Monday, February 27, 2006

The coming of the storm

Bizarro Dad's brother is finally moving back to Houston after 4 years in the Marine Corps. For the first time in almost six years, my husband and his brother will be living in the same city again.

I quiver with fear.

Not because my brother-in-law is a bad guy or anything. But because I fear the kinds of crazy that will come upon my husband, having his little brother around. My man's already begging me to let him buy a paintball gun so the two of them can go shoot the crap out of each other. Which is fine and all, but they don't wear any protective gear besides a helmet. And I would not put it past my brother-in-law to shoot someone in the sac, whether accidentally or "accidentally."

I would like to try for a boy some time in the next three years, but how am I supposed to do that if my husband is rendered infertile by an errant blue-paint-filled marble?

Kids are doing better, recovering slowly. Baby Sia gave me a scare this morning with some seriously bad coughing, but she's not getting fever every two or three hours anymore, so that's an improvement. I just wish her congestion would stop already. It's getting seriously gross.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Quick update

Thank you for the well wishes and good thoughts. We sure do need 'em! The older one is recovering well, but now the younger one is sick, and she's not doing well at all. I'm pinning my hopes on God and antibiotics. All prayers are appreciated.

Viewer recommendations:
  1. Jakers: The Adventures of Piggley Winks. Shown daily on PBS. Funny and entertaining, especially if you (by which I mean "your kids") like accents and storytelling.
  2. America's Test Kitchens. Also a PBS weekday show. Covers both basic and complex recipes, as well as general food education Two bonuses: usually has a segment on kitchen equipment (testinging all brands and prices of, say, baking dishes, and finding out that the $9 Pyrex is better than the $95 thing with grooves on the bottom) and another segment on comparative testing of prepackaged food products (who knew that of all the boxes of brownie mix, only Ghirardeli actually tastes like chocolate?).

Monday, February 20, 2006

Brief announcement

I see your briefs!

I'll be on hiatus for the week while I tend to a very sick child. In the meantime, here's a recommendation for you.

Firefly Season 1 DVDs
So far I've only seen disk one, but I anxiously await the rest. Let us all bask in the glory that is Firefly. This show is AWESOME. Pay special attention to the commentary; lots of great insider info (who knew David Boreanaz is frightened of live chickens?) and commentator hijinks. Love it. Go rent it, or buy it, or borrow it from the sci-fi lover down the street. Great great stuff. We're talking better than Alias, people, and that was my favorite show of all time (at least until the end of season 2).

See you next week!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Insomniac Movie Review: Zathura

Title: Zathura
Plot: Jumanji, only in space, and with different kids who fight more

Let me start by saying that I really do love children, and I would never harm a child.

But the kids in this movie? I just wanted to throttle every single one of them. Yes, even the little one who was all cute and cuddly and "innocent and wronged."

Why? How could a movie make me so infuriated that I wanted to reach through the screen and shake the crap out of innocent children?

Well...I suppose because the kids spent too much time fighting and bickering about stupid stuff instead of doing what the heck they knew they needed to do. I mean, seriously, Youngest Child, how many times do you need it repeated to you that if you don't take your turn and finish the game, the Vorgons will chase you forever, you'll run out of food, and you'll never see your mom or dad again? How many times!? Turn the stupid key and push the damn button already!

And Older Brother. You, just like your brother said, are a d***. Yeah, that's right, I said it. You're a selfish brat and I don't like you. Well, I suppose you redeem yourself as the movie comes to a close, but that's to be expected. Screenwriters have to do that nowadays. But still. You're a jerk. Also: when a turn has ended and you find yourself having to run for it, grab the freaking game and take it with you when you leave the room! You know you're going to need it. That movie would seriously have been 20 minutes mercifully shorter if it weren't for all the "Wait-a-minute-where-did-we-leave-the-game-oh-no-it's-in-another-room-we-have-to-get-it-but-there-are-flesh-eating-aliens-in-there."

Let's not forget Older Sister. Dear stupid irresponsible dumba$$ Older Sister. Your dad leaves you in charge of two young children, and you just pull up the covers and stay in your room? Who do you think you are, their mother? No, honey. You are the babysitter. For better or worse, you are in charge of two squabbling children who have a habit of inflicting insults and psychological torture on each other. Get your lazy assets out of bed and supervise. Or at least, if you can't be bothered to get out of bed, leave the headphones off so that you can hear things like screams of terror, or a smoke alarm, or the whole house launching into space, NOT TO MENTION BEING CHASED, FIRED UPON, AND BOARDED BY ALIENS. Seriously, some people need to grow some brains before being placed in charge of kids.

Okay, now that I'm done with that, to the questions:

Was the movie any good? If you liked Jumanji, or if you thought it would be better if it took place in space, you'd probably like Zathura. I will admit to liking some parts of this film. I can't recall what those parts were at the moment, as I've been suffering from a migraine for the past three or four days, but I do remember a feeling of satisfaction once the movie was over. Wait, maybe I was just glad it was finally over. Well, I'm not risking another migraine to find out.

Should you watch it? It's kind of fun to watch with your kids, if you don't mind letting them watch explosions (no guns, just stuff blowing up). But if you don't have young 'uns around to enjoy it, thereby helping you enjoy it? Yeah, not so much. It's mostly infuriating.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Big Big World musings, continued

More of my dad's thoughts on that dear little puppet, Snook, of Big Big World.

Dad: Is that thing supposed to be some kind of hippie?
Me: Hippie? What?
Dad: Well, he's got long hair, and he talks all, "Heyyyy, mannnnn."
Me: Well, he's a sloth, Dad.

Yeah. First it's John Denver, now it's a hippie. Any day now we'll move into David Lee Roth. Or Kenny G. Oh, I know! How about John Lennon! You know, once he was on wacky tabacky. No, wait. That's the hippie category. Well, I'm sure good old Dad will come up with something fun.


Great, now I'm in the vomit circus. Thanks, Nilo.

Just kidding. I know it's simple coincidence that my four-year-old started throwing up (in my bed) at 1:30 this morning, just like Nilo's daughter, only not as bad. In reality, I blame my mother's cat.

Yeah, that's right. Her cat. See, Gina slept over at Grandma's house Tuesday night, and came home wrapped in a blanket from Grandma's bed. Grandma's cat lives in Grandma's bedroom, since Granny and PoPo (my grandparents) cannot stand Cat. So Cat spends a lot of time lounging around on Grandma's bed. You can just imagine the pet dander, I'm sure.

Now, to be fair, neither Gina nor Sia have ever exhibited the slightest case of pet allergies. We had TWO cats back in NC, before they went all anti-kid and started attacking the children. Only Bizarro Dad showed traces of allergies (white gunk in the eyes), but we thought it was just the Carolina air. Carolina brings out allergies in people who never had them before, especially with all the dogwood trees. It has, in fact, been rated as the number one allergy state. And since the hubby had not shown any cat allergies ever before in his life (not even when we were first married in Texas, and I had a different cat), I had no idea it was even a cat issue.

Until last night.

Gina spent most of the evening wrapped in the blanket from Grandma's house. After a while, I started to notice white gunk in her eyes, but I didn't connect it to the blanket. She's been sick for weeks, so I thought it was just more of her cold. Then I put her to bed with me (with that blanket). She tossed and turned and told me her eyes hurt and that she wanted to throw up. I take her to the bathroom. Nothing happens but some spit. I look at her eyes. WAY more gunk. I think. I sniff the blanket. Jackpot. Take the blanket away.

However, since the blanket was in my bed for a while, enough of that stuff got into the sheets. Apparently it also got on the couch and on Granny's quilt, too. Puffy eyes the whole night. 1:30 AM vomit (mostly mucus), accompanied by severe crying and lots of eye gunk. And this morning? Gina's eyes were stuck shut. She kept trying to open them, but the eyelashes were not cooperating. I had to use wet Kleenex on her little eyes and spend a good ten minutes trying to carefully get the dried gunk out so she could see the world again. That blanket is outta here!

So, to conclude: Mom, wash your blankets, and vacuum your cat once in a while. I'm going to see if they make children's Alavert. And Nilo, I'm glad your daughter is feeling better today. The kids and I have been keeping her in our prayers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine surprises

This one was from my dad. I adore this kind of candy. (It's the hazelnuts. And the chocolate. Mmmm...chocccccolattttttte...haaaaaaazelnuuuuuuts.)

This is an approximate picture of one of the gifts from my husband, Bizarro Dad. I say approximate because for some reason Google Images won't give me the correct picture of the Lavender Joy Garden available on

This space is left blank, to be replaced by whatever else it is Bizarro Dad got for me, which should be delivered today. He told me he got more than one thing. Even though I told him not to get me ANYTHING. He's so sweet and thoughtful. and the bulb garden really is something I love. I even managed to refrain from telling him, "Honey, the reason we agreed not to get Valentine's gifts was so we could save a little money for our anniversary next month, but now you have not only spent all the money in your monthly allowance, but mine too. Oh, I know, you think you've not done that, because you used the credit card (against explicit orders, no less). But you see, now I have to repeat my lecture about how credit cards work, and how much interest we're paying on your card alone. But I guess it doesn't matter. We can just not celebrate our anniversary."

Yeah, I didn't say any of that, because I didn't want to Spoil the Moment or be The Wife Who's Never Satisfied, and because I really do like my gift. I think I'm going to go to my room and cry now, and I don't know why I'm going to do this, but I feel it is something I need to do. Maybe it's the hormones. And since he's napping on the couch (instead of going to work, like he's SUPPOSED TO), he won't even know I'm doing it.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Survey says!

1) Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4.
"...with all manner of Conditions." Taken from my husband's book, Guild Wars Official Game Guide.

2) Stretch your left arm out as far as you can and see what you touch.
My husband's arm. He's off today, and is sitting on the couch.

3) What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Fear Factor, and I watched it against my will, thanks dear.

4) Without looking, guess what time it is.
Let's see, it must be just after 5:00.

5) Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
It's 4:07. Channel 55 lied about what time Leave it to Beaver comes on!

6) With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
My dad and my daughter playing Pat-a-cake. Also the television, the fish tank, and my youngest daughter making little fussing noises as she sprawls on the floor.

7) When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
Yesterday? Yeah, that's right, I haven't gone outside today. And I was...taking out trash, I think.

8) Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Nilo's blog, plus a list of Valentine's crafts from

9) What are you wearing?
Dark grey sweat pants, a dark purple T-shirt that is too long, and a dark grey hooded zipper sweatshirt. And white socks. And glasses.

10) Did you dream last night?
Yes, and it was terrible! There were crazy people everywhere, and pickles, and dead gardens, and nothing made any sense, and I was afraid to wake up and take care of my own baby because I thought my crazy rampage might carry through into the waking world.

11) When did you last laugh?
A little while ago. My husband's Valentine gift to me came early. He wasn't supposed to give me a gift at all. The card included the phrase "Nener nener nener."

12) What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Pictures of my family, a framed poster of Historic French Quarter, framed dragon puzzles we completed and glued, a plaque my husband was given upon leaving the military, a little cartoon with his platoon number from boot camp, a clock, a thermometer, framed pencil drawings of temples and Houston landmarks, and the speakers for our surround sound. Let it never be said that we don't have ambience around here.

13) Seen anything weird lately?
Did you hear the part where I said I'd had to sit through Fear Factor?

14) What do you think of this quiz?
I think it's kind of cute, actually.

15) What is the last movie you saw?
In the theater? Hoodwinked. At home? The Heavenly Kid.

16) If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
I'd buy the lot this house is on, knock down this ancient 50s era house, and build a new house instead. Although, I think the house I want is too big for this lot. So maybe I'll buy the lot next door, too. That house needs to get knocked down anyway; it's always having plumbing problems.

17) Tell me something about you that I don't know.
I had orange hair once. It wasn't on purpose, either.

18) If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
I'd eliminate Alzheimer's disease.

19) Do you like to dance?
Yes, I think ballroom dancing is the best. I just wish I had a dance partner. My husband has no rhythm.

20) George Bush?
Senior? I kind of miss him. Junior? I feel betrayed by him. Although I think I can safely say he's the first president in our nation's history to be elected despite having an obvious case of dyslexia.

21) Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
This one.

22) Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
That one.

23) Would you ever consider living abroad?
Yes. Absolutely. As long as by "abroad" you mean Italy.

24) What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
"Come on in, there are some people here who can't wait to see you."

Ricky Gervais!

Attention all you Houstonians. Beginning this Saturday, Feb. 18th, that beloved British comedy The Office will air every Saturday night at 9:30 PM on Houston PBS (that's channel 8 on broadcast TV). Yeah, that's right people. You can get your Ricky Fix every weekend. For free. No need to pay for digital cable, regular cable, or satellite TV. Hah! Take that, Time Warner!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch The Beverly Hillbillies on channel 55 (also local). I'm just fit to be tied: finally, something to watch besides soaps, talk shows and courtroom dramedies!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Trigger Happy Retirees

If you're going to be in the Houston area, you'd better take cover, because the old people are shooting!

This morning in a grandfather accidentally shot a 17-year-old who was arguing with his 18-year-old grandson on their porch. Grandpa says he intended to raise his gun in the air and fire a warning shot to scare the youngster off, but he accidentally discharged the weapon in the wrong direction (or something) and shot the kid in the head. The argument? A fight over money.

Across town in League City, an 87-year-old woman shot her 80-year-old caretaker in the leg. First of all, why is an 80-year-old man (not her husband) responsible for an 87-year-old woman? Is she his girlfriend? Well, she's not anymore. And second, why does a woman this age have access to a freakin' .38? Is it for protection? Is it for the Octagenarian Gun Club? Why? Why? Why! And furthermore, why did she think shooting this man in the legs was an appropriate way to resolve a dispute over the car keys?

I think I'm with Eddie Izzard (the comedian) on this: Why do these grandfathers (and grandmothers) have these arsenals? We're all concerned about the kids going and getting guns and going Columbine, but what the heck are the grandparents planning on doing with them? Thank heaven my mother had the good sense to take away Grandpa's hunting rifles. At least, I hope she did. Hey, Ma?! We gotta talk!

Handy Cooking Tips

My four-year-old and I watch cooking shows nearly every day. If we had cable, we'd watch the Food Network, but as it is we stick to PBS and whatever the local stations offer.

Today on America's Test Kitchens we learned the following:
  1. The best way to bake a pizza is on a pizza stone, preferably a large rectangular one that is completely flat (no lip like a tray), preheated with the oven. If you're going to buy a pizza stone, make sure you measure the interior of your oven first, as it can be a great deal smaller than the exterior. You don't want to get a stone that six whole inches too wide.
  2. The best pizza cutter is the ten dollar one with the four-inch cutting wheel. The small-wheeled ones are only good for thin crust, the pie-slicer ones are messy, and the long rectangular cutter (used in pizza restaurants) is good but too big and bulky, a pain in the butt to store.
  3. Bread flour is best for pizza crust.
  4. Olive oil is, indeed, man's other best friend.
  5. Chefs like weird stuff on their pizzas. (Seriously, carmelized onions, olives, and anchovies? Where's the cheese? Where's the tomato sauce?!)
  6. California black olives are dyed black! Ewwww!

Movies Movies Movies!

The following kicks ass and should be a part of your life:
  • Hoodwinked, starring Patrick Warburton, Glenn Close, Andy Dick and Anne Hathaway. It doesn't matter that it's an animated film, there are more pop culture references and over-the-heads-of-the-kids jokes than anything else. I almost hesitate to say this, just because it give something away, but...Triple G. I kid you not. Go see this movie. Go marry this movie.
  • Serenity, starring all those people from Firefly. Having never seen the show, I wasn't quite sure how I'd like this movie, if it was something I'd wouldn't understand without the background, what have you. I need not have worried. This show kicked. Major. Ass! It was frickin' hilarious, and yet had great action, and yet was a sci-fi. How many ways do I have to say it? If you don't marry Hoodwinked, you should marry Serenity instead. (Also: it totally made me want to buy the show's season one on DVD.)
  • Tortilla Soup, starring Hector Elizondo and Jaqueline Obradors. The story is good, the actors are fantastic, and best of all, it makes me hungry! Better yet, it makes me want to cook. It doesn't matter if you don't speak Spanish: that's what the subtitles are for, and most of the movie is in English anyway. Watch this movie. And then eat it.

The following things suck donkey butt, and should be extricated from our culture as soon as possible:

  • Blockbuster Online, who are such a bunch of incompetent dillholes that I've asked Bizarro Dad to cancel our account before the free two-week trial is over. They can't send the right movie to save their lives, and they are just so full of crap. I'm taking my business to Netflix.
  • Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III, starring Natalie Portman, Ewan MacGregor, Hayden Somethingorother, and a bunch of other people. I did sit through them all. I did try to like them. But seriously? The dialogue bites, and Hayden Whatshisface could not deliver a line without looking like something had crawled up his back end and died. I think it was the script, actually. And Natalie? She had her good moments, but mostly she kind of looked like she couldn't believe she'd been roped into a ten-year contract spewing this kind of crap. Her delivery was very wooden in some parts, and downright lazy in others. Or wait. Was it Hayden that was lazy? I don't know. The whole set was dumb. Cheesy in a way that suggests somebody screwed up.
  • Aladdin and it's many cartoon sequels. I was all impressed with this animated feature when I was, like, 13, and thought the songs were all romantic and stuff. But the thing is, it was no Beauty and the Beast. Jasmine didn't make any sense: she's strong and independent, so she sneaks out to the market (without taking money, even though she knows what money is), and as soon as somebody starts to get upset with her, she's all "We can go to the Sultan, we can go to the Sultan!" WTF? And then, after she and Aladdin are caught and she's told that he's been executed because of her, she feels all guilty that her bid for independence cost an innocent man his life, so she doesn't run away, but she's still all, "I am not a prize to be won!" Then tell me, girl, what are you? Are you a functioning member of society? Do you scatter largess to the poor? Do you encourage education? No. You sit around all day in your halter top, combing your hair and playing with your tiger and pet birds. It takes meeting a street rat to bring out the cleverness in you, and you only seem to possess it when he's around. When he's not there, you're Daddy's little girl, which is fine and all, but stop whining about being treated like something more if you're not going to ACT like something more. Also: the animation get less and less impressive with each sequel, as does the script. It was like after a while, they decided the main plot of the third movie was just whatever Robin Williams came up with during his ad-libbing.
  • Final Destination and all its sequels. Because, seriously? Three movies with the word "final" in them makes me think that somebody needs to just come up with a different title altogether. (And don't e-mail me trying to explain what they mean by "final destination." I already know. My husband loves these movies.) More to the point, why is it entertaining for a screenwriter and filmmaker to sit there and invent new and more creative ways to die, then film them for an audience? I do not understand this. If 15 kids die on a freak roller coaster accident in real life, we all go, "Gasp! How awful!" But put it in a horror movie and everyone's supposed to love it? Something is wrong with the people on this planet. Seriously.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Random Salsa

Have you seen that Verizon Wireless commercial, the one where the (nerdy) dad is all happy that he got everyone on the Family Share plan, so now wherever they go, they'll "have the network?" And he hands a phone to his Goth son, all "And when you go...wherever it is you go..."

Is it just me, or does his son look more like a mime than a Goth?


Ah, Superbowl Sunday. A time when men sack out on the couch and shout obscenities at the TV, and women prepare great volumns of junk food and shout obscenities at their husbands. Not that I've ever done this. Much. In any case, on this holiest of American holy days, how are YOU worshipping the pagan god of football? Are you wearing medals of St. Sebastian, the Patron Saint of Athletes? Or are you perhaps more inclined to pray to St. Bernadine of Siena, the Patron Saint of Compulsive Gambling? Or maybe you're worried about the pounding your team is going to take? There's a list of 14 Patron Saints of Victims of Abuse, although I think those saints might get a bit angry, and say that their saintly favors are reserved for people who don't fight each other over a pigskin for a living. Then again, you may be on a money-making end of this whole game thing, in which case you can call on St. Matthew the Apostle, Patron Saint of Bookkeepers.

Best of luck to both teams! And by "luck," I mean, "no permanent physical damage."


Is anyone else addicted to Sudoku Online? I don't know why, but I can't stop playing it! Part-Time Gamer would be proud. Or else, he (they) would think I'm a wack job for liking a game with no graphics and no movement. Sorry, guys. I'm not a Metroid kind of gal.


Did anyone besides elementary school teachers even remember that Thursday was Groundhog Day? Did anyone bother checking a groundhog? I recall seeing a front page article about the groundhog predictions back when I was in first grade. Good sweet Mike, that was 20 years ago! Gack! I'm old! Look away, look away!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

John Denver rides again!


That's right, folks. According to my dad, the character Snook the Sloth from the new PBS show Big Big World kind of sucks because, as he puts it, "That main animal is always singing some kind of John Denver songs."

To be fair, Snook does sing a lot. Usually with guitar background music. And his songs are very...folksy? Country folksy? I don't know, people, I only learned to play one John Denver song back in college, and that was for Guitar 101. I do not know his "style" other than it was slow and simple enough for beginners to catch on easily.

In any case, catch John Denver Reborn on PBS, and let the next generation experience his puppeteered personality and angelic voice. Check your local listings.

P.S. Tee-hee to Jenny, who actually slipped on a banana peel. Hope you feel better, hon.

Oobie invasion

Those of you with small children may recognize this:
Yeah, that's some weirdo Noggin show called Oobi. I don't know the point of the show; we don't really watch it, since we don't have cable.

Anyhow, my point (and I do have one) is that yesterday, after never having seen this show, my 20-month-old daughter found a pair of Mr. Potato Head eyes, stuck them between her index and middle fingers, and then tried moving her little thumb, like a puppet. She couldn't really move her thumb right, since she's not quite as good at that fine motor skill as she'd like, but she did make silly noises and facial expressions, as if her hand-face was talking and those were the faces he was making.

Bizarro Dad began cracking up. "She's doing it!" he cried. I turned to see. "I haven't done that for her in a long time," he said. This reminded me that I do, on occasion, make the hand-face with the Potato Head eyes. But it's been a while. A long while.

I don't know whether to be disappointed that Sia didn't "invent" the hand-face, or excited that she is beginning to develop her long-term memory. I'll choose to be excited. Either way, it was still just plain funny watching her.

Molly Fox still hates me, but I'm gaining on her

Yeah, that's right. I got through the entire Yoga Stretches and Relaxes disc last night. And while there was quite a bit of cursing under my breath (bionic b****), I still did it. There were a few things I could not do "right," but I still did okay, I think. At one point my husband walked in talking about something else, saw me in some kind of odd position (sorry, I can't find a picture for you), stopped, and said, "Damn, woman!" So I guess I must be doing something right.