one my mom has ever told me she fully trusts. If Wanda says she's in charge of the situation and is looking out for me, well, that's all my mom has ever needed to hear. I think to this day Wanda could call my mom and say, "Joan, Cranky and I are going to hold up a liquor store, and maybe rob a bank, and on the way home we might hit some riverboat casinos and blow our life savings on the slots, and if we're lucky pick up some sleazy men while we're at it," and my mother would say, "Well, as long as she's with you..."

Our last couple of years in high school, we started moving in different circles and we didn't see each other as much anymore. One of the last days of high school, while our government teacher popped in a movie and turned the other way while everyone passed around their memory books to get pored over and signed, a hand-written note fell across my desk. I'd been a cheapskate and hadn't bought an official memory book, and the note was from Wanda, who started off by saying she wanted to write something since I was a loser and didn't have a book. Wanda has quite a talent for writing, and by the time she had chronicled all our childhood exloits and talked sincerely about our friendship, I was in tears (it wasn't helping that the movie our teacher was showing was To Kill a Mockingbird.) I still have that note tucked inside a scrapbook I finally put together of childhood memories. She ended that note by very succinctly and accurately summing us up: "We were hellions, in a quiet sort of way." I can't say it any better than that.

We met up again while I was in grad school at UK, and she was finishing her degree. And when she called to tell me she had gotten a teaching job at a northern Kentucky high school, and that their librarian was leaving...could I really pass up the opportunity to work with her every day? She kept me sane while she was here, and I miss her now that she's gone to another school. I worry because we don't see each other as much as we used; will we drift again like we did in high school? I shouldn't worry, because even when I don't plan on seeing her somewhere, we have a way of running into each other (who knew she'd see me unable to hold myself up at the Taste of the World in November?). And we'll always have our (almost) mutual birthdays.

Five years ago when my doctor called to say he thought I had cancer, she was one of the last people I wanted to look in the eye and tell. A few years later when my dad passed away in the middle of the night, after I had made all the phone calls to the family, the last thing I wanted to do when I got home in the pre-dawn hour was to pick up the phone. But there was one voice I wanted to hear, who I knew would understand the long road I'd travelled with my dad, who wouldn't be upset at me calling so early, who would have my back and help me in any way I needed her to. That person was Wanda, who also sat behind me at my dad's funeral, who shared my tears and grief. We've been kinda adopted by each other's families, so it only makes sense that she would be there and be such a comfort during that time.

So, to my "sister" and my friend, happy birthday. May you be blessed with many more. May you keep kicking it as a Cincinnati Rollergirl, and may you keep partying hard.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Funnies

Today's entry isn't funny ha-ha. More like funny strange.

I caught a news story yesterday about genetic research that indicates all blue-eyed people in the world are related, and that they all descended from one freaky gene-mutated ancestor.

Click here to get the science behind it.

I've always thought that my brown eyes are boring; hearing that brown is "the default eye color for human beings" makes me feel oh-so-special.

Lest all you blue-eyed readers out there start thinking you're so blessed just because you have a gene mutation we average-eyed people don't, think about this: if your spouse/significant other also has blue eyes, then that person is on some very small level related to you, and unless you already live in Kentucky, that makes your relationship kinda incestuous and taboo. Ewwwww.

I've read several different articles about this, and it seems this only applies to truly blue-eyed people; if you have some green, gray, or hazel in your eyes, you lack the mutation that has completely rid the default brown from the iris and a little brown has crept in, making the green or gray or hazel sneak in. Reese Witherspoon seems to be the celebrity spokesmodel for the shade of blue the researchers are talking about; I've seen her picture attached to the article at least three times.

So if you've got Reese Witherspoon eyes, and you're still prowling for a mate, beware. That cute blue-eyed boy at the bar who gives who his number just may be your 1,238,086th cousin, 465 times removed.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lenten Promises

Ahhh, Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent, and the beginning of good Catholics everywhere trying to follow up with a promise to give something up or do something extra to make us better, healthier people and to remember the 40 days in the desert. Since I wasn't raised Catholic, I am always tempted to plead Protestantism here and just eat meat on Fridays and live it up like I used to before I was tempted to the dark side. But I suppose I should give some kind of atonement a try.

In years past, Jason and I have given up Coke (difficult), red meat (more difficult), and beer (most difficult.) Sometimes we team up so as to support each other; sometimes we go it alone. This year I am breaking free from the food and drink categories and trying to give up something Jason doesn't really struggle with: cursing.

I am a potty mouth. I do pretty good at not unleashing the f-bombs while my kid's around, but after she's in bed, I pepper my language with expletives. My mother is a world-class cusser (but with her accent, she can make even the worst vulgarity somehow seem charming), and I inherited her gift for colorful language when under duress. But it's gotten a little out of hand, and I need to tone it down a bit. When my 4-letter-word-lovin' mother recently told me, after I complained that a recent development in my life was a bunch of "effin' bull----," that I needed to watch my language, well, that was a wake-up call.

I guess I better brush up on all my foul-language sub words. So long, cathartic strings of f-bombs; hello, "darn, dang, shoot, crap, heck, butt, frick, and frack."

It's going to be a loooong 40 days.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

One Year Deeper Into the Thirties

I only have one more week at my current age.

On February 12, the clock ticks forward and I find myself a little deeper into my thirties. I remember being a teen and wondering what all the fuss was about with that one show Thirtysomething and thinking that all the characters on that show were so boringly old. And here I am, thirtysomething myself.

I don't feel that old. I feel in some ways like life has just gotten interesting. So birthdays aren't that big a deal. I'm not old. And growing older surely beats the alternative.

This is what I keep telling myself. But who am I kidding, really? Once you leave your 20s, birthdays suck. Let's not lie.

The only thing consoling me is that I have my eye on a few cool things for birthday presents. In case you haven't started your shopping yet.

The Birthday List, 2008

1. A snow day. A good old-fashioned snow day where the flaky stuff starts falling before bedtime and we get the "Schools are closed" phone call in time for me to not set the alarm clock. I know only mother nature can take care of this request, but in case she's listening...

2. A week where no one in the family is sick, or in the hospital, and Jason's work doesn't call a single time at 2am needing him to solve a problem. We need a little relief from the stress.

3. A Kindle. I suppose I should wait on this until they come down in price and the bugs get worked out, though. But how cool does that look? Cool to a book nerd, anyway.

4. The new American Idol game for the Wii. I know I suck as a singer, but how cool would it be to actually have "Simon" tell me I suck?

I'm not asking much. Just a token, really. A trifle. Mmmmm...trifle. Add a nice mocha brownie trifle to the list while we're at it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Ains: Sharpay Edition

After I dried Ainsley's hair last night, she posed on her little stool in front of her Princess vanity and took a good long look at herself in the mirror.


I think she was just imitating the villain in the High School Musical movies. I hope.

Unsung Movies

Sometimes the blogs are so great, I have to use them as starter material.

Check out this Pop Watch item about 80s movies which don't get enough credit. All of us who are of a certain age, who grew up in houses with HBO, Showtime, or Cinemax, have seen our fair share of craptacular 80s B movies. And if you're like me, you love some of these movies, "bad" or not. There's something about being 10 years old, staying up late on a Saturday night, watching something utterly forgettable like The Last Starfighter, that will make the movie itself transcend its own worth and become beloved and notalgia-inducing.

The commenters before me hit most of the ones I would've suggested, but I have a few to add. And of course, I want you to add, to.

Here are the rules: it can't be a really well-known, popular movie. If John Hughes had something to do with it, it doesn't count. We are looking for those films that didn't rake it in at the box office, or get critical kudos. We're looking for the ones you might find marked down to $4.99, hanging out in a big metal bin next to the checkout at Target. And that if you found in such a time and place, you would totally buy.

Here are mine (with IMDB links to jog your memory):

1. The Last Starfighter. It was a poor man's Star Wars with battle-scene special effects that would barely have been good enough if seen on an Atari console. But I am a sucker for cute underdog young men reluctantly saving the world (Frodo, Luke, Ash, etc.) And it gave me hope that if I kept practicing Space Armada on my Intellivision, that Star Fleet Command would call me to be a gallactic fighter pilot, too. Hey, a kid can dream.

2. Enemy Mine. One of a handful of movies that made me cry so hard when I watched it as a kid that I got sick afterwards (to this day, my mom talks of how she thought she was going to have to have me committed when she couldn't get me calmed down after watching Snoopy Come Home.) Lou Gosset Jr. stars as an alien who is the mortal enemy of, then friend of, a stranded and crashed human alien-fighter played by Dennis Quaid. When Lou's alien gives birth (the male of that species is the "mother") and then dies somehow or other, Dennis's human risks his life to save his former enemy's son's. I can't remember all the details, but I remember being pretty upset when the alien kid was in grave danger. I hadn't yet realized that Hollywood never, ever, lets the cute kid die. If I had remembered that fact years later, I wouldn't have been such a basket case during Crash, either.

3. Fright Night. The vampiric transformations and gore in this movie scared the bejeezus out of me, but in a good way. I was 13 when I first saw this; just old enough to appreciate Chris Sarandon as a seductive head vampire. It was also darkly humorous. I watched it so many times that I cannot believe the number of people I mention it to who have no idea what movie I'm talking about.

4. Once Bitten. OK, so Cranky loves her vampire stories. This movie was on cable one late night this summer, and after this most recent viewing I was torn; how can such a thoroughly bad movie be so irresistible? The answer? Jim Carrey. Ahh, I had a crush on him from the time I saw this movie through his first appearance on Carson to today. And then I married a Jim Carrey lookalike (just kidding, honey! Most of the time you only bear a passing resemblance!) Never mind that I get embarrassed thinking that I watched a movie this overtly sexual as a kid. With my family.

5. Midnight Madness. If you have ever seen this movie, I will buy you a Dr. Pepper. People look at me like I'm nuts when I mention this movie. But I swear, it was aired on HBO the first year we had cable at least once a day. And the reason for the Dr. Pepper? It stars David Naughton, of "I''m a Pepper, he's a Pepper, she's a Pepper, wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?" fame. I thought he was terribly cute, even when my sister scarred me for life by taking me to see him in An American Werewolf in London in the theater. OK, I would also put that movie on my list, but then I would feel the need to go to therapy to find out why I like so many vampire movies and why I find vampire figures in 80s movies so attractive. One more thing about Midnight Madness (besides that it has absolutely the worst get-stuck-inside-your-head theme song of any 80s movie): it also features a pre-Family Ties Michael J. Fox. Yowza.

6. House. Before Hugh Laurie helmed the hit TV show, that guy from Greatest American Hero starred in the campy horror comedy. Yes, a horror comedy. Richard Moll of Night Court fame plays a solider who was tortured and killed in Vietnam who comes back from the dead to wreak spiritual havoc on a surviving member of his unit. Features such classic lines as, "Damn. Came back from the grave but ran out of ammunition." When I was 12, that was hilarious.

What have I left out? What little-known 80s movie rocks your socks? And are you with me on any of the above choices? Anyone? Anyone? No? Just me? Mmmkay.

Monday, February 4, 2008



We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog reading, already in progress.

Shouting Above The Din Of Our Rice Krispies

All day yesterday, I felt like I was gonna hurl. Usually I feel that way the day after the Super Bowl from a combination of adult beverages and home improvement projects (for some reason, when our friends all gather at our house for the Super Bowl, they start wanting to take down wallpaper or paint accent walls; it's bizarre but helpful.) This year, I felt hungover before the party ever started. Partly this is because I am on an antibiotic (for a sudden and alarming breakout of "adult acne", of all things; didn't I fight that battle already when I was, you know, a teenager?), but mostly it's because I was up until the wee hours of Sunday morning playing Rockband.

We have friends who had been threatening to buy a PS3 for the sole (almost) purpose of playing Rockband. Saturday, still in post-vacation euphoria and inspired by a Rockband demonstration on their Caribbean cruise last week, they took the plunge and brought over their new toys. I've written here about how addicted we've gotten to Guitar Hero 3. Rockband kicks that concept up a notch. It allows up to 4 people to rock out together on drums, guitar, bass, and vocals to many of the same songs available on Guitar Hero. Plus, you can download more songs. It's the funnest thing since, well, ever.

As I sung along to "Creep", accompanied on guitar and drums by my hubbie and friends, I thought nothing could be more fun than making a fool out of yourself on vocals. But then I tried drums. And, oh my God. It's hard as hell, because you have a foot pedal and 4 "drums" to keep track of, but it's soooo awesome.

We rotated through all the instruments, but I probably spent most of my playing time on vocals. It's easier for women; the power notes in the upper ranges were killing the men, but were in a beltable chest-voice for me and my librarian friend. The best is when you get a song that you completely don't know and you have to fake your way through it by following the pitch line and trying to match it with your voice while cracking up at lyrics about Rice Krispies (I'm looking at you, Police.) "Synchronicity II" was my first failure, but my bandmates had enough star power to bring me back in. 'Cause that's what your bandmates are for.

We only had 3 instruments going on Saturday; we have to wait for a patch and a compatible guitar in April before we can get our bass groove going. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say we'll be "practicing" our gig a lot between now and April, anyway. With no scripted TV shows this winter to catch up on on weekend nights, what else are we going to do? Read? Get out of the house and take in some culture? Not when I can channel Axel Rose and get nodules on my vocal cords!

Ladies and gentlemen, now presenting in their world debut, live from Cranky's basement...The Pop Tarts!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Decidedly Unfunny Week

It didn't take long for me to give up on trying to link to funnies every Friday, did it? It just wasn't a very funny week. We were promised some snow, and got some rain instead, so no snow day, and the kid's been sick, and my mind has been on getting ready for Lost (which ROCKED.)

So, let's turn the tables. Spread some cheer up in my general direction. Post your links to some hee-larious YouTube video I really need to see (and no, reaction shots to "Two Girls, One Cup" do not count.) Or some funny column I should read. Or tell me about something funny that happened to you one time. At band camp.