Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Fish Whisperer

I was (finally) out shopping for my March for Maddie giveaway prize this weekend, looking – obviously – for some weird stuff to throw in there. And I came upon a tiny plastic aquarium with a couple of those “grow” fish in them – the ones that expand in water. And I decided I needed to have one myself.

You see – I am not very good at taking care of pets. No – that’s not exactly true – I am fine with dogs and cats, because they can remind me that they exist and are hungry/thirsty/bored/need to pee/are dicks. But quiet, contained animals? Doomed. That’s the same reason I kill plants. They can’t nudge me with their cold noses, or bark by the door, or stare at my food and “boof,” or knock their empty dish off the platform, shove it across the room, jam it into my instep and “merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! Merl! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL! MERL!!” at me until I get off my ass and either feed or kill them.

The fact that I still have living hermit crabs should tell you how little care they need. Because if they required anything more than minimal effort, they’d be hot-glued into little vignettes by now.

So anyway, I got this cute, tiny little aquarium that I can set on my desk and play God with the fake fish. You add water – they grow – you forget all about them and they dry up and shrink. Then you notice them one day and think, “GASP! My fish are dried up!” Then you add more water and they puff back up again and you don’t even have to feel guilty about it! I don’t know if you realize this, but YOU CANNOT DO THAT WITH REAL FISH!

Don’t get me wrong - I love aquariums. I can spend hours just looking at them. Speaking of which, I once did just that at burghbaby’s house. Her husband was nice enough to talk to me for a long time all about the fish and critters. Which – while we’re on the topic, Ms. burghbaby often claims that her husband doesn’t talk, but I certainly haven’t experienced that. It seems that she is either full of shit, or Mr. burghbaby and I are dorks of feather. Truthfully, either is possible.

Anyway, I wasn’t always bad at keeping fish, etc alive. Back when I was a kid (somewhere around 6 or 7), my aunts took me to a carnival. One of the games they had was the one where you toss ping pong balls into tiny fishbowls filled with colored water and goldfish – if the ball stays in, the fish is yours.

My aunt tried to talk me out of playing, since it was a waste of money – no one ever wins at that game – plus, if you do – the fish die in a couple of days, anyway – I mean – they are swimming in tiny bowls of colored water, right? Wrong. I won me a fish and I named him Fred (I went through a stage where everything was named Fred for a while). We took it home (to my aunt/grandma’s house) and within a couple of days, we had a whole aquarium set up for this one fish. And despite what everyone but me expected, this fish did NOT die in a couple of days. In fact, he not only lived, he thrived. Within a week or so, we saw him start to increase in size. I was worried about him being lonely, so we bought him a few friends. But soon, the friends disappeared and Fred got bigger. And bigger. And BIGGER.

He soon started looking less like a tiny goldfish and more like a huge gold river fish. He was bigger than any goldfish you’ve ever seen. His tail was the size of an adult hand when “unfurled.” More than once, when my grandfather was cleaning the tank, he put Fred in another container while he scrubbed the tank in the kitchen. When he came back, he found that Fred had leaped from the tank and was lying on the floor, dry and seemingly dead. But Gramps, who loved animals, grabbed Fred and plunged him back into the water. Then he started rubbing him gently – almost doing compressions. And damned if that fish didn’t revive! And it happened TWICE! Gramps thought the first time was a fluke, but after the second, he started throwing a towel over the container.

Fred lived a good, LONG life. I got him when I was about 6 and when he died? I was in college. College! Gramps was magic like that. He didn’t need a fake fish to dry up & reanimate – he could do it for real.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I work from home on Tuesdays and Fridays this summer (as opposed to Fridays only) and the good part of it I that it is one less day I have to worry about getting the kids picked up since I don’t get home in time. And being able to sleep in (until 6:30 – I never thought I’d see the day when 6:30 was sleeping in). But the bad part is that working from home on Tuesday makes me think it’s Friday. Which is So! Totally! Awesome! for a brief, fleeting moment when I’m all, “Yay! Friday!!), but then I remember that it’s only stupid Tuesday and the horror and disappointment of it all sends me reeling and crashing to the floor in fits and tears of agony. Or maybe I just say, Dammit! It’s only Tuesday?? Oh, MAN!


I had the pleasure of being on the basement last night while an entire herd of wildebeests and the entire cast of every production of 42nd Street in history were upstairs. And by an entire herd of wildebeests and the entire cast of every production of 42nd Street in history, I mean mr b, the dog and both cats (the kids were in bed). And let me just tell you – I have a whole new appreciation of Trolls (the bridge kind, not the internet kind). Because if that Troll that met up with the Billy Goats Gruff had to listen to that all the time, I can’t blame him for being kind of a douche. If the damned goats weren’t always clomping around overhead all day, he would have been cool – maybe asked them in for a lime-aid or something. BUT NO!


Something bad happened on the way down to the beach and I don’t want to talk about it. But I have to, so I can move on. Because something ran out in front of us & I couldn’t swerve. And there was a thunk. The thunk of something you don’t want getting thunked. I am very sad about this.


At the beach, the girl wandered into her aunts’ hotel room and picked up my (very petite) aunt’s bra and said, “Whoa – this is a tiny person’s bra. With tiny boobs.”


This time of year gets me in the gut a little. I miss being with my kids in the summer. I want to be able to romp and frolic with them for 3 months. I really wish I could afford to be off all summer long. I considered being a teacher for a while, but I was attracted merely to the schedule. Because can you imagine me as a teacher. ME?



I mean, really. burghbaby alone would have a damned contest pickem charity thing going on to guess which would happen and when: Crying, Losing My Shit, Calling a Kid an Asshole, Walking Out, Throwing Something at the Principal – on a – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Maybe I should go back and do it – for the kids.


I’m getting excited about vacation! In less than 2 weeks, I’ll be looking at this:

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Thursday, June 17, 2010


Things I learned on vacation:

1. There are few places that highlight the fact that Kids Are Evil as effectively as a cramped hotel room.

2. Car trips will henceforth require the wearing of compression stockings. Every time I drive on a long trip, my right knee hurts and my lower leg gets a little tight and swell-y. The other option would be to let mr b drive more but here’s the thing about that – mr b is Captain Sleepy. I’d have 16 nervous breakdowns per hour if I let him drive. So compression stockings it is. This saddens me, because it makes me feel old and broken and maybe I should just go out and get myself a babushka and some depends to go with my support hose.

3. My kids will fight about ANYTHING. Dear God, the stupid fights. I swear to you, the biggest fight of the week was over a turkey sandwich. Followed closely by a fight about cheese fry sharing etiquette. I was also lucky enough to witness fights over sand, beds, sand IN beds, whose hacky sack was whose, which beach ball was better, which beach ball Mr. Pants (our 16 month old cousin who stayed with us along with his mom – my cousin Lala) liked better, whose faceplant was funnier, ice cream, who messed up the Snoopy tattoo, television, Don’t Touch Me, who farted, who moved my shoes, and HE’S TOUCHING ME! Good times.

4. Diabetics should not walk on hot sand without shoes. Ten minutes after my dad arrived, he walked on the hot sand in his bare feet and ended up with 2nd degree burns on the bottoms of his feet. It was awful – all the skin came off the bottom of his feet and sand got in them. Several trips to a doctor, a couple prescriptions, six days, a whole lot of not walking, and a shit-ton of bandages later and he’s still hurting. It sucks.

5. I really need to replace my broken camera lens before we head to the mountains next month.

6. Finney of the beach photo patrol really, REALLY needs to find another career. Of the 10 or so photos he took, exactly ALL OF THEM were blurry. And I don’t mean slightly out of focus, I mean, so blurry that you can’t tell who is in them. Normally I wouldn’t care but due to my lack of photo-taking, I was hoping for something cute.

7. I need to start way ahead of time on Halloween, since the girl – upon getting Old-Time photos taken – has decided she wants to be a fancy flapper.

8. Old-Time Photo props will be used like every other item that reaches the hands of a child – as a weapon against their sibling. Fake drinks will be “dumped” on each other’s heads. Fake guns will be used to pretend to shoot each other. And everything else will be used to generally maim.

9. On one hand, the beach can make you feel really bad about yourself. On the other hand, the beach can make you feel way better about yourself. It all depends who is on the next blanket.

Despite the hectic and sometimes stressful days and the fact that I never got to meet up with the lovely Amy (because of all the hectic), I still had a wonderful time. And I am so very happy to that we are going away again next month.

I’m planning on the next trip being more relaxing. I’m not sure why, since the kids will once again be there. Plus mr b. Plus a gang of in-laws. So I imagine it will be more of the same – lots of fun, peppered with lots of potential stabification (that’s in the ICD-9, by the way). And since I know it’s coming, I decided to make a list of things that I plan to accomplish while in NC. If I can manage these, I will consider the trip a success, despite the stress:

1. Not killing anyone. No really – did you not hear the part about the kids and the husband and the in-laws?

Not dying. Because we have a cabin on a mountain. Which has a deck out into the mountainous abyss. And I will be drinking heavily. And most likely being driven slowly insane by the kids. Not a good combination.

3. Mountain geocaching! I’m very excited to try out our new hobby in an incredibly beautiful setting. I need to stock up on some burgh-related items for trading.

4. Not getting killed/eaten/mauled by a bear. Why on earth would I be worried about this? Well, see my previous item : 1) Geocaching takes place in the woods, 2) Bears live in the woods, 3) I am delicious. To combat the chances of getting killed/eaten/mauled, I’ll be wearing my bells, an anti-bear helmet (which doesn’t exist in reality but in my imagination involves tin foil, hot glue and pebbles. And sometimes – disturbingly – raw meat) and a t-shirt says “I taste like shit.”

5. I also plan on making mr b build a shelter to prove his manly worth. And because of the aforementioned bears, I’ve decided that the shelter must have a security system, indoor plumbing and a chik-fil-a (I know – they aren’t open on Sunday, but he can hunt/gather me something once a week, I think). Aw, who am I kidding? I’d be dead. He’s city boy. Years ago, we rented a cabin out in the woods for a weekend, and on a walk, I picked and ate some wild blueberries. His reaction was to nearly rush me to the hospital because “OMG, those berries might be poison!” I explained that they weren’t poison berries, but delicious blueberries and I was then subjected to 45 minutes of “But how do you know?? So maybe we’ll forget about the wilderness thing and I’ll just take him along as a bear diversionary tactic.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

First Name Basis

The girl has been absolutely DYING to call her teacher by her first name for most of the school year. Of course I wouldn’t let her and we started off the year with no problem referring to her as Mrs. Smith (not her real name). But then shortly into the school year, I got to know Mrs. Smith socially and we became friends. So suddenly, Mrs. Smith became Shellie to me. And even though I only referred to her by Mrs. Smith in front of the girl, she soon learned her first name, since she would occasionally hear me call her as Shellie in person, or mention to my husband that I was going to a party at Shellie’s house, etc. And from then on, it was her mission.

She never called her Shellie in school, but one day she told her she knew what her first name was. Shellie told her it was OK to know her name (and she told them what it was), but that they had to call her Mrs. Smith. She continued to obey in school, but she’d come home now and then and make a sly comment about how Shellie wanted me to call her or Shellie said hi. My response was always “Mrs. Smith!”

But she persisted:

Mrs. Smith said she could call her Shellie sometimes.


Mrs. Smith said she could call her Shellie outside of school.


Mrs. Smith said she could call her Shellie when school was over.


Finally she let up with it and I thought we were done. HAHAHA.

The girl went on to have a wonderful year and excel in school. She won an award for outstanding academic achievement. And we all know that while smart is good, it can also be trouble.

A mutual friend had a School’s Out party on the last day of school and Mrs. Smith was there. She told me that the last week of school, they were talking about letter sounds and she asked for examples of words that have a short e sound in the middle that she could write on the board. Of course my little genius raised her hand immediately. When Mrs. Smith asked her if she knew one she gave her best shit-eating grin and said, “I know a good one!”

You see where this is going don’t you?

Her word?


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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Favorite Overheard Conversation of the Weekend

In Pat Catan's Crafts, I overheard a young woman (We'll call her Big Fat Liar) talking to her two older coworkers:

Big Fat Liar: My friend was going through a rough time, so I made her something to cheer her up.

Coworker1: That's nice - what did you make her?

BFL: Well, she's always down on herself, thinking she's not good enough, so I bought a mirror and painted it really pretty, then I stenciled along the bottom, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

Coworkers1&2: AWWWWWW...that is SO SWEET!

BFL: Thanks! I thought it was cute.

Coworker 1: You are so clever! Where did you come up with that?

BFL: I don't know - I've always been really creative. Stuff like that just comes to me.

Oh, really now, Big Fat Liar?

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