Guessing The Future

Shae's only three so there's no way that she knows who or what she wants to be when she grows up -- I mean, I'm going to be thirty-mumble next week and I still have no freaking idea -- but I still watch her sometimes, trying to analyze what she likes and what she is good at, attempting to figure out what she might want to do. Right now I kind of think she is either going to be a writer or a veterinarian, or possibly the heiress to the throne of La Gaga, but there are any number of other possibilities.


Maybe she'll be a firefighter. She likes to help people, and I kind of think she has a predisposition for rescuing things. She is extremely proud of the fact that my husband caught the ninja mouse the other day, and released it back into the wild. (Well, into the back alleyway, but STILL.) I can totally see her rescuing cats from trees.

3D Movie Critic

But then again, maybe she'll want to work as a movie critic for the newspaper, assuming that newspapers still exist in 20 years when she's looking for a job. Certainly there'll be some kind of media, anyway, and where there is media, there are people whose job it is to complain about stuff. And already this kid has critic written all over her -- have you ever seen the stink-eye she'll throw at a plate of unfamiliar food?

Fairy Princess

There's a small possibility that she might want to be a fairy princess, and I guess I can be okay with that, if she's more of the Tinkerbell variety of fairy. The kind with spunk and spite. She's not really a docile, doe-eyed Fairy Godmother type, but I can imagine her as a sort of Lucinda-from-"Ella-Enchanted." And I'm not going to lie: that would be kind of a little bit awesome. As long as she doesn't try to work any mojo on me.

Dental Hygienist

Or maybe she'll want to be a dentist? That's a perfectly respectable occupation, if not a little bit sadistic. I personally think there is something a little bit off about people who poke others in the mouth for a living -- and I just went to the dentist at the beginning of the month, so don't tell me that there is no bleeding! -- but I also understand the importance of good oral hygiene.

Whaddaya think? I think the world is this kid's oyster. If she doesn't eat the oyster first.


... And Now A Word From The Voices In My Head

There has not been a whole lot going on in my life these days, and the weather just finally turned nice starting today, so while I was trying to invent some blog content for today, I decided to send some questions to myself via the pretty little Formspring box over yonder, and then answer them, and post the answers here. I submitted the questions yesterday, and then the Internet broke or something, I don't know, it was all technical and involved wires I think, so I wasn't able to answer myself until today. Overnight some of the answers changed, except for one. So that question goes first, and then the rest are in pretty much random order.

Can we see pictures of the infamous backpack?

So how come nobody is asking you any questions?
     I don't know. I blame the previous administration, the unusually high pollen counts, and the fact that I am butternuts crazy. Also, probably nobody even knows what Formspring even is. I'm not sure I do, and I'm the one with the stinkin' widget on my blog.

Would you rather be a famous musician or a famous actor?
     Who says I can't be both? Oh, but wait -- do we consider "kazoo players" to be musicians? And do we consider "comediennes" to be actors? Because that's what I want to be -- a world-famous kazoo-playing comedienne with her own musical variety show. And while I'm dreaming, my first and most favoritest guest will be Kristin Chenoweth, and she will be on my show at least once a quarter, and she will sing and I will play the kazoo and we will dance, dance, dance and it will be AWESOME.
     C'mon -- you KNOW you want to watch that show. The cast of "Glee" will be our house band, and we'll have a dunk tank.

{Ed. Note: The above question was a random, Formspring-generated question that popped up while I was waiting for my anonymously-self-submitted questions to appear in my inbox. It's completely coincidental that the question which immediately follows is tangentially related.}

If you could be on any TV show, past or present, what show would it be?
     Since this is my own fake question, I am going to amend it thusly: "... TV show, past or present OR FUTURE, what show ..."
     Because the show I would be on does not yet exist, because I just invented it in my head last night while I was watching "Glee" to relax from my nerdrage over something stupid that happened in World of Warcraft.
     (Yes, I still play that game. Because virtually blowing stuff up and melting off faces from time to time is FUN, yo. Don't you judge me.)
     Anyway, if I could be on any TV show, it would my own rockle-branded musical variety reality show. (See above question, also.)
     Plus there would be monkeys. Monkeys in the dunk tank.

What is the funniest thing you've seen on the internet this week?
     Oh, man, it was the thing with Twitter, Temerity Jane, and the "baby rabies." Probably because just the term "baby rabies" is hysterical. Admit it. {Ed. Note: That linked TJ blog post does not actually contain the words "baby rabies" -- that shows up in the comments -- but anyway. It's a long post, and maybe not all that interesting to most, but I thought it was a great piece. And the comments are classic.}
     I know what the phrase is actually referring to, but in my head I picture an army of tiny little mammals -- baby humans, bats, puppies, raccoons, etc. -- in their diapers, toddling around, foaming at the mouth, trying to snuggle you to death.
     And it's just a whole lot of fun to say it over and over again: "Baby rabies, baby rabies, baby rabies, baby rabies."

Really? You're not going to let us see pictures of the backpack?
     Okay, FINE. Here.


This is a comparison of the new backpack (on the right) with the old backpack. As you can see, the new one is taller and a bit thinner, but it's "deeper" and it also has all kinds of straps and stuff so that it will stay up if Shae ever takes it hiking or something. The penguin bag is more of a bookbag.

Backpack in Action

And here is the backpack in action. Well, in "action," since we put it on over our pajamas. You can see that it's a perfect size for her -- maybe a leetle on the big side, but she'll grow into it. It's got a lot of zippers and gewgaws and whatnots and a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time. Oh, and a whistle. She already loves it and keeps all her "cool stuff" in it, like her map that I printed at work.

Telescope Eye

And her paper-towel-tube spyglass. (She uses the toilet paper tubes as megaphones, but she calls them "saxophones." Haha.)

Anyway, if you ever have a totally random question that you want me to answer, you can always leave it in the comments, or you can type it in that there Formspring box over there and I'll answer it for you. Or, I'll try to. Or maybe I'll make something up.


Bag Lady

I didn't get pictures of the new backpack in action yesterday, because I'm a slack-ass, so let's play a super-fun game on this cruddy Tuesday, OK? This game is called "Guess How Insane This Woman Is Based On The Contents Of Her Pocketbook." Ready? Go!


Many years ago B.C. (before child), back when I was in my 20's, I used to be able to get away with teeny little purses. I only needed something to hold my keys, debit card, driver's license, cash, cigarettes, lighter, and cell phone -- and in the winter I could get away with keeping my keys and my smokes in my coat pocket, so I needed to fit even less in my handbag. All I really needed was a wristlet.

As I got older and more like My Anonymous Mother, I started needing more stuff. I can't live without my iPhone any more (not shown because I was using it for the picture). Tylenol, always. Chap Stik or other lip balm. Usually I have tissues or napkins in my purse, but I must be out of them right now. For almost a year I couldn't go anywhere without Tic-Tacs, and I went through a three-year phase where I ate Certs like they were going out of style. (Is there rehab for Retsyn addicts?) I used to keep a travel spritzer of perfume, but it looks like I stopped doing that, although I can't remember when.

Now a good 50% of my bag space is taken up by non-essential junk, but I have a hard time editing down to what I really actually need and what I just might need. Like, do I really need to have half a dozen Boogie Wipes? Well, you never know. Do I really need three lighters? Yes, because people are thieves. Do I really need to carry that whole prescription bottle around for half a pill? Then what else will I do with it?

I kind of miss the days when I could carry everything I needed in basically my jacket pockets, but at the same time, it's kind of reassuring to think that I am no longer a person unto myself any more -- people depend on me and the secret weapons I keep hidden in my handbag.Plus, now I carry a big enough bag that I can sneak candy and salty snacks into the movies. Being old and wily has its advantages.

This post was inspired by the "What's In Your Bag?" project, which I learned about from Photojojo.


Backpack, Backpack, Yeah!

So our anniversary was over the weekend, right? And we celebrated it as any normal couple has been married for eleventy hundred years would: with dinner and a movie (How To Train Your Dragon in 3D, which was fantastic). But before that, we went shopping for backpacks, because have I mentioned yet that we are going camping in (checks calendar) 75 days? No? Not yet?

I will start out with this not-at-all-surprising revelation: I kind of can't wait for this camping trip to be over so I can start obsessing about my next vacation, whatever and wherever that will be. There is something slightly more sane about agonizing over the details of a journey to the tropics, as opposed to plotting a trek into the woods where we will eat hot dogs and marshmallows on sticks.

Also, there is less to pack when you're going to be wearing nothing but sarongs and flip-flops for a week.

But anyway. One of the things on my Endless List Of Stuff To Do Before We Go To The 1000 Islands -- after "cause a furor over passports" and "buy an air mattress" -- was to get Shae a new backpack. She has one already, a cute little Dante Beatrix penguin number that I won in an Internet contest about a year and a half ago, but it's getting to be too small, since Shae is like three hundred feet tall already. I did some internet research and found a bag at L.L. Bean that I liked.

Long story short, there is an L.L. Bean store -- an actual brick-and-mortar store -- in a fancy shopping center near our house, so we went to check it out. We wended up getting a different backpack than the one we originally picked out, but Shae loves the one we got, which is what really matters. (Please note that I did not know about the whistle in the sternum strap until after the bag was home and already being loved, even if it does not yet contain a singing map.)

We had a good time, too, because there were live "attack" fish in a big ol' tank:

Fish Attack!

And also a tricycle, which we rode around on for like half an hour:

Tricycle 1
Tricycle 2

So it turns out our anniversary actually WAS fun for the whole family.



Some interesting facts about the number eleven:
  • In numerology, 11 is considered a "master number."
  • Master numbers represent "rare and exceptional energy originating from outside mundane reality, far from the norm."
  • Among the traits associated with the number 11 are "nervous energy, intense fear, unpredictability, unrealistic outlook ... insecurity, hyper-sensitivity, controversial behavior, overly receptive and vulnerable to the point of being an easy target, self-deprecation, low self-worth ... excessive idealism and unrealistic spiritual ideas resulting in a cosmic fu-fu-based dogmatic outlook, complex personality, untamed, wild inspiration, emotional volatility, infamy, extreme behavior, or insanity."
  • And those are supposed to be bad things.
  • Also, my very favorite Phillie ever (at least for this week), Jimmy Rollins, wears #11.
Okay, so yeah, maybe eleven isn't exactly the world's most exciting number. But my husband and I aren't exactly the world's most exciting people, which is totally fine by us. We've got plenty of insecurity, self-deprecation, and "cosmic fu-fu" to go around.

We're married for eleven years today, and it's Kind Of A Big Deal anyway.

Happy Anniversary, babe.


My Kid Is More Awesome Than Me, Part #367,421,958

So, basically, I've gone for like ten whole days without busting out the magic camera once. I did take pictures, of course, because the lilacs in our yard look and smell spectacular, and that only lasts for a few days before the Butterfly Bush That Eats Cleveland overtakes it -- but I took those pictures with my iPhone (and Hipstamatic).

Now it is Friday, and I have nothing to write about, so I took picture's off Shae's Christmas Camera, and ... well, she's a better photographer than I am, even with cheap and dinky equipment. Let's review and discuss, shall we? (By the way: these pictures are all completely unedited, not even cropped, because I think they're just that impressive.)


The bookcase in the living room. This picture is old, several months old at least, because now the second shelf of this bookcase is completely full up with animated movies. Lots of them. Pixar films are our favorite, followed by DreamWorks animation, and then the old Disney movies. The traditionally animated Disneys should be higher, I think, because I am a fascist, but they do not look as fancy when upconverted to Blu-Ray, frankly. Disappointing.

And whatever new song they added to the "Beauty and the Beast" special edition DVD is an abomination unto the Lord. Let us never speak of it again.

Next we have a series of pictures that were all taken on the same day from the back seat of the car:

Day Care

People pay large American dollars for special lenses, filters, and editing tools to get their pictures to do this, and she managed this effect with a Fisher-Price plastic number and a car seat. I really love those rainbow-prism effects. She's got an excellent eye. Soon the student will become the master.

It's very "Kung Fu Panda," if you think about it. There is no secret ingredient. (Oops, spoiler!)

Blair Witch

Blair-Witch-style Facebook profile pic. Boogers FTW! And those eyelashes ought to be criminal. They're going to get her into trouble one day, no doubt.


Oh yes, I am a VERY LUCKY WOMAN. Control yourselves, ladies.


Ready For Takeoff

In preparation for our upcoming camping trip -- and by "preparation" I mean that we have reserved a campsite and purchased an industrial-strength outdoor Aerobed, because my ass is not sleeping in the dirt for seven nights -- we took Shae to the post office yesterday to get her picture taken and submit the paperwork for her passport.

Yes, I know how crazy it is to get a passport to go camping. But we will be in upstate New York, on the St. Lawrence River, literally within swimming distance of Canada, and Montréal is only about 2½ hours away by car. If the weather gets bad for too long (i.e., more than 36 hours of rain) or if I get sick of fishing or if we just want something to do that does not involve dirt, worms, mosquitoes, or fire-charred hot dogs, we might take a road trip.

(I've always wanted to go to Montréal. They have poutine there. That particular foodstuff fascinates me, in theory anyway. It seems like one of those things you absolutely must try in its place of origin before you die, like eating french fries slathered with mayonnaise in a pub in Amsterdam. Plus, I heard it's a beautiful city, if you can stand the Québécoise. And I understand they have an above-average hockey team -- or they did once, anyway.)

It seems weird to have to get a passport for a three-year-old, but of course it's such a different world now than it was when I was Shae's age. Not just in the post-9/11 sense, either, although of course that figures pretty prominently. Now, if we miss a turn off the 1000 Islands Bridge and end up in Ontario by mistake, who knows what might happen? I don't know the rules, the protocol, the necessary procedure for getting back into the country if you cross the border without the proper documents. The last time I went camping, it just wasn't an issue, you know?

But when I look at pictures from when I was a wee little one ...

Pith Helmet

... I know, without a doubt, that that person had not the foggiest of clues what a passport was, or what it was for. I didn't get a passport of my own until I was almost 18 years old, for when I went on a school trip to Greece. Until that time, passports were mysterious and glamorous. Only spies and diplomats and international businesspeople needed passports. Peace Corps volunteers and soldiers and ex-pats. Not nerdy little high school seniors who only wanted to go to Europe at all because that's what all her friends were doing. Nobody expected it to be a profoundly life-altering experience.

Mediterranean Beach

Of course, that was almost twenty years and practically twenty lifetimes ago. Shae not only knows what a passport is, she knows what it's for, and now she wants to know when we're getting on an airplane to go somewhere. She doesn't even care where we're going, she just wants to go. I didn't know wanderlust was contagious. I blame Dora.

At least we're prepared. If we ever find a smokin' hot deal on a trip to Paris, or Rio, or Madagascar, we're ready for takeoff, she and I.

Photo Collage Credits: Passport photos, visa stamp scans, and airline ticket from my personal collection. Map of St. Louis, Mo., from the Internet. Airline buttons and luggage tag from "Wish You Were Here" digital scrapbooking collaboration kit by various designers (some parts still available at Divine Digital).


A Typical Day in Dogpatch, U.S.A.

Since my husband got laid off last year, he's been in charge of getting Shae up in the morning, getting her dressed and fed, and getting her to school, all so that I can hit the snooze button for 28 minutes and then rush around to get ready for work in under 20 minutes so I can hurry up and go sit in traffic already.

Actually, he hits the snooze button for me, too. Because the alarm clock is on his side of the bed. Because I planned it that way. Because I am lazy in the morning. And because I whine if he doesn't smack that button for me. Because I think alarm clocks are the work of the devil.

Also, we have no idea why our snooze feature is 7 minutes, but it is, and we don't argue. Except when he hits the "off" button by mistake and I wake up 20 minutes after I was supposed to have left for work already. Dun-dun-DUUUUN.

{Secretly, I think he might enjoy that particular aspect of unemployment: the not-having-to-run-your-life-at-the-mercy-of-the-alarm-clock-all-the-time aspect. Also, the being-able-to-sit-at-home-and-play-video-games-in-your-underpants aspect. I know I would. Although the broke-as-a-joke aspect is not quite as much fun.}

Anyway. My point is -- or was, I don't even remember what verb tense I'm supposed to be using any more -- that most mornings I don't get to be part of Shae's routine, because I am gone before she gets up and starts grumping. Our daughter is not a morning person, and sometimes he has trouble getting her to cooperate.

Breakfast 1

Hey, don't look at me. I don't know where that stubbornness comes from. It's not my fault. She's adopted, so she doesn't get it from me. And also, she's an Aries. The only people I know who are anywhere near as stubborn as Arieses are Tauruses, and there are none of those in my house.

(SPOILER ALERT: I am a Taurus. And also, this kid is so much like me it's not even funny.)

Breakfast 2

This morning I peeked in on her before I left the house, and she was already up, so while my husband was still in the shower, I got Shae up and dressed. I miss being home in the mornings. We used to have such fun together. She was all smiles for me, although she was a bit disappointed that the strawberry-banana yogurt was already gone. We made up for it with cherry yogurt and two pieces of dried pineapple.

Breakfast 3

But there is one thing I won't miss: having to comb out that hair. What's funny is, even with these special iPhone camera effects, that's exactly what her head looks like in the morning. Good luck, babe.


(Practically) Death By (Teeny Weeny Little) Splinter

One of the things that you can never be fully prepared for, as a parent, is the sound of your child screaming and shouting incomprehensibly while fully caught in the grip of sheer, abject terror.

And of course it's only made worse when you're the one who's got your kid terrified -- or, more precisely, the tweezers in your hand. Which you are trying to use to remove a splinter that is starting to get scary-looking.

It's quite something to discover that your fearless little rascal, who likes to fling herself down sliding boards face-first and who likes the swings to go practically all the way upside down and who likes to throw herself on the couch so she can see how high she bounces -- it's quite something to discover that this kid is scared to death of being pinched.

And I am not kidding about the "being scared" bit, either: she was screaming hysterically, so loudly, for so long, that I thought for sure that our neighbors were going to call the cops. In an ordinary neighborhood, they might have.

It was like Noriega with the heavy metal music, is what I am saying.

Apparently the splinter came from pulling weeds at my grandmother's over the weekend, and that (plus the killer mystery poison that makes you want to scratch all your skin off) is exactly why I don't do yard work.

But oh my lands -- we bribed her with everything we could think of. Candy. Money. Clothes. Shoes. At one point I might have promised to buy her a bike. Anything, if she would just calm down and be quiet for two seconds so we could pluck that splinter right out. It wasn't very deep, or very big, just on her left hand, right under her pinky finger, but it was red and she was complaining that it was sore, so it needed to come out.

It should have taken ten seconds, max. It ended up being an ordeal that went on for literally more than an hour. She would tense up and make tiny little fists and kick and scream and wail and throw punches and ... well, we ended up not getting the stinking splinter after all.

Until we were in the tub, when it came out on its own, confirmed after another wrestling match to just look at her boo-boo.

Oh and by the way? That kid is strong. Even soaking wet and naked.

She insisted on a unicorn bandaid and some "cream" afterwards, which is really neosporin ointment but she calls it cream because it looks like A&D to her, and then everything was fine.

Except I still have this ringing in my ears, and I think I've run out of nerve pills.

And I don't have the heart to tell my husband that this is nothing compared to what the first break-up is going to be like.


One Big Happy

More pictures from the family photoshoot over the weekend. And further proof that I am grossly unqualified to work with children. Or animals. Or anything that moves, really. I should probably stick to still-lifes of plastic fruit.

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04-11-10 172-2
04-11-10 275-2

I like the first and third pictures best, because they're the least "stagey-looking," even though this whole thing was basically staged. The wicker chair was Shae's idea, and it's kind of brilliant. She's already better than me.

04-11-10 181-2
04-11-10 270-2

SHUT UP. We are a fair-skinned people, and sun protection is essential. My sister had hair that light and that fine until she was, like, 15 years old. And at random intermittent points, it was PERMED.

04-11-10 249-2
04-11-10 260-2

There are several different versions of the grandparents-and-grandkids picture in my photostream, but this one is the best overall. I like Joey's smile better in one of them, and the way Shae is sitting in a different one, but at least in this one everyone is looking in the same approximate direction. And this is the best version of the picture of the parents-kids-and-grandkids. My kid's hair is going to be as big as my butterfly bush one of these days, I swear to God, and my butterfly bush ate Cleveland.

(And no, I don't know why it looks like my boobs are crooked, and one of them looks to be the same size and shape as a watermelon with a glandular problem. I assure you, they are basically cantaloupes.)

04-11-10 251-2

This one is just here because my sister basically triple-dog-dared me to post it. HA! Sucker.


First Family-versary

Today is our ... well, we didn't really know what to call it, our commemoration of This Special Day, so G and I had this discussion where we tried to figure out what our cutesy little name for today was going to be. Because, like, it's going to be a personal holiday for the rest of our lives, so we need to call it something, right? Basically we decided on "Family-versary," which is vaguely lame, but pretty much right in my wheelhouse, because I am vaguely lame.

(And for the sake of posterity, let me state that by "discussion" and "decided," I actually mean that I suggested the name, and then 10 minutes later when his raid wiped G asked me to repeat it and he said that sounded fine. So, you know, even though it's been a year since our adoption was final, everything is otherwise basically the same as it ever was. Only louder, and with much awesomer hair ...

04-11-10 149-2 (edit)

And, you know, permanently so.)

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Which is a very groovy kind of a feeling, if I can be honest. Still. Because I can be all, "Haha suckers, she's ours now, and you can't take her back! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!" And let's face it: we really did get once-in-a-lifetime lucky with this kid.

04-11-10 203-2

Okay, maybe twice in a lifetime, but only once in our lifetime.


Family Resemblance

Among the many things about my nephew that I can't get over -- how small he used to be, how big he is now, how much he's grown and changed already, how much more growth and change there will be, how woefully unprepared I am to deal with all of this, how much even more so my sister must be -- but among all these things, the two things I have the most trouble dealing with are how much this kid looks like my sister ...

Jaime's Boy 1
Jame's Boy 2
Jaime's Boy 3

... and how much this kid acts like my daughter.

Shae's Cousin 1
Shae's Cousin 2

Guess the question of nature v. nuture is settled, right? It's both.