Thursday, May 31, 2007

Why I Love Pinatas

SpongeBob Before

SpongeBob After

For pure therapy, there's nothing quite like taking an effigy of the cartoon character who invades your household peace and beating the shit out of it. Or, in this case, letting your kids and all their cousins and neighbors beat the shit out of it. You know, I think I want a pinata for MY birthday this year...

My creative side puts in an appearance

These are rugs that I crocheted by hand, using fabric remnants and old sheets. Both measure about 24 to 30 inches in diameter, and are machine washable and dryable. Tell me, would YOU buy something like this? (I ask in earnest, as I would like to sell my wares online, just like this guy, a very talented artist whose work I enjoy.) How much would you pay for something like this?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

CrazyHead Explained

As I mentioned before, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, Subsection: Hispanic Party Regulations, I did NOT serve alcohol at my child's 3rd birthday party, nor did I hire a DJ or mariachis or even rent a moonwalk. Paying for music and a giant inflatable castle just wasn't financially feasible this year, and even if it were, I don't think I would have bothered. That's NOT how I roll. As far as not buying beer for any of my guests, I know, Manny, disgraceful to my people, but since I was raised by an alcoholic who made every holiday and occasion hell with the addition of beer or spirits available to everyone, I have refrained from inflicting the same shame upon my own daughters.

Slouchmonkey, since you're taking notes, I'll answer you as well: No, postponement doesn't really happen with a kids party, not when there's only one day when everyone who can help you is off work and so many things have to be ordered/prepared in advance, like food, the cake (which does not count as the food), 50 lbs of ice, etc., not to mention prearranged entertainment or sno-cone machine/popcorn machine/table and chair rentals. (Tangent: Do you know that you can actually hire a girl to come to your child's party dressed as a non-slutty Princess Jasmine and have her do little crafts and games with the children? This is not even the most over-the-top thing I've seen at middle class parties.)

To be fair, I wasn't expecting quite so many adults at a kid party (some of my relatives dropped in uninvited, but since they brought gifts I let it go), and I had initially planned to have everyone outside so the kids could play in the sprinklers and toss water balloons at each other. But I'll tell you one word that saved my living room from a massive pinata beatdown: CARPORT. That has saved many parties from being exclusively indoor affairs. Once the rain is not quite so torrential, a carport is your best friend. If you don't have one, then for God's sake, have a clean garage people can hang out in, preferably with a beam or hook in the center of the ceiling from which to hang that pinata.

One activity I wish we'd been able to do was Smoke Egg War. Basically, you take empty egg shells (1 inch hole on the top, washed, dried, and saved up in advance) and fill them with flour, then cover the holes with tape and crepe paper. Yes, just like Confetti Eggs, only messier. Outside, you throw the eggs on the ground (or crack them on someone's head) and let the flour get picked up by the wind and make a fake smoke. Nobody really wins, but everyone has a good time. I was looking forward to this activity, but Bizarro Dad warned me that even if it hadn't rained, Smoke Eggs + Sprinklers = T0rtillas All Over the Front Yard.

*sigh* I never get to have any fun.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just Call Me Ms. CrazyHead

Insanity is trying to jam 23 people into one living/dining room with one loveseat, one recliner, a variety of dining chairs, office chairs, and lawn chairs, 2 ice chests (no alcohol), 7 pizzas, 1 giant salad, 2 cakes, 1 dinner table, 2 little tables, 10(?) gifts, 4 kid-friendly-but-messy indoor activities, 10 party favor bags, and 1 enormous SpongeBob SquarePants pinata bigger than the birthday girl. During a rainstorm.

Thank the Maker, the next kid's birthday is not for another 6 months.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Who's a trekkie?

This is my new wallpaper. I don't care if makes me a nerd-girl, Star Trek is one of those shows that's cheesy AND awesome at the same time.
Seriously, why is it that whenever the Enterprise ever had a problem, they always referred back to the knowledge of Earth in the 19oo's? Never the 21st century, and never any time before the 20th, was there an appropriate scenario from which to extract the know-how to get out of a hostile alien situation. Bazookas may have been a product of the 19oo's (and even that's debatable, because what is a bazooka if not a hand-held cannon?), but gun powder wasn't invented in the 20th century, Captain, so can we see you giving the ancient Chinese some credit? Hmm? Oh well. I suppose I should be grateful that space-captains of the future will have studied the century I was born in so well that they can concoct the same weapons Schwarzenegger used out of rocks. Now if only we can get them to distract the aliens with that song "Inna-Gotta-Da-Vida." Now THAT is some ingenuity.
If this post makes no sense, it's because I'm drinking coffee for the first time in 12 years. I hate it! It sucks! But I'm awake! Quick, gimme a broom and dustpan, before the caffeine high goes away!
Thanks to N for the recommendation and especially thanks to The Echosphere Webmistress for concocting these posters.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wrap it up

So today I'm watching Everyday Food on PBS, and there's a recipe for Southwestern Chicken Wraps.

Yeah. Because in the southwest, they call chicken, beans, tomato, and avocado on a tortilla a "wrap."

It's a taco, bitch. It has always been a taco, it always will be a taco, and no amount of white-lady influence will ever make it anything else but a taco, not even the use of whole-wheat tortillas. The only thing that makes it something other than a taco is the method you used to wrap it up. Now it's a burrito.

The only good things I can say about this are that the chef didn't pronounce tortilla like "tor-TILL-ee-ah" and that the overall food seemed like it would taste good.

Wraps indeed. Damn Martha Stewart productions...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Questions for the Readers

Okay, ladies and gents, it's time for you to settle an argument. (Not a serious one, mind you, but one that's annoying me.)

If a husband, after getting off work at midnight, stays out until 2:00 AM and doesn't call (he usually does, just not this time), does that man have a right to tell his wife, when she's going to her best friend's house, not to come home at an "ungodly hour" (which he then defines as "midnight or something"). Even if the best friend lives around the corner? Does the answer change if alcohol is involved (which it wasn't in either case, but I'm just saying)?

As a side question, when there is concern over a local pervert running around quietly breaking into houses and exposing himself to children, is there a difference between a man leaving his kids home alone late at night with only their mother there and a woman leaving her kids home with only their father there? Does the lateness of hour make a difference? Does it matter if there are guns in the house? Does it make a difference if one spouse is more proficient with firearms than the other?

And for the record, I didn't stay out past 11:00, my husband is a police academy cadet, not a wimp or a fraidy cat, and his brother the police officer was here, too. Also, how is it that I can get the kids pajama-ed and in bed by bedtime, but my husband doesn't even know how to get them in their room?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In Which Mama Tells Off a Network

Dear ABC,

I realize that it's become much harder to keep the masses focused on you now that cable TV is so cheap and families like mine would rather watch home makeover shows on HGTV or that docu-drama about those fishermen on Discovery or CSI reruns on the Spike channel. That, apparently, is very difficult programming to compete with. Clearly this must be the case, or you would not have to work so hard to keep coming up with new, brilliant shows to entice viewers.

But seriously, whichever executives are in charge of that "coming up with new shows" need to be fired, because, well, Cavemen. First of all, the premise is one that cannot be sustained for an entire half hour. It only works in the short, Geico-commercial-length increments because if the joke goes on any longer it just gets old and annoying. And second, the clip you have up on your website? Crap. It is just crap. I suppose you think you're making social commentary on race relations, but dude, did you seriously just say that black people are essentially like cavemen? How are you expecting this to go well for you? This show will never make it, and you will have wasted all that money on make-up and prostheses.

Private Practice, your spin-off of Grey's Anatomy, is going to get some viewers because you are intentionally creating buzz about it (don't think I don't know it's you). But soon people will realize that they don't give a rat's ass and go back to watching Criminal Minds on that other network, or whatever the hell is on Fox that night. There has to be a reason that none of Tim Daly's shows since Wings (which was cancelled 10 YEARS AGO) have gone on to do more than 13 episodes. And excuse me, but if you can't even keep me hooked on Grey's Anatomy itself with all their oversexed shenanigans, how do you expect me to give a crap about what Tim Daly and Taye Diggs do with one of the characters from Grey's Anatomy?

Big Shots is a new show I've heard absolutely nothing about other than its cast and basic premise (which, by the way, sounds weak; it's not like all the other shows about four close friends/siblings have done very well or are looking too good). I am willing to check it out once, but only because it has Michael Vartan in it. But the I have to warn you, you have very stiff competition on Thursday nights, what with Smallville and Supernatural leading into the early news, not to mention Without A Trace and ER competing in the same time slot. Besides, nobody wants to stay up until 11 to watch a show they aren't that excited about. We're all just too damn tired.

Also in need of firing are the absolute morons who have convinced you that anyone still watches or even cares about The Bachelor. Got it, monkey boys? NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ANYMORE. We don't watch it, we don't like hearing about it on the entertainment segment of the local news, we don't care where any of the contestants came from, we aren't "rooting" for someone in particular, we don't even watch the freaking COMMERCIALS that are on during that time slot. This is no longer an interesting social experiment. At this point it is just pandering. It sucks and I hate it. It was "five minutes ago" back in 2005, if not earlier. Get. It. Off. Your. Lineup.

Also? I don't care for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition anymore. I have an entire channel devoted to that sort of thing, and none of those shows force everyone to use Kenmore appliances, nor are they being sued by orphans. I will admit that some of the shows on HGTV are hosted by and/or feature pretentious assholes, but at least they give you actual TIPS on how to improve your own home on a realistic budget, and they don't do things to a house that the family will eventually grow out of and find impossible to replace without causing structural damage. Oh, and none of the HGTV landscapers are stupid enough to plant an OAK TREE right next to the FOUNDATION OF THE HOUSE. Why do you do it, ABC? Why do you hire idiot landscapers who don't take structural integrity into account during the planning phase? Have none of your people ever heard of a root bed? When that happened I'd never even SEEN a big-budget home makeover show before, yet I knew that was a stupid thing to do. I'm certainly glad that you've helped so many people, but if this is something you want to continue doing, then I strongly suggest you make some alterations to your staff and hire more people who know what they're doing. For the love of crap...

Thank you for keeping Ugly Betty on the air. I'm looking forward to the finale, and I really hope y'all do more to advance the story. Also, take a cue from the tele-novella you've used as your source material and have an ending for the series in mind. The problem with most dramas (and even some comedies) is that they have this story arc going on, but they don't really have an ending for the show. You can't properly tell a story if you don't have an ending. This isn't The Simpsons or Diagnosis Murder, in which you can just make up any old plot for any day and not worry about it having an impact on future episodes or how the show will eventually end. Get in your head now how you want this story to play out and how much time you think you'll need, whether it's another two years or longer. You don't want your premise to get old because the story is not moving along, and you don't want your story to suffer because your writers don't know where they're supposed to be going with this. Everything has an end. Figure out how to get there and you'll have a winner on your hands.

And for God's sake, give Victor Garber something better to do than wait around until it's time for mid-season replacements. The man is a freaking genius, WHY DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!?! How can you keep the SPY DADDY sitting on a SHELF!? Have you no memory of the Bristow Death Glare? The Bristow Elbow? The Guy Who Can Wear a White Linen Suit Without Looking Stupid? The Man Who Goes Through Potential Sons-In-Law Like Weed Eaters Go Through Crab Grass? Show some respect! HE DESERVES BETTER THAN A MID-SEASON REPLACEMENT SHOW!

That is all. For now.

Sleepless Mama
a.k.a. Miss Never Wrong About This Kind Of Thing

Monday, May 14, 2007

Blessing or curse?

Last week my mother told me that if she ever has heart failure, she does NOT want a pacemaker installed. Especially not one with a defibrillator.

Her father, my grandpa, is in ICU right now. His lungs keep filling up with fluid and his kidneys are failing, so his heart has to work ridiculously hard to keep the blood flowing. It's so painful just to breathe that the nurses are keeping him sedated. He has all these medications and fluids and tubes and inserts and oxygen masks and goodness knows what else. If we take him off, he won't die quickly, but will suffer for several weeks, so that's not an option.

When he had his stroke (was it last month?), the only thing that kept him from dying was the defib in his pacemaker, which he had installed after a previous stroke several years ago. It sent a series of shocks to his heart because it detected that the heartrate fell below some predetermined number. My grandfather was being electrocuted from inside his own body, and it kept him alive. Which would have made us happy, I guess, were it not for his near-constant pleas for death for the last year. Even as I sat in the hospital watching him drown, one of the nurses looked up at the monitor and said "Oh, that red light means his pacemaker is doing something."

I am sure he was very happy for the extra five years his pacemaker gave him right. He was able to live long enough to walk again and see both my children and enjoy their laughter. But now, after this stroke, he can't remember who my kids are, nor can he move his leg or remember how to speak English. This most recent stroke was so bad, he has reverted back almost completely to Spanish, his language of comfort. Not an uncommon phenomenon, but seeing as he did not allow his children to learn Spanish when they were little, they now cannot translate for him when he speaks to his white and Asian doctors. Grandma simply refuses to visit him and translate for him anymore (let's just call it a prior grudge), so Grandfather is surrounded by people who can't understand him. Not that it matters much now, seeing as he's unresponsive to anything, even when you shout in his ear.

My mother seems to be in denial about his condition. She tells me that the machines he's on are "just giving him a little help." It is true that taking him off dialysis won't kill him immediately, but she has this idea that he will walk again and come home eventually. Since she's the one who's usually talking to all the doctors, I would think she'd know better than all of us that this stroke was too severe. True, she has seen her father come back from death's door and walk again. But why does she think that will happen every time?

For the last few years, whenever Grandpa told her he wanted to die already, she'd get mad and tell him off. I don't know what arguments she used against him, but it probably involved all those doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who worked so hard to keep him alive. She told me he was just saying he wanted death and not admitting he's really scared to die, but I think he might know more about that than she does. Does she really think he would rather be trapped in his own body than dead and free of this pain?

I don't want to see my parents like this, with bleeding bed sores and catheters and swollen yellow bodies and no clue who I am. I want my mom to live long enough to really know her granddaughters, and for them to know her, but at what point do you say "Sorry Mom, but now you're just existing for the sake of existence"? I wonder, will I ever be faced with carrying out my mother's wishes? Will I have a doctor thrusting a form at me and saying "Do you want your mom to live or die?" and another one saying "What about her quality of life?"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Time Capsule

25 Years Ago

I drove a car that looked like this:

I was three and a half. One of my mom's brother's had died right before my birthday, so when she had my brother, she gave him my uncle's name as a middle name. True to family tradition, nobody ever called my brother by his first name or middle name, and instead called him something else entirely: "Bub." By this time 25 years ago, my brother was two and a half months old and was already a better baby than I ever was. He was what Mom called a "sleeping baby." Very quiet, always asleep, not colicky and fussy like I was. I'm glad he was such a good baby, because I would have hated for my mother to have TWO babies who cried for 24 hours straight. She would have gone even crazier than she already was.

I have very few memories from this age. I do remember my 3rd birthday party. It was a costume party (my birthday is in October), and I was Minnie Mouse. The tail hurt my butt. I remember, at some point, standing in a doorway and looking at my mother in the kitchen, asking her when I was going to turn 4. Once I translated my brother's baby-speak into English for my Dad. And I even recall my mother getting upset with me because, when she asked me to grab several diapers for her as we were leaving, I didn't know how many "several" was and had to ask. I don't think she was upset that I didn't know; she was just in a hurry, and she didn't want to have to try to explain something as she was backing out of the door and down the steps with a heavy carrier in her hands.

That year, my parents would separate and, if memory serves, divorce. I did not understand why my father could not be with me anymore, and I cried for him all the time. I have never ever forgotten that pain, not even during the times I have lived with him. It is burned on my soul.

10 Years Ago

I drove a grey car just like this:

I was 18, in my senior year of high school, and had been living with my dad for three years. It had been over a year since my baptism into a religion different from that of my parents. I was engaged to a young man who, at the time, was serving a mission for our church. Yes, I said "engaged." He got on his knees and proposed and everything. My readers know him as Notorious D.I.C. At this time I was involved in Honor Society, JV soccer, calculus study sessions (in prep for the Advanced Placement exam), college credit English class, 5:30 AM seminary class, and other stuff I don't remember anymore. At church I spent two hours every Sunday as a Nursery assistant (I don't know who I was supposed to be assisting, since there was no Nursery leader to speak of, just me and whoever volunteered to help that day). Most nights I didn't sleep at all, staying awake to chisel at the mountain of homework or work on scholarship essays and college applications. I also spent a fair amount of time writing to and calling(!) my boyfriend.
During this time I was in and out of depression. I know, I know, how could I function while depressed? It's fairly simple, really: habit. I had been depressed since, as you see above, the age of 3. It was second nature, although it certainly didn't make my daily tasks any easier. I was driven to succeed in school, but sometimes I would burst into tears or faint without warning. During a practice AP exam, I had terrible back spasms. My calc teacher urged me to stop the test and just go home, but I insisted on taking the test, pain and all. I had to lie flat on the classroom floor, and I cried whenever I moved. When I finally left school and drove myself home, nobody was there. I called my boyfriend's mother, and she drove me to Minor Emergency Care. She remains my friend to this day.

That year I avoided prom (I thought it would make my boyfriend happy), I graduated magna cum laude, and I was accepted to the school of my choice. That year I spent a lot of time wondering if my boyfriend actually loved me, and whether I still loved him, and what this meant to my future. That year I wanted to just die a few dozen times, but I always woke up in the morning, and I just kept on going. I didn't know any other way to be. Prayer maybe kept me from going over the edge, but it didn't keep me off that edge, no matter how hard I prayed.

The following year, my mother would remarry. I did not like her husband very much, as he was obviously a terrible alcoholic and had no job. But then Mom always had poor taste in boyfriends, and since I was living in another city by then and no longer had to live daily with her chosen companion, it didn't much matter to me who she married, so long as she wasn't getting abused.

5 Years Ago

I drove a car just like this:

Five years ago I was living in Jacksonville, NC, celebrating the second anniversary of my marriage to PFC Bizarro Dad. We had an infant daugther (Gina), a house on base that had been built during the Korean War era, and a brand new washer and dryer bought with my husband's first and only Christmas bonus. It wasn't too bad, being a military wife. Even with a baby, life was much calmer than it had ever been. My husband was non-deployable, so I didn't really have it as hard as some of the other wives. I was pretty happy, actually, despite being poor.

It was during this year that my husband's grandfather, the man who raised him, took him out looking for produce boxes to sell back to grocery stores, bought him pecan rolls, and taught him the proper use and handling of a machete, passed away. We were able to get emergency leave and fly down to Houston for the funeral. There was a very big fuss at the viewing, I remember, because Grandpa had been living with one of his daughters (Aunt Margie the drug addict), and she kept changing the story of how, and even when, he died. She had not allowed an autopsy. We were all suspicious (she'd tried to give him a deliberate medication overdose in the past), but I remained polite to Margie, and Bizarro Dad and I both spoke at the funeral. Margie had sold Grandpa's house out from under him and taken all his money, but she had just enough ethics (and perhaps not enough of an eye for antiques) to give my husband his grandfather's pocket watch. It is over a hundred years old, and the little cogs are exquisitely engraved. Grandpa, my husband remembers, would often take the watch to a jeweler to have the battery replaced. They'd certainly charge him money, but the battery never kept working. Upon receiving the watch, my husband took it to an expert watchmaker to have it examined. The watchmaker told us, among other things, that this watch had no battery, and needed to be wound daily.

It was either this year or the next (my memory is hazy) that my own grandfather would have a stroke, forever changing my mother's priorities and forcing my grandmother to care for my grandpa in a whole new way. This, while very sad, did not seem to have a daily impact on my life six states away. I felt bad for my family, and I prayed for them, but I could not just pick up and move back to Texas with a baby and leave my husband stationed in NC. In this respect, I was now different from all my ancestors, who took care of their parents and grandparents at all costs.

1 Year Ago

I drove (and still drive) a van like this:

By this time our family was living in Houston again, with my dad. Also living with us at the time was my husband's brother, J the Irresponsible. We were gearing up for my second child's second birthday, but we didn't much feel like having a party. Instead, we bought a very nice "rock climber" playground set, the type of thing you get from Toys R Us and have to figure out how to haul back home (even with an empty van, I still had to discard the box in the parking lot just to make all the parts fit my vehicle), then put together yourself with only a screwdriver. Good thing the kids loved it.
One year ago, my grandfather was still in and out of the hospital (fluid kept building up in his lungs because he didn't understand the term "salt-free diet"). My mother was living with her parents to take care of them and herself. In fact, by that time my mom had been sober for nearly two and a half years. She was also very sick (a liver virus) and taking weekly injections. At this time she was a widow, her own husband having quite literally drank himself to an early grave the year before. (This is not why Mom quit drinking, so don't think she learned a noble lesson from a personal loss. Mom quit drinking because the judge said she had to after she drove her van into somebody's house on Christmas Eve one year. Her husband simply would not join her in quitting, despite the doctor's warning that he'd die in a year if he didn't give up alcohol. Doctors are a lot smarter than drunks think they are.)
My husband's Aunt Margie died of a drug overdose. She was 46, and her teenage granddaughter was about to have a baby. Yeah, you read that right. If she hadn't been so stupid, Aunt Margie would have been a great-grandmother before the age of 50.
Nothing too special was happening in my own life. I was doing Cub Scouts at church, but I only had one boy to work with. I was always pissed off at my brother-in-law for not mowing the lawn or leaving a mess or playing X-Box all day instead of getting a damn job or bringing porn in the house or systematically staining and/or tearing up the floor in his bedroom. I was pissed at my own brother for leaving a dozen boxes of stuff for me to pack up and store in our already crowded garage. Everybody was still pissed at my mother-in-law for not doing anything to discipline her youngest daughter. I was pissed at my husband for ignoring me and the kids in favor of his own video games, and for not coming down harder on his brother for things that were obviously way over the line, and for allowing his brother to stay in our house way longer than he promised me in the first place, just because their older sister didn't want him in her house anymore. I was also pissed because I'd been sharing a bedroom with my children for a year instead of having my own room (before J came to live with us, my own brother had lived with us for nearly a year), and the only adults in the house not having sex were the ones who were actually married to each other. (J, what with the porn and the wife living way over in California, was obviously having sex with himself.) My mother was pissed at my husband and my brother-in-law for not doing more to help my father with the yardwork (we have very large yards in this area, and since my mother and her parents live across the street from my house, Mom sees all.) My dad was pissed that J was leaving messes, and that he was leaving Dad's clean clothes lying on top of random stuff in the dirty garage instead of just taking 10 extra seconds to bring it in the house. My husband was pissed that my dad was giving me a hard time about J and that I was giving him, Bizarro Dad, such a hard time about J, and he was also pissed at his brother for leaving our DVDs out of the case and lying on the floor, and for hogging the X-Box (my husband is the one who paid for the stupid thing, and my husband was the one with a job). I was also pissed about J's stupid dog, who pissed and pooped everywhere and on anything, and who was essentially locked in J's room all day long whenever J did finally get a freaking job.
So basically, everyone was pissed about everything a year ago. Now we're pissed about different things, but at least J's gone, the husband and I do have our own bedroom, and no one else that I didn't give birth to is coming to live here.
That's life, I guess. Kind of sucks, doesn't it? But at least I have the kids to make me smile.