Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Life is Sticky. Life is Sweet.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In Which Amy Lives with Cara

Guess where I am.

I bet you can't guess.

I'll give you a minute.

(cue "Jeopardy" theme music)

I'm at Cara's house!!

Yeah, that's right. I'm here for the Christmas break. I'm so excited to be here; it's gonna be awesome.

Mostly because I don't have to do anything.

No, seriously, Cara is totally a Cruise Director and has set up playdates and daytrips and all type of cool things for us to do with the kids. Not only that, she's offered to watch Lizzie if I want to go off and do things by myself.

Dude, I want to marry Cara. Does anyone think Bill would mind?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In Which Amy Talks Gifts

I'm watching the snow fall here in MOFN and I've resigned myself to the fact that winter is here. And with winter comes some undeniable, inescapable truths: it's really cold, it gets dark really early and the weather gets really crappy. Besides that also comes My Albatross:

Holiday themed jewelry store commercials.

On Facebook the other day I may have hinted that I find holiday jewelry commercials obnoxious, insulting, and exasperating.

I loathe them. I really do. The women in them porn-gasm when they see the little box from Zales/Kay/Jared/Helzberg Diamonds. The men in them always have doofy grins on their faces like they just washed down a handful of 'ludes with a fifth of tequila. And if you're really, really (un)lucky, you get the uber-adorable commercial kids hiding in the other room making comments like, "They're so cute at that age."

Oh, my Christ on a cracker. Somebody shoot me now.

I think men who buy jewelry for their wives are lazy. Oh, I know some women live for the sparkly stuff and will pitch a fit if their isn't some kind of bling under the tree for them Christmas morning, and I feel for those husbands, I really do (even though this is when I can pull out the old "You knew she was like that when you married her" card). But, know what? Some women (yours truly included) would rather have our husbands buy them something that's less generic.

Don't look at me like that: Jewelry is generic. Do you know how many diamond heart pendants Kay Jewelers sell during the Hanukkah/Christmas season? Thousands. Thousands upon thousands, if I want to (kinda) exaggerate. So that gift you're buying your woman that you think is so special? Yeah, thousands of other women are going to open it and coo over it too.

Rock on, guy. That's the way to show your girl she's unique and original.

I would rather have something under the tree for me Christmas morning that shows me my husband knows me. That he knows what I like, what I'm interested in, and what will, in fact, make me porn-gasm.

My Gift List is short, sweet, and super easy: I want Barnes & Noble gift cards, tickets to the New York Renaissance Faire (you don't even have to go with me!), written promises to wash dishes/load and unload the dishwasher once a week for a year, and maybe--if I'm feeling really extravagant--tickets to see a show on Broadway.

That's it. Isn't that simple? In fact, I've never had any guy read my list and say, "Damn, Amy, don't you want an over-priced piece of sparkle that you'll only wear once or twice a year?"

Gee, Anonymous Male Person in my Life, I can't believe I didn't think about that. Why don't you run down to Zales and buy me over-sized, over-priced, over-jeweled ring that makes it look like I'm carting around half a South African diamond mine and dwarf the size of my hand?

No, thanks. Just wash the damn dinner dishes every once and a while and I'm a happy girl.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In Which Amy Lists What She's Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving. You might not have noticed since stores have decided to skip the entire month of November and started celebrating Christmas around October 30th, but I'm here to remind you that today is the day to celebrate what we're thankful for.

Now this is where I'm supposed to be all "I'm thankful for my family and my friends and my health and blahdy blahdy blahdy," but that's all been done before, so I'm here to list the things I'm really thankful for.

In no particular order, they are:

1. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream. More specifically Mint Chocolate Cookie, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Dublin Mudslide.

2. Captain Morgan. No, not the pirate, the rum. In case you haven't noticed, I adore rum. In fact, I plan on drinking a little bit of it after dinner.

3. Jeans. I love jeans. You can dress them up, you can dress them down, and--if you're wearing them just right--they have the ability to buy you drinks all night long.
(now, some would argue that a good bra could also have the ability to buy you drinks all night long too, but jeans can get you drinks from the front or the back. no bra has that much talent.)

4. The Internet. If I could ever figure out who actually invented the Internet, I'm going to kiss him/her right on the lips. Unless they're dead. Because that would be really disgusting.

5. Barnes & Noble gift cards. Any denomination works for me.

6. Sarcasm. I don't think that needs any explanation. Especially if you know me even a little bit.

7. My imagination. At this point, I've been using my imagination to crown myself Queen of England, to win the lottery, to write stories, to escape from the crapartment, and to make myself smile for so long, I feel like I should give it an extended vacation . . . maybe over Christmas.

8. Facebook. Oh, don't give me that look. You know you love Facebook. How on earth can you re-make friends and cyberstalk your enemies without it?

9. Bedtime. It just makes me smile.

10. Salt air. Nothing reminds me more of home and makes me happier then to stand on the beach and inhale a double lungful of salt air. Erick calls it "refilling my salt air tanks."

11. Converse. High tops, black ones. Classic and awesome.

12. Coffee. Wawa, Tim Horton's, Wegmans. I don't care; I love coffee.

13. Long car rides. Now, I will admit I sometimes fall asleep during long car rides. Sometimes, I talk so much that I'm like a one-woman show in the passenger seat. Either way, we're going somewhere.

14. TV. Don't be uppity. You freaking know you love the TV too.

15. Curling up on the couch with a book, a blanket, a cup of coffee, some good music and warm woolly socks on a cold winter's day. Yeah. Oh, yeah. That's just nice.

So, Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Be thankful for your family and your friends and etc, but think about what else you're thankful for. You know, the selfish stuff that's just about you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

In Which Amy Waxes Poetic About Words

Words are awesome.

I love words. I love to learn new words. I love to make words up. I love correcting people when they use the wrong words (yeah, that's one of my most endearing qualities). I love that some words are the same word with totally different meanings (think Coke and coke).

But what I love most about words is how you use them with others. The way you speak and the words you use with your parents, for example, are usually completely different than the way you speak and the words you use with your friends. The simplest feelings can be expressed so simply, it's like poetry or so eloquently, you swoon.

Words can make you melt. And it's not just the words someone uses; a lot of time it's their tone of voice or the look they give you as they say it. Said by the right person with the right look and in the right context, words can self-combust a pair of Victoria's Secret panties faster than gasoline can combust an old building on Devil's Night in Detroit.

But, unless the words can touch you in some way, the tone, the look, and even the person don't mean a thing.

Anyone can ask, "What do you like about me?" and get an answer like "'Cause I like you." or "'Cause you're cool." Wow. Thanks, Mr. Romance. But if you ask someone, "What do you like about me?" and they respond, "The way we banter. The way your hair smells when we hug hello. The way my hand fits perfectly in the small of your back.", you are way more likely to melt all over the floor than if they responded, "'Cause you kick ass at Halo more than anybody I know."

Of course, unless you want to know that you kick ass at Halo more than anybody your crush knows. Then, good on ya.

Guys get the short shrift when it comes to using words to their full advantage. Most men don't give women the answers listed above to the super-girly "What do you like about me?" question (notice I said "most"--I know a few guys who know exactly how to answer that question so the asker needs to be picked up off the floor).

But women don't always use the right words either. Now, I'm not talking about screwing up "runs" for "touchdowns" or think "PAT" means "Point After aTtempt." (oh, and fyi, girls: PAT means Point After Touchdown). Despite what guys might say, they want girls to throw out some wordy compliments too. Make it wordy, but make it short, ladies. It's tough to do, but if you get all Shakespearean on your man, his mind will start to wander. Then the next thing you know, you're yelling at him because he wasn't listening and he's trying to defend himself because when you asked him, "Are you listening? What are you thinking about?", he answered very honestly, "That part in Titanic when Kate Winslet gets out of the car in the beginning of the movie and she's wearing that purple hat. She's hot." (true story)

Yeah, words are awesome. They can end a romance just as quickly as they can start one.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

In Which Amy Talks About Blogging

Blogging seems like it should be so easy.

(No, this isn't going to be a re-hash of my writer's block post.)

You get an idea while washing dishes or scrambling eggs and it starts to germinate. You spend your day doing whatever you do all day long--keeping house, working, IM-ing doing homework as your 3 year old uses your body as her personal jungle gym--but all the while you're writing your blog post in your head.

I find myself writing the whole blog post in my head, editing it, posting it, reading it, and then breaking my arm patting myself on the back because it's just frakking brilliant.

The only drawback is that--wait for it--IT NEVER GETS WRITTEN.

Something always comes up: more IM-ing homework, a child-related crisis ("Mommy! We have no GOLDFISH CRACKERS!"), Facebook, watching DVR'ed TV shows from 3 weeks ago with Husband before hustling off to school. Coming home at 10pm sort of kills the creative gene, but never stops me from watching TV until 1am.

It was suggested to me that I purchase a digital voice recorder and ramble my ideas into it so I don't forget anything (I only knew that the person meant "handheld tape recorder" because the guys on Ghost Hunters will say digital voice recorders and then grab handheld tape recorders). It sounded like a really good idea for about 30 seconds, then I had a terrible flashback of rambling into a tape recorder during my pot-smoking days, thinking I was spouting off pearls of wisdom. But--when listened to when I was straight--was mostly just hours and hours of me crunching Pringles and meandering through half-thought-out statements and many, many, many, many instances of me saying, "Uhhhh . . . yeah . . . like . . . mmmmmmm . . . " which I assumed wasn't an actual pearl of wisdom I was trying to get out, but mostly my Maui Wowie-induced appreciation of overly-salted potato treats.

Blogging is, in fact, harder than it looks. I can tell you a story that will make you laugh because of hand gestures and facial expressions and precisely placed sarcasm, but it loses a lot in translation when I type it up on a computer screen. (A friend of mine came in contact with this phenomena the other day when I made a comment about rape and being glad I'm not a guy. I could feel his tense uncomfortable-ness through the Internet so I backpedalled quickly with the always safe "That sounded a lot cuter in my head.") So many funny things happen around here during the day, but it always seems flat and boring when typed up. Told to girls I go to school with, though, it kills.

I read on another blog I love that the key to blogging is to write everyday. Dude, really? Thanks for playing. If I could write everyday, two of my posts wouldn't be about how I can't write everyday. But that blogger had a point. There are so many blogs, so many news stories, so many things that happen during an average day, how can I possibly not find something to write about? Easy.

1. Some things would make for great blog-fodder, but aren't worth the fight with {fill in blank with person or family member's name} that would follow the publication.
2. Some things really do lose a lot in translation. Read this statement: "I have no idea why you kept taking "no" for an answer. I couldn't if I were you. Guess it's a good thing I'm not a guy." Terrifying, right? Now picture me saying it while waving around a glass of white wine and giggling like mad with a flirty/snarky look on my face. Hysterical, right? (you really have to know me and my sense of humour to think this is funny. you know who you are)

So, I will press on, trying to find funny things to blog about. Don't be surprised if my next few blog posts are about my dull to the nth power life in MOFN or how I will never, never, never, never get to move back to New Jersey (this is the part of the sentence when I throw myself across the love seat with my hand to my forehead like a Massive Drama Queen).

God help you all.

Maybe Cara can save us all with some really, really brilliant blog posts. We know she can do it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In Which Amy Loves All Over Autumn

There's some inherently delightful about Autumn.

Is it the fact I can wear jeans again and no one will stare at me like I'm insane (I wear jeans all year long--even if it's so hot that you can fry eggs on the hood of your car)? Is it the fact that apples are my favourite fruit and they finally come into season in fall? Is it the fact that the nights get longer which means I can sleep longer (Oh, who am I kidding? I still stay up until 1am every night, regardless of the season)? Is it the fact that my birthday is in September?

Well, now that I'm in my (gulp) mid-thirties, it might not be the birthday one that much anymore.

Who knows and who cares? It's Autumn!

The air is crisp and cool. The leaves change colours. Hoodie sweatshirts start to be acceptable to wear here, there, and everywhere. Halloween and Thanksgiving beckon with the promise of society-approved gluttony. I can finally go outside during the day without the skin melting off my face from the humidity. Kids hate Autumn because Autumn means back to school (which, ironically enough, is the reason a lot of my friends gave me for liking Autumn).

Summer-loving people always lament the coming of Autumn because that means Summer is over. Oh, boo-hoo. Thanks to global warming, Spring has ceased to exist, so Summer starts in April now. Plus, when Summer ends, the bennies go home.

(I AM NOT A BENNY. I haven't assimilated to life in MOFN that much. I might have Pennsie plates on the Vibe, but I'm still All Jersey. So much so that I'm pretty sure that 90% of people at school think my name is actually Jersey and not Amy.)

Autumn means driving with the car windows down. Autumn means the air smells like burning leaves. Autumn means pumpkin picking. Autumn means you dig out the slow cooker and make soup, stew, and chili.

Autumn is like Earth's way to kiss outside life good-bye because Winter is just such a bitch.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Five Reasons why I Hate all Men--Literally

Ah, yes. Guest Blogger Tina had an awesome and hysterical thread under one of her Facebook statuses that I decided needed to be a blog post.

I told you to start writing and sending Cara and me stories.

Now do you believe me?



Reason #1
First and most important, we menstruate. Will someone please tell me why men gets to be part of that word? Why not call it ladystruate or ladiesleaking? But, no. Some hoity-toity man thinks, "Ehhh, 'menstruate' is a good word." I think I'm going to call Websters and ask for an ethics committee meeting on the validity of using that word and its definition in print.

Reason #2
Fellas, the PMS blame is getting old. Anytime we are moody or bitchy, you blame our bad attitudes on PMS. I am here to set the record straight. Its not PMS: it's Y-O-U. Maybe if you cut the grass or took out the trash or played with your kids when we asked you to, we wouldn't get huffy and pissy when we see that, two hours later, you are still sitting on the couch. Then when we stomp past you to do it ourselves in a rage, you wouldn't have to wonder "What the hell's her problem?" and you wouldn't have to complain to your "boys" that your wife\girlfriend\whatever you call us now is ragging it or PMS-ing. Honestly, we are all pretty fun chicks if you would just help out a little.

Reason #3
When its time to pay bills, please wipe the dumbfounded look off your face and do not even bother asking, "Where is the money you got from me two weeks ago?" Please stop offering these ridiculously small amounts of cash like you are doing us a huge favor. Remember that running a house is more the rent\mortgage and utilities. We also need toilet paper, shampoo, food, laundry soap, diapers, wipes, tampons (see Reason #1 for clarification on this), etc. And throwing us a little cash and saying, "Buy yourself something nice." might be a nice thought but I see you are sporting some new kicks while my shoes have made it through two summers. Also this goes back to Reason #2. If we didn't have to beg for bill money repeatedly, we might be able to skip some of those PMS MOMENTS. Again, it's all on you.

Reason #4
You have been a male your entire life. Well, unless you had a sex change and I don't honestly know anyone who has. Please explain to me why someone who has peed the same way their entire life (minus the first two or three years) still finds a way to miss the toilet and instead pees on the seat, the floor, and all over bathroom carpets. Ahem, again this goes with Reason #2: if you didn't pee on my carpet, I wouldn't have to wash them. And if I didn't have to wash them so often they wouldn't fall apart leading me to stomp past you in a huff to throw them away. We wouldn't have to ask you for money to buy new ones, and you wouldn't be left telling your boys (again) how we were "PMS-ing" (yet again). See how Y-O-U created the problem?

Reason #5
The question of all questions: "Do I look fat in this?" We are asking this for a reason. Do not try to over think this one. Don't chew on your lip and think, "Do I tell her that she looks like a babe or do I tell her that she looks like a beached whale?" Honestly, I will most likely take that lip chewing as a sign you are lying and I will write you off as NOT GETTING ANY tonight. If I ask "Do I look fat?" it's because:
1) Duhhh, I want to know.
2) If you tell me I look great and I wear it, I am going to run into my lady friends who say, "What the hell were you thinking packing Texas in your underpants this morning? The J-Lo look is sooo last season." or--worse and better that that--they will break into a Glee-style version of "I Like Big Butts" by the legendary Sir Mix-A-Lot. And all without Puck, which will just piss me off even more.
3) I know at some point someone is going to take my picture and add it to their Facebook album where I will be tormented for all eternity by the caption that reads "The Wide Load Truck posed with us, but we had to take pics anyway."
Moral of the story: If I look fat, say so and risk the chance of me being mad at you. That is probably the only time I will accept the story you give the boys about being raggy and PMS-y.

Now, guys, I made this as easy as possible to understand. Don't break any more of these rules and we'll be good to go. If not, well, see Reason #2.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Would You Check That????

Another Facebook note too good to pass up. This is by my "sister" Tina about being a strong single mom, whether she wants to or not.
Better start blogging, girls. I'm on a mission.
So, I am left to ponder past experiences in my life and I have come up with a revelation:

Men are scaredy cats.

I remember a night (no particular night specifically) when I heard a loud noise downstairs. I said, "Hey did you hear that?" I got the "Mmmm-hmmm." response. So, as I mutter under my breath about the ladies who asked for equal rights, I go to check it out. I think our forewomen should've been more specific when asking for equal rights: like asking for equal pay for jobs. I don't think they had intentions of us cutting the grass, changing our own oil and tires, pumping our own gas, unclogging toilets, and any other job I want a man to do for me. I have a tail light out; my first thought is "Daddy Dearest." I don't mind the fact that I have to do these things as a single mom, I just think that very nice men friends should say, "Oh, how about I help with that?" (HINT HINT)

All of these little nights of being "The Man of the House" left me stronger for my life as a single mom. I have to do mommy duties and daddy duties and if that means being a bad ass at 3 am checking out noises, I will.

Come to the present day.

The other night, I was just starting to fully sleep. My insomnia has me up late most nights. This night, my tired butt was ready to fully knock out when my pit bull, Ruby, let out the most fierce barks I have ever heard. She ran to my windows looking into my yard, letting out these warnings. Truthfully, I was pretty scared. I know someone was out there. Yet, there I was, with my phone in hand to call for backup, checking out the noise. I look at the phone and think, "Shit. Do I need a man to save me? Hell no!" I exchange the phone for a butcher knife. So, note to any friend who thinks they want to surprise me at night: I come wielding knives. Big ones.

I don't know if it was my pounding heart or the barking that scared the noise away. Maybe it was the wind. But I again was the brave one checking it out (Brave = Me + one bad ass pit bull). As I crawled my butt back into bed, I was full of thanks. And here was my quote of thanks:

"Thank you God for putting pussy-ass men in my life to make me stronger. I appreciate you're thinking ahead for me."

A Skeptics Change of Heart or My First Experience with Kiddie Soccer!

I gleaned this post from Facebook. My and Cara's mutual friend Merrie Napolitano (nee Reilly) posted a note about her son's first day with soccer. It was too good not to share with Blogger.
And since NO ONE has taken us up on our offer to co-blog with us co-bloggers, I'll keep stealing notes from Facebook until you all contribute.

Well, I experienced Kiddie Soccer yesterday afternoon. I was dreading going, being someone who has played soccer for half of her live at a very competitive level. I even brought something to distract me from the horror of Bumblebee Soccer (I really didn't think I could handle it). I also had no idea how Tristan would react to playing with other children, or if he would even enjoy playing a semi-structured sport.

I was so bowled away by how the BTSA runs their Kiddie Soccer, and how excited Tristan was to play that I never touched my diversion. I found his cleats, shin guards and a ball over at Dick's for a great deal $34.99 and Tristan got to pick out his ball (he wanted the red one). Well, on the ride over, he informed Nick and I that he needed to give the ball to his coach. We told him that the coach didn't want his ball and in fact that the coach was going to give him a ball and a soccer shirt to play! But still he insisted, so we just agreed.

We got to the field early since this was actually the second game but Tristan's first (he missed the first game the week before because of his cousins' 4th birthday). I sat him in the back of the car and put on his shin guards, socks and cleats, and when he jumped down he looked up at me and smiled, "I'm ready!" I smiled; this was a good sign. "Then let's go find your coach!" I said and off we all went. Armed with the stroller for Inara, a chair, blanket, lunch (for Inara), the camera, and the Flip we trudged to find someone to tell us where to find the Tigers.

Having basically grown up on Pinewood Park fields I felt right at home, but had a rock in the pit of my stomach, completely unsure of what was to ensue once we reached the team and new coach. We were directed to the second field, and were told the Tigers were the dark blue team all the way at the end. Upon arrival at the correct field, his coach came over and introduced himself and spoke directly to Tristan (this was a major plus in my book), telling him he had the jersey (t-shirt) and a new ball for him. Tristan took to him right away, and had a smile on his face from the moment he stepped on the field until he took his nap that afternoon at about 3 o'clock.

This is where my dread returned. Was Tristan going to listen to the coach? Would he behave? Even if he did actually listen, would he follow directions? Would I be able to handle 10 3-4 year olds buzzing in a hive after a tiny size three soccer ball? You will be thrilled to know (as I was), that all of my fears were untoward and I wish the hour could have been longer.

During the 1/2 hour practice, Tristan listened like a champ and followed directions with ease. It left me wondering if there is a soccer camp that goes all year long! LOL And he showed a great skill for the sport. Plus I found that watching 3-4 year olds learn how to play soccer was therapeutic. I laughed the whole time. They were adorable learning new skills and then announcing their achievements when they could manage to do it without falling down. It made me realize that dribbling a soccer ball while running is a complicated skill that takes concentration and coordination! (Even if it comes naturally to the child they still have to think about it. After years of playing, you forget that it is not a natural movement).

Then came the 1/2 hour game. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard. They were great! Running around after the ball and each other, they listened to the coaches shouted instructions with the skill of pros! Unfortunately they all listened to both coaches equally and weren't really sure which goal to shoot at or which way to turn and run, so there was a lot of running in circles. Two little girls on opposite teams were holding hands in the middle of the field talking. Tristan decided he needed hold up the goal post with another little girl at one point (Uncle Ryan insisted he was flirting). One little girl refused to put the ball down and pouted when it was taken away by the coach. And the best part was Tristan, who ran over to us a number of times asking for HIS soccer ball, because someone took the other one away! LMAO! Nick and I would laugh and wave him back on the field telling him he had to go get that one back, and he would smile, laugh and run back to get the game ball!

He had a blast and out of the 8 children on the team, Tristan and another little girl were the only kids on the field for almost the whole 30 minutes! The coach was encouraging and I give him tons of credit for taking on this job. He certainly earned his wings!!! Upon leaving (which Tristan did NOT want to do), he asked to go back tomorrow and he refused to take his sweaty jersey until right before nap at!

I had no idea what to expect coming in to this as a mom new to this world of Kiddie Soccer, but I was thrilled with Tristan's reaction to the sport, and my own reaction to what basically can be called organized chaos! I have to say thank you to the BTSA and their volunteer coaches for running such a great program and for making a skeptic and pessimist have to rethink her ideas of Kiddie Soccer. It was such a joy watching my son playing and loving a game that I loved as a child and adult! And thank you to those mommy's out there who gave the BTSA props when I wasn't sure it would be the right place for Tristan to play!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Which Amy Tries to Understand Banning Books

The ALA (American Library Association) is launching Banned Books Week from 9/25 - 10/2. The tagline for this "celebration" is Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read.


I mean, really? Has book banning gotten so huge and out of control that it needs a whole week dedicated to it?

I love to read. Ask anyone who knows me or even sorta knows me, reading is my life. Running a close second and third to reading are writing and scarfing down pints of Ben & Jerry's ice cream while wearing stretchy pants and watching Orlando Bloom movies, but I digress.

But I don't get banning books. How can you ban a book? Who gets to decide a book is "filthy" or "trashy" or "anti-family" or any of the others phrases that crazy nutjobs use? Can you really just remove a book from library shelves and reading lists because some whiny parents who probably haven't opened a book since high school suddenly got it in their heads that their kids' AP English teacher is peddling smut?

God, this kind of crap pisses me off.

Do you know what and who's on the Banned Books Lists? I mean, you've got the Usual Suspects of English Literature--including The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, A Separate Peace, 1984 and The Great Gatsby (all of which, excluding To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984, make me want to stick pins in my eyes)--plus the Harry Potter series and pretty much every book written by Stephen King and Judy Blume, but you won't believe some of the others. You're going to die laughing*:

Captain Underpants (series) by Dave Pilkey
Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
And my two absolute favourites:
Junie B. Jones (series) by Barbara Park
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

C'mon, people! Junie B. Jones? Are you freaking kidding me? It's a chapter book written for elementary schoolers! What could possibly be wrong with it? Because Junie is a little sassy and acts too big for her britches now and then? Hello! What elementary schooler doesn't? I have a 3 year old who's sassy and acts too big for her britches. Junie always does right in the end and learns a good lesson.

I can't even fathom banning Fahrenheit 451. They do know that book is about BOOK BANNING AND BURNING, right? You'd think that the right wing fruitloops who decided that Fahrenheit 451 needed to be banned would actually like the book and its ideals: Books are bad, reading is bad, critical thought is bad, and etc. The reasons that the novel was originally banned was because of the violence, disregard for human life and hedonism. But, if you really read Fahrenheit 451, you'll soon learn that the reason the book's population is so violent, hedonistic, and unintelligent was because books were being banned and destroyed in their world.

Irony thy name is book banning.

While I do think some books deserve to have marshmallows roasted over them (Stephanie Meyer, Twilight hack, I'm looking at you, sweetheart), in this day and age, not enough kids are reading. And what they are choosing to read is getting banned more and more often. If you keep taking books out of the hands of kids and restricting what they have access to, how can we raise them into adults with opinions, ideas, and thoughts of their own?

I could never try to remove a book from a library shelf or high school reading list. Not only is it wrong, self-destructive, and just plain silly, I just don't have the wherewithal to start a letter-writing campaign and a legal battle just because some fictional character in a novel decided to say "fuck." Once.

So, go grab your copy of Slaughterhouse-Five, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Heather Has Two Mommies, or The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things and get ready to celebrate Banned Books Week; because if we don't celebrate it, who will?
*These books are on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books 2000-2009.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Which Amy Views Her Future of Kids' Activities and Approved Snacks

So Cara is the volunteer coach for Will's soccer team. I think that is awesome. Volunteering is not really my thing. Lizzie's isn't involved with anything (yet, but I see Brownies and Girl Scouts in her future if not for a direct supplier for the cookies alone). I know Erick probably wants to get her involved with some sort of sport, but Kids' Crazy Sports Parents scare me.

I always picture Kids' Crazy Sports Parents as a pompous and officious little someone with a clipboard, doling out orders to the other parents because he's the one "in charge."

Someone whose wife shops at Whole Foods and buys $27 bottles of organic truffle oil because it looks pretty on the counter top.

Someone who comes up with and makes impossible to follow or understand "flow charts" with phone trees and snack lists.

Someone who will make Erick (or me, to be honest) react like this if we don't bring an Approved Snack:

Yes. Yes. Absolutely. I can see this happening.

Comfort Zone

I know that this is going to sound so cliche, but I'm going to say it anyway.

Being a mother has made me a better person.

I wear swimsuits in public and I introduce myself to women with children. I swing and slide and sing and dance. I plan trips and join clubs. I bake and try new recipes. I can function in chaos and can get through a day on a few hours of sleep. I jump on dirty trampolines and wait on long lines to go on rides that spin. I prioritize and multitask. Snot on my shoulder and dust on my floor, I don't take these things too seriously. All this is a far cry from the person I was five years ago.

A few weeks ago, I registered Will for soccer on-line. It was the last day to register. It was 11:45 pm.

Part of the application process required a parenting volunteer committment. Working the snack bar, painting lines on the field, being a coach-- that sort of thing. There was also an option to fork over $30 and skip the 'volunteer duties'.

I checked off the box for coach.

Without knowing how many players belong on the field. Without knowing what 'off-sides' means. Without knowing positions or placement. Without knowing when your supposed to throw it in or kick it in or whatever.

Without ever officially playing any organized sport, let alone soccer.

Last year, I showed up for soccer games with a big cup of coffee and a comfy beach chair. I cheered and chatted. Took pictures and watched. It was fun and relaxing.

Today, I was all anxiety and jitters. Squeezing soccer rules out of my husband, eating handfuls of chocolate chips and checking the website twenty times to confirm the field location and game time. It was a far cry from last year. I was way out of my comfort zone. What was I thinking?

We showed up, Will and I. We got our shirts and I introduced myself to the dad I'd be coaching with. I made some nervous comment about how I know absolutely nothing about soccer. He didn't appear to be amused. He knew what he was doing and he was kind of all business. Within a few minutes, I started to relax and realize that this was a match made in heaven.

He set up the drills and took care of the logistics. I cheered for the kids and doled out high fives. He demonstrated skills and I gathered the kids up and made sure they were listening. I learned their names quickly and called them by name, paying special attention to the kids that lagged behind. I ran up and down the field, trying to usher the kids in the right direction and heaping tons of praise and pats on the back. The kids seemed happy and proud and although it's not supposed to matter, we totally won.

And you know what? I was kind of awesome.

And you know what else? I can't wait for next week.

I want to be a role model for my kids. I want to get out and try new things. I want to be healthy and happy and active. I want to join and volunteer and participate. I want all of these things for myself because ultimately I want these things for them.

In the moment, it may not be the easiest thing-- but I really love how being a mom has pushed me outside of my comfort zone.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Which Amy Blames Crazy Brain on Murphy's Law

Friday was one of those days when Murphy's Law should have been renamed Amy's Law. It seemed that no matter what I did or how I did, it went down the crapper. By 2 pm, I felt like I was in my own personal game of Chutes and Ladders.

Up, up, up, up the ladder! Yipppeeee!!!!

Down, down, down, down the chute! Sonuvabitch.

The sky menaced us all day long with grey clouds straight out of the movie "Twister."

Yeah, like that. Sorta.

Lizzie didn't "get" that I knew as soon as we got to the park, it was going to turn into a scene from "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" ("Run away! Run away!") because the sky would open up and monsoon on us. She whined, begged, and pouted, but I stood my ground.

"Puddy, if we go to the park, it's going to rain. I know it," I insisted to my whinging 3 year old.

"How you know?" Lizzie asked.

"Because I'm the mommy and I'm super smart."

My confidence soared as Lizzie looked at me with adoring eyes and said, "I know, Mommy. You super smart."

Well, guess what never happened yesterday? Yeah: rain. I am SUPER SMART. And apparently can also be a weather girl, since they're never right either.

And if any of you follow me on Twitter or read my obsessive-compulsive status updates on Facebook, you know that I had about 30 loads of laundry to do yesterday. Okay, only 3, but it seemed like 30 after I lugged the baskets down the 90-degree angle staircase from my apartment, around the corner and into the serial killer-style laundry room. When I got in there, I almost tripped over the 300 baskets that were already piled all over the place.

"You've got to be f***in' kidding me!" I growled.

The place was overrun by oil and dirt splattered boy clothes, so I was pretty sure that they all belonged to my new neighbors: The Two Guys from Texas who Work on the Gas Derricks. So I'm standing there, seething (thank you again,, when The Blonde One with the Glasses walks in.

I guess my hands on hips, gritted teeth, Darth Vader breathing scared him a little because he immediately started to apologize:

"Gosh, Miss. I'm real sorry 'bout this. But I gotta wash some clothes. You ain't mad, are ya?"

How can I be mad at a guy who a) apologizes right away, b) washes his own clothes, and c) insisted on calling me "miss" even though I'm actually and officially old enough to be a "ma'am"? So I left my baskets and went back upstairs to Lizzie, who immediately asked,

"Mommy, we go to the park now?"

Oh, my god. Was this for real?

The day continued like that. Unable to do the laundry and unwilling to risk pneumonia with a trip to the park, I tried my best to entertain Lizzie and keep my own sanity. By the time Erick got home at 4pm, I had just started washing clothes and was about one more "park now?" inquiry from flinging myself out the window.

By then, I had developed what I like to call Crazy Brain. See, Crazy Brain happens when you've been trapped in a small place with a wild 3 year old all day with no adult conversation, no car, and no escape. It starts with being overly-happy to compensate for the twitches that proceed to teeth grinding, facepalming, and grumbling under your breath. Your brain starts to think horrible and rogue thoughts from Satan like, "If she (or he) says one more thing to me, I swear I'm going to get in the car and drive until I run out of gas." or "Why, oh, why did I ever decide to do the wife/mother thing?"

The only respite to Crazy Brain is bedtime. I love bedtime. I love bedtime like I love not having Crazy Brain. Bedtime is a crap-shoot around here. Some nights, Lizzie passes out before we even shut the bedroom door. Other nights (like, oh, last night), Lizzie is up and having a blast like she's 14 and at a sugared-up slumber party. Erick passed out around 8.30pm in front of the Phillies game while Lizzie hung tight until about 9.30pm.

After everyone else was asleep, I realized that it was only 10 pm and I had the rest of the night to myself. Barely breathing, I thanked God for my good luck and began my long road to back to Normal Brain.

This is how I recovered from my case of Crazy Brain:

1. Cara, Michelle Blumensteel (nee Rodrick), and I had a running commentary on our wild Friday night--and how it wasn't all that wild. And how Cara found a rogue bag of Cheese Doodles in her kitchen cabinet.

2. I turned off the Phillies game and turned on "Ocean's Eleven" (Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Damon: I so appreciate your contribution to society).

3. I FB-ed and Twitted until my fingers ached.

4. Tony Condo and I discovered that we both have the same really eclectic taste in music, spent many years of our lives horseback riding, and have to meet for "cawfee tawk" in Ithaca ASAP.

So, thank you, thank you, thank you to Cara, Michelle and Tony. You guys were huge contributors to helping me get over my Murphy's Law/Crazy Brain Friday.

Be prepared for tonight's therapy session for my recovery from 12 Hours of College Football Saturday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Good Stuff

If you're on Team Facebook, then you know those people. The people who scrunch up their nose and roll their eyes at the mere mention of the site. The people that say they're "too busy" or "too private". The people that shrug their shoulders and claim that they "don't get it". You know, the Facebook haters.

And I respect their opinion. I get it. It's not for everyone.

I guess it's possible that some people have enough "social" in their social lives. That some people have all the "friends" that they can handle. That some people can maintain long distance relationships with friends and acquaintances over many years and many miles without it. I am just not one of those people.

I joined Facebook a little over two years ago. In a slightly therapeutic way, it became an outlet. A place to share the good, the bad and the ugly. A place to meet up with old friends and a place to get to know new friends better. A place to connect with others. A place where I could commune with friends in different locations and with different lifestyles. Also a place where I could commiserate with other moms and discuss the joys and challenges of being wives and mothers.

Upon joining, I set out to find some old friends from high school. I was really excited about the idea of reconnecting with Amy. We were friends in middle school and high school. That was over fifteen years ago, so the details of our past were sketchy. But I remembered the big things. Like how hanging out was easy and fun. How we could write each other three page notes, neatly folded into triangular formation, in the span of one class period. How I could laugh and smile until my face hurt. Good stuff.

So we reconnected on-line. And as expected, it was awesome.

We posted snapshots of our lives. We shared our thoughts and ideas. We "met" each other's kids and husbands. We bonded over our similar outlooks on being married and having children. I found myself laughing out loud and looking forward to her comments and messages. When things were particularly crazy or frustrating, I found myself messaging her directly and ultimately feeling better about the situation at hand. We started this blog together and I started referring to Amy as my internet-bff.

Two years and a few failed attempts later, and we actually had hard and fast plans to get together. For this weekend. So after over fifteen years, we were actually going to come face to face.

It was at this point that I realized that I could never have done the whole on-line dating thing. I could, however, have totally fallen into the never-leave-the-house-solely-communicate-with-people-from-the-computer-in-your-basement lifestyle.

At the end of the night, it's so easy to sit on my couch with my laptop. Dishes in the sink, toys on the floor. Wearing sweats and old socks. Typing back and forth. Kind of hanging out. You know, except for the fact that you're not. There's no instant feedback-- no eye contact, no reading the other person's expressions or physical cues. Having unlimited time to think of what you want to say and how you want to say it. And when you run out of things to say, you simply don't say anything. Log off, stop typing, whatever.

My main concern was whether our on-line chemistry would translate to in-person chemistry. My minor concerns included, but were not limited to: what to wear, when to clean my house, what to cook and how our husbands and kids would get along.

Fortunately, after a few minutes of initial obligatory awkwardness, we had such a great day. Beautiful weather, happy kids, plenty of food and good stories and conversation. Even the guys had a good time.

It was easy and fun and the time flew.

Amy was as smart and snarky and hysterical as I remembered. We talked and laughed and shared stories. It was natural and easy and I didn't feel like I had to work to keep up. (As a reader of this blog, you must know however, that as much as she protests life in the MOFN-- she does have a secret love for Nascar, country music and... for the love of God... fantasy football.) Erick was charming and funny and when given the opportunity to watch four channels of ESPN on the couch, he actually opted to hang with us, in the dining room, over coffee. Wow. Lizzie is the sweetest and without a doubt the most polite and mature little girl I have ever met. She totally hung with my wild boys and even indulged my Pokemon-crazed five year old with his obsession. The fact that she's never been in school or daycare is a total testament to Amy's awesome mom skills.

So we packed them up and walked them out and they headed off for their last night in New Jersey.

And sadly, now the whole Facebook thing is a little bittersweet. It once seemed like a totally great way to interact and hang with an old friend. But now, I totally want my internet-bff to come over for a cup of coffee and a chat. To hang at the park with our kids. To hire the kids a sitter and go to a hockey game with the guys. You know, good stuff.

The only problem is that pesky six-hour drive.

So I guess we're sticking with Facebook.

For now.

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Which Amy Wishes for Sunny Weather

I don't ask for much.

Okay, maybe I do, but I try not to.

I want to win the lottery because I've been dreaming about how I would walk into an Aston Martin dealership in jeans, Chucks, and a yellow hoodie sweatshirt with a duffel bag full of cash since I first saw an Aston Martin DB5 convertible.

How can you not love that? It's so exquisite, I could just faint.

I also have this dream about buying the old house on Clubhouse Road (also armed with a duffel full of cash), but that dream is more personal and tends to make me cry--because I'm a raging wimp--so I won't share it.

Recently, my dreams have been a little bit closer to home. I searched high and low for a preschool for Lizzie. I applied at almost every one I found or was told about, but we were turned down for each one. There was always the same excuses: we make too much money (??), they didn't have any room, there was a waiting list she could be put on, etc. The only preschool I found that did have room was a school right behind my school. Perfect, right? Nope. It's a not-great neighbourhood of Elmira and there had been a shooting less than a block away from it a few weeks ago. If I wanted that, I'd put her in preschool in Kabul.

I also have been dreaming about getting a job. School is almost over and we all remember my anxiety-driven post about finding a job. Everyone was so supportive about just applying for every job I found, so I will. Of course, the Perfect Job would be close to New Jersey (via Philly and vicinity or Easton and vicinity), but I'll take anything to help contribute to the household again. Hopefully, all the ass kissing I've been doing in Medical Transcription will encourage my teacher to hire me to work at the pain management office where she's the office manager.

But right now--specifically, right this very second--I'm dreaming about coming to New Jersey for Labor Day weekend. These plans have been in place for weeks. Dad invited us to come down. In fact, Dad insisted we come down. It seems Dad had already planned Saturday to a tee: a trip to Brick Beach for us three, himself, and Donna. He already had the beach passes and vouchers for free parking. Then we'd all go to Point Boardwalk Saturday night. Wow, talk about planning ahead, huh? The man is like Willy Wonka mixed with The Pied Piper with a dash of Walt Disney thrown in for more whimsy. Lizzie loves hanging out with her Granddad and I'm about 110% sure he's pretty cool hanging with her too.

Then Sunday, Erick, Lizzie, and I were to head to Cara's house for a bar-b-q. How jealous are all of you? I've never been more popular, with people asking us to hang out when we come to New Jersey. Usually, visits with friends are not in the cards, but this visit I specifically made time for someone. Cara seemed like the most obvious choice: we have a blog together, we have kids the same age, and she offered (snicker). Because of all those things, as Cara puts it, we're sort weirdly online dating. Cara had instructed me not to bring anything to her house, but I ignored her and decided that a batch of Erick's Above and Beyond Yummy Rum Runners were in order. I mean, what else do you do with someone you haven't seen in 15 years? You drink, of course.

Enter Earl.

I doubt I have to tell you all how much I hate hurricanes. Hurricane Gloria was pretty cool when we were kids: we got out of school, we lost power, and I got to read by candlelight like Abe Lincoln. But as I got older, hurricanes became less cool in the way snow gets less cool when you realize that they don't cancel work for 4 inches of flurries and you still have to sit in your office all day long instead of wearing your jammies and watching bad daytime TV all day long. Hurricane Katrina--well, I really don't have to go there, do I? That being said, I didn't want Earl to hit the Gulf Coast. Haven't they been through enough? But I sure as hell didn't want Earl to land in what the newscasters were calling "the Northeast." Guess where New Jersey is. The Northeast. Guess where I was supposed to go for Labor Day. The Northeast. Guess where Earl was going. The freaking Northeast.

So I now sit and wait for Dad to call and let me know if I should start packing for our trip to New Jersey. Every time the phone rings, I leap out of my skin and grab at it. So far, it's only been Erick and Mom, both asking if Dad's called yet. Good Lord, no, not yet. Knowing Dad--and my luck--I'll get the call so late in the afternoon after being on edge all day long that I'll end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off as I try desperately to get ready to leave.

And don't try to tell me to get ready beforehand: To get ready beforehand would spell abject disaster.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Vacation 2010, Part Nine

We're baaack.

And as it turns out, it's much easier to write about your vacation when you're actually ON vacation.

We got home late Saturday night and had to hit the ground running. Unloading, unpacking, cleaning, organizing, shopping... we're not even close to being ready.

I went back to work today, but I wanted to write one last post about our time away.

I wanted to write about how the kids fought for two weeks straight about who was going to push the elevator buttons.

I wanted to write about how Will kneeled in a puddle of pink dye when we were tie-dying. And how I convinced him that it was a jellyfish sting and that he had some sort of super-human immunity-- thus relaxing him about swimming in the ocean. He then proceeded to tell EVERYONE, even complete strangers, about his 'superpower'.

I wanted to write about how Liam has become so attached to his swimming tube that he carried it everywhere-- and even insisted on sleeping with it.

I wanted to write about how the kids would ring the doorbell of our vacant condo every time we arrived home so that the toys (who were alive a la Toy Story) would know to go back to their spots and "freeze".

I wanted to write about how Will had a meltdown on the floor of a Virginia Wawa. Freaking out because someone touched his flip-flop and now he's got germs. Did I mention that he was flipping out about germs while lying on the floor of a freaking Wawa?

Like I said, I wanted to write about these things. But now that the time constraints and pressures of work are upon me, I just don't have it in me. Instead, I'll just wrap things up with a few of our favorite final photos.

If you've been reading over these past few weeks, thanks for coming along for the ride.

Will takes the plunge.

Will and Anthony.
They're so far out and the water is still calm and shallow.


"To Infinity and Beyond!"
Also, one of my favorite photos... ever.


Technically, not a great photo... but I still love it.

Clearly, Liam has a way with women.

Family shot.

The looong ride home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vacation 2010, Part Eight

Being five has its privileges.

The resort that we're staying at offers various activities during the day. And being that Will just turned five, he was finally old enough to take part.

We made tie dye shirts earlier in the week.

Wearing plastic gloves + sitting on a plastic tarp in the sun + 100 degree heat = FUN!



We played Bingo...

He attributes his success to The Force.

He won a gourmet cupcake and
gift certificates to a breakfast buffet and Art Cafe.

At breakfast.

At the Art Cafe.
He picked out a treasure chest and three little fish to go inside.

Three little fish.

He painted the bottom.

I painted the top.

Once he saw the table sitting by the pool, Will has been begging to play "Pong Pong". We didn't correct him because we found this incredibly hilarious.

Playing pong pong.

Diaper wearing, trash talking two year old.

As you might have guessed, there wasn't much of a volley.

Still talking trash. What?!

And lastly, turtle races. The organizers drew two concentric circles and the racers placed their turtles in the inner ring. Whichever turtle made it out of the outer ring was declared the winner.

Picking his turtle.

Getting ready.

The race begins.

The turtle jockey at work.

Will was eliminated in the second round. His prize was a single Silly Band and 2 pieces of candy. But after the haul he took in Bingo, he wasn't complaining.