Friday, July 31, 2009

Cookie Monster

My toddler prefers to make her needs known by silence rather than speaking. She remains an enigma amongst my children. Last night, my oldest took it upon himself to boost her vocabulary. He had a plan. After dinner, he produced a box of chocolate coated dunker cookies from Trader Joe’s. Now these cookies are the favorite of every child in my family, including the sphinx herself.

He opened the box. He took out one cookie, showed it to her from all angles. “See this cookie?” he asked. She glared through almost shut eyes and put her thumb up to her pouty lips, pretending not to notice. “This is a cookie.” He explained. “If you want a cookie, you must say cookie please.” He then ate the cookie with great relish, savoring each bite and talking about how this excellent experience of chocolate crunchy goodness could be hers if only she would say the magic words.

She did not even look.

Upping the ante, my son summoned each of his other siblings and proceeded to dole out the dessert for each child that seal-like, smiled and said “Cookie please.” Some came back for seconds and thirds. She stared. Then she turned her head and shut her eyes.

After the others scattered to their rooms/baths, the teenager and the toddler regarded one another in silence for a while. I cleared the table. I heard occasional attempts to restart the lesson. I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. I heard him try to dart the cookie just out of range. I vacuumed the kitchen and wiped the counters. My son came into the kitchen and put the remaining dunkers in the freezer. “I’m sorry Mom.” He said. I patted his shoulder. “These things take time.” I explained. He nodded and walked dejectedly upstairs. “I let her out of her high chair.” He called back. I went to check.

Now my youngest son is nine months old and loves his baby saucer, so I had him sitting in that for a bit of exercise while I worked. I expected my daughter to come play with my baby son as he is her favorite toy. She wasn’t there. I called for her. No answer. I began looking.

My main floor is an open circle of rooms such that I managed to just miss her as she scootled around the stairway, but I then heard a second set of feet. And I know, her partner in all things, her next older sibling sister is on the case. Exactly opposite of the Sphinx, the loquacious Pixie doll always knows what her younger sister wants and how to get it.

Within five minutes of having been released from the Teen Boot Camp Cookie Drills, my little girls both had acquired chocolate coated dunkers without the obligatory phrase. They had eaten a bit on the run to make sure no one caught them before they got a bite. Following the crumbs, I found the Sphinx brandishing her cookie in a fat fist, waving it at the baby and saying, “Look Paul, it’s a cookie.”

My teen heard it from upstairs. “That’s my work! I should be getting the credit.”

“Eyes on the prize son, she’s talking.”

The Sphinx turned and ran over to the stairs, raised the cookie in triumph and said absolutely nothing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saw this, Got Annoyed. Thought You Should Know

So I'm to understand that while it's useless to read a bill, it's important to pass it and sign it into law and make us pay for it.

Driving the Lessons Home to Me

I have a sixteen year old. He is learning to drive. Sometimes he hugs the road a bit too close to the curb and I silently will the trees and the mailboxes to jump back about two feet.

We have high ceilings.

Enter one five year old child full of joy, lighter than the balloon tied carefully to his wrist by an unreasonable parent. Said child is clever and knows that school scissors will cut the ribbon and allow him and the balloon their much deserved freedom. The deed is done in an instant. The balloon is now 25 feet up and the child crushed, all before Mom has finished unloading the car of all the other children.

I came in to find my son shooting his glider at the balloon. One presumes he hoped to lance the loop at the end with the nose of his plane and have the weight of the airhog bring the balloon back down to Earth. Needless to say, it didn't work, though it did take down a cover from one of the lights on the chandellier.

He was very sad when I declared this a no fly zone. I told him to let me think on the problem over dinner. He agreed. That evening, while he was taking his shower, I used a broom to perform the manuever that the plane could not, leaving the wayward balloon stationed in his room over his bed.

"Wow! How did you do it Mom?"

Visualizing my son attempting to steer the broom towards the balloon and taking out a few pictures that like the mail boxes and trees, couldn't get out of the way, I punted.

"It's technical. I'll teach you when you're older."
"Like how old?"


Amazingly, he accepted this answer. Now I just have to help the older brother with the driving. Maybe I could put this off for another nine years too!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Government Prescribed

"The best health care is not always the most expensive." --President Obama

"It darn well better be!" --Sherry Antonetti --after looking at the price tag that refuses to be named but has been speculated at, for the federal government health care.

I don't actually remember anyone ever saying the best was the most expensive, but let's just go with what he says for the moment.

The best beef is Wagyu. The President serves this when he wants to court Congress or impress, it is also stated to be his favorite. It is roughly $100.00 a pound. Now maybe there's some ground sirloin out there at Sam's club that can compete if cooked properly (slow smoked burgers that have a touch of green chili's and white and black pepper), but otherwise...the best is well, expensive.

His wife is styling in her $400.00 sneakers. I'm sure Easy Spirit makes a shoe that is similar in design and color, but the best shoes that make all of Paris and London and the media swoon are fashionably expensive.

And his lovely darling daughters go to a private school, very posh, but the best education isn’t always the most expensive either… I’m sure the DC public schools would be just swell.

Now the President lives in the best public housing that is available in the nation.

But when it comes to health care, just remember, the best is not always the most expensive. Trust us, we didn't take a vow to do no harm, but we're from the government and we know the best for you isn’t the best for us.

P.S. On a serious note, I do understand that we need to make some changes to the existing health care structure and that the moral quandry involved in health care is always --say yes to everything and go bankrupt, or say no and risk having made an error in judgement that cost someone else grave suffering or death. It is not an easy issue and I do not take it lightly.

That is precisely why I feel ill at ease with the speed with which this bill was being pushed. I subscribe to the quaint philosophical notion that we ought to demand our leaders read the things they vote into law or bother to sign. I also worry that we are already spending massive amounts of money we don't have, and at some point, we do have to stop. If government spending is holding the economy afloat, haven't we just swapped one bubble economy for another, the dot.coms to the housing home equity incomes to government? Lastly, why is this not being asked by a person in the media as opposed to a blogging house frau?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

23 Boxes of Powdered Sugar

I hate summer math workbooks.

I know the kids need to keep their skills sharp. Heaven knows I need a calculator to double check my sums when I write checks. But making your kid do math on a daily basis, when you add in trying to get them to read, make their bed, in some cases, indulge in a daily shower, not leave clothing on the floor and eat the occasional vegetable, it gets to be a bit much.

But now that I'm working with my 7 year old daughter and I'm dieting, I hate the math books even more.

Word problems currently try to be hip, interactive and engaging. Take three cans out of the cubbard. Take three boxes. Arrange them according to net weight. Which is heaviest? Which is lightest?

So we got out the powdered sugar, the instant jello vanilla pudding and a box of jiffy muffin mix, and a can of pineapple, tomato paste and refried beans.

The powdered sugar and the pineapple won the weight contest for heaviest.
The jello and the paste won the least.

Putting the items back away, I stared at the One Pound box of powdered sugar suddenly struck by its size and realized, I had 23 boxes left to lose, probably 25 if I used that one box on a cake frosting I'd been hoping to make. If I was truely serious about losing weight, I should use the tomato paste.

Damn I hate math.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Break

Even Congress goes on vacation in August, but the lobbyists in my house, never sleep.

This morning, two of my darlings decided they wanted to go to the pool. They knew they would have to persuade Mom. What motivates Mom? Clean house. It's true. My husband can be persuaded to overlook bedtime with a good back rub. But me, no, my inner bureaucrat requires direct graft in the form of unasked for but well sustained hard labor.

Being three, she saw me wipe a door knob that had become sticky and promptly pounced on the idea. Grabbing a roll of paper towels, she and her sister set about washing each and every door knob. I was feeding the baby and planning the day, dimly aware of her project and the proposed compensation as peppered in her constant stream of chatter.

She then dropped a very wet terry cloth towel in my lap.
"Mom, we cleaned all the doors."

I was then instructed to close my eyes and led through the house to personally inspect each and every glistening door knob. Some had puddles below. "Now the h ouse looks beautiful." She explained. "Can we go to the pool?"

My to-do list shall be shunted to tomorrow. Maybe I can get her to learn how to sort socks.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I hear the Call of My Country

It's true. The government is looking for a few good laughs.

So I'm wondering if this is why they seated Senator Franken.

But hey, it's a recession and people with jobs, well, they're sad. They need perking up. And since we can't satirize the existing government or leaders because they have all the answers; the people who work to figure out all the regulations and rules and policies that no one reads, need motivation, sweetness and light.

They'll even pay to get it.

I'm patriotic. I believe in the healing power of laughter, so I volunteer myself here as a humble humorist.

But I clicked on the link. They want cartoonists, not humor writers.


The Game Show

And now it’s time for every parents’ favorite game show “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

“Hello again and welcome back for another exciting round. Today’s contestants are Veteran Mom, New Dad and Grandmother. Welcome to you all. Now you all know the rules so let’s get down to identifying these sounds. The first one is up for grabs.”

“Slunk. Slunk. Bunk a bunk a bunk pttttttttttah. “

“Yes! New Dad?”

“That would be a football falling down the stairs Bob?”

“No, I’m sorry that is incorrect. Grandmother? Veteran Mom?”


“Is it the sound of a Halloween Pumpkin Candy Holder falling down the stairs?”

“Ooh. Very close. Very close. Contestant Veteran Mom, do you have any idea?”


“Yes Bob, it is a Halloween Pumpkin Candy Holder, but it was kicked, it didn’t fall.”

“That is correct! Veteran Mom, take fifty points. For a bonus point, identify Why it was kicked.”

“His sister ate all the reese's pieces and left only the lime flavored tootsie rolls and candy corn.”

“Excellent work. Excellent. We’ll start the next round worth one hundred points. Okay, contestants will have thirty seconds to identify this sound.”

“Buzz. “ “Buzz.”
“New Dad was first on the buzzer. What was that sound?”

“Bob, it was Snoring. It wasn’t me because I don’t snore, but it was snoring.”

“Sorry, that was not the correct answer, we move on to Grandmother. “

“Snoring and the baby was crying Bob.”

“I’m sorry, we have to turn to Veteran Mom.”

“Snoring and the baby crying and the Toddler just climbed out of bed and is staggering around the house looking for his stuffed lion and a sippy cup of water.”

“That is 100% correct! I see we now move to the speed round where we will play a sound. Your job is to identify the situation and whether it requires a run or no run parenting response. Remember, you must indicate the severity of the situation if there is any.”

“Slishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Drip. Drip. Drip. Slisshhhhhhhhhhh. Drip. Drip. Drip.”
“Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.”

“Okay, we have a three way tie between the Veteran Mom, the New Dad and the Grandmother so I’ll have to ask each of you to write your responses, along with run or don’t run.”

“Okay, Grandmother, what was your response?”

“It’s a sink Bob, a child was brushing his teeth and turned off the sink when another child came in and did the same. No run.”

“Ooh. No. I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. New Dad, what was your answer, did you correctly identify the mystery sound and run/no run response?”

“That’s the ice machine in the kitchen, being used to pour drinks for the neighborhood by a five year old and a three year old. Run.”

“I’ll have to check with the judges to determine if they’re willing to give partial credit but in the meantime, let’s check with our final contestant.Veteran Mom?”

“Yes, Bob, that is the sound of a toddler getting a drink out of the toilet. Run and scream at the same time.”

“That is correct and congratulations to our winner Veteran Mom! She gets to move on to the bonus round, while we say good bye to Grandmother and New Dad, thank you both for playing.”

“Now Veteran Mom, you know how this game is played, we give you a sound and you identify the danger level and its origin. Are you ready?”
“Here is your mystery sound.”
………thirty seconds of silence pass.

“Bob, it is a code red emergency, there are three children upstairs trying to create a bridge out of a sleeping bag, two chairs and a toy box and the youngest has a hammer she is preparing to tap on the window. If an adult does not intervene in the next four seconds, someone will be hurt and something will be broken.“

“Congratulations, Mom is our grand champion!“ Balloons cascade onto the stage and credits begin to roll. A voice over is heard, “There are no prizes awarded in “Do You Hear What I Hear?” other than the peace of mind that comes from knowing what your children are up to all the time and being able to put a stop to it.”

Bob turns to the camera. “Tune in next time when contestants will be asked to speed round mate all white socks and assemble lunches with no white bread available.”

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How Much Can We Pay Them to NOT work?

Remember the government shut down back in the early 90's, over spending?

What a quaint idea.

To be upset at waste and fraud and excess. The problem now is, the government has factored waste and fraud into its budgetary process and yet wants to claim that by eliminating it, we can pay for new programs. Maybe I'm just not educated enough to understand how if we can identify waste and fraud such that we can then eliminate it and fold the money back into the budget, why we have waste and fraud in the first place.

And won't that money that is recooped from the unnamed wasteful and fraudulent programs that are so easily discerned when we still want to spend the money, then not go to programs that as I understand it, still offer some good even if they are wasteful and fraudulent? Wasn't that part of the justification for the excessive amounts in the Enviornmental bill, the stimulus package 1, the stimulus package II, the budget, and the pending health care program? We had to have numbers in the billions and trillions to offset the costs that would include waste and fraud?

But don't worry, none of this will affect you. Between all the hidden money preallocated via waste and fraud programs and the spare change all those idle rich have that they got through licit business, we'll be able to afford everything. We'll have a pure earth, perfect health and schools that graduate everyone in one year of preschool with degrees that even NASA would envy. Why? Because we've got good intentions, we're with the government, and we're just here to help.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Unplanned Vacations

Last week it was my son in the hospital, so I had no access to the computer.

This week, it's my computer which decided it wouldn't boot up. The old one eventually just quits in mid sentence, meaning any blogs I create are subject to instant anihilation and thus you may have noticed a drop off in postings, more errors in actual text and a few bumpy unfinished pieces. This situation still exists. It seems my machines have decided that it is summer and they want a few weeks of R& R.

So I've conscripted three scheduled pieces that ran in prior years for your reading pleasure to give me time to get all our equipment back in working order. I'm keeping a pencil and paper near me for inspiration so next week, expect a few old school moments.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Even when she's almost asleep, my toddler can give me a cold cold look. Once, she was wearing sun glasses. We had been out hiking. I turned and asked if she had enjoyed herself. She lifted up her shades, the better to fix me with those piercing brown eyes and then turned her head as if I was not worth her notice.

Now I know this child and thus spend much time schemeing to get her to drop the mask, like when she gets ice cream or goes swimming or gets hugs that eventually melt her reserve away. Today, we went out and found wild raspberry bushes. I popped one in her mouth. My hand was full of others I'd picked. Spying them, she promptly emptied my palms of the red goodness I'd found, stuffing her cheeks.

She flashed a rare smile and nodded when I said, "Wheren't those good?" but the turned the thermostat back on extra frosty when she discovered I was all out.

It gets tempting at those times to be overly frank with such a child. "You just had raspberries. We just went hiking. You got to see cows and horses. You ate french fries and drank a coke. Smile already." But the real response that occasionally gets dropped in your lap, when she gives a hug and holds your face with her chubby fingers and stares at you in all seriousness, these are like raspberries that you find while on a walk in the woods. Unexpected sweetness in the wild, unbidden, a gift of love that is all the more beautiful and wonderous because of its limited duration and rarity.

So when we got back in the car, I clamped down on my tendency to recap the experience by asking questions that I knew would draw out the cold shoulder response. The reward was she put her finger up to her mouth as if in contemplation, but when she saw me looking at her and yet not asking, she didn't look away.

It's a start.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Top Ten Reasons this Blog is Late...Paul was in the Hospital

Title: Top Ten Reasons Paul is Back in the Hospital

10) Likes having a staff.

9) Building a complete collection of fetching open faced gowns.

8) Trying to get quality alone time with Mom.

7) Have to beat last year's drain on the insurance company.

6) The food.

5) Wants to hit on the nurses.

4) Dad needed a break from work and Mom needed a haircut. Only way to make sure both happen.

3) My own room.

2) Even with the alarms and specialists and doctors, it's quieter.

1) Personal insurance against becoming an older brother.

By way of an update, we have come home and Paul is doing much better but it did keep me from posting at my normal time. My apologies to anyone who came here hoping for fresh stuff and finding what they thought was a dead blog.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Sci Fi Catholic: Deej to Seminary, Part 2

In this year of the Priest, proper discernment cannot be emphasized enough.

The Sci Fi Catholic: Deej to Seminary, Part 2

Serial Readers

One of my parenting quests is to raise all nine children to absolutely love books.

I've worked hard to expose each of my kids to classic literature, though I have succumb over the years to such questionable fare as Captain Underpants. "At least he's reading." I mumble over and over to myself in a Yoga like mantra.

The big kids know that if they're reading, I won't ask them to clean, so holding a book is akin to a "Get out of Jail Free" card. Except I do draw the line when kids engage in re-runs as a tactic. "If you know how it ends, you can put the thing down and come make your bed."

But with every success in parenting, there is a downside. Every morning, my newly five year old son comes down for breakfast and asks to "look at the box." as he eats his cereal. It doesn't matter if it's Cracklin’ Oat Bran or Frankenberry Blue, he sits transfixed by the back of the cereal box and heaven help the child that wishes to either look over his shoulder or actually pour a serving for his or herself.

Being children, there are those who KNOW this is his habit and recognize that the fastest way to enjoy and annoy is to swipe the cereal so that they can read the back with the claim, "You can't read" as an excuse. Mom gets irritated when breakfast makes the five year old cry. And when Mom gets irritated, mom plots.

Now I have been after my older kids to read their assigned books, to which the kids have responded, "Feh. It's summer." But we live in a modern age, and Mommy is armed with a copying machine and the assigned reading materials.

So tomorrow when kid one sits down to Cherrio's, he's going to find the first page of "Cricket in Times Square" taped to the back for his viewing pleasure, while earnest eaters of Strawberry Mini-Wheats will enjoy a passage from "The Cay" or "The Witch from Blackbird Pond." Consumers of Fruit Loops shall feast upon the words of E.B. White.

That's not counting the snip from Hemmingway's Farewell to Arms I posted on the back of the milk! And I'll keep a book handy for the five year old so he too can enjoy reading, and tape it to the back of my Special K.

I can't wait for the first meal of the morning.

Now, my next problem is to somehow post algebra problems on the sandwiches at lunch. If Johnny has ten potato chips and Rita has three...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I Am Sarah Palin

I'm mad.

A lot of people who consider themselves smart, bought the Tina Fey package version of Sarah Palin.

The reality is that most of us are much closer to Sarah than we are to Barrack Obama. We didn't go to ivy league schools. We didn't spend our whole career orchestrating our way into the White House. Most of us were busy living our lives and like Sarah, in some situation, saw a problem and determined that if no one else was going to tackle it then we'd better.

Most moms who wind up Presidents of the School Board or Dads who wind up managing the finances for a volunteer organization, do so not because they have the training or the background but because they were willing to take risks and put themselves out there to do things. They trusted that their natural wisdom and enthusiasm and ability to listen to others, would guide them through the bumpy parts of taking on unexpected or difficult tasks.

Even now, as the election is long since past, political pundits smear her experience and intelligence. Since when is being a Governor or a mayor for that matter, such a paltry accomplishment? Many of the critics can't claim even to have been elected dog catcher in a town smaller than Wasilla.

As a side note, (before she announced her resignation), Sarah Palin worked in her state to manage things such that while there are countless states struggling to meet their fiscal obligations, Alaska is not one of them. Her FY Budget 2010 passed and was signed into law and ballanced by spending less than in FY 2009.

Apparently all the clever beautiful people in California can't be expected to manage a budget even with all their experience and better pedigrees and better management of the press.

This is what real people (leaders), do when money and situations get tight. When families need to save money, they cut back on extras like gym memberships or maids or yard service or subscriptions. They get their house in order by making sacrifices, by doing what will actually work (spending less money), rather than opening up a wallet and charging a credit card to the max to go on with buisness as usual in a time of crisis.

I don't know if Sarah Palin is planning to run for President or if she pulled out because the daily pain of fending off snarks from SNL and Vanity Fair and the countless frivilous law suits that have been ginned up by willing political hacks and attack dogs, cost her family financially and personally.

What I do know is that the harpies that hated her before she announced her resignation, hate her no less now.

Given the tenor of the Senate, House, White House and soon to be court, not to mention the entertainment industry and media, why does this one woman merit all this bluster and rage?

Answer: She doesn't. There must be a bigger reason for all this anger.

It's the 46 million who voted for her.

As one of them, I consider attacks on her person to be disengenuous and politically motivated attacks on me too.

One woman resigning cannot merit this much gleeful hate.

The hate must be for the 46 Million didn't vote for the current president or his party. Destroy this woman as much as possible, and others who think as she does, won't have the courage to speak or act on their convictions. They won't want the same treatment for themselves or their families.

So to them, I have one thing to say, "I am Sarah Palin."

Friday, July 3, 2009

The World According to Sherry

Today is my birthday. At 43, I’ve decided one paltry wish doesn’t cut it, so I’ve created ten; one for each decade I’ve been semi-aware of my own being on this planet. (I don’t count those three years of supremely awkward adolescence which I’ve blocked out of my permanent long term memory for strictly medicinal reasons).

I wish:

10) That celebrities would not be eulogized for virtues they did not have, nor worshiped in life or death by fans in lieu of finding actual purpose and meaning for suffering and death, or actual people who embody sweetness and light.

9) That politicians would stop embarrassing themselves by never being silent when silence would serve them best, and stop thinking that money and power exonerate them from acting like decent human beings, even towards members of the other party or (gasp) their spouses.

8) That the media would try for one day to cease and desist from

a) espousing hate for anyone who didn't agree 100% with Obama and the Democrats on all things and

b) cease praising every sneeze, look or action taken by Obama and the Democrats. But then, if they did this, and #9 and #10, they'd probably only be left with discussing Texas bar-b-que, recipes for Chocolate Cake and the weather for the upcoming fireworks on the 4th of July.

and for equal measure that those who only find fault would also at least practice the art of backing up all criticism with facts and parallels to illustrate their points. See Helen Thomas if you are looking for tips.

7) That people spend less time online or watching television, and more time reading a good book in the shade of a tall tree while drinking a favorite beverage or eating a fresh peach. Although, if the TV was doing a big bit about bar-b-que, chocolate cake and fireworks, I'd probably be more interested in watching.

6) That people who are fretting about this country going to hell and the people who think we're already there, would find the little bit of the world that they call heaven and breathe in the air there to remember, it isn’t all bad. (And if you have some bar-b-que and chocolate cake, I bet this is easier to remember).

5) That the government would remember it's our money. That we would remember, it is only money.

4) People who asked for advice would actually follow it. (Meaning, enjoy the cake and the bar-b-que and don't start talking about calories or what have you, just eat it and smile).

3) All "reality television" would be banned as destructive to the souls producing, providing, staring and watching it. (Jon and Kate Plus 8 dig). The WashPo did a piece over the weekend on how it was the number of kids, i.e. if only the insurance had covered a more expensive form of IVF, that did in the marriage. Yeah. That was it, the number. It wasn't the 24-7 pseudo transparency of a television "reality" show as opposed to a commitment to each other and genuine intimacy. It was the number of kids because of the type of insurance...yeah, it got under my skin.

2) I’d remember everything I'm supposed to do today.

1) I'd actually do whatever it is.

And we'd have some Texas Bar-b-que and chocolate cake and ice cream for the day after spending a good three hours under a tall tree drinking a diet coke and finishing a good book. Then we'd go swimming and finish it all off with fireworks. So there it is, the pre-planned wish for July 3rd.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your grills.
Enjoy the day. I'm now going to sit under a tree and read my book until someone brings me cake.

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!