Monthly Archives: July 2008

Bath toys, a retrospect

I think I’ve created a monster. While looking for replacement crayons for my son’s Tadoodle, I noticed a set of bath crayons, also in the Tadoodle line, which are made especially for little chubby toddler fingers that can’t quite grasp real bath crayons (and regular crayons) well. I have seen other bath crayons in the stores and have always been tempted to buy them. The suggested ages on them are always 3+. These Tadoodle’s are for 18 months+ and since my son just hit the 17 month mark and he’s quite smart, I figured he could handle them.

Not only could he handle them, he loved them. He grabbed and scribbled all over the bathtub. Unlike the real crayons and his giant coloring book pages which slip, the tub wall was still and his little fingers sent those crayons flying. I got him started by writing his name, and by the time he got out, he had made so many extra marks I couldn’t even read his name. In fact, I let the water drain all the way out of the tub and he was still coloring. I had to pry them out of his hands and put them on the counter in order to get him out. All the while fighting him as he grabbed for the crayons. He’s usually very sweet and docile after his bath. Not tonight. The angery little monster was kicking and crying and scrunching up his little face to make sure I knew I’d done him wrong.

He settled down after a few minutes. I promised him we’d color again tomorrow. I’m not really sure if he understood or just forgot about them, but I was finally able to get him to bed.

I’m almost reluctant to show him the crayons again in fear of a similar situation, but I have to say I understand his enthusiasm. When I was a kid, I loved bath time. Once I was old enough to be out of drowning danger (and probably before then since I’m part of the generation that slept on their stomachs, ate formula AND didn’t have to be in car seats at all, much less until we were 8), my mom would fill the tub, hand me some toys and let me play for 15, 20, sometimes even 30 minutes. I thought it was awesome. I’m sure she did as well.

Watching my son thoroughly enjoy his crayons got me thinking about my favorite tub toys. The crayons were probably #1 on my list. The beauty of the tub crayons is that I could try to create anything I wanted and if I didn’t like it or got bored with it, I just wiped it away. They were also great since they relied on my imagination. I think they get the #1 spot because I played with them so long. I got my first set when I was two (or so the pictures tell me) and I remember playing with them until I hit 7 or 8. That’s longevity in a kid’s toy.

The second best bath toy was my Giligan’s Island play set. Did anyone else have this? It was AMAZING! I don’t know what ever possessed my mom (or dad) to buy it for me. I don’t remember watching the show, but the toy was in my tub for several years. I made up all kinds of stories about the characters and the island. In hindsight maybe it wasn’t that great of a toy, but at the time, I really dug it.

My third would have to be Sea Wees. This is a decidedly girly one, I know, but I LOVED these things. I actually had the one pictured on this page (no doubt because of the penguin which my mom loves). I also had a pink one named Sandy. I thought the little mermaid babies were so cute! Heck, I still think they are.

One last blast from the tub toy past for me was Crazy Foam. While the cans I got were a little more modern than this one, I still adored the stuff. I would make huge silly foamy hats. I would make foamy outfits. I would paint foamy pictures. My mom used to have to ration it out so I didn’t go foam crazy. I LOVED the stuff. And although I can’t exactly remember the scent, I remember there was one, and I liked it.

Sigh…my baths are so boring now. Maybe if I’m stressed and need to unwind a bath pillow and a bath bomb from Lush.

*On a side note, while looking up Sea Wees, I found this toy as well. I’m pretty sure I had one of these, which seems a bit odd considering how girly I was as a kid.

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Pizza: my dearest love, my deepest hate

Tonight I had pizza for dinner. To many people this is not much of an event, more like a weekly occurrence. I, however, have always had a sort of strange relationship with pizza and so the fact that I willingly went out for pizza, and deep dish “Chicago” style pizza at that, is definitely a special occasion.

When I was young I think I liked pizza. We didn’t have it much when I lived with my mom. When we did, it was usually accompanied by skee-ball, wack-a-mole and lots of other bell-ringing games at Chuck E. Cheese. The pizza wasn’t the focus, the games, particularly skee-ball, were. As soon as our food was ordered, I’d beg for my tokens, grab them and run off to hurl balls up that ramp and exchange my tokens for prize winning tickets. Every now and then I’d head for the table to take a bite or two of pizza, only to scurry back off to my fun. On the rare occasions when we entered a Straw Hat or Pizza Hut, I picked at my pizza, a sort of silent protest to the fact there were no games and large, animatronic mice singing happy birthday to some random child (who once was me and it was SWEET).

My dad, on the other hand, lives for pizza. It’s one of his basic food groups. There’s the cheese group, the meat group, the Triscuit group and the pizza group. As far as he’s concerned, that’s pretty much it*. Every summer when I visited, Pizza Hut, Kilroy’s, Little Ceasar’s and Domino’s were staples of our house. If we went more than five days without pizza, he started to get a little crazy. We even made a special trip every year to Chicago just so we could go to Gino’s East. If you’ve ever lived in or been to Chicago, you know and love this place. I first went when I was seven years old. My dad took me to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and after the show let out, we went to Gino’s. I was enthralled. I actually don’t remember the pizza nearly as much as I remember being up way past my bedtime, hanging out with adults and my dad writing my name on the post by our table. It was so cool.

In addition to the take out pizza we got, usually when visiting grandparents, my dad loved to make his own pizza. Once again a box was involved. This time though, it was the Appian Way pizza kit. The dough powder had to be mixed with water and then my dad would stretch it so thin across a cookie sheet that he had to keep fixing holes in the dough. Then he topped it with Italian sausage and green peppers. This is when I entered my anti-pizza phase. There are only two toppings I hate on pizza. Guess what they are? Yup, the only two my dad likes. That combined with a crappy boxed sauce (that also might have had to be re-hydrated) and paper thin crust and there was no hope. I pretty much gave up on pizza.

Whenever my folks made pizza at home, I made ramen. Whenever they ordered out, usually from Pizza Hut, I had them order me breadsticks and that’s all I ate. Four years of high school and I never touched a single slice of pizza. Weird, I know.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I started eating pizza again. Oddly it was a $4 “no name” special from the local pizzeria in the “village.” They delivered late at night and one of my best friends was addicted, so I usually ended up sharing one with him on the back staircase at one in the morning.** The pizza had absolutely no frills and was just a thin spread of sauce and cheese. I think it was the simplicity of it, as well as the company, that made me enjoy pizza again.

I was doing ok with pizza until several of my guy friends decided that pretty much every Sunday we got together for Simpsons and X-Files (and later Malcolm in the Middle and Futurama as well), that they wanted pizza. And not just any pizza, extra-super-cheesy deep dish pizza from the local pub down the street. Although I’d loved Gino’s as a kid, for some reason, I couldn’t take this deep dish. Every bite I ate felt leden in my stomach. A full piece made me feel sick to my stomach. I gave up pizza again.

Recently I’ve gotten better about my pizza consumption. We have a Papa Murphy’s down the street and I really like their pie. I am especially fond of their Veggie De-Lite. That creamy garlic sauce with the spinach and tomatoes is fantastic. My husband really loves pizza and tonight I agreed to try a place just up the road that promised deep dish Chicago style pizza. It wasn’t bad. It definitely wasn’t Gino’s, (or Giordano’s, my second favorite actual pizza place in Chicago), but it was edible. I didn’t quite finish two slices, but I left very full. I would have liked a few more tomatoes on each slice. One downfall to Chicago style pizza is that for a lot of knock-off pizza joints, this seems to imply no sauce. I have always been a sauce girl. A good sauce makes a pizza for me and a bad one turns me off pizza for years. I can even deal without sauce as long as there are lots of crushed tomatoes. This one was a bit lacking. Still, I guess if my husband wants it, I could be persuaded to go back. He’ll just have to wait a few months. Or maybe I’ll have to take him up to Gino’s and show my Southern boy real pizza.

*With the exception of this absolutely horrid boxed spaghetti kit that Kraft makes. It comes in the same size box as their mac n’ cheese, but is green. The sauce comes in a pouch and it pretty much tastes like funky ketchup. My dad “grew up” on it and loves it. Last time I was at their house they had five boxes in the cabinet.

**My dorm was co-ed, sort of. Floors alternated between guys and girls, but we were only allowed to have guests of the opposite sex in our rooms until midnight M-F.


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If I had a million dollars

If I ever become fabulously wealthy, and I’m not just talking about coming into a little money or even having enough to pay off my house…I mean filthy, stinking, rich, I’ve decided there is only one real indulgent luxury I’d bestow upon myself at least once a week: a massage.

Now, I’m not going to swear I wouldn’t quit my job. Because if I was, in fact, unfathomably well-to-do, I probably would. I wouldn’t sit around eating bon bons though. At least not for more than a week or two. Instead, I would start my own non-profit children’s theater group, kind of like this one. I would, of course, include lots of Shakespeare, because I like him and I’d even get back to writing some original children’s plays. Believe it or not, when I used to have a summer drama program, I wrote three original plays and did a series of plays adapted from children’s books, including a really cute one based on the poems of Shel Silverstein. Unlike the drama group I linked to, mine would be for any kid who wanted a theater experience, but wasn’t likely to get it elsewhere. Since I’d be abundantly wealthy, I’d use any profits from ticket sales to build an elaborate costume and prop collection.

Aside from the whole quitting my job thing, I don’t think much else would change. I like my house and its location. Although I’d probably actually finish off our basement so I could have some place to put my treadmill other than the scary, possibly spider ridden basement. And for that matter, a place to send my husband when he decides to go on a GTA spree. Since I’d have oodles and oodles of money, I’d make sure he had a jumbo sized TV and a kick-ass sound system.

I wouldn’t buy a really fancy car. I mean, it might be nice to have a car without a “service engine soon” light glaring at me AND a back window that isn’t held up by tape, but just something practical for hauling around myself, two kids and a few groceries (yes, I realize I only have one kid, but eventually I plan to have another) that is not a mini-van. Probably something hybrid because if I have tons of money gas prices won’t be an issue, but I’d like to help the environment.

I wouldn’t need a fancy wardrobe. There’d be no point really. At my age I still haven’t learned to dress trendy, and besides, if I’m hanging around a stage or working on a computer writing plays, good ol’ jeans and comfy tees will work just fine for me.

Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be spending more on food because I actually like to cook and I already buy almost everything organic. I might step up some of my restaurant choices, but not by much, since I don’t think even piles of money the size of Mt. Everest will make me crave a Taco Bell combo burrito any less. And I already spend gobs of money getting the good chocolate, so that’s not likely to change.

No, I think the only thing I’d really change is a standing appointment at the local spa for a massage. I briefly considered having someone come to the house, but then all the stress of the house is still there. No, I want one of those quiet rooms with the new agey music, trickling water sounds, low lights, face pillow tables and strange spicy scents I can’t quite identify but really like. I think each week it will be a deep tissue massage, like the one I had today. It would be heaven and I bet I wouldn’t have quite so many knots to work out.

Can someone help me get outrageously rich really soon? I already think I need another massage.

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Another note from Oldy McOlderson

Yes, that’s me now. In addition to my shock over people walking down the street with their pants practically down to their ankles and their boxers hanging out and my complete inability to hold my liquor, I am having mysterious back pain. I have no idea why. I haven’t lifted anything I don’t lift every single day (ie my 27 lb. son). I didn’t sleep on it funny and wake up with it sore.

All I know is that it was fine this morning until I went out on the back patio with my son. I was trying to read One of Us by Willa Cather while my son ran his usual laps around the patio table (with ocassional stops to climb in a patio chair or two) and I couldn’t get comfy. I tried the reclinging chair and that just seemed to make things worse.

There is a shooting and alternately throbbing pain in the lower left side of my back, just above my pant line. I can actually feel the spot that is out of whack. If I push on it I feel both intense pain and a sort of momentary relief. It’s horrible and I hate it.

And what’s worse is that there isn’t much I can do about it. I’m home alone with the little one tonight. I’ve taken Advil (and am going to take some more), but that’s not doing much for me. I don’t want to take Vicodin because it is outdated and makes me a bit loopy. I need to be with it in case anything happens to the baby. I can’t even look forward to a half-assed massage because my husband is at cards tonight. He has, however, promised to rub it tomorrow if it still hurts.

Sitting hurts. Laying down hurts. Standing hurts. This sucks!


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I am definitely not 21 anymore

Ok, so it’s not like I just realized I’ve aged. The mocking I got from my friends about my pants drooping blog was enough to hint I’m becoming an old fuddy dud. However, last night my descent into early middle age was solidified. It seems I can no longer hold my liquor.

Not that I was ever some fortress of drinking fortitude, but at least during my younger days the spins only set in after I’d taken 10 or 11 shots of some crappy cheap liquor (or usually a combination of them, including peppermint schnapps, which in case you didn’t know, tastes like Scope) that were sitting around the party I happened to be at. Even in my later 20’s I could sort of match my dear friend Porchdog by slamming down half a dozen shots of his special NY concoction while drinking a couple glasses full of electric lemonade.*

Two summers ago, I almost held my own with my in-laws who are not alcholics, but are confirmed drinking experts. For 10 days in Ireland, I got offered liquor and they were thrilled I didn’t turn them down. In fact, I didn’t once get called a teetotaler. Plus I even took a sip out of my free pint of Guiness and for me, that was monumental.

Last night, I proved those days of drinking with wild abandon are gone. I’d had a rather rough, hectic weekend. It started when I packed my son in the car and headed to my father’s at 9 am on Friday morning. Two hours later we arrived at his fire station where my son was enthralled by the flashing lights and ability to run through the station with wild abandon. That same day we swam in the pool, played with the giant choo-choo that runs through his backyard (G scale), ran amok in the backyard, chased after a cat and ate pizza. He only had a 40 minute nap in the car, so he crashed hard. Only to wake up at some point in the wee hours of the morning and stay awake for about two hours. Since we were sharing a room, I got to stay awake with him.  Every timeI moved in the bed, he let out a cry from his pack n’ play. It was fairly miserable.

Saturday morning he slept in until 8:30, but that meant we were running late to pick my mother up at my grandmother’s. My mother was in town for her annual visit, which used to be a once every decade in a half visit, but has suddenly become a yearly thing.** She wasn’t alone either. She spent the week with my grandmother as well as my two nephews who are 1 1/2 and almost 4. I had to go pick them up in order to drive them all down to the airport.

I won’t even go into the details of that trip. It’s a whole other blog. I’ll just say I had three car seats in my back seat, a mother who I have a strained relationship with in the front and a son who decided not to fall asleep until we were 10 minutes from my house. Oh, and since he couldn’t sleep, but was really overdue for a nap, he cried a lot of the way home.

A drink was in order. And Saturday night I confined it to one little drink. I felt fine.

On Sunday though, my husband invited everyone from his band over to our house. Their keyboardist/bassist is moving to Pennsylvania, and he wanted to have everyone over for a final jam session/cook-out. I was fine with this, although I’d only met the lead singer and his wife before. I wasn’t even planning to drink, but the lead singer’s wife brought a bottle of wine and since I didn’t want her to drink alone, I let her pour me a glass. I’m not a wine drinker by nature. I actually dislike the taste of it, especially warm red wine, but it’s what she had so I drank.

The guys finished up, the baby went to bed, the food was cooking and the alcohol started flowing. Since I’d bought a rather large container of Absolute pre-made mojito mix and had only had one glass out of it, I figured I’d offer the slushy concoction up to the other party goers. Once again the lead singer’s wife was my partner in crime, so I poured us glasses. For a pre-made mix, it is surprisingly strong. The bottle says 15%, so maybe it was more the two plastic tumblers of it I drank. Either way, I was having a good time.

I managed not to make an idiot of myself while we had guests, but even before they all left, I noticed the patio was spinning when I moved my head two quickly to one side. I knew it was not a good sign, but I went ahead and finished my drink. By the time I was laying on the couch watching TV with my husband, things were spinning no matter what I did. I was on a merry-go-round, and not the nice one with the pretty horses at Six Flags. I was on the hideous one with the apocolyptic horse at the House on the Rock.

My husband forced a glass of water on me before I went to bed. At the time I was a bit annoyed, but in hindsight I guess it was good. I could have felt much worse this morning.

As it was, my head ached. My stomach churned and when I tried to change my son’s diaper (which was only wet), I went running for the bathroom. I didn’t hurl, but I really kind of wanted to. The glass of water I drank made my mouth and throat feel better, but made my stomach flip flop again. Around 10:30 I got half a banana down and managed to keep it there. For lunch I was able to eat some veggie soup, but the smell of my son’s polenta made me gag.

We spent the morning on the couch watching Wonder Pets, the Backyardigans and Wonder Pets again. As a rule I let my son watch 15-30 minutes of TV a day. Today we watched close to two hours.

Around three o’clock I started to feel better. Fourteen and a half hours is a long time to recover from one glass of red wine and two glasses of 15% mojito mix. Getting older really sucks.

*I actually have no illusions that I matched him during this very long night of drinking and I fully admit that at one point he was holding me up and forcing me to focus on things while I tried not to fall off of his balcony. However, aside from throwing up a smidge the next morning, I was relatively fine.

**My grandmother who she does not at all get along with is getting pretty darn old–88–and I think my mother is suddenly worried about her possible inheritance.

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If you have not already seen the latest the latest bit of amazing from Joss Whedon (creator of other bits of amazing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly), you must drop everything you are doing right now, get on the web and go to this site.

There is a superhero. There is an evil genius. There is signing. It’s twisted and amazing. And, it has Nathan Fillion and Doogie Howser. Who knew they could sing…and well.

My faith in the ability of people to produce actual entertainment is restored. Go…watch…now.


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My name is Zoom and I live on the moon

While my aunt was making her secret visit this weekend, she brought a belated Christmas gift for my son. Somehow she’d managed to misplace it during the actual Christmas season, only to find it right before his birthday. Then she lost it again. In an attempt to give it to him while he might still be entertained by it (and before he graduated from college), she handed it over.

The tiny bag and thin CD case made it an easy candidate for getting lost, especially among all of her clutter. The CD was one of those specialty ones sold at mall kiosks across the nation: Mickey, Minnie and Goofy singing famous children’s songs. According to my aunt, every single song on the CD uses my son’s name. Even the dialog inbetween songs directly addresses my son. And not just once, but often. 

I popped the disk in this morning on our drive to the repair shop to get my air-conditioning leak looked at. The CD started right off with my son’s name. Mickey gushed about how happy he was my son would be joining him in a sing-a-long and then proceeded to sing the “Mickey Mouse Club Theme,” inserting my baby’s name as his helper. He even thanked my son for doing such a great job leading the band.

After the Goofy joined in to take my son out to the ballgame, I started getting more than a little nostalgic.

See when I was a little girl, not too much older than my baby is now, someone bought me a flimsy 45 for my record player. It looked like something that could be pulled off of a cereal box, but I knew it was made just for me, because Zoom,* the spaceman whose voice boomed over my speakers, sang out my name. It was a birthday song, and at the time, I thought I was the only one in the world with something so special.

Every year on my birthday, I pulled that little record out from inside my Muppet Movie LP cover (it had an equally flimsy paper cover that was quickly lost) and I played it over and over again, just listening to Zoom telling me about his great search for my birthday present. Even now the song is burned into my memory:

“My name is Zoom and I live on the moon/but I came down to Earth just to sing you this tune, cause beetqueen, it’s your birthday today/a present for you I wanted to find/an outer space creature/a one of a kind…”

And then he started naming a lot of ridiculous creature names I can’t remember now because they were gibberish even then. Unfortunately Zoom couldn’t find anything quite special enough for me, so he wrote me a song instead. And at the very end, he wished me a happy birthday and promised to see me next year.

And he did. At least until I was 14 and my mother sold all my possessions off when I moved out of her house and into my dad’s. If she hadn’t, I kind of think I’d still be taking that 45 out and playing it each year. I’m not really sure on what since I no longer have a record player. Then again, maybe I would have kept that red and white striped portable record player. If I’d been able to.

My son is a bit young to realize that instead of singing about “this old man,” Minnie Mouse is attributing all the actions to him. As he gets a little older, I have a feeling that like me, he will get a kick out of thinking his Disney buddies are talking just to him. It made me feel special and I know it will do the same for him. I remember the wonder at hearing my name on that record and I can only anticipate his.

To be a kid again….

*After writing this I went on line and found the website for this CD. I am not only buying my son one, but might just buy myself one too! I am so EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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