Friday, December 28, 2007

This Kid Is Totally Smarter Than My Kid (But Don't Tell Him I Said That)

Apparently, there is some controversy brewing on the internets regarding young Lilly's abilities. Some people seem to think her parents must have subjected her to some sort of crazy draconian toddler training system that essentially forced her to learn the names of all these places on the map.

When my own son was about Lilly's age, he asked, nay, demanded that I teach him the name that went with the symbol for every major car company. He voluntarily memorized them all, and would gleefully call out the names of cars as they passed us on the street.

As the parent of such a quirky child, I would have to say, I suspect Lilly really does do this for fun.

Some people just are born geeky.

Who Knew?

After St. Louis lost the esteemed title of Most Dangerous City to Detroit last year, by a hair, I never expected to learn my hometown is apparently also the sixth most literate city in the nation.

According to a study by Central Connecticut State University, St. Louis is more literate than San Francisco. St. Louis is more literate than Boston.

Could someone please inform the photo lab clerks at my local Target?

And we might want to clue in the owner of that bakery store in my neighborhood with the huge sign advertising:


The preschool evaluation "experts" at the local school district who performed my son's special needs evaluation months ago may wish to be reminded that sentences such as:

"He is able to hold the marker in his right hand with his fingers but is place very high near the top."


"He is able to fastened and unfastened buttons but is very slow and deliberate."

are not proper English.

Additionally, local school district officials might be encouraged to learn that "in regards to" should be "in regard to" and "re-create" may be written more acceptably as simply "recreate."

(Wait-- remind me-- why exactly was I upset that these people declined to teach him, again?)

If this is what superior literacy is like in St. Louis, I tremble to think what one might encounter in Texas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Conversations with a Three-Year-Old: Son of Pedant

Conversation One: Son of Pedant

FATHER: Can I have a hug, son?

CHILD: Yes you may.


Conversation Two: Son of Ranter

CHILD: What is going on with Mommy?

FATHER: Mommy is upset.

CHILD: But Daddy, why is Mommy upset?

MOTHER: Oh, don't worry. I'm not mad at Daddy. I'm just upset because I'm tired of being Oppressed by The Man. Can you say Oppressed by The Man?

CHILD: Oppressed by The Man,

MOTHER: Good job.

CHILD: Mommy?


CHILD: Can't you just stop being so oppressed all the time?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Our crooked yet festive tree:

Isaac and Cammy decorating cookies:

The photo I sent with my holiday cards:

The ridiculously extravagant yet educational present Isaac has been playing with for the past eight hours almost nonstop:

A Bonus Gift of Cuteness:

Merry Christmas Blessed Yule Favorable Solsticetime Etcetera

Friday, December 21, 2007

Is Jon Stewart a Scab?

All right, all right. So I have totally derailed my own meme. Sorry about that. I'll get back to it.

It appears that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report will be returning with new episodes on January 7th. Without their writers.

As a writer by trade myself, I have been supporting the Writers' Guild strike by not watching the reruns and crappy reality TV shows the networks have been airing in place of stuff they actually have to pay people to write. I have been resisting the impulse to buy or rent DVDs to fill up my empty television schedule (since DVD residuals are one of the issues currently in dispute).

But, all that's been easy, really. I hate bad reality TV shows. I have better things to do than watch reruns. And my bank account is better off without the DVD purchases.

Can I resist the siren call of Jon and Stephen?

I've been wondering what I would do if the shows came back on the air. I support the writers' strike, and yet, I also honestly believe TDS and the Colbert Report provide a public service, in a very similar fashion as "real" news shows, like, say, NBC's Nightly News, or Meet the Press, do, in that, many people treat The Daily Show and the Colbert Report as their primary news source.

That may sound ridiculous given these shows are presented as comedy, but, in fact, regular Daily Show viewers have been shown to be better informed about American politics than people who rely on newspapers like the New York Times.

Regular news shows have continued to air their programming during the writers' strike, with no protest from the WGA, because providing news is a public service. Should The Daily Show and the Colbert Report be judged as news shows, or as late-night comedy entertainment?

It appears, from this statement released by WGA on the matter, that the Stewart and Colbert may not have had much of a choice about going back to work before the resolution of the strike:

“Comedy Central forcing Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert back on the air will not give the viewers the quality shows they’ve come to expect. The only way to get the writing staffs back on the job is for the AMPTP companies to come back to the table prepared to negotiate a fair deal with the Writers Guild.”

It seems from this quote that the WGA believes Colbert and Stewart were told to go back on the air, or risk permanently losing their timeslot. But so far I have not been able to find further information to either confirm or contradict that notion.

So, what do you think? Are Jon and Stephen being greedy jerks for crossing the picket lines, or does their job as providers of news and political analysis, especially during primary season, trump their responsibility to the Guild? If Comedy Central indeed threatened to cancel the shows altogether (and thus put hundreds of staff besides the writers out of a job), does that in and of itself justify a return, or should they have called Comedy Central's bluff?

Will you watch?

Thursday, December 20, 2007


A contingent from the Lakota Nation is attempting to secede from the U.S., citing violation of treaty agreements.

I found this story on Metafilter. Someone in the comments section said, referring to the non-Lakota people living in the disputed region:

"It also includes countless private residences and property. Imagine waking up and learning that your house is now in land claimed as part of someone else's country."

Imagine that, indeed! Waking up one morning, and finding that someone has claimed your land as their own! Without even asking! And now they want you to submit to the rule of a foreign government! Run by people who aren't even the same race or culture that you are!

(I LOLed. The sad, ironic sort of LOL.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Things About Me: Skeletons in the Closet Edition, Part Four

Thing Four:

I have moved 24 times in my life.

Mind you, I am 27 years old.

The frequency of moves had partly to do with my parents' divorce, and partly to do with being exceedingly broke (and therefore unable to live on campus) as a college student, and partly to due with becoming a mother earlier than I had expected, and probably lots to do with generally bad housing luck.

I have never lived outside of the St. Louis metropolitan area. I have lived in: Hazelwood, Berkley, Jennings, Bridgeton, Vinita Park, University City, the Central West End, South City, Creve Coeur, and Maryland Heights.

I have lived in crappy, dangerous Section-8 slums, quaint suburban ranch homes, and expensive luxury highrises. I once went to the worst public school district in North County. I once went to the richest private school in West County.

(So, if you think you can pin down my socioeconomic background and guess at my personality by asking The Famous Saint Louis Question, "Where did you go to high school?" you are, in fact, for once, mistaken.)

I'll have been at my current house for a year, come Christmas.

I think I'll be staying here for a while.

Questions from My Child in the Last Hour

"What does 'maybe' mean?"

"How does a doorknob work?"

"What happens when we turn on a faucet?"

"Why does the toilet make a sound of running water for a minute after we flush it?"

"What does 'because' mean?"

"What does the agitator in the clothes washer do?"

"What does the little switch inside the dryer door do?"

"How does the hot water heater work?"

Does anyone want to buy him this for Christmas? And maybe a dictionary?

(More memeage later, when I get enough of a break from all these language and engineering questions to write more than a paragraph.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

By the Way . . .

This blogger is basically being forced out of the house she has lived in for only two years by a corporation that wants to build a condo behind her property. They are refusing to pay her a fair price for her home. They say she has to make a decision tomorrow. Does anyone else want to help make some noise on her behalf?

Things About Me: Skeletons in the Closet Edition, Part Three

Thing Three:

I fold my underwear.*

*Representative photo may or may not be actual image of blogger's underwear drawer.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Exploding Grammar Headache


Given my recent laxity in posting, what power on Earth could make me post twice in one day?

A GROCERS' APOSTROPHE, that's what. ON MY CHRISTMAS CARDS. The ones I was planning to send out TOMORROW.

Misplaced apostrophes make Mommy angry.

Bad Target photo people. Bad, bad, bad. If I had a ruler, I would smack you with it.

Now my poor husband is driving back there in the dark, in the snow, to argue grammar with a highschooler getting paid ten bucks an hour. I wish him luck, given the girl I just spoke with on the phone about the problem was about as educated as a box of rocks.

I guess you get what you pay for. Next year, I am totally making the cards myself by hand for eleventy billion cents a piece with scrapbooking crap from Archiver's.

Things About Me: Skeletons in the Closet Edition, Part Two

Sorry I didn't post this yesterday as planned. There was something about the silence of the snow yesterday that put me in a reading mood, rather than a writing mood, and before I knew it, I'd read myself to sleep.

But back to the meme:

Thing Two:

I turned down 3.5 marriage proposals before I accepted my husband's.

Marriage Proposal One:

I was in high school. A very lonely, very intense, slightly crazy upperclassman, who spent 80% of his time debating politics, read some essays I had written and was moved to express his undying love. My mother didn't allow me to date anyone seriously yet at that age, but this boy was persistent.

One day, he called me over the phone and proposed that we run away to Utah to get married. He said he had researched the marriage laws in every state, and that Utah (at the time) was the only state where a girl of my youthful age could get married without parental consent. He had been saving money. He had packed a suitcase. He had written down the address and phone number of a cheap hotel. He had a plan all set for evading our parents. He had thought of everything!

I turned him down.

He apparently spent the next couple of years driving by my house at night at least once a month, and staring at my window forlornly.

I hear he's happily married now.


Marriage Proposal Two:

This one is actually really sweet and tragic. It also happened during high school. (I swear I was a total geek, then! And I don't mean the cool sort of geek, either. I was positively mousy. I mean, people made fun of me. I don't know how this kept happening.)

There was a boy at my high school, in the same year as I was, who had a terrible crush on me for basically the entire four years. He was smart, brilliant even. He was nice. He was even cute. (Best of all, he had never made elaborate plans for kidnapping me and taking me to Utah! I mean, as far as I know.)

He was rather an odd at times, lacking in social graces, but, being I was a total nerd myself, I could have handled that.

The problem was, he was one of my best friends; I'd known him since I was twelve, and, try as I might, I could never muster much more than brotherly affection toward him. We tried dating a couple of times, but it just didn't work for me. He kept professing his affection; I kept turning him down. I was always madly in teenaged-love with someone else. But all our other friends knew he had a crush on me, so almost none of them were willing to date me for very long, because they didn't want to break this kid's heart. (Or at least, that's what I like to tell myself. See mousiness earlier referenced for alternate reason.)

One day, when we were both at a bowling alley, this boy bought me a 50 cent plastic ring out of a vending machine, and proposed. I was nearly an adult, then. He was so earnest. It was terribly romantic.

But I turned him down, too.

But he's happily married to someone else too, now!

So I'm not a total bitch, right? Right?

I still have the plastic ring.


Marriage Proposal Three:

I was in college. He was a rich boy from the east coast whose uncle held a position of importance at the university. I was on scholarship, working my way through school unsupported by family, barely scraping by. He was a member of the Campus Republicans. I was a liberal idealist. He was a computer engineering major. I was studying world literature.

We both liked ballroom dancing.

We dated for a tumultuous few months. We broke up. He was leaving town in a couple of weeks anyway, to go work for a huge technology company; I still had to stay here another two years to finish my degree, so, it was for the best anyway, right?

I did miss him, though.

One day, not long after he'd left town, he called me to say he was coming back into town for the weekend, and would like to spend some time with me. I agreed to see him. Then he said:

"You know, I think it would make my parents very happy if I came back from St. Louis engaged."

To which I responded, innocently as can be, "But who on earth would accept a proposal on such short notice this weekend? Are you seeing someone else?"

Because, you know, "My parents would be happy" did not really sound to me like a very good reason to propose.


Marriage Proposal .5:

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What does she mean by half a marriage proposal?" Well, you see, after I rejected the tepid offer by the rich boy from the east coast, I met another man whom I wound up living with for two years. This man was that sort of person who never finishes anything, or commits fully to anything-- the sort who does everything halfway. He never actually proposed to me. But after a certain amount of time had passed, it became inevitable in the minds of our families and friends that we would eventually get married. My boyfriend even actually started talking about where we would get married, and whom we would invite, and some of his friends started referring to me as the fiancee. But he never once actually ASKED me to marry him. Which I suppose was for the best, given I eventually broke up with him.


And then I met my husband.

The End.

Friday, December 14, 2007

We Interrupt This Meme to Bring You the Fact that Dwight is Awesome, Oh and I Talked to Some Other Bloggers Too

So, I went out to the STL Blogger Holiday Meetup organized by the lovely ladies behind NewsBitch and Marriage 101. I went even though I barely qualify to go to blogging events these days, given I've been posting like three times a month (in a good month).

Everyone there was gracious and pretended that they didn't care that I've lost my Bloggers' Club membership card, though. And I had a lovely time.

When Dwight from Dwight's Writing Manifesto walked in, I recognized him immediately, which is weird since I had never met him in person or seen a picture of him before. He actually posted a photo of himself on his blog for the first time ever today, but I didn't see it before I left for the party.

I guess I must have recognized him because he just looks like how he writes. He was wearing a badass leather jacket, and he ordered a scotch and soda. The very image of a writer of hard-boiled fiction, no? I'm afraid I monopolized his time asking him too many questions about the keys to successful writing-while-parenting, but he was kind enough to put up with me.

Raquita and Benticore were there, and Raquita gave me a super fancy jar of super fancy vanilla sugar, because she is super fancy like that. Now I owe her two Christmas cheesecakes.

Rebecca was there. Slacker Mommy and Midwestern Mommy and Farrell were all there, too, kicking it mommyblogger style. (Which means that they, like me, were mostly drinking too much and pretending like they were young, childless and free, except for when we would forget to pretend all that and start talking about our children. By the way, did I mention that Farrell looks like she is, like, 23? But she's actually older than me? Damn. I want to know what moisturizer she is using.)

I met this chick who writes a blog entirely about cupcakes, which of course meant I had to blogroll her immediately when I came home, because, honestly, who wouldn't want to read a blog entirely about cupcakes? Only a person with no heart or no tastebuds could resist a blog entirely about cupcakes.

I also met a wedding photographer, which is convenient given my sister is getting married in a few months.

The famous Dana arrived fashionably late, accompanied by The Sexy, who pretended to be a bit put out by our insistence that his name tag read THE SEXY, but, I think he was secretly pleased.

There were at least 15 other people there I didn't really get to meet, and a bunch of other people I did meet whom I'm sure I've forgotten to list. Basically, everyone was there. Do you hear me? EVERYONE. Which means if you missed this party, you missed EVERYONE.

So, you'd better go to the next one, see?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Things About Me: Skeletons in the Closet Edition, Part One

Okay, so, Raquita tagged me with a meme like two or three, or , okay, maybe even four weeks ago, and I have not gotten around to writing about it until today, because I am a bad blogger lately. Bad blogger.

It's the "Seven Things About Me" meme, which I think I've been tagged with before. In fact--let me check. Yes, I do believe I was tagged with it back in the days when this meme was a whippersnapper-- when it was still just a cute little ol' "Five Things About Me" meme. Because, in blogging terms, I am THAT OLD. Yes, friends, I have been blogging since 2005. I imagine that in the context of blogospheric methods of time measurement, I have gone past "kickin' it old school." I am absolutely decrepit.

Maybe that is why I can't seem to write here, lately? Maybe my blog has arthritis!

And yet, Dooce seems so well preserved.


Anyway, I actually really like this meme, since it gives me even more of an excuse to blather on self-centeredly about myself than usual. My usual excuse for blathering on self-centeredly about myself is that, hey, that's what blogs are for! But, see? Someone asked me to blather on self-centeredly about myself this time. So, the selfish self-centered navel-gazing blather I serve up here today for the entire internet's reading pleasure is all Raquita's fault.


Seven Things You Didn't Know About Me: Skeletons in the Closet Edition

Thing One:

I may half an older half-brother I have never met.

My parents married young, divorced early, and vowed to loathe one another 'til death from from their loathing shall them part. During my post-divorce childhood, my father was very open about his loathing of my mother. My mother, however, mostly tried to keep her loathing of my father hidden from us.

When I was a child-- I want to say, ten or twelve or so-- I once overheard a disparaging conversation between my mother and some other person regarding my father. I wasn't supposed to be listening. I can't remember who the other person involved in the conversation was. I can't remember what my mother and this other person were talking about that led to the mention of this salacious bit of information that was meant to be kept from my tender ears. But in any event, whilst unintentionally or perhaps intentionally eavesdropping, I heard that my mother say that my father had fathered another child who had been given up for adoption before I was born.

Later, I confronted my mother about this information. I had the sort of relationship with my mother, back then-- a sort of mother-daugher relationship that I now understand to be rare-- that I could admit to my mother I had overheard such a thing, and ask her such a question. And she admitted to me that this information was indeed, "possibly," true. She said that, before my father and mother started dating, my father had been engaged to another woman. Or, girl, really. Like my mother at the time of my parents' marriage, the person my father had been engaged to previously had been a teenaged girl. And this girl became pregnant while she and my father were engaged.

But, this is where the "possibly" part of "possibly true" comes in: my father insisted that the baby his fiancee was carrying was not his. In fact, he implied it was physically impossible, nudge nudge, wink wink, that the child she was carrying was his. Of course, he said these things to my mother after he had broken up with his fiancee. When he first started dating my mother. And my father doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation for honesty. So, who knows? (Besides possibly my father and this child's biological mother, I mean.)

In any event, as was often done in those days, the pregnant ex-fiancee was spirited off to a secret facility, probably run by nuns, while her family probably put it about that she'd gone on vacation. When the baby was born, my father's name went on the birth certificate. And the baby, a boy, was given up for adoption.

As a teenager, with my overly self-centered, romantic, teen-chick-lit-damaged brain, I often feared I would meet this mysterious maybe-half-brother somewhere, by accident, and accidentally fall in love with him.

As a rational adult, I occasionally wonder what on earth I will say to him if he ever shows up at my front door.

I mean, other than, "How nice to meet you! Please, do come in."

I tried, a little bit, to find this maybe-brother, using the nascent internet, back when I was a teenager. I think I did this partly in the interests of preventing myself incurring epic tragedy by accidentally dating him. But mostly because I really did wonder where he was, and whether he was all right. And whether he really was my brother, or not. And whether he cared.

But, as time went on, I realized that this young man might possibly actually be much, much better off without ever meeting the living breathing drama machine that his (possible) paternal biological family. It didn't seem right to me, when I thought about it, to try to find this person when I had no way of knowing whether he actually wanted to find me. So, I stopped.

(But, if you ever find this post, Maybe-Brother, then, I have to say: How nice to meet you! Please, do come in.)


Part Two of this meme tomorrow. I'm doing these one per day. Because I like to leave you wanting more like that. And because it forces me to actually post.