Archive | October, 2012

My kids say funny stuff, too: Halloween Edition

30 Oct


Halloween in Chicago is a dicey affair. You’re as likely to have foul weather as fair, but most often, the kids are trick or treating in hat, coat and mitten weather.

My daughter has chosen a vampire costume. It’s really kind of cute, complete with cape and stand-up collar. And it is sleeveless. Mommy would have made a very nice costume with nice warm long sleeves, but Mommy is big and dumb. All of Mommy’s ideas suck.

Big Dumb Mom: You should wear a long sleeve shirt under it. I’m afraid you’ll be cold.

Daughter: That’s dumb, Big Dumb Mom. Your ideas suck. (Ok, she didn’t really say that, but I can’t remember what sass came out of her mouth.)

Big Dumb Mom: Well, what will you do about the cold?

Daughter: I’ll just have to suffer the consequences of being cute.

Note: My kids say funny stuff, too is based on the fact that many, many moms have funny kids and post the funny things they say, but I owe a debt of gratitude to

Hers is one of the best funny kid stuff blogs out there and I’m humbled by her hilarious offspring.

What I don’t get is this . . .

29 Oct

There are so many things I don’t get these days. Like people who comment on comics they view online. Go check out Arcamax comments. People actually comment on strips like Baby Blues and Zits as if the characters are real.

And, if you’ve been reading me for a while, I don’t get chubby guys doing outdoor activities topless.

But the thing that I don’t get more than any other, is how any one who wants to see fewer abortions, fewer teen pregnancies, fewer women sink into poverty because of an unplanned pregnancy can possibly support de-funding Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is the biggest preventer of unplanned pregnancy in the United States. They provide contraception, cervical cancer exams, referrals to mammography and a wealth of other services to women who couldn’t otherwise afford them.

That Planned Parenthood has become a political football is ludicrous. In fact, funding of Planned Parenthood was initially proposed by Richard Nixon, a Republican, and received strong bi-partisan support by Congress. Planned Parenthood receives federal funding primarily through two government programs: the Title X Family Planning Program and Medicaid and is prohibited from using any of that money to fund abortion services.

Anti-abortion activists claim that any federal funding of Planned Parenthood enables the group to keep from using resources for abortion services. Good! The services Planned Parenthood provides that are federally funded are highly effective at preventing unplanned pregnancies and abortion.

In 2009, Planned Parenthood received $360 million in federal grants and contracts. None of that money funded abortion. In fact, it’s estimated that Planned Parenthood prevents more than 600,000 unintended pregnancies every year. And no other provider, federally funded or not, is able to provide healthcare services to clients as inexpensively.

Richard Nixon recognized the costs to the country of unintended pregnancies and said “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” It was true in 1970 and it’s true now.

So, I just don’t get why anyone, pro-choice or anti-abortion, would want to cut $360 million dollars to shrink a 17 trillion dollar deficit when that cut is guaranteed to increase costs in other areas.

Hey, baby! They’re proofing the house!

25 Oct

Image: Getty RF

If things go as planned, I will be able to remove the last child proofing device remaining in our home this afternoon. Reason? Our cat, Oliver, will no longer be living with us. Oliver is on his way to a new home, one that can afford his veterinary care.

We have the lock on our cabinet because Oliver loves nothing more than breaking things, especially glass and china. Before the cabinet lock was installed, a favorite Oliver activity was jumping on the kitchen counter, opening the cabinet where drinking glasses are stored and, with one swipe of his paw, dumping the contents on the floor. Hence, cabinet lock.

Astounding as Oliver’s antics appear, they are mere trifles. A blogging friend wrote recently that her baby daughter likes to gnaw on mini-blinds. I had a dog that ate one. This friend and her other baby-wrangling friend are dreading what happens when the Christmas tree goes up. I have a dog that ate a string of Christmas lights.

I think these parents worrying about mini-blinds and Christmas lights are so cute. Sure, one needs to be aware of the dangers these impose, as well as glass coffee tables, staircases, unlocked liquor cabinets and other baby magnets.

But there are so many more dangers lurking in your house, people. So many more.

There’s the oven.

My son didn’t crawl much. The first time he tried, he went backwards. Rather than repeatedly practicing to get it right, he bided his time until he had the muscle strength to walk. We installed gates at the staircases to the basement and the upstairs, of course. This, in effect, restricted our son to destroying playing on the first floor. He discovered the oven and, within moments, discovered how to open it and climb in. Fun!

The first oven lock adhered to the side of the oven and required two hands to achieve oven openage. This was defeated approximately half an hour after installation.  The second lock had to be ordered. It successfully defeated all opening efforts.

There’s the toilet.

Oven opening off the tour of terror, my son discovered the toilet.
All manner of things went into the potty, none of them vaguely related to pee or pooh. Cars, toothbrushes, tub toys. Again, a lock was installed. Again, it was defeated. Then our son discovered flushing. It is very expensive to have a plumber remove a flushed washcloth.

There’s the bathroom door.

His efforts at opening things thwarted, my son began closing things. Doors, in particular, were fun to shut, providing an irresistible form of peek-a-boo. Door open? There’s Mommy! Door closed? No more Mommy! Door open, door closed, door open, door closed. Fun!

Then there was the day the door closed . . .and locked. From the inside. In an old house. Built at a time when people expected privacy, not 18-month olds on overdrive.

For a while, my husband and I tried to get our son to unlock the door, reasoning that if he could flip it one way, he could flip it the other. While he couldn’t, it was clear that talking to Mommy and Daddy through the door was a blast. Fun!

Then we tried removing the door from its hinges. Daddy wrote funny pictures on a piece of paper and passed them through the bottom of the door while Mommy tried to remove the door. Daddy is a terrible artist; every thing he draws looks like a penis. Fun!

Silly Mommy discovered that hinges are not on the outside of doors. Figuring if they can get a cat out of a tree, they can get my son out of the john, I called the fire department.

Within minutes, at least four firemen, a police squad car and a hook and ladder truck arrived at our house, along with every neighbor within a quarter mile. Daddy continued to push penis pictures under the bathroom door while a fireman, boosted to the second floor (Oh, didn’t I say this was the second floor bathroom? Silly Mommy! Of course it was!), attempted to open the window. Fun!

Then it became not fun. A child can only pass so many penis pictures back and forth under the door. And having a strange man banging at the bathroom window did nothing to calm our son. He began to cry.

“What would you like to do, Ma’am?” said the police officer. “Should they break the window?”

“No,” I said, envisioning my baby covered in broken glass. “Keeping trying to open the window.” My son kept crying.

So, they tried to open the window. And they tried to open the window. My son cried harder.

“Ma’am,” the police officer said, “Your son is hysterical.”

“Break the window!” I cried.

I heard glass break and my son stop crying, then “It’s ok, little guy. It’s ok.”

I didn’t see the ladder descend and I don’t know if my husband did. The aftermath of the escapade isn’t burned into my brain, except for the sobbing release when I knew my son was all right.

So, parents, get your cabinet locks, your coffee table cushions, the door knob-defeaters, and the staircase gates. But don’t forget to take pictures when the hook and ladder truck arrives.

My kids say funny stuff, too 7

23 Oct

A little political humor. My daughter is 10. Those of you who have or had 10-year old daughters, I accept your pity.

We were all gathered in the kitchen, getting ready to eat dinner. My daughter was shrieking like a professional wailer at a funeral. We have become quite accustomed to these outbursts.

“What’s she crying about now?” I asked.

“Obamacare,” my son responded. “She has all these mixed emotions about Mitt Romney and Obamacare.”

Room with a view

19 Oct

Sometimes, words fail. Sometimes, it feels like everything fails. And then, sometimes, it takes so little to start to turn it around.

My office window is behind me as I write, so I keep the blinds drawn to cut the glare. This morning it’s gray and drizzly. I cursed the darkness, thinking, I need to get more light in here, and imagining a trip to Ikea. Then I remembered the blinds; they are closed so often I don’t even think of them. I opened the blinds to a scene from the garden I’ve neglected for months.

My kids say funny stuff, too 6

16 Oct

Occasionally, I rebel against the mashed potato and un-sauced meat diet that keeps my family fed. Then, I go to the hot food and salad bars at Whole Foods and pile a mish-mash of green things into a box to eat while the heathens make their daily sacrifice to the Gods of Meat.

Recently, my son looked inquiringly at my plate. “Whatcha got there?” he asked. Because hope truly does spring eternal, I jumped at the chance to introduce him to foods without hooves.

“Well,” I said, “This is cole slaw, that’s tofu and this is broccoli.”

He didn’t turn away, so I continued on a tour of my dinner plate.

“This is quinoa salad and that, with the yogurt, is falafel.”

He looked at me and said,  “Now you’re just making up words.”

Like this store!

15 Oct

This weekend, I took my little drummer boy to heaven. Actually, what we did was drive down to Chicago, get lost for an hour, and finally arrive at what is probably the biggest drum store in America: Vic’s Drum Shop.

I do not see my son smile very often. The instant he walked past the front door, he got one of those little “I have been waiting for this my entire life but I can’t make it obvious because I’m with my mom” smiles.

Vic’s has room after room of drum stuff. There are two rooms for cymbals. There is a room bigger than my entire first floor full of fully set up drum kits. There is a room as big as my living room full of world percussion instruments. There is a room dedicated to snares. There is a room full of drum heads. There is a room full of drum sticks. There is a room full of drum stands. Just the stands! All of the rooms are sound-proofed. Drum heaven, indeed.

But, best of all, there is Vic. Vic Salazar is the Willy Wonka of drums. A slight but somehow still cuddly man, endowed with the most amazing hair, Vic himself waited on my son and I. By waited on, I mean he spent at least two hours with us. Us! And we were there to buy a cymbal. One cymbal.

Vic pointed out cymbal after cymbal, sharing with my son the variety of sounds available, the reasons the specific sounds were possible from each cymbal, the differences in quality and construction. My son nodded, crashing and riding each of the crashes and rides. I smiled and thought, “I have no idea what the hell they are talking about.” At one point, my son looked at me and said, “You have no idea what we’re talking about, do you?” It was one of the few times he looked at me at all, but who could blame him surrounded by all that shiny brass.

Why, you may ask, did we travel all the way into Chicago just to buy one cymbal? I wondered the same, frankly, as I thought about the nice little music store near our house. We love the guys at our local music store; they love us. But they have three crashes (cymbals, that is; not automobiles through the front glass–though that is possible). The least expensive crash they carry is $250.

Vic has an entire wall of crashes and rides. And Vic has prices! Oh, my god! Vic has prices! Having done our online homework, I had determined we would need to spend enough to buy me a really nice pair of leather boots. When Vic started quoting prices, the knot in my gut eased. I hugged Vic. He hugged back. He’s just that kind of guy.

I became a music mom happily, glad to escape the god-awful getting up at 5 a.m. to drive to hockey, soccer and swim meets all over the greater Chicagoland area. I patted myself on the back over not needing to spend fortunes on hockey equipment, Speedos and whatever the hell soccer players wear.

When my son started playing drums, we got a used kit. It’s a fine kit; we paid about $800 for the whole thing. Drum kits are made with nice sturdy metal things; replace a head now and then and we’re golden, I thought.

Then, I found out that cymbals can shred. They can literally shred, as in pieces. Entire chunks of brass peel off like a bad toupee. And drum sticks! They shred, too! And they break! Even though sticks are made of the same stuff as baseball bats, drummers go through sticks faster than my daughter can go from a whine to a kiss.

Guaranteed: All damage due to regular drumming; no malfeasance, no retouching.

At one point during our adventure in drum land, I watched my son and Vic happily banging away on cymbal after cymbal. My son is right; I had no idea what they were doing or why. But he was in heaven and it brought tears to my eyes.

Pretty, pretty. Shiny, shiny. The new cymbal, installed and ready to crash.

I have sucked up the idea of ever having really nice leather boots. I am a drummer’s mother. Until he finds a job, I’ll be making up the difference between what his allowance covers and the cost of a decent cymbal and a brick of sticks.

Vic’s Drum Shop is tucked away in a warehouse-y kind of place off of Ogden north of Lake Street. The address is 345 N. Loomis. Go if you can, but ’til then go to Vic’s Facebook page and give him a “like.”

Happy Birthday, Dear Mom

11 Oct

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. No, not a day when everyone on earth spends the day trying to act calm, stable and happy, but a day devoted to encouraging people to discuss mental health issues. This year’s topic was depression. Not to belittle the global crisis of depression, but I guess all the other mental disorders got to take a break.

Most of you know that I am bipolar and may wonder why I didn’t write about what it’s like to be bipolar on World Mental Health Day. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, I’ve got all week. Mental Health Awareness Week in the United States runs from October 7th through the 13th. I am American and I’m writing this on the 11th, so I figure I’m covered. Even if I’m not, National Mental Health Month is in May. Of course, a mental health month puts a lot of pressure on us; I’m not sure I can keep my mania and depression from popping up for an entire month even with meds.

I didn’t write about mental health—mine or anyone else’s—because yesterday was my mother’s birthday. When she was alive, I hosted a beef-centered dinner at my house. I did this because I loved my mother, but also because I spent years listening to her complain that no one ever did anything for her birthday and she was not going to plan her own party. And she loved beef.

Yesterday, we had fried chicken for dinner. That is not as contrary as it sounds. My mother was from the South and, while she made really good fried chicken herself, she also loved Popeye’s. My kids don’t really like beef—I think my daughter may become a vegetarian soon—but they like Popeye’s.  So, fried chicken for dinner.

I think my mother would have approved, but there were many things in my life that she didn’t really like a whole lot.

My hair? Not curly enough. Never mind that it is stick straight, fine as frog fur and most likely inherited from her. When my hair was permed, my mother loved it.

My housekeeping? Notice “housekeeping” and “Ha!” both start with an H. But when Mom was scheduled to visit, I became a dervish, scrubbing counters with hot water, vacuuming lampshades, polishing bathroom fixtures, arranging flowers. A friend once pointed out that it wasn’t like Queen Elizabeth was going to pop in to use my powder room. If only, I thought, if only!

My mouth? Far too many F-bombs came out of it to please my Mom. Actually, any F-bomb was unacceptable. According to her, I swear like a longshoreman. I doubt she ever met one; I’m not convinced she even knew what they did but she was convinced that I talked like one.

My mother didn’t swear . . .much. I think I heard her use the S-word twice. The most memorable instance was during a sewing session when she repeatedly tried to do a tricky seam. Finally, she got it right only to realize she’d sewed the thing to the shirt she was wearing.

There were things my mother approved of, though.

My intelligence, for one. When Geraldine Ferraro ran with Walter Mondale, my grandmother was appalled. How, in her mind, could a woman be tolerated one heartbeat away from the presidency? My mother was incensed. “I think a woman would be a wonderful president. Janice would be a wonderful president!” I might be, but there are far too many skeletons in my closet. Hell, my skeletons are out on the front lawn doing the Macarena.

My cooking. My mother loved the beef-centered dishes I made, but she loved the Williamsburg Orange cake I made every year even more. She liked my snacks, too. When my sister and I still lived at home, we’d watch late night movies with Mom, everything from Frankenstein to It Happened One Night. During some commercial break, I’d want a snack. I’d offer one to my mother on my way to the kitchen. “No, thank you” was invariably her response. On my return, she’d take a look at my snack and say, “Oh, that looks good!” an unspoken yet undeniable request for said snack.

My spirit. I’m honest—blunt, some would say—and pretty funny. If something strikes me as humorous, I’ll say it even if it’s highly inappropriate. My mother loved this about me. She loved it so much that she worried the meds I needed to stay alive would dampen it. They never did.

My mother died a slow, painful, ugly death of COPD. But while her disease chipped away at her freedom and health, she adapted and kept going. When breathing became difficult at night, she used an oxygen concentrator while she slept. When climbing the stairs at her home became difficult, she got a stair lift. When she couldn’t walk around the mall, she got oxygen in a bottle and a wheeled cart to drag it around behind her. When even that became difficult, she learned how to surf the ‘Net to visit her favorite stores.

My mother even found a reason to like Depends. Getting to the bathroom from the couch before you’ve got to go is something you likely take for granted. But when you can’t breathe, there’s no guarantee you’ll get there in time. “These Depends are great!” my mother told me. “I never have to worry if I’ll get to the potty in time.”

We joked that Mom was the Energizer Bunny; she kept going and going. Even in the end, she didn’t give up. It was left to us to turn off the machines keeping her alive.

I don’t need a particular day to make me aware of mental health issues; I live with them everyday. So, while yesterday may have been a mental health day for the rest of the world, I spent it with memories of my mom.

My husband says funny stuff, too. . .sometimes

9 Oct

We joke in our house that Dad thinks he’s funny, but he really isn’t. Every now and then, though, he’ll crack me up. Witness:

My husband loves sports, but he hates sports broadcasting. I don’t care about the sports he cares about, but we pretend to listen to each other. We were discussing the Chicago Marathon, which has been named the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The announcers proclaimed it the 35th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon. We, being the nit-pickers that we are, noted that while we had witnessed the 35th Chicago Marathon, it was not the 35th Bank of America Marathon. We’re annoying that way. My husband then went on a diatribe (he has a Ph.D. He doesn’t rant; he diatribes) about the rampant use of endorsements.

“You wouldn’t believe it!” he said. “When a relief pitcher comes into a game, they call it the ‘Rolaid’s Relief’ pitcher.”

“What’s next?” he continued, “The Kotex Cotton Bowl?”

Bloggers for Movember

8 Oct

I was going to post today about National Months and, lookee here, an announcement from another blogger, A Clown On Fire, enlisting support for Movember. Head over to Le Clown’s blog for details on this awareness and fund-raising effort to benefit prostate cancer awareness. Make sure you rummage around the site  to enjoy the inimitable entertainment and inspiration that is A Clown on Fire.

Bloggers for Movember.


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