Monday, October 31, 2005

It's All About The Make-Up

Today is Halloween, and the costumes went to school today. The Bunny is Cleopatra--sure, we sprayed her hair black, and drew on the elongated eyeshadow--but she wore a Grecian Lady dress, because we know that Cleopatra wasn't really Egyptian, but was Greek.

The Pony went as Re-punk-zel--a princess gone goth. She got an old prom dress from Ragstock, some fishnet stockings, black boots, black lace arm warmers, and wore it with a vintage denim jacket. Oh, and Mr. Sweetie and I were up until 2 a.m. putting together a 26 foot braid to attach to her hair.

But the thing that made that costume really work--really convey that punk/goth look--wasn't the clothing, wasn't the eyeliner, wasn't the black fingernail polish.

It was the black lipstick.

So, if your kid ever wants to go goth--for Halloween or real life--you can save a ton on wardrobe and just go for the lipstick.

Expert Qualifications

Driving home with the kidlets in the back seat we hear this conversation:

Bunny (age 9): Teenagers forget everything they knew, so they're not as smart until they grow up and become adults, and suddenly they remember ALL the things they forgot.

Pony (age 12): That's not true.

Bunny: Yes it is. I am an expert on teenagers.

Me: How did you get to be an expert on teenagers?

Bunny: (beat) TV.

Of course--how else?

Friday, October 28, 2005

My Outstanding Traits Are WHAT?

So I took a "Five Factor Personality" test yesterday to see what my outstanding traits set me apart from the crowd.

Would it be my wicked sense of humor? Perhaps my incisive mind? My deeply rooted ethical sense?


Cate, your most unique quality is that you're unusually Agreeable

You believe that people are inherently good and tend to listen to your heart in important matters. You are gentle and have a sincere desire to help and trust others. You are straightforward but don't tend to brag about yourself or your lot in life. You're amenable to people's suggestions, and you are good at helping people realize their own talents, which only makes people like you more. Compared to
others who are agreeable, youunusually trusting. Only 0.8% are unusually
trusting. Only 0.8% of all test takers have this unique combination of
personality strengths.

At least it's not my ability to sing the lyrics of "Gilligan's Island" to the tune of "Amazing Grace." That would really be embarassing.

The New New Coke

Okay, so The Bunny had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack before we left for her flute lesson. I took my Diet Crack in a car mug so it looked like coffee. We brought the puppy for the ride, who proceeded to nose around my coffee mug.

He must have taken a lick or two as well--yes, while I wasn't looking--because when I took my next swig, I had to ask the Bunny "Did Bermondsey steal some of your sandwich?"

Because, trust me, Diet Coke with Peanut Butter is NOT the next new thing.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fun With Phonics

We made dinner last night, including nachos grande--which at our house is seasoned ground turkey, fat-free refried beans and cheese on corn chips.

I found out that my kids had no idea what I was saying when I said "Nachos Grande." They spelled it "Nacho-scranday!"

Much more fun that way.

God Bless The Vermin

The puppy is a sweetie. We love the puppy. The puppy has to be walked at least three times a day, because he will not go out into the back yard and potty--unless he is desperate.

This is not good, as winter is coming. No, not "winter," but "WINTER/SUB-ZERO TEMPERATURES/COLD ENOUGH TO FREEZE ANTIFREEZE WINTER!!!" You know. Cold stuff. Hard enough to get out of bed anyway--who wants to get out of bed and plunge into that kind of weather just to pick up dog poop?

So, I am training the puppy to go potty in the back yard. Sort of.

Right now, we are working on having him actually leave the house on a leash alone. As in without me. It may be a residual side effect of being stray--he might be afraid he won't be allowed back in. It may be because he follows me around everywhere and doesn't want to be away from his alpha pack leader. Who knows? But I am NOT going to go outside in my pajamas and sock in -40 degree weather.

Just now, the puppy made the little crying noise and sat by the door to signal his need to go out. This is good. He sat and waited for the leash to go on. Also good. He refused to actually go outside without me--until he saw a squirrel. Then he shot off the porch and into the yard.

Go squirrels!

It's A Multi-Culti World!

The cultures are really blurring these days--which is quite a feat if you notice it here is the Heartland of Scandinavia West. Most waves of immigration have stopped well short of the center of the continent, but we are still seeing some changes.

At the Pony's school, there is a teacher whose last name is Salverda, which sounds vaguely Hispanic to me. Sal does not look Hispanic, he looks like a Viking with a haircut. He is very very blond, with blue eyes, and he is a large man with a tendency to fail to tan in the sun, but turn red--that delicate Viking skin, you know.

He teaches German.

At the local Chinese restaurant chain, there is a posted list of menu items translated phonetically so the counter staff and ask the kitchen staff to make more of whatever they are out of. The Chinese food has been translated into Spanish.

It makes my head hurt sometimes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Familiarity Breeds

I let Bermondsey outside with me last night as I took out the garbage. I turned around, and saw him lying in the grass. He looked so very little and I felt a pang in my chest that he was ever a stray, dependent on what he could find for food and shelter. Fortunately, he's found a home, and Mr. Sweetie says he (Bermondsey) is very grateful.

Although the gratitude is turning a bit into entitlement. That's got to be the Lhasa Apso in him. What do you expect from a breed that was raised to be revered?Posted by Picasa

One Step Forward...

On the other hand, school is not going so well for another member of the family. That's right, Bermondsey has had to drop out of puppy class.

It's true--if you don't do the homework, you get too far behind to catch up.

Life just got in the way--he is a bright and eager to learn guy. I have to get back to a training schedule, and pick it up again with him--we'll all enjoy that again.

It's Not About The Damn Gym Socks

The Pony started middle school this year, and it's been a hard time. Her lower school experience was exactly the right thing for her--starting kindergarten was like putting a fish into water and letting it swim. Every grade was a better experience than the last, and by her last grade in that building she was able to say it was the very best of all.

Middle school changed all that. It was harder--the teacher's expectations were higher. Suddenly she was exposed to the threat of detention for forgetting an instrument, or punitive laps for being late to gym class. Not that she herself did these things, but she saw them happening, and they scared her.

The class sessions are longer--80 minutes each, and there are no bells or designated passing times, so she's sweating the fact that she is released from one class at the exact time she is supposed to be at the next one. She's discovered where the clocks are not perfectly synchronized, affecting how timely she can be to classes.

It's been hard. Hard on her, and hard to watch. As a parent, there is little that I can do--I can't change the schedule for her, or assign less homework, or really anything. These are the things that we all have to learn to handle, and better she learn it now, where she is in an environment where people really care about her, than when she goes off to college and has to do it all alone.

One day she was in the car, crying, listing all the things that went wrong that day, and the last thing on the list was "the gym teacher yelled at me for not wearing socks. I had socks, I just don't like to wear them and they yelled at me."

I had to put away my tool belt--as much as I wanted to fix it, the gym socks were not the problem. They were, at most, a symptom of the problem--of being overwhelmed by change. I had to be patient. I already had faith that she could handle this new school--and her mid-trimester marks show that. It was up to her to learn to have faith in herself and her ability to handle it all.

Today, it was better. Today she came up to me, loaded down with all her books and materials for school and she said "I think 6th grade is the best grade."

She had reasons for it, which I asked about and heard, but again, it's not about the particulars. It's about the global problem of handling it all, and it sounds like she's doing it. Plus, now she wears socks to gym class.

She's A Very Freaky Girl

I've been reading Laurell K. Hamilton recently--the entire Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series actually. And I tell you, that Hamilton woman is a very freaky girl. And I mean that in a nice way.

Interestingly, the books in this series have changed radically, and IMHO, for the better. The first 3 or 4 books are basically like hardboiled detective novels, but with monsters instead of mere criminals. So it's a little (small and thin and consequently underestimated) woman with a really big gun who shoots things until they are dead. Each book strives to present a scarier thing to shoot--vampires, zombies, voodoo priestesses, prehistoric vampires that are about a billion years old and strong. Lots of bodies, victims, and bloody shootings.

About the middle of the series, however, Hamilton changes her focus. By that point she has assembled a large enough cast of characters, that she keeps chicking in on them, and that results in a more relationship driven book, with a monster mystery to hold the whole together. Thus we get her growing relationship with the vampire Master Of The City, her boyfriend Richard and the effects of his being a werewolf, the continued presence in her life of the people she has saved from the bad monsters.

Interestingly, she shows real strength in writing about the political consequences of these emotional attachments--what does is mean to be a mortal in a vampire world? How do you date the king of the werewolves without being one yourself? How does the pack accept you, or not?

And of course, there is more hot monkey sex.

Which makes these books the trashy pleasure they are. By the last two books of the series, Anita Blake, vampire hunter is no longer hunting vampires, but sleeping with them. And werewolves. And wereleopards. And she has this metaphysical/magical hunger thing that raises two to six times a day that has to be fed by flesh, blood, or sex. Since she's not a vampire, and she's usually surrounded by her friends, it tends to be sex.

And hot monkey sex at that.

We've seen true love sex, opportunistic sex, altruistic sex, sex with two men, two vampires, a vampire and a werewolf, wereleopards and vampires, near sex, sex without actual sex...the list is ongoing.

Hamilton has a thing for a certain look to the men in her books--lots of leather, long LONG hair, thigh high boots, thongs, that sort of thing. Things I don't particularly find attractive--ankle length hair on a man just seems untidy, if not actually off-putting.

But she writes a compelling sex scene nonetheless, and she ups the ante with the interspecies politics, plus a new murder mystery each book. Although the mysteries are starting to dwindle in importance--in the most recent book, the mystery is only sort of solved by a letter from one of the perps explaining what was going on. Not totally satisfying, so she threw in another sex scene.

Okay by me.

How To Be Irresistible

Come to bed with your spouse/lover/significant person with the perfume of ambrosia clinging to your hands.

Or if not ambrosia, exactly, pizza sauce.

I am also inordinately fond of ale and scotch--not to drink, but to taste on his kisses. Yummy.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Grass--The Green Kind

The puppy is addicted to grass. Yes, he eats it, but mostly he likes to loll around in it, the deeper the better.

Actually, that makes a pretty good excuse for why I haven't had the lawnmower out for a couple of weeks.

Mostly, though, he finds it on the walks we seem to spend all day taking. There is a lawn just up the street that hasn't been mowed for a month or so, and the grass is long and lush, coming up higher than the puppy's legs. He ran into the middle of a large patch, and proceeded to turn himself over and over in it.

It was actually a spot on imitation of Teri Garr from Young Frankenstein. "Roll in za hay. Rrrroll, rrrooll rrrroll!"