Friday, August 31, 2007

Nobody knows me like my baby

And I like cream in my coffee
And I hate to be alone on Sunday
And nobody knows me like my baby
- Lyle Lovett

Five years. It seems like a lifetime, it seems like an instant. Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Talk talk

There once was a time when I worried my daughter wouldn't speak. I wrung my hands with concern, closely scrutinizing other children her age for signs that my kid was further behind than she should be. I fretted and agonized over every babble that I thought should be fully formed words at her age. I even called in experts.

Then she started speaking.

Complex sentences started flowing freely from her plump, pink baby lips and my heart was filled with joy. I could now begin communicating with my daughter! She could tell me what she needed! We could have conversations about mailboxes and airplanes and Barney!

It truly is a wondrous event in a mother's life, when her sweet toddler starts stringing words together, and phrases you didn't even know she knew are added daily to her vernacular. When did she learn that? is a common thought in my head these days.

It fills my heart with joy.

And now that she's talking easily and only is requiring of the occasional Chicky-to-English translation for the grandparents I only have one concern...

Now how the hell do I get her to freaking shut up??

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

RuPaul was right, I should probably work

Now that the great romance of my twenties (not including Mr. C, of course. No, hon, you are the great romance of my life. Promise.) has been compared to a Lifetime movie of the week and I purged my soul on the internet, I've gotta take a detour off this trip down memory lane and take care of some blog business.

But before I get to that, I still can't believe that no one figured out the song. Nobody told me they did anyway. The person who can gets an extra special sappy mix CD with that song and many others that I used to listen to as I drove by his house 20 times an evening.

Added ** Oh, and when I said a "southern band" I meant they were from the south, not that they recorded southern rock or anything like that. They're much more free form than that.**

**Added Again!
Mel from Freak Parade got the song right
- Say Goodbye, by the Dave Matthews Band. Congrats, Mel! Jeez, I thought I made it easy on everyone with a bit of the lyric as the title of the post and all. **

Good times, good times.


First up, I've got some new reviews up at my review blog. Something about back to school shopping and stuff like that. I tried to cover all the kids, from toddler through high school, so please go check it out.

Second, the New England Mamas are looking for mothers who blog from Vermont and Maine to contribute to our site. If you fit that bill, or you know someone who does, please email me at NEMAMAS [at] yahoo [dot] com and put Vermont Blogger or Maine Blogger or something like that in the subject line. I know that there are parts of Maine and Vermont that are just now starting to get indoor plumbing but I've got to believe they have dial-up at the very least. And if there's dial-up, there must be bloggers.

Also, we're looking for one dad from any of the New England states who we can count on to contribute on a regular basis. We need a little testosterone to temper the estrogen. If you want to know more email me at that address above.

Third... Hmm, what was third? Third, third... I got it!

Johnny Damon. Rot in hell.

[head repeatedly hitting keyboard]

Sonufabitch, aadnoiehroanr8932h4o, traitor, ohyq43q08ty0ohgohaoifho, home run, aouq08u8u04ihl*&%*)*o4hihti4hrbnd83, Gah!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Guest blawging


I'm not here today. I'm over at Her Bad Mother's blog, talking about one of those subjects I vowed never to speak about - ex-boyfriends. Specifically, the one who broke my heart.

With apologies to my dear husband. Honey, if you don't want to read about it, don't click that link. Don't do it. Resist.

You know he can't help himself, right?

You don't have to resist. Quite the opposite, please give me your moral support. I need it. I'm talking about old loves, fer chrissake.

Come hold me. And bring ice cream.

Monday, August 27, 2007

You got the peaches, I got the cream

Okay, have you seen the promo for the new season of Martha? The one with Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" over quick cuts of melted chocolate being poured over cakes, sugar sprinkled over ripe berries, syrup drizzled over baked pears?

Def Leppard. Martha Stewart.

Talk about two thing that don't go together.

Sadly I'm completely turned on.

Def Leppard was cool when I was a kid - about cough 20 cough years ago - and that song was huge. It was almost naughty to sing it, being all of about 14 or so when it was first released. I was Little Miss Innocent. Now? Not so much.

These days you'll hear the song most often in strip clubs. So I'm told.


That song was totally hot, but now it's being used to promote unobtainable standards in homemaking. I freaking love it.

This makes me officially old. I think I'll go put on Hysteria and bake a cake to drown my sorrows in, because that's the extent of my hot sticky sweet action these days.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


I'm all better now. I don't know if it was something I caught or something I ate but I'm leaning towards a case of vacationitis.

Wah? You don't know about vacationitis?

It affects everyone in different ways but in my case vacationitis is brought on by my natural predilection towards being a stress bag every other day of the year. I thrive on stress, I eat it for breakfast. Stress is what keeps my body moving. So those rare times when I let my defenses down and actually stop and enjoy myself for a change every germ and ailment that was beaten back by my stress force field now has a way in.

Stomach bug? Sure, c'mon in! Migraine? The more the merrier! Pinched nerve? The water's fine!

I have a history of chronic vacationitis. Take, for instance, the summer of 1997. My honeymoon with husband number 1. After working for a few years as an morning DJ at a local radio station, getting up at 4:00am five days a week and clocking 55 hour+ work weeks, I took a well deserved vacation in Jamaica. The first few days were fine because I was still de-stressing. But on the next to last day of our trip - Wham! - I got that inner ear thing that gives you vertigo when you try to stand up.

Have you ever been on a bus with no air conditioning in 90 degree temperatures and a Jamaican bus driver with a death wish at the wheel? With vertigo? The only thing I remember is getting on the bus, closing my eyes, and praying. And then I had to get on a plane. I just closed my eyes and cried. That was fun.

Then there was the time in 2002 when I was on my honeymoon with husband number 2 - Mr. C., for those of you scoring at home. We were both completely immersed in our jobs at the same large corporation and we had just finished planning and executing our at-home wedding, so the stress was palpable. Three days into our trip to the Napa Valley and I got the worst pinched nerve in my neck. Pinched nerves are no fun under the best of circumstances, but this one was so bad that I could hardly enjoy the romantical day my new husband had planned for us at a spa in Sonoma.

I know the casual observer might think that I should just give up on honeymoons, but this past vacation was no honeymoon. Believe me.

So maybe I should just give up on vacations in general. Just hide in my home with the shades drawn and the doors locked. Besides, who would watch my TV if I went away?


Thankfully, I was well enough today to go visit with some of my fellow New England Mamas.

(I was even well enough to eat pizza! Organic pizza with barbecue chicken! Without having to run to the bathroom immediately after! Yippee!)

I don't know how I got to be lucky enough to be affiliated with these incredible women, but I am. I can't wait to see them all again. I wish we had more time to talk because I know from this short meeting that we could all be bestest friends forevah and evah.

I'd gush some more but I'm from New England. Gushing is not our thing. We do not gush.

Except maybe in private with other New Englanders. Then we gush with dignity.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

More proof that God hates me

What's the best way to follow up three days on Cape Cod, where the air was cold (for summer) and it rained at least one day?

Stomach virus!

Whoo... eh, I haven't got the energy to get excited, even in the name of sarcasm.

I've been out of commission for the past two days because of my gooky stomach, too sick to even check my bloglines. But I need to get my strength back because I'm supposed to meet some lovely ladies tomorrow, so I'm going to leave you, internets, to try to choke down more than two bites of dry toast.

From out trip:

The Unibomber is not above bribing her victim with Goldfish crackers to avoid a tantrum on the ferry from Cape Cod to Martha's Vineyard.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A sign of the apocalypse

I'm on a lot of retail email lists and gajillions of notifications a day about products and sales flood my inbox. I get so many that I usually delete them all without looking. But the other day one in particular caught my eye. There was a new toy that had won some prestigious editor's award for best toy of 2007.

That piqued my interest. I'm a concerned parent. I only let my kid play with toys that contain only the smallest traces of lead paint.

How many of you parents went out and registered for/bought one of these gymini things before your first child was born?Or how about one of these adorable interactive playmats for your infant's burgeoning curiosity, complete with teethers and soft, crinkly books to help their growing minds learn their 1,2,3s before all the other babies in your playgroup?

Cute, right? I'm willing to bet a lot of you have these things for your babies. Nothing but the best for our kids.

Except they're not for kids. Not the two-legged kind anyway.

Because these:

Are actually supposed to be for these:

To be used like this:

Now I have seen everything.

Some genius thought it would be fantastic to take infant toys and repurpose them for puppies. This is not a new concept by any means, every time I'm in a pet supply store I'm struck by how many toys my dogs and my kid have in common, but to be so blatant about it...

Well, it's no wonder why my classes are always full.

Listen, I'm all for treating your dog like a member of the family. I teach classes specifically designed for the family dog, for chrissake. But to treat your dog like a baby?

You might as well dress him up in one of these:

And please don't call me when your precious wittle baby puppy who you cuddled and loved and treated like a baby grows up to be a couch-eating beast, because I will tell you I told you so.

Then I'll charge you double.

I'm actually a very sympathetic dog trainer. I keep my opinions to myself and only get snarky when I can't hold it in any longer. And to prove how sorry I am to be so tough on you, here's a lovie for you:

Oops, that's actually for your dog. I found that at an online pet store too. Fooled you, though, didn't it? My kid has three just like this.

But my dogs do not. Because they're dogs.


My family, my dogs, and my snarky butt are all heading off to Cape Cod for a few days. We're going to infiltrate my sister's perfectly clean house and dirty it up with messy paw prints and stinky diapers. She has no idea what's in store for her.


In the meantime, if you're new to my blawg feel free to peruse some of my archives. Or you could just read some of the posts I like the best:


Dog is not a four letter word

Dear Friend

Just Me

Alpha Bitch

This will get me kicked out of the sorority for sure

See you all on Friday. Or Saturday. Or September. I may never come home. You'd miss me though, right?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Life in a Northern Town

I grew up with characters. Not cartoon ones, though there were certainly enough of those in my young life, but the real-life kind. People with interesting stories and personalities. The odd, the quirky, and the downright strange. And the more idiosyncrasies they had the more I loved being around them.

For instance, I have fond memories of a friend of the family who, when we had our yearly cookout at a local lake, would eat live dragonflies for my amusement. He'd pluck them out of the air, bring them close to my face so I could get a good look at them, and then swallow them whole as I clapped with glee. This was also the same man who made the best kapusta around. Any man who works that closely with a lot of cabbage has got to have an eccentricity or two, if you ask me.

My extended family had their own peculiarities, but it's the friends and acquaintances of my parents, aunts and uncles who I think back on now with real fondness. The friends of my father and uncles were all a bunch of loud, hard drinking and hard working blue collar guys who would spend their precious time off from work at the local social club. This was the place my father would take my sister and me to when it was his turn to "babysit". He'd hand us a bunch of quarters for the pinball machine, kept us quiet with a steady supply of Coca Cola, chips and Slim-Jims, and then he'd spend the rest of the afternoon solving the world's problems with his buddies over bottles of beer and shots of whiskey.

The men had strange names like Uncle V, Montsy, Ratchet, and Cisco. They told off-colored jokes, but usually had the good sense to be embarrassed when they had gone too far in the company of young girls. Embarrassed, but not enough to stop telling the jokes. To this day I love a dirty joke and there is not much you can say that will shock me. Go ahead, give it your best shot.

"Breaking balls" was the sport of choice, and the better you were the more you were respected. They called each other slurs based on their nationalities, but with fondness. Frenchies, Geese, Pollocks, everyone was defined in some way by their heritage. If you could not be labeled so easily from your background you could be sure there would be some physical or mental characteristic that would shape you nickname.

My mother's friends were quieter. Not so much the characters as the men, but I respected them. They were the glue that held their families together, and in my working class town that was very important.

But it was the men who left their indelible marks. They helped shape who I am today.

I don't belong to that life anymore. I left the working class behind in favor of a white collar husband. I've traveled, evolved and tried to educate myself away from that way of life, but sometimes I can still fall back into it, like a comfortable chair, or shrug it on like an overcoat. I have no desire to go back to that life full time, I probably couldn't fit in even if I tried, but sometimes I wonder why I fought so hard to get away from it.

I live in a world of Keeping up with the Joneses, McMansions, and European cars. I like where I am and I believe my friends to be genuine, but sometimes I wonder if we're not all trying to keep up appearances. I long for the characters, the people who told you what they thought about you for your own damn good and to hell with your feelings. Maybe I'm remembering it all in a romantic light, but today if I had to pick between sipping martinis in a trendy club or bellying up to a well-worn bar to throw back a couple of cold ones and shoot the shit with the regulars... Well, the choice would be simple.

I'd pick the characters.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Very" Bad Newz" for Michael Vick

**Updated below! And you're going to looove it.**

Michael Vick is so screwed.

And I could not be happier.

Two of Vick's co-defendants turned on him today. In court papers filed today, the two men testified that Vick provided money for the dog fighting ring,"Bad Newz Kennels", based on Vick's Virginia property, and all three men "executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in testing sessions" in April alone.

In other words, the dogs would not fight to the death - they were not tough enough for that bloody sport - so they were hanged or drowned. In April alone. I wonder what was done to other dogs in the six years since the dog fighting ring was begun? This is a case where I would definitely rather not use my imagination.

Why would a man worth millions of dollars do such a thing? Ego? Greed? I'm going with stupidity and complete lack of regard for life.

If Vick takes the plea that federal prosecutors have offered to him he would spend at least a year in prison. However, if he rejects it and is found guilty of additional charges he could spend up to 20 years in prison. I'm almost hoping he rejects it, because from the sounds of things no court is going to find that scumbag innocent, and he deserves to spend more than a year of his pathetic life in prison.

I look at this picture and I see is arrogance. I see a man who had it all and threw it away. But most of all I see a killer of innocent animals.

Now I'd like to see him behind bars for a long, long time.

** If you've got an old Michael Vick jersey lying around and just don't know what to do with the thing (besides burning it), you can donate it to your local humane society or shelter like they're doing in Atlanta.

What are they doing with the jerseys? They're cleaning out the kennels with them!


Take that, Vick. Your jersey ain't hardly worth shit no more.

Well, they're useful for cleaning up shit.

I'm giggling, I'm just so giddy over this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A metaphor for my life

I was sunning myself yesterday, sitting on a lounge chair next to my pool while Chicky slept, when I had the odd feeling that someone was watching me.

And there was.

A fluffy little bird (maybe a Winter Wren?) was sitting on the edge of my pool not seven feet away from me. Just sitting there. Not moving. Looking at me.

That's odd, I thought, I didn't notice that bird fly over here. I must be really into this book.

Which, if you are familiar with his books, is unfortunately not as good as most of the other books in this series.

But I digress.

So I watched this wee bird, who didn't seem to be very old at all, sit there next to the pool. I don't know how long we sat there like that - long enough that he seemed to fall asleep for a moment - but I was struck by the oddity of the situation. Why is he sitting there? Why doesn't he fly away when I make the slightest movement?

I had to investigate.

I moved to a sitting, instead of a lounging, position. He didn't move. I shimmied closer in my chair. He didn't move. I stood up. Yep, still not moving.

Well, that does it. He was obviously hurt and couldn't fly. I wondered if the hawk I had seen all summer circling our neighborhood (the one that probably ate my cat) got a piece of this poor bird.

Now, I should preface the rest of this story with a word about myself: As much as I love animals, I am not the one who rushes forward to be the first to help an injured squirrel, turtle, or bird. I'm practical when it comes to wild animals and birds, there's the circle of life and all that. And if we're being honest, birds freak the fuck out of me.

But I couldn't just let him stand there at the edge of my pool without doing something. What if he fell in?

I moved closer toward him and that scared the hell out of the poor bird. He started hopping away.

Well, that confirmed my fear. He couldn't fly. But damn, that bird could hop.

I walked briskly after him but every time I reached down he hopped out of reach. The little sucker, didn't he know I was trying to help? Bird brain.

By now you may be thinking what I was thinking: Bird flu. Uh huh. Probably not the smartest thing to touch the bird with my bare hands, so I went inside to get a towel. And, for good measure, a shoe box.

Found the towel but for once in my cluttered existence I did not have one shoe box in my closet. What are the freaking odds?

I finally found a shoe box. It held a bunch of metal curtain tie backs. Those tie backs have now been added to the clutter in my bedroom. They fit in well.

I went back out to the pool and there was the bird, right at the edge of the pool again. Poor baby, he was probably thirsty. Or needed a cool, refreshing dip.

I chased that bird through wet mulch (I didn't have shoes on) and over pea gravel. I stubbed my toe on the edge of my tomato box and swore a bit. Okay, a lot. But every time I threw the towel at the bird he would hop away. Even when I got the towel over him he hopped out from underneath it and away from me. Quickly.

In his frantic scramble for freedom the bird would occasionally lose his balance and flop over on this back, and that's when I got a chance to see some of the damage to his wing. It was bad. If the bird escaped my clutches and hopped into the dense overgrowth at the edge of my property he'd be cat food. I had to help this poor creature. It had become my mission to save him.

Let me tell you now that it was getting pretty late in the afternoon and Chicky had woken up from her nap. I could hear her singing to her baby doll in her crib through the monitor in my bedroom. It wouldn't be long before she started yelling for me. The pressure was escalating.

But if I catch this bird what the hell am I going to do with him, I thought. The cat will want to nibble on him and the dogs will have a conniption fit if they smell another creature in the house. They were already freaking out on the other side of the pool fence as they watched me chase this small being around the yard.

Fuck it, I thought, I'm getting crackers. After all, food works for the dogs (and for the cat, we don't call her Jabba the Cat for nothing) so maybe if the bird is really hungry he'll be more willing to acquiesce to my fumbling grasp. It could happen.

After grabbing a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers I ran outside... but there was no bird. Where the hell was the bird? I ran to the other side of the pool, Tweety's preferred spot.

I had already given the bird a name. I was in deep.

Oh, I'm sure you've got a better name for him, huh?

I started sprinkling cracker crumbs around his spot and into the shoe box where I had placed the towel, hoping he'd come to the crackers. I called to him, "Tweety! Tweety! Come here boy."

Oh my Christ. I hope my neighbors aren't watching.

I finally heard a small noise behind me. I looked back and saw...

Oh no!

Tweety's in the pool!
That poor bird is going to drown!

Where's the net?

Jesus Christ, where the hell is the net?

Where is the goddamnmotherfucking net?!

The one time my husband actually puts something away and this is what he picks. The net was wedged under the deck and the detachable pole that it was firmly attached to was stuck under heavy tubing and other pool cleaning supplies.

Hang in there buddy! I'm coming.

Tweety was struggling but he seemed to be keeping his head out of the water.

I struggled to detach the net from the pole.

And struggled some more. I didn't need that fingernail anyway.

Finally! I turned back toward the pool with the net, ready to scoop up my bird and deliver him to safety...

And he had stopped moving.


I scooped him up and frantically ran him to the shoe box. Ever so gently I laid him down in the towel-lined box,

"Come on buddy, wake up. Please wake up. Oh please, please wake up..."

I don't know what I was expecting: one of those Disney moments when the animal magically comes back to life?

Well, he didn't. I couldn't save him. I tried, but there was nothing I could do.

I couldn't save him.

And I cried.

Sitting next to my pool next to the wet carcass of an adolescent bird, I actually cried.

I couldn't save him.

Now that he was wet I could see the extent of his injuries. It was worse than I had thought. A portion of his wing was actually ripped away from his body and God only knows how long he had been like that: bleeding, without the ability to easily get food or water. No wonder he just sat by the pool, the poor guy was exhausted, disoriented and probably in shock.

I wouldn't have been able to save him.

I probably would have found him in the pool anyway, even if I hadn't chased the bird all over my yard. That's what I'm telling myself anyway.

Tweety is still in the shoebox, the cover closed to protect his remains, next to the pool where I left him. I think he deserves more than being flung out into the woods for the scavengers to get him. He deserves a proper burial. I didn't save him but I can do that for him.

Rest in peace, Tweety. I wish I could have done more for you, buddy.


The death of a bird shouldn't hit me this hard, but it is. Perhaps given what I've been through recently I've become more fragile myself. Easily broken like a bird's wing.

However, if any one of you dares to inquire why I didn't jump in the pool to save the bird, as my husband did (and yet I let him live - I have no idea why), or ask why I didn't give the bird mouth-to-beak resuscitation , so help me God I will come through this computer screen and bitch slap you. Don't mess with me. I'm mourning.

The playground, the playground, the playground's on fire

This is scary.

A playground in Arlington, Texas burst into flames when the composite wood chips, a material widely used in children's playground (and dog parks, too), caught fire. The whole incident was caught on tape by a nearby surveillance camera. Initially, there didn't seem to be a reason why the wood chips caught fire (no added accelerant or spark from a carelessly thrown cigarette, for instance), the wood chips seemed to just spontaneously combust. First the chips smoldered and then moments later the playground was completely engulfed in flames. Imagine if there had been children playing when the chips caught fire.

The chances of this happening are highly unlikely, so don't freak out and stop taking your kids to the playground. High temperature and rotting wood chips are being blamed for this incident. But the next time your town thinks about putting in a new park, maybe you can suggest they use pea gravel for the ground surface.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Further proof that European dictators are just two year olds trapped in the bodies of grown men

Funny thing about this mommy blog of mine - I can go days without posting anything about Chicky. It's not that I don't want to write anything about her, I do. That kid is an endless source of entertainment, as most toddler are, and that's what makes it so difficult to write anything about her. She's constantly doing something funny or amazing or supremely frustrating that it's hard to keep up.

Two, in general, is hard. It's hard for me but, more importantly, it's really hard for Chicky. There's growing pains to contend with, like the two shoe sizes Chicky grew this summer alone. There's new words to learn. There's learning how to put the emPHAsis on the correct sylLAble, and getting phrases just right by repeating them 20 gajillion times in a row. There are social norms (in our house we don't throw blueberries into our drinking cups just to watch the milk splash) and mores (it's really not necessary to announce, loudly, every time someone burps or breaks wind) to adjust to.

And then there is the word "No".

Poor Chicky, she hears that word a lot.

"No, don't give your carrots to the dogs."

"No, the couch is not a trampoline."

"No, Mommy's CD's are not to be used as frisbees. Especially not in the house."

"No, the cat is not a trampoline."

"No, you cannot play with the fireplace poker."

"No, Mommy is not a trampoline."

No is bandied about quite a bit in our house, it's just amazing that Chicky hasn't come to believe that "No" is her name.

And just as you might expect, No is quickly becoming one of Chicky's favorite words, second only to the phrase "It's mines!". Or as I hear it, "Ets Meins!". Further proof that I am in fact raising a small dictator.

Also, for more proof of the dictator who resides in my home, this picture that was taken last year and was not I repeat NOT altered or coaxed in any way, should have clued me in to what lay ahead for me.

I swear, this was a fluke. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the pictures after I took them and found this.

"No, Mommy, no!", is also a favorite phrase of hers, whether she's directly referring to me or not. The phrase comes out a lot when her father tries to do something for her. "No, Mommy, no!", can also mean, "No, Daddy, I want Mommy to do it so just step off", just as much as it can mean "Dammit, woman, stop kissing me already" or "I really wanted to use that sharp knife I stole off the counter to cut my own finger off, so give it back."

What's a mother to do?

Two, you are a difficult task master and you make my child's life miserable. Sometimes. But most of the time, Two, you crack me up. I follow behind my child in amazement, wondering just how and when she became this little person and I know you had a lot to do with it. I know it's impossible to stop time, but she's growing and changing so quickly and I wish you could just slow down a little.

Especially since Three is coming up next. And I hear she's a real bitch.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is that R. Kelly in there, behind the flannel?

I lead a very cluttered existence. Not only is my brain a jumble of thoughts - and it really is amazing that I'm able to write this blog at all, what with all the riff raff throwing loud toga parties in there - but my home is becoming increasingly disorganized and chaotic with each passing day. Especially since Chicky came along, and with her came all the crap you need to keep a baby happy and healthy (read: Annoyingly loud primary-colored plastic toys) but she's not the only one to blame. Through the years I've adapted to Mr. C's way of dealing with clutter: as long as there is a path from the bed to the bathroom to the kitchen and out the door there's no problem. Clutter? What clutter? I don't see any clutter. La la la laaahh.

Every flat surface is covered with something - I have no idea what that something is half the time - and our closets are overflowing with more stuff. Now, stuff is a very important word here, because as I said before, I have no idea what most of the crap (stuff) is or why we have it (the stuff).

My dream is to live in a home where injury is not risked by opening a closet door, where pots and pans are easily found without toppling over the All-Clad and Calphalon mountain, and where counter tops can be actually used for preparing food and not for holding the overload of... well, stuff. I'm hoping by living with less physical clutter I'll also be able to start unjumbling my mind.

Unjumbling. Not a word, but that just shows you how fecked up my head can be. Unjumbling sounds perfectly fine to me. Oh yes it does.

But with so much disorganization it's hard to know where to start. The simplest of tasks leads me right into a landmine that will surely blow up to be a major home remodel. We need to add a new wing to the house! We'll call it "The Stuff Wing"! That makes perfect sense!

This is all made worse by the fact that I am the supreme ruler of the pack rats and have an extremely hard time throwing anything away. I suppose that's the danger in being middle class: We have just enough money to buy things but when a certain possession outlives its usefulness I can't pitch it. It could possibly be used for something else one day.

(But, but... That extra long woman's sport coat from the 80's, the ones with the shoulder pads you could use to fly a plane with, that could come into style. Or maybe I could just sew the shoulder pads together and use them as a body pillow.)

I have gotten better. The sheer number of toys that Chicky has acquired has forced me to make some changes. We didn't do it this spring, but I'm really hoping to have a yard sale this fall to get rid of some of the junk exquisite items we don't use anymore. And I've brought more bags of clothes (mine and Mr. C's) to the Salvation Army than I can count. So that's a start.

It's just not enough, however. I need to make some serious changes or the mounds of clutter will just topple over and bury me one day.

Let me show you what I mean.

(I'm going to hate myself for showing you these pictures but this is how desperate I am for help.)

Scares you, doesn't it?

This picture does not do the clutter justice. Seriously. When I walk past my closet I swear something reaches out and tries to grab me.

Let's break it down into sections.

(And you can click the pictures for a better look. It really should be experienced in all its glory.)

Here's the shoes and my past feeble attempts at organization:

The pants and skirts section:

1.) I'm pretty sure there's dress pants back there. Maybe. 2.) More khaki than any woman should have. I sold my soul to Eddie Bauer. 3.) Cute skirts that I hardly ever wear because they're too cute to wear. 4.) Jeans, jeans and more jeans! They're jean-arific! 5.) Felted bag that my Nana made that I never use. 6.) I think those are sweaters but, honestly, I fell asleep while looking at them.

The Shirts and Sweaters:

1.) Flannel. Holy hell, I still have flannel in my closet. What am I, a lumberjack? 2.) Cute sleeveless shirts that never stay on the freaking hangers. 3a and b.) Way too many sweatshirts. 4.) Yawn.

The place where things go to die section:

1.) Do not adjust your monitors, that is, in fact, my letterman's jacket from high school. I have a good reason for that being there, promise. 1b.) I'm feeling really old right now. 2.) I think there are some dresses way back there but they're hard to see with my youth standing in the way. 3.) Fringe, need I say more? 4.) Another shot of my youth, uh, flannel. Plus! Three fleece vests and a puffy down vest! Yes! I work with dogs for a living! How did you know?!

The sad thing about it all, I cleaned up my closet for these pictures. This is my closet at its most tidy.

Somebody help me.

(To be continued...)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

We interrupt this rant to bring you the following announcement:

I have hairy toes.

No, wait. That's not the announcement that I wanted to make.

I'm over at PunditMom's blog today, that's what I wanted to tell you. Yeah.

Also, my interview with Meredith O'Brien (Boston Mommy) of the Boston Herald about the New England Mamas blog is up. You should go read it. Oh, yes you should.

Also, also, the NE Mamas are currently looking for contributors from Vermont, Maine and perhaps another one from New Hampshire to add to our list of bloggers. If you are a mom who blogs (or a dad! We do need one.) from any of those states and can write real good please contact me at NE Mamas [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Also, also, also my second toe is longer than my big toe.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A comment on comments

(If you have a problem with meta blogging then nows the time to click that little X in the upper corner of your browser, because I feel it's time to talk about that most taboo subject in blogland - comments. And if talking about comments isn't your cup of tea, well, buh-bye.)

Let me preface this blather with this statement: I love my readers. I do. Every single one of you, and if you comment then so much the better. Why? Because I heart the comments you leave. I have lovely people who come to my blog and comment on my posts on a regular basis. They write sun dappled words of support and love, words with rainbows and winged ponies shooting out of them, leaving me with that feeling you only get if you wrap yourself in a large, fluffy towel that came straight from the dryer. So many kind, thoughtful, wonderful words that I want to sprinkle on my chocolate ice cream and eat for dessert. Delicious comments.

(I'm completely done with the italics now.)

Coming off an extreme high like Blogher and being thrust into the world of death and grief you were all there for me, tucked away in the comments on my blog. You were there, regardless of the fact that I am the reigning Queen of Drunkenness in the kingdom of Blogher; the artist currently known as Wow, I Didn't Know She Could Drink Like That.

Though I would much rather be known as Man of La Mancha, or even the Demon Barber of Seville, than carry the Mrs. Chicky: Drunk Blogger moniker. But we are who we are.

And, hellooo tangent. How I love me some tangents. Almost as much as I like sparkley things and... Ooh, shiny.

Reality used to be a friend of mine, cause complete control I don't take too kind.

(Hey, you come here for a peak into my brain. Don't shake your head when stuff like this happens. It's like going to a Stones concert but having to sit through Rick Astley's opening set. The two don't go together but someone along the way thought the pair made sense. Okay?)

So, where were we? Comments, right. Things were mentioned at Blogher in various sessions...

(and, yes, I know you're sick of hearing about that Conference that Shall Not Be Named Anymore. But this is not about that. Pinky swear.)

... about comments and commenting. Bottom line: If you want people to come to your blog, you have to comment on other people's blogs. And not only that, but you have to be funny, or thought provoking, or write in the third person. Anything that will make you stand out to the other people perusing the comments section of another bloggers blog (A.B.B. - yo. I'm down wit it.) and make them want to click over to yours. It really is that simple.

For you mathematical-types: Commenting + witticisms + funny + that certain je ne sais quack = buttloads of people flocking to your blog (get it? Like ducks.) all clamoring for your attention.

But it's not that easy, is it? You run all over the blogosphere leaving your stamp on O.B.B.s (Other Bloggers Blogs. Lots of acronyms here. Please try to keep up.) and only a few people follow you home, regardless of all the tasty crumbs you're leaving them.

Enter: Blogger Depression, or, the Nobody Likes Me/Everybody Hates Me/Guess I'll Go Eat Worms syndrome.

It happens. Don't sweat it. It's the ebb and flow of the blog world. Keep commenting and people will eventually come... if you have something relevant to say. And, A-ha! Therein lies the rub. You must be interesting to read because why should someone waste their precious time on your brain dumps? Be interesting and people will be interested, capice? No one cares what you had for lunch.

If you have a strong voice people just like you will come a-calling. You'll find your own group of blog friends. You'll have blog slumber parties and blog pillow fights and someone will wait until you fall asleep and then put your blog bra in the blog freezer. Except maybe you men out there. Probably no pillow fights or frozen bras for you, eh? Although, in blogland you could be male and have a thing for frozen bras. There's plenty of room here for all the freaky deakys.

If people don't come in the thousands to your blog, don't give up (cos you have friends, as a matter of fact just keep that playing that song while you finish reading this.) and for chrissake! Don't blog about how nobody likes you and why, oh why with much hand wringing doesn't anyone like me. I hate that. Turns me off faster than the idea of Tony Soprano in a Speedo.

Now, who the hell am I to be telling you this? Nobody, that's who. I'm just a woman who writes a blog and uses a lot of parenthetical references and poor punctuation in her posts. And that's an important point that you have to remember. We're all just people, just like you. Even Dooce, I've never met her but she seems like a regular gal to me. A regular gal with thousands upon thousands of readers, but still just a gal. A gal that probably hates to be referred to as a gal, but a regular gal nonetheless. I bet she even uses spell check from time to time.

But I'm not done. We still have to tackle the phenomenon of "He/She used to comment all the time and now they don't so I'm not going to visit their blog anymore so there." [stomps foot]

Is there anything more ridiculous than that? Ooh, so and so used to be your blog friend but now they never comment. Boo freaking hoo. I'm very sorry to be so harsh, but this is real life and blogs? Not so much. Unless you've made friends with someone off-blog, through email or through a face to face meetup, I think it's safe to say that they're not really your friend. You may be friendly, you may really like what they have to say and feel a connection with them, but they are not, I repeat ARE NOT, your friend. If you have no desire to meet this person or even talk with this person outside of the comment section of a blog but still consider them to be your BFF then it's time to reconsider life in your parents basement. So if they stop commenting I wouldn't pull the blog equivalent of the oh so very seventh grade act "I caught you holding hands with my crush, you're dead to me" and cut them out of your life. Grow up and gain some perspective.

I'm sure there's more but, frankly, I'm tired. And I have a life. Blogs are important tools for reaching out to others like yourself, but if your comments are running your life it's time to take a second look at what you consider to be the very definition of "life".

This post may not win me any friends but at least I've had my say.

This is your brain:

(Actually, it's Einstein's brain.)

This is your brain on blogs:

(Actually, it's a picture of my kid. It's cute though, don't you think?)

Any questions?

** Inspired by a post that SueBob wrote. In one of those A-ha! moments, I saw a topic that had been kicking around in my head for some time was touched upon by another blogger. If you'd like to know what I and other bloggers said in response to her post go read it for yourself.

Also, something I meant to mention above was the fact that I try very hard to reciprocate comments, especially those thoughtful words of condolence that you left after my grandmother's death. I owe you all a visit and if I haven't been to your site yet know that I'm trying. It's a bit like thank you cards (something I'm not very good at, btw), I owe you all some kind words in return and I'll get there. Some time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More proof that inspiration comes when I'm in the shower

To the makers of the Dove line of beauty products:
(a letter that I might have sent to the company but instead decided to post it here on my blog. I am nothing if not passive-aggressive.)

As a long time customer I first wanted to thank you for your products, more specifically your soap, which I've been using for more than twenty years, and your line of shampoos and conditioners but to also bring up a few concerns I have about them. But first, few points of thanks from this mother of one:

  • Unless I'm traveling I will not use another soap - as a matter of fact I'd travel with it if the TSA wasn't all up in my face about traveling with cosmetics - and up until I had my daughter a couple of years ago and the texture of my skin changed slightly (okay, more than slightly, but that's what happens when you have kids) I used Dove soap to wash everything from my face to my toes and everywhere in between. I even shave with it. Dove soap, the white bars, has been a part of my everyday beauty routine since my mother introduced me to it when I was a young teen. It's perfect for someone with me with slightly sensitive skin. I'd use your scent-free soap but, and I hate to break it to you, it has an odor. Yeah, it's not scent-free. You might want to work on that.

  • I thank you for the free samples you sent out a few years ago when you launched your Weightless Moisture line; your direct marketing campaign was spot on there. As much as I'd love to be able to use all the expensive salon shampoos, as a stay at home mother I have to save pennies by purchasing my haircare products from the pharmacy or supermarket and you reached out to me at just the right time. The Weightless Moisture line has delivered on its promise of, well, weightless moisture. Well done.
  • I thank you for your Campaign for Real Beauty. I like that you use "real women" in your ads and that you've tried to empower women to love their true body and that you're working with the Girl Scouts to reach out to young girls for the same reason. Good job. As the mother of a girl you get the ol' pat on the back from me.
  • I also thank you for sponsoring the Blogher cocktail party at the children's museum. How did you know that hundreds of women just getting out of a conference would need free samples of antiperspirant at just that very moment? Spooky.

    Somewhere, just beyond that wall, is the cute DJ. Were you responsible for him too? If you were, I thank you.

    (I even like your Pro-Age line of products. But we need to talk about the term "Pro-Age". Are you pro-aging. Should we really all look forward to getting old? I'm confused.)

I short, I'm very pleased with almost every aspect of my experiences with the Dove line of beauty products but, as I mentioned above, I do have a few concerns. First, and most simply, your packaging. Sure, it's simple, to the point, unassuming and all that, no problem there, but let's be frank: Do the tops to the shampoo bottles have to be that freaking difficult to open?

The culprit. Always left slightly ajar because it's a pain in the arse to fully open, therefore allowing excess water to get under the cap. Hate that.

As a mother with limited monetary resources I don't have the advantage of getting cute manicures and all that. So when my nail gets torn in two because I tried to open a bottle of shampoo with my wet, slippery hands - as hands often get when in the shower and all - I'm SOL, if you get my drift. And mothers have few precious minutes to wash themselves everyday, so wrestling with a shampoo bottle is a waste of time. And a waste of time makes for unhappy mommies. And unhappy mommies don't make repeat customers. Are you following?

One more point about packaging: would it kill you guys to come up with bottles that don't collect so much water while in the shower? Your Dove Cream Body Wash (especially the cherry almond. Yummy. It smells like one of my favorite childhood candies - Cherry Wacky Taffy. I have to remind myself it's not a sweet and to not lick it straight from the bottle.) collects so much water under the cap that whenever I remove the bottles from the shower to clean it - as mothers do, since we have a hard time pawning that chore onto our husbands - the water spills out of the cap and onto my shirt. I hate that. Again, happy mommies make better consumers. Just a heads up.

Still trying to pawn the chore of cleaning the bathroom off onto my husband. It's obviously not working.

Wetness, courtesty of Dove. Shirt, courtesty of Fadiddle. Boobs, all mine.

And lastly, one more important point to mention. There's something conspicuously absent from the back of your bottles:

Go ahead, click the picture. It's not there.

No where does it say: "This product is not tested on animals". In my humble opinion Dove, and your parent company Unilever, should rethink this in the future. The world of organic, natural, eco-friendly and just overall safe products is exploding. I still have not heard a convincing argument as to why shampoos, body washes and deodorants need to be tested on animals. If other companies have released similar products without having to test them on animals first, then why can't you?

Women, specifically mothers, are label readers. We like to know what's going on with the products we buy for our families. And mothers are pissed off at the large companies who are responsible for the bulk of health and beauty products on the market not being straight with us and for possibly selling us unsafe washes, lotions and shampoos and we're not afraid to tell others about it. You might want to consider that too in the not-too-distant future as well. I hope you get that not too subtle hint.

In closing, my overall experience with Dove has been more than satisfactory, but the aforementioned issues are some deal breakers that you may want to bring up at the next development meeting. Mothers tend to do the majority of the grocery shopping for their families, and I know you're already considering that when you develop your product lines, so you may want to go the extra step and make your products as user friendly and safe as possible. I'm not asking for much. Just remember that your not the only act in town.

Respectfully and simply,

A customer with a blog who is not afraid to use it.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thoughts on grieving

I'm fine.

No, really, I'm fine.

Oh, thank you. But I'm fine.

Yes, fine.

Well, I'm okay. But don't worry about me. I'm fine.


That's what you're supposed to say when someone you love dies, right? Sure, you get a grace period, an undetermined number of days to mourn, but after that you pick yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with your life. Life is for the living and all that. But how many days do you get to wallow in your own self pity because yet another person who was close to you goes toes up?

I may sound flippant about the whole ordeal, but this is me being serious. I've had too many people die on me in the past few years - my Mom, two grandfathers and now my maternal grandmother - and I'm tired. I'm so very tired. My protective armor comes out whenever the subject of death comes up, shielding me from the pain, pushing it back so I can see the pain waving to me but far enough away so it can't touch me. I was like this after Mom died. I gave myself, what, a week? Two? And then I went on with business as usual. Except it was business unusual. But to see me you never would have known, because I was fine.


But there seems to be a chink in my armor. Since my Gram passed every morning has been a battle to get out of bed, and then the day lingers before me with its promise of sunshine but all I see is another opportunity for someone to leave me. I get jumpy when Chicky gets too close to our pool, I get anxious when Mr. C comes home later than expected. You'd never know it by looking at my face because I'm really good at hiding it, but it's there.

I'm having a bad week, as you can tell. Having to come off the extreme frenetic high of Blogher and straight to a loved one's death bed is not an easy transition and it seems to have thrown me all out of whack. I might feel stronger next week after the service is over and all the receiving lines and sermons and luncheons are over, but today I'm fragile.

I told myself at Blogher that I was going to start getting real with my blog posts (please save your Real World jokes for a later date) as a way of therapy. So here goes nothin'... Hi, I'm Mrs. Chicky and I have a problem with avoidance. I come from a long line of avoiders, most of whom are dead now, and it's time to break that cycle. There's a little piece of me playing with blue Play-Doh at my feet and she doesn't deserve to live like this. Pretending she's a butterfly or a monkey or a purple fairy - that's fine. Pretending that life is fine even when it's not? Not fine. As a matter of fact, I'd like to work on removing that word from her vocabulary.

Next week will be better. I hope. As a kind woman just said to me in an email (and I really hope she doesn't mind me quoting her), "I don't like the netherworld between death and funeral. There's something about having the ceremony that puts the stamp on death that I actually find very helpful in that it allows me to start grieving." I concur. Next week I should be fine.

Bloody hell.

This is going to be tougher than I thought.