28 December 2009

Milk: It does a body good (unless it's chocolate milk, then it's worse for you than heroin)

I have to admit: I love a big, honkin' glass of chocolate milk. It's fan-friggin'-tastic, especially paired with a equally big, honkin' bowl of ice cream. And thank God I'm not lactose intolerant because, well, we'd have some real problems.

There's just something about having a big, honkin' glass of liquid chocolate that gives me a good feeling all over. And by the way, I'm a purist. It's got to be Hershey's Chocolate Syrup in there. No store brand, no cheap alternative, no other name on the bottle. Hershey's. Chocolate. Syrup.

Not to mention that we're talking about milk here. I mean, it's good for you too, right?

Apparently not. According to leading nutritional Nazis experts, chocolate milk should be outlawed from schools and given the old heave-ho because it makes kids happy healthy fat.

There's almost this threat, like "If you don't drink chocolate milk, then your children will not get the nutrition they need!" says Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. For Schwartz, the dairy industry's campaign is one as concerned with market share as it is with nutrition. "The real issue is a food-industry segment saying, "We want to market our product to children. So we are going to add extra sugar that is completely unnecessary to improve the taste so that kids will drink more of our product." And since more than half of all flavored milk in the U.S. is sold to children in schools, she says, there's a lot to be lost if chocolate milk gets kicked out of the cafeteria.

I failed to notice in Ms. Schwartz argument for eliminating chocolate-y goodness from schools the affect of reduced or eliminated physical education classes in today's schools or the lack of responsibility from dumb parents to haul their fat children away from the Xbox for an hour a day to play outside.

As expected, the milk industry isn't taking all this sitting down. They've launched a million dollar marketing campaign to get you to believe there is nothing wrong with chocolate in your milk. While I tend to agree, maybe they need to send people to places like Boulder, Colorado and Berkeley, California, districts where hippies parading like they own the friggin' place school officials have banned the nectar of joy from their lunchrooms.

Now, I have to be honest: Kaitlyn doesn't get chocolate milk. At just under two years of age, I don't think it would be prudent. Granted, by the time she's four or five, there's nothing wrong with giving her a little bit of chocolate-y goodness in my mind. Especially since I know she'll be taking walks with us and playing outside.

27 December 2009

How I Met Your Mother

Dear Kaitlyn:

I know that by the time you're actually able to read blogs (more like, by the time I let you use the computer on your own), this one will probably be long gone. Either that or dear old dad has made a ton of money from this little venture and you're so mad at me for writing about your life that you don't care to read what I have to say. Let's hope it's the latter. That way you can at least love me for my money.

Today, I bring you back eight and a half years. Dear old dad was prepping for a day of hanging out with friends down in Asbury Park (which, by the time you read this, might be nothing more than a retirement village on the Jersey Shore. What a waste). You see, he was heading down to the Stone Pony to see a concert that, rumor had it, was going to be crashed by Bruce.

After a couple hours at the Pony, Daddy and his group of friends left for greener (i.e., younger) pastures. They finally made their way to Martell's Tiki Bar, where the crowd was a little less grey. It was about 5 p.m. and the band that night wasn't scheduled to start until 8 or so, which gave Daddy and his friends plenty of time to, um, catch up with some friends. You don't know these friends, Kaitlyn, because they are Daddy's friends. Not yours. Remember that.

After a couple of hours with his friends (not to mention a certain former U.S. Representative who bought Daddy a couple rounds), one of Daddy's friends got a brilliant (to him) idea to get Daddy to sing with the band.

For some reason, the band leader totally agreed to let Daddy jump on stage and sing with the 12-person band (with full brass section, mind you). With about five or six doses of liquid courage in his system (again, Daddy's friend, not yours Kaitlyn), Daddy made his way to the stage when called on by the band leader.

The band leader asked Daddy if he was ready for this, which Daddy wasn't. But once the music started, Daddy did a Stella. Little did the band leader know that Daddy was going to go all Ann Curry on him.*

It worked though, as the crowd (which at this point looked double its size thanks to Daddy's liquid courage) was cheering like crazy, including this one little hottie who had made her way to the front of the stage. Soon the song was over and Daddy was heading off stage, being patted on the back and given high-fives from people. That one little hottie made her way over to Daddy and started gushing over him like Daddy was a rock star. Daddy even got her phone number.

And it's a good thing he did, Kaitlyn, considering Daddy called that little hottie a couple days later. And a couple days after that, they went on their first date. And a couple days after that, Daddy got pneumonia and couldn't go to the Aerosmith concert, which, by the way, that little hottie had tickets to, as well. But that's OK, because a couple days later, that little hottie brought some soup to your sick Daddy and told him all about the concert.

Eight and a half years later, that little hottie is still a little hottie. And that, my dear Kaitlyn, is How I Met Your Mother. Happy Anniversary, you little hottie.

Oh yeah, and Bruce did wind up showing at The Stone Pony that year. And Daddy missed him. And he's glad he did.

*Go all Ann Curry (v): to take over a production by throwing himself/herself in front of the lead talent, whether warranted or not

25 December 2009

Swag is Good, aka "Christmas in North Carolina"

So we're nearing the end of Christmas here in Year 2 of Kaitlyn (yeah, she's technically turning two in January, but this is her second Christmas and she knows what's up), and it was a stunning success.

We learned a lot this Christmas. First, 7&7s and Red Oak go quite well together throughout the day. Second, the Press Your Luck game for the Wii is quite possibly the most fun I've had with the Wii since we've purchased it. Third, I truly like North Carolina Christmases that don't rain. If it weren't for the rain, we probably could have played nine or so holes since it was well north of 50 degrees.

But most of all, we learned that Christmas is fun with Kaitlyn. Even though it took a little while to get her going (apparently this girl forgot it was Christmas because she didn't wake up until 8 a.m.), there was no stopping her once she did start chugging along today.

She was a present opening machine, a great helper for passing out gifts to everyone, and a playing fool, taking time with everything she was lucky enough to get from her family and friends. Granted, the baby dolls and art desk took more time from, say, the books and socks, but she took more than a passing glance at those, too.

For those of you that I haven't personally talked with today, Michelle, Kaitlyn, Boo and myself wish you all a Merry Christmas. We love and appreciate all of you. Even if you didn't send a gift.

22 December 2009

"UP" is a very misleading movie title

When we were in New Jersey, Nana bought a copy of Disney's UP since we never saw it. The movie actually didn't work, which disappointed us since it was a movie we could sit down and watch with Kaitlyn (one that we actually wanted to see, anyway).

Flash forward to last week. In preparation for The Nightmare Before Christmas, Michelle decided to pick up some movies from redbox (Best. Invention. Ever.). We stayed in Friday night, made some Christmas cookies with Aunt Shannon and tucked ourselves in to watch some movies. UP was one of those movies.

Now, if you haven't seen the movie and plan to, I would recommend you stop reading this post. Here, enjoy this collection of Kaitlyn videos instead.

UP is not the word I would use to describe this movie. While a really good movie as a whole, Disney turned up the depression knob on some of the more poignant points in the movie. Now, I'm used to seeing some sad spots in Disney movies. But I don't remember a Disney movie that, throughout the whole thing, I said to myself Man, that's sad numerous times.

Let us count the ways:

  • In the first 15 minutes, we watch a montage of this couple growing old together, only to play witness to the death of the main character's wife (without fulfilling their dream).
  • Then, we see the main character get ushered into court only to have his freedom yanked from him by a greedy corporation for the sole purpose of demolishing his dream house.
  • We listen to the sidekick's sad tale of how his father abandoned his family, remarry and not want anything to do with his son.
  • The main character's childhood hero turns out to be a greedy old man, making our hero realize his dreams (and his wife's) were built on lies.

Like I said, depressing. Aunt Shannon was actually so disturbed by the movie's messages that she stopped watching it halfway through because it was depressing her. Kaitlyn didn't even sit through the whole thing, which is something to say considering it was a cartoon. And it was Disney. Yikes.

Then, after all this heavy stuff laid on you, the movie gets completely wacky as dogs start flying mini pop planes. I mean, Disney creates this very serious movie (granted, with the fun Disney humor and spin put on it) only to go completely over the silly line in the final 20 minutes. If not for that, this would be a real good movie -- for adults. This is not (repeat: this is NOT) a children's movie.

On a side note, I never thought Meryl Streep could look any uglier until I saw Julie & Julia. I mean, the woman's not attractive to begin with, but making her look like Julia Child is downright criminal on the viewers' eyes. That being said, she is a great actress. But there's a reason some people are better suited for radio.

19 December 2009

Welcome to River Country?

I love Disney. For regular readers, you know this. For newbies, I come from a family of pseudo-Disneyphiles. My parents aren't true die-hards, but they love Disney enough to be considered just on the outer ring of addicts.

I am trying to bring Kaitlyn up as a Disney Girl, which is getting more and more difficult thanks to a certain explorer. But she's getting to the age where the princesses are starting to be a little more appealing, so it's all good.

Part of Kaitlyn's initiation into Disneyhood is the regular trip to Walt Disney World. We went last year with my parents (of course) and Kaitlyn did great. Loved It's A Small World. Played her heart out at Mickey's Toontown. Scared her to death to meet Daisy Duck. Like I said, it's all good.

We're planning on going back again in February with Nana and Pop-Pop. Hopefully she'll do a little better with the characters, but even if she doesn't we'll have a great time. Just like we did when we were kids. Which is why Disney is so great, because while there are always changes in the works, everything is the same as when you first walked in and saw Cinderella's Castle.

Almost everything.

Remember River Country? That ol' swimmin' hole that was the premier water park before Disney gave us Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach? While I've known its been closed for years, I figured it was leveled to make way for the next big thing from Disney. Guess again.

In my internet surfing I ran across a post from Tri-circle-D on It's quite amazing that Disney has let this once proud part of their resort become what it has. Don't they have Imagineers that could do something over there, like they did with the rest of the Magic Kingdom from my childhood?

All pictures courtesy of Tri-circle-D on

Winter Wonderland, North Carolina edition

So we made it through the night. A fissure in the Earth's crust didn't suck us into oblivion. Armageddon didn't blow us to kingdom come. Some smartass might say that Hell hath frozen over, but if this is Hell I have no problem staying for a little while.

The Nightmare Before Christmas, as the morons dopes non-journalistic pretty boys television stations are calling the latest flurry drizzle snowstorm down here in central North Carolina, is for the most part over and we didn't get sucked into the abyss like many thought would happen if more than two inches of snow fell on the Piedmont Triad.

And the good news is that there was actually snow on the ground when we woke up in the morning, which meant that Kaitlyn had some good times tossing snow around and helping Daddy shovel the walkway. Maybe later we'll build a snowman, but it was cold out and there's still a little icy glaze on everything out there.

18 December 2009

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Welcome to central North Carolina, home of the Wyndham Championship, the ACC Championship, some damn good barbecue and snow. Yup, good, old-fashioned snow.

When the dopes fools weathermen said earlier this week that we could expect an inch to three inches of snow Friday night, we all laughed. Then, on Friday morning, the dopes fools weathermen changed that prediction to four to six inches. We cackled. At noon, the dopes fools weathermen said six to 12 inches could fall on the Piedmont Triad. I howled.

Well, here comes the snow. And it's coming hard. The more and more I watch it, the more and more I believe we could get a good couple of inches. Do I believe we're headed for a half-foot? Heck no.

All I hope is that it sticks around until the morning so that Kaitlyn really gets to enjoy it. Otherwise, it's just going to be a big gloppy mess, which will take the fun out of this first snowfall of the season.

17 December 2009

Meet Teddy

Teddy has always been a staple in Michelle's life. Of course there are all the childhood memories, but that would only be scratching the surface of Teddy's exploits, since everyone had that favorite stuffed animal when they were growing up.

You see, Teddy went to college with Michelle. Teddy slept with Michelle through her years at Towson University. There were stories about how Teddy was hidden from Michelle by the girls and guys, how Michelle might find Teddy the next day hanging from a light fixture or ceiling fan. Michelle was not amused.

Teddy made her way home with Michelle after college (How do we know Teddy is a she? Well, there's a hole between Teddy's legs from the seams popping, which made for some rather unsavory stories, according to Michelle's friends).

When Michelle and I moved in together, Teddy came along. And yes, Teddy still had a place in the bed. Teddy made it to our wedding, albeit in a duffel bag in the honeymoon suite. Michelle actually wanted to pin Teddy underneath her dress, but I think YaYa got the better of that argument.

Teddy is a world traveler, too. Besides going on the honeymoon to Jamaica (yes, ugh), Teddy went to London in high school and the Dominican Republic when Michelle and her friend Laura did some after college "discovery." Teddy's criss-crossed the country, usually in Michelle's pillowcase so she knew where Teddy was at all times. Teddy's been (to my knowledge) to Arizona, Seattle, California and every state on the east coast from New York to Florida.

Teddy's place in the house has always been by Michelle's side. In recent years, Teddy moved from the bed to the nightstand because Michelle was afraid that our dog would use Teddy as a chew toy. But every night, there was Teddy right next to Michelle.

I don't think Michelle ever thought of a day when Teddy wouldn't be by her side.

The other day, Michelle noticed that Kaitlyn was holding Teddy. At first, she thought this was cute, since her daughter was meeting her Teddy. But then a funny thing happened. Kaitlyn started actually bring Teddy with her places.

So far it's been confined to the house. But when you turn around, there's Teddy lying on the floor, Kaitlyn telling Teddy to "Go to sleep," covering Teddy with a dish towel. There's Kaitlyn holding Teddy while watching Dora. There's Teddy in Kaitlyn's crib at night, my daughter's arm wrapped tightly around my wife's slice of childhood.

You can see in her face that Michelle is torn by this chain of events. After all, this is her Teddy, not Kaitlyn's Teddy. I'm sure that somewhere, sometime, Michelle thought she'd hand Teddy down to her child. But to actually see it happening has brought a gush of emotions over her. I'm sure she secretly thinks, Get your own damn Teddy.

So now here Teddy sits, on the bench next to the snowman, waiting for her girl to come home. Much to my wife's dismay, she's not that girl anymore.

15 December 2009

In Pictures: Gibsonville Christmas Parade

Kaitlyn got her first taste of stardom Saturday afternoon when she was the main attraction at the Gibsonville Christmas Parade.

Okay, okay, she was one of a dozen or so kids on a float in the parade, but it just sounds so much better saying she was the reason hundreds of people lined the streets of Gibsonville. Forget the jolly big man (who we didn't see since we were in a float ahead of Santa).

Kaitlyn waved to people, said Merry Christmas and laughed the whole way, even though it was cold and wet and windy.

The star of the Gibsonville Christmas Parade

One of our great teachers at the daycare handing out balloons during the parade

One of Kaitlyn's supporting cast members, Sophia, and her antler-ed daddy, who we like despite his affinity to that safety school in Chapel Hill

Another daycare staffer who is REALLY happy to see me. Scary, I know.

We aren't sure why the dogs were being walked during the parade. For that matter, we don't know why daycare staffers decided to dress like Austin Powers extras

View from above. Yeah, we're in the parade and you're not. I'm talking to you, antler boy

After taking this photo, I stuck my tongue out at these people because, like antler boy, they're not in the parade either

The float was a little crowded, but Kaitlyn (covered by balloon on left) had plenty of room to wave and be admired by the masses

14 December 2009

The Great Interview Experiment: So-So Stephanie

So we're doing something different here at Growing Up Kaitlyn. As part of a great project called The Great Interview Experiment, I've been given the opportunity to talk with Stephanie Gresham, author of the blog So-So Stephanie.

Me: OK, so I'm planning to do this thing one question at a time to get some give-take action going. I mean, I could just send you a list of questions and have you answer them, but that's just no fun.

So I've read So-So Stephanie. Like, the whole thing in one sitting, with some obvious breaks for coffee and taking the dog out to pee. Before I get all Nietzsche on you, give me your view on So-So Stephanie and how you started it.

So-So Stephanie: I kept journals and diaries long before the internet ever made it cool. I love the idea of having something to remind you of your life at it's so many various stages. And I'm no good at photo albums. I like to read them years later and get a good laugh or a good cry out of the entries and memories they dredge up.

As for my newest writing endeavor... I found Blogger was a super alternative to the hugely popular forums that showcase a person in photos and witty one liners. I have tried them all and really prefer the open space for writing a blog has to offer. I petered out on twitter before getting many twits to tweet me. Or something.

Motherhood is an odd place for me to have settled. I'm constantly feeling like someone just hired me without reading my resume. Not qualified for motherhood. I do things however they work best for us. Sometimes those ways clash with the "norm", but more often than not it makes for a funny post.

It started off being a place for me to flex the writer muscle. Now I sometimes wonder if I'm still writing it for myself or for the people who read it {as if they are just dying to hear about my gynecologist visits}. Sometimes I want to say things my mother in law or neighbors won't approve of. Like the eff word.

In any case, it's a good place to vent about a bad day or talk crap about my mom when I'm mad at her. She can only seem to figure out the internet when she wants to win a rooster salt and pepper shaker set on ebay. I like blogging. And although I have less time to devote to it since becoming a mother of two, it's there even when i neglected it for weeks at a time. Unlike any of the plants on my back patio.

Me: Don't laugh, but I totally dig your trips to Dr. Bajingo. Not in a creepy way, but, well, you get the drift.

You mentioned writing for your peeps, who play a very important role in So-So Stephanie. I have to get this off my chest: When you write about your father, it's almost perfect prose. When I read Part Damn One for the first time, I was speechless, which for me is quite an accomplishment.

As your blog has progressed, you've opened up more about your childhood and family. Hell, I didn't even know Husband wasn't Ladybug's father until going through a year's worth of posts (look at me talking like a So-So Steph insider). And it seemed to have started with Part Damn One. What made you finally decide to open up that part of your life to the readers?

So-So Stephanie: Wow. I'm floored. I think in the whole time I've been doing this stuff, that is the best compliment I've ever received. I'm more than flattered.

In the beginning of my blog I wrote mostly about my daughter and the silly stuff she said or did. She is such a grown-up six year old and I really want to remember what I can about these parts of her life. I didn't really make any sort of decision to write about my dad. I sat down and just started typing. Like most of my posts, I didn't have much of an idea what was going to come out.

But once I started, I was surprised at how hard it was to keep the truth inside. Or to "tweak it", like I sometimes find myself doing to save face in front of my readers. I would type a sentence and read it and think, "that's not right at all". Even if it was the truth, it didn't sound right. You know? So. I just flipped the edit switch to the off position, took a deep breath and continued. It felt good. I haven't really talked about that part of my life with anyone. It occurred to me that I hadn't even been honest with myself until I sat down and started to type.

That's really it. I'm glad I did it. I don't read those posts much. Some of the funnier ones I like to re-read when I get bored or need a blogger pep-talk. Those, I hardly touch. Maybe it's because I know they are perfect just how they are. Or maybe I want to save a tree's worth of tissues.

Thanks very much for asking.

Me: Now that we've gotten the serious stuff out of the way:

Where did that URL (unicornbutterflies) come from? I mean, when I first read that I thought, "Great, she probably has a bumper sticker touting her honor roll student, too."

So-So Stephanie: Haha. No bumper stickers here, but if I did have one it would say "if you smile pretty enough, nobody will notice your socks are ugly". Something my mom said to me once. {those socks were god-awful}.

Since the blog was originally just going to be tidbits of writing inspired by my little girl, I let her help me name the URL. It's as simple as that. You should've seen my header before a friend helped me make the existing one. Let's just say there were flying horses, rainbows, and cupcakes on it. My very good friend took one peek and said, "that's awful". And she was right. It wasn't going to be "by Ladybug" but about her. So. That's that.

Me: I would so buy one of those bumper stickers.

Now, as the parent of a little girl who doesn't seem to have any sort of major problems (besides the lice, which we can totally blame on another parent who doesn't know how to groom their child properly), what advice do you have to pass on for someone like me who's just about to hit those terrible twos? I mean, I'm pretty surprised I haven't killed her yet, but it's only been 23 months.

So-So Stephanie: You're hilarious. At about this milestone birthday I remember thanking my lucky stars she survived so long. I can't believe we're six years in and our only problem has been lice. Who, by the way, prefer clean kids to the dirty kind. When your girl approaches the school-aged years keep in mind hairspray is your best weapon against head-bugs.

My advice...hmmm. I really find it baffling anyone would ask me for advice, but I will do my best. How about a list?

1. don't try to be perfect. right from the get-go i was using this rule of thumb. you'll never get there no matter how hard you try, so why even bother aiming so high? i get by every day doing my best for that particular day. that's all kids ask for. your best effort. and gum. like every five minutes.

2. self-medicate. i don't, by any means condone drinking copious amounts of Jack Daniels or popping pills to get you through until they start school. rather, do something good for yourself more often than you think you deserve. i'm not going to lie, i feel like ripping off her arm and beating her with the bloody stump after about the gazillionth time she asks me for dessert DURING dinner. instead, i let my husband listen to it because he has the patience of a person who talks to adults all day. and i go outside and walk the dog or shower or something. those few minutes alone really charge up my kid-handling battery. i can come back inside and finish the evening without risking lives {nor limbs}.

3. choose your battles. this is a cliche. but in parenting {especially a toddler}, you're going to be faced with an ass-load of battles. sometimes my kid goes out in ensembles even cindi lauper would've laughed at. and that's okay with me if it means i don't have to fight and everyone remains calm and happy. every situation needs to be weighed and processed before approached. before you get into it with your little girl think to yourself, what's the worst that could happen? and if you can live with the consequences, why not give them one more thing to be happy about? save the disappointment for their teenaged years. when you can actually enjoy being the bad guy...

4. hug 'em while they can sit still long enough to be hugged. occasionally a night goes by when i am kissing Ladybug goodnight and I think, this is the first time today i have "loved" on her. and i'm trying to remember how important it is to hug and kiss her. before i know it, she'll be a teen and motherly public displays of affection will be out of the question.

I hope those weren't too corny. I'm pretty much just playing it by ear and keeping my fingers crossed. And my toes. I can use all the help I can get.

I also wanted to say that I am really enjoying your blog.

I have only one cookie recipe that comes out delicious/edible. And the last time I made them, I added an extra half stick of butter by accident. That put the butter tally up to three sticks. Yes. Three. Fortunately, they were delicious because butter makes everything better. {do i smell a new bumper sticker idea???}

But i'm considering changing the name from "ultimate chocolate chip cookies" to "tiny heart-attacks with a little chocolate inside".

Me: A couple things:

1) Flattery will get you everywhere, especially with me. I'll also be sure to tell my wife you are game for the "Give my kid a cookie that tastes like rock candy" methodology.

2) I think we're on to a new career for you: Bumper Sticker writer.

3) I can see your point about staying away from the "special" treats. I've been indulging in a little too much Mother's Cure since 14 months and it's probably the reason I'm still semi-retired.

Back to the interview: What's it like to squirt yourself in the face with breast milk? I mean, did you forget to buy creamer for the coffee or something?

So-So Stephanie: Um. It was just something I was curious about. {how much comes out? how fast? etc}. Knowing what I now know about the force and consistency of the stuff, I would not look again directly down the um... "barrel of the gun".

That's really all I'd like to say concerning that topic.

Me: I have to say, I thought you were ending this interview after that question, considering you hadn't responded with your usual expediency. Glad I haven't scared you away. Yet.

You mentioned your less than enthusiastic stance on social media. That's not really the blogger way, you know. But I did notice you still have a MySpace page. That's pretty scary stuff there, Triple S. There's a question in there somewhere.

So-So Stephanie: I wonder what the date of the last time I logged into that account. I can't recall my password for it, but may be able to do some guessing if I needed to. My MySpace page is only still open because the email account I used to open it ages ago is no longer in existence and they want me to jump through some firey hoops to have it deleted. Really. I think I was supposed to take a photo of myself holding a hand-written sign saying my screen name and that I wanted to close my account. Upload it, email it....zzzzzzzzzz. So I just don't use it. It's out there. I just pretend it isn't.

Facebook, on the other hand, is fun. Mostly because my husband is fond of starting fan clubs of stuff like chicken pieces. And he also joins fan clubs for Ewoks and NOT PLAYING FARMVILLE. I like Facebook. And I'm not dissing all forums. I just don't have time to keep up with most of them. And Twitter looked like a total time-suck for me. So. I have tried many of them. Most of them are still out there. I just am finding I have to prioritize my internet time these days with two kids. And I'd much rather be writing a blog or stalking other blogs. Or pining for the stuff posted on Apartment Therapy. Stuffffffff.

Hope that's not all ya got...

Me: Not even close to done! Well, actually we're getting close to the end, but not for a lack of talking. You see, we've got to wrap this up sooner or later. Besides, I have to apparently stalk my interviewer, since they never contacted me. Douche.

Anyway, you mentioned the second rugrat. How is life with Sam going? And how's Ladybug dealing with being second fiddle?

So-So Stephanie: Too bad we can't interview each other. The blogger I am interviewing is about as much fun and excitement as a xanax with a gin chaser. I had a hard enough time reading through her archive and now it's even harder coming up with questions that don't include me asking why she is so boring.

Onto your answer. Ladybug is smitten with Sam. She is protective of him almost to a fault. She yelled at the pediatrician for giving him a shot, "he doesn't like that" and she was up and on that doctor like white on rice.

She's yet to voice any jealousy about playing second fiddle, but JG and I try our best to divvy the parenting up during those chaotic parts of the day when everyone seems so needy. Bedtime is a bittersweet time. {I sometimes struggle with getting everyone ready for bed without making it seem like I'm in a hurry to be kid-free.}

Ladybug is a great sister. Sam is a lucky kid.

ps- i changed my blog header and slapped one of my bumper sticker slogans on as the subheading. thanks for the vote of confidence!

Me: Yeah, I saw the new blog. Very chic. And thanks for the stalker nod.

Well, I guess it's getting time to wrap this up, which makes me a little sad because I've enjoyed this tremendously. What does the future hold for So-So Stephanie? I mean, my wife is trying to get me to write a book because, well, I'm semi-retired and all and she wants to see some cash coming from this blogging experiment.

So-So Stephanie: Haha. You're a brave one to consider writing a book. What would it be about? Do you write any fiction or are you a memoirs type of guy? I'm so curious what sort of mindset you have to be in to take on such a project. I'm not even going to pretend I'm ready for any of that yet. I'll stick to my insane episodes on blogger for now.

Let's see. As for so-so stephanie... I think I plan on maybe getting a little more serious about it. It's all too easy for me to get carried away doing the whole mom thing all day long and use that as an excuse to neglect the internet for days or weeks at a time. But I really hope to become a better writer. I am constantly picking up books on writing and whizzing through them only to find myself blinking, dumbfounded at the cursor mocking me when I take matters into my own hands.

I'm dwarfed by the mountains of bloggers out there who are so good at it that they are drowning in followers. I'm humbled by those people who do write books. Who make it happen. How on earth could I possibly write something anyone would want to read, not to mention pay for?? I don't know who dumped out my glass, but it's half-empty when I open the dashboard and click NEW POST. I just kind of cross my toes and wing it. Maybe someday I'll be bold enough to try and "do something with it". The writing stuff, I mean.

Until then, all I can hope for is a little inspiration every day to get me on the computer and onto the next ridiculous thing I throw out there for people to gawk at.

Thanks, James, for your superlative interview. I'd read any book you write. Unless it's about math. *gag.

12 December 2009

A quick repreieve from the Diegosaurus and Doradactyl

She looks like such an angel sleeping on the couch, doesn't she? I mean, Kaitlyn's dreaming of sugarplums and fairies and all that crap while I'm catching my breath after a terrible tantrum that just passed through the house.

By the way, what kid dreams of sugarplums nowadays? I think Kaitlyn is probably dreaming of black and white cookies. Or ice cream sundaes. Yes, definitely ice cream sundaes.

The tantrum was the result of another round of the fun game that we like to call, "Put on Dora, Boots and Diego or I'm going to scream my friggin' head off and cause one of the neighbors to call child services." (What? You haven't played that game before? Oh, it's a hoot, especially when the sheriff's deputies arrive at the front door.)

Today we started the game after coming back from the neighbor's house. It was about time to take a nap and, well, Kaitlyn decided to play "Put on Dora, Boots and Diego or I'm going to scream my friggin' head off and cause one of the neighbors to call child services."

So now it's Mommy and Daddy's turn. There are really three options, two of which cause Mommy and Daddy to lose the game. First, we could always put on Dora or Diego, which means we lose the game because 1) we just allowed Mr. Toshiba to play babysitter, and 2) Kaitlyn wouldn't fall asleep while watching the show, which just postpones the game. Sort of like a dinner break in the middle of Monopoly.

Second, we could opt to divert her attention to another activity, usually coloring, taking a walk or playing with Little People (not actual little people, because that would just be too cool). Unfortunately, Kaitlyn now understands that she can do these things while watching Dora or Diego, which has rendered the divertion tactic as useless.

Third (and this is where the heart of "Put on Dora, Boots and Diego or I'm going to scream my friggin' head off and cause one of the neighbors to call child services" comes from), we could tell her no and let the fit hit the shan. In order to "win" the game after taking this route, Mommy and Daddy must calm Kaitlyn down before, as the name of the game implies, one of the neighbors calls child services.

Luckily, Mommy and Daddy have never lost this game, even though it has been really, really close at times. The other night, Kaitlyn almost won the game:

10 December 2009

Sushi: It's not just for pretentious pricks anymore

Michelle and I always joke that Kaitlyn eats so much better at daycare than she does at home. I mean, we feed her veggies, pasta, chicken and other healthy options. Of course, there's always chocolate chip pancake night, but that's a special treat.

But when we get Kaitlyn's daily report card from daycare, we see her lunch menu consisting of beef tips, tilapia, barbecue chicken and other goodies that make my mouth water. I swear that Kaitlyn looks at us on the weekends thinking, I wonder what I would be getting at daycare today, just before we push a plate of chicken fingers at her.

Apparently, after reading this nugget from back home, Kaitlyn's getting the short end of the culinary stick. Because the kids at six Hillsborough, N.J. elementary schools are getting sushi for lunch. You read that right, sushi:

Lynne Richmond, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, said that while items like sushi might not be commonplace in elementary schools just yet, there’s a growing trend toward expanding menus to include more options, including international items. "It’s a different world out there than it was 25 years ago or even 10 years ago," Richmond said. "We have definitely seen school districts trying to be creative with their menus in recent years using our nutritional standards as a guideline."

Now, there are a lot of people who think this is a little over the top, citing things like food allergies and tax dollars paying for sushi. And if you think this isn't going to happen elsewhere, think again. Hillsborough schools' food services are supplied by Sodexho, which holds contracts for thousands of schools systems across the country.

09 December 2009

In Pictures: Cookie-making time

After reading about our friend Gwendolyn Brown-Johnson yesterday, Michelle looked at me and said, "We just had fun this weekend baking cookies and it was cute and you write about this?"

You see, Michelle thinks this blog should be about her and Kaitlyn and the fun and beauty and hilarity that is parenting. Mostly, though, about her. I have attempted to tell her that the blog is about our family and the things we talk about, see and go through on a daily basis. But she wants more cowbell. And by cowbell, she means her.*

What she didn't know what that I was already planning a post about our cookie escapade, but hadn't yet completed it. And it's a good thing I didn't since Michelle decided to whip up a batch of cookies using Grandma Gill's recipe for chocolate chip macaroons.

At first we thought the gritty texture was due to the fact that she didn't mix the sugar into the egg whites enough, leaving the macaroons as crumbly, chocolate chip-filled sugar mounds. That's how Grandma's were, too, she said coolly. This from someone who likes to put 12 to 15 sugar packets in her non-sweetened iced tea "just to crunch the sugar at the bottom."

About an hour after chowing down a half-dozen of these pure sugar concoctions, Michelle took a second look at the recipe. Oh, she says quietly. I put three cups of sugar in the mix when it called for three-quarters of a cup sugar.

Oh? No wonder Kaitlyn didn't want to go nite-nite. So, as you read this, Michelle's entire floor at work is probably bouncing off the walls screaming for more macaroons.

Anywho, here's the rest of the cookie-making fun from this past weekend, in pictures:

We invited Aunt Kari over to bake. You remember Aunt Kari, right? Anyhow, she decided that she should bring her entire pantry to the party. Like we wouldn't let her borrow sugar or something.

This is me sifting flour for Aunt Kari, since she didn't know what "sift" meant when reading the recipes. No joke.

Aunt Kari and Michelle hard at work trying to figure out how to operate the food processor. Which led to ...

... me pounding cookies by hand because the darn thing wouldn't start. 

One of the cookie recipes that Aunt Kari used called for a glaze. This is how Aunt Kari's "glaze" turned out. On a side note, this is eerily similar to how Michelle's macaroons looked and, based on the amount of sugar in each, tasted, as well.

* I love you, honey. 

08 December 2009

Moonshine provides Charlotte daycare owner with lucrative side business

 Today I raise a mason jar of some fine Carolina White Lightning to Gwendolyn Brown-Johnson.

Ms. Brown-Johnson found herself in a real pickle last week down in ol' Charlotte, N.C., according to the local press. You see, an undercover officer caught her selling off two gallons worth of some fine City Gin at the Parkview Community Center.

Problem is, not only is drinking Bush Whiskey illegal, but so is selling it. At a day care center. I repeat: At a day care center.

Agents say children were in the day care center when they sent in an undercover agent to buy two gallons of moonshine. Brown-Johnson told the paper she was set up by a neighbor. She says she was just holding a package for a man in exchange for $80 and didn't even know what was in it.

By the way, police also arrest 82-year-old Ervin Finger -- whom they say produced the Catdaddy in question -- after find more than 80 gallons of Ruckus Juice at his place. I repeat: More than 80 gallons.

Now to be fair, Brown-Johnson is claiming that she is being targeted by a "vengeful neighbor." According to the Web site of Parkview Community Center and its related foundation, Brown-Johnson is "a concerned and caring neighborhood resident [who] saw that the children in the neighborhood lacked adequate parental or other responsible adult guidance, supervision and protection from hazardous social environments." No word yet on whether selling $80 worth of corn liquor qualifies as "responsible adult guidance."

Personally, I think Brown-Johnson might have stumbled upon a business opportunity, knowingly or not. I mean, who needs a little Mule Kick more than parents and daycare workers?

Cognitive Development, aka "The Stewie Griffin Conundrum, Part II"

Usually when you boast about your kid's intellectual prowess, you either:

A) are so dumb yourself that anything your kid does is going to make them Albert friggin' Einstein; or

B) are trying to hide the fact that your kid's as dumb as a doornail.

I have to say, I fit into the first category. I'm not on the Britney Spears level of stupidity, but I'm not the brightest bulb in the box. I know I fit into "A" because Kaitlyn is a genius. She says so herself. Here are the latest findings to support that hypothesis:

  • She is saying her full name. The other day she just busted out her full name -- first, middle, last -- and Michelle and I just looked at each other and were like, "Did you teach her that?"
  • She is reading books to us. A couple nights ago we pulled out "Hush Little Baby" and she began reciting the book as we turned pages. It was sort of surreal until I realized she knew Diamond Ring. That scared me. I guess it's hard wired into females.
  • She is building a Large Hadron Collider with the bag of blocks. Now only if she can remember where she put the plutonium she stole from the Russians.
  • She has better grammar than Mommy. I don't know if this truly supports the argument or if it pigeonholes Michelle into category "A" with Daddy, but she's already proving that she's going to be a talker like her parents. God help us on that one.

06 December 2009

Most Dangerous Toys 2009, aka "Ruining Christmas for Everyone, Part II"

I thought World Against Toys Causing Harm, Inc.. was the only group of Godless quacks consumer watchdog group we had to worry about this holiday season.

But thanks,, for being the hippie tree huggers most of the world has come to hate. You see, the people of are set to tell consumers everywhere about how the products in their homes cause the Earth to die. Or, according to their PR spin, "GoodGuide provides the world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home."

And, like the unholy despicable happiness-deprived watchdog group WATCH, these guys want to make sure you and your children are safe from evil toymakers who are out to destroy the world.

And while WATCH targeted such items as a book of numbers and an infant drum set, GoodGuide is going after the biggest of the big boys this holiday season: Zhu-Zhu Pets.

If you're not familiar with these furry little hamsters, they're, well, furry little hamsters. Just mechanical furry little hamsters. And they're going for $10 if you can find them. On eBay, they're five times that amount. One guy's giving you a deal with three for $100. I'm pretty sure you can find a real hamster for, like eight cents. But I digress.

So the people at GoodGuide are now saying that these fake hamsters contain tin and antimony, which causes cancer. According to head tree hugger and hippie GoodGuide co-founder Dara O'Rourke:

"We found levels of about 93 to 106 parts per million," O'Rourke said. "The new federal standard is about 60 parts per million."

I don't know what all that means, and I even tried to Google it. Everything reads like Latin. So either it's really way beyond me, or it really doesn't matter. If this was way beyond me, I don't think you'd ever put it in a children's toy. Unless your from China. Oh wait, Zhu Zhu Pets are made in China. Ouch.

05 December 2009

Kaitlyn's Holiday Wish List

With the holidays now upon us, I figured I'd help the Growing Up Kaitlyn contingent with their Christmas shopping.

You see, the Growing Up Kaitlyn family has settled here in this small tiny space-prohibitive quaint townhouse that doesn't have a lot of storage. Sure, we've got YaYa and Pop-Pop's place, but we can't expect to put all our stuff in their house forever. I'm sure if we asked we could, but that would just be abusing a privilege they've extended and I'm not about to get on YaYa's bad side. Again.

So Michelle and I have come up with a parent-approved Wish List that doesn't include noisy toys is sure to make Kaitlyn happy come Christmas morning. As an added bonus, if there are any of you out there who might have Michelle or myself in a Secret Santa, we've included some of our requests, as well.

Kaitlyn's Wish List
Tinker Bell. Not items related to Tinker Bell, but the actual pixie
A membership to The N.C. Zoo, The Natural Science Center of Greensboro and Weight Watchers
Handcuffs to make sure that damn Swiper stops swiping
DJ Lance Rock's fuzzy hat
A pass to the Hershey factory that allows her to swim in chocolate syrup
Google stock

Michelle's Wish List
A second husband who has any combination of wealth, looks and/or fame
An Old Navy puffy vest stuffed with $100 bills.
Immortality, especially for Boo

James' Wish List
A winning Powerball ticket so to remove "semi-" from his official title of "semi-retired"
In lieu of Powerball ticket, full-time job paying over $45,000 would suffice
Odyssey's Vegas headcover for blade putter and matching grip so that he looks cool while playing like crap
Mother's Cure (nsfw)

03 December 2009

In Pictures: Failed Christmas Card Photos

Failed attempt #1: Almost got it on the first try

Failed attempt #4: Michelle showing Kaitlyn how to smile for future attempts

Failed attempt #11: Kaitlyn still thinking it was Halloween, doing her best Frankenstein impression

Failed attempt #13: Michelle showing Kaitlyn how to smile for future attempts (Part II)

Failed attempt #16: Moving from Mickey to ornaments as distraction tactic

Failed attempt #21: Kaitlyn grabs camera. Again. 

Failed attempt #26: Just when we thought we had it, Kaitlyn stands up in the middle of shot

Failed attempt #32: Kaitlyn drops ornament. On a side note, running out of ornaments.

Failed attempt #45: If only she smiled. 

Failed attempt #51: Kaitlyn grabs camera. Again.

Failed attempt #58: Michelle tries a new angle. Unfortunately makes Kaitlyn look like she's a squirrel

Failed attempt #60: Kaitlyn grabs camera. Again

Failed attempt #66: Don't ask

Failed attempt #73: I think we're fighting a losing battle at this point

Failed attempt #78: Screw it. Off the shelf cards it is.