Sunday, December 31, 2006

Was I too tough on origami?

I bet every busy mom asks herself that question at one time or another.

Yesterday, I mocked one of my neighbors for getting an "origami kit" for Christmas. Today I got an e-mail from my friend DeAnna, telling me that she ASKED FOR and received an origami book from her two sons. Then she sent me another e-mail full of links to Star Wars origami patterns. (Don't believe me? Check out this one). How little did I know. It looks like A LOT of people are out there doing origami. Now, I'm not sure how many of these people live productive lives outside of their parents' basements, but my eyes are still opened to the fact that origami is being done. A lot.

Sorry, origami.

What else did everyone get for Christmas? Please write in and let me know. Here are some of my coolest gifts:

1. DAVE BARRY'S AUTOGRAPH!!! Oh, yes, you read that right. My friends Elizabeth and Spencer sent me a copy of Peter and the Shadow Thieves autographed by THE GREATEST WRITER IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, DAVE. Spencer manages a Barnes and Noble and got to go to a convention where Dave made an appearance. This is probably the Coolest. Gift. Ever. It even says, "To Karen." "To Karen"!!! Dave knows my name!!! I'd sleep with it under my pillow, but it's a really thick book, and I'd probably have to go back to that chatty physical therapist.

For those of you who don't know who Dave Barry is: He's a Pulitzer-Prize-winning humor writer. He used to write a nationally syndicated column every week, and he's published dozens of books. When I was maybe 12 years old, I read his first book, Bad Habits, and right then and there decided I wanted to be Dave when I grew up. I still want to be Dave when I grow up.

Okay, now we're on to my second cool present, which was ....

2. Bunny slippers that heat up. Aw, yeah. They have these inserts that you put in the microwave for a minute so that the slippers get warm. Toasty and stylish!

3. Sesame Street Old School DVD. This is a three-DVD set of Sesame Street episodes from 1969 through 1974. This is a little before my time (I didn't get hooked on The Street until '76), but I'm amazed at how many of the segments I clearly remember. They must have rerun them for years. Remember The Ladybug Picnic? C is for Cookie? Mr. Hooper? Guy Smiley and Sherlock Hemlock? The original Gordon with the giant 'fro? They're all here!

I did get some other cool things, but I'll stop there for now. Now, what did all of you get? I promise that if it was something nerdy, like an origami book, I won't make fun of you.

Society will do that for me.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Blame the elves

When the going gets tough, blame fictional characters. That's what I do.

Lately, I feel I've been ignoring my poor old blog. I keep thinking of funny things to say -- well, at least they seem funny in my head -- but then I just never get to the computer. Usually I am ambushed by WCB, who wants me to read her all of her Christmas books again and again. "Read" is actually a strong word. Really, we'll look at a book for a few seconds and then WCB will toss it aside so we can move on to the next one. My side of the conversation goes like this: "'Twas the night before Christmas, and ...' OK? You're done with that one? Well, then, 'Every Who down in Whoville ...' OK ... " Her favorite one -- meaning we get to turn all of the pages -- was sent to us by her Great Aunt Berta, and it has a group of elves on the cover.

"Elf!" WCB will say, and if I don't respond within .5 seconds: "ELF! ELF!ELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLF!!"

Always with the elves. WCB gets quite loud. I'm imagining the family next door: "Did you hear that again, dear? It sounded like a child yelling 'elf'."

It's because of these elves that I don't blog every day. Yesterday, for example, I wanted to write about how WCB and I took a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy the unusually nice weather. It also happened to be trash/recycling bin day, so we got to check out the discarded cardboard boxes from all of our neighbors' Christmas presents. I'm secretly hoping that they'll grow tired of their gifts by the time we have the annual neighborhood yard sale. I have dibs on the Little People castle a couple blocks over.

I also noticed that someone in the next cul de sac got an "origami kit." Ouch. Somebody didn't make the nice list this year, huh?

I could have told you all of this yesterday, but I was stopped by the elves.

I've also been wanting to write about WCB's big present from Santa, which is a toy kitchen. Toy kitchens are not only great fun, they're supposed to be "educational", because kids this age like imitating what adults do. I say, if she's going to imitate me in the kitchen authentically, she should just pick up the plastic toy phone that came with the kitchen and say, "Hello? Pizza Hut?"

Unfortunately, WCB doesn't yet have the verbal skills to order takeout --unless she'd like to order some cooked elf -- so she has to rely on actual pretend cooking if she expects to put any plastic food on the table. Today she made a plastic stew. Ingredients: plastic peas, plastic eggplant, plastic celery, one plastic egg (in the shell), one plastic block of cheese, and one plastic pink cupcake. Mmmm .... plasticly delicious.

I've missed the blog. I hope to report back to you again soon. As long as the elves don't stop me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!

Two of my favorite movies of all time were on TV recently in celebration of the holidays, and, as with everything else, I have some minor quibbles with them.

Oh, I have quibbles with every movie, even my NUMBER-ONE all-time favorite movie, The Wizard of Oz. What happens to Miss Gulch at the end of the movie? Doesn't she still have the order from the sheriff that authorizes her to take Toto? That plot point is never resolved. I like to think she was killed by the tornado.


First up: The Sound of Music. Remember when Captain Von Trapp asks Maria if there's anyone he needs to go to to ask permission to marry her? And she says, "We'd better go ask the children"? Yeah, how did that conversation go? Wasn't that a little uncomfortable?

"Um, OK? Kids? You know how I never allowed you to grieve after your mother dropped dead, and then I turned into an emotionally distant jerk who was never home? And then I briefly came around for a while, faking you out by laughing at that goat puppet show, only to scar you psychologically once again by announcing that I was going to marry the Evil Baroness who clearly hated you? Ha, ha! Remember how I forced you all to kiss her on the cheek and call her 'mother'? Well, um, in just the last couple of minutes, I decided to dump the baroness and take up with your nanny, who isn't going to be a nun after all! But I swear, from now on we will have a stable home life. Well, after we become a show-biz family and then escape from the Nazis."

I think Captain Von Trapp needs help from Dr. Phil.

Next: It's a Wonderful Life. I've brought this up many times before, but it bears repeating. Why is it that Jimmy Stewart is relatively composed when he learns his brother is dead, his uncle has gone crazy, and old Mr. Gower poisoned some kid, but he loses it – really loses it – when he finds out that his wife is a librarian?

Not just a librarian. (DRAMATIC PAUSE) A librarian ... WHO WEARS GLASSES!

Oh, the humanity.

Anyway. I hope all of you reading this have a very merry Christmas. Stay away from the library, though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cancer or No Cancer

Last night, I caught about 15 minutes of that new game show, Identity. I'm not sure what the rest of the show was like, but in the part I saw, the contestant had to decide which of the two scantily clad women in front of him was a belly dancer and which one was a ... I don't remember ... a structural engineer or an accountant or blackjack dealer or something. They dragged this decision out for the entire 15 minutes and made it clear that it was the Tensest. Moment. Ever. The man was about to have a nervous breakdown. His family was crying. What if the woman wasn't really a belly dancer??!?!? WHAT IF?!?!?!

Tension? Dude. Sure, winning all that money is a big deal, but try sitting in a doctor's office, waiting to find out if you have cancer. That's tension. Maybe they should treat THAT like a game show. The doctor could keep walking into the exam room repeatedly for 15 minutes: "Karen, we'll tell you if you have cancer (dramatic pause) AFTER THE BREAK!"

If you didn't have cancer, balloons would drop from the ceiling, and your entire family would come running in, screaming. If you did, then the doctor could play the sound of a studio audience going, "Awwwww!" and you could get a consolation prize, like a free toaster. It's no fun to have cancer, but it is fun to make toast.

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's a Festivus miracle!

With all the excitement of a new blog template, I forgot to post the really big news: WCB is walking! Like, really, really walking! She just took off a couple of days ago. If she's really serious about getting to something -- say, she just HAS to rip the bow off of a wrapped Christmas present -- she'll still drop down and crawl to it, but she is walking for the most part. Last night, we were getting her ready for her bath, and she took off down the hall completely naked, laughing hysterically, joyfully streaking.

Joyful, joyful!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Extreme makeover: Blog edition

I feel I've been ignoring the poor old blog lately, so I decided to give it a spiffy new makeover today. I switched over to the new version of Blogger, and I really have no idea what I'm doing. It might have some bugs that I need to get worked out. If you notice anything that's gone awry -- say, a link that doesn't work or something that causes your computer to explode when you click on it -- please let me know.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Puttin' on the Ritz

Multiple myeloma strikes again: This time it's taken the life of Peter Boyle, the actor best known for playing the dad on Everybody Loves Raymond. He also played the monster in Young Frankenstein, which my sister and I must have watched a million times when we were little.

I think we need an official motto: "Myeloma: The disease that only cool people get."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hooray for Karen!

Frosty the Snowman is on TV tonight. Ever since I was a kid, it was always my favorite Christmas special of all, because the little girl who travels with Frosty is named Karen. You never see too many Karens in leading roles. It was always very exciting for me. Granted, she's blonde and thin and wears a miniskirt even in the snow, but we won't dwell on that.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hallowed be thy TiVo

Today I was checking the suggestions on my "TiVo Suggestions" list and found ... a really, really long list of religious programming. If there was a religious show airing in the next two weeks, the TiVo had found it and wanted to record it for me.

This is odd. I don't know why the TiVo thinks I like religious programming. I can't remember previously recording anything remotely religious, unless you count A Charlie Brown Christmas. (Who doesn't love Linus reciting scripture? Before WCB was officially a girl, I suggested the name Linus. Jay said no.)

Then I figured it out: The TiVo saw my enormous backlog of Sex and the City reruns and is trying to save my soul.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Be aware o' that marrow, Part II

I realize it is now no longer Marrow Awareness Month, but I feel that one should be aware of his or her marrow each and every month. Don't you?

I now know of two couples who have joined the National Marrow Donor Program Registry, and in both cases, the process was very easy and, more important, FREE. This note is from my sister and her husband:

"It's so easy! T.J. and I just today started the process to become bone marrow donors. When I looked up the nearest bone marrow center, it was about 2 1/2 hours away from where we live, and I thought we'd need to travel there to have the necessary blood work done. But I called today and a very nice nurse said all we needed to do was print out a form from the internet and send it in. Then in a few weeks she'll send us a swab kit to get our DNA. She said they don't even need to draw blood any more. Its all paid for and free! So what are you (everyone else) waiting for? Apparently there is a 1 in 200 chance that you will be chosen, and if you are, it isn't a major commitment... just a few days to help someone out."

And this comes from my friend Elizabeth:

"Hi Everyone. I am one of Karen's friends from college and she and Jay are godparents to our second son. I just wanted to let everyone out there know how easy it is to become a bone marrow donor. It's something I had wanted to do for a long time, but the process seemed too confusing, or I was too lazy, but I kept putting it off.

About six months ago there was a national drive to get more bone marrow donors and a grant was provided to pay the tissue typing fee (that, as far as I know, is still $52). My husband and I participated in the drive here in Omaha. We had to read about what would be asked of us if we were asked to donate, fill out a short medical history (mostly questions regarding our lifestyle and health history that might affect our blood) and swab several parts of our mouth with a cotton swab (we even did it ourselves)). Then we were done. The whole thing took less than ten minutes.

A few weeks later we got information in the mail welcoming us to the registry. Now, it is our responsibility to keep in touch with them in case we move or develop certain health conditions (for instance, I'm currently pregnant and, therefore, not eligible to donate, so they took me off the list until I'm able again), and we just wait for the call that we might be a match and able to help someone. It used to be that you had to find a donation site, but now you can do the whole thing via mail. Just log on to and click on "join now."

While I was signing up, a mother and father came in with their toddler daughter who was waiting for a match. They had, of course, already been tested for their daughter, but were there to join the national registry. Seeing that little girl was very touching and made me realize what a great decision I had made to take an hour out of my day to become part of such a great registry. Imagine who you might be able to help."

In both of these cases, signing up was free. I know that there CAN be a pretty hefty charge in some cases, though. For example, if you register online, you will have to pay $52. However, if you register in person or by phone, there is a chance that this fee will be reduced or eliminated, based on the donation center. I just invite you all to check it out and learn more about how it works. Click on the link in this entry or at the right and read more about it. If you end up signing up, be sure to let me know!

Thanks, everybody.