Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vocab with T: Coo-Coo le Crazy

Last month, in my effort to enrich our national vocabulary, I reported on T's  use of the word jimmy-jangled.  Fittingly, this month's vocabulary lesson is a word that has been jimmy-jangled together: coo-coo le crazy.  Plenty of folks have behavior that is a little odd.  Those folks may be coo-coo or they may be crazy.  But when behavior or words go over-the-top nuts, then let's face it: we need a better description for what's just occurred.  Behold coo-coo le crazy.  When you sound or act insane but you don't know it, then you're coo-coo le crazy.  To hear T explain it, coo-coo le crazy is a 15 on the 10 point scale of nuts. 

We've all been a little nuts on occasion.  And then we've come back across to the sanity side of the table.  We recover.  But there is no recovery from coo-coo le crazy.  And yes, I'm looking at you, Rick Santorum.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Real Life Conversations with T: Capitalist Exploitation edition

The backstory:  Yesterday, I read a Mac McClelland  Mother Jones story about on-line retailers and the inexcusable labor practices of the their warehouse operations and promptly felt bad about on-line purchasing.  This is a shame, because most of my clothes and shoes are purchased in this fashion.  T, forced to endure my horror, opted to make me feel better about things. 

Me:  And the warehouses are dreadful…yammer, yammer, yammer. I mean really awful for the workers, whinge, whinge, whinge.  I feel bad for shopping on line.  Amazon is among the worst but I love Amazon.

T: Oh, I wouldn't worry about it, honey.  All that Etsy stuff you buy offsets the karmic damage.


Monday, February 27, 2012


Last month, when JT's braces were first placed on his teeth, I made a picture of the shiny new wires and elastics (he went with bright blue and orange for the first month). 
On that day last month, we decided that I would make his picture each month, a record of the changes that seem to be coming our way far faster than I expected.  Today, he got his second set of elastics.  He chose red and gold in honor of Harry Potter, whose theme park we'll be visiting next week.
Things are coming along nicely.  McBraces even got himself a complement for his quality brushing and flossing….and that alone is a miracle that might be worth the thousands of dollars that straight teeth will cost me. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Two cardinals have made their home in our backyard this winter and though they are sometimes elusive, the other day I was able to snap this shot of one of the birds.  Look closely for the spot of red in the middle of the lawn.
 That's happy.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Public Service Announcement: Shoes

My job is mostly performed on my feet.  And at the end of a day on my feet, I like to head to the gym and run.  On my feet.  Running is a lot more enjoyable when my feet don't hurt.  The upshot of this personal reality is that I am careful of my feet.  I have a preference for comfortable shoes with a good deal of arch and heel support.    Admittedly, this likely means that I'm not particularly stylish.  As it turns out, I don't care so much about that.  Having seen what "stylish" looks like, I'll take a pass and opt for functional feet.  I think the rest of the population should follow in my foot-steps and I'd like to propose a shoe dress code to make it happen.  This is for your own good, America.  On my banned list.....

Heels over 2 inches tall
Heels so high that you cannot walk in a sturdy fashion do not make you look sexy.  You do look silly, and that's the best thing I can say about that.  And beware: those heels place you in much greater danger that your already far too-short skirt will reveal more than you intended to reveal.  At least I hope that's more than you intended to reveal…..eeeep, I say.  Eeeep.

Fleece-Lined Nonsense
Lest you think I'm picking on high heel wearers…..let's talk about those dreadful fleece-lined Ugg boots and suede slippers people stomp about in.  If you must wear this footwear (say, you live in an igloo and are chilled to the bone; you're a guest at my home), for heaven's sake PICK UP YOUR FEET when you walk.  Nothing quite sets me an edge like my fellow citizens dragging their feet as they walk through life.  Cut that shit out, people.  Stat.

And what is the deal with untied laces?

Frequently, I see people (let's admit it....they are mostly young, though one hopes old enough to know how to tie their own shoes) slouching about with nice shiny sneakers, carefully laced up, and then left untied.  Why is this stylish?  How can it be comfortable? Are these folks in need of the instant ability to step out of their shoes and run free in their socks?  I don't understand.  And more to the point: I don't approve.

I expect there are other styles of footwear worthy of banning and as the nation's primary advocate of Shoe Authoritarianism, I'll be happy to add them to the list.  Let me know, Internet.  I'm ready to act.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Yesterday and today the weather around here has been stunningly lovely.  Whereas late February typically brings cold (and sometimes cold's best friends ice and snow), we've instead had some very mild days.  Temps today will likely top out in the low 60s; there is sun and blue skies and just a few clouds skidding by my window.  Though I've not really earned this blessing, I am practically giddy at its development.

We've not required a snow day at all this year so I find myself longing for the opposite: a good weather day.  As in: hey, y'all, stay home from school today because the weather is nice.  This sort of thinking may be charming, of course.  But it also explains why I'll never be management material.

Update: As of Friday morning, there is a cold rain falling and the forecast high is in the mid-40s. So Winter isn't quite yet done with us.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What's it to Me?

When it comes to birth control, I shouldn't have a dog in the fight.  In addition to the fact that I play for the all-girl team, I'm the mother of a son.  So I'm in no particular danger of being responsible for an unintended birth, let alone birth control.

But the current national discussion of women's access to birth control, one filled with loud claims by opponents of birth control for women (I'm talking to you, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney) sets me on edge.  Without a doubt, a woman's access to educational, economic, social, and political power in this nation is a direct function of her access to the ability to control when (and if!) she will become a mother.  In the less developed parts of the world today, access to education and birth control for women reduces the poverty of any society within 20 years.  The dangers and responsibilities of childbirth are real and significant and women who can control their reproduction have so many more opportunities for both themselves and the children they choose to mother.  In my mind, this is a human right.

I realize that men have a stake in reproduction and I'm not discounting that.  But for nearly all of human history, men have sought to control women's bodies.  Women in modern, developed 2012 may not always realize just how close they are to patriarchal management of their uterus.  But they are incredibly close, as close as the 1965 Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut, a ruling that prevented states from making birth control illegal for women to obtain.  It's as close as the election of one of the chuckleheads who seems determined to ignore the very real health concerns of more than half of the population.

This morning, Mother Jones organized a chart to show the costs of birth control in this nation.  Check it out here.  There are both women and women's groups speaking out about birth control and the importance of making it widely and easily available.  Planned Parenthood is hereThe Guttmacher Institute is here.  These folks deserve our dollars and our very loud support as they fight the good fight for women and their children.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On Twelve

Yesterday afternoon, JT and I headed out to Modell's, armed with some birthday gift cards and a baseball-related wish list: he wanted catcher's gear.  Little League practice has already gotten underway and the boy is eager for another season behind the plate.  The time had come to invest in his own gear. 
As JT tried on the gear and adjusted it all to suit, I was struck by how very quickly the years have passed by.  When I welcomed that 7 pound baby bundle into my world twelve years ago, I knew in theory that a boy would some day follow.  Even so, at that moment in the middle of the night on February 17, 2000, it seemed like such a time was far, far away.
And yet, here I am, the mama of a young man.  He's charming and funny, on the cusp of the world of adolescence (see: iPod, iPad, command of baseball statistics, eagerly read stories in Sports Illustrated, and size 10 feet) yet still willing to embrace some of the trappings of childhood (see: the bins of Playmobil in the playroom, his enduring affection for games of tag, the imaginary games he plays outside, his willingness to call "I love you Mama" as he walks to school in the morning).  I feel the passage of all this time.  As often as I see glimpses of the little boy he once was, I can see glimpses of the man he will become.  And as much as I long to slow the passage of time, I am so very excited to see the future of this seven pound bundle of joy.
Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy of mine.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Real Life Conversations with T: Spoiled edition

The backstory: Last weekend, T helped me to bake up half of the cupcakes JT ordered up for his at-school birthday celebration on Friday.  I baked another batch during the week and tonight, after baseball practice and homework supervision, I dipped all 47 of them in shiny ganache so that they would be ready to go to school.
Me:  I got all the cupcakes ready for JT to take to school.  It was quite a display.

T:  You don't think that is spoiling the boy, do you honey?

Me:  Spoiling?  Me? 
 For the record, I am prepared to acknowledge that I am sometimes indulgent.  Sometimes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dreaming of Spring

One of the things I really enjoy about New Jersey is the seasons.  We enjoy all four seasons here but experience very little of the extremes I endured when I lived in Nebraska or Tennessee.  In New Jersey, the calendar is a pretty sound guide to the temperature outside.  March, which heralds spring, will bring both longer days and usually a bit of much-desired warmth.  I find myself ready for the change.

Unlike last winter's cold and snow, this winter has been comparatively mild.  Even so, I'm growing weary of mining jacket pockets in search of gloves and wearing tights, scarves, and jackets.  I'm ready for some warmth and the arrival of the short-sleeve, sweater-instead-of-a-jacket season.  I want to exercise my California birthright and wear flip flops outdoors.  And I long to be in the garden.  The last two mornings around here have been cold, but not frigid.  I've been drawn outside for just a few minutes.  Today, I walked out with my coffee and left some coffee grounds under the azaleas in my front flower bed.  Yesterday, I stood on the back deck with coffee and my coat and watched the sun rise.
Each day, we add a few more minutes of sunlight, slowly marching our way forward to spring.  I'm glad of it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Hearted

When you're on your own, Valentine's Day can seem like a rude reminder of the obvious.  Not to mention a day to avoid.  But all those painful Valentine's Days fade pretty quickly when you awaken with a happy heart, as I did this morning.  Something about lying in the early morning darkness counting more blessings than I have fingers makes for an awfully happy day.  But more than that is feeling glad for a new chapter and the building of new traditions.  I'm not one to take this happiness for granted.  I am one to celebrate it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Real Life Conversations with JT: Reaping What I've Sown edition

The backstory: I'm a fan of quality, homemade food.  I'm the annoying sort of mama who teaches her child that "corporate cookies" (the ones found in grocery stores) should be looked down upon.  I've taught JT that the best cookies come from your mama's kitchen.  And this week, JT's birthday week, it was revealed to me that I should have known better.

Mama:  Would you like to bring a treat to share with some of your 6th grade friends on your birthday?

JT:  Yes.  I'd like 47 chocolate ganache cupcakes…one for every kid in the 6th grade.

Mama:  Gotcha.  Can I take you out to supper for your birthday?

JT:  I'd rather you make me fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and homemade biscuits.

Mama:  I don't suppose you'd like a bakery birthday cake?

JT (shocked):  Won't you make me a homemade cake?

If you need me this week, I'll be in the kitchen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What He Said....

I was in the process of drafting my thoughts about the Catholic Church's objection over the Obama Administration's requirement that all employers provide women with birth control coverage when Kevin Drum summed it up nicely.  So pop on over to Mother Jones to read Drum's piece.  He's spot on and I hope that the Obama Administration will hold the line.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Member of the Family

I used to routinely note that my ex left in order to avoid cleaning the playroom.  I meant it as a joke --- kind of --- but let's just say that playroom was one hell of a mess.  And let's further note that I was cleaning it on my own well before I became a single parent.  It's JT's realm but once or twice a year I help him to shovel it out.  Then we return to status quo, e.g., heaps and heaps of plastic crap.

Just after Christmas, when the annual playroom cleaning season opened, T suggested that some shelves would help to organize the room.  Then she got the shelves, put them together, and started sifting through the Playmobil collection.  She helped JT and me to organize containers, give them labels, and get a plan.  For a few weeks, JT and I muddled through the rest of the job, getting a little done every day.  Last weekend, there was still a rather significant disorganized corner that required our attention.  T, who had acquired hinges for the broken toy bin, pulled up her sleeves and got to work.  On Sunday afternoon,  she patiently spent more than an hour figuring out the best way to attach those hinges to the bin.  And then she motivated JT and I to take on the last corner and finish the job.  By the time of Sunday's Superbowl kickoff, we had a clean playroom.
When the project first began, JT told T that helping to clean the playroom would make her a member of the family.  He wasn't joking.  That playroom as a symbol of the two of us is a pretty sound metaphor.  Like the playroom, JT and I are messy, disorganized, sometimes untidy, though often fun.  To T's credit, she saw through the messy crazy and was willing to embrace the prospect of happiness.  I love her all the more for it.  As for tidy shelves and a clean playroom,  well, that's just a bonus.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Real Life Conversations at School: Court Side Seating edition

The backstory:  In my classroom, seats are assigned.  Each month, I re-shuffle the deck and then I assign students a seat on the chart.  There are only 20 seats in the classroom, grouped into three rows, so no student is that far away from the front (or, for that matter, located in the way back).   The idea is to encourage students to be comfortable with uncertainty and to know that their spot in class is guaranteed.    Requests are not granted and students treat seat assignment day as entertainment.  On the first day of the month, they eagerly consult the map for their place in the class.  Last Thursday, when February seats were assigned, I discovered that they even have names for the rows to which they've been assigned.

Student M:  I've got a court side seat (he's in the center of the front row)

Student B: Dang.  I'm in the upper deck (on the far left, back row).

As for me, I'm amused.

Saturday, February 04, 2012


The Governor of my state, known to me as Governor Jersey Shore because of his ridiculous buffoon-like rhetoric and attitude, is forever bragging about the accomplishments of his government and the general inefficiency of the federal government.

So I appreciate the irony of the fact that the feds received and processed my tax return in less than 24 hours.  The state of New Jersey, who received my tax return on the very same date, has yet to respond.  It's been 5 days, Jersey, WTF?

Hey, Governor Jersey Shore: you own me some money, pal. And I want it NOW.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Meanwhile, Back at the Country Store

I've written before of the largesse of the country store in T's town.  The place is a veritable wonderland and though it seems small from the outside, when you enter the building some sort of seam in the universe opens up and all that you could ever desire is suddenly stacked up on the shelves.

Happily, much that you don't desire is also available, as T found out when she located these pet items on the back shelf.
 They are just the sort of thing to especially delight me…the former Governator of California in pet chew toy form.  You can have a suited Arnold, complete with inappropriate tie.
Or the Terminator Arnold.
Both come with a complete treatise of nonsense on the back of the package.
As it turns out, I merely wished for photos of them.  I'm sure that Schwarzenegger won't take it personally.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February 1st: Front Yard Flowerbed

For two reasons, I'm finding it  a bit hard to believe that it's already February 1st.  The first reason is the usual one…the month of January just flew by me.  I'm still having to remember that it's 2012 when I write the date and yet February has arrived.

The other reason I'm confused is that the winter weather has felt more like a between-seasons set of days.  We've had a few frigid days, but for the most part it's been a mild winter.  Yesterday, the temperature rose to 60 degrees and JT changed into shorts as soon as he got home.  Today is a similarly warm winter day, and we've already achieved our forecast high of 61 degrees. 

All this warm weather has me a bit addled.  Yesterday, I found myself wondering if I should head outside and plant some seeds for a spring herb crop.  My head knows that we likely have some cold days ahead but my gardener's heart is unrealistically excited.  And as the peeping hosta and flower bulbs in the front yard flowerbed reveal, I'm not alone.
I've no doubt that winter still has some cold and snow in store for us.  But for now, the garden and I live in spring hope.