Rants and Rambles

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Awful Idea

Yesterday when I was trying to complete my now-struggling word count for NaNoWriMo, all I could think of this excerpt from Boo's new favorite book:

"Then, the Grinch got an idea.
An awful idea.
The Grinch got a wonderful awful idea!"

Sadly, this excerpt didn't work with my tale of swashbucklers and mayhem. So I'm down even further in the word count than I was two days ago. Ugh.

Need. Motivation. And fast.

I wish I could get an idea as wonderfully awful as the Grinch's.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Is it just me, or do most animated films these days s-t-i-n-k? P.U. Too many body odor jokes, too much irrelevant violence, too much ADHD.

I was perusing Rottentomatoes.com to see if there were any good films coming out (we don't watch TV), and it appears that The Fantastic Mr. Fox is being made into a film. The trailer made it look atrocious - hyperactive, boring, and poorly animated. Then I noticed the TomatoMeter Rating.

91% positive. Hm.

I wondered what the deal was, so I clicked on the link, and found out that it was a surprisingly simple plot that was as entertaining for adults as it was for children. Or something like that. AND I noticed that it was directed by Wes Anderson.


I'm wondering, though, if there isn't something to be said for Fantastic. It isn't Awesome, and it isn't Superb. It isn't even Incredible. It is, and always will be Fantastic.

I like that.

And I wonder how much better people respond to things that are Fantastic than to things that are, say, Annoying or Lame or Dumb.

So I've decided to dedicate Fridays to all things Fantastic. Such as the start of the weekend, soup weather, a clean house (not mine), and toddler giggles. Or my Fantastics for today: My husband taking my daughter out for an adventure so that I could spend the morning sleeping and writing, and winning a beautiful necklace from Ruth Parker Jewelry!

Absolutely Fantastic!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Illumination (of sorts)

*The kid in this photo is not my kid. Mine's cuter and more mischievous.

I occasionally share a small peek into the world of raising Boo with my friends on, you guessed it, Facebook. What is it with that site?

Considering just how off-the-wall that little blonde piece of work is, I thought I'd share a few anecdotes + quotes. Tuesday seems like a good day for this sort of thing. And for fish tacos from Rubios. Man, I love Taco Tuesday.

I'm thinking that in my Rants and Rambles world, I'll name today "Tick Tock Tuesday" in honor of how quickly the time is flying and how rarely I write down the wacky things that Boo says and does. Now, World, you can share in my zany I-could-never-have-planned-for-that life once a week, starring Boo. Lucky, lucky you!

In fact, I think I'll begin with today. Nice, calm, happy today. A day where nothing in particular is on the docket, apart from lots of NaNoing and doing my best to keep the Wee One out of trouble. And, really, today has been much better than it could be.

But today's story actually starts yesterday when Little Miss Mischief used the potty all by herself. Yay!

Sadly, Yay turns to Hiss right about the time that Boo locked the bathroom door. And, inexperienced parent that I am, I own zero keys for said bathroom. I thought that she would at least unlock the door when she was finished. Silly me.

When the tap water failed to turn off after several long minutes of hand washing, I started doing my best to coax her to the door to open it.

"Boo, sweetie, will you come open the door, please?"

"Okay, Mommy." A halfhearted jiggle, and then: "I can't." Very matter-of-factly.

It was at that point that I started to panic. She knew I didn't have immediate access, and she was determined to take full advantage.

The next five minutes (3 months in toddler time) involved a lot of yelling, threatening, jiggling of the handle, and utter desperation on my side of the door. It didn't help that water was starting to trickle out under the door onto the hardwood.

Finally, I found an old lanyard's hook that I was able to pry apart, flatten out, and barely fit into the little lock. The door opened, and inside was an absolutely delightful sight.

Water EVERYWHERE. And bubbles EVERYWHERE. And not just the floor. The walls, cupboards, towels, countertops, mirrors, and even the toilet paper. She had found the new potty seat we were taking over to her grandpa's house (fortunately unsoiled), and had figured out how to use it like a bucket in the sink. She had also dumped out an entire container of nearly-new handsoap.

Let's just say that I'm glad that the room ended cleaner than it started, unlike the paint and make up incidents a couple weeks back.

The best part of the story is that she tried to do it again today. For some stupid reason, I let her wash her hands long enough to dump out the freshly refilled bottle of handsoap all over the sink.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Contra: In contrast or opposition to.


The other day I went to the library to write, and picked up some used holiday magazines to peruse. Notice how I said "holiday" and not "Christmas." I'm sure we're all well aware by now that it is not kosher (!) to use the term "Christmas" anymore because not everyone celebrates that particular day. Personally, I have no problem with that for oh so many reasons.

I love reading magazines, but there are several contradictions in these magazines that aren't setting well with me. The first is this: every single magazine publication that I have ever read refers to the Christmas season as the holiday season in order to avoid saying the big "C" word. Don't want to offend anybody. And yet almost every single page in every magazine features something red and green, tree-shaped, a jolly old elf, mistletoe, snowman-shaped (with colorful lights in the background) or reindeer-esque. And every commercial on TV features dancing gingerbread men or a plate of decorated tree cookies and has the Nutcracker playing in the background, but still shows off how conscientious the company is by spouting off "happiest of holidays, from our socially-aware company."

Um, do these companies think that non-Christmas celebrators are so stupid that they'll feel included by these shenanigans? And, let's be honest with ourselves. Christmas is a purely secular holiday. Even in churches. Churchgoers, when was the last time your church threw a Christmas party that didn't include a visit from Santa Claus, lots of cookies and candies, perhaps even a gift exchange?

There are a few other contradictions I've noticed in my magazines. Sunset featured a big article about a group in San Francisco that decided to forego consumerism. The people in this group spent an entire year only spending money on food, health-related items, and used goods. Nothing new at all. A very inspiring article. Except that the page bisecting the article featured a little boy on a computer printing out his enormous list of items that he wanted for Christmas on his new photo printer. And the article that followed it was Sunset's long list of gift picks.

Similarly, I enjoyed Oprah's insistence that the holidays are all about people. All of us, and how we are all interconnected. And yet her face appears nine times throughout. I was actually surprised that it was so rare, though her arms and her dog, Luke, do make cameo appearances. There's even an ad telling you to give the gift of happiness - a book called "O's Big Book of Happiness: The best of O, The Oprah Magazine." Yes, Oprah is happiness. I suppose she's right, then. If we are all interconnected and she is happiness, then we, too, can be happy by buying her book.

My favorite contradiction, however, is the idea of "Green," "Earth-friendly," and "Eco-conscious" gifts. Something that every single magazine has a section for these days. Buy something green this Christmas.

I must be crazy. I seem to be the only person on the planet who thinks that buying new goods is one of the worst environmentalism faux pas' one can make. And I hate that all these supposedly aware, modern magazine editors are so, incredibly contradictory in their message.

Another blog post for another time?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bites and Pieces

As I mentioned yesterday, my darling little angel turns into a demon child whenever she has been bestowed with too much sugar. The form that the sugar takes is generally irrelevant, though she clearly favors chocolate (food of the gods, right?).

Being the modern (stupid?) mother that I am, I chose to turn a blind eye when Boo discovered her trick-or-treat bag Sunday morning. I'm usually pretty strict about her sugar intake – though she's quick to take advantage when I'm not around – but I thought I'd be a bit generous considering that all of her friends were probably doing the same thing at that moment. I don't remember my parents ever seizing control of my Halloween bag, and I didn't want to be the meanest mommy in the world. Silly, silly me.

Somewhat surprisingly, I got the B-monster ready for church in near-record time, thanks to a lot of help from the Hubster, and arrived our usual 15 minutes late. Not bad. We snuck in and took a seat at the very back of the room by ourselves since the Hubster stayed at home sick. Mistake #2.

The family sitting in the back next to us consisted of a very well-behaved little girl, perhaps 7 years old, and two crazy boys, probably around 4 and 6. The boys spent the entire time running, screaming and throwing things, and the parents ignored them. Completely ignored them. I couldn't hear a word of what was being said, and, worse, my Boo was mesmerized by their irreverent antics. So mesmerized that she kept trying to join them.

I know that she's only 2 ½, but she is well aware that her options are to sit quietly or go to the foyer. If she sits quietly, she can play with toys, draw pictures, and eat snacks. If she needs to be taken to the foyer, she is held the entire time and must be quiet and listen to the speakers. She almost universally prefers to sit quietly in the chapel – it's much more fun.

Yesterday, however, she decided that she wanted Option C: to run around and scream. My response? Pick her up and hold her, taking her outside if necessary. Her response? Slap Mommy in the face repeatedly. And not the playing around kind of slap. A full-armed, shoulder-pivot, flat-handed, red mark-leaving slap. Over and over and over. I tried turning her around so that her arms couldn't reach me, so she decided to use her legs instead. I can handle kicks, but it becomes trickier when you're wearing a wrap around dress. The kind that opens up very easily when you have a flailing toddler in your arms.

Yup. I flashed the entire congregation.

Instead of going to class right away to play with her friends, Boo got a long lesson about reverence from Mommy, complete with a question and answer portion, as well as a quiz requiring her to demonstrate what reverence looks like.

I was a bit nervous to bring her to class afterward, but I felt that she'd paid as much of a price as a wee one can. I warned her teachers that she was acting certifiably insane, and to let me know if any problems occurred. They laughed and told me how great Boo was, and pointed out the kid passed out on the floor to illustrate how loopy all the kids were being that day. I hoped that this would be the end of things.


Five minutes before church ended, one of the teachers brought my child (MY child?!) to me and explained to me how she'd almost bitten one of the smaller children in the class – practically a baby. They'd managed to pull her off before her teeth had sunken in, but I was still mortified. Boo hadn't bitten ANYONE in over a year! I know, because I'm the one she used to always bite.

Long story short, she got a long lecture from me, her grandma, and her daddy when she got home, and was put down for a nap the minute she walked through the door. By the time I left church, I had people telling me that they'd heard about how Boo had tried to bite another kid. Yeah, it had gotten around to everyone.

When her grandma asked why she'd bitten the little girl, B calmly explained to grandma, "I didn't want to share anymore."

Moral of the story? If you give your kid lots of sugar, they will beat you up, cause you serious embarrassment, will harm people who are weaker and smaller than they are, and will refuse to share.

I hate Halloween.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dia de los Fantasticos!

In a fight between Halloween and Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos gets the K.O. in my book.

In case you are unfamiliar with the Dia de los Muertos holiday, we will turn to one of the Internet's least reliable sources, Wikipedia:

The Day of the Dead (El Día de los Muertos or All Souls' Day) is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and by Latin Americans living in the United States and Canada. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration occurs on November 1st and 2nd in connection with the Catholic holiday of All Saints' Day which occurs on November 1st and All Souls' Day which occurs on November 2nd. Traditions include building private altars honoring the deceased, using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and visiting graves with these as gifts.

Now, I've never had the pleasure of attending a real, live Dia de los Muertos celebration. It's definitely on the long-term to do list. However, I have experienced a good 30 Halloweens now, and here's my list of why Halloween, well, bites:

1. Selfishness. It's a day for kids to run around to all the neighbors' homes demanding candy, and expecting to get it if the neighbor is at home. Said neighbor has no choice in the matter, regardless of how much higher candy prices are than normal.

2. Trickery. How many November 1sts have YOU experienced where there weren't splotches of orange smeared across streets as far as the eye can see? Those poor, defenseless pumpkins were ripped from their nice, comfortable front porches and hurled to their deaths. Not cool.

3. Deceit. Masks, wigs, make up, and strange clothing. It's a holiday where anything goes, especially with regard to clothing. How are we supposed to know that the man in the corner wielding the axe is really a civil servant, or that the milk maid with the low top and the short skirt is really a 46-year-old mother of 5? I suppose that it's a day for us all to live out our fantasies, which I can appreciate, but I don't enjoy being hit in the head by a kid in a mask who thinks that putting a mask on gives him the freedom to attack complete strangers in the streets.

4. Sexism. It's nearly impossible to go to a costume shop and find an interesting costume for a woman that doesn't require her putting on a show. I mean, when was the last time you saw a bumble bee collecting pollen with that much cleavage hanging out? And how is Bat Girl supposed to fight the forces of evil in a tube top? Why don't more men wear tight leather pants and tank tops? Don't you think that should be a requirement for male costumes, even if it's a costume portraying a gorilla? I understand that women play into the sexism by buying and wearing these costumes, but keep in mind that we've grown up watching our mothers and their friends dressing like this. Not to mention that these are the vast majority of affordable costumes on the market. And considering that 2/3 of the American population is either overweight or obese...

5. Sugar highs. Another post for another time, but needless to say, my daughter turned into a demon child today, and both her little church friends and her mother had to suffer for this. I still have pink handprints on my face from one of this morning's run ins, and the poor little girl with the blonde pigtails probably still has teeth marks on her arm.

On to Day of the Dead. Reasons that I L-O-V-E this particular holiday:

1. Happy calaveras:

Our American culture has generally taught us that death is scary and sad. Talking about death is something that only those goth and emo kids do. And they're weirdos for doing it, right?

All it takes is a quick look at our happy, smiling calavera to the left to realize that he's just as happy in death as he probably was in life. And he looks as though he probably passed over to the other side quite some time ago, before even the Mexican Revolution.

I'm guessing that if Hollywood accepted the idea of death as a wonderful, celebrated event rather than as something that is morbid, depressing, and final, we would all be much happier. No more horror films, the war films would likely evoke much different emotions, and we would all smile and cheer instead of cry when someone paid the ultimate price for a friend.

And happy calaveras make for some awesome artwork!

2. Marigolds:

Thought to attract the souls of the dead to the offerings being made by the living, Marigolds are a beautiful reminder of the happy celebrations of the day.

Marigolds are also a favorite because of the way that their bright,
cheerful color compliments the beautiful, traditional handmade fabrics worn by many of the indigenous peoples in southern Mexico where the holiday originates.

3. Reconnections:

Dancing, celebrating, dressing up as the dead, and lighting candles in honor of relatives who have gone before not only allow you to reconnect with your closest living relatives, but it gives you the chance to reconnect with the dead ones as well. Even if you have never before met your great-great grandmother, stories will be told and laughs will be shared that will help you to get an idea of what this great woman was like. You may even get a sense of some of the traits that she passed on to you (who knew that liking purple was genetic?). When we honor our dead, we better understand and connect with them.

4. Family, food, and picnics at the graveyard:

Even better than reminiscing about dead relatives is sharing your dinner with them. Eating Tia Maria's favorite enmoladas is great, but why should she be excluded from the meal? It's honoring her, after all. Dia de los Muertos provides families with the opportunity to bring savory tortillas right to Auntie's final resting place. It isn't morbid or scary to eat on top of her grave. It's generous. And Maria thanks you for it.

5. Sugar skulls:


Friday, October 30, 2009


I hate Facebook. I despise, loathe, detest, curse, and even abhor the time-sucking beast. To begin to understand my revulsion toward the damned rune, I have a story for you.

Once upon a time, there was a determined little girl. She was quick-witted, intelligent, and unafraid to try new things of all sorts. She was always in the top of her class (aside from that useless math subject), and conversed with adults much more easily than she did children of her own age. As she grew, she decided that she was going to do everything from perform in the circus (1st grade), become a district attorney (5th grade), cure cancer (8th grade), become the first female president (9th grade), and work for the CIA (college). After college, she worked on Capitol Hill, and and in grad school, our heroine seriously considered an internship with the FBI. By the time she finished grad school and got married, she'd decided that she was going to save the world through nonprofit work, and even went to work for a small, local nonprofit that wooed her with the amazing work she would be doing.

Fast forward 4 1/2 years, 3 jobs, and 1 child later, and the most exciting part of each day for the young ingénue is reading, wide-eyed, all of the amazing things that her 339 closest friends are up to. Several work for government agencies overseas. Two have secured amazing book deals with Harper Teen. 3 have successfully defended their PhD.s over the past 2 years. Many have run marathons, started businesses, or are successfully juggling two kids and a high-powered job and look AMAZING. The girl can't help but contrast her life of laundry, dishes, being yelled at by a strong-willed toddler, and cleaning up human waste with her friends' off-the-charts cool lives. As much as she loves her life and her family, sometimes she just wants to run away to a jungle land, apply for the Foreign Service Exam, join a band, start a business, or try out for a Broadway show. Sometimes she loses sight of how amazing her life is and how lucky she is to be a part of it, all because she has known too many people of above-average intelligence and drive who have different ideas about family and raising children than she does.

Are you starting to understand my point-of-view on Facebook?

Sometimes I console myself by imagining all the not-so-cool things that may be going on these people's lives. The woman who looks perfect, has the amazing job, and still has two kids gets no sleep and doesn't have the same relationship with her children that I have with my Boo. The friends working for the DoS are far away from their families and sometimes get lonely or desperate for their favorite restaurant - I can hardly imagine living in Europe and craving Mexican food. I have yet to think of negatives to the friends who have the amazing publishing deals, darn you guys!

I also have to realize that people on Facebook are portraying themselves in exactly the way that they want the world to see them. They typically don't mention their frustrations or any of the monotonies in their lives. They excitedly explain that they just saw Taylor Lautner (and his famous body) on the beach, or that they recently returned home from a trip overseas with the First Lady.

And, of course, the grass is always greener on the other side. I'm willing to bet that I have a friend or two that is a bit jealous of how much fun my daughter and I have together when we go apple picking or to the pumpkin patch. Others may be sad that they have not yet found a relationship as solid and loving as the one I enjoy with my husband. And though it's hard to imagine, it's even possible that the aforementioned career woman dreams of one day being able to spend more time folding laundry and less worrying about getting an updated version of the firm's business plan on her boss' desk before close of business on Thursday. Perhaps I should be a little more grateful for what I have, despite Facebook's best efforts.