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vacation. all i ever wanted.
Aug 30th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

we went on a magical mystery tour of sorts over the past week. i’ve got a ton to say about a lot of things, but i suspect it will come over a few days, as i also planned brilliantly and have an IVIG treatment today. yep, i’ve been home a grand total of 14 hours, and i’m off to fun and frolic all over again. if you can call being hooked up to an IV for 5 hours fun and frolic. yippee.

but some of the places we went, in no particular order:

fire museum of maryland;

please touch museum (with apologies to my dear roommate from college — we didn’t quite get it together to go together for lots of reasons. major bummer.);

hersheypark, including the new Boardwalk waterpark, which was a lesson in how not to be prepared for consumer demand;

a visit to allaire state park and a ride on the train (and a personal lesson about switching tracks);

a lakewood blueclaws game;

a visit to atlantic city (where the kids accidentally walked through caesars’ casinos and we were escorted out — but all we wanted to do was go and get some taffy and take the kids to yet another rainforest cafe);

a stay in wildwood crest at a kitschy 1950s-era hotel, and;

a ride home on the cape may ferry.

and i wonder why i’m tired.

fried pepsi???
Aug 21st, 2007 by wrekehavoc

from the land of WTF:

The deep-fried Combo Plate may be a little more healthful this year at the Great Indiana State Fair. So say the fair’s leaders, who, taking a step rarely seen in the realm of corn dogs and fried pickles, have banned oils with trans fats from all the fryers that line the grounds here.

somehow, i missed the whole fry-anything-that-doesn’t-move experience. who is the genius that thought up this concept in food? i mean, fried snickers bars? fried oreos? fried pepsi??

yes, virginia. deep-fried pepsi. take pepsi-based dough, dip it into pepsi-laced batter, and deep-fry. serve it with pepsi syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. mmm, mmm. dats good eatin’. michelin would give it five stars, i’m certain.

hmm…

1) who the hell likes pepsi so much that he wants to pray at its altar and eat a dessert dedicated to its flavor? and what the hell IS pepsi flavor, anyway? someone at IFF is probably laughing all the way to the damn bank.

2) i can understand why cities and restaurants want to ban trans-fatty oils; i applaud the effort. but hell, if someone is hell-bent on eating a deep-fried ho ho, don’t you think that the oil is the least of it?

3) if vendors are bitching that they have to change the oil more often, wouldn’t that make you wonder whether they ever change it?

fair food. one guy called it a little slice of heaven. i don’t know about that, but eating it might get you there a little sooner than you’d want.

high school musical II
Aug 21st, 2007 by wrekehavoc

you know, i’ve reared my kids on the classics: the beatles, the stones, the ramones, bob marley, the white stripes… okay, the white stripes are a little too new. but still. my kids can sing along with bruce and bono… and yet BC has gone and gotten herself hooked on high school musical, which now includes the sequel.

(which, btw, just set a record as the most watched basic cable program. ever.)

tweens galore want to look like the leads. and BC, being a red-blooded american tween, adores them. especially sharpay. and mama, if you tell me sharpay is also the name of a dog [misspelled, i would add], i’m gonna scream! yes, making fun of every aspect of high school musical and it’s sequel, while akin to shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel, is a no-win proposition. they love it.

on the bright side, the kids in the movie are allegedly a lot better behaved off-screen than, say, lindsay lohan, another star who made her mark in the disney stable of stars. not that la lohan hasn’t valuably taught my daughter than drugs and alcohol a mess can make.

but sheesh. my teeth hurt from watching this treacle.

she's my pride and joy
Aug 20th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

BC entered a poem she wrote last year in 2nd grade English class in the county fair. she re-typed it (her teacher had typed up the original after she had written it, and everything had to be done by the kid, so i made her do it.) and even though our printer was on the fritz and printed the poem in lavender ink rather than black, in it went. BC didn’t think the lavender ink was a problem. my kid writes purple prose, bahahaha. (english major joke there.)

nevermind the fact that in the poem, she talks about how i’m getting ready to go to a party. like i’ve been to a party recently? one that doesn’t involve a guest of honor below the age of 10? so thanks to her poem, the greater metro area thinks i put on makeup and go out evenings, leaving my poor beleaguered spouse to fend for himself with the kids. as if.

but anyway, i’m absolutely tickled. the chick won 2nd prize — a red ribbon — for her poem. i tried to take her picture with it — five times– and she blinked. in every single photo.

yep. that’s my girl 🙂


open letter to mattel
Aug 16th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

dear mattel,

i’m sure you aren’t having a great week, what with recalls all over the place and the possibility of a really terrible financial downturn looming for you, other toy companies, toy stores, and the like. no one likes to see major companies flipping about like fish gasping for air. and right now, it’s really easy to point the finger and say BAD CHINA! there’s poison in our pet foods, poison in our people food, medicine and toothpaste, my gosh, plenty of tires are faulty, lead in baby bibs, and now this toy thing. just makes you wonder who, if any, of the residents are running the proverbial asylum, huh.

but i have to wonder how much of this you brought on yourself?

i know, i know. you did it because there was demand for it. american consumers clamor for cheap. they clamor for cool. they clamor for things, and you only want to deliver. it’s as american as ronald reagan, a guy i sometimes want to blame for these sorts of things. what does the gipper have to do with any of this, you wonder? the dude’s long been dead.

but you see, he isn’t. not really. somewhere in our history, he kicked tom joad the hell out of our collective consciousness and took up residence. see, he’s now the one who lives in every american who feels entitled to a certain lifestyle that is wildly beyond his or her means. he lives in every citizen who feels like they ought to have everything — now — and for the cheapest price possible. he lives in every person in this nation — maybe this world — who ignores the real costs of good and services in their daily lives. so what if some eight year old is working in a factory? so what if they’re putting diethylene glycol into cough medicine? if i can get lots of bling-bling at walmart for 50% less than i can at joe’s mom and pop store, man, i’m there.

so, following this ethos, you did what every american company tries to do — make a profit. nothing wrong with that, right? but who knew making a profit could get so complicated? doing business overseas — well, nothing wrong with that i suppose. cut costs because you don’t have to pay people a decent wage. [check.] then that company probably has to put the squeeze on their workers to make a profit. maybe put the squeeze on the product quality. maybe do some subcontracts with others who do things very cheaply. lead paint? no problem! [check.]

and of course, all with your consumer in mind. who are, in your case, children. often young children who are known to put things in their mouths, or ears, or up the dog’s ass, for christsake. that’s what kids do. even the most supervised child in the world will manage to do something completely insane with a toy in that one second you close your eyes to sneeze or blink. so how could you allow your designers to make toys using rare-earth magnets? these puppies, smaller and more powerful, can kill a child if s/he swallows it. period. i’m stunned.

and now, the biggie. see, you don’t have to live with my kids. but i do. and right now, between thomas the tank engine trains that were recalled, polly pockets that have just been called home, and even a barbie that my daughter has being sent away, my house is not the happiest place on earth. i just spent 2 hours with my eight year old howling. her favorite polly pocket toy has to go away. well, actually, three of them plus a barbie. but this is her absolute favorite.

and we parents, sometimes, we take toys away from our kids in an effort to teach them to behave. it’s a discipline thing, and we sometimes are in the difficult position of punishing/ teaching, our kids a lesson. only sadly, the kids are now being punished because american corporations couldn’t learn a thing or two about international commerce. i wish i could stick each and every one of you in a room right now with my screaming daughter. no food; no toilet; no way out; and one very pissed-off little girl.

it might be a lesson you’d not soon forget.

yours truly,

wreke

gifted
Aug 16th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

a friend of mine posed a question to the ed reporter in the washington post today: tell us about the gifted and talented programs in the area? i don’t know about them other than the fact that for some reason, they teach accelerated math to all of the kids in BC’s elementary school. and i’ll be interested in the answer, though how that will impact our collective lives here is another question. i’m what you call a skeptic 😉

as the parent of an 8 year old and a 4 year old, i am seriously amused at the number of people around here who think their kids are gifted. i guess we all live in a super-special lake wobegon, where everyone is not only above average but in the top second percentile. i am often amused at how agitated parents get over whether the school is providing enough intellectual stimulation for their child/ren.

i once blogged on this topic awhile back because i was just so annoyed by the never-ending onslaught of parents obsessed with the state of their particular child’s “giftedness” (for lack of a better term).

honestly, for every child i’ve met who was designated as “gifted,” i think i’ve met only two or three who truly were. and the one thing i truly fear are parents and programs who believe that if a child is gifted in one area, then the child must be accelerated in all areas. this happened to me; and while i was arguably gifted in some areas, i was just your regular sort of student in math. put in a class with folks who truly should have had accelerated experiences in math, i ended up a fearful math flunky who didn’t recover until graduate school, years later, when a professor helped me rebuild my confidence in my abilities.

i remember when a certain psychology was in vogue — past life regressions — where people would be in some sort of hypnotized state and then come out believing that their ancestor was Cleopatra, or George Washington, or someone famous. no one seemed to come out of it with ancestors who were just regular people building the pyramids or fighting in the Revolutionary War. thus it is, i think, with children around here and gifted programs. somehow, every child who is bright is suddenly dubbed gifted.

and, if you pardon my grammatical error, it just ain’t so.

at the B E A C H
Aug 15th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

it’s hot out. the tomatoes in my backyard are withering on the vines, and apparently, they’re not alone. my hair is frizzing beyond belief. even local cheese cutters are suffering. hey, we all like summer, but this one’s just a little out of control. thanks a lot, global warming!

we’re doing our part here to pretend we’re somewhere cool. a friend of mine from high school, who has been making a career as a children’s entertainer, has one particular song that my kids really, really love. i know musically that this guy and i were listening to a lot of the same stuff when we were younger, and it’s nice to see it surfacing in his work 🙂

and yes, i admit; i like the ’80s riff of it, too. and it makes us pine for the B E A C H – BEACH!

(although the very excellent guitar-playing dad to yosi’s left is creeping me out, ever so slightly 😉

my hero zero
Aug 14th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

BC is worried. BC feels that she learned math and science all in spanish last year and that she doesn’t know the english words for things. she says she knows her times tables — but only in spanish. in short, three weeks til school starts at her new school, and BC is freaking out.

no one should be freaking out as they enter 3rd grade.

part of me kicks myself for sending her to the spanish immersion elementary school. i really thought i was doing a good thing. you always hear the cases of parents availing their families to opportunities that they never had; well, this was one of them. i very much loved the idea of the school. i loved the idea, too, that my kids would be with kids of all sorts of backgrounds, not just kids of backgrounds like their own.

but unless you are either native spanish speakers; are fluent spanish speakers; or are a parent so enthused by the idea of your child going to a school where they speak spanish for one half the day that you are willing to learn spanish; then this model is somewhat flawed. my kid was essentially dependent on one child at her table, one native speaker, who could help her understand what the hell the teacher was saying (since the teacher didn’t encourage interruptions). and if that child had the audacity (yes, i’m being sarcastic here) of wanting to learn herself rather than helping other kids at the table, well, the non-spanish-speaking kid essentially is screwed.

it probably didn’t help that her spanish teacher seemed more interested in being strict than in being understood.

so my kid, who was allegedly gifted in math in kindergarten, is now telling me that she really does well in english and social studies. which, of course, happen to be the subjects that were taught in english in her school and which she liked very much. she doesn’t feel like she’s very good in math. GRRRRRRR! and this global citizen i am trying to raise is pretty dismissive of spanish. “spanish is okay learning it just as spanish,” she says, “but i really don’t want to learn a subject in it any more.”

i can’t blame her.

so this morning, i did what any crazy parent who needed to calm things down (for both of us) did. i put on multiplication rock, including my fave my hero zero (a song i will definitely cover if i ever get the chance to be in a band ;-). we sat and watched it all. and i think we’re going to watch it again and again and again. anything to help her build up her confidence. after all, it’s how i learned to memorize my times tables. (i also made up songs to some of my chemistry formulae as well, but we won’t go there right now.) she said she didn’t care much for the song for 6s, but that’s ok. she’ll learn stuff after a time. she’ll sing them loud 🙂

just like i do this in the car (another song i’d cover in my own band). yep. i can’t wait til we get back to the days when the worst thing in the world isn’t scary math but is the scary embarrassing mom who sings pearl jam at the top of her lungs. with the windows open.

hi, my name is sisyphus
Aug 13th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

i have this problem, you see. it’s not as critical as world peace, or hunger, or the state of the planet. i recognize that. but it is something that bothers me, all the same.

let me tell you about today, for example.

today, after waking, getting hellboy dressed and fed and ready for school, i got BC showered (well, she does it herself, but i’m the prodder), fed, lunch made, and carted off to gymnastics. then, i ended up at three different supermarkets. HUH, you ask? well, giant didn’t have meat or chicken that we needed, nor did it have the particular bread that BS wanted (nothing exotic, but they were out of it). i stopped then into whole foods, which had lovely meat and poultry, but still not the bread. so, off to safeway for aforementioned bread.

after putting away the groceries, i literally peeled and chopped five pounds of carrots. (i bought the 5 pound organic bag instead of the two pounder. oops.) i put the whole chicken into the oven (after preparing it, of course), followed by some carrots; i made some really wonderful carrotty-chocolate cupcakes (which sound gross but which are actually really yummy), and a really, truly vile sweet carrot salad (make only if you require a homemade emetic). oh, and i washed and cut two pounds of strawberries, too.

then, i did dishes and proceeded to pick up.

[i’ve provided a musical interlude here. otherwise, you’d be bored if i described picking things up. this seems appropriate. although i’ll also include this one, just cos i like it.]

after all of this, i was left with 45 minutes to work on my novel. which i did. but then, i had to pick up BC.

long story short, the chicken wasn’t cooked enough, the carrot salad was, as mentioned before, nasty, and i ended up scrambling eggs for the kids and eating a bowl of cereal. kid bathed; kids read to; kids in bed. there are dishes everywhere, and i feel like whatever i did today meant a whole lot of nothing.

i push the rock up the hill. and down it comes.

don’t get me wrong. i am lucky as hell that i can do this. i kiss the ground that i can do this. but there are some days when, well, i wish i were doing more for the world. like all that education and all that oomph are sort of hiding themselves under a bushel. i want to be involved in my kids’ lives, but i fear that i will start to get over-involved because i lack much of a life of my own. and there’s not much worse than an over-involved mom.

so what to do?

i guess hope the rock doesn’t crash down on my head, for starters.

are these parents 4 real?
Aug 9th, 2007 by wrekehavoc

and then there’s the story about the New Zealand parents who are mad that they cannot name their kid 4 real. since the NZ registry office won’t let them register a name with a number in it, they’re naming him the highly rational name superman instead. but they’ll stick to their guns and call him 4 real in daily life. they have chosen this name, 4 real, because when they first saw his ultrasound, they knew he was … wait for it … 4 real.

now, people should be allowed to name their offspring whatever the hell they want. but i often marvel at the names people choose for their kids. as if there’s something meaningful and important in naming your child qwerty because you conceived him while laying on a keyboard. i’m still marvelling at the popularity of the name nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backwards. its especially popular among holy rollers. but isn’t the opposite of heaven hell? is your baby the new god of hellfire?

for me, naming my children was a cultural experience. in my culture, we name our children after beloved dead people. (or, at the very least, we use their initials.) but i wanted names that i thought were beautiful, names that wouldn’t get my kids’ asses kicked on the playground. i cannot imagine what some parents are thinking when they drop names on their kids that will surely land them in therapy one day.

and those parents in NZ? well, one day, i figure the kid will do what zowie bowie did.

when zowie was about 12, he asked people to start calling him joey.


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