Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Way Back Machine

Peabody here, with my boy Sherman.

Hi ya folks! Gee Mr. Peabody, what are we going to do today?

Today? puffs a few rings out of his pipe. Today my boy, we are going to travel back in time to see...Interrupting, waving his arms excitedly,"To see the beginnings of the American revolution in 1776?"

"No." Peabody looks placid but annoyed.

"To visit Paris, France at the time of the building of the Lourve?"

"No." Raises eyebrows, feeling fatigued.

"To ancient China to watch as they invented gun powder?"
"No." sighs deeply and puffs a few times on pipe.

"Well Gosh Mr. Peabody, what are we going to see?"

"We are going back just to the year 1999."

"The year 1999? But I was born then. There will be a time cross inconsistency. You might erase me from existence if I'm at two places in one time."

"Sherman. Come here."

"Yes Mr. Peabody?"

"I don't know if anyone has broken the news to you, but you are a cartoon figure. You were born around 1966 and you haven't been any age but ten ever since."



"So what are we doing in the year 1999? Watching the Y2K that wasn't?"


"Investing in Enron, Ebay or Google?"

"No, that would be securities fraud. Time travel monitors frown on that sort of thing."

"Partying like it's 1999 and telling Prince not to bother changing his name?"

"No. Today we are going to see what life was like for a struggling writer when she only had four children."

"You mean she's got writer's block and she couldn't think of anything orriginal to say today for her blog?"

"How very perceptive you are Sherman. Have a cookie." Pats Sherman on the head. Sherman eats cookie, "Where'd you get that?"

Peabody narrating.

Operating the Way back machine is simple enough. I adjusted the controls and we were off, to a townhome in Derwood, Maryland, where a woman with four children, sat staring at her computer, waiting for inspiration.

Me: "How did you get in here? I didn't open the door."

Peabody: "We have traveled from the future."

Sheman: "2008 to be precise."

Me: "You have a time machine and you only go back nine years? and why?"

Peabody: "Because your future self is stuck and can't think of anything to write, we thought you might be able to help."

Me: "She does huh? She's still writing?"
Sherman pipes up. "Yes, she's got a bl---"Peabody grabs Sherman, covering his mouth, whispering "We can't reveal too much about the future my boy, the consequences could be disasterous. Either she can or she can't help."
Sherman: "Right! By the way, you have dog breath."

Me: "You know I'm right here in the same room. I can hear everything you're saying in that solliloquy Shakespeare."

Peabody, producing an atomizer and puffing his mouth to freshen up. "Then you know we simply need your help."

Sherman: "How did you do that?"

Peabody: "Hmm? Oh. I'm a cartoon character, I can produce anything, except an actual thing."

Sherman: "Oh." doing some hard thinking.

Me: "Well, you're in luck, I have a piece here, I just finished it. I think it's pretty funny."

Peabody narrating again, "Grabbing the disc, we hightailed it out of the year 1999 and back to our own comfortable living room of 2008."

Sherman: "I don't get it Mr. Peabody. I mean, we did that trip and I don't see any new entry from the year 1999."

Peabody, looking frustrated, "That's because the technology of today is too advanced to read this primitive floppy. We'll have to dig through her records and find a paper copy. Back to the Wayback machine my boy!"

Setting the controls, I decided to avoid another visit with our would be authoress and head straight to her basement of her then new home, there stacked five boxes up and three boxeds deep and ten rows wide, were papers.

Sherman: "My goodness. Doesn't she throw anything out?"

Peabody: "She will tomorrow Sherman, that's why we're here today. She's called 1800 Got Junk and we have 24 hours to find that story or it's lost for the ages."

Sifting through the papers and not a few paper cuts, we found copies of old high school programs for Dracula, The Skin of Our Teeth and Hello Dolly. We also found diaries dating back to 4th grade, every spiral notebook from college and an entire six boxes of lesson plans from three years of teaching.

Sherman: "We'll never find it."

Peabody, "We've got to...and it would help if you kept going through boxes instead of stopping everytime you find a comic book." snatching one out of his hands.

Sherman: "But that's the Xmen one where Storm gets a Mohawk. It's a collector's item."

Peabody: "Be that as it may Sherman, we are here..."

Me: "Hey? What are you two doing here again?"

Peabody: "My apologies, you see, the disc you gave us isn't readable by modern standard equipment."

Me: "You can travel through time and you can't read a floppy?"

Peabody:"I admit, it is a bit ironic. Anyway, we need a hard copy of a story about your children that's funny for tomorrow's blog entry. Do you have one?"Me: "Sure."

Opening the second to last box, Sherry rifled through the papers quickly, producing a three page story and a spiral notebook.

Me: "These should last for a few entrees anyway. Have fun."

Returning home once again, we handed the papers off to the real time Sherry and went back to our home for a well earned rest.

Sherman: "In all that running around, I didn't even get to see the story."
Peabody: "All in good time Sherman my boy, all in good time."
Sherman: "But why run it now?"

Peabody: "Because as any officinado of Sherry knows, the best Sherry is always allowed to age, before it's consumed." pouring himself a glass. Sputtering, "Sherman, what are you doing?"

Sheman is sporting Tom Cruise sunglasses, a mohawk, a motorcycle, guzzling a beer and smoking a huge cigar, "I'm taking a vacation and going cross country!" Wonderwoman is riding on the back of his bike. She giggles. He cranks the AC-DC CD on his sweet ride and vrooms out the door. "Asta La Veesta Baby!"

Tune in tomorrow for the actual episode, the uncovered story on a very old floppy.

In loving tribute to all things Moose and Squirrel related, for more humor, puns and assorted mayhem that hasn't been tossed in the landfills of history, try!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And Now, A Dog and Pony Show!

My blog is up for review at which means we have extra visitors this week.

The complaint has arisen amongst the reviewed and the reviewers that no one checks the archives to see if a blog is consistently funny.

There are two theories to being evaluated.

1) Time to be reviewed, get gussied up, put on your best lesson plan and hope it dazzles.

2) Time to be reviewed, do what you always do, and be praised or damned for what you do normally.

Now, when I was a teacher, I fell into the second category. As a parent, I have come to appreciate the first. We want the dog and pony show, even if we know, that's exactly what it is. One of my favorite quotes is, "If this is the best there is, then boy are we in trouble." It applies to blue ribbon schools, television shows, political candidates....

Thus as a service to all those out there who want to know if Chocolate for Your Brain! can dish out consistent comedy, I commend to you, the best of...I'm giving you the titles, you'll have to click on them to enjoy! It's like getting the guide to the inside of a box of Chocolates. You know exactly what you're going to get. I promise no jelly filled ones.

Yes, I even dressed up for this one. I put on makeup this morning because appearances matter.

In the Archives. This blog started back in late October, I formally launched it --let friends know and spammed out messages November 4th of 2007.

October and November Selections:

Start with First Impressions, it reveals who I am and why I write, something people who review these things sometimes want to know.

Higher Concepts of Math and Me for those who have older kids, will amuse anyone who has had to help with homework.

Game Boy or X Box Live deals with teaching children laundry and Game Show addresses the vexing question, Name that Sound! A child is in the other room. You hear a noise. Run? or Ignore.

December Selections:

Yes, I did seasonal stuff, Sauce for the Goose is a worthy contender, as is The Real Christmas Fruit Cake and Why We have an Artificial Tree.

January Offerings:

Stand Up! Waiting for Mensa to Call and Man Shop! Get my votes, along with 50 Something Betters for rounding out your reading pleasure.

Of course, the other stuff is equally stunning. Some of it is even more fun than LOLcats doing the tango over Niagra Falls. (I don't think there is such a shot yet so if you hurry, you can own that Two that work in tandem are Potty Wars and Cold Potty Wars, and for more toddler mischief writ large, try the Adventures of Contrary Boy and She Who Would Be Two, or Pillow Talk!

If Political stuff is your cup of tea, check out Hillary's Family Tree and Cheers for Iowa! and Richard Blane for President is coming next week. Timely satire includes Law and Order in the Food Court from the archives, and Having a You TubeMoment.

And there you have it, a few pieces with nuts, some with fruits, and some truffles and caramels to round the whole thing out. And you can eat it all up without any guilt whatsoever, and all before Valentine's Day.

Happy Reviewing! As for the rest of you, I'm still a mom. Sometimes, you get leftovers.

for more humor that's not warmed over or fresh from the microwave, try!

Now What?

Today, I made the A team.

I had the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer moment "I'm Cute. I'm Cute...they said I'm Cute!"

It took 41 years but I did it.

After multiple After school ABC special worthy auditions to volley ball, high school musicals and college dance troops and bands, where I always wondered when I was put in the chorus or on the b-team if they were just having pity on me, today I made the cut. I'm doing standup comedy in front of 400 humor writers in Dayton, Ohio at the close of the Erma Bombeck workshop. 34 brave souls auditioned. 12 will perform.

I'm first.

Suddenly, that bench warming spot is looking very comforting.

It's not that I'm afraid of public speaking. Speaking my mind has never been much of a problem. I'm afraid I'll bomb.

You see, every time I write a piece, the instant it's polished and published, I have three seconds of peace and then the nags begin.

That was a good piece.
What if that's the last funny I ever write?
What if there is no more in the tank?

Oh No!

And then I get to reading and obsessing and following my toddlers around writing terrible first drafts about the fight they're having over two wooden blocks and who gets to stare at the cereal box while they eat.

I've pointed out that neither of them can read but this never seems to matter much.

Six half sputter starts later, I'll throw the notebook into my huge bag of must come everywhere with me stuff and call my husband about the dry spell.

“Sherry, you just got a piece accepted yesterday.”
“Yes, but I haven't written anything today!”

Now my husband is a very patient man. He has a variety of tricks for handling my roller coaster response to success and failure.

When I complain because I got rejected for example:
"Well, I guess it wasn't what they were looking for, maybe it needed more work."

"What? It was wonderful! I proofed it. I vetted it. It got good responses. That's it, I'm submitting it again and they'll be sorry."

Other times, he uses reverse psychology.

"You're right, you'll never write something that funny again."
"How do you know?"
"You just said so."
"No. I won't write like that again. I'll write something even better. You'll see."

When he's busy and I pull this stunt, he has an emergency escape button. "I'll bring home two Chocolate! Chocolate! truffles. (It's a store on the base floor of his office building)." This mollifies me instantaneously.
“Thanks sweetie, I’ll call you later. Sorry to bother you.”

Finally, he has a trump card. "Why don't you let me read it?"

Nothing makes me edit better or faster than knowing He's going to read my stuff. It’s like my writing is getting ready for a date with his brain. I have to primp before I can show it.

Except I've never done stand up.

I tried telling him the routine over the phone. This was a bad idea.
After five minutes of talking and hearing the sound of fingers clicking away at the computer sound an awful lot like crickets chirping, I told him, I'd call back later.

In his defense, he Was working.

So I hijacked my kids for an instant audience.
Little did I know, I'd just signed on the three judges of American Idol.

Would be Simon: "I'm very surprised, I almost laughed." I think it's revenge for my critique of his English paper last week.

Paula Wantabe: "It was wonderful. What are you going to wear?" She began bringing me sparkly things.

Randy and the Dawg Pound: Started making up their own material, ignored me completely.

But I'm not discouraged. At 41, there are precious few things one gets the opportunity to do that are "cool" that do not involve:

1) an outlay of serious cash to cover medical expenses,
2) breaking the law,
3) engaging in self denial.

April 5th in Dayton, Ohio. Mark your calendars. I may need a few more Chocolates for this one.
for possibly less neurotic doses of humor than this one, try!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Now a days, every rental car has one of these Tom Toms or Guardians that is designed to eliminate the age eternal battle that goes on between the driver and the designated draftee navigator. With one of these babies on board, you can Tom Tom Cruise to your destination, and no wacky side trips to Oprah's couch are necessary.

Thanks to GPS's, these conversations are a thing of the past.

"Where are we going?"
"To your brother's house."

"Where do I turn?"
"You go North."

"No. Where do I turn."
"You don't turn for another forty minutes. Just go north."

"Where do I TURN?"
Sigh. "You turn right."

"Which exit?"

Getting out the map, the subbordinate counts the exits. "I think it's sixteen."

"You THINK? or you KNOW?" Takes map, in two seconds, "It's here." Points at map, is dead on, "Number 18. I thought so."

"If you knew..."

The conversation reads more like a defendant's interrogation in a bad law show than a dialogue between two people who would willingly consent to be in the same vehicle.

GPS's have helped lower the collective blood pressure of couples everywhere. Bliss is just a button push away. The disembodied voice supplies the information, no one gets mad and the machine never says, "I told you to turn left at the Exxon station exit but you..." A whole venue for passive aggression has been nearly universally eliminated from the emotional landscape of America. Dr. Phil has taken to trolling area hospitals for Brittany Spears melt downs, as the number of couples in marital trouble have dropped procipitously.

People listen to GPS's. The GPS's tell them where to go. The GPS's tell them what to do. The people do what the GPS says.

...I want to be a GPS.

Then I realized, for my family. I am the GPS or rather, the MPS. (Maternal Property Seeker).

Currently, I am the chief finder of all objects big and small, important and profound, paper and plastic. Mom is the great refuge for those unwilling to search or unable to find their important papers, toys, uniform pieces and necessary accessories.

Tom Tom, meet Mom Mom.

"Mom! Mom! I can't find my knitting!" Daughter is learning to sew in art class, currently making a hat or maybe a yellow tribble, she hasn't made up her mind.

"You left it in the TV room on the bookshelf near the top. Your library books on Copernicus were under it."

"Oh yeah."

"Mom! Mom! I can't find my silver shoes and I wanted to wear them to Christine's Princess Party this afternoon."

"I think I saw your younger sister wearing one of them in the study, so check under the blankets she left there as a tent, and the other one is in the far right pocket of the pool table, under the eight ball."

"Mom! Mom! I can't find my cell phone! I tried calling it but I put it on vibrate for Church this morning and..."

"Your phone is in our bathroom charging. You left it in my car when you brought in the doughnuts."

Mom-Mom can beat Tom-Tom most days. Most clients are satisfied with the speed and accuracy of information an MPS can provide. Testimonials include locating the Cub Scout manual and hat, the remaining box of diaper wipes, a set of car keys, two basketball uniforms, the science review sheet, socks, six shoes, a hair brush, nail clippers and a wallet all in one day.

Further investigation proves that MPS has only had one customer complaint.

Mom-Mom was completely ineffective when Sherry lost her purse.

Moon Woman Speaketh

Some day, when aliens land on Earth, the president will have need of me.

I know it seems odd that a mother of eight children would have found the time to master an alien language without formal training at some university, but it seems I have somehow acquired this gift gratis. I know, because sometimes, I have spoken to my children in what I perceived to be plain English, asking them to get dressed in the morning, or at night, to sit at the table, to put away their clothing, pack up their back packs, and turn off lights and these simple normal every day actions go undone.

Sometimes, even as I have been speaking, “Don’t hit your sister!” and the child is looking at me, he or she chooses to still punch with abandon as if I said nothing. I can say “No! No! No! No! No!” and it avails me naught.

Since I know my children are intelligent, and that they are generally good kids, I can only conclude the fault is mine. I must somehow not be making myself clear. Thus I have determined that unconsciously, occasionally, I slip into some weird “moon man language,” which my children are unable to decipher.

Moon man language sounds to the adult ear, like English, but apparently conveys either no meaning, or the opposite of the speaker’s intent. For example, “We’re having dinner soon.” translates as far as I can tell to “Please help your self to a soda, an ice cream and a few pieces of left over fried chicken right now.” “We have to run an errand. I need you to get in the car.” means “Find a secret shelter immediately, remove your shoes and if possible, lose them. Make no sound and hope the danger passes by.”

“Clean your room.” elicits an aggressive response, that I think means what they hear is, “I have come to kill your dreams and destroy your future. Flee if you would live.”

I am working on the reverse orders, but so far have had no luck in actively initiating my fluency in Moon Man. “Have a snack.” does not have a corresponding translation. Neither does, “You can watch TV.” nor “Does anyone want pizza for dinner?”

To begin to master Moon man for that eventual day when the commander in chief calls, I practice. Since I can’t control when I begin speaking, I have to create situations that will allow the talent to flower. One method I have found successful, is to actually choose to speak gibberish to my children when they are peppering me with questions.
“What’s for dinner?” a child asks as he grabs an apple.

“Repast for thine evening’s pleasure is perchance a fowl most pleasant, roasted with gracious loving care and infused in a honey soy emulsified marinade to create a mahogany sweet and salty outer crust, served with wild grains that have been softened by a chemical reaction with evaporated H20, and fresh stalks of brocollini, prepared in the same manner, with pasteurized juices brought forth from a bovine as your beverage.”


“Chicken, broccoli and brown rice. Milk to drink.”
“Cool, Mom.”

“Set the table please.”
“I’m going next door to see if I can walk Mr. Chips for the Browns. Be back in five.”

Hmmm. Set the table meant walk a dog. I think I’ll start a book of useful phrases.

I wonder how take me to your leader would translate? Probably something like “Please turn on the tv and watch until your brains ooze out.”

for humor that almost never gets lost in translation, try

Thursday, January 24, 2008

50 Something Betters

Everyone who has ever seen Steve Martin's Roxanne, has seen the riff where he gives the bar 50 something betters on how to insult his nose. In my own life, the equivalent of "Hey Big Nose!" is "You have HOW MANY?" and even better, "Why?"

50. We keep hoping for twins but so far that hasn't worked out.

49. We were trying to even up the team. (5 girls, 3 boys).

48. Meet my retirement plan, I'm staying with each of them for six weeks out of the year.

47. Catholic with a capital C.

46. Gilbreths: 12 kids, Nobel Prize winner of Economics, multiple geniuses, published authors, Von Traps: Seven, Broadway show and Musical Movie about story has made bazillions. Osmonds (6). Singing, Fame, Fortune and perfect teeth. Hughes: 6, youngest is a Olympic gold medalist, Kennedy's 9, President, would be President, Senator, etc.,


45. I lost count after six.

44. We wanted to justify our SUV.

43. Creating my own voting block for when I run for President.

42. I now have plenty of excuses if my high school fantasy dream job which it will and it should (Dancer from "Cats") goes unfulfilled.

41. Wanted to win a trophy at my 25th year High School reunion for something!

40. Getting my money's worth out of the baby clothes and paraphernalia.

39. We never have left overs.

38. Q: Don't you know how this works? A: Well yeah!

37. Hoping for my own Reality TV show.

36. With such good looking intelligent offspring, it seemed selfish to limit ourselves.

35. We enjoy causing pure terror on the faces of travelers in the terminals simply by walking up to the gate en masse. Sometimes, it isn't even our gate.

34. We don't have to share a pew...ever.

33. We can dress them up as reindeer for next year's Christmas card.

32. I can drown out anyone in an argument with pure sound.

31. Hospital now has named a parking place in my honor.

30. OBGYN bought a Florida condo because of me.

29. Defense in depth.

28. Can tell babysitter I have no sympathy for him or her if they have to change a diaper.

27. Creates instant conversation starter or stopper depending upon venue.

26. Email using just initials of children eliminates all spam.

25. We have a bike, shoe, glove, coat to fit every age and gender and occasion.

24. I tell people I only have eight.

23. Can mess with people's heads by adding additional baby pictures of brother's and brother in law's children in office without telling anyone.

22. When I call for volunteers, no one else can say..."I'm too busy."

21. No one asks me to co-op babysit. No one tries to take advantage of my being a SAHM for free babysitting either. (It used to happen).

20. Always get the HOV lane.

19. Exiting Car is an event.

18. When we dress the same, (all ND jerseys, all 4th of July) it's an instant parade.

17. Easy to cook for a Church Dinner or Event, used to feeding a crowd.

16. Insta-clod spotter, the person who asks, " gonna have any more?" or any variant thereof.

15. Size of family makes people underestimate our brains.

14. No fights over names of children, we got all our favorites in there.

13. You ONLY Have HOW MANY?

12. Statistically, one of these guys should strike it rich.

11. Gene pool Standard deviation has been skewed in our favor.

10. Fifth one at Catholic School is free. Right?

9. Never have to worry about being corrupted by too much wealth or material things.

8. Can rationalize messy house based on sheer numbers. It was messy before we got to eight, but now I can justify it.

7. Shrunk in the wash, no problem, it will fit.....insert child's name here.

6. Eight months out of the year, we get birthday cake.

5. Easy to teach children how to count to ten.

4. Fun watching people try to test their long term memory listing all our children's names.

3. Can identify recessive genes easily.

2. Guaranteed inspiration at all times for your weekly doses of Chocolate!

1. Said we'd accept children lovingly from God. God took us seriously.

AND the real statement I always fall back on when asked about our family and its obvious large size, "It's no sacrifice to be surrounded by people that love us."

Go to for fifty pretty darn funnies, if not something betters.

Having a Youtube Moment

First, a disclaimer: I don't watch Youtube.

I know what you're thinking: You lie.

No. I really don't. My computer still putts around on dial up, so unless I want to experience processing information in real time as if I have ADHD, I'm not going to link onto any video type material, no matter who sends it to me.

It's not that I've never seen Youtube. I've been at a friend's house and seen the One Semester of Spanish Spanish Love song --a great humor short if you've never seen it. I've driven home my kids friends and heard about Chad Vader in the Grocery store, and about the puppet versions of Harry Potter singing about Severus Snape.

My main problem with Youtube is the absence of a filter to prevent personal public assassination of an individual in the name of showmanship, put downs, cruelty, smugness, immaturity and indifference to causing humiliation. That, and having dial up, I can't see any of it.

You're switch to broadband, cable, wireless, there are ways.

But you see, I know myself well enough to remember, I yell at phone service people who are indifferent to my pain. Appliance man, this means you.

I have been known to roll down my car window when someone took the parking place reserved for new mothers and pregnant women. As the guy sprinted towards the Radio Shack, I yelled "That's Funny, You don't look pregnant!"

Caught at the wrong moment --say during dinner time, after I've been on hold for fifteen minutes, or when pressed and stressed, I can be, and I'm sorry if my mother is reading this, rude.

As Youtube becomes more ubiquitous than it already is, I predict an increase in the percentage of women dressing up and wearing professional type makeup, as daily footage of our everyday becomes more and more posted on the internet. Maybe I should start dying my hair or at least brushing it. If' I'm caught today on TV, Mom will be calling. "Why didn't you at least get a haircut before you went off?"

"I was at the hair dresser's."
"Well, put on some lipstick if you're going to talk like that. It's Clinique bonus time, go in and get a pack."

The reason for all of this, is that in our area, a woman lost her temper and made an ill advised return phone call to a high school senior that had called her home to nag about a snow day. Her husband was/is superintendant of Fairfax schools. That rant in its ugly entirety has even been run on CNN.

While public humiliation is not exactly the modern day equivalent of feeding the Christians to the Lions, it is a public blood sport. People watch and participate in the feeding frenzy because it seems there's nothing wrong with a good public excoriation of another, as long as it appears that the person was deserving of such treatment. No one thinks they'd want to live in a society where scarlet letters are sewn on people's shirts, but having a trail of websites that reveal any and all past discrepancies and personal failures is pretty much the same thing.

What is never asked, is if that treatment was warranted, and that is because the answer would almost always be "No." And then if it were asked, People would shrug their shoulders and say "What can we do?"

We are going to have to as a society learn to manage our "God's Eye" viewpoint that can turn the most intimate and private of conversations into one of the most popularly downloaded clips of the day. We are going to have to remember that at any moment, we could be the one on candid camera, not just in syndication, but forever available, to us and our posterity. What we can do, is not watch. What we can do, is decide before we post, email, film or depict, would we want this done to us?

In the meantime, I'm going to buy some whitening toothpaste and some conditioner. If I'm going to be made infamous for my flaws, I want to look good for Mom.

P.S. and as if to punctuate this slightly serious post, I just discovered my daughter. Apparently, she tried on all the pull-ups to find the one she wanted while I was typing. There are thirteen discarded ones in the bathroom. On Youtube today...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog

If blogs are this new century’s version of the old fashioned diary, I will stick to the ludite version of things for one very distinct reason. I can destroy the evidence. When my family moved this past February, a seismic shifting of books from their old dusty book shelves to built-in bookcases that have yet to suffer from neglect took place. Ultimately, the move resulted in the discovery of some long abandoned journals; mine.

These private tomes have jumps that can be measured in eons of life experience: newly engaged, a color sketch of the ring is provided. Next entry: Newly married, most every sentence is exclamatory! Several practice signatures of new full name with various flourishes are also available for viewing. I winced at my own over the top enthusiasm, it all seemed so superflous and high schooly. Next entry: Moved to new city, working a new job, pregnant. Multiple pages detailed my neurotic worrying about being pregnant and then nothing. Next entry was placed strategicly in the middle of the journal to indicate a desperately crazy notion of filling in the unwritten pages and back dating them.

By my best estimation, that next entry was two babies later and focused on weight. One entry on the next page is recorded half a year later and talks about taking up guitar. (I took about six lessons in the summer). Next entry: A New Year’s Resolution. Three days of vapid entrees in a row chronicling the fact that I went to the gym. Four years later, “Just found this! Lost 2 pounds!” chronicled with explanation points. One year later, “just found this. Gained fifteen.” no explanations given.

I could have tolerated most of my children eventually finding this, and then there was a poem; a really bad poem; a what-was-I-thinking-kind-of-shoot-me-now poem. Another lost journal holds thoughts from when I was dating my now husband of nineteen years. It also has my high school locker code and a long screed about how unfair it was to have to sell candy bars during lunch on the Friday of Homecoming. I have secured both items in the laundry basket that holds socks, certain they will remain undisturbed by any of my children for at least three decades, by which time I should have gotten around to having a good book burning.

Part of the reason for the writes-like-she-drives-a-stick-shift style entrees was the dawn of computer use in my daily life. The journal would move from room to room, meaning sometimes I’d forget where I left it. The computer could not move, so it became an easy place to pour out the thoughts of the day. I liked writing a daily log just for myself as a teacher; I even printed it up for the next day, to remind myself of what had worked or not the day before.

The journals would occasionally turn up like an old friend from out of town, but the computer became a cozier companion for my personal memories and ideas. These were the days of a more innocent time of the internet, before I discovered that Emails and blogs and computer journals never die. They are stored somewhere, even if you turn the ancient monitor into a fish tank and strip the old computer for parts; some teckie somewhere like my brother can wire it, juice the sucker and discover every rough draft of a thought ever written. At this point, there are three old computers, not counting the Texas Instruments one we had when I was a kid, holding enough intellectual compost from my past to make the five o’clock news or at least the Drudge Report if I ever run for elected office.

The crinkled pages of my old books do not illustrate every nuanced thought that popped into my brain. There was something of a natural editing process, I wrote when I needed to write. I had to find the book. I had to find the pen. I scratched out stuff. I edited my own work. It was private. Blogs on the other hand, while infinitely editable, are also retrievable. Do I really want my children to know how innane I could be? No. If they were going to think I was stupid, it would have to come from their own memories and not my memoirs!

When I proposed the diaries be destroyed, objections were raised.

One day in the far off future, my children could happen upon the uncensored unplugged thoughts of their mother in her youth and find solace. I considered this possibity, that some child that felt estranged in life will find sympatico feelings with me post mortem through my own words. It could happen but I doubt it. The journals are more likely to confirm to even the most gentle and loving offspring of mine that their mother wrote in a Jackson Pollack style at best, and made a gulash casserole journal of her life most of the time. Plus it seems all she ever wrote about was how much weight she either gained or lost.

I've decided I would prefer their memory of their mother in the edited and in some cases, even mythic version. In the mean time, I’ve started a new hand written journal. I’m keeping it in the computer room in the sock basket, just in case.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cold Potty Wars

USSR has always been impishly cute, linguistically gifted, naturally sunny and caffeinated .(She never sleeps) She also wants to prove she can go toe to toe with her next older brother. Her older brother USA has staunchly refused all attempts at becoming “a big boy.” More on principle I think.

“He doesn’t want to get his beautiful potty dirty.” was the given explanation. Reeducation camps on what the intended use is for a mini-potty had thus far proved useless, until yesterday.

USSR had finished her shower and sat unprompted on said potty. USA was outraged. “That’s my potty!” he stomped into the closet to suck his thumb and sulk. The little Russian noticed his reaction and proceeded to sing a little song about going to the potty and make little “sssss” sounds. “I’m going potty Yankee boy.” she said several times.

Meanwhile, Captain America humpfed in the closet.

I happened to have some M&M’s in the freezer which I joyfully procured for my daughter. The little member of the Communist block eagerly ate them from my hand and squirmed in her seat. Suddenly, this wasn’t a game. We had the By-George-She’s Got-it-Let’s-sing-the-Rain-in-Spain-Hallelujah-chorus moment of truth. America could not ignore the physical evidence. He had been beaten and she had a fist full of chocolate to show for it.

Any guilt I might have felt for ruining his self esteem evaporated when I remembered, he turns four in a few months.

The next day, USA announced a new policy, “I’m a big boy.” and ate at the table using silverware. He dressed himself. He helped clear the dishes. “Is there anything else I can do for you Mom?” he asked rather archly.

Then the Cossack finished her breakfast and announced she would go to sit on the potty. His face darkened and the thumb sucking started up again as he marched out of the room, I suspect to hash out a rapid response.

Russia had the handle on the situation, she relieved herself properly, asked for her M&M’s and spontaneously did an end zone celebration that would have warranted a penalty for sure in NFL playoff season.

USA knew how to fight back though, he ran upstairs and called down, “I made my bed for you Mom!” I praised his hard work. Little Russia’s face darkened. She ran upstairs. “Me too Mom.”

“You don’t have a bed, you have a crib.” America crowed.
“I made my sister’s bed Mom.” She responded.

Game on.

America rolled up his sleeves and went to work. He made his brother’s bed. He brushed his teeth. He put the cap on the toothpaste. I don’t even do that.

Russia also tried to win in the proliferation approach. She lacked the resources but not the political will. She tried to give the baby a bottle. She also brought me a book and told her brother in a gloatingly superior voice for a two year old, “Turn off the television. It’s bad for you.”

Watching two super power toddlers duke it out via good behavior, the UN puzzled over how this would or could end. Being the UN, I didn’t mind if their little conflict profited me on the side.

Annoyed at being preached to by the enemy, USA went to the garage and got me a diet coke. He thought he had the ace in the hole. So did I. Then USSR brought me the M&M’s. USSR cuddled up to me and USA took off my shoes to rub my feet. It’s good to be the UN.

Tensions were high and likely to result in a full scale incident when I asked if it was potty time. USA manned up and used the big potty. Russia used the little one. America finished first and both of them got plenty of praise and chocolate. End zone dances all around. Just when it seemed like glastnos had broken out, they recognized something about the UN.

“Hey Mom, we should go to McDonalds to celebrate.” USA suggested.
USSR appeared with my purse and keys. “Happy meals?” she said with an unbearably cute grin.

I am in serious trouble Mom wise. They’re colluding.

Don't forget to check out for more of the good stuff that keeps you coming back here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Making A Wish For Hillary

Okay. Hillary’s had her Oprah moment.

She’s been empowered by the women of New Hampshire and is riding high in the polls and tall in the saddle.

How long will this “Don’t Tase Her Bro, Just Leave Hillary Alone!” Youtube type momentum of emotional and intellectual political amnesty last? Long enough for Hill to recognize she needed EVERY Woman to identify with her. So the first thing she did was proclaim all Women immigrants are not illegal. (That's true folks).

To continue to successfully cast herself not as the Take No Prisoners, Leave No Evidence, Leave the Gun, Bill Don’t Eat the Cannollis! Heart of Stone Woman, but as the victim of misogynist everywhere, she went to where the women are...watching women's TV.

Selling the New and Improved Softer and Gentle Fabric Softener version of Hillary, she allowed time in her busy campaign schedule for a powder puff piece with Tyra Banks.

During the interview, she lamented how isolatory being in the White House can be, trying to tap into the SAHM experience of being stuck with the kids while the world passes by. "I was never alone, but it was isolatory." She pensively posited. What mom hasn't felt that pain? "Moms! Isolated Women in a Crowd!" on the next Ellen....or Oprah, or Dr. Phil...or White House.

Then Tyra asked that critical question that determines the leader of the free world, "If you were on a reality TV show, which one would it be?"

"Finally, Clinton announced her decision: "I think it would have to be 'Dancing with the Stars,' " she said, "especially if I could have one of those really good partners."

She laughed and reminisced about dancing in her yesteryear. She'd have been in the Joffrey if she weren't oh...running for president. What a carefree spirit she'd be if she weren't so gosh darned responsible.

Well I feel her pain and I want to do something about it.

I want us to lobby ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" to extend to her an invitation. Make her girlhood dream come true, let her show her talent and grace and femininity that was denied the chance to full flower by enduring the years of Bill's campaigns, motherhood, the pressures of her first tenure as copresident, and her obsessive love of the New York Yankees that kept her from concentrating on reforming Health Care.

She put her hopes and dreams on hold, becoming a lawyer and first lady for the good of her family, not because of anything but pure selflessness, and even now, continues to surrender herself to the needs of our great country.

We don't deserve someone as glorious as Hillary. And I don't want such a giving soul to languish in the fishbowl type existence that the White House requires. Hasn't she suffered enough? We must set her free. After all, if you love someone...

Make her dream come true, let her receive the great Homecoming Queen crown that comes from being voted number one in "Dancing with the Stars." Phone the company! Demand that ABC put her on that show today!"

After all she's done for us, it's the least we could do for her.

Driving Ms. Daisy Godzilla, the Killer Blue Kitten

We drive a Suburban.

No big deal, I grew up driving a Suburban…sometimes with a boat attached. For those not familiar with the dynamics required to haul a 17 foot sailboat on a trailer plus a six foot metal mast extending beyond the hull, it is like your vehicle is an 18 wheeler, with only six wheels. You can still take out a house if you turn wrong, you just have less grip on the road.

There have been stories about other Suburbans where the trailer spontaneously disengaged from the Suburban and then, due to forces heretofore unknown, passed said hauling car on the freeway, even making a turn signal before switching lanes.
“Look Dad, there goes someone’s Boat…”
“Look at that…HEY! THAT’S OUR BOAT!”

Even without a boat, the only word for a Suburban is XXXL.

If it was a sandwich, it would be a Wendy’s Baconator. Why? Because four patties of beef, six slices of bacon and three of cheese is probably sufficient caloric intake for seventeen days. Filling up the tank of this big blue monstrosity on a regular basis requires that we manage our investments wisely. Like eating a baconator You don’t want to do it very often… if ever.

The point of all this is that recently, I have had difficulty parking this big blue Beast. It all started when my five year old daughter’s friend decided our car was called Blue Kitten. She had already named her parent’s red suburban Kitten, so it seemed only natural to christen ours a similar moniker.

My sons were outraged and sought to soothe the should be mucking about in the swamps, hauling boats, SUV’s ego by coming up with alternative names, like Bulldog, Mastodon, and of course Godzilla. Each name increased in it's testosterone level and descriptive violent adjectives.

The car had an identity crisis.

Suddenly, it was nearly impossible to park this machine. Every spot was too narrow, too difficult to steer into, impossible to exit. I took to parking at the far end of the parking lot, but even there, I struggled to get the car within the two yellow lines. I could have sworn it was gaining weight. Maybe it was stress guzzling the ethanol I’d been putting in when I wasn’t looking.

When the girls would pile in for gymnastics or basketball, suddenly the car became spry and nimble, deftly maneuvering around any number of tiny double parked vehicles to secure a sweet parking place. My girls had taken to patting the car, “Good Kitty Blue.”

“Blue Kitten!” “BULLDOG!”
“I like mine version better! The Blue Death Star!”

Being called to issue a ruling on what the Suburban shall hence forth be named was an issue fraught with peril. The kids waited as I considered whether I’d ever get my eight year old son in the vehicle again willingly if I allowed the girly nick name to stand. At the same time, dismissing her friend’s gesture would crush my five year old’s spirit.

Reaching back into biblical lore, I consulted Solomon.

We started talking about all the names in our family. How Dad gets called “Mr.” at the office and I don’t get called Mom by my friends. They knew I was preparing to give a ruling.

The Suburban, being a big car, could handle a bigger name. I presented my Hybrid solution, Godzilla Kitten.

Both sides were disgusted.

Me: “Fine! Get in the Car!” Case dismissed.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Every Breakfast Tells A Story...

My favorite breakfast in the whole world is blueberry pancakes with syrup and Jasper county sausage on the side. The problem with this combo was that it used to require tremendous coordination of my parents, not to mention the postal service.

Before the internet and 24-7 mail order catalogs, maple syrup didn’t exist in the south. My grandmother from Dunkirk, New York would to ship it to us once a year for Mom’s birthday. Mom would parcel it out like a miser, for fear its golden taste was being wasted on young moppets who might have been just as happy with Mrs. Butterworth.

Dad grew up on sugar cane and caro syrup and enjoyed experimenting. He’d buy boysenberry and blueberry and blackberry flavors. We liked the colors but not the taste. We knew what the Good Stuff was.

Then one day, Dad was cleaning out the cupboards of extra stuff. He was consolidating the peppers into one space, doing inventory for a grocery shop. When he found three different types of mustard, he began interrogating no one in particular, asking “Why do we have three jars of pepperocini? Did you know we have four different kinds of olives in this pantry and over fifteen separate types of jam in the second fridge alone?”

Mom could have said many things at this moment, but she wisely responded, "That’s why you are clearing out the stuff dear." And left the room.

Dad got efficient and ruthless in his cleaning frenzy, to the point of being reckless. He consolidated the syrups, all of them: the boysenberry, strawberry, the cheap log cabin and the sugarless into the biggest tin of all, the Pure Grade A Dark Amber Maple.

My childhood was a fairly happy one, but I remember, this was a grave sin.

Suffice it to say, Mom got a new tin of Grade A Maple Syrup and it is now considered sacred, such that she eyes every new different bottle of syrup that darkens our door with suspicion.

Now getting the Jasper County sausage was a separate issue all together, shrouded in secrecy.

My dad gives his clients, his friends and his family and those who know about it, two wonderful gifts at Christmas time; a five pound bag of rice from the Beaumont Rice Mill (our ancestors started and some of our family still own it), and a five pound slab of spicy pork sausage known only as Jasper County sausage. Dad hunts ducks in LaBelle and thus has contacts with all sorts of people from the South East Texas area, including apparently this mysterious sausage man.

Once a year he clears out the Suburban and drives to Jasper County, (we don’t know where) and comes back with his truck filled to the gills with fresh processed meat which we then dutifully wrap in butcher block and red cellophane and tie with green ribbon. Then the freezer is stuffed and we begin the sausage runs around town, delivering spice, rice and good cheer as we go.

The only thing I think I know about the Jasper County Sausage man is that one year he got a new helper. That year the links were shall we say, extra spicy. Almost inedible by some standards, but I found if you drenched them in maple syrup, all that was left was the pleasant after burn of eating something hotter than usual for breakfast and feeling you had conquered any chance of being labeled a wuss, (and all before noon).

Now we have tried over the years to learn the name and address of this man. Somehow, Dad always manages to duck us, I think it tickles him that we have to take it on faith that this sausage will reappear each year. Once, my younger brother even tried to tail him to Jasper but Dad lost him on the back roads. In recent years, however, he has taken Mom. I suspect he has sworn her to secrecy.

Still, while maple syrup and jasper sausage are filling enough on their own to supply all the calories necessary for running a few marathons, they need the plain comfort of fresh pancakes. Pancakes are the Larry to Curley and Moe in breakfast.

For years, my parents had used the very sensible (you are too short, you are too young) rationale to keep me from the griddle. However, when my mom went into the hospital two months early with my sister,I thought it had become necessary for me to master making breakfast for my brothers and myself.

Could I have made cereal? Yes but that’s too easy. Could I have made scrabbled eggs? Yes, but I had been making those for years and those were boring. Could I have made oatmeal or grits? Yes again, but I didn’t think of those because, well, I wanted pancakes.

Now most pancakes are fool proof but then most of my functional cooking life, I have personified fool. A Mensa member I am not. After I wrecked the kitchen, my Aunt stepped in to do clean up and save my bacon, or at least, my pancakes.

Still, after years of practice, I can now flip them with a practiced ease and make my own favorite breakfast thank you very much, I just have to get Dad to cough up the info on the sausage man.

Maybe I can bribe Mom with some Maple Syrup.

The Twelve Days of Adkins

Reflections on My ongoing Adkins Experience. A Dieter's Diary and attempt to twist reality to fit a theme...more or less.

Day 1 On the first day of Adkins, here's what I had to eat...well, it wasn't a partridge in a pear tree, but it was chicken and salad. Yum. Yum. Telling myself not to eat a Dove Bar, french fries, strawberries or ice cream all the time. By the end of the day, I’m snappish, Husband asks about biology. Snarl “No” and go to fume while munching a piece of cheddar. I feel stale already.

Day 2 Huzzah, I lost three pounds. By my calculations, I’ll be at my desired weight at current course and speed in ten days. Bring on those two turtle doves! Suddenly, No Carb conversion diet seems completely reasonable and of course I’ll stick with it.

Day 3 What gives? I only lost a pound? Did I eat any carbs yesterday? Okay, I forgot and drank six ounces of milk but that’s not like seriously going to keep me from losing is it? That’s so unfair. Resolve to stick with it, after all, I’m on day 3 and I’ve lost four, so I’m one up on the day. Three French hens please. Begin to see how ubiquitous carbo snacks have become in everyday life. I can’t buy a stamp without passing a candy bar!

Day 4 Now taking to weighing twice a day. Did I lose weight yet? Did I lose weight yet? Severe frustration at self for accidentally popping a strawberry, I actually spit it out. Baked four calling birds yesterday to allow for easy snacks today. Wonder if it is worth it.

Day 5 Five pounds are gone! But the days of meats greens…meat…greens…switching to seafood to have variety. Had to order at the golden arches today...that was...difficult. Desperately want to break a new barrier but have stopped talking about diet for fear someone will ask “How much did you lose?” and begin telling me how they dropped 25 the first week. Lost one more pound, somehow feel cheated.

Day 6 I miss orange juice. Very tired of the six geese a laying eggs for breakfast. Reflect on reality that if I had lost one pound each day, I would have been far more satisfied with the diet than losing three, one and then nothing and then one again. Also worry about catching scurvy. Consider branding the diet man a hack, but afraid to stop for fear five pounds are just waiting to hop back on my hips.

Day 7 Breath smells permanently faintly of cheese. Burps have a meaty aftertaste. Now brushing teeth after every meal and snack. Ate the swimming swans today..well not really, but man oh man am I sick of chicken and tuna salad. Staring longingly at children’s lunches, a carb fest of refined sugar –an apple, white bread peanut butter and jelly sandwich and chocolate milk. Begin trolling diet aisles for the pseudo chocolate bars that will substitute for Chocolate. Can’t find any that fit in the diet in this part of the regimen. Nuts.

Day 8 Okay. Seem to have plateaued diet wise. Now considering the radical concept of going to the gym. The gym had an ocatave of women from the La Leche league holding a get in shape membership drive for post partum women. I had actually packed gym clothes in a tote and put them in the back of the car, complete with walkman, but I didn't want to run the gauntlet of eight maids a miling with my crew toting bottles. Went home and did push ups.

Day 9 Considering switching to South beach. Diet Coke isn't even sending me anymore. Even forbidden grapefruit looks so good, it’s scary. Lost one pound. Becoming annoyed. This diet feels dial up, not broadband. Unfortunately, I have trained family to squawk if I weaken, so nine pipers pipe up if I try to cheat.

Day 10 Have decided Low Carb plans are Man diets. Begin promising God to stick to exercise regimen if someone will give me half a blueberry. What’s for breakfast? Eggs. What’s for lunch? Salad and Meat. What’s for dinner, Salad and More Meat. Log on to website for testimonials to keep me in lockstep with the routine. Ten emails later, I'm sufficiently bolstered to march on. Ten drummers keeping me in lock step.

Day 11 Reflecting on the diet rules and their implications. What exactly is a carb? I mean how is it defined –how are foods divided such that one can portion a candy bar in small pieces and get only seven carbs as versus the entire 17 in the goodie. How many carbs in an onz of milk? Some french bread? Banannas? Maple Syrup? Chocolate Five Star Bars? Ice Cream? Pasta Alfredo? Salt and Vinegar Chips, cold cereal for crying out loud!

Not that I’m considering eating any of these things.

They’re for a friend. This lady's dancing with the idea of reintroducing carbs, but my brain has already figured out how I could eat the bad stuff...nah nah nah...can't hear me..not listening...going to stay on the diet...where's my cheese stick. I love cheese sticks....and shrimp coctail at ten in the morning...wondering if we can fiscally afford to keep me on a diet.

Day 12 What?
It's just steak for breakfast.
I couldn't take one more day of eggs. No I will not share.
You guys get to eat pancakes and toast and bagels and oatmeal and cantelope and blackberries, milk, doughnuts and apple juice.

I am offered every possible carb sin, as half the family still likes the idea of being food police, and the other half is ready to sell out for a few pieces of sirloin. There are Lords a leaping as a I cut up my breakfast and portion it out to the assorted heathens. Pieces of appeasement to achieve morning peace. Guess I'll have some more eggs.

There is a dietary mutiny afoot.
Shouldn't have lorded that fact over them.(Sigh).

I made it.

I'm not sure what was harder, sticking to the diet the first three weeks or sticking all of this into my preselected format.

Tune in next time when I try once more to mix two or even three improbable things, from History, Philosophy, English Literature and domestic family life, politics and religion, all for the sole purpose of creating humor and insight...alright, and maybe losing a few more pounds.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here in Spamelot...X Marks the Spot

By the number of spam letters I get a week, I am quite certain the human population of Abidjab is -45,327. Nearly all of them died under horrific tragic and highly suspicious conditions. The remaining heirs to the residents of this woe be stricken province are bogged down in Probate court because none of these folks had the good sense to create wills.

From all the reports, it seems Abidjab is awash in diamonds, oil, Swiss bank accounts, mansions and unclaimed checks for six+figures waiting to be distributed. By my calculations, and I could be off by a few billion, there's enough surplus to eliminate this Nation's national debt, fund social security for the next seven eons, and eliminate taxes entirely.

These same fated unfortunately deceased exotic people left behind detailed instructions on how to reclaim their many magnificent sources of wealth. It is interesting to note that they knew ahead of time, the government of Abidjab would unjustly seize their assets. It's a bad evil, highly legalistic place that oddly enough, I haven't been able to find on Google Earth or Middle Earth for that matter.

Thankfully, the good souls, Mr. George Davies, Jennifer and Don Simpson, Mr. Adul, and Sir Nigel Righly, some of them lawyers for the dead, others the long lost seventh cousins twice removed or estranged family heirs, have taken upon themselves, to selflessly fight the power. With help, they'll see to it that the executives at the treasury, banks and other corrupt and unfeeling institutions that did these dasterdly deeds and probably bumped them off, do not get to keep their illegal ill gotten windfalls.

And all they need is help from someone caring.

How did they know I was such a kind and understanding person?

Sniff, sniff…It’s so true.

They knew they could trust me with this special secret because my name was whispered on the dying person’s lips. Apparently my family tree has some forks I didn’t know about.

Sure we never met, but he/she, it, they,… were a fan of my blog and knew my kind and understanding heart would leap at the chance to right a wrong and rid the world of a grave injustice while netting a tidy tax free 100K or more on the side.

All I need do is put myself out just a little bit, by providing a bank account, social security number, credit card and a mere handling fee of 10-55K per transaction.

Think of the Good I could Do!

If only I weren’t such a cynical creature.

Not Named Jeffy's Sports Page Picks

You know how that Family Circus guy lets his comic get taken over by his kids?

Well now it’s Not Named Jeffy’s turn on Mom’s blog!
unedited and unproofd. (obviously)

Being a guy, naturally, I gravitate towards writing about sports.
Specifically, football.

It’s the most male sport there is. Two hours of eating bad for you food and watching other guys hit each other at great speeds. A perfect world experience for any fourteen year old, or any guy who has ever been fourteen.

As the playoffs draw nearer to Super Bowl (Insert some weird Roman numeral here), Not Named Jeffy makes playoff picks.

Get ready to call your Vegas bookie.

First up: Seattle vs. Green Bay: The Seahawks are losing to The Packers with their quarterback from …what? The late 60’s maybe early 70’s? This is pathetic!
MEMO from Me: to Seattle guys, you are losing to a guy nearly twice your age! That’s just sad.

San Diego vs. Indianapolis: The Chargers and the Colts, who really cares?
We all know Manning is motivated by one of two things: Being a really good quarterback, making a lot of commercials. The question is, can he hock enough products to merit his own channel? The All Manning, All the Time Channel? AMATC for short. At least sponsorship wouldn’t be an issue. Not Named Jeffy’s Picks: Rooting for the Colts on the pseudo perception that they are a purer motivated football team en masse. Can’t name a one.

New York vs. Dallas: The Giants and the Cowboys, you know what I going to pick the Giants, so Eli can get his ring. It will also secure his retirement, as he can then go endorse hokey products that don’t work, following in his brother’s footsteps –like sprint phone, OXY cleaning 123, and other things that can be found easily at either the dollar store or QVC. Maybe Payton will let him do a guest spot on AMATC in the early morning hours.

Finally the New England Patriots and… does it really matter what I say? If Tom Brady broke his leg, the Patriots cover the spread and win. If Brady and Moss break legs they win. If Tom, Randy, and the Defensive line all break their legs, Bill Bellicheck will come in and we are back to square one. Patriots win big.

Now if Bellicheck, the defensive line, Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and some obscure backup quarterback aching for some playing time all break their legs, everyone plays with broken limbs, but the Patriots find out (insert Running Back’s name here) can actually run. Jacksonville is left in full body casts, as Bill beats a healthy player to death for getting his cast wet with Gatorade.

Not Named Jeffy? This is not Bill Keane. Why can't you write like this for your English class?

Umm.....Tune in next time when Not Named Jeffy tries to find his way home on the metro. You can trace the detours and chuckle softly for no apparent reason!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Waiting for Mensa to Call...

This year I got a page a day calendar, and it’s put out by Mensa. Imagine the joy of getting up each day to a pop quiz. What fun.


The first three days however, I gave it a shot and you know what? I did it.
What a rush.

The first day I solved the problem, I felt like “Hello, I’m Super Mom and me and my magnificent brain thingy are going to solve all your problems. Ask me how to go from COAST to SLIDE in seven steps, changing only one letter each time and each time making a word. Go on…Ask!”

No one asked.

The second day, I solved the math pattern problem and got the answer right but the method wrong. Close enough I thought. I GOT THE RIGHT ANSWER. Sherry G. Antonetti…supra genius. I like the way that rolls out….Sherry G. Antonetti….supra genius.

Reality hit back hard when the toddlers found the left over Christmas wrapping paper and unrolled it to get the cardboard tubes. Hey Genius the mess seemed to mock, how to you clean this up?

On the third day, it was a Tom Swifty and though I unscrambled all the words correctly, when it came to phrasing, I got it wrong. Being a Supra Genius, I said, “Who cares?” And then to prove the point, I wondered, “Why do Tom Swifties exist at all?”

The next two days were the weekend and I didn’t get to the calendar. Come Monday, it was a word problem. I hate word problems. I got it wrong. I tried to justify my answer. It was still wrong. Still, my record was 3-1-1 so I was shaken but not out of the genius running.

Yesterday. A pattern question. I spent all day puzzling over this one. All stinking day. When I finally checked my answer and got it wrong, I declared it a cheat test of my intelligence if they don’t give all the rules. When my husband looked at the puzzle and remarked “That’s tough.” I casually let slip, “Oh, it’s every letter that is made of only straight lines.” I had my reputation to maintain.

It has become an epic battle just to know what day of the week it is. I dread being given yet another chance to prove my ignorance on a daily basis, but I go back to it, just as surely as I do the super hard Sudoku. Today's puzzle, a letter problem.

"Place the same three-letter word in each blank below to make three different words."

_ _ _ ANT
_ _ _ DON
_ _ _ URE

Maybe there's a B-Team for Mensa.

By the way, the answer, (I looked on the back), is TEN --Get it, today's the tenth. The Supra Geniuses of the world are sniggering at my piddly intellect.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stand Up!

When I proposed the idea of doing stand up to my 14 year old son, he said,
"You should do it Mom."

I tried out some material. He laughed. Of course, I am his mother and I do give him a nice allowance. He's not exactly objective you understand.

So every morning I drive him to high school. In two years, he'll have a license and then my life will be radically better.

"Son #1, take child #6 to activity #47."

"I'll be a chauffeur?" He asked.
"As long as you have my car keys."
My son was silent as he wrestled with this revelation.

"How is it you turn every joy into an errand?" he finally asked.

"See, I've been 16. It won't matter that you're chugging kids all across town. You'll be so pumped. You'll say, "Hey Mom, do any of my siblings have an evening activity that you don't want to deal with? I'll be glad to drive."

"It won't matter that you drive to the same places I've been taking you for years. It won't matter that it is only ten miles from home. You'll pull into the parking lot of your elementary school and you'll drop off your brother for Cub Scouts and be thinking....(drop voice half an octave) THIS IS SO COOL.....I'm driving....with the windows down....and the radio's 23 degrees outside....It's still cool.....there's my elementary school Spanish teacher....yeah....I remember you....I had a "C" in your kept me off the Principal's list....I've got a two ton vehicle at my disposal.....(Raises voice artificially high, waving) "Hello Mrs. Bailey...." (Drop voice again) I'll just rev the engine....just to make her nervous."

I am a mother of...counts on fingers...five, eight, EIGHT? yes eight children.....I was never very good at math.

See...if I had been good at arithmetic, I'd understand exponents and multiplication and compound interest.

You're thinking...where is she going with this I know. Hang with me.

See, if I had paid better attention in math, I'd know that if it takes three hours to do the laundry for one child, one for wash, one for dry, one for fold and put away....that having a home with ten people, plus sheets and towels would take....counts on fingers...wait a minute...carry the 2....and...okay, 36 hours. That's Day ONE.

If I got math and it's tricky things with numbers, I'd know that fixing four meals a day for seven people, (Breakfast, lunch, dinner +snacks), that that comes out to 40 meals a day, Times Seven which results in 280 plates served in a week. If each meal takes an hour, that's 28 hours spent in meal prep. DAY TWO.

Now it gets tricky. See...I've spent 54 hours feeding people and doing laundry and I haven't brushed my teeth...and I don't know if anyone noticed, but there wasn't any sleep in those two days either....

I'm not sure if I should be operating heavy machinery at this point, but driving is a big part of my every day too. I estimate three hours are spent in the car and an additional three getting kids into and out of it. Six hours a day equals 42 a week...there are 168 hours in a week. I'm up to 106 and haven't showered.

It's getting bad.

But hey. I still have 42 hours left.

The reason I bring this that I'm here. I haven't had to cook a meal..I haven't had to do some laundry...I have all this free time on my naturally I thought...Let's do some standup comedy.

It's either that or step into the back of the hotel and ask if I can do some dishes...I have all this time! I'm thinking of taking up learning cuneiform. Really, there's all these unscheduled minutes. What do I do? I've already brushed my teeth six times today...just because I can.

I'm here.

When I told people I was going to a writing conference in Dayton. They looked at me funny. "What are you going to do with the kids?" they asked.

I looked at them. "What?"

"I mean...we own a microwave.
...And a TV.
...They have a phone."

"Did you get a babysitter?"

"No. I'm not paying their father ten bucks an hour to watch the kids. I'm just not doing it.....He did ask."

"I agreed to order pizza....

They'll be fine."

“When you have eight kids, you get asked a lot of odd questions. From really odd people. Don’t you know how this works? Are you going to have any more?

Questions that I naturally like answering to complete and total strangers on a regular basis.

The worst of it though was when I went shopping for a twelve passenger van.

“Are you part of a church or something?”
“No, it’s for my family.”

“So, you need a vehicle that big?”


“Really?” His voice is getting squeaky and high.

“Really. “

“What? Do you and your husband just every few years get the urge?”
And I said….”Yes.”

“He’s really, really …really really….really really ….good.” Raise eyebrow.

Now my husband is my editor and vets my writing and stand-up bits whenever he gets the chance.

He said I should really have another really in there…just for comic effect you understand.

Love you Sweetie!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Dieting in Middle Girth, A Hobbit's Tale

The scale has reached its Gandalf fighting the Balrog in the Lord of the Rings moment. I stepped on it this morning and declared "YOU SHALL NOT PASS!"

Being American and naturally impatient, I opted for the promised immediate gratification of Atkins. So far, I had remained faithful to my carb free lifestyle for eight hours.

It has been a long day.

I ate two eggs for breakfast. I hate eggs.

Being a hobbit (I'm very short), eggs with toast and orange juice and butter and strawberry jam, I can deal. Just eggs with pepper and hot tea. Sigh. When is second breakfast?

I had two slices of Canadian bacon too. I am convinced that Canada produces Canadian bacon so that we will never be tempted to invade. Between the food, the weather and the moose, it just isn't worth it.

For lunch, I got a drive thru version of a Chicken Ceasar Salad. I didn't finish. Why? Because I'm already disturbingly bored by my options. Adkins just markets don't eat sweets or fried foods via a specific dietary regimen. If I was able to deny myself pasta and bread and ice cream and maple syrup and yes, chocolate, I wouldn't need to be on a diet.

I'm currently dutifully baking chicken for dinner. Normally, I'd be psyched that I already have dinner half way done, but I'm looking at the box of couscous that will be a side and feel a desire to eat the box. “We’ve had nothing to eat but meat and salad for three stinking hours!” Half way through the day, I'm thinking...maybe I'll switch to South Beach.

The fruit is calling...Sherry, don't you want some HEALTHY fruit? Healthy. Nice little fruit. Just one little fruit...I feel my resolve failing, just as surely as the carpet cleaner of the same moniker did to erase the three swipes of blue on the rug in the guest room. Grabbing a string cheese, I diligently eat and remember the scale. Focus on the BAD number. Anyone who says weight doesn't matter is either among the 2% whose natural metabolism keeps them fighting trim past the age of 40, or lying. I finish the cheese stick. I'm still hungry.

My children's sugar frosted cereals that I never eat, start to look appealing.

I start considering what if any options I might have. You see, I know the numbers game. 21 carbs is all you get. 21 precious carbs. IF and if is a big word in this sentence, I don't eat any OTHER carbs, I....can have a dove bar. A dove bar. Don't think about it! No. No. No! Think Big number No. Have another piece of cheese....yum yum...doesn't that taste good? No. It does not taste Dove Bar good. It does not even taste Nacho good because it isn't melted with jalepenos on top of chips. My inner Borrimir is thinking of staging a rebellion.

I drink a diet coke. Then, to be sure I don't impulse eat, I open another, this one with lime.

Just as I successfully beat down my id's desires, the children arrive to undermine my discipline. My toddler brings an apple. He's eaten half of it and is "finished." I can 1) throw away the leftover, 2) cut away the eaten part and cut the remainder into bits for his sister or 3) Cut away the bad and dip that sucker in hot carmel to snack.

It's fat free....I start to move towards the apple. I know how Eve must have felt. I personally would never have sold out for just an apple, well maybe, if I had been on Adkins and chocolate hadn't been invented yet. Original sin for a piece of fruit. Eve should have at least held out for something choice. Frodo is fingering the apple when fortunately for me, the toddler asks for it back.

I give the toddler the rest of the apple. My older daughter, eyes bright, brings home "an extra snack." meaning, someone in her class had a birthday and passed out hersheys with almonds and she saved it "just for me." Meaning, she doesn't like chocolate with nuts. "Thanks honey." I say, taking the bar. "I'll put it in the freezer for later."

The kids relay eye contact to each other that translates, "What's happened to Mom?" as they back away quietly and announce unprompted, "We're going to go do our homework."

When they come back to state, they've cleaned their rooms, practiced their instruments and want to know what they can do to help with dinner, I finally ask, "What's going on?"

"Well, you refused the chocolate."
"No, I just denied myself it now. I'm keeping it safe, I'm keeping it secret." I explain.

"That means you're on a diet."
"Yes. So?"

"It means you'll be grumpy soon."

"I'm a hobbit, not a dwarf!" I explain. She gives me a look of bewilderment.
"No, I'm just starting a diet and Hershey bars aren't on the menu yet."

The kids know the numbers game too. She scans the bar and says, "You can't have this, too many carbs." and with that, whisks the bar away to bring to her older brother. I want to protest, "My Precious! It's mine! It came to me! You tooks it!" but I know better and so does she.

Now my eleven year old knows I'm on a diet. She'll food police me Samwise style until I reach my target number and cast the ring into the fire of Mount Doom or snap, whichever comes first.

It's been ten hours on the Adkins diet. Have I lost any weight yet? No. Takes a shower, shaves legs, brushes teeth, blow dries hair, exhales. How about now? No? Rats, I'm still stuck in the first part of LOTR when they're mucking around the swamp with Tom Bombadil who no one understands or likes.

It will be a long first two weeks.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Political Saints, A Venerable Vetting Process

When President Clinton first came to office back in 1992, Newsweek had a front cover with him depicted as Saint George, fighting the dragon. The caption read, "Can He Save Washington?"

It is interesting to note that the general populace is not terribly comfortable with Presidential candidates believing too much in Jesus, because they apparently want the candidate to Be Jesus, or at least in God's Top Ten.

As I considered the field, the process of picking a President is not unlike that of naming a Saint.

Saints go through a vetting process whereby their biography is studied and analyzed for consistency, reverent nature of their faith, miracles, revelations to the world and devotion to Christ. Likewise, voters examine and chose candidates for their policies, past political successes, adherence to the orthodoxy of their political party, ability to raise money and garner followers, and ability to convey to the masses, the depth of their devotion.

Saints progress through stages of candidacy, venerable, blessed, Saint. In politics, you have the candidate, nominee, President.

The two major differences seem to be that in politics, we only crucify the losers, and Saints don't get to be elected Saints until after they've died. Perhaps this second option is something the American Electoral College should consider.

Dead presidents aren't likely to be swayed by fancy dinners or powerful lobbyists. They aren't going to be lying under oath, well, maybe laying down on the job, as they will not merely be a lame duck but a dead one on day one of taking the oath of office. Vice Presidential candidates should be near death, not merely a heartbeat away, but a heart attack from achieving the most powerful office in America. Dick Cheney --not close enough, think Gerald Ford before he died type level of political dead. We need to edge as close to Lazarus as possible in our second choice. Like Michael Dukakis.

Oh sure, there's that tiny problem of determining what the dead leader of the free world would want to enact as policy. W.W.T.D.P.D? What would the Dead President do?

That's when we get to consult the prior Dead Presidents. How? Well, according to the Movies, there's that magnificent book of the Presidents, which knows all. Maybe we should just consult it and then go to the Lincoln memorial and ask Abe. I'm sure he'll come to life if our situation is dire enough, or at least, point at the secret door behind which, all of America's troubles can be explained and made to go away.

After all, all we want from our leaders is a person without political sin, able to heal all past wounds of the nation, create a robust economy with a budget surplus, pristine successful academic schools. We also would like chickens or tofu substitutes for those vegans out there, in every pot, free good universal health care, guaranteed retirement income, Gaia like conditions, fair and free trade that ensures human rights and labor practices are sustainable across the world, and an end to hunger, violence, evil, greed, destruction, death, pain, suffering, war and drugs, crime and obesity. Good roads, cheap cable, fast internet, fair and balanced news coverage, clean streets, inoffensive art, benign courts that met out justice, empty prisons, safe homes and neighborhoods, peace, love, a cure for aids, cancer, low taxes, a prohibition on stupid Hollywood sequels, a return of the family hour on television, guaranteed decent end of the year bonuses and golden parachutes for everyone, a housing market boom, lower gas prices, pomp, circumstance, nobility, memorable sound bites and a transparent administration that has zero corruption, a winning personality and good TV looks would finish off a perfect political platform that All of America could get behind.

It's not like we're asking these folks to walk on water.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Man Shop

The battle of the sexes is never more clearly thrown into relief than in the quest for food. There is something of a primal revolution between the hunter/gatherers and the nurturer/growers that takes place when one or the other utters the phrase, “Honey, I’m going to the store, do you need anything?” When this Darwinian battle between male and female is combined with the stated New Year’s Objective to be frugal about spending and only buy what we need, not what we want, there are issues.

First day. Man makes the offer, more as a courtesy, as he already has a preconceived notion of what he will get. Woman responds by saying, “Wait a minute, I’ll make a list.” Man is impatient. Wants to get going. Waits for list. List is left in car. Woman angrily goes to grocery store to get items on list, also feels entitled to free associate spend, after all, he did. Critical items get forgotten until a third necessity shop via running into the 7-11 is done.

Four days later. Man makes the offer. Woman is ready, having pre-prepared the list with legible print. She hands him list and coupons. Man follows list fitfully and willfully ignores coupons due to hassle factor. Woman complains about budget. She shops the next day, uses coupons and gets things, makes a point of how she saved money. Man points out they would have saved more if she hadn’t shopped at all.

Friday. Man is driving home. Gets drafted to shop by Woman via a text message list. Man goes in to get target items only. Man cannot find items on list. Buys every possible alternative he can think of, except the ones that would actually serve as acceptable substitutes.

Weekend. Woman decides to go shopping for the week. Man gives budget. Discusses need to pare down and simplify. Woman goes and gets items SHE KNOWS she will need . Blows budget by a factor of 4. Man shakes head.

The Next Week. Man decides to go shopping next week. Gets items sparingly. Stays in budget. Brings home humble offerings. Woman and man both complain that there aren’t any special things on the menu. Midway through week, order take out the rest of the nights for dinner.

The following week. Woman decides to go shopping and splurges just a little bit, staying mostly on budget, cutting corners where she can and still getting a few extras for a gourmet meal that evening. Man has invited friends over for dinner that weekend. A splurge shop at the high priced gourmet grocery store follows.

The Tipping Point. Man goes to shop with sole stated goal of staying on budget. Comes home with Four gallon Jar of Ragu and seventeen boxes of pasta. “We’ll drink water.” He says. After three days, both go together to the store and buy like drunken sailors.

They also order pizza to eat for dinner, being too exhausted from gathering food to cook.

Next Week’s Battle of the Sexes: The Laundry would take up much less of our time if you just followed my system.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Cheers in Iowa

You know the Cheer’s test for the Presidency. “Would you sit down and have a beer with the guy?” It’s the “X” factor that determines who voters find attractive and who they don’t.

Back in 2004, no one could visualize John Kerry ever sitting down for a beer at a bar. Watching the poor guy try to eat a Philly cheese steak sandwich with the blue collar regulars was physically painful, whether or not you supported the man married to a Ketchup heiress. Everyone could see George Bush ordering a beer. Bubba –no problem, he’s bringing the keg. Dole, not likely, maybe in his early years.

Because this test is done with every candidate, I thought I’d propose a new test, ala the famous never asked If You were a Tree question of Barbara Walters’ fame, with my speculation about the answers.

For those of you that hate politics, I live just outside the beltway, it's our version of Reality TV and with the writer's strike...

Anyway, feel free to invent your own to suit your own political views, they will be as relevant and meaningful as the Cheers test; they just won’t make the evening news.

If the political candidates were beverages, what would they be?

Giuliani –I thought about a cheap gag like a Manhattan, but Rudi in his hour of glory was like a perfect James Bond Martini, shaken not stirred. He’s still a martini, it’s just I don’t olive him.

Huckabee –Rootbeer. I cannot outdo the master on this, Quark in Deep Space Nine describes the beverage and the Federation in this manner: “Bubbly, cloy. Happy. But here’s the thing... if you drink enough of it, you start to like it.” Insidious, like the Federation…

Romney Like a Pepsi, peevishly sulking at anyone who likes Coke.

Ron Paul: RC cola. People are always surprised that they like it as much as they do, but no one buys it instead.

McCain: You know how microwaving coffee doesn’t make it taste fresh? McCain is like that cup of coffee you put down to answer the phone and then forgot where you put it and found three hours later. You don’t want to nuke it, you want a fresh cup.

Thompson: Water. From the tap. Sitting in a tea cup with a bag of Darjeeling on the side, waiting for some heat. No one’s interested in drinking it. Not even him.

Hunter: Caffiene Free Generic Brand Diet Soda. You can drink it but in heaven's name why?

Tancredo: Tab. Didn't even know it was still served in some places.

Clinton: It would be so easy to do something with bitters or a vodka stinger, but the truth is, she’s like triple expresso straight. No sugar, no cream, no enhanced flavorings to soften the pure hit of hot dark stuff that causes uncontrolled tremors for hours. You will spend the night sleepless.

Obama: Barrack may be more likable than the Hilster but he has the same policy ideas with a younger hipper more palatable package. Ergo, he’s like a starbucks Venti cappachino with an extra shot of syrup and cream. You’ll look cool. It will cost a lot, and you’ll still shake afterwards, but it goes down better.

Edwards: A Wine cooler who thinks he’s champagne. Artificially enhanced air infused wine with a splashy marketing technique. So 80's it's wrong. Everyone thinks they like such things…until they drink them.

Kucinich: Ovaltine. He thinks he’s Hot Chocolate. He thinks he’s popular. I don’t know a soul who says, “More Ovaltine Please!” without receiving a large check as compensation.

Richardson: Remember Urban Cowboy? It was supposed to do for Country Western what Saturday Night Fever did for Discothèques. They even had a brand of mechanical bull and a brand name beer lined up for the surge in Gilly’s across the nation. It never happened. No one knows what an America run by Richardson would be like, but you can bet his two supporters probably have been drinking Richardson’s last stash of Gilly beer.

Dodd: Pepsi One, taste like Pepsi, less of a caffiene hit than warm milk, can't order it anywhere and nobody asks for it by name.

Gravel: Who? Guessing here. Store brand diet soda. Invisible, undesirable, unpalatable.

Biden: Red Bull. It has energy, it has caffeine. It has a lousy slogan and no one willingly chugs this stuff unless they have to pull an all-nighter in college to finish a big term paper.

Waitress at the diner in Iowa: "Now, what will you have?"

“Diet Coke please.”

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Quantum Leap Year

If you’ve ever studied Quantum physics or even watched the series, “Quantum Leap,” you know the principle behind Schrodinger’s Cat.

For those non followers of the captain of Enterprise before he was Captain Jonathan Archer, the theory works as follows: The scientist puts a live cat in an enclosed chamber with a compressed bottle of poisonous gas. The gas is released into the chamber. At some point, the cat inhales the substance and ceases to be alive. But until one opens the box, one cannot know if the cat still lives or has ceased to be. In the interest of full disclosure, this summation comes via the internet and it's many wise references, I am not taking physics on the side in my spare time.

Schrodinger meant it as a mental illustration of more complex issues that are beyond my wee brain. Some yahoos who didn’t get this as a theoretical exercise, created the Many Worlds interpretation, and gave rise to multiple bad cross issue storylines in comic books and television shows in the late 80’s.

In the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, which does not single out observation as a special process, both alive and dead states of the cat persist, but are "decoherent" from each other. When the box is opened, that part of the universe containing the observer and cat is split into two separate universes; one containing an observer looking at a box with a dead cat, one containing an observer looking at a box with a live cat.

In other words, in one universe, I am looking at a winning ticket for the lottery. In another universe, I’m looking at a worthless scrap of paper that entitled the state of Maryland to two extra bucks of my money. I have trouble with this theory if only because I wonder what determines a decoherent universe creation. The flap of a butterfly’s wing? Chosing Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi? The consequences of not just a decision but every action and even inaction take on cosmic significance. Inhale, a universe now exists. Exhale, oh look, another.

The range of alteration I presume depends upon the origin of that other world’s existence. For example, in some universe other than this one, decoherent is a word that means something other than how I am before my first diet coke in the morning, because someone created a “Don’t Tase Me Bro Leave Brittany Alone!” moment for Youtube that made it “The Word for 2008.” I imagine in that other universe, I fulfilled the resolutions I made last year, rendering this year’s resolutions superfluous.

Living in that wonderverse, where Wikipedia is accurate, baseball players never used steroids and campaign commercials are banned until after the 4th of July the year of the election, I’m a discovered highly financially and professionally revered author. SUV’s emit gases that smell faintly of chocolate chip cookies, eliminates unwanted cellulite and provides additional conditioning for dry or dyed fine hair. All toddlers in my home are toilet trained and I’ve mastered Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, including the hard middle part that has kept me trying to learn the piece since I got the piano back in 2003. I’ve also lost twenty pounds via diet and exercise.

So this year, my resolution is to find a way to live in the universe where the Schrodinger cat still lives, and hope this week’s winning lottery numbers are 3, 7, 8, 11, 23, and 25.

Happy New Year!

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!