Friday, April 28, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: BRAD PAISLEY



The smile's awesome. So's the guitar. And he has a sly sense of humor (check out the lyrics for "Alcohol" or the video for "I'm Gonna Miss Her" to see what I mean). Pretty much the trifecta.

DINNER LIST: DAUNTE CULPEPPER



They may have fallen out of love with him in the Twin Cities, but this hometown body makes good in Central Florida. We share an alma mater (University of Central Florida)! His story's cool, too. He was raised by his grandmother, Miss Emma Culpepper. Although he was a standout in high school football, no Division I team would commit to him. UCF did, so when he started blowing it up and the teams started calling, begging him to transfer, he stuck with UCF. When he got drafted--first round, thankyouverymuch--the first thing he did was buy Miss Emma a house. Now that's a man I'd be proud to have dinner with.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Books and Cooks: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

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WE'RE READING:



I'M SERVING: GENERAL TSO'S CHICKEN

Confession 1: It was takeout. Research paper season--what can I say?

Confession 2: When it comes to books like these, the chip on my shoulder's larger than one of the New York Public Library's lions. If I pick up a book with glowing reviews from the New York literary establishment (read: Michiko Kakutani), it had better be damned impressive, because for me, that dog won't hunt. I've been burned too many times by New York intellectual preciousness to dive into that pool voluntarily.

Parts of the book were very interesting. I liked the images scattered throughout--doorknobs, keys, flocks of pigeons in flight, empty pages, type compressed down into illegible dark masses. Then there's the flipbook at the end, a hopeful reversal of one of the hardest days in American history.

Extremely Loud uses multiple lenses (Hiroshima, the bombing of Dresden) to view 9/11, but the primary voice is Oskar Schell's, precocious nine-year-old jewelry designer and vegan. Some laugh out loud bits, some Huh?, some heart-tugging emotion. Mostly, though, meh. The group was divided about this one. No one actively disliked it, but the gulf between "loved it" and meh was sharply carved. Most of us were meh. My take: Foer's original, but I can't see myself teaching him in twenty years.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scoops!

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Today was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's!! The denizens of Chez mimi kidnapped our Canadian friends and descended on the local B&J at the mall. Eight of us, seven flavors. Here's what we sampled:
  • Cherry Garcia
  • Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz
  • Phish Food (mimi's choice)
  • Fossil Fuel
  • Mint Chocolate Cookie
  • Triple Caramel Chunk
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (both little kids)
Is this a great country, or what?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

www.pirates.arrrrrrrgh!

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DS and several of his friends invaded the yard today for a pirate-themed birthday party. It actually went off better than I planned, despite low attendance caused by a toxic combination of Mama-sent-the-invitations- to-school and invitations-died-a-quick-death-in-the-moldy-confines- of-nine-year-old-boy-backpacks. Either that, or there are just some rude-ass people out there who don't understand that RSVP means to have the common courtesy to call and let someone know you're coming--or not, for Smee's sake.

Beyond all that, though, we had fun. We tied bandannas on their heads, gave 'em eyepatches, let them swordfight with plastic cutlasses from Mega-Lo-Mart, buried a coffee can of plastic doubloons in the yard and sent them all over on a scavenger hunt to find the X marking the spot where they could dig, sugared 'em up and sent 'em home.

Arrrrrrgh. Mama's tired.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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I spent much of my teenage years schlepping up and down the interstates of the Southeast to compete at Highland games--kilts, bagpipes, dancers, men throwing telephone polls (they're actually called cabers, and you throw for accuracy, not distance, but there I go digressing again). In honor of my ane Scottish home, the selections:

BED LIST: DOUGRAY SCOTT



Dougray Scott nearly stole Mission Impossible II from Tom Cruise (I've always wanted to ask Tommy boy how all that scenery he's chewing actually tastes), but he had me at, well, Prince Charming. He played Prince Henry in Ever After, and both DD and I were hooked. Plus, he's Scottish. That's practically a bedroom invitation in itself. But when you add the accent, the lovely eyes, and the kilt, I'm a goner.

DINNER LIST: CRAIG FERGUSON



All the grownups at Chez mimi loved "The Drew Carey Show" (the "geeks make good" theme is always a winner around here), so naturally we loved Craig Ferguson, who played the clueless manager Mr. Wick. Lately, though, we love "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson." I don't know if it's our steady diet of Monty Python that makes us receptive to his style, but you have to admit the man is funny. Apparently, Craig was a guest on Conan one night and had Conan laughing so hard, Craig took over and did all the talking. Lovely Scottish accent every night--even if it is Glaswegian.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

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Time to glean the iPod. Turns out some of the downloads always get skipped, so it's time to prune them off to make room for more stuff. One deficit seemed to be bubblegum. It's embarrassing. But still, bubblegum pop is catchy and fun to play when you're in the car.

But since my CD collection leans in other directions than bubblegum, it's off to iTunes. Now, blushing from head to toe at the outright badness of my $15 gift card purchases, I need to come clean. Here's what I bought:
  • Britney Spears, "Toxic"
  • Christina Aguilera, "Come on Over Baby"
  • Wang Chung, "Everybody Have Fun Tonight"
  • Usher, "Caught Up"
  • Usher, "Yeah!"
  • Rose Royce, "Car Wash"
  • Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone"
  • Kylie Minogue, "Can't Get You Out of My Head"
  • Jewel, "Intuition"
  • Spice Girls, "Say You'll Be There"
  • P!nk, "Get the Party Started"
  • Iggy Pop, "Real Wild Child (Wild One)"
  • Go West, "King of Wishful Thinking"
  • Rick Astley, "Never Gonna Give You Up"
Oh, the horror. (Even if the cool crowd can forgive me for Iggy, P!nk, and maybe Usher)

What did I leave out?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Happy Birthday!

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DS is nine years old today.

I may have to take to my bed with a cocktail and a cool rag for my head. How did I get that old?

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Taxman Cometh

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Okay, okay, I get it. If I don't manage to file a tax return early and get back somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, I am an accounting doofus and don't deserve to swim in the big kids' pool with everybody else.

Well, that's not how it works in my neck of the woods. Anytime a bonus gets shoveled toward a Florida teacher, they tax the living daylights out of it, to the tune of about 28%. And since we're talking about bonuses here, you're never sure how many of them, if any, you can get.

I'm already claiming every dependent possible except the dogs--Uncle Sam looks askance at deductions for four-legged kids--married rate, filing jointly, etc. I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to make this deduction/bonus thing work out to nearly zero. Frankly, since I'm not even excited enough about taxes to bestir myself to do them early, I can't see myself getting worked up to figure out how to make my return come back at less than $100. I know, don't tell me, government's using my money interest-free. I know, but I just don't care enough. If I did, I'd be able to find all my receipts in one place.

People who know me well are laughing their asses off right now at the thought of me being up-to-the-second on filing, or even filing at all.

Some thoughts about taxes, for the gal who finished eaaaaaaaaaarly this morning (1:06 am):
  • Make the code simpler. There's a reason we don't study Cunieform anymore.
  • Why can't the IRS build a secure interactive 1040 web page? There's a sensible use for my interest-free tax dollars.
  • Put all the same credits in the same place on the form. All the child care/child deductions/additional child lines are scattered across the thing like chicken feed.
  • If you have to release a publication explaining the tax code or usage, it's probably a bad idea. Simplify, simplify.
I don't think I'm in league with the "your tax return should fit on a postcard" people, but there has to be a way to make this system less Byzantine. If it were, maybe more people wouldn't be crowding the post office on deadline day.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Busted

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Have you ever watched Mythbusters, that cool show on Discovery where the just-this-side-of-crazy science types try to prove/disprove some historical yarn or urban legend? Well, DS could join the cast today. The Easter Bunny myth has been busted.

Mr. Chirpy swoops in our room at 6:30 am yapping about "You know that basket that should be in the kitchen blah blah blah..." I realize he means the Easter basket that I didn't make last night before trying to get DD, aka Camille, into bed--CRAP!!

Perhaps, I think, he hasn't found the Target bags full of candy on the dining room table, and maybe I can sneak in after my shower, make up the basket, and play off that the Easter Bunny has left the basket in the dining room instead of on the kitchen table because we've eaten in there a lot lately.

No such luck. I emerge from the shower to find DS in full Perry Mason mode, holding out a bad of Easter M&Ms peanut and demanding to know just exactly why these M&Ms were on the table?

So drama major kicks in and tells him that the EB has planned something special for today (i.e. some friends hid a bunch of eggs in our side yard last night as a surprise) and that Mr. Bunny asked mama to make the basket. He asks, "How did he tell you?" And I say, "In my dreams, like he USUALLY does!"

Scary thing: He bought it!

I don't know whether he's especially trusting or I'm scarily good at lying to small children, but I don't see any reason why I shouldn't go all Machiavelli at this point. The end justifies the means. I want to preserve that innocence as long as possible.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Worst Mother In the World: Confirmed

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So today I have this massive guilt hangover that no amount of malted milk robin's eggs will assuage. See, this morning I worked over my daughter, to my ultimate shame.

First off, let me say that I never plan this kind of thing, which is probably the reason I end up getting myself in these predicaments. Be that as it may, this morning I'm driving my kids to school when DS reminds me that he has a field trip and is supposed to bring lunch. I have completely forgotten said field trip. I have not packed him a lunch. There's no way I can pack him a lunch, as I'm already skating on the line between on time and heinously late (there is no middle ground in my neck of the woods),
there are no groceries in our house, and our local Publix doesn't open for another fifteen minutes.

DD, however, has a lunchbox on her lap. Earlier this week, we'd made a speed run to the grocery store to fix dinner and picked up a couple of Lunchables. DS ate his the next day. DD saved hers for Friday. DD now has a lunch, a bottle of water, and an apple in her purple-butterflied lunchbox. DS has a bottle of water and no way to get lunch, as this is a walking field trip with no other sources of food.

So I click into bargaining mode. I apologize for screwing up my motherly responsibilities yet again and then ask my daughter nicely if she would be willing to let her brother have the Lunchable, as she would be in the school and have access to the cafeteria. DD is a cheerful, loving soul.

DD says, very politely, "No."

Oh, crap. I explain again that this is a temporary measure and that I will make it up to her with multiple Lunchable selections for next week. Still "No."

That's when Evil Mom pops out and says, "You look your brother in the eye and explain that he will go hungry today because you are too selfish to SHARE your lunch with him." (Oh, God, my kids will be in therapy foreeeeeeeeeeeever!!!)

She actually says, "I'm sorry, G..."

And I bark, "Look him in the EYE!"

Her lower lip quivers. I am going to hell for sure.

I pour on yet more guilt--what's the use of guilt if you can't wallow in it, right?--and she finally cracks and admits that it's not the Lunchable she's attached to, but the bottle of water and the apple she added. No problem--keep the water and apple. Just let me have the Lunchable.

She ends up handing it over. Everyone eats. No one appears to have lasting psychological damage--at the present. Except me.

I'll be borrowing that cat-'o-nine-tails now, Rev. Dimmesdale.

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Bad boys this week. Very bad boys.

BED LIST: COLIN FARRELL



Colin Farrell is exactly the kind of guy that your mother warned you about while shooting you dark looks, the guy your father just thought about shooting, period. He's Irish, and he loves to party. It's on video. Yes, he's naked. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

DINNER LIST: VINCE VAUGHAN



Look at that grin. You just know that if you go along with his latest scheme, your butt is ending up in detention and mom's taking away your phone privileges for a month. But could you resist? Of course not. Dinner at some diner with a beer chaser, no curfew.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

CrazyBusy--You Think??

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According to ADD expert/psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, many of us can now call ourselves "CrazyBusy" because of our hectic lifestyles.

Hallowell has invented terminology to define behaviors the CrazyBusy indulge in. Any of these sound familiar?
  • Screensucking - Wasting time looking at screens (TV, 'Net, video games). Check.
  • Taildogging - Pushing yourself/your kids/your spouse because other people are doing things you aren't, or in other words, The Syndrome Formerly Known As Keeping-Up-With-the-Joneses. Me, not so much. Too tired and, since I'm a teacher, no funds anyway.
  • Frazzing - Bad multitasking. Depends on the time of day. After dinner, I'm toast. DH frazzes pretty much 24/7, and he admits it.
  • Doomdarts - Some obligation you forgot suddenly stabs you right between the eyes. Check. Usually when I'm just drifting off to sleep and destroying any hope of sleep soon.
  • Kudzu - Unkillable stream of minor crap bogging down everyone. I have two children, a husband, and teach teenagers. Hello??
  • Info addicts - People who have to know what's going on all the time everywhere. Depends on what info you need. I admit to slavish reading of the WENN gossip on IMDb every morning. That, and letters to the editor in the paper. Lots of idiots live in my end of the world, and it is fun to mock them over breakfast.
Hallowell makes a good point, but frankly, it doesn't take an expert to identify this syndrome. Most of us have called it by its other name for years: MOTHERHOOD.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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It's Masters weekend, so all the more fitting to choose a couple of my favorite golfers for this week's list.

BED LIST: FRED COUPLES



My inner geek gets all tingly during golf tournaments, especially when sweet-swinging Freddy Couples is on the leaderboard. I cannot say why he rings my bell, but he does. Maybe it's because he's well-known in the golf world for his lovely tempo. And you know what else lovely tempo is good for...

DINNER LIST: ARNOLD PALMER



My grandfather inducted me into Arnie's Army when I was a little girl. He loved the way Palmer attacked a fairway, and since I've always been a daddy's/granddaddy's girl, I went right along with him. Jack who? Arnold Palmer practically lives in my backyard, too, so it's not out of the question that we could get together for some dinner--DH would love to know if the story of the 1,000 putters in his garage is true.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Where Have All the Parents Gone?

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DH and I aren't perfect parents--heck, he was in the Mega-Lo-Mart at 10:30 tonight buying kites for the kids to use during Kite Week this week--but at least his kids were home in bed. He came home incredulous at the number of kids with their parents in the Mega-Lo-Mart at 10:30 on a Sunday night.

Hello? Do the words SCHOOL NIGHT not mean what they used to when I was a kid? Dang, my mom and dad made me go to bed by 9:30 when I was in high school. What's up with six year olds out shopping that late?

While I'm on my rant, here are some things I've noticed, as a parent and a teacher, that some other "parents" (using that word in quotations because although they may have spawned the spawn in question, they sure aren't doing the raising part too well) ought to think about more often:
  • Your kids have homework. Even the big ones. Check it even if you don't know how to do it.
  • Your kids never do "nothing" at school. If that's the answer to your question, you're not asking the right question. Either that, or your kid is lying to you.
  • Sleep is good. Make them get some.
  • Curfews are good. Make them obey one.
  • Manners are good. Make them use them.
  • R-rated movies are for grownups. Do not bring your four-year-old to a slasher film, even if they are likely to fall asleep at some point. Number one, you can't guarantee they will fall asleep before seeing something you don't want them to see. Number two, if you can't get a sitter, perhaps you should consider Netflix as a cheaper alternative.
  • If you think your kids might be annoying the other restaurant patrons, they probably are. If you are too oblivious to see that your kids are annoying the other restaurant patrons (wandering the restaurant, tripping servers, talking at a VERY LOUD VOLUME, and whining and tantrum-throwing would be clues), then perhaps you should consider takeout as an alternative.
  • Your kids have plenty of friends. You are mom, or perhaps dad. They need you to be mom and dad, not their buddy. Besides, no way are you cool enough to hang with them, all protestations to the contrary.
  • Every moment of your child's time does not need to be filled with a club, team, or other activity. Let them be bored. It helps them develop their problem-solving skills.
  • Your child is, probably, NOT the second coming of: a) Michael Jordan, b) Mia Hamm, c) Bill Gates, d) Yo Yo Ma, or e) all of the above. Your child is a unique person who should develop into a unique person. Sometimes, they're not that bright/talented/athletic, but that doesn't make them any less wonderful than they are. Cherish who they are, not who you hope you can develop them into by scheduling every moment of their time with a club, team, or other activity. Sometimes, raising a responsible adult is accomplishment enough.
  • If you do want to develop a creative, talented child, don't, for Pete's sake, buy a TV for your child's room, especially if that child is younger than ten. Books, absolutely. Toys that make them exercise their minds. You have no idea how many kids I teach who can't think their way through simple problems because they have never had to.
  • Watch your mouth. They do pick up on everything you say. The "F" word isn't pleasant coming out of a five-year-old's mouth. Or a fifteen-year-old's, for that matter.
  • And please, mothers with daughters, don't let them do adult things when they are children. There is nothing more unpleasant than watching a four-year-old dance like a video vixen, especially when she is surrounded by a group of adults yelling "Go ahead!" and clapping because they think it's cute. It's not. Your girls have plenty of time to develop their sexuality--do you really want to have it happen before middle school?
  • Speaking of sexuality, your teenage daughter does not have to dress from the Hoochies-R-Us catalog to fit in with her peer group. If she's dressed like a streetwalker, don't let her out on the street.
  • Prom souvenirs should be pictures, not newborns. Don't let your kids rent hotel rooms! (This happens more often than you think)
Okay, I feel better now. As my dad used to say, End of Sermonette.
 

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