Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do You Know This Face?

This intrepid visitor descended upon Dart Guy, Spitfire, and Destructo while they innocently played (so they claim, anyway)in the back yard yesterday. If you, or anyone you know, has seen this, one of America's Most Wanted, prancing in her owner's yard or straining at the end of said-owner's leash, please tell them you know where this Jumping Dog is currently residing--our home. She is, of course, being well taken cared of, in spite of some, small degree of traumatizing induced by the crazed enthusiasm of the pet-starved Spitfire and Destructo. We did feed her organic goldfish and the remains of Chipotle burrito bowls, so no need to worry about her eating habits. I believe she is even a little smarter after having scarfed down her crunchy, organic entree in a single bite (surely owing this eating habit to watching Destructo eat his own organic goldfish). I hope the owner sees this and comes forward, or else we may simply become yet another statistic--the latest non-pet family to bite the dust.

Happy Birthday Sis!

It’s hard to believe, but you seem to get younger every year. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were slinging burritos at each other in the kitchen, sword fighting with pencils (I have the mark under my arm that proves your marksmanship), and barreling down uneven country roads—think Simpson-like, white bronco—being chased by juvenile delinquents? Did anyone even know what a seat-belt was back then? We’ve come a long way, babe, but I have to give it to you—you are the classier of the two of us, hands down. I no longer think you got dropped off by the mail man—it could very well have been me. Lol.
Your family is first-rate, adorable and admirably well behaved (even Ron, haha)—not sure how you did that, but I am hoping to be privy to your secrets someday. I admire your distinguished achievements in your job, and have witnessed the respect and reverence you receive from your co-workers and church family. You make a difference in children’s lives each day, a feat that is hard to match.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy a very, special day. It is well deserved.

Have the Best Birthday Ever.
Cher and family

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Meltdown Mania

All is well until the witching hour, at which time most mild mannered children have already succombed to a nap. Not so, our children. The Melt Down Mode in our household raises its ugly head, and Spitfire is gathering speed, roaring down the highway of no control with frightening accuracy. I often have no idea what precipitates these prechooler tantrums. Is it the chocolate kiss I gave her after lunch? The length of time I held Destructo before nap time? The amount of salt on her French Fries? The dire need for a nap?
At the height of discord, Spitfire loudly invites Dart Guy and I to go sleep outside with the raccoons, which, quite frankly, seems like an inviting option. I burn my hand trying to empty the dishwasher before things have cooled, all the while ignoring her outburst, and, since nothing is more entertaining than a Parent In Pain, Destructo giggles uncontrollably. I hear the start up of more Conflict between Dart Guy and Spitfire, ending with Spitfire yelling so the neighbors can hear--"You are definitely too mean!" She stomps from the room, a relief for all of us. The ensuing quiet is intoxicating, and then dinner is ready. I call out a request for hand washing, which brings Spitfire out of hiding and into the hall, waiting for me to twist the child-proof knob of the bathroom door to allow her entrance. I am about to leave her scowling self alone, when I notice that she is able to reach the faucet without the stool. She is tall enought to reach. This is the same stool that Dart Guy and I purchased only a year back, smugly mired in Land of the Little. I suddenly forget that I was ready to sleep with racoons a few minutes ago. I hug her, inhaling her sweaty, rough-and-tumble-outdoor- kid smell, memorizing its essence. It is fading already when she moves away from me, and then Dart Guy appears in the doorway.
"I am going to have the Serenity Prayer tatooed on my #@$," he says grimly.
I immediately know that I shouldn't have complained about the dishwasher for the hundreth time. It has sent poor Dart Guy over the edge.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I wake at 5AM this morning from my nightmare (Obama signing the Spending Package) to our alarm Destructo, whom, like any good alarm, gets louder until you answer him. I take him from his crib and put him in bed with us, hoping that God is awake at this hour and can miraculously help him go back to sleep. All is quiet until I feel his fingers gently massaging the inside of my nostrils. His hands are like spiders in a horror flick, amazingly nimble and strong, as I sputter and push them away. A calm ensues, and I am hopeful. I begin to drift back to my dream--I am urging Obama to tighten his belt and curb his own spending as a way of setting an example to the American people. I tell him to have Vice President Biden ride on Air Force One with him occasionaly, saving tax payer's money and the environment, instead of taking extravagant separate flights during a time that many citizens are struggling to pay their mortgage. Suddenly I hear Destructo performing the Chicken Dance beside me, and I wish that Dart Guy had taught him something a little more soothing. I try to calm him, but he stands, feet perilously close to my head, and pounds passionately on the head board, rallying the people. Dart Guy rouses up from beneath the pillow he has jammed onto his face.
"Don't you two have a home somewhere?"
This excites Destructo. He bounces up and down, continueing his speech. He seems to be calling for Optimism, as he strikes his hands down with gusto, slinging my glasses onto the floor. I sigh, reaching to retrieve them. Not a bad idea. Hey, I'd vote for him.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Living With the Police

I begin to notice that I am living with the police as I drive Spitfire to skating lessons at the Galleria, muttering unpleasantries under my breath while trying to bring up a video on my phone for her to watch (stopped at a light for all you other policement out there). It is taking long minutes to load.
"Be patient," Spitfire admonishes, as though she bathes in patience each night. I find myself defensively replying that I am being patient. Who is the adult here?
Soon after, we are humming down Central Expressway with thousands of other hurtling fiberglass weapons of mass destruction, when she asks if we are going the speed limit.
"Of course," I lie, decelerrating. Is this the Spanish Inquisition?
We arrive at skating, where she barks orders about how to put on her skates and where to stand so we can best watch for her skating friend, Dylan. Though I try to temper her words with some admonishments of my own, I have an uneasy feeling about who is the boss here.
Back at home, we break out bubbles after dinner, and though I wish it is the Champagne variety, it is the soapy kind that leaves wet residue all over the floor when she scarmbles to pop them as they fly from the wand. She reminds me that it is best not to hold the bottle up because you can spill it that way--better to leave it sitting on the ground in a steady position. I am a little on edge now. I leave her to the bubbles and drop a glass dish of leftovers onto the floor, which sounds like a cannon ball being fired as it smashes into a million tiny pieces. Lieutenant Dart Guy gets involved now, looking smugly on as I resentfully begin Clean Up.
"Whose idea was it to get rid of all the plastic in the house?" he asks. As if he doesn't know. I give him my narrow-eyed glare, which causes him to look very pleased with himself, then step nimbly up on my soap-box, which is conveniently located, anywhere I am. I fire off on all the health hazards of plastic containers, the havoc they wreak on the environment, and then announce, haughtily, that he could soon sprout two heads from all the chemicals that leach from them into our bodies.
Lieutenant Dart Guy smirks, sweeping Destructo up just before diving head-first into the shards of broken glass and splattered spaghetti. "Two Heads are Better Than One," he says.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama's Hidden Health Care Agenda

Betsy McCaughey wrote a disturbing article in Bloomberg recently regarding health care provisions that were subtly slipped into the stimulus package. In short, this article suggested that the federal government will track each American's health care record electronically and then monitor treatments or other courses of action to insure that the doctor is performing in a way the feds deem is appropriate and cost effective. Are these words simply a scare tactic? Maybe, but only time will tell. For now, I am scared. I work in the health care industry, which, according to McCaughey, is the largest employer in the United States. Interference with, and tracking of the physician/patient relationship has the potential to disrupt the quality of patient care and erode confidence in the overall health care system. Limiting repeat exams and illuminating mistakes by careful assessment of patient care are not at issue here. Diagnostic exams and treatments should be medically necessary. What American's should be concerned about, is who is getting to make the decisions about patient care. I do not want a nameless, faceless bureaucrat with little or no medical education or knowledge making decisions about what exam, consultation, or treatment I may receive. I want my doctor to make those calls, in collaboration with someone who will be most dramatically affected by them--me, the consumer.
McCaughey suggests that those hit hardest will be older Americans, because the government will use a UK-employed formula to determine if treatments or exams are approved--this formula divides the cost of health management by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Forgive me for being nostalgic, but didn't our ancestors throw an abundance of perfectly good tea into Boston harbor, and engage in a passionate, bloody conflict so that we could be free from government influence such as this?
This new legislation could do much harm to retired and aging Americans. In addition to facing unsteady footing, loss of spouses and good friends, and fear of the End as we get older, it appears that we will also face an increased uncertainty in they way we are able to seek and receive medical care, even after years of splitting our paychecks with the government in order to fund social programs designed to help us maneuver the mine field of our later years. Apparently, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--and the Golden Years.
In closing, I respectfully submit a suggestion to you, President Obama: please don't presume that you, or any other anonymous official can make informed decisions about what clinical path best serves my health. After all, I would never presume to advise you in your realm of expertise, such as leading a multi-million dollar Presidential campaign, writing successful books about your life, and what to do with your Blackberry.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

To Stimulus or Not to Stimulus

The stimulus jargon sounds like bad rap lyrics to me, but apparently it's our future. It's our children and grandchildren's future too. Dart Guy, not surprisingly, is against the stimulus, not only because he can't stand the sight of the Barack Obama coin permanently burned into the screen of a one of the home shopping network channels, but because he fears the ultimate in excess. He believes it may overshoot the mark and leave a legacy of debt--even more colossal than our current legacyof debt--to our zealous warrior children, Destructo and Spitfire. (About a third of the American public support the package currently in Congress) If, against all odds, these children grow up to become productive members of society and bless us with grandchildren, they may pass, at least a portion of the debt on to their own unsuspecting offspring. I am certainly not a Great Economic Mind--I have trouble remembering to pay the water bill most months--so I can not even begin to unravel the intricacies or decipher the impact of the Great Stimulus Puzzle ahead of us. What is clear to me, though, is that we have a lot of work to do, one way or another, and it may take a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned, American Pioneer Spirit to achieve success, as well as require an undetermined amount of natural, minimally processed, non-hydrogenated, organic, green tea-containing salve to ease the sting of the Bite.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pride and Prejudice

I sit listening to Spitfire read a book from BFF Ben's shelf today (Happy Birthday Pirate Ben!). She has already prepared a Pirate flag, acquired a pirate ship tattoo, played Pirate bowling, and walked the plank in a not so graceful manner. I hear her reading words like Mountain, Tumble, and Toad, and larger ones I can't recall. This leads me to ask myself a complicated scientific question: Is it possible for the human body to become overly inflated with too much pride? Could this cause me future, unspeakable, chronic, leprosy-type health issues? How many just-barely-five-year-olds can pick up a book and read these types of words? I know, I know--there are many. People put their kids in Pre-SAT classes just minutes after the umbilical cord is cut in labor and delivery these days. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to do shamefully inept cartwheels across Ben's room, or run up to the nearest unsuspecting innocent bystander and rave about how well Spitfire can read. Look! She is Reading!
Instead, I put on my best nochalant, sophisticated face. Yeah. That's Spitfire. She reads. In the car she spouts words from street signs--Arapaho!--Custer!--DoNotEnter!--and, because she is currently obsessed with all things related to Mail, she excitedly reads the side of every Fed Ex, UPS, and US Postal truck that we meet. The only downside to this achievement that causes my Inner Pride Bubble to swell to dangerous proportions, is that it's harder to spell words out as a way of keeping Adult secrets. The days of disguising words like ice cream, cookie, and cell phone are over. I fear what's next. Driving lessons?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Great Potty Escape

I sit blissfully on the floor in our master bathroom, feeling completely insulated from the day's beginning chaos, and peacefully roasting next to the electric heater. Ever since Dart Guy installed child proof knob covers on the bedroom door, our quality of life has improved considerably. It is much harder for little warriors to invade our honored room of last resort--the Master Potty. This morning, though, Destructo is already in a strategic position, having allowed us to sleep until 6:00. He lies in bed next to Dart Guy holding a one-sided conversation--Dart Guy's replies are incoherent blurbs (also known as grunts), straight from the annals of cave man edict. When I leave the shower, I hear Dart Guy calling--a desperate sound.
"Hey Enviro Girl," he calls. Since this is not exactly a pet name for me, I ignore him. "Did you know 30 minute showers are not environmentally friendly?" Ignore, ignore, ignore. Surely it wasn't 30 minutes?
"Your son is calling for you," Dart Guy continues. He knows how to get my attention, even after only five years.
I cautiously open the door to the Outside World. Destructo is not crying, but, instead, is delivering a dissertation, which must have been too much for Dart Guy to bear at this hour of the morning. I pick him up and find a remote control lodged in his pajamas. I guess this means my Great Potty Escape is over.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Birthday Thanks

Thanks to all who came and perservered! All the presents have been appropriately dissasembled and tried out and are very appreciated. The Guess Who game is a big hit--thanks to the Cullums. The dinosaur puzzle was great fun during Destructo's nap time too--thanks to the Walkers. Thanks to the Phillips for the great Playdough bucket--in our house, we live by the motto: one can never have too much playdough! it's awesome. And thanks to Gma Janet for duty above and beyond regular Grandma duty. We love you.

Happy Birthday Spitfire!

One bouncy day later and you are five years old. Thank you for enriching our lives. I value your questions ("do you nap while you're at work?"), your answers ("no, I did not put Destructo's pacifier in the fish tank"), and your aspirations ("I don't want to move out when I grow up"). Each day with you is a gift.

We love you, Spitfire!


As a kid, the index finger lifted slightly over the steering wheel while driving, was a form of communication. Between two precariously passing farmers on a narrow dirt road, it might mean--"surely this path is big enough for both of us?" or "what's the warrenty on your truck?" The downtown cafe was notoriously crowded at the crack of dawn each morning, where the locals gathered to talk weather, peanut prices, or what the neighbor had worn to Friday night's basketball game. I think about this as Spitfire, freshly annointed five-years-old from a rousing bounce-house party extravaganza, sits with a friend from next door awaiting gourmet chicken nuggets from our kitchen (a product of my microwave expertise, since Dart Guy makes most of his stuff from scratch to show me up). At her age, I lived a fair distance from any of my friends, and the internet was still just a speck of an idea in Al Gore's mind (lol). I couldn't jump on Facebook and see what the whole world was up to, or send a text message containing highly evolved acronyms to my best friend. I had dogs and cats and my sister and a very large blank slate out my back door. Friends had to come over to visit or I was stuck creating strange imaginary worlds in my favorite stand of trees behind our house (which, quite possibly, explains a lot). I think social networking on the internet, email, and text messaging is just fine, and, believe me, I do my share. It's a very useful way to stay in touch in this age of far-off families and loosely, connected suburban communities in which few people really know their neighbors. But I do worry about my kids growing up in this age of digital communication, what it will mean for their friendships and other relationships they will form. For the moment, I am extremely grateful that she can walk out her front door on many days of the week and yell across to one of her good friends, whom she can see, face to face, and exchange a hearty hug with, given both fickle preschool hearts can agree to do that.
Just before the nuggets are finished, I ask the girls what they would like to eat along with them (carrots? corn?) as they play a cool new game from Spitfire's birthday, called "Guess Who?" at the dinner table. They reply, "ketchup!" in unison, which I think is a sure sign that, although a generation and multiple advances in communication separate us, some things remain the same.